Stratus Intrusions | 4 New Cases | Highway Fatality | Ukiah Motel | Yorkville BBQ | Suspicious Fire | Auto Camp | Drought Notes | Curing Concrete | Drought Zoom | Holiday Music | Streetscape Bummer | Caspar Vista | Disaster Relief | Hotel Covelo | Law Library | Ed Notes | Amaryllis | Streetscape Update | Yesterday's Catch | People's Party | Flying Allies | Portland's Deviation | Violin Violence | Female Polygamist | Cannabis Ag | Emily Poems | Terracotta Warriors | Palestinian Defense | Feeling Relaxed | Angry American | Indifferent Penguin | Shadow Government | Stark Save | Intellectual Capture
HOT AND DRY WEATHER will persist across the interior through this weekend and into early next week. Coastal areas will remain seasonably cool, with nightly stratus intrusions, followed by some afternoon clearing. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S HIGHS: Yorkville 99°, Ukiah 98°, Boonville 96°, Fort Bragg 65°
4 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
FORT BRAGG MAN DIES ON HWY ONE
A Fort Bragg man traveling around 100 mph on the Mendocino Coast lost control of his vehicle late Thursday and died after hitting a very large tree off the side of Highway 1, the CHP said.
The 31-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was alone in a 2017 Honda Accord traveling northbound near MacKerricher State Park when he veered off the road onto the earthen shoulder and struck the tree, the CHP said.
The incident occurred around 11:40 p.m. in the area of Nameless Lane in Cleone, a rural community just north of the state park and Fort Bragg, authorities said.
The driver was wearing a seatbelt but died at the scene, before the first members of the Fort Bragg Fire Department had arrived, CHP Sgt. Aaron Finnegan said.
The CHP is still trying to determine the cause of the incident and investigating whether drugs or alcohol might have been a factor.
The driver’s name was being withheld pending notification of next of kin, authorities said.
— Mary Callahan, Press Democrat
BBQ SATURDAY 7/3 AT THE YORKVILLE MARKET
Hello and Happy Fourth of July!
Tomorrow Chef B is grilling tri-tip served with his delicious homemade baked beans and a side of Filligreen Farm greens. We will be serving from 12:30ish to 4:30ish or until we sell out - the price per plate is $15.
We also have some wonderful options in our deli case, including: a beet salad with an orange and sherry reduction, a veggie salad with marinated artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and herbs, and two quiches.
Wishing you all a fantastic holiday weekend!
Lisa Walsh, Yorkville Market, 895-9456
FIRE THREATENS UKIAH APARTMENT COMPLEX
Two sheds destroyed in former garden near East Gobbi Street
by Justine Frederiksen
A vegetation fire that briefly threatened a large apartment complex in Ukiah Wednesday is being deemed “suspicious in nature,” the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority reported.
UVFA crews were dispatched to the area between the railroad tracks and the former community garden at the Summercreek Village Apartments on Village Circle shortly before 3 p.m. June 30 when “multiple callers” reported a vegetation fire had started along the tracks.
UVFA Battalion Chief Eric Singleton said two sheds in the garden were quickly destroyed, and given that the fire was moving south toward the apartment complex, he had the first engine come down the Rail Trail and set up hoses as close to that edge of the fire as they could.
“The vegetation is burning like it’s August,” Singleton explained as firefighters continued soaking the debris once the flames were extinguished. When asked how the fire started, he said it was still under investigation, but given the lack of accidental causes possible in the surrounding area, it was being deemed “suspicious.”
The fire was first reported as a 20-feet-by-10-feet spot, but grew to at least 30-feet by-150-feet in size. One of the first firefighters on scene was actually Potter Valley Fire Capt. Frost Pauli, whom Singleton said just happened to be in the area. Pauli saw the fire, called it in and briefly directed efforts to suppress the blaze until Singleton could respond.
Ukiah Police Department Community Services Officer Alex Cowan also responded, reportedly using three fire extinguishers in an attempt to keep the flames from spreading. Singleton said the fire also “spotted” across the railroad tracks “given the current humidity and temperature.”
Thursday morning, Singleton said the investigation into the fire could not determine a cause, only that it was “suspicious in nature (because) all natural causes were ruled out. He said there were no signs of a recent cooking or warming fire, and that a tossed cigarette wouldn’t have started the fire, either.
“It needs to be below 22 percent humidity for a cigarette to ignite a fire, and we were at 25 percent,” he said, explaining that the fire could have been started by a lighter.
