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DRY WEATHER is expected across the region during the next seven days. In addition, a warming trend will continue today across interior valleys, with temperatures peaking between 90 to 110 degrees this afternoon and Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile along the coast, periods of late night and morning stratus will be probable. Later in the week, temperatures are forecast to cool back closer to normal. Otherwise, gusty west to northwest winds are expected to develop within channeled terrain each afternoon through Wednesday, while exposed ridges experience locally breezy north-northeast winds during the overnight hours. (NWS)
FORECAST HIGHS TODAY (NOAA)
A driver of an all-terrain vehicle was killed Friday after it flipped over on a property north of Philo. The 79-year-old Philo man was killed in the wreck that occurred at 1:30 p.m. on a property off Clow Ridge Road. The driver, later identified as Paul Meilleur, and his 63-year-old passenger were on a Honda ATV going up a steep hill when it began to flip over. The passenger escaped from the ATV before it overturned, but the driver remained on the vehicle and was killed as it flipped over. The CHP said neither drugs or alcohol are believed to be a factor in the accident.
RUSS EMAL WRITES:
Sadly I report the death of a long time valley resident, neighbor, friend. Paul Meilleur. Paul was killed in a off road accident on his four wheeler on Friday afternoon. While not fully apprised of the incident, my understanding is he was climbing a steep path from his house to Clow Ridge Road. I do believe the path he was on had only been used going downhill. He may have been headed up this path in what might be called the wrong, steep direction with a load of batteries on his rig. Paul, a few other friends, and myself gathered often to enjoy sports together at our house. We always share food and drinks. Paul never failed to bring a gallon of Gowan’s juice and a quart of vodka (no one ever drank this combo!) While quite the hermit Paul was well educated. When in conversation he had many good points to add. His presence, thoughts, and friendship will be missed. I have no information as to services nor do I know if he has any local family. Should such info become available I would like to hear about it. Likewise should I hear I will post here.
THE SUDDEN DEATH of Paul Meilleur in an atv accident at his place on Nash Mill Road Friday is a big shock. Always merry and bright, that rare man who made people happy just to see him coming. Paul's death will sadden everyone lucky enough to have known him.
A VALLEY PERSON COMMENTS: “You have probably by now seen Russ Emal's post about Paul Meilleur, who as it turns out, is the deceased ATV driver. Someone I've known since about 1974 or so although not super well and not continuously. A cheerful and smart guy. He has been managing the Clow Ridge Road Association for many years. It never would have occurred to me he could be as old as the deceased was reported to have been, but of course these ridiculous numbers are happening to all of us. I am glad I had occasion to talk with him on the phone a couple of weeks ago.”
MEMORIAL DAY MESSAGE FROM THE SHERIFF
This #MemorialDay we honor the brave individuals who have given their lives in service to this country.
I wanted to reach out this Memorial Day in hopes we can all have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. Please remember what this holiday is and the meaning of Memorial Day to many people around us.
Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day, in the United States, is a holiday honoring those who have died in our nation’s wars. It originated during the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. The reason I bring the origin of this holiday up today is simple. I often think about the time when this holiday began as the most divisive time in American History, however, we now have a holiday that can unite us all as Americans if we simply allow it.
As a child in the 1970’s I remember servicemen returning from the Vietnam War. I also remember the grief of families who lost loved ones during the war and some who returned, losing their lives to suicide, addiction, or complications from conflict we are only now beginning to realize the impacts of.
I often have discussions with a good friend who lives in Lake County. This man served us all during the Vietnam War and continued to serve others in government and private endeavors which he represented the public. After many conversations with him I began thinking about many of the issues he has seen over the years and the approach he always has as he speaks with folks around him.
He often offers a unique perspective during troubled times. He has several short sayings which I have come to embrace over the years. “We are far more similar than we are different.”, “freedom isn’t free, but my buddies and I picked up the tab for you this time.”, and “enjoy your rights while you remember your responsibilities”. He also reminds folks to “pray for your enemies, it’s good for them and good for you”. I find his logic is hard to argue with.
This holiday is a time when we can unite as a family, a neighborhood, a town, a city, a county, a state, and as a nation. It has been a very tough year for Mendocino County. Between the pandemic, natural disasters which included the Oak Fire and August Complex and the increased need for public safety have tested Mendocino County at several levels. Gladly I can say we have come through these issues stronger and more prepared to meet future issues with more experience to draw from, new partnerships, unity and better communication.
It has also been a hard year for our nation. We have seen much division throughout our country and hopefully we can all move back into the unity that our UNITED STATES should be. We in Mendocino County have never had the luxury of being divided. We simply can’t have divisions at a time when it takes all of us to meet the needs. Many times we in public service and safety are forced to call on partners within our county. Often we have been called, or have called upon neighboring jurisdictions for resources, personnel, and equipment to continue serving during hard times.
This memorial day I’m hoping we can do something to show unity as we remember those who served. The men and women who laid down their lives for our nation weren’t fighting for division however for unity. A few ideas I have seen are as follows:
* Visit a veterans' home.
* Attend a memorial service.
* Raise your flag.
* Honor the National Moment of Remembrance.
* Hoist a POW/MIA flag.
* Watch/Listen to the National Memorial Day Concert.
* Share a photo of your beloved fallen soldier/airman/etc.
* Let’s also try to honor those fallen soldiers by honoring each other now.
Thank you and remember we are all stronger together.
Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall.
by Mark Scaramella
Steve Gomes, the Mendocino man who has sued the Mendocino Community Services (sewer and water) District for not conducting business properly and not doing enough to provide water for the town, told Marco McClean Friday night on McClean’s popular “Memo of the Air,” that the water situation in Mendocino is so bad that some people have moved out for the summer to stay with friends and relatives because they have no water. Literally. Others, Gomes said, are paying hundreds of dollars a week for trucked in water, sometimes pumping right back into their dry wells, other times into private tanks.
Gomes also said that most of the wells in Mendocino are shallow because the town sits on a rock shelf, making it nearly impossible to drill down very far. Gomes spoke to McClean for almost an hour about his case against the town’s Services District which, Gomes insists, has not done what they should be doing because they’re “anti-growth.”
* * *
In hard-hit Redwood Valley, Redwood Valley Water District Manager Jared Walker, who also manages the tiny Millview Water District, said that RVWD has cut off all their agricultural water customers entirely and limit their 200 domestic users to just 55 gallons a day saying they will revert to dry farming. Redwood Valley has it tough even in good years because they only get “surplus water” from Lake Mendocino and of course, there’s no surplus this year. Redwood Valley now gets what little water it has from the pipe that connects them to the Millview district.
Russian River Flood Control District Director Elizabeth Salomone told the Ukiah Daily Journal Sunday that “We got caught unprepared this year because of the fires, because of the pandemic.” Salomone bluntly admitted, “We should have curtailed last year. We have communities that are and will be on only human health and safety. Calpella is moving in that direction. Hopefully for those under contract with us [the RRFCD has legal rights to some 8,000 acre-feet coming out of Lake Mendocino, but probably will get less than half of that this year], some we will be able to keep the supply adequate,” for human health and safety. Salomone added, “I believe it’s the responsibility of every resident to conserve their water use, even if just a little. … Anyone who is receiving any water from the surface of the river needs to be asking their customers to reduce, even if they have a fairly robust portfolio,” presumably a reference to Ukiah’s wells and their recycled waste water system, and perhaps to Potter Valley’s reduced but still 40% of historical levels.
The relatively new “intertie” pipe in the Ukiah Valley has helped their six or seven little districts share some of the available water, but individual legal water rights continue to complicate the situation.
Districts with newer water rights (post-Lake Mendocino for example) will have their allocations cut before the older water rights holders such as the Potter Valley Irrigation District.
Meanwhile, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has yet to issue their expected “Emergency Regulations,” which insiders say are still more than a month off, despite the dire conditions.
IF SUPES OK POT EXPANSION ORDINANCE, Referendum On The Way
by Jim Shields
Irony of all ironies: California’s Grand Experiment With Weed Legalization where everyone — growers, state and local governments, and One-Percenter investors — just knew they were going to get RICH, are now, thanks to Gov. Gavin Newsom, about to receive nearly $750 million in subsidies from a new-found surplus in the state treasury.
The pot industry and local governments with regulatory schemes, are not supposed to be taking tax dollars from the state, it’s the other way around.
Mendocino County alone is slated to receive approximately $18 million from the surprise surge in tax receipts ostensibly to fix their unfixable Pot Ordinance.
County officials have proven over four-plus years they are incapable of fixing their Ordinance even with all the gold in Fort Knox — I think there’s still a Fort Knox, isn’t there?
The County is now in its fifth year of attempting to resuscitate its failed and chaotic Pot Program. Even the Supes themselves have gone on record and called it a “failure” and “unworkable.”
They have spent more time and money on this issue than any other in County history. They’ve also said that on the record.
So what’s their solution?
Well, we’ll probably find out next Wednesday, June 2nd, when they are supposed to discuss and take final action on their latest attempt to repair all the damage done by all their previous amendments, changes, tinkerings, and tweakings to the existing Failed Ordinance.
The primary emphasis of the new proposed Phase 3 Ordinance is it opens up our County to unprecedented expansion of cannabis cultivation on a scale never imagined by anyone familiar with the history of pot in this area and era.
Of course all this proposed prodigious growth is to occur in a county that everyone knows is saturated with weed.
The planned expansion comes on the heels of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board), the State Water Board’s main enforcement arm on the North Coast, recently issuing an Investigative Order that found, “The North Coast Region is inundated with cannabis cultivation in headwaters and main river systems, with active, developed sites in steep and rugged terrain. Cultivation and related activities throughout the North Coast Region have resulted in significant waste discharges and losses of instream flows associated with improper development of rural landscapes on privately-owned parcels, and the diversion of springs and streams, to the cumulative detriment of the Regional Water Board’s designated beneficial uses of water.”
The Supervisors’ plan —keep in mind that only 3rd District Supe John Haschak is totally opposed to this insane proposal — is an in-your-face rejection of the historic pot farming economy of the so-called “Mom and Pop” model that has sustained local economies for 60 years. The Four Supes (Ted Williams, Dan Gjerde, Glenn McGourty, and Maureen Mulheren) pushing the proposed Expansion Ordinance are fully on-board with the bigger-is better corporate economic model that they believe, and have said, County revenues will be enhanced with expansion. They argue that it’s not their responsibility to protect small growers through the mechanism of a Cannabis Ordinance.
That’s what this proposed Ordinance is all about: It’s Big versus Small.
It appears that about 80% of County residents, who include growers, non-growers, ranchers, farmers, small business owners, workers from all sectors of our economy, and a mix of community organizations and municipal advisory councils, support the long-established small economic cultivation model. An idea that Supervisor Williams, a vocal booster of the super-sized expansion model, says “reeks of a communistic cannabis economic model.” I never knew that Commies devised cannabis economic models. I’ll do some research and get back to you.
Williams, also argues that, “Using public policy to create a monopoly, essentially rigging the market to only allow legacy cultivators [so-called “Mom and Pops”], lacks legal foundation …”
I don’t need to do any research on that misstatement. It’s perfectly legal to construct regulatory frameworks that restrict, constrain, or cap the size of operations. He wants to “rig” the market so it favors industrial and corporate cultivators. He thinks that’s OK.
If the Supes approve their 10% expansion proposal — or anything close to it — on June 2nd , it’s going to guarantee that a referendum to repeal the Expansion Ordinance will occur.
I don’t have time to explain all the history that has led up to this moment, but let me share this with you.
For several months now I’ve been working with individuals and different organizations preparing and planning a referendum to repeal this proposed Expansion Ordinance. I’ve formed a loose coalition centered around the 10% expansion rule in the proposed Ordinance.
For months now I’ve been working with Traci Pellar, of Layonville, and Charles Sargenti, of Covelo, preparing a referendum to repeal this proposed Ordinance. Unknown to me at the time while I was working on preparing a referendum, Sargenti several months previous had already been at work on it. When we found out, Traci and I joined forces with him, and we’ve been working together since.
The four Supervisors neither represent nor protect or advocate for the best interests of County residents.
We believe since the four Supervisors obstinately refuse to do their jobs which is to create an Ordinance and related public policies that do the most good for the most people, we must do their jobs for them.
That’s the purpose of a referendum. It allows the people to override dysfunctional government and correct the mistakes of elected officials.
I’ll have more for you on this subject next week as we’ll know by then what decision the Supervisors have made on the proposed Phase 3 Ordinance and whether a referendum will be required.
Here is Charles Sargenti’s explanation of where the referendum stands now.
Dear Concerned Citizens:
Out of strategic considerations, and after lengthy consultation with Jim Shields, and many others, both in and out of the cannabis community, I have decided to drop the 10% Referendum. As you all undoubtedly are aware, the Willits Environmental Center has been pursuing a separate Referendum opposing the entire proposed new Phase 3 ordinance. It has become clear that the existence of two competing Referenda will only work to the advantage of those supporting the proposed ordinance. There would be a distinct possibility of a scenario where a minority of voters support the ordinance but neither Referendum garners enough support to get the largest number of votes in such a three-way contest.
The good news is the Referendum will be only the first step in the overall plan we envision. Step 2 will be a citizen-sponsored initiative to create a cannabis cultivation ordinance that truly reflects the will of the voters of Mendocino county. The PROCESS for developing such an initiative will be worked out in the coming weeks and perhaps months, but basically the initiative will be to take the best elements (or perhaps remove the worst elements) of the existing and proposed ordinances and go from there.
Step 3. In my dealings and conversations with folks from all walks of life and all parts of the county one refrain has echoed repeatedly – county government is dysfunctional. The county has failed with the cannabis ordinance and the legacy growers, the county has failed with criminal grows, the county has failed with code enforcement, the county has failed in adhering to the General Plan, the county has failed in regard to water issues, the county has failed in regard to mental health (Measure B), and the list goes on. Ultimately, we aim to create a Citizen's Oversight group backed up by a coalition of everyone who is part of the current effort to force the county to respect our wishes, and all the others who are sympathizers but who may not have gotten involved with this strictly cannabis related issue.
The way this ordinance was thrown together with apparently willful disregard for the vast amount of input from the community is a glaring example of the dysfunction of the county. The fix is not just to create a decent ordinance - the problems run much deeper. The fix for those is in our hands. Please join me as we continue to build the kind of community movement we need to TAKE OUR COUNTY BACK.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
CHRIS CASTLEMAN, the owner of Fiddleheads Cafe in Mendocino, posted signs on Fiddleheads windows last week announcing he would fine guests $5 for placing orders while wearing a mask. Castleman has been a vocal critic of the coronavirus restrictions since early in the pandemic, often making the news for his controversial stances. In mid-March, Castleman posted a sign that read: “Throw your mask(s) in our trash bin and receive 50% off your order.” Last June, Mendocino County officials fined him $10,000 for his defiance of a countywide health order.
GOTTA CONFESS I have a sneaking admiration for this guy. Yeah, yeah, he's totally wrong and totally indefensible, but to bring off this in-your-facer in, of all places, the most correct, woke little town in America takes some nerve, especially by a guy trying to make a living there. Funny thing is, Castleman says a lot of masked people have paid the five dollar fine!
MY MARINE CORPS buddy, John Gomez of Willits, stopped in last week on his way to Noyo Harbor. He and Mrs. Gomez hadn't been away from Willits since covid hit, and they were going to treat themselves to a seafood dinner. John also wanted to share an unintentionally hilarious document he received from the county called, "Mendocino County's Cannabis Local Equity Grant Program," a little more than two million dollar state grant “to provide funding and services for those hardest hit by the War On Drugs....” Among those eligible? Applicants must have “lived within a 5-mile radius of the location of raids conducted by the Campaign against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program.” Which, in this county, is everyone.
Board of Supervisors to vote on Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance (Chapter 22.18) Wednesday, June 2, 2021. As it currently stands the ordinance will allow mixed light cultivation (think hoop houses) of up to 22,000 square feet in Ag zoning. Is this what the community would like to see?
The ordinance, based on recommendations by the Planning Commission, would also allow cultivation of up to 2 acres on Ag or Rangeland zoned parcels that are 20 acres or larger subject to a Major Use Permit.
3a) Noticed Public Hearing - Discussion and Possible Action to 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
* * *
The above post was intended to alert the community that the Board of Supervisors is poised to approve up to 22,000 square feet of mixed-light (think hoophouses) per application. The current maximum is 10,000 square feet. The original direction of the Board when referring Chapter 22.18 to the Planning Commission was to limit hoophouses to a maximum of 10,000 square feet. On April 12, 2021 at least four Board members spoke in favor of further restricting hoophouses, possibly to as little as 500 or 1,000 square feet to allow for limited on-site propagation.
So how did we get to 22,000 square feet? Near the end of the discussion on April 12, staff pointed out that the Zoning Table allowed for mixed-light up to 22,000 square feet. Mixed-light relies on the use of hoophouses. This led to further discussion with some Board members wanting to make some allowances for mixed-light applicants. Final Board direction on April 12 was to continue the item to April 27 and direct staff to return with options for mixed-light. But on April 27 the allowance for up to 22,000 square feet of mixed-light was still on the Zoning Table and it was still there when the Board referred the ordinance back to the Planning Commission for additional review.
Which brings us back to the question: how did we get to 22,000 square feet of hoophouses? I believe that a consequence of the false, misleading and hysterical opposition to Chapter 22.18 has been to block out rational discussion of the ordinance. The tone of the opposition, which has demonized anyone supporting the ordinance, including the four Board members who support reasonable expansion, has sucked all the air out of the room and prevented factual and rational discussion of key provisions of the ordinance.
The opposition claims Chapter 22.18 will suck the streams and aquifers dry, bulldoze the oak woodlands, poison the wildlife and destroy life as we know it. In fact, these are the very things that are occurring under the current ordinance.
Cannabis Program Manager Kristen Nevedal, earlier on this thread, has outlined the rigorous process that will apply to applicants under Chapter 22.18 which has far more protections for neighbors and the environment than the current ordinance.
By far the single biggest unintended consequence of the current ordinance, adopted in 2017, was the proliferation of hoophouses. The allowance for limited expansion was intended in large part as an antidote to the proliferation of hoophouses.
Ironically, the hysterical opposition to Chapter 22.18 has overshadowed the impacts of hoophouses which appears to have been lost in the shuffle. Unless the Board directs the removal of mixed-light cultivation of up to 22,000 square feet from the Zoning Table, the result will be an exponential increase in the number of legally sanctioned hoophouses. And each location will be able to have double the square footage of hoop houses that is allowed now.
My original question: “Is this what the community wants?” was rhetorical. I know it is not. But unless the Board removes the allowance for up to 22,000 square feet of mixed-light, that's what we'll get. It's ironic and tragic that the opposition to the 10% cap on expansion, which was led by current growers, both legal and illegal, may well result in exactly what the community does not want.
SOHUM OLD TIMER ERNIE BRANSCOMB: “Nope, not always rain on [Memorial weekend], but I have seen it rain so much that it went over the Benbow Lake Park bridge and it took the flashboards out of the dam. They had to build an emergency road out of the park to get the campers out.
Sometimes we would get thunder showers in July with an inch or more of rain.
I’ll start worrying about this drought when I figure out what caused the ice to melt in Greenland in the 1400s, and, the drought that wiped out the Anasazi Indians of Arizona in the same time period.
We should have the knowledge and technology today to get through a drought. The ghost of Darwin is laughing at us.”
MEMORIAL DAY 2021
The brown splash and swirl in the glass.
I set down the bottle beside it,
the cork forced back in place. Any
smoky, sweet aromatic notes
that might escape would be wasted
on me, with tree pollen clogging
my sinuses. And if my eyes
are puffy and tearing, blame it
on that, too. But I snuck away
from friends who only think of this
as a long holiday weekend
For you and me,
it goes back to Quang Tri and a wet
mortar round that fell short of the LZ,
killed you and left me with a deadness
in the right ear that I thought had been blown off.
Blood on my hand when I reached for it,
mistakenly confirmed that fear
and what else I might have lost
in that moment. I don’t know that
we’d have remained friends, these 52 years
since. But I thought of you today,
as friends who are vaccinated gather
for a Memorial Day barbeque.
And this drink, I will drink alone,
throw it back all at once,
sudden as we were parted.
— Richard Levine
SUNDAY MORNING on 800 block of Coast Street, Willits Police Officers received a call for a black bear stuck in a tree.
Well, he wasn't stuck but it was a reminder of the rural nature of our City and residents sometimes coming into contact with the local forest wildlife. Notifying nearby residents to bring animals inside once he climbed down, Officers with assistance from Sheriff Deputies and Game Wardens were able to keep all involved parties and animals safe as the bear moved along to a safer, unpopulated area
CATCH OF THE DAY, Sunday, May 30, 2021
JAVIER CARDENAZ, Redwood Valley, DUI, controlled substance.
JERRY DEGURSE, Willits. Burglary, ammo possession by prohibted person, conspiracy, smuggling controlled substances or liquor into jail.
NATHAN DEGURSE, Willits. Domestic battery, grand theft, controlled substance, ammo possession by prohibited person, felony warrant, conspiracy.
DAVID DORMAN, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
ERNESTO FLORES-MORALES, Vandalism, protective order violation.
DARIN HAMMOND, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
BRETT KELLY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SHAWN LANE, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, county parole violation.
ALFREDO MORENO-MOTA, Potter Valley. DUI.
CASEY OLSON, Abion. DUI.
COLE PARRIS, Ukiah. DUI.
KENNETH PARTRIDGE, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia.
JONATHAN PEREZ-DIAZ, Sacramento/Ukiah. DUI.
LOUIS RAMANO, Willits. DUI, no license.
RHONDA SANDERS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
RUSSEL WATSON, Willits. County parole violation.
BIDEN: END YOUR CO-BELLIGERENT BACKING OF ISRAELI WAR CRIMES
by Ralph Nader
As Senator, Vice President, and now President, your self-promoted/displayed empathy has a problem. You can’t seem to connect the Israeli military powerhouse’s occupation to the oppression and destruction of innocent Palestinian civilians, illegal seizure of Palestinian land/water, and daily violations of U.S. and international law. Israel’s military is deliberately bombing these families, the offices of American media, international medical facilities, and many local hospitals and water and electricity facilities with fighter jets and missiles made in America.
To know about what is happening daily, you do not need to rely on the evidence compiled by the U.S. mainstream media or foreign reporters on the ground in Gaza or your own intelligence agencies, just take it from the Israeli media and Israelis themselves.
Stop repeatedly mumbling the usual mantra to escape your presidential responsibilities for the military weaponry and political cover, including the U.S. Veto at the U.N. By your failure to act you have backed this Israeli-initiated aggression, as you have invariably favored prior illegal Israeli military attacks against U.S. ally Lebanon, and Syria and Iran in recent decades.
Although the Netanyahu regime prohibits Israeli journalists from entering Gaza or the West Bank to report reality, enough of the Israeli media carries the horrific devastation in Gaza with casualties and critical property destruction hundreds of times greater than that inflicted by the primitive Hamas rockets, 90% of which are shot down by the U.S.-funded “iron dome” anti-missile systems. The rest, with very few random exceptions, fall onto the desert floor, sometimes back into Gaza.
Israel needs these feeble, homemade rockets as the pretext for its massively greater attacks again and again against the civilian population during the past fifteen years. How else can it engage in such slaughter of entire extended families asleep in their crowded homes, destruction of schools, health clinics, media offices – against what the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has called a wholly defenseless, captive people? Israel is just defending itself, you keep saying, ignoring the imperial racist premise in that statement.
As Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) declared this week: “These atrocities are being funded by billions of our own American tax dollars while communities like mine in St. Louis are hurting and are in need of life-affirming investment here at home.”
The expanding Jewish Voice for Peace, whose views represent a larger polling of American Jews than does AIPAC, joined over 70 U.S. advocacy groups in support of a Congressional resolution opposing your latest $735 million weapons shipment to Israel. You know federal law prohibits U.S. weapons delivered to a foreign country from being used for offensive purposes – a law continually and openly violated by Israel with impunity.
Having such precision instruments of war, and because it has Gaza under the strictest, most intrusive surveillance of any encircled, besieged territory in history, Israeli destruction of critical civilian infrastructure – electricity, water, sewage, and medical facilities – can be considered deliberate. The Israeli military knows about every street, home, apartment building, business, and government site, including who moves inside this tiny enclave. They have embedded spies, informants, a 24/7 electronic watch, and even updated Palestinian DNA samples. Indeed, Israeli government spokespersons boast about giving warnings to the occupants of some of the targets, such as those in the 14-story building housing AP, Al Jazeera, many residential apartments, and doctors’ offices, before turning it into rubble. They know exactly what they are striking – warnings or no warnings. So far, half of the fatalities are children, women, and those sick from the raging, Covid-19 pandemic, who have little or no access to vaccines.
You have two dozen Democratic Senators demanding a ceasefire and you still will not come out strongly for a transition toward a vigorous peace process leading to your stated two-state solution. You have none of President Eisenhower’s steadfastness who in 1956 declared a firm stop to the aggressive Israeli, French, and British bombing of Suez in Egypt.
You know full well what started this latest round of hostilities. Read this excerpt from the New York Times:
“…it was the outgrowth of years of blockades and restrictions in Gaza, decades of occupation in the West Bank, and decades more of discrimination against Arabs within the state of Israel, said Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli Parliament and former chairman of the World Zionist Organization. ‘All the enriched uranium was already in place,’ he said. ‘But you needed a trigger. And the trigger was the Aqsa Mosque.’”
Mr. Burg was referring to the Israeli police invasion of the 8th century Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – during Ramadan, tear gassing and wounding over 300 praying faithful with stun grenades and rubber bullets. Together with Israeli street gangs in East Jerusalem and the intensifying displacement of Palestinian families there, the provocations proved to be the tipping point for panicked Palestinians.
You know this and much more from your confidential briefings. Still, you are hesitating. You are intimately aware of why Prime Minister Netanyahu timed and choreographed these bloody, brutal assaults. It is to position himself more successfully in forming a governing coalition of extremists to avoid a fifth election and ward off an ongoing prosecution for corruption by Israeli law enforcers. He provoked, for his political ambitions, the terrifying of the country he leads.
I am attaching an open letter I sent to President Obama on December 19, 2016, asking him to adopt Jimmy Carter’s urgent plea for you to take “the vital step – to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.” As you know, Mr. Carter negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. He referenced President Obama’s support of the long-standing United Nations Resolution 242, which called for a “complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law.” In 2011, President Obama also made clear that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines” as two states.
In dire contrast, your Administration has been signaling a diplomatic withdrawal from this conflict to focus on China and East Asia. You’d be well advised to generate some residual fortitude, and empathy, and uphold the legal responsibility to reverse your total support for whatever Israel has done since you began your Senate career in 1973.
LAWYERS SHOULD NEVER ASK a Georgia grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.
In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you'll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.”
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”
She again replied, “Why yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.”
The defense attorney nearly died.
The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, “If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you both to the electric chair!”
AUDIE LEON MURPHY died on May 28, 1971. Born June 20, 1925, Murphy was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II, receiving every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. Murphy received the Medal of Honor for valor demonstrated at the age of 19 for single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.
After the war, Murphy enjoyed a 21-year acting career. He played himself in the 1955 autobiographical To Hell and Back based on his 1949 memoirs of the same name, but most of his films were westerns. He made guest appearances on celebrity television shows and starred in the series Whispering Smith. Murphy was a fairly accomplished songwriter, and bred quarter horses in California and Arizona, becoming a regular participant in horse racing.
Suffering from what would today be termed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he slept with a loaded handgun under his pillow and looked for solace in addictive sleeping pills. In the last few years of his life he was plagued by money problems, but refused offers to appear in alcohol and cigarette commercials because he did not want to set a bad example. Murphy died in a plane crash in Virginia in 1971 shortly before his 46th birthday, and was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
LAST STRAW 7,464,987
It is my opinion that offering incentives to be vaccinated is part of what’s wrong in our society. Since when has it become necessary to pay our citizens to do the right thing? We are doomed.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The tragedy of European settlement in America is not what happened to facilitate it (rather than a gruesome genocide it was primarily importation of smallpox, large livestock, gunpowder and steel weapons to the hemisphere that made it happen). The tragedy is what Europeans have turned the Americas into since… tragedy is comparing many native American cultures to the present one.
We’ve trashed the place during our stewardship period, and all our precious, precarious edifices are teetering just 500 years on, to the point that health of the land and many human lives upon it are in question.
UFO'S: With all the times the media has been fooled into thinking ETs are in the sky over our heads, coming down occasionally to stick probes in our various orifices (not to mention lizard-men posing as politicians and generals), wouldn’t you think the producers of a program with a reputation to uphold would have done their homework? 60 Minutes has the resources of several roomfuls of fact-checkers, editors and professional newshounds. It took me, with virtually no background in this, using an ancient Dell PC, just an hour or so to find prosaic, non-alien rationales for all their Amazing Stories. Couldn’t they have shown just a little curiosity faced with such far-fetched tales? Or at the very least had a skeptic — there are many — on the program to counter the easily debunked claims of the show’s “experts”? I guess it’s all about ratings. The big reveal of the program was the showing of four brief, fuzzy videos of UFOs that have been available for years (one for over a decade) on YouTube. These have been analyzed to death by folks who understand night vision cameras, gimbal camera mounts, bokeh (blur produced by out-of-focus objects) and other imaging artifacts. And, um, trigonometry.
— Barry Evans
“DYING FOR AN IPHONE”
by Chris Hedges
The suffering of the working class, within and outside the United States, is ignored by our corporatized media, and yet, it is one of the most important human rights issues of our era.