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HIGH PRESSURE CONTINUES as warmer temperatures and clear skies develop today. Winds will continue to ease until the next cold front arrives with spotty rain and breezy northerlies, late Sunday night into Monday. (NWS)
4 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
FOUR HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS CORONAVIRUS VARIANTS FOUND IN MENDOCINO COUNTY
by Ethan Varian
Four highly contagious variants of the coronavirus have been detected in Mendocino County, raising “significant concern” among local public health officials over the possibility of a surge in new infections.
The variants include two West Coast strains, B.1.4.7 and B.1.4.9, as well as two U.S. variants in the B.1.2 category. The West Coast variants are thought to be 20% more transmissible than the current dominant virus strain and somewhat more resistant to antibody treatments, according to Mendocino County officials.
The strains were identified after the county sent human virus testing samples to a state laboratory in early February for normal surveillance testing to identify new coronavirus variants. The state alerted local officials on Wednesday about the confirmation of the COVID-19 strains.
In other troubling news about dangerous variants in the region, Santa Clara County officials on Friday reported the first Bay Area case of the highly contagious Brazil variant, which has shown it can reinfect people who have already had other strains of the virus.
Early this month, Sonoma County officials announced one resident was found to have contracted another highly contagious coronavirus variant, one from the U.K. A homegrown California variant, B.1429, also has been detected in Marin and Lake counties, but not in Sonoma.
Meanwhile, Dr. Andy Coren, Mendocino County’s public health officer, said that four people each had contracted one of the four different variants. The county has likely started contract tracing efforts to determine the individuals’ travel history and potential exposure to others, Coren said, but he could not provide any specific details.
The newly identified strains are a troubling sign for the county, even as new virus cases remain relatively low and its vaccine rollout continues to make steady progress.
Coren said the discovery underscores the need for everyone ― even those that are vaccinated ― to wear masks, avoid gatherings and maintain social distance to prevent the strains from fueling yet another wave of the pandemic disease.
“My worry is that people won’t do the kind of things that are necessary (to stop transmission) and the things that we know work,” the local health officer said. “We just need to keep that up. ... The more that we have infections, the more chance we have for other new variants to emerge.”
Over the past week, the county averaged just 4.5 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, compared to over 40 new cases per 100,000 residents when the pandemic was at it its peak in the county in January, according to state data.
As of Friday, nearly 45,000 vaccine doses had been administered in Mendocino County, according to the Los Angeles Times’ vaccine tracker. On a per capita basis, the county ranks No. 7 out of 58 counties for doses given, according to the tracker. Sonoma County ranks No. 6 for its almost 269,000 inoculations.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
We are fortunate to live in a valley with the Anderson Valley Fire/Emergency Services Department and the Anderson Valley Health Center whose personnel were responsible for getting free covid vaccine shots into so many of us.
Their competent, professional and practical execution of vaccinations has made all of us much safer. The shots cost nothing. How much of your medical treatment is free?
Both of these entities always need money for equipment and supplies. How about a small donation to honor the time, energy and care they donated to us? $5, $10, $20 or more from individuals or families? How about businesses, wineries and the school district and local stores whose employees were vaccinated coming up with a small donation? When we have small donations from many people we are supporting our “sense of community.” Your other alternative would be to add a bit more to your regular yearly donation with a note of thanks explaining why.
Let's respect ourselves by respecting them. Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
Anderson Valley Fire / EMS Department, PO Box 398, Boonville, CA 95415
Anderson Valley Health Center, PO Box 338, Boonville, CA 95415
DEB SILVA fills in some of the Valley’s cemetery blanks:
Re: John Harrison's gravestone
I've sort of been following John Harrison's gravestone which was found by a guy in the area of the Prather Ranch.
Valerie Hanelt gives quite a bit information about the Harrison's and is also flummoxed about the location of the Baptist Church where Harrison was buried.
Harrison's obit states that he was buried at the Oak Knoll cemetery of the local Baptist Church which he became a member of January last.
I was able to find an article that mentions a new Baptist Church in Philo, not Boonville. The article is about Philo happenings and talks about various members of the Harrison and Clow families and even says that John Harrison is not doing well.
Most likely Harrison was buried in Philo and not Boonville. The location at the beginning of the obit is Philo and it goes on to say that the burial took place in the local Baptist church.
Please pass this on to the people researching this. I hope it helps.
Attached is Harrison's obit and the column with the Philo happenings.
But wait, there's more!
I found an article about the Philo Baptist Church and its beginnings.
Harrison's body moved!
I looked a bit more on Harrison and his burial and found that in 1911 J.D. Harrison had his father's body moved from the Philo Baptist Church cemetery to the “public cemetery”. I'm thinking that means the Evergreen Cemetery.
John Harrison's wife was named Lorinda not Lorena. Lorena was their daughter.
The moving of John's body makes sense because Lorinda died June 20 1911 and the family probably wanted them to rest together.
The Morton's were Jane E. and Omar Morton. The daughter was Mary L Beach, she had sons Claude E and Paul M Beach.
On the 1900 census the Morton's are listed with the last name of Norton, if you look at the actual census the handwriting is a little fancy and hard to read. I can see how it was misspelled in the overall listings.
By the 1910 census Jane Morton and the Beach's are living in Sanel, Hopland. Omar died in Placer County in 1904. Ultimately Jane Morton and Mary Beach died and are buried in Lakeport, Lake County.
Saw this got into the AVA, so wanted to add the latest. I’ll assume you’ve seen the entire thread on Boont-swap which includes many theories, personal accounts and details.
I’ve been emailing back and forth with Valerie, and we’re going to walk over there on Sunday so she can see for herself.
My own take is that Mr. Harrison is buried right there, as well as his wife and possibly others. It just has that vibe to me, and no sense of vandalism or anything being out of place. Also in the context of an old ranch family studiously minding their own business and time marching on...
Hopefully some documentation will turn up to verify things. It’ll be especially nice if all this hubbub returns Mr. Harrison to his rightful place amongst family and in valley history.
The back of his headstone reads:
A precious one [of ours? we loved?] has gone
A voice we loved is stilled
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled
Here’s to you, John Harrison.
JOHN McCOWEN ON WHAT REALLY HAPPENED HIS LAST WEEK IN OFFICE — Followed by DA David Eyster’s reply and McCowen’s reply to Eyster.
The issue was never return of property. It was about the petty and vindictive dictates of our autocratic CEO. My official date of retirement was January 9. On Dec. 17 without notice to me Angelo ordered the entire contents of my office boxed up and moved to storage. If the police want to seize your property they need a search warrant.
On leaving office I requested the County release the phone number back to the carrier so I could assume it. This is common practice in Mendocino County and many other locations where public employees are allowed to retain phone numbers closely identified with them. Angelo instructed County officials to lie and say this was not done in Mendocino County and could not be done for me.
I was not humiliated by the gratuitous announcement out of closed session [that a small claims action had been initiated] which reeked of bad faith. The usual announcement out of closed session is “direction was given to staff” and that would have sufficed in this case. In fact, there was no reason for the closed session since the small claims issue was already on calendar and would be resolved one way or the other without taking it to closed session. Which means the closed session and the announcement afterward was nothing more than a clumsy effort at public shaming.
Bad faith is further shown by the small claims filing by the County wherein it was alleged that the need to take action began on January 9, my last day as a County employee. In addition to return of property the County sought reimbursement for the cost of rekeying the administration building. Except the building was rekeyed on January 8, a day prior to when the County said the need for action arose. Keep in mind that Angelo was in possession of the entire contents of my office including all my files and personal property which she illegally ordered seized while I still held office. :o)
Things came to a head when the District Attorney became aware of the situation. He called me and the first thing he said was “This is bs! What’s going on?” When I told him he said, “I’ll fix it.” And he did. The County released the phone number (common practice), sold me the phone at its market value (not at all uncommon), and all other property was exchanged. The whole thing was an abuse of power by the CEO aided and abetted by County Counsel who failed to protect the interest of the County, preferring instead to act at the vindictive whim of the CEO. Regrettably, this unfortunate episode is only the tip of the iceberg of the CEO’s malfeasance and misfeasance.
PS. I accepted long ago that people will say and do what they choose regardless of what I say or do or what my intentions are. When it comes to Angelo and her misdeeds, it really is pretty spectacular how she’s able to get away with it. I do think my former colleagues were and are afraid of her and they have only to look at what happened to me as an object lesson. And the phone caper was the least part of the false and unethical behavior that the CEO and County Counsel, engaged in. Maybe I’ll be ready to tell that part of the story at some point, but I can tell you the abuse of power is pervasive.
PPS. It’s not how I intended to end my term of office. As an on-line commenter said, this episode “is a clear indicator of her sheer power and her shamelessness.” And mine is not an isolated case as you and many others know.
DA DAVID EYSTER replies to McCowen regarding McCowen’s departure and the dispute over the return of county property, provides more background…
Things came to a head when the District Attorney became aware of the situation. He called me and the first thing he said was “This is bs! What’s going on?” When I told him he said, “I’ll fix it.” And he did.
John … this is way too dramatic of a presentation and leaves out way too much information.
Putting my attributed statement into context, I did say to you that “this is BS,” but my indignation related to County Counsel’s public announcement coming out of closed session that “the County” was pursuing a Small Claims action against you.
What you have also left out is that the Admin Office was closed down due to C19 safeguards at the time you went out of office. Your office materials (and former Supervisor Brown’s office materials) were carefully boxed up and put in holding pending directions from the two of you where the respective boxes for each should be delivered.
However, you were in a tiff because you wanted to be the one to have boxed up your own items because “that was a courtesy given in years past to all supervisors going out of office.” Unfortunately, 2020 was not just any year and, as I kept trying to explain to you, that ship had sailed. In the final analysis, Carrie Brown’s items were treated comparable to your property … but with no drama or recriminations. When the boxes were eventually delivered, you affirmed with me that everything was present and nothing had been held back.
It is unfortunate that you also left out that Ms. Angelo was the person — from the beginning to the end — who cut through the bureaucracy to expedite the return of your things. She provided zero resistance in returning that which was obviously yours; again, she expedited the overall closure, the sale to you of the cell phone, and even the transfer of the phone number that you desired.
However, based on your Luddite tendencies, you were still the one who needed extra persuasion because, among other things, you mistakenly believed you should have access to some information that was on the County servers after you were out of office and/or the ongoing use of a county conference room to look through your 50+ banker boxes.
As I see it, you are not without some blame in what can only be characterized as the proverbial making of a mountain out of a molehill. As I have said to your face in the past, you can be difficult to explain things to and also at times less than willing to listen to reasonable explanations that run counter to your belief system. Not everything that you disagree with or don’t understand constitutes proof that there is a nefarious conspiracy against you or that widespread corruption is underway.
Finally, where we can agree is that the County Counsel’s report out of “closed session” regarding the ill-conceived Small Claims court action was the epitome of true BS. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or even five for that matter) to realize that the filing of the lawsuit and this statement should never have happened. However, in my experience, such actions don’t occur in a vacuum and probably had majority Board approval, notwithstanding your overwhelming current need to ignore the Board’s involvement and, instead, blame Ms. Angelo for all that you personally perceive as wrong.
In my experience, you were a long-term supporter of Carmel Angelo and she was always supportive of you. It is sad that this strong working relationship that lasted over many years has devolved into such a sad state of affairs. It is time to let go all the perceived wrongs and proven misunderstandings and attempt a return to the friendship that benefited Mendocino County that you two once shared.
There you have it … My three cents! Take it or leave it.
MCCOWEN REPLIES to DA Eyster:
David, We agree the filing of the small claims case and report out of closed session were bs — “the epitome of true bs” as you frame it. The reason for the March 2 closed session was to act on County Counsel’s recommendation to file a separate case in Superior Court. Knowing the small claims case was set for March 4 it’s difficult to see the request to file a separate action as anything but malicious. To their credit, the Board refused to authorize the Superior Court action but went along with the entirely gratuitous report out of closed session.
I won’t fault you for your characterization of how fairly I may have been treated at the end of my term of office and the eight months leading up to it. You’ve heard partial accounts from two people who have offered mutually exclusive versions. There’s enough info to form an opinion but not enough to hit the mark on “beyond a reasonable doubt” or even a preponderance of the evidence. I agree that none of these things occur in a vacuum and my former colleagues and I had a part in the events of the past year.
I will offer one correction. I never sought to retain any information except documents I created and emails authored by or sent directly to me that are defined by law as Public Records. I could not access these prior to the end of my term because I was denied access to my office computer. I suppose one person’s public safety is another’s petty vindictiveness.
CEO Angelo and I worked together for a decade. I respected her advice as I believe she did mine. I also praised and defended her publicly. That said, misunderstandings can be explained and wrongs can be forgiven but sometimes a line is crossed and not all wrongs can easily be made right.
In hindsight I ought to have called you long before County Counsel’s gratuitous display of malicious bs.
I thank you sincerely for correcting one wrong.
ADDRESSING COMMUNITY CONCERNS OF ‘LAWLESSNESS,’ Mendocino County Sheriff Deputies And Chp Officers Bring ‘Focused Patrol Presence’ To Round Valley
Round Valley residents have reported a marked increase in Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office deputies and California Highway Patrol officers over the last week pulling over residents for traffic violations and infractions. MCSO Public Information Officer Captain Greg Van Patten called operations a “focused patrol presence” meant to address and mitigate community reports of ‘lawlessness’ in the area.
A while back, I forget the name of the woman, you ran an article about a woman who needed a liver donor. I don't know if I'm compatible. In addition, I'm in jail. I'm a healthy 31-year-old man and I would be willing to be a donor if they are able to figure out the logistics. I don't remember the woman's name but if I can help I would like to.
Andrew Martinez #380
Mendocino County Jail
951 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
UKIAH STREETSCAPE PROJECT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - March 26
While we’re “in the neighborhood” repairing some of our failed downtown streets from below the ground up, it makes logical and economical sense to extend the project to a couple of the neighboring streets. Contractors are mobilized, equipment is onsite, plans are ready. Therefore, we’re taking this opportunity to stretch the edges of this project in order to address some of the adjacent failed streets. For example, both the pavement and the water/sewer infrastructure beneath Clay Street were in need of complete reconstruction; work is currently happening there. Church Street is also in failed condition, and will get a facelift a little later in the project. There is no road diet or traffic changes associated with these additional streets—just replacement of the streets, sidewalks, and in some cases, water and sewer lines. Doing this work now will improve the overall appearance and performance of the final product, and will prevent the otherwise inevitable need to bring more heavy equipment in later, potentially damaging the new work. Win win!
Here's a general overview of the upcoming progression of new sidewalks:
New concrete is currently going in on the east side of State Street at Stephenson Street (in front of The Maple). Crews will continue working north until they get to Perkins Street. Each block takes about one week.
Once that stretch is completed, they will start (still on the east side) at Clay and work south until they get to Mill Street.
At Mill, they will cross over to the west side, and work their way north from Mill to Perkins.
Side streets (Church, Perkins, and Standley) will be done after State Street.
Construction Overview, Week of March 29
Wahlund Construction (West Clay Street):
Monday-Friday: Sewer work will occur on West Clay Street between State and Oak Streets. This process can be noisy and a bit messy, and will include trenching and other underground work.
Access to driveways in the 100-200 blocks of West Clay Street will likely be blocked during parts of this construction. During those times, employees and visitors to those businesses may park at the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue.
There will be intermittent street and/or lane closures at the intersections of Clay and School/Oak while manhole work is underway.
Construction hours: 7am – 5pm
Ghilotti Construction (Henry – Mill): Continued work on the east side of State Street between Perkins and Mill Streets, including excavating, forming and pouring new curbs, gutters, and bioretention facilities. Pouring of new sidewalks continues next week.
Monday-Friday: Pouring new sidewalks between Stephenson and Church Streets.
Monday-Friday: Also, crews will continue grading and prepping for new sidewalks between Clay and Mill, starting at Clay and moving south.
East Stephensen Street will be closed to through traffic for the next few weeks – Community Care and The Maple will have access to their parking lots from Main Street.
East Church will be closed intermittently during this phase.
Construction hours: 7am – 5pm
North State Street between Perkins and Henry: In between their work on other parts of the project, contractors will continue working on North State Street on the decorative brick band and landscaping areas. (See progress pic below!)
I wish everyone a great weekend!
Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager, City of Ukiah, w: (707) 467-5793
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 26, 2021
JONATHAN CARTER, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, criminal threats, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
CAYTLIN COLLICOTT, Willits. Parole violation.
CHRISTOPHER KEYSER, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.
OCTAVIO MEDINA, Gualala. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
MARK NIELSEN, Nice/Ukiah. Vehicle theft, controlled substance.
DANIEL SANCHEZ, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
QUADE SMITH, Covelo. Crimes committed by juvenile (enhancement).
JACOB WALTRIP, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
RUSSEL WATSON, Willits. County parole.
LYDELL WILLIAMS, Covelo. Controlled substance, false information, false personation of another, false documentation, probation revocation.
TRAVELS IN MEXICO
by Paul Theroux
Most people on each side of the border are reasonably content, going to work and to school, living their lives, saluting their respective flag, voting in local elections, raising children. They are settled, they stay home, they merely fantasize about the country over the fence or across the river.
At the same time, like a rumble on a lower frequency, there is a constant skirmishing, the equivalent of a border war, as migrants — which include Pakistanis, Syrians, and Africans; desperate, criminal, opportunistic, or tragic — attempt to get to the other side, often with the help of human traffickers, nearly always cartel members, who demand large sums of money from the migrant area and there are more than 21,000 border patrol agents to work day and night to thwart them.
Not only men and women trying to secure the border, but 20 or 30 foot steel fences that run for miles. Also shorter fences, vehicle barriers, drones, helicopters, bottlenecks at bridges, checkpoints on back roads and on the interstates, sniffer dogs, and over the Texas towns of Zapata and McAllen huge white balloons, the sort deployed for anti-terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan — enormous dirigibles used for surveillance, tethered to the border, listening and watching.
And the river, and the desert, and coils of razor wire. The notion of building a wall strikes most people on either side as laughable. The belief is: show me a 30 foot wall and I will show you a 35 foot ladder.
THE INTAKE TOWER for Coyote Valley Dam and Lake Mendocino, under construction. 1958
RALPH LOOKS BACK
One out of three Willits residents are refusing the vax. We can't have that can we? Unvaxed people will not be allowed to attend church services indoors. They will not be allowed in stores where candy and coloring books are sold. No entry to places where condoms, dildos and girlie magazines are for sale. If the anti-vax wants to buy groceries they must he placed inside an aluminum box with a window so they can point to what they want to buy. For this service they will have to pay a 15% surcharge. Beer joints with six televisions will welcome anti-vaxxers, maskless patriots and seven varieties of bimbos who are looking for a good time. So as you can see, Willits has something for everyone.
I want to get into an important subject. For this I will need the support of the Editor. Just what exactly happened to the public bank? Who is holding it up? Who is being paid off to kill it? Of course the existing banks don't like the idea. Public banks exist all over the country. Hell, in North Dakota, a statewide public bank has been around since Buffalo Bill chased Sitting Bull across the state and caught up with him when Sitting Bull stopped to have a bowel movement. He just wanted Sitting Bull to join his show. I'm asking the Editor to look into this matter and tell us the status of the proposed public bank and how much county revenue is going to the existing banks who are experiencing hard times. Such a shame. Screw them banksters.
Thom Hartmann was on Ralph Nader's program a couple of weeks ago. They were talking about the lack of lefty talk radio. I have an idea for Marques at the AVA. Forget about those tired and boring subjects like Measure B and compile a list of lefty radio programs, lefty Internet and lefty print. You can start right down the road at the PD. (This new editor Green is set to Gannettize the PD by the looks of his writings the other day.) AVA readers will thank Marques for this public service. The last time Marques performed a public service was when he covered the opening of the In-N-Out burger joint in Ukiah.
A prediction: the Democrats will have a tough time getting any legislation through the Senate. The Phila-buster means they will have to get 10 Republicans or more to join in.
My last prediction: In November I said Tampa Bay would win the Super Bowl. In as much as Thom Hartmann can read a list of all the many provisions of the relief bill along with their dollar amounts, why can't the print media do it?
Not recommended book review: The widely popular “Hillbilly Elegy,” an autobiography of a boy through middle-age person living in the industrial city of Middletown, Ohio. On a scale of 10 I give it a six. Recommended reading: “Close Range” by Annie Proulx. Could it happen?
Bob Bushanski? Mr. Editor, do you want to beat on my program next Friday? Quien sabe?
Driving around the Maritime provinces of Canada I noticed Saturday public yard sales in small towns. Usually in a supermarket parking lot. Driving around the Negro neighborhoods in Las Vegas on Sunday: the takeover of closed store parking lots for the sales of clothing and other items by residents. I suppose something like this got started in Willits, Ukiah and Fort Bragg. It would drive authority figures crazy, but nothing could be done about it. It would make a good story. Send it to the Times.
A guy named Ammon Hennessy from Indiana wrote a book entitled “Autobiography of a Catholic Anarchist.” Ammon lived the life of civil disobedience. He didn't believe in rules. I first met him in Seattle when he was flogging his book. He battled the IRS and the Selective Service, working in vegetable farms in Arizona and Southern California so he could avoid all taxes. I had a lot in common with him as I had played hide and seek with the Selective Service and the FBI in 1946 and again from 1948-1951 where I avoided going to jail by about an hour and a half by convincing a doctor that I hadn't had rheumatic fever just before I was supposed to get on a train for a military base in South Carolina. I was tipped off about rheumatic fever by an intern from Bellevue Hospital who I met at the White Horse Tavern in the Village who had worked for the Selective Service.
I had decided long before that that I was not going to learn how to kill people nor actually engage in killing them. The FBI caught up with me in New York in August of 1951 when I was shipping out for New York. I had to make the 10 o'clock call at the union hall which was located on West 17th Street. Then I would walk across town to the Bowery where the Catholic Worker was located in a beat up building. Ammon had a room there in exchange for routine duties. A bare room with a bed. By this time Ammon was in his 80s with only one tooth. The Catholic Worker was a collection place for used clothing and other stuff from various Catholic charities. (Alexander Cockburn knew Ammon.) At 11 each morning people would start coming in looking for donated items. Ammon was in charge of handing out the stuff. Sometimes it got to be overwhelming so I would give him a hand until everything was passed out. One morning a bum came barefooted and asked for shoes. We gave him a pair of shoes. 45 minutes later he came in again and asked a pair of shoes. We gave him another pair of shoes. He had traded the first pair for a bottle of Sneaky Pete. I did not see Dorothy Day there. In the evenings Ammon liked to go over to the village, stand on the corner of Bleeker Street and watch the hippie girls.
Years ago most lefties read The Nation magazine when Alexander Cockburn came over from the Village Voice. He became their most popular writer. Christopher Hitchens was the second most popular. Cockburn had a column every other week and the next week there would be letters to the editor objecting to something Cockburn wrote. Disingenuous, shading the truth, never let the facts get in the way of a good story, etc. Cockburn liked to write about celebrities where he told stories that no one had ever heard of — a scoop. But always they were contradicted by the target.
The road is oh! so narrow
The Gates of Hell gaping
The trajectory of the arrow
“This from an earlier taping”
USA is lost
We knew the cost
Most hadn’t a clue
They chased not chaste
They fornicated in bathroom stalls
The stench of human waste
Airports and mega-malls
Satan takes on many forms
Satan laughing spreads his wings 1
Mae West pushing all the norms
And soon the fat lady sings
The USA is no more
Smoke ’em if ya got ’em
NeoFeudalism is in store
The banging of the drums
Like all: A new, different War
God knows what comes
God knows the score
She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain
Ridin’ 6 white horses 2
From Buckingham Fountain
Save your soul
Pray forgiveness from above
It’s a cash-only toll
And His Cash is Love
1 – Black Sabbath
2 – Traditional
— Charles Bukowski
CR JOHNSON REDWOOD STUMP Section, Union Lumber Co. Fort Bragg, 1951
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The comment about running again in ’24 was interesting. You’d think a 78 year-old could take take things a day at a time…tough when you’re a politician and an aging one at that. Possible pres at 86? First things first. Will he make it to tomorrow??
Note to Georgia voters…next time you line up at the polls, be sure to bring food and water. It’s now a crime for anyone to offer them to you as you’re queued in the hot Georgia sun. After all, there might be a thought-controlling microchip in that frosted donut…heh, heh.
A VISUAL REPRESENTATION of how much sugar is in ketchup ....just something for you to think about.
THE DEATH OF HUMOR
Review of Killer Cartoons, edited by David Wallis, and White
by Bret Easton Ellis
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo won the condemnation of the whole world again, with the following cover:
Reactions ranged from “abhorrent” to “hateful” to “wrong on every level,” with many offering versions of the now-mandatory observation that the magazine is not only bad now, but “has always been disgusting.”
This cover is probably an 8 or 9 on the offensiveness scale, and I laughed. It goes after everyone: Queen Elizabeth, depicted as a more deranged version of Derek Chauvin (the stubby leg hairs are a nice touch); Meghan Markle, the princess living in incomparable luxury whose victimhood has become a global pop-culture fixation; and, most of all, the inevitable chorus of outraged commentators who’ll insist they “enjoy good satire as much as the next person” but just can’t abide this particular effort that “goes too far,” it being just a coincidence that none of these people have laughed since grade school and don’t miss it.
Six years ago, after terrorists killed 10 people at Hebdo’s Paris offices in a brutal gun attack, the paper’s writers, editors, and cartoonists were initially celebrated worldwide as martyrs to the cause of free speech and democratic values. In France alone on January 11, 2015, over 3 million people marched in a show of solidarity with the victims, who’d been killed for drawing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Protesters also marched in defiance of those who would shoot people for drawing cartoons, especially since this particular group of killers also fatally shot four people at a kosher supermarket in an anti-Semitic attack. For about five minutes, Je Suis Charlie was a rallying cry around the world. In an early preview of the West’s growing sympathy for eliminating heretics, cracks quickly appeared in the post-massacre defense of Charlie Hebdo. Pope Francis said that if someone “says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch.”
Bill Donohoe, head of the American Catholic League, wrote, “Muslims are right to be angry,” and said of Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, “Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.”
New York Times columnist and noted humor expert David Brooks wrote an essay, “I Am Not Charlie Hebdo,” arguing that although “it’s almost always wrong to try to suppress speech,” these French miscreants should be excluded from polite society, and consigned to the “kids’ table,” along with Bill Maher and Ann Coulter.
Humor is dying all over, for obvious reasons. All comedy is subversive and authoritarianism is the fashion. Comics exist to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, and we live in an age when people believe they have a constitutional right to be taken seriously, even if — especially if — they’re idiots, repeating thoughts they only just heard for the first time minutes ago. Because humor deflates stupid ideas, humorists are denounced in all cultures that worship stupid ideas, like Spain under the Inquisition, Afghanistan under the Taliban, or today’s United States.
During the Trump era, there was a steep decline of jokes overall, but mockery of a president who’d say things like, “My two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart” rose to unprecedented levels. It was not only okay to laugh at Trump, it was mandatory, and the more tasteless the imagery, the better: Trump gay with Putin, Trump gay with the Klan, Trump with micropenis, Trump’s face as mosaic of 500 dicks, Trump as a blind man led by a seeing-eye dog who has the face of Benjamin Netanyahu and a Star of David hanging off his collar, Trump with a pen up his ass, Trump with tiny penis again.
Pundits guffawed even more when someone threatened to sue artist Illma Gore for her “Trump’s tiny weiner” pastel, displayed at the Maddox Gallery in London. “It is my art and I stand by it,” Gore said. “Plus anyone who is afraid of a fictional penis is not scary to me.”
People cheered, because of course: anyone who even threatens to hire a lawyer to denounce a drawing has already lost. Cartoonists in this sense had no better friend than Trump, who constantly tried to block unfriendly renderings, including a Nick Anderson cartoon showing him and his followers drinking bleach as a Covid-19 cure (the Trump campaign reportedly called Anderson’s drawing of MAGA hats a trademark infringement).
A lot of the anti-Trump cartoons were neither all that creative nor funny — if “He’s gay and has a little dick!” is the best you can do with that politician, you probably need a new line of work — and were only rescued by Trump’s preposterous efforts to defend his dignity. You can’t police a person’s private instinct to laugh, and there’s nothing funnier than watching someone try, especially if that person is already a sort-of billionaire and the president.
For all that, most of the jokes of the Trump era fell flat, precisely because they were obligatory. Modern humorists must laugh at bad people: racists, sexists, conspiracy theorists, Trump, anyone but themselves or the audience. There were artists who made great humor out of Trump. “Mr. Garrison snorts amyl nitrate while raping Trump to death” stood out, while Anthony Atamaniuk’s impersonations worked because he genuinely tried to connect with the Trump in all of us, asking, “Where’s the Trump part of my psyche?” But most Trump humor was just DNC talking points in sketch form, about as funny as WWII caricatures of Tojo or Hitler.
Saturday Night Live even commemorated the release of the Mueller report and the death of the collusion theory not by making fun of themselves, or the thousands of pundits, politicians, and other public figures who spent three years insisting it was true, but by doing yet another “Shirtless Putin” skit, with mournful Putin declaring, “I am still powerful guy, even if Trump doesn’t work for me!” I defy anyone to watch this and declare it was written by a comedian, and not someone like David Brock, or an Adam Schiff intern.
Humorists once made their livings airing out society’s forbidden thoughts, back when it was understood that a) we all had them and b) the things we suppressed and made us the most anxious also tended to be the things that made us laugh the most. Which brings us to ‘Killed Cartoons: Casualties From the War on Free Expression.’
Killed Cartoons is a history of a time when editors and cartoonists alike were trying to toe the line between what people found funny in private, and what was considered acceptable fodder for public ridicule. We’re way past that now, when we’re not supposed to have unwholesome thoughts either in public or in private. In fact, the whole concept of private thoughts has become infamous. Why does anyone need private opinions, in a society where the right opinions on every question are known, and should be safe to say publicly?
Some parts of northern California (including the SF North Bay, Mendocino County, and much of the central/northern Sacramento Valley) are currently experiencing their driest season since the 1976-1977 drought (and a few places are running behind even that infamous season). This is doubly concerning as these same regions experienced a top-five driest winter on record just last year — so this is now year two of exceptionally low precipitation in these areas. All of this is amplified by the prolonged periods of record high temperatures and drying offshore winds last year — both of which reduced water availability beyond what would be expected from precipitation deficits alone. I’m increasingly concerned that the widespread severe dryness and intensifying long-term drought conditions will lead to another very severe wildfire season across a broad portion of the West in 2021. In general, California is in pretty bad shape water-wise heading into spring 2021 — ”and I would expect the pre-existing drought to deepen considerably.
WRAP YOUR CELLPHONE IN TINFOIL
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
The internet is the land of a million tongues and a thousand truths, many false.
It’s a brightly lit shadowy world where facts are sometimes factual, political agendas are everywhere and everything is coated in a thick sludge of advertising. The internet is where conspiracies go to thrive and multiply.
But it isn’t all lies. To be on the safe side we consult additional unreliable websites to confirm what we want to believe. Who killed JFK skims the surface; the fake moon landing is old news. The Walrus was Paul, Revere. I once waded into a website showing secret underground chambers in Walmart stores all across the nation.
Also, crazy people think crazy things and act on them. It wasn’t the internet that invented free range hippie cults living in fear of radiation, microwaves and voices in their teeth. The internet doesn't make people in Albion, Greenfield Ranch and Planet Jupiter wear tinfoil helmets to thwart cosmic rays beaming from cellphone towers.
We laugh. But we also know it’s entirely possible for cell phone towers to blast invisible cancer-causing radioactive rays at us all the time, every hour, every minute, and that some day my ears might fall off and your frontal lobes turn to oatmeal.
SEMI-RELATED: The Ukiah Daily Journal recently ran a front pager (by Justine Frederiksen) on dwindling Monarch Butterfly populations. Clouds of butterflies no longer illuminate our skies. Andrea Davis, a local, was quoted saying she’s now lucky to spot a single caterpillar per year tucked in among the milkweed, giving her small hope another butterfly may one day take wing.
And you? How many little brown lizards do you see scampering around porches and parks these days, and how many did you see in the 1970s? How robust are frog populations compared to when you were a kid? Where did the banana slugs go? When did you last see a toad?
SEMI-RELATED: A friend I’ve never met emails me threats posed by corporations, progressives, global elites, etc., and last week sent documents from a lawsuit filed in 2001. The case, Murray v. Motorola, is on behalf of 13 people who believed their cancerous tumors were caused by cellphone radiation. All are deceased.
The opposing team: Sony, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, Nokia, Samsung, the FCC and dozens more. Both sides have heavy-hitting lawyers and experts, and they go to war in a Washington, DC. Superior Court come July ’21.
The gist of the lawsuit is that yes, cell phone towers emit microwave radiation at unhealthy levels for humans, and at eradication levels for birds, bees, insects and everything else that flies.
But the twist in the lawsuit is that cellphones themselves are at least as deadly as the towers because there are “only” about three million cell towers, but 14 billion mobile devices. Which cause the most devastation, towers or phones, is a tossup not that it matters to the birds, bees or Monarch Butterflies.
From a supporting document: “Just 25 years ago the average human did no harm to other species or other humans when taking a walk. Today, every human being is a source of radiation wherever he or she goes.”
Also: 5G technology means “any person with a cell phone is even more hazardous … to any bird or insect that flies between their phone and a cell tower.”
Now, comedy relief:
We live in Northern California, the most eco-sensitive spot on the planet. Courageous activists never miss taking shots at corporations threatening whales, spotted owls or redwood trees. They rage against loggers, chemicals, fracking, RoundUp, SUVs, contrails, Big Tobacco, plastic bags, L-P, G-P, Blood for Oil, highway construction, Big Pharma and so on, and on and on. They exist to shriek at those living a less righteous existence than theirs.
But who will they scream at if the lawsuit proves cell phones are destroying animal habitats? When they protest Fridays outside the courthouse whose name(s) will be on the placards they wave? Their own? Who will they jeer at? Themselves?
Will they demand compensation? Who gets it, who pays it?
Who will be Mendo’s first environmentalist to throw away her iPhone and offer weeping apologies for her mindless, decades-long, irreversible, deadly rampage against butterflies, bunnies, birdies and our fragile Mother Earth? Will she demand Justice for Toads Now!?
And who will be the first local journalist to apologize, in writing, to the tinfoil helmet weenies we’ve ridiculed through the years?
(Tom Hine lives in Ukiah and has a big butterfly bush with big purple blossoms in his backyard. TWK has good news and bad news: Your cell phone may give you cancerous tumors, but if you feel one coming on just call 9-1-1.)
LARRY MCMURTRY, Novelist of the American West, Dies at 84
by Dwight Garner
Larry McMurtry, a prolific novelist and screenwriter who demythologized the American West with his unromantic depictions of life on the 19th-century frontier and in contemporary small-town Texas, died on Thursday at home in Archer City, Texas. He was 84.
Over more than five decades, Mr. McMurtry wrote more than 30 novels and many books of essays, memoir and history. He also wrote more than 30 screenplays, including the one for “Brokeback Mountain” (written with Ms. Ossana, based on a short story by Annie Proulx), for which he won an Academy Award in 2006.
But he found his greatest commercial and critical success with “Lonesome Dove,” a sweeping 843-page novel about two retired Texas Rangers who drive a herd of stolen cattle from the Rio Grande to Montana in the 1870s. The book won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and was made into a popular television mini-series.
The cause was congestive heart failure, said Diana Ossana, his friend and writing partner.
Mr. McMurtry wrote “Lonesome Dove“ as an anti-western, a rebuke of sorts to the romantic notions of dime-store novels and an exorcism of the false ghosts in the work of writers like Louis L’Amour. “I’m a critic of the myth of the cowboy,’’ he told an interviewer in 1988. “I don’t feel that it’s a myth that pertains, and since it’s a part of my heritage I feel it’s a legitimate task to criticize it.’’
But readers warmed to the vivid characters in “Lonesome Dove.” Mr. McMurtry himself ultimately likened it, in terms of its sweep, to a Western “Gone With the Wind.”
Mr. McMurtry was the son of a rancher, and the realism in his books extended to the Texas he knew as a young man. His first novel, “Horseman, Pass By” (1961), examined the values of the Old West as they came into conflict with the modern world. Reviewing the novel in The New York Times Book Review, the Texas historian Wayne Gard wrote:
“The cow hands ride horses less often than pickup trucks or Cadillacs. And in the evening, instead of sitting around a campfire strumming guitars and singing ‘Git along, little dogie,’ they are more likely to have a game at the pool hall, drink beer and try their charms on any girls they can find.”
He added that Mr. McMurtry had “not only a sharp ear for dialogue but a gift of expression that easily could blossom in more important works.”
From the start of his career, Mr. McMurtry’s books were attractive to filmmakers. “Horseman, Pass By” was made into “Hud,” directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman. Mr. McMurtry’s funny, elegiac and sexually frank coming-of-age novel “The Last Picture Show“ (1966) was made into a film of the same title in 1971 starring Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd and directed by Peter Bogdanovich. The movie of his 1975 novel, “Terms of Endearment,” directed by James L. Brooks and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger and Jack Nicholson, won the Academy Award for best picture of 1983.
Mr. McMurtry relished his role as a literary outsider. He lived for much of his life in his hometown, Archer City, Texas, two hours northwest of Dallas. He had the same postal box for nearly 70 years. When he walked onstage to accept his Oscar for “Brokeback Mountain,” he wore bluejeans and cowboy boots below his dinner jacket. He reminded audiences that the screenplay was an adaptation of a short story by Ms. Proulx.
Yet Mr. McMurtry was a plugged-in man of American letters. For two years in the early 1990s he was American president of PEN, the august literary and human rights organization. He was a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, where he often wrote on topics relating to the American West. His friends included the writer Susan Sontag, whom he once took to a stock car race.
Six Buildings, One Bookstore
For some 50 years, Mr. McMurtry was also a serious antiquarian bookseller. His bookstore in Archer City, Booked Up, is one of America’s largest. It once occupied six buildings and contained some 400,000 volumes. In 2012 Mr. McMurtry auctioned off two-thirds of those books and planned to consolidate. About leaving the business to his heirs, he said: “One store is manageable. Four stores would be a burden.”
Mr. McMurtry’s private library alone held some 30,000 books and was spread over three houses. He called compiling it a life’s work, “an achievement equal to if not better than my writings themselves.”
Larry Jeff McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, on June 3, 1936, to Hazel Ruth and William Jefferson McMurtry. His father was a rancher. The family lived in what Mr. McMurtry called a “bookless ranch house” outside of Archer City, and later in the town itself. Archer City would become the model for Thalia, a town that often appeared in his fiction.
He became a serious reader early, and discovered that the ranching life was not for him. “While I was passable on a horse,” he wrote in “Books,” his 2008 memoir, “I entirely lacked manual skills.”
He graduated from North Texas State University in 1958 and married Jo Ballard Scott a year later. The couple had a son, James, now a well-regarded singer and songwriter, before divorcing.
After receiving an M.A. in English from Rice University in Houston in 1960, Mr. McMurtry went west, to Stanford University, where he was a Stegner Fellow in a class that included the future novelist Ken Kesey.
Thanks to his friendship with Mr. Kesey, Mr. McMurtry made a memorable cameo appearance in Tom Wolfe’s classic of new journalism, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” (1968). The book details Mr. Kesey’s drug-fueled journey across America, along with a gang of friends collectively known as the Merry Pranksters, in a painted school bus.
In the scene, Mr. Kesey’s bus, driven by Neal Cassady, pulls up to Mr. McMurtry’s suburban Houston house, and a naked and wigged-out woman hops out and snatches his son. Mr. Wolfe describes Mr. McMurtry “reaching tentatively toward her stark-naked shoulder and saying, ‘Ma’am! Ma’am! Just a minute, ma’am!’”
Mr. McMurtry wrote his first novels while teaching English at Texas Christian University, Rice University, George Mason College and American University. He was not fond of teaching, however, and left it behind as his career went forward.
He moved to the Washington area and with a partner opened his first Booked Up store in 1971, dealing in rare books. He opened the much larger Booked Up, in Archer City, in 1988 and owned and operated it until his death.
In a 1976 profile of Mr. McMurtry in The New Yorker, Calvin Trillin observed his book-buying skills. “Larry knows which shade of blue cover on a copy of ‘Native Son’ indicates a first printing and which one doesn’t,” Mr. Trillin wrote. “He knows the precise value of poetry books by Robert Lowell that Robert Lowell may now have forgotten writing.”
A Knack for Female Characters
While much of Mr. McMurtry’s writing dealt with the West or his Texas heritage, he also wrote novels about Washington (“Cadillac Jack“), Hollywood (“Somebody’s Darling“) and Las Vegas (“The Desert Rose“). There was a comic brio in his best books, alongside an ever-present melancholy. He was praised for his ability to create memorable and credible female characters, including the self-centered widow Aurora Greenway in “Terms of Endearment,” played by Shirley MacLaine in the film version.
In the novel, Aurora is up front about her appetites. “Only a saint could live with me, and I can’t live with a saint,” she says. “Older men aren’t up to me, and younger men aren’t interested.”
“I believe the one gift that led me to a career in fiction was the ability to make up characters that readers connect with,” Mr. McMurtry once wrote. “My characters move them, which is also why those same characters move them when they meet them on the screen.”
His early novels were generally well reviewed, although Thomas Lask, writing about “The Last Picture Show” in The Times Book Review, said, “Mr. McMurtry is not exactly a virtuoso at the typewriter.” Other critics would pick up that complaint. Mr. McMurtry wrote too much, some said, and quantity outstripped quality. “I dash off 10 pages a day,” Mr. McMurtry boasted in “Books.”
Some felt that Mr. McMurtry clouded the memories of some of his best books, including “The Last Picture Show,” “Lonesome Dove” and “Terms of Endearment,” by writing sequels to them, sequels that sometimes turned into tetralogies or even quintets. It was hard to recall, while reading his “Berrybender Narratives,” a frontier soap opera that ran to four books, the writer who delivered “Lonesome Dove.”
Mr. McMurtry sometimes felt the sting of critical neglect. “Should I be bitter about the literary establishment’s long disinterest in me?” he wrote in “Literary Life,” a 2009 memoir. “I shouldn’t, and mostly I’m not, though I do admit to the occasional moment of irritation.” In the late 1960s and early ’70s, he liked to tweak his critics by wearing a T-shirt that read “Minor Regional Novelist.”
He was open about the shadows that sometimes fell over his life and writing.
After completing “Terms of Endearment,” he entered what he described as “a literary gloom that lasted from 1975 until 1983,” a period when he came to dislike his own prose. He had a heart attack in 1991, followed by quadruple-bypass surgery. In the wake of that surgery he fell into a long depression during which, he told a reporter, he did little more than lie on a couch for more than a year.
That couch belonged to Ms. Ossana, whom Mr. McMurtry had met in the 1980s at an all-you-can-eat catfish restaurant in Tucson. They began living together, and collaborating shortly afterward — Mr. McMurtry writing on a typewriter, Ms. Ossana entering the work into a computer, often editing and rearranging.
“When I first met Larry, he was involved with about five or six different women,” Ms. Ossana told Grantland.com in 2014. “He was quite the ladies’ man. I was always really puzzled. One day I said to him, ‘So all of these women are your girlfriends?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Well, do they know about one another?’ He said, ‘Nooo.’”
Mr. McMurtry had reportedly completed a draft of a memoir titled “62 Women,” about some of the women he knew and admired. He had an unusual arrangement in the last years of his life.
In 2011 he married Norma Faye Kesey, Ken Kesey’s widow, and she moved in with Mr. McMurtry and Ms. Ossana. “I went up and drug Faye out of Oregon,” he told Grantland.com. “I think I had seen Faye a total of four times over 51 years, and I married her. We never had a date or a conversation. Ken would never let me have conversations with her.”
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. McMurtry is survived by two sisters, Sue Deen and Judy McLemore; a brother, Charlie; and a grandson.
Mr. McMurtry’s many books included three memoirs and three collections of essays, including “Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen,” published in 1999. “There are days,” Mr. McMurtry wrote, “where I think my own nonfiction will outlive my novels.”
In addition to old books, Mr. McMurtry prized antiquated methods of composition. He wrote all of his work on a typewriter, and did not own a computer. He wrote for the same editor, Michael Korda at Simon & Schuster, for more than three decades before moving to Liveright, an imprint of W.W. Norton, in 2014.
“Because of when and where I grew up, on the Great Plains just as the herding tradition was beginning to lose its vitality,” he once said, “I have been interested all my life in vanishing breeds.”
(New York Times)
WHEN BOREDOM'S NOT ENOUGH…
Coast Democratic Club Zoom Meeting
Thursday, April 1 @ 6 pm
Celebrate Earth Day!
REPORT FROM THE MENDOCINO COUNTY CLIMATE ACTION ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Tess Albin, Fort Bragg City Councilmember & District 4 Representative to the MCCAAC
Randy MacDonald, Executive Committee, Sierra Club Mendocino Group & Redwood Chapter; & District 5 Representative to the MCCAAC
Recommendations from the first MCCAAC Annual Report to the Board of Supervisors on 3/22
MCCAAC - Opportunities and Obstacles
Join Us for this Important Conversation
When Thu Apr 1, 2021 6pm ” 7:30pm Pacific Time - Los Angeles
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 897 9098 9463
HOW ABOUT THE BOSS?
If immigrants conclude that they cannot get work without a work permit, they are not going to risk their lives and fortunes to enter the United States without that documentation.
When we hire migrants lacking a work permit, we encourage desperate people to pay smugglers to get them into the country. The solution is to jail the employers of immigrants without work permits.
Yes, such enforcement will require an investment on our part. Nonetheless, only then will the business community put enough pressure on Congress to bring our immigration laws into conformity with the actual gaps in our labor force.
What about the surge of asylum applications? If when at the border an applicant had to present their documentation and got a prompt hearing (in a matter of a few weeks instead of years), people would not try to get several years of legal status while waiting for their hearing. Again, an investment in workforce is required to reverse the consequences of years of neglect.
I suggest that the above measures will accomplish what concrete walls, sensors, concertina wire and inhumane treatment will never accomplish.
YOU CAN KNOW A NATION by the nature of its crime.
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio. Friday.
Hi. Marco here. Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is around 6pm. After that, send it whenever it's ready, up to 6pm Friday next week, and I'll take care of it then. There's always another time. There's no pressure.
I'll be in KNYO's Franklin Street studio for tonight's show. The phone works great there. If you want to call and read your work in your own voice, the number is (707) 962-3022. I'll be in Fort Bragg next week too, so.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via http://airtime.knyo.org:8040/128 (That's the regular link to listen to KNYO in real time, any time.)
And any time of any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night the recording of tonight's show will also be there, in the latest post, right on top.
As if that weren't enough, also at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com there's a bottomless box of treasures you can rummage around in until showtime, not to mention between shows, such as:
An inspirational-office-breakroom-poster generator.
Everyone's got two masks on, so this is okay for them.
And constantly comically angry hebephrenic nincompoop Alex Jones lifted to the next level by adding metal guitar, bass and drums.
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
I THE JUROR
by Jeffrey St. Clair
The clock had been ticking since December, when I narrowly managed to evade jury duty, as the pandemic was spiking. I wouldn’t say our county is run by Covid deniers. But you can’t say it’s run by epidemiologists, either. The daily injustices at the courthouse must go on, killer virus be damned.
My reprieve, however, was short-lived. I was called back in early March. In the past, all I had to do to avoid this civic duty was to identify myself as a reporter, an avocation which prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges generally play to outside the courtroom but recoil from having present in a jury box. But in response to my inquiry about getting another deferral, a clerk informed me rather gravely that the court was desperate for bodies and my normal “get-out-of-jury-jail” card wouldn’t work this time round.
So I walked the mile or so to the courthouse on a frosty March morning, carrying Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment in my hand, as a kind of talisman. (I had just finished the section where Raskolnikov comes across the mangled body of his friend Marmeladov, who had been run over in the street, with the drivers and the police rationalizing the incident as the victim's own fault–a bloody precursor of today’s plow-down-a-protester laws.) It was almost spring and winter had finally arrived in Oregon. The temperature was below zero…on the Celsius scale, at least.
It was a little after seven and I was about 30 minutes early. There were yellow marks on the sidewalk, spaced six feet apart where the potential jurors were meant to stand, awaiting entry into a building adjacent to the courthouse. But most of the other early arrivals were standing in the courtyard, between the courthouse and the administrative office, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and freely mingling with lawyers, clerks and, presumably, defendants. Most were masked, a few weren’t and one woman was furiously vaping some kind of scented marijuana elixir, while wearing a plastic visor, which was raised above her head like a medieval knight before a joust.
No one seemed very happy to be there and most had probably only shown up under the ominous threat of being cited with contempt, a sanction which was boldly stamped on our jury notification cards. After all, even in these desperate economic times selling yourself as a juror for a week wasn’t a profitable endeavor. The per diem offered by the court didn’t even cover the cost of parking in the city-owned lot reserved for jurors.
By the time the doors opened at 7:30, the line of prospective jurors wrapped around the building. We were led in groups of threes through the door, up a flight of stairs to an austere corridor where we were to get our temperatures taken by a machine that scanned our foreheads. A woman called my number (92) and summoned me toward the scanner. I bent my knees and placed my forehead a couple of inches from the strange-looking machine, which immediately started beeping maniacally. “Oh, shit,” I blurted, thinking the virus had finally tracked me down.
“Hey, look at this,” the younger clerk said to the senior clerk, waving her over.
“Too low,” she said, imperiously. “Stand over there,” pointing to a dark corner.
My forehead was apparently frozen. I set off the alarm on the scanner two more times, before they finally hustled me into the jury room and commanded me to sit in a chair against a wall to fill out a juror form.
Had I ever been arrested? Yes.
Do I know anyone who has been arrested? Yes.
Do I know anyone who works in law enforcement? Yes.
Do I know anyone who is in prison? Yes.
Do I know anyone who is a lawyer? Yes.
Do I know anyone who is judge? Yes.
What is your occupation? Journalist.
All truthful. All of which would normally get one excluded from a jury. I submit my questionnaire, which is taken along with those from the other 50 potential jurors to the courthouse for the judges and lawyers to scrutinize.
I scan the room. The first person I notice is the woman who was wearing the facial shield, which was taken from her before she entered the building. She was handed a surgical mask. She objected, but eventually relented. In the jury room, she kept pulling the mask two or three inches away from her face. Another juror complained. The woman pulled her mask all the way down and shouted, “I can’t breathe.” At first, I thought this might be a racist joke, but the woman didn’t seem all that sharp to me. The jury coordinator gently reprimanded her. But the routine started up again after the court official left the room.
Two guys next to me, both in their early to mid 70s, were sharing videos of the Capitol Hill riot, laughing at the “shaman,” who they both concluded was a plant, either Antifa or FBI.
Meanwhile, a monitor was playing a video on “implicit bias”, which no one seemed to be watching. One woman was practicing some kind of chair aerobics, while a man was dog-earing the pages of a chainsaw catalogue and talking to no one in particular about how after tree damage from the ice storm he needed “a lot more firepower”.
The implicit bias video was replaced by one on the history of the county courthouse, which had been built in 1937 to service a population of 50,000. The population of the county now exceeds 450,000. I quickly learned that the courthouse itself, built in a fusion of art deco and mid-century bureaucratic brutalist architectural styles, is falling apart and would crumble into the river at the slightest tremor of the earth. We are slated for an 8.0 quake any day now. Moreover, the wiring is obsolete and the ventilation system, meant to protect us from the airborne transmission of deadly viral particles, is shot. Is this the case when the jury gets the death penalty?
Finally, the juror coordinator comes back and starts reading off juror numbers. Mine is the second to the last called. Somehow I’ve survived the cut. We line up in the hall and are told that we will soon walk over to the courthouse and through security, where we will be wanded and frisked. The now-visorless woman raises her hand. “I’ve got a box-cutter knife and bear mace in my purse, is that okay?” Two security guards grab her arms and escort her from the building. The rest of us applaud lustily.
About 30 of us are led into the courtroom for voir dire, the individual questioning of potential jurors by the judge and the attorneys. I was assigned a seat at the back of the room. Along with Dostoevsky, I’d brought my old copy of the juror’s handbook written by the civil libertarian Godfrey Lehman, founder of the Fully-Informed Jury Association or FIJA. It’s essentially a manifesto for jury nullification in criminal trials.
The judge finally entered the room, thanked us for showing up (as if we had a choice), and informed us that he considered us all “essential workers.” Even so, none of us were offered vaccines. We were told that this was a criminal trial for the violation of a protective order, essentially, as he rather indelicately put it, “a case of stalking.” He identified the prosecutor, the defense lawyers and the defendant, a white man in his 40s, who looked understandably anxious and uncomfortable as he scanned the room, trying to smile at the people who would determine his fate. His lawyers were two young women, competent but a little inexperienced it seemed. Everyone wore masks, although the lone prosecutor, who had the stolid build of an aging linebacker, allowed his to slip continually from his nose as he spoke. He wasn’t reprimanded, though the judge sternly evicted one of the potential jurors, a man in his twenties, who was sucking on his vape pen as the defense lawyers began to ask questions about our understanding of the legal concepts of burden of proof and reasonable doubt. The collective understanding was, shall we say, primitive. Most of the jurors, many of whom had watched many seasons of the various incarnations of Law & Order, understood in theory that the burden was the prosecution’s and that the defense was not obliged to offer any evidence at all. But it didn’t take much probing for most of them to let slip that they’d probably hold it against the defendant if the defense didn’t put on a case and if they defendant didn’t testify.
Two women were excused after revealing they had been the victims of sexual assault. A man was excused for having been accused of stalking by his ex-wife. Another woman was let go after she said the trial would be “too traumatic” for her and yet another for having worked in a shelter for abused women. The odds of me landing on the jury were rising. Then the prosecutor finally asked me a direct question: “Would I believe the testimony of a criminal?”
“Define ‘criminal’,” I replied.
“Someone who has been convicted of a crime.”
“Over the testimony of someone who has no record?”
“What do you mean by ‘record’?” I said.
“Criminal record,” he snapped, testily.
“I’d believe them equally, until one or the other’s credibility was punctured.”
“What about a police officer?”
“Ex-cons tell the truth and cops lie. It happens all the time.”
“Thank you, Mr. St. Clair. You’re excused.”
So, I’d finally been kicked free, but I’m pretty sure that my departure meant the defendant wouldn’t be.
BIG AG BILLIONAIRES DONATE $250K TO NEWSOM’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST RECALL
by Dan Bacher
Stewart and Lynda Resnick, billionaire agribusiness tycoons and major promoters of the Delta Tunnel and increased water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, have donated a total of $366,800 to Governor Gavin Newsom since 2018, including $250,000 to the campaign to fight the Governor’s recall.
Lynda Resnick, the Vice Chairman of the Wonderful Company, donated $125,000 to the “Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom” campaign on March 22, according to California Form 497.
On the same day, Stewart Resnick, the Chairman and President of the Wonderful Company, also donated $125,000 to the campaign.
In an email from Gavin Newsom urging opposition to the recall effort, the Resnicks’ names appear at the bottom:
“PAID FOR BY STOP THE REPUBLICAN RECALL OF GOVERNOR NEWSOM. Committee major funding from: California Democratic Party, Lynda Resnick, Stewart Resnick.”
The email states: ”Please add your name to say you oppose the far-right Republican recall effort in California. It is critical you make your voice heard from the start of this effort.“
Personally, I oppose the recall effort. The last time we had a successful recall campaign in California, we ended up with a governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a disaster for fish, water and environmental justice — and revived the Peripheral Canal project that was voted down decisively in 1982.
At the same time, I fear that the billionaires’ contributions to “Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom” will only bolster Newsom’s support of projects that corporate agribusiness promotes, including the Delta Tunnel, Sites Reservoir and the voluntary water agreements.
These latest donations are not the only donations given to Newsom’s campaigns by the Resnicks since 2018. Newsom received a total of $755,198 in donations from agribusiness in the 2018 election cycle, based on the data from www.followthemoney.org. That figure includes a combined $116,800 from Stewart and Lynda Resnick and $58,400 from E.J. Gallo, combined with $579,998 in the agriculture donations category.
The Koch Brothers of California
The Resnicks, nicknamed ”the Koch Brothers of California” by activists, have contributed many millions of dollars to candidates from both sides of the political aisle and to proposition campaigns so they can continue selling back public water to the public at a huge profit while promoting legislation and other efforts to weaken laws protecting fish, wildlife and water. The Resnicks are considered the largest tree fruit growers in the world.
The Resnicks have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to not only Newsom, but to Jerry Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other governors in California.
In November 2018, the Resnicks’ Wonderful Orchards LLC donated $100,000 to Jerry Meral’s unsuccessful Proposition 3 water bond campaign that would have funded projects to benefit the Resnicks and other growers.
The Resnicks also contributed $150,000 to Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 1 water bond campaign in the fall of 2014. To read about how Brown broke his Prop 1 “promise” to not spend any water bond money on the Delta Tunnels.
The Resnicks have also donated many hundreds of millions of dollars throughout their Resnick Family Foundation to the University of California system and the arts in California.
In September of 2019, the Resnicks announced a $750 million pledge to Caltech to “support cutting-edge research into the most pressing challenges in environmental sustainability.”
“In order to comprehensively manage the climate crisis, we need breakthrough innovations, the kind that will only be possible through significant investment in university research,” said Stewart Resnick, a senior member of the Caltech Board of Trustees, in a Caltech press release. ”Science and bold creativity must unite to address the most pressing challenges facing energy, water, and sustainability.”
The couple own the POM Wonderful and Fiji Water brands, Wonderful Halos, Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds, JUSTIN Wines, Landmark Wines, JNSQ Wines, Suterra Pest Control and the Teleflora floral wire service company.
The Resnicks became notorious for buying water for as little as $28 per acre-foot from the State of California and then selling it for as much as $196 per acre-foot back to the state, according to an article by the late Mike Taugher in the Contra Costa Times on May 23, 2009. The state then used this water to supply other irrigators whose Delta water supply had been previously curtailed.
“As the West Coast’s largest estuary plunged to the brink of collapse from 2000 to 2007, state water officials pumped unprecedented amounts of water out of the Delta only to effectively buy some of it back at taxpayer expense for a failed environmental protection plan, a MediaNews investigation has found,” according to Taugher.
The couple’s huge agricultural operations, based in Kern County, use more water annually than every home in Los Angeles combined, according to an article by Josh Harkinson in Mother Jones magazine on August 9, 2016: https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/08/lynda-stewart-resnick-california-water/
The consequences of Big Ag Regulatory Capture: Ecosystem Collapse
The latest donations from the Resnicks come in the wake of the news that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found zero Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus), once the most abundant fish species in the estuary, in its 2020 Fall Midwater Trawl Survey throughout the Delta. This was the third year in a row that zero smelt were found in the survey.
“All signs point to the Delta smelt as disappearing from the wild this year, or, perhaps, 2022,” according to a California Water Blog post by Peter Moyle, Karrigan Börk, John Durand, T-C Hung and Andrew L. Rypel.
Not only did the survey catch zero Delta Smelt, but it also found zero Sacramento Splittail, a native minnow that was removed from the Endangered Species list by the Bush administration.
The zero Delta Smelt and Sacramento Splittail found in the survey reflect an ongoing collapse of pelagic (open water) fish species in the Delta that also includes Longfin Smelt, Striped Bass, Threadfin shad and American Shad. While there are several factors that scientists pinpoint for the ecosystem collapse, including toxic chemicals, decreasing water quality and invasive species, no factor figures greater in the collapse than the export of massive quantities of state and federal project water from the Delta to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests like the Resnicks and the Westlands Water District.
As the Delta smelt and other fish species move closer and closer to extinction in the wild, Governor Newsom, like California governors before him, has done little to stop the smelt’s slide towards extinction but has instead promoted water policies that will only hasten the extinction of the Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Central Valley steelhead, spring and winter-run Chinook salmon and other fish species.
The Delta Tunnel, Sites Reservoir and voluntary agreements that Newsom backs not only threaten Central Valley and Delta species, but the salmon and steelhead populations that have been an integral part of the culture of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk and other Tribes for thousands of years.
Could Newsom’s support of Big Ag-promoted projects be because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars Newsom has received from corporate agribusiness interests like the Resnicks that support increasing water exports from the Delta rather than decreasing them?
By fast-tracking the Delta Tunnel, supporting the Big Ag-backed voluntary water agreements, overseeing the issuing of a draft EIR that increases water exports for the state and federal projects rather than reducing them and releasing a controversial water portfolio that includes fast-tracking the Sites Reservoir, it appears that Newsom is bending to the will of his agribusiness donors and sending Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead and other fish species to the scaffold.
The dramatic decline of Delta smelt and other species, when viewed over the period of 53 years since 1967 when the State Water Project went into operation, is simply chilling.
Between 1967 and 2020, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Fall Midwater Trawl (FMWT) abundance indices (combined September, October, November and December surveys) for striped bass, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, American shad, splittail and threadfin shad have declined by 99.7, 100, 99.96, 67.9, 100, and 95 percent, respectively, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).
“Taken as five-year averages (1967-1971 vs. 2016-2020), the declines for striped bass, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, American shad, splittail and threadfin shad are 98.1, 99.8, 99.8, 26.2, 99.3 and 94.3 percent, respectively,” said Jennings.
How my article about the Resnicks got me monitored by the UC Davis Chancellor
An investigative piece focusing on the relationship between Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoons Stewart and Lynda Resnick and the UC system that I wrote in March 2016 definitely got UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi’s attention.
Stewart Resnick served on the Board of Advisors of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, made famous for serving as Chancellor when UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike pepper-sprayed students during the Occupy protests in the fall of 2011. After her resignation from the position in 2016, Resnick continues to sit on the Board of Advisors.
According to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee, I was one of the journalists being monitored by a private firm, Idmloco, hired by Katehi and funded by our tax dollars.
The documents released to the Bee “illustrate the efforts the university undertook to monitor its reputation nationwide, including analysis of Twitter accounts of journalists and lawmakers.”
“The online reputation management companies were paid at least $175,000 to bury and counterbalance negative online references about the university and Katehi following a November 2011 incident in which campus police pepper-sprayed students during a peaceful demonstration,” the Bee stated.
The firm was monitoring posts from Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, “who called on Katehi to resign and held an oversight hearing on outside compensation for university leaders.”
(Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher email@example.com.)
‘WHERE AM I HERE?’
by James Kunstler
Biden’s style — specifically how he communicates with the American people — is also a page from the FDR playbook. Two months into his presidency, he has been surprisingly disciplined and economical with his words and appearances. The verbal gaffes that dogged him throughout his long career in Washington are nowhere to be seen.”
— Paul Brandus, Opinion columnist, USA Today
I don’t know about you, but I was thrilled to hear Joe Biden tell America — with a faraway gleam in those ol’ blue Konstantin Chernenko eyes — that he’s expecting to run for a second term. The prospect must engross him, so effervescent was his campaign of 2020! Like all presidents, he’s learning on-the-job, but he’s already lapping Franklin Roosevelt in the hundred-day dash of executive action, showing those wicked CCP envoys who’s boss (why, they are, of course), and turning the depraved white supremacist state of Texas into a vibrant Honduras del Norte. As Mr. Biden would say, anyway… I’ve gone on too long about that….
Meanwhile, from offstage you could hear the crunch of his handlers chewing their Xanax, knowing that the game was a brain-fart away from disaster. Well, he only wandered away from the podium one time, and he dutifully followed the script. In fact, the script was right there in his hand the entire white-knuckle hour of this debut press conference, and he often appeared to be reading straight off the page. I’m sure he was making a funny when he said he came to the Senate 120 years ago. (Remember the battle over Wm. H Taft’s nomination to be Territorial Governor of the Philippines? And how, in the hearings, then-freshman Senator Ol’ Joe B produced three New Haven doxies who testified about Taft’s “abnormal appetites” during the nominee’s years at Yale?)
Traditionally, presidential press conferences are opportunities to inform the nation where things stand, and to send signals to the other nations (“friend and foe alike” as JFK used to say) about America’s intentions, especially in the nuclear age, with the world so nervously on edge. What did Americans learn from Mr. Biden’s debut? Mainly that an old dog can do some old tricks, follow a script, play the politician, fill a suit, run his mouth, and go through the motions — fulfilling people’s cynical expectation that some trip is being laid on them. Foreign observers will probably note that the executive branch is being run by a politburo more secretive even than the old gang who ran the USSR. No one in this country seems to notice.
Mr. Biden’s real job is as a walking MaxWriter© signature machine, ready to sit down and serve whenever Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer send another 1000-plus-page bundle of legislation to the White House, designed to ratchet up the government’s despotic power over everyday life in order to “solve the problems” of free enterprise, free elections, and free speech with free money and hyper-complexity.
Coming up soon, for instance: HR1, the “For the People [ha!] Act,” designed to maximally enable election fraud by enrolling as many live bodies as possible to vote with no chance of verifying their identities, age, place of residence, or citizenship. The act would certainly introduce many new layers of chaos and delay in ascertaining election results. It would also take away the states’ constitutional duty to fashion their own election requirements and, in the process, further erode the legitimacy of the federal government and give many states more reason to oppose and nullify it, or even secede from it — meaning, another step toward that looming civil war 2.0.
One strange exchange in the press conference especially stood out [from the official White House transcript]:
Q: [Janet Rodriguez, Univision] Thank you, Mr. President. We, too, have been reporting at the border. And just like Cecilia, we ran into a pair of siblings who came in on Monday, who were detained by CBP — had the phone number for their mother who lives in the U.S. We have contacted the mother. That’s the only way they know her kids are here because CBP, today, Thursday, has not contacted that mother. So, when can we expect your promise of things getting better with contacting and expediency and processing?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they’re already getting better, but they’re going to get real — they’ll get a whole hell of lot better real quick, or we’re going to hear of some people leaving, okay?
Did you catch that? The siblings’ mother lives in the USA? How did she get here and when? Is she here legally? Why were these children living in another country, away from their mother, and for how long? Why did the mother abandon her children in the country she left? Did anybody notice that this story doesn’t add up?
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