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DRY WEATHER WILL PERSIST across the region through the weekend, with mainly clear skies occurring across the interior, and periods of marine stratus lingering along the coast. Warm to locally hot temperatures will be probable for inland valleys through Monday. Cooler weather accompanied by a few showers will be possible later next week. (NWS)
4 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
HULBERTS AND GALBREATHS THIS SATURDAY AT THE YORKVILLE MARKET
This Saturday, 4/17 we will be making two of our most popular sandwiches from our old Deli menu - the Hulbert and the Galbreath!
The Hulbert is the house roasted chicken sandwich with pesto aioli, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickled onion on a delicious toasted rosemary bun. You can also add on bacon and/or avocado to take this already amazing sando to the next level.
The Galbreath is an ooey-gooey vegetarian sandwich with pesto aioli, local brie cheese, sliced apple, fresh basil, house pickled onions and organic mixed greens, toasted on a rosemary bun.
Both of these sandwiches were local favorites - so this is the weekend to remember the good old days, or to try one of the best sandwiches you have ever eaten.
We will be serving these both “to-order” from 12ish to 4ish or until we sell out. You can call ahead at (707) 894-9456 or just come down, grab a drink and hang out on our lovely patio space while we prepare your order. Remember to pick up a cold beverage and a side salad or bag of chips to accompany your lunch.
Enjoy the beautiful weather and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Lisa at Yorkville Market <firstname.lastname@example.org>
LAKE MENDOCINO THURSDAY (photo by Judy Valadao)
BOB ABELES COMMENTS
Re: Wednesday’s AT&T Outage
When AT&T’s Boonville DSLAM went down Wednesday afternoon, I thought it would be a good time to measure cellular performance under stress. First responders please take note, the results were not at all good. Normally, the 4G tower near the hwy 253/128 intersection can pump out about 10 Mbps, barely enough to stream choppy low resolution video, but acceptable for web browsing. With AT&T DSL circuits down and everyone piling on cellular, that number dropped to 0.05 Mbps, less than the speed of an old school dial-up 56K modem, rendering it useless for almost all purposes.
My point is that our rural communication systems in Anderson Valley are fragile and not up to the task of providing reliable service in the event of an emergency.
JEFF BURROUGHS HISTORY NOTE:
If I remember correctly, I read that the first commercially grown hops in Mendocino County were grown sometime around 1870's at the small hamlet named Hermitage which was located about 4 miles South East of Yorkville, at the headwaters of Dry Creek on what is now Hwy 128. Apparently the story goes that some guy who owned a little ranch near Hermitage decided to try growing hops and did quite well, selling the hops for 22 cents a pound, so he took every bit of his money and reinvested in doubling his crop only to have the price of hops drop to 10 cents a pound the following year. He lost everything and went bankrupt.
The County wouldn't see hops commercially grown again for another 30 years.
AV FIRE ADVICE:
Did you know that ember cast is a leading factor in homes lost to wildfires? An ember can travel up to a mile ahead of a fire and land in leaf litter, tarps, or other combustible material to ignite a home ahead of the fire front.
You can reduce the risk to your home by reducing or eliminating combusible materials in the Home Ignition Zone - the five feet out from your exterior walls.
Every small step you make toward home hardening makes a difference. When you work to reduce the risk to your own home, you're also reducing the likelihood that it will become fuel and contribute to the growth of a wildfire.
IN COVELO, HARSH REALITIES SETTING IN
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
A long road paved with good intentions has brought Mendocino County to a hellish land of marijuana cultivation called Covelo.
Those good intentions were mostly lies, but well-intended ones. Maybe.
After all the years of happy-face promises from weedvocates, the mask is off and harsh realities are setting in. No one in 2021 is coughing up sunny rubbish about pot as a medical marvel, nor is anyone forecasting a county budget overflowing with money from the taxes, taxes, and more taxes generated by legalization.
No one talks about “victimless” crime these days or suggests weed as a sane, safe and natural intoxicant compared with bad old beer and bourbon. Marijuana as an unrivaled bearer of joy to the world was a narrative propelled from the start by dishonest propaganda. But now the fig leaf is gone, the camouflage removed, the truth revealed.
We survey a scarred and scorched earth where marijuana is cultivated and we once again remember the abiding laws of unintended consequences and of details designed by devils. It’s all on display right now in Covelo, and it is not a pretty sight.
There’s no one better at framing the marijuana monstrosity than Mendocino County’s Sheriff, Matt Kendall. Born and raised in Covelo, he now views his home town with sadness tinged by horror. He calls it “the most dangerous place to live,” and says “the amount of violence is ridiculous.”
In a recent front page Daily Journal story by Karen Rifkin, the Sheriff said the industry “has become a massive beast” and that the criminality is so pervasive and out of control that if given 500 deputies and 500 helicopters for 500 days he would be unable to make a dent in the problems.
“If they (the county) were to give me $100 million it would do no good” he said, due in part to difficulties required to train and hire new officers. “The time to put in enforcement regulations was when the ordinance was first set up,” he said but lax county conditions lured cartels from around the planet to come do their dirty work in Mendocino County.
Kendall said big money bankrolls organizations from Mexico, Russia, Bulgaria and elsewhere. Sources in Covelo say growers are flooding in from Phoenix, San Jose and Juarez, Mexico. These newcomers do not arrive hoping to settle down, raise a family or give anything back to the community. They are in Covelo to tear as much flesh off as they can, gorge themselves and move on.
They pollute with impunity, eliminate deer, rabbits, birds and anything else cutting into profits. These are hard criminals by nature and trade, and don’t believe killing a bear or destroying a stream rises to the level of a crime. Not that they’d care if it did.
These guys would sell kilos of pot to their six-year old niece; draining an aquifer troubles them not. But eventually, like everything under the sun, changes will come, markets will tumble and they’ll leave Covelo. No one will suggest a farewell parade.
Again, Sheriff Kendall: “When the bubble bursts we will be left with (huge) problems. When they pack up and leave we will have even more poverty than we have now. This situation is poisoning our future.”
Bitter irony awaits. If we were to get our wish and scores of these cretin growers were arrested, brought to jail and then to trial, Mendocino County would be broke in a week. Each defendant will tell the court he is indigent and demand taxpayer-funded lawyers, investigators and interpreters. It will cost millions. For your own amusement try finding a few dozen court translators fluent in Russian, Bulgarian and whatever they speak at the North Pole.
But maybe Comatose Joe will send in federal troops with tanks and bazookas and have the cretins charged with federal crimes. That will be the easy part. The hard part will be waiting 100 years for the rivers, streams, land and fish to recover from the pillage, poison and rape going on right now.
More irony: This could not have happened in a Mendocino County with a healthy, thriving timber industry continuously monitored by timber cutters, foresters and rangers. The earliest sign of an illegal grow would have been reported to cops, followed by a quick bulldozing by L-P loggers.
But no. Our back-to-the-landers got exactly what they wished for when they screamed, protested, spiked trees, sabotaged equipment and pretended to care about spotted owls. The loggers, law abiding family men who grew up and lived here all their lives and who loved their home towns, were driven out by Earth First and its angry, smug comrades.
Where today are all the protesters singing songs and linking arms? Who is sitting in a tree or camping near a stream to prevent crimes against the environment far in excess of anything loggers ever did, or would have done? Where is that fierce compassion and determined spirit in defense of Mother Nature?
The lumber companies are gone, marijuana is legal and the protesters have triumphed. Now travel to Covelo to gaze upon the fruits of your victory: Millions of dollars of legal marijuana packed into trucks, rolling to Denver, profits to Vladivostok.
My name is Terry Kramer. I am one of the many who came up this way getting a little smoke and then ended up catching a case and was then sent to prison. You all know the drill.
A friend of mine, Stan, got beaten to death by a kid named Jewel who he helped raise as his own even though he wasn't and I am wondering what ever happened in that case? I sent Jewel a letter in the Low Gap Motel but then I had to go put in some years myself so I never heard the outcome of things concerning that matter. So if one of your fine readers can bring me up to speed there please do so. Thank you.
I would like to give a shout out to Ryan Long and the many other good people I met as I sat in the Low Gap Craphole for a few years fighting a petty chickenbleep case that cost me five years at 80% then after just three days out I shattered my spine in four places. My buzzard luck just keeps on keeping on, so I'm off to the pen again. But I should see the streets again in 90 days or so. Will any of you long-lost brothers out there who I know, please drop a line to this paper and let me know who is still alive out there because we seem to be dropping like flies these days?
I am in the Sonoma County Jail at 2777 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.
Take care and I send everyone my best with pride and respect,
PS. I miss Flynn Washburn's stories.
I would like to quote from a recent Off The Record in the column near the fold of the page: “It seems to be a simple formula that makes sense that if economic output minus borrowing costs is greater than taxes minus spending, debt as a percentage of GDP should decline. This is sustainability.” (AVA, April 7, 2021)
Although I was only a history major at Stanford I have no idea what the above quote means. I don't even know why I need a parachute. I don't expect any clarification, but I want you to know that I am lost.
PS. I suspect that I am not alone.
I would like to respond to the story you printed recently, “A Brief History of Pot on the North Coast.”
It was well-written and I'm sure well intended. But that being said, when is someone like me who knows the real history of our beloved Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity counties / Emerald triangle going to step up for a reality check? I don't see anyone else so here goes:
My story as a guerrilla grower:
I was born April 26, 1973 in Fort Bragg. I had a loving mother and father. I have a brother three years older. I always said my dad was the Milk Man because I am six feet, one inch, 288 pounds, solid as an old-growth redwood tree.
Where to start? The pot industry on the surface is hippies, hippie rednecks, grandma and grandpa growing Prop 215 medical weed in the backyard.
The reality is I started to grow out in the hills, rivers, mountains of Mendocino County in 1988. My freshman year in high school I grew 10 pounds of Mendo’s best home-grown killer weed and sold it at $5000 a pound for $50,000. In my senior year I grew 30 pounds and earned $150,000. If you bought a 10 pack it would bring the total down to $4800 a pound.
Guerrilla growers are not mom-and-pop 215 wheat growers. For example, at age 18 I was sitting in my garden in Elk with a Thomson 45 submachine gun, a 40 caliber sawed-off auto and backpack of clips and ammo thinking that I hope that CAMP helicopter flies close enough that I can take it down. Maybe the Mexican nationals from Boonville too.
Packs of 5-10 of them would walk through my hillside plantation because that is how I roll. Just another day at the office. This may sound extreme or racist so let me set the record straight. I'm not a racist; I am a grower. I go to Reggae on the river, Smoke Mendo’s best with my whole family. I do security at reggae concerts. For 33 years I've been in and out of prison and am a validated gang member, level 4-180 “Wood.” Two tattoos, not prison tats. Fort Bragg and Ukiah California.
As I write this I know that it won't be published or even make it out of the jail mailbox. So what's the point? I'm here to tell you the hills have eyes. People disappear or go missing and so does a lot of money. WTF? I am now retired. I love to cut grass and make the roses bloom. I am not the one. If you don't know about Vietnam California, don't go looking.
Mendocino County Jail
SERIAL KILLER ROBERT DURST in Mendocino County
Robert Durst, son and heir of New York City’s real estate mogul Seymour Durst, is widely considered to be a serial killer. Police suspect him of killing his first wife Kathleen McCormack Durst in 1982, his Los Angeles friend Susan Berman in 2000, and Durst admitted in a Texas court to killing and dismembering his Galveston neighbor in 2001. Durst was acquitted on claims of self-defense. But, Durst is suspected of involvement in other deaths and disappearances. His arrest in Mendocino in 1995 gave a clue that may tie him to the well-known disappearance of Humboldt County teenager Karen Mitchell.
SUPES TO HOLD ALL DAY POT MEETING NEXT TUESDAY
Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda - April 20th, 2021
Community Partners, Colleagues, and Interested Parties:
The Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda for the Tuesday, April 20th, 2021, meeting is now available on the County website: https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Please contact Clerk of the Board at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions regarding this message.
* * *
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS POSTS:
BoS - Monday, April 19, 2021
Noticed Public Hearing - Discussion and Possible Action Including Introduction and Waive First Reading of an Ordinance Adopting Mendocino County Code Chapter 22.18 - Commercial Cannabis Activity Land Use Development Ordinance and Making Corresponding Amendments to Chapter 10A.17 - Mendocino Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance and Chapter 20.242 - Cannabis Cultivation Sites (Sponsor: Planning & Building Services)
Introduce and waive first reading of an ordinance adopting Mendocino County Code Chapter 22.18 - Commercial Cannabis Activity Land Use Development Ordinance and making corresponding amendments to Chapter 10A.17 - Mendocino Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance and Chapter 20.242 - Cannabis Cultivation Sites.
My initial thoughts: https://ted.net/phase3
* * *
John McCowen Comments:
Thanks for posting. I hope people will not be fooled by the campaign of falsehoods being waged against Chapter 22, the proposed new cultivation ordinance. On Monday the Board took a major step forward giving clear direction to clean up the current applicant pool and more importantly, approve use of satellite imagery to reign in the wave of illegal cultivation that threatens environmental and neighborhood quality of life. Adoption of a functional regulatory system, including limited expansion, is what Chapter 22 represents. If people really want to take cannabis off the front page and off the Board agenda, it is critical to have enforcement AND a functional regulatory system.
CANNABIS EXPANSION GOOD FOR MENDO
To whom it may concern,
I was born in the era when Mendocino County was centralized around the booming timber industry. I witnessed this county in its glory days when Branscomb was an actual town with its own ball fields. When my small hometown of Laytonville had enough participants to support their own sports leagues without having to scour for every last able-bodied youth to field its teams. When our schools were filled with enough students to support the small class sizes and unique opportunities that allowed our youth to flourish. People were happy. Violent crime levels were low.
The community we live in today is a different picture. Our crime rates are climbing. Our school enrollments are declining. In the past, illegal cannabis money was helping to support these communities and really give them the extra push that they needed economically. But what we fail to realize was that it was the local timber industry that was really holding everything together. The logging industry provided jobs. It was our middle class. It was a way for our community members who didn’t participate in cannabis to make a decent living. Once our local timber industry crashed, we saw the effects it had on our population and felt the ripples. Our schools, police departments and hospitals suffered huge losses. It was a snowball effect that just got worse affecting each aspect of our communities. Sure, the black market saved a lot of individuals and our local economy was able to maintain as we saw new higher-end businesses coming into town being supported by a select few. But what we didn’t have any more was a working middle class or the population base to support our critical infrastructure.
I hear lots of arguments for and against Phase 3 cannabis expansion, but what I don’t think we hear enough is what is best for the people. I believe that under the current proposal set forth before you we will see the biggest improvement to our local communities that we have seen in decades. Cannabis expansion will give way to the return of the middle class. We will have the ability to provide jobs for people who otherwise may be working for minimum wage, struggling to survive and support their families. People will no longer have to make the tough to decisions to continue living minimally or relocating elsewhere to raise their families. People will have the ability to work as trimmers, farm laborers, lab technicians, agricultural specialists. They will be able to make a good living, to receive benefits and to establish Mendocino County as their homes forever. Cannabis has the ability to do what the timber industry did for our communities by way of return of the middle class.
I hear people say that cannabis is a part our heritage and the commercialization of it within Mendocino County would thus ruin what we were built on. But I disagree. Large-scale cannabis expansion would return us to our heritage. Our heritage isn’t just about our small cannabis operations. Our heritage is our people. Our heritage is our sense of community. It’s our children playing in our parks. It’s our schools having enough students to receive the funding necessary to support the special programs that once made them unique. It’s feeling safe because our crime rates are low as we have the means for everyone to make a good living. It’s knowing that when you’re in need of help your local departments can respond quickly because we have the ability to fund them. Our heritage is dependent on the middle class and without scaled cannabis expansion we don’t have an industry to support it.
I ask of you today to think about what is truly best for the people who reside in this county. Don’t just think about a few cannabis operators, but think about the future of our county. Think about the things that made us fall in love with this area. Think about what we could become again. Think about our true heritage.
Malila Gordon, Mendocino County Resident and Member of the Cannabis Community
POP QUIZ: ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT POT OR GRAPES?
To the Board of Supervisors,
For a county lacking a grading ordinance, an oak woodland protection ordinance, and little desire or resources for enforcement, it seems like a rash decision to me to open our rangeland to large, lucrative, commercial monocultural businesses. If you care at all about the environment, our diminishing water resources, native plants/animals, our fragile oak woodlands, fencing in the wild, fire resilience, dark skies at night, and plastic proliferation—in short, the open spaces that make rural Mendocino County so desirable to both residents and tourists, DO NOT vote to open our rangelands up to large monocultural agriculture. We feel this change in zoning would further exacerbate an uncontrolled industry and be an unwise and regretful move economically, culturally, and environmentally.
Barbara and Rob Goodell
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 15, 2021
ARMANDO ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, failure to appear, probation revocation.
OLIVIA BRODERICK, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
CANDACE COOK, Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
MARTIN CURRAN, Petaluma/Ukiah. Stolen property, controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, felon-addict with firearm, loaded firearm in public, no license.
CLARE HOANG, Redwood Valley. DUI.
VICTOR NAVARRO-TORRES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
FRANKIE PATTISON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JUSTIN PYORRE, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CLINTON SALLEE, Fort Bragg. Probation violation.
AARON VARGAS, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, witness intimidation.
STEVEN WHITE, Willits. Domestic abuse.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
You gotta admit this Mick Jagger chap has staying power. 60 years on we’re still talking about him. Rudy Vallee was a big pop singing star in the 1920 and 1930s; he lived I think till 1986 but who cared about Rudy Vallee in 1986? Jagger must be pushing 80, when he goes toes up in a few years do you think it’ll be big news?
DONALD TRUMP’S WORST NIGHTMARE has come true. On Wednesday, during the fourth night of demonstrations in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, against the police shooting of Daunte Wright, a protester gave an interview clutching a can of soup—and insisted he would use it to nourish his family. Speaking to CNN, the protester gave a cheeky wink as he said: “I’ve been here all four nights. I’m just standing here today with soup for my family. And we’re just watching all of this unfold. It’s very unfortunate.” The reporter, Sara Sidner, asked the protester if he truly intended to feed his family with the soup, or if he was going to throw it at the police. “Like I say, it’s for my family,” the man replied. Trump famously warned of the dangers of soup in July 2020 during the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, saying: “They have cans of soup. Soup. And they throw the cans of soup…and then when they get caught they say, ‘No this is soup for my family.’ They’re so innocent. This is soup for my family. It’s incredible.”
WHEN I WAS A YOUNG FELLOW I was knocked down plenty. I wanted to stay down, but I couldn’t. I had to collect the two dollars for winning or go hungry. I had to get up. I was one of those hungry fighters. You could have hit me on the chin with a sledgehammer for five dollars. When you haven’t eaten for two days you’ll understand.
— Jack Dempsey
VICTORY FOR EEL RIVER SALMON and the Endangered Species Act
We were pleasantly surprised last month when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) responded to our recent challenge of their Endangered Species Act violations by walking back their order and agreeing to consult with National Marine Fisheries Service. This somewhat obscure but important victory brings us one step closer to addressing the insufficient fish passage at Cape Horn dam, a necessary piece of obtaining volitional fish passage past the Potter Valley Project and negotiating a “two basin solution”.
Read our press release to learn more about this victory for Eel River salmon and steelhead, and the Endangered Species Act.
In other surprising actions from FERC, the Commission is currently soliciting public input on the establishment of its new Office of Public Participation. First, there is a workshop on Friday April 16 starting at 10am EST.
We strongly encourage you all to submit comments by Friday April 23.
Scroll down or click here for additional information.
In other news, progress continues on preparations for the Great Redwood Trail in the form of new legislation and the NCRA's railbanking proposal.
Finally, we received some letters from young environmentalists at Freshwater Elementary School last month that really warmed our hearts. See below for some inspiration and hope from our future leaders encouraging us all to take good care of our natural resources.
For the fish,
Friends of the Eel River <email@example.com>
I like the attention to detail in the Golgi apparati.
I have a Tony Russell, somewhere. And a Ray Rice, a Max Efroym, and a Mervin Gilbert, all of them small. The giant wall-size Mervin Gilbert painting Dislodging a Fletis from the Speedpath that Kay gave me, I had to give back to Mervin because of no space for it, but I half-remember him saying I could have it again if I ever become rich and move into someplace big enough for it. I also have a huge antique real oil-on-canvas circus banner for long-dead magician Marko the Magnificent! that Herb Jager gave me, but that's rolled up because it can roll up.
I think Tony Russell might be dead, as is Ray Rice. And speaking of which, I haven't heard from Father Patrick Donohoe for ages. If anyone has contact information for him, please share it.
ASSESSMENT APPEAL BOARD Meeting Agenda April 26, 2021
Community Partners, Colleagues, and Interested Parties:
The Assessment Appeals Board Meeting Agenda for the Monday, April 26th, 2021, meeting is now available on the County website: https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Please contact Clerk of the Board at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions regarding this message.
CONSIDER THE STORK
by Katherine Rundell
It was wartime , and propaganda fell from the sky like dishonest rain. Nazi planes dropped leaflets over British lines in Europe telling them that their wives were in bed with American soldiers, complete with drawings of said wives undressed. The Allied forces flew hydrogen balloons over Axis troops to scatter images of fields lined with German graves. But the scope of both planes and balloons was limited. So when Himmler wanted to send propaganda to the Transvaal in a bid to win the support of the Boers, he ordered his scientists to investigate the possibility of using migrating storks as carriers. Test flights for the Storchbein-Propaganda began, until it was found that a thousand birds would be required for every ten leaflets that reached their target. The plan was abandoned. Others, on the Allied side, were more persistent. In 1940 a dead stork was found on a farm in the North Transvaal with a message on a piece of tape sewn around its leg, sent by the resistance in Nazi-occupied Holland: ‘To our South African brothers: we, the people of Bergen op Zoom, tell you that living under German occupation is just hell.’
Storks have always been our carrier birds, and we have loved them for it – though exactly why we told children that they were delivered to their parents slung from a beak isn’t wholly clear. The story may originate in Slavic mythology, where the stork carries unborn souls from Vyraj, a spring paradise, to earth. It’s also possible that mistaken identity is involved: in Greek myth, Hera transforms the Pygmean queen Gerana into a leggy long-beaked bird; Gerana then rescues her baby from Hera’s clutches, carrying it in her beak. But the bird in the original myth is a crane (γέρανος) not a stork. The version we know best comes from Hans Christian Andersen. His rendering is more heavy metal than ours: a group of young storks are taunted by a cruel child, so their stork mother tells them she knows the pond ‘in which all the little babies lie, waiting till the storks come ... We will fetch a little baby brother or sister for each of the children who did not sing that naughty song.’ But for the cruel child ‘there lies in the pond a little dead baby who has dreamed itself to death. We will take it to the naughty boy, and he will cry because we have brought him a little dead brother.’ This bit of the story is left off greetings cards.
In 1822 storks solved the mystery of where birds disappeared to in winter. The question had puzzled ornithologists since the time of the ancients: Aristotle had been pretty sure that storks hibernated in trees. He also deduced that redstarts transformed into robins in the winter months and turned back again in the spring. In this he was no more wrong than Olaus Magnus, archbishop of Uppsala, who in 1555 reported that swallows slept out the winter at the bottom of muddy lakes. Indigenous North American accounts told of hummingbirds hitchhiking on the backs of geese; Homer suggested that every spring cranes went to war against ‘the pygmy-men’ at the ends of the earth – revenge, he said, for Hera’s mistreatment of their queen. In 1694 the scientist Charles Morton suggested in deadly earnest that the stork, along with the swallow and crane, wintered on the moon. Then, in 1822, a stork arrived in a German village with a thirty-inch spear in its neck. The spear, metal-tipped, rising up through the bird’s breast and out through the side of its neck, was identified as coming from central Africa. The arrow stork, Pfeilstorch, was the proof we had been waiting for: birds were flying halfway around the world every year, returning in the spring. (Far more unlikely and fairytale-like, really, than roosting inside a local tree.)
Most of our stories about storks demonstrate their intelligence and heroism. It makes sense. They’re big, the Hercules of birds: of the nineteen species, the largest, the African marabou stork, can reach five feet tall, with a wingspan of up to ten feet. They look wise: the white stork has a flick of black eyeliner that gives it a look of knowing intellect. In 1536 the city of Delft was half-consumed by fire; a Dutch physician, Adriaen de Jonghe, saw a female stork return from hunting to find her nest in flames. She tried to lift her babies out of the nest: failing, she covered them with her body and allowed herself to be burned along with the young she was powerless to save. In 1820, it was reported that storks extinguished the flames that ran through the town of Kelbra – though the alleged author of this claim, the ‘little known’ and possibly apocryphal Okarius de Rudolstadt, doesn’t say how that might have worked. Storks appear even at the Crucifixion. They’re largely mute, but in Scandinavian lore a stork is said to have wheeled and circled above the cross, crying out in one great effort, ‘styrka, styrka!’ (‘strengthen ye!’ in Swedish). Hence, apparently, their name.
Globally our admiration and love for storks has swung – haphazardly, destructively – between the sentimental and gastronomic. At least four species are endangered because of hunting and habitat loss. Until very recently, Britain was a country without its own storks. The penultimate English-born stork hatchlings were in 1416; then there was a 604-year wait until, last May, five chicks were born to one of the hundred or so birds introduced as part of a rewilding project on the Knepp Estate near Horsham in Sussex. Nobody knows why they became extinct in Britain: it’s said they prefer republics, so we could blame the royals, but it’s more likely they were hunted into nothing for food. They featured in medieval feasts as one of the ingredients of game pie, a delicacy which could also include heron, crane, crow, cormorant and bittern. In Europe, they were part of the ritual of spectacular dining well into the 17th century: food gilded with precious metal, cocks wearing paper hats mounted on pig’s backs like jockeys, boars’ heads with fireworks shooting from their mouths, and storks roasted and then replumed to look as if they had just folded their wings from flight and come to rest on the table.
That flight – effortless, barely flapping – could be credited with bringing us human aviation, since the great 19th-century aeronaut Otto Lilienthal built his experimental gliders based on the movements of storks. He studied the way their wings moved, how easily they soared on thermals, how they took off into the wind, the way their wings tapered to a point and were exquisitely cambered in cross-section. ‘The impression could be given,’ Lilienthal wrote, ‘that the only reason for the creation of the stork was to awake in us the desire to fly, to act as a teacher to us in this art.’ Leaping off the Rhinow Hills in his stork-like plane in 1893, he was able to travel 820 feet: enough truly to know flight. He died three years later when his glider stalled in mid-air, an accident for which the storks are indirectly responsible.
Storks are said to bring luck to the houses on which they roost. (They’re also a fire hazard: they build nests up to six feet across and ten feet deep, returning year after year to add to them.) I once saw one in Zimbabwe kicking up insects from the grass and catching them in her long beak – a sight to blow your hair back. Standing, all legs and beak, they look like a stroke of calligraphy by a flamboyant and ambitious god. Even the ugly ones – like the marabou, which with its tufts of hair and big neck pouch hanging like a scarf or a testicle has the aspect of a disreputable undertaker – are beautiful. They produce marvels without warning: when the woolly-necked stork opens its wings in flight, it reveals a band of unfeathered skin on the underside of the forearm that shines a startling ruby red. Clattering life-affirmers, hope-birds; it’s said in Eastern Europe that the excitable rattling of their bills is applause for the oncoming summer. Their wings in the spring sky read as semaphore, beating through the air, proclaiming: ‘Strengthen ye, strengthen ye!’
(London Review of Books)
CONTRARY TO WHAT BIDEN SAID, US Warfare in Afghanistan Is Set to Continue
by Norman Solomon
No matter what the White House and the headlines say, U.S. taxpayers won’t stop subsidizing the killing in Afghanistan until there is an end to the bombing and “special operations” that remain shrouded in secrecy.
When I met a seven-year-old girl named Guljumma at a refugee camp in Kabul a dozen years ago, she told me that bombs fell early one morning while she slept at home in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Valley. With a soft, matter-of-fact voice, Guljumma described what happened. Some people in her family died. She lost an arm.
Troops on the ground didn't kill Guljumma's relatives and leave her to live with only one arm. The U.S. air war did.
There's no good reason to assume the air war in Afghanistan will be over when—according to President Biden's announcement on Wednesday—all U.S. forces will be withdrawn from that country.
What Biden didn't say was as significant as what he did say. He declared that “U.S. troops, as well as forces deployed by our NATO allies and operational partners, will be out of Afghanistan” before Sept. 11. And “we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily.”
But President Biden did not say that the United States will stop bombing Afghanistan. What's more, he pledged that “we will keep providing assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces,” a declaration that actually indicates a tacit intention to “stay involved in Afghanistan militarily.”
And, while the big-type headlines and prominent themes of media coverage are filled with flat-out statements that the U.S. war in Afghanistan will end come September, the fine print of coverage says otherwise.
The banner headline across the top of the New York Times homepage during much of Wednesday proclaimed: “Withdrawal of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Will End Longest American War.” But, buried in the thirty-second paragraph of a story headed “Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11,” the Times reported: “Instead of declared troops in Afghanistan, the United States will most likely rely on a shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives to find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic State threats, current and former American officials said.”
Matthew Hoh, a Marine combat veteran who in 2009 became the highest-ranking U.S. official to resign from the State Department in protest of the Afghanistan war, told my colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy on Wednesday: “Regardless of whether the 3,500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines.”
We scarcely hear about it, but the U.S. air war on Afghanistan has been a major part of Pentagon operations there. And for more than a year, the U.S. government hasn't even gone through the motions of disclosing how much of that bombing has occurred.
“We don't know, because our government doesn't want us to,” diligent researchers Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies wrote last month. “From January 2004 until February 2020, the U.S. military kept track of how many bombs and missiles it dropped on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and published those figures in regular, monthly Airpower Summaries, which were readily available to journalists and the public. But in March 2020, the Trump administration abruptly stopped publishing U.S. Airpower Summaries, and the Biden administration has so far not published any either.”
The U.S. war in Afghanistan won't end just because President Biden and U.S. news media tell us so. As Guljumma and countless other Afghan people have experienced, troops on the ground aren't the only measure of horrific warfare.
No matter what the White House and the headlines say, U.S. taxpayers won't stop subsidizing the killing in Afghanistan until there is an end to the bombing and “special operations” that remain shrouded in secrecy.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include ”War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death“ (2006) and ”Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State“ (2007).)
PACIFICA RADIO: Let’s Talk About the Debt
In early June, listener subscribers and staff of the Pacifica Radio Network, which includes five nonprofit metropolitan stations, KPFA-Berkeley, KPFK-Los Angeles, KPFT-Houston, WBAI-New York City, WPFW-Washington D.C., and over 200 smaller affiliate stations across the U.S., will receive ballots to vote on yet another new set of bylaws that would largely do away with its democratic governance structure. The first attempt to do this was resoundingly defeated at the end of March one year ago. This time ballots will go out during the first week of June, and most subscribers and staff will choose to vote online.…