Cal Fire personnel also responded Wednesday, and Hopland Fire crews headed north to help cover the Ukiah Valley while UVFA crews were battling the blaze. Thursday morning, UVFA crews returned to the site of the fire for “a small spot of grass that was still smoldering, likely a root,” Singleton said.
The UVFA has responded to several fires in the past few days, and Singleton said a fire that started in the field near Kohl’s on North Orchard Avenue around 1:50 a.m. June 30 is also being deemed suspicious. A cooking fire was also reported around 10:20 p.m. June 29 along the railroad tracks behind the Rancho Del Rey mobile home park on Leslie Street, and Singleton said those responsible were “counseled due to the fire danger.”
(Ukiah Daily Journal)
by Mark Scaramella
IN A RECENT NOTE responding to former Supervisor Carre Brown’s claim that “We have enough checks and balances on water,” when we obviously don’t, we said in passing that “since there are no gages on inland wells and, until recently, Potter Valley grape growers and ranchers can have as much essentially free water as they want from the Potter Valley Diversion there’s no real checks and balances to provide.”
A POTTER VALLEY READER quickly complained that we were incorrect in using the term “essentially free water,” because he pays hundreds of dollars a month to the Potter Valley Irrigation District for his water. We knew that, of course. But the Potter Valley reader claimed that we had made such an egregiously offensive statement that he was forced to use crude language to try to refute it.
THE POINT we were trying to make was that the Irrigation District does not pay for the Eel River water they get from the Potter Valley diversion. But the District’s customers of course pay for the delivery and administration of the water. The distinction is important. If the Irrigation District doesn’t pay for the diverted water itself, there’s no incentive for the District to conserve or plan ahead since the more water they sell the more money the District makes. Since we couldn’t find a breakdown of the Irrigation District’s finances we don’t know how they determine the rates they charge.
MENDO’S LOCAL Area Formation Commission (LAFCO), which is supposed to review all special districts in the County periodically, has no record of a Potter Valley Irrigation District review, although it should be on their list of reviewed districts. The Potter Valley Irrigation District's own website has no financial breakdown, nor does it have a record of an audit which is usually required of special districts. It doesn’t even have a clear statement of rates. Their Board Agenda packets list “financial reports” as a subject, but they do not post the “financial reports.” Nor does the Irrigation District post required meeting minutes.
THE DISTRICT does mention that it has a “reserve fund” for maintenance and construction projects, but again no information about how much is in it or what “construction projects” it may be used for. Normally “reserve funds” are not for maintenance, but for capital improvements. However, the District does not list any capital improvements. If the District had an arrangement to pay for the diverted Eel River water they might have been able to use some of that accumulated money for storage projects which, if they were even minimally farsighted, they might have used to prepare for predictable water shortages. It is therefore fair to say that Potter Valley has become highly dependent on the free water from the Eel as Potter Valley has grown over the years well beyond simple pasture and farming into larger and larger water-dependent vineyards. It’s unlikely the vineyards would be there if they didn’t have access to the large volumes of cheap water they get from the Irrigation District.
THE IRRIGATION DISTRICT is overseen by elected directors who are themselves customers of their own District: Eugene McFadden (grape grower), Ken Stroh (rancher), Janet Pauli (grape grower), Jim McMenomey (hay grower), and Mac Magruder (cattle rancher). This creates an awkward arrangement where the Board has to establish water rates for themselves, as well as their other customers. Let’s just say, they’re not likely to overcharge themselves. But as supplies dwindle, the District’s fixed overhead cost has to be spread over smaller and smaller amounts of delivered water raising the cost per unit.
IT’S UNFORTUNATE that discussing these contorted, inefficient and self-serving political arrangements in Potter Valley and elsewhere in the Russian River watershed cannot be conducted sensibly. Like her Potter Valley predecessor Mike Delbar, former Supervisor Carre Brown did her darndest to make sure nobody messed with Potter Valley water and the diversion, angrily snapping like she did most recently at Jim Shields and other occasional diversion critics.
For his part, current Potter Valley Supervisor Glenn McGourty (who does not live in Potter Valley, we know, we know; and who is a grape grower himself) is continuing in that spirit, albeit more cordially. For example, on the recent Tuesday morning County water roadshow in Anderson Valley, in answer to an audience question about metering, McGourty tactfully dodged the question, saying that metering wasn’t required because his on-paper-only “Ukiah Valley Sustainable Groundwater Agency” is working on “modeling” Ukiah Valley water usage — a guessing game project that will never end and which will scrupulously avoid determining how much water is actually consumed by the biggest users in the Russian River watershed.
* * *
WHEN CANDIDATE JOHN PINCHES was running against John Haschak in the 2018 Third District Supervisors race, he told then-Willits News editor Ariel Carmona that “he has some ideas of how to help the housing stock in the county, including building new mobile home parks in various locations throughout the county (and on vacant county land). Pinches said he was for doing away with what he calls ‘no-growth policies.’ He says these no growth mandates have helped stymie the number of housing units small and large throughout the county. ‘We haven’t built a new mobile home park in Mendocino County in over 60 years,’ Pinches observed. ‘When I was on the board last time I pushed and got approval for a landowner that wanted to put a mobile home park north of Laytonville. The owners aren’t doing it now because they got a divorce, but I got an idea of putting another large mobile home park at another location’.”
PINCHES LOST TO JOHN HASCHAK in that election and that was the last time anybody raised, much less addressed, those “no growth policies,” or the possibility of new mobile home parks in the County. As far as we know, nobody has asked Pinches — arguably the most Mendocino-focused Supervisor since Liz Henry or before her Joe Scaramella — for input on his favorite specialized subjects like housing, out of control county bureaucracy, pot legalization, and roads. That’s too bad because Pinches was the closest Mendo’s ever gotten to a “git-er-done” Supervisor. In fact, it’s pretty obvious that the reverse is now the case.
THE MCGOURTY-WILLIAMS WATER ROAD SHOW that began in Anderson Valley on Tuesday went on to the town of Mendocino later in the day. Having raised no specific ideas or any short-term water mitigations in Anderson Valley, much less the County, the discussion on the Coast was more focused. According to a recent article in the Fort Bragg Advocate by Michelle Blackwell they actually got into some specific ideas, like: Having the County help fund the cost of water deliveries to local residents; have the County subsidize the purchase of storage tanks for local residents who either do not have them or who have tanks too small to meet their needs; suspend permit requirements for water tanks and provide assistance in getting the Mendocino Historical Board to do the same; provide assurance that the City of Fort Bragg has sufficient water to continue water sales to Mendocino residents throughout the drought; provide funding assistance to upgrade the recycled water plant at a cost of $2.5 million so that it can expand the use of recycled water… They also requested assistance for longer-term resiliency projects that included funding and developing a secondary water source for Mendocino — mainly up in the hills to the east near the ridgeline. Further off, they also discussed the idea of collecting water at the County-owned Little River Airport.
ACCORDING to Ms. Blackwell, the group in Mendocino also discussed a survey of dry wells in the town from 2015. Approximately 30 wells went dry in 2015, and 24 out of 30 of the wells were shallow. Some have since been replaced with deeper wells, but the village remains water-starved. While the map included the dry well reports for this year, there is a concern that residents are not reporting dry wells to prevent property value loss and that makes it difficult to get a handle on accurately assessing the overall water situation.
THE QUESTION NOW IS: Will Mendo County explore any of these ideas? Will they even appear on the County’s Water Agency Clearinghouse? Given the ho-hum attitude of the Supervisors and the County water bureaucrats, we’d put the odds at somewhere around 100-1 against.
* * *
IN OTHER DROUGHT NEWS, according to a brief mention in Thursday’s Independent Coast Observer out of Gualala — a south coast paper that normally doesn’t include much North County news — County Transportation Director Howard Dashiell has announced that he will not be “dusting off” 19 north County miles of County roads this year because the water purveyor he had used in the past hasn’t got enough water to sell to the County for the annual project. Dashiell said he usually mixes eco-friendly magnesium chloride (a salt) with water to make a season-long anti-dust coating on otherwise dry, dirt roads. The ICO didn’t mention who the water purveyor was, but we were under the impression that Jim Shields’s Laytonville water district was still selling water to licensed water trucks. Maybe the amount involved to cover 19 miles of road was just too much.
DROUGHT AD HOC COMMITTEE TO HOST 2ND VIRTUAL Countywide Drought Task Force Meeting
On Thursday, July 8th at 4:00pm, The Board of Supervisors Drought Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Supervisor John Haschak and Supervisor Glenn McGourty will host a virtual Countywide Drought Task Force Meeting. The Supervisors will give an update on their current discussions with community partners and staff on drought related issues. Members of the public will have an opportunity to hear a brief update and share their recommendations with the Ad Hoc Committee.
Mendocino Countywide Drought Task Force
Date: 07/08/2021 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
(Call In: 669-900-9128, Webinar ID: 899 7176 5675, Passcode: 665233)
The webinar will also stream live on the County’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/mendocinocountyvideo) and the County’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mendocinocounty/).
Please send comments or questions to: email@example.com or call the Drought Hotline at (707) 234-6363.
DANGEROUS PLANTER BOXES
To the Editor:
I write today with serious concerns about the planter boxes that have been installed on State Street. For people living with vision impairment they present a serious hazard. Being below the level of the sidewalk creates a fall risk. And the tiny black fences are nearly impossible for someone with vision loss to see.
Their design is a clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I’ve sat back and hoped what’s being done would meet the needs of our community. I am greatly disappointed. Obvious, and serious mistakes have been made that will take a significant amount of money to correct.
I hope the City realizes this before anyone gets hurt.
Maybe, just maybe, when redesigning State Street it was a bad idea to only actively engage with less than 100 of our communities 20,000+ citizens. Putting a survey online does not count as active engagement. And maybe it was a bad idea to use streets in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and other non-rural cities as models.
I urge the City of Ukiah to bring in an expert in ADA compliance to review and redesign what has been built. The planter boxes are not the only serious problem. ADA compliance is vital to the well-being of everyone in our community.
GIVE THE MONEY TO FIREFIGHTERS
To the Editor:
It seems to me from the report I read in the Ukiah Daily Journal recently that a very important part of expenditures of the Fire Disaster Relief Funds has been overlooked and yet another bureaucracy is being created.
There are at least 14 fire departments in the county that used their equipment and manpower to respond to and work long, hard hours fighting the fires that created the disaster in 2017. How about refunding them a large portion of that Disaster Relief money to help off-set the cost of maintenance of their equipment and overtime pay? Did you request input from these Chiefs? Did they make requests and you simply said “Thank you” then shelved those vital requests?
If there was a water agency and it was moved to the oversight of the Department of Transportation take the money that was transferred with that program back from the DOT to recreate your water agency.
We all know from examples of the past that when and if the state grants more money it is very unlikely it will be used to replace these funds. My other issue is taking tax money for use to come up with yet more “administrative overhead that won’t actually get us more water” as stated by Supervisor Williams. Will that cause you to ask for another tax increase? Will you seek out people who have expert or extensive knowledge of water issues to sit on your agency?
If readers, as the tax paying public, agree that this is not the smartest expenditure of the relief money, make it known to your Supervisor.
Yes, water is important but if my house is being threatened by a fire, more important are the valiant firefighters who will come to fight the fire and their well maintained vehicles.
LAW LIBRARY ACCESS
I am pleased to announce that the Mendocino County Law Library, thanks to the Sonoma County Law Library, now has access to the 400+ Lexis Nexis eBooks available through the Sonoma County Law Library.
These eBooks can be accessed from a home computer or from just about anywhere.
To access the Sonoma County Digital Law Library, visit https://lexisdl.com/welcome/login/scpll and select Public Access from the list of available databases. Do not use the library link. All users will use the Mendocino County Law Library email address as a username (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please use Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari (Internet Explorer is not recommended.) There is no special software to install; you can read the digital eBook right from your browser. You can also download the iphone/ipad app at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/lexisnexis-digital-library/id1456794809.
eBooks are "checked out" for 7 days. If no one has put a hold on that eBook, it can be checked out again, for seven days. Once a particular eBook is checked out it will be unavailable to other users until it is (automatically) returned.
Hopefully you can pass this information to the members of the Mendocino County Bar Association.
In addition, we could be facing an avalanche of Mendocino County fees for our internet connections and fees associated with maintenance and technical assistance for our computers our lighting, janitorial services, mail and possibly other "services" they provide to the law library. The letter attached to the notice for the last meeting could be just the start. Many other law libraries across the state pay many of these fees.
Daniel J. Helsel
Mendocino County Law Library
Courthouse, Room 307
100 N. State St.
Ukiah, Ca. 95482
BIDEN, today (Friday), cut off reporters who questioned him about the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying he wanted to focus on the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and “happy things. I want to talk about happy things, man,” he said. “We're on track exactly as to where we expected to be,” Biden continued. “There will be some forces left. But it's a rational drawdown with our allies.” With reporters still yapping at him about Afghanistan, Biden snapped, “I'm not going to answer anymore on Afghanistan. It's Fourth of July. I'm concerned that you guys are asking me questions that I'll answer next week. It's the holiday weekend. I'm going to celebrate it. There are great things happening,” Biden claimed, launching into a highly debatable list of the great things happening. “The economy is growing faster than any time in 40 years. We got a record number of new jobs, COVID deaths are down 90%, wages are up faster than any time in 15 years. We're bringing our troops home. All across America people are going to ballgames. This is good. I'll answer all your negative questions — not negative questions — legitimate questions later some time.” When a reported asked him if Congress would pass his infrastructure and families' plan, Biden replied, ”Come on guys. I love you guys but it's a process.”
THE FOLLOWING is from the current report from the Lake County Grand Jury, a nicely done document that gets right to the point and, as the subject breaks, uses the nicely done landscape art by one of the jurors.
“LAKE COUNTY has billed MediCal and Medicare in excess of $3.5 million for its 20 most recent 5150 patients who were placed out-of-county. (All billings are fully paid.) It would be less expensive, more convenient and more therapeutic for patients to stay in Lake County close to family, friends and familiar places. Developing a facility here would be helpful all around and might also add funds to Lake County’s coffers… What is needed is a fully staffed inpatient facility with just 10 or 12 beds. Having one in Lake County could eliminate the County’s reliance on expensive hospital emergency rooms and transportation to, and supervision of, the patient’s progress in distant placements. Many mental patients need both social support from family and friends, as well as community-based treatment after being released from placements. The Grand Jury believes this help is best provided at home for Lake County residents. Behavioral Health Services offers a full array of community treatment options. If there were an inpatient facility in Lake County, the current practice of paying for duplicative services elsewhere would be unnecessary. The 20 most recent 5150 Behavioral Health patients were placed in 20 different facilities around the state and were transferred from one to another placement 54 times. Only two of these patients were placed just once. The rest were transferred more than once. The most frequently used facilities were in Angwin and St. Helena (9 times). After that, the next most frequent placements were in Redding (7 times). The remaining placements were in Ukiah, Vallejo, San Jose, Pacifica, Eureka. Developing a facility in Lake County has been suggested before and rejected. The need for one is more pressing now due to the ongoing increase of homeless persons, many of whom need mental health treatment before they can reasonably be expected to find or succeed in housing. A potential alternative may soon be available in Mendocino County where a short- term facility for 5150 evaluations and to ‘house’ persons returning home from placements has been established. Mendocino County is also in preliminary discussions to induce Lake County to…open a mental hospital, perhaps at a closed hospital site in Willits.”
UH, sorry Lake. The closed hospital site in Willits is off the table, and funding for a Mendo psych unit via Mendo's voter-approved Measure B is floundering, to put it mildly.
THESE NEW CALIFORNIA laws took effect Thursday, when the new fiscal year began:
—California’s ban on buying more than one handgun in a 30-day period expands to semiautomatic centerfire rifles, which include some that meet California’s definition of an assault rifle.
—California will create an ombudsman to advocate for and field complaints from student loan borrowers faced with predatory practices.
—Laura’s Law, a 2002 measure that allows judges to require intensive mental health outpatient treatment, becomes permanent. To qualify a person must have a serious mental illness and recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, incarceration or violent behavior.
—Portions of two laws designed to help homeowners who lose property in wildfires during states of emergency take effect, including provisions for coverage of living expenses.
—The state’s three prisons for juveniles will stop accepting new admissions and will close in 2023.
HAD to laugh at a Bay Area TV clip featuring the usual beautiful female reporter asking a hat-backwards fat guy loading up on fireworks at a legal stand what precautions he'll take when he fires them off. “Well, I gotta a water hose and I'm real careful.”
LAST YEAR, the same reporter said, there were 6600 careless fireworks complaints in San Jose alone, and as Bay Area people know, as soon as it gets dark on the 4th the bombs bursting spectacularly in air all over the Bay Area make for a vividly exciting skyline, especially to the east of San Francisco.
MENDO? Illegal discharge of fireworks is always somewhat concerning in dry years, but the last several fourths, at least in Boonville, other than a few celebratory gunshots, there was no evidence of aerial displays. I believe as per annual custom Fort Bragg and Point Arena will fire mini-explosives into the fog above the shore.
UKIAH STREETSCAPE PROJECT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - JULY 2
We are in the final weeks of the project and there is a LOT of activity happening. There's simply no tidy way to remove the top 12-18" of a street, so there is lots of noise and dust. Several streets are temporarily closed during construction hours because we're working as fast as we can to complete the construction. But please don't shy away from the downtown--businesses are open and this is a once-in-a-lifetime project that you don't want to miss. It's really fun to watch the heavy equipment and the carefully orchestrated construction crews at work, and you'll see our downtown as you've never seen it before. Big news: the new streetlights are on--just in time for tonight's First Friday Art Walk!
We’ve had lots of questions regarding the planted areas: Why is the soil so low? What are the pipes that are visible? Are they being irrigated?
These are much more than just your average planters. Technically, they are called bioretention facilities, and they’re specially designed to filter stormwater. The soil level is lower in order to provide a catchment basin for that water runoff. Then, special plants, soils and gravel provide a natural filtration system that cleans the water as it saturates the earth. If there is more water than the facility can hold, the excess water will enter the large vertical pipes (with vented domes on top) to go directly into the storm drains. Together, the entire system helps keep our rivers and streams cleaner and healthier! The plants are also irrigated during the warmer months to keep them healthy, though you won’t often see wet soil—because the soil is designed for drainage. As the plants mature, the depth of the soil will become less noticeable.
Construction Overview, Week of July 5
Monday: No construction. Water truck will visit the project site daily to help keep the dust down. Happy July 4th!
Tuesday-Thursday: Additional work to construct the road base will be done on Standley, Perkins and Church Streets. Streets will be opened as possible when there is not active construction occurring.
Friday: The first layer of pavement (“bottom lift”) will be installed on State Street between Henry and Smith, East and West Standley Street, West Perkins Street, and West Church Street. These streets will be reopened to vehicular traffic by Saturday, possibly as soon as end of day on Friday.
Tuesday-Friday: Miscellaneous curb ramps (corners) will be constructed throughout the project area, including at Clay/School, E. Perkins/Main, E. Standley/Main, and others. Why are we replacing curb ramps on School, Oak, and Main Streets? Every time we pave or reconstruct a road, we are required to bring all of the curb ramps on that street up to current ADA code.
Construction hours: 6am – 6pm
Looking further ahead:
July 12: Grinding East and West Clay Street; compaction and base rock will occur in the following days.
The project is expected to wrap up around the end of July/beginning of August.
Have a wonderful, safe holiday weekend!
Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager, City of Ukiah, (707) 467-5793
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 2, 2021
KRISTIN BANKS, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
DEREK DAVIS, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
NHAT DOAN, El Monte/Ukiah. Failure to obey peace officer.
CHARLES FOSTER, Willits. Protective order violation.
CHRISTOPHER FRANCE, Willits. Burglary, controlled substance, reckless evasion.
ROYCE FULTON, Fort Bragg. Arson of property, arson during state of emergency.
MICHAEL MCCLELLAN, Fort Bragg. Stalking and threatening bodily injury, criminal threats, protective order violation.
JAMES MOODY, Laytonville. Failure to register.
KAYSEA MURPHEY, Upper Lake/Ukiah. Suspended license for refusing chem test.
CHRISTOPHER PIKEL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
UGO SILVA, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, damaging communications device.
ALWOOD SMITH, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.
DANIEL WOLDT, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse, probation revocation.
CHRISTIAN WYATT, Fort Bragg. Stolen vehicle, trespassing, impersonating a fireman, stalking and threatening bodily injury, grand theft, stolen property, suspended license, failure to appear.
STEVEN ZIMMERMAN, Covelo. Felon-addict with firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person, probation revocation.
BIDEN FOLLOWS IN OBAMA’S FOOTSTEPS
In the past year, this country has been hit by the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the largest protest uprising in American history. Tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs, their employer-based health care, their small businesses, their savings, and millions more could lose their homes when the eviction moratorium expires in July.
Just like we did during the Great Recession in 2008, Americans entrusted the Democrats with the House, Senate, and White House. And just like they did after 2008, the Democrats have rewarded billionaires and banks while going back on all of their promises to working people. Biden ran on a $15 minimum wage, cancelling $10,000 in student debt, paid sick leave, a public option, and more. He’s abandoned all of them. Instead he’s bombed Iraq and Syria, made Trump’s tax cuts largely permanent, worked to finish the wall, and kept refugee children in cages.
That we could live through a time of such unprecedented suffering without getting any structural policy change — not even a single progressive policy priority — speaks to how corrupt and dysfunctional both parties are. It speaks to the immense need for our work.
Democrats in Washington spend every waking moment telling us that Republicans are the ones standing between us and our health care, child care, and good-paying jobs. But in truth, Democrats answer to the same big corporations and have just as little interest in standing for working people. Even the progressives in the Democratic Party won’t leverage their power to fulfill their campaign promises and deliver Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, or even a public option. Nor will they call their millions of social media followers into the streets to pressure establishment Democrats on the issues, despite telling us to organize.
That’s why we’re building a major new People’s Party free of corporate money and influence. A party that fights to make health care, pre-K, college, a guaranteed income, and a good-paying job basic human rights. A party that frees Americans from war, mass incarceration, and monopolies. Building a party takes a great deal of time and resources, and being free of Wall Street influence means that we count on you for support. Please contribute to power our work today. If you can, check the box and make it monthly so we know we can count on it going forward.
Nick Brana, National Coordinator, People’s Party
FARMERS' SECRET, FLYING ALLIES
Airing Friday, July 2nd on The California Report Magazine.
For friends in the Bay Area, listen live on KQED at 4:30pm, 6:30pm, and 11:00pm.
For other times across the state, or to listen online, visit The California Report Magazine.
Maybe you’re one of the people who started noticing birds more during the pandemic. A lot of us spent time in our yards, or looking out windows, seeing these creatures in a new way. Even though we’re noticing them more, there are fewer birds now than there were 50 years ago. So we got interested when we learned about farmers who are helping these birds, and some new research that shows just how much those birds are helping farmers.
Lisa Morehouse, California Foodways <email@example.com>
JEFFREY ST. CLAIR:
I set up a nerf basketball hoop for the grandkids last week. By Sunday afternoon, it had melted like one of Dali’s clocks. I guess it’s soccer fields for them…
The heat waves, (if that’s what you want to call them), droughts, fires and hurricanes are happening at only 1.1 degree of warming. What’s it going to be like when the planet hits 2 degrees and then 3, which is exactly where we’re headed…Will Bezos & Musk be terraforming Mars by then?
Portland’s high temperature was 40 degrees above normal, 4.5 standard deviations from the mean, making it the most severe heatwave ever recorded in North America, the kind of event only expected to happen every 400 years. But these kinds of wild fluctuations usually happen in fall and spring, almost never in summer. Portand’s deviation from the norm would be like Dallas hitting 134F or Madrid hitting 124F. (H/t Robert Rohde, Berkeley Earth).
After giving a book talk in Venice Beach, I was invited to a party at a film producer’s house in Ocean Park. They had bank. There was a Hockney and a Warhol on the walls. I said to the producer, how cool to live on the very same block Richard Diebenkorn painted, so obsessively. Who? she asked. I got out my iPhone and showed her one of the Ocean Park series, a not-totally abstracted view looking right down the street of her $5 million bungalow to the Pacific. “I don’t think so,” she said. “That looks nothing like our neighborhood.” Then she wandered off with her glass of golden Sancerre and a fatal flip of her hair that let me know she’d let the wrong writer in.
VIOLENCE & VIOLINS
by David Yearsley
A six-hour drive last weekend took us from Ithaca in Upstate New York to Oberlin, Ohio—two Blue college towns in a sea of Red. Our purpose was to help a daughter move out of her apartment and to admire the Midsummer fireflies of the Buckeye State—and just about avoid the first public political appearance of Donald Trump since his electoral defeat.
Last Saturday the deposed President emerged from his Diet Coke swamp to campaign for his former aid and 2020 deputy campaign manager Max Miller, now making a run for Congress in his native Ohio. The Save America rally took place ten miles directly south from Oberlin at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington. The county tipped to Trump by a few percentage points in 2020, though the liberal bastion of Oberlin went heavily Democratic.
The morning of the rally, vintage cars and motorcycles flying MAGA colors came streaming into Oberlin in what had the appearance of provocation. Accompanied by rough-running engines, bullhorns broadcast nearly indecipherable mottoes of rage and revolution.
Lurid fascination tempted us to infiltrate the mob and witness history-in-the-making, the exiled leader riding out among his people again. But we were unlikely to blend in with the MAGAists, what with our summery linens, Subaru Impreza with its impossible-to-remove Nature Conservancy window sticker inherited from the previous owner. (It hardly matters that this big green-washing machine is not the defender of the natural world that most people of whatever political persuasion think it to be: even the innocuous Nature Conservancy oval is a red flag to the MAGA Bulls, as some F-250 fist-shaking on I-90 had seemed to confirm the day before.) Plus, the rally was likely to throw kerosene on the fire that is the Delta Variant.
Rather than battle the traffic, decibels, and bad blood, we headed to the Cleveland Museum of Art, a neo-Greek temple on an Ohio Acropolis. Directly in front of the columns sits a cast of Rodin’s Thinker. This morose bronze looks down long and wide stone steps that lead to a Roman fountain teeming with watery pagan gods enjoying a view of a picturesque pond and spreading lawns still farther below and beyond. In other words, in less than an hour we had been transported to a galaxy far, far away from the Lorain County Fairgrounds on that Saturday afternoon at the end of June 2021, the dark clouds over Lake Erie pregnant with rain and civil war.
Way back in Trump Time, the Cleveland Museum practiced its own mode of Resistance by sponsoring the immigration of aliens unwanted by most right-thinking Americans beyond the urban centers of High Culture and liberal orthodoxy. In 2018 the institution bought Dirck van Baburen’s Violin Player at an auction in Switzerland. On rafts of foundation money, this louche intruder (the violin player, I mean, though we’ll get to Baburen shortly) floated unmolested across the Save America moat that is the Atlantic. ICE agents failed to interdict this undesirable—one full of desire, as you can plainly see from the image below—before he was granted sanctuary in the grandest gallery in the oldest part of the Cleveland Museum.
Like several of his Dutch compatriots, Baburen spent several years in Rome learning the style of Caravaggio: the dramatic poses and compositions, and mastery of light and shadow, the embrace of eroticism and the human form. After leaving the Eternal City and returning to his Utrecht, Baburen died young, probably not yet thirty, a year after he made this painting.
One has to assume, even if only from the evidence of this picture, that Baburen had a good time while in Rome. His Violin Player unashamedly indulges all the senses. Music has just been made and will soon be made again, but the nearly empty wine glass must be drained first.
Such lusty pleasures are tinged by possible violence. The man’s chipped tooth might even summon thoughts of the brawling Caravaggio himself. The gap had been filled in at some point long after Baburen’s death, but the Cleveland restoration removed the bowdlerizing dental upgrade.
The outrageously plumed hat is literally over-the-top, just asking to be knocked off—or maybe its feathers stroked. The striped, robe-like shirt is slung off the shoulder and open at least to the navel. How far that exposure extends is left raunchily ambiguous. The varnished body of the violin touches the skin of the man’s chest. This positioning of the instrument was typical of the period (only towards the end of the seventeenth century did players raise it up to the neck), but the contact with naked skin was not. Impressively, perhaps impossibly, and certainly suggestively, he cocks the violin bow in the crook of his pinky, the other fingers of his left hand holding the dark glass. Maybe he has mastered the party-trick of playing and drinking at the same time. The marks painted on the underside of the violin suggest rough handling of that fragile instrument. The angles of violin and bow are as lewd as the broken tooth, the naughty smile, and provocative gaze.
The cheerful fiddler is a common topic of the period’s portraiture: Frans Hals and his followers painted many a happy violinist, though they are fully clothed. In comparison to those robust burghers and peasants, Baburen’s Violin Player is a picture of pure debauchery.
Running through the summer there is another seventeenth-century violinist to be seen in the Cleveland Museum at a special exhibit entitled Variations: The Reuse of Models in Paintings by Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi. In a single room across from the gift shop at the new, modern entrance are juxtaposed three pairs of paintings. In one of these, Judith has just decapitated Holofernes. In the adjacent canvas the severed head has been replaced by a violin, the sword by the bow. The model is the same woman in the same pose, perhaps the seventeen-year-old Artemisia. (A victim of rape, Artemisia would later depict Judith in the act of beheading Holofernes in paintings of literally visceral drama.)
What struck me in looking at these two pictures—both resident aliens in the U.S.A., one on loan from Hartford, the other from Detroit—is that the substitution of musical instrument for weapon is not as paradoxical a switch as one might at first think. Jazz musicians called their horns axes, and with them hoped to fell rivals on the bandstand battlefield. A famous Dresden duel of eighteenth-century violinists pitted the homegrown German hotshot Johann Georg Pisendel against the touring Italian heavyweight Francesco Maria Veracini. The musical clash ended with the visitor throwing himself out a second-story window in the palace where the bout had taken place. Miraculously, Veracini bounced back from the defenestration. His further travels eventually took him across the English Channel, but during the crossing his ship went down, and with it his two celebrated violins named St. Peter and St. Paul—as lethal a pair of sidearms as two Old West Colt revolvers. Once again Veracini survived.
It is rarely women who are pictured in Baroque paintings playing the violin, long held to be fit only for men to wield. Even into the eighteenth century, male commentators expressed alarm at the sight of females daring to perform with the instrument. A Viennese critic was put off in 1787 by the appearance of the virtuosa Caroline Bayer: “‘It would be good, or at least far better, if ladies who played the violin were dressed ‘à l’Amazone’. [in mannish clothes] The long cuffs, ribbons and trailing sleeves, then the naked arm, and the violin at the throat, always offend me somewhat in performances with this instrument, and would probably do so no longer if the artiste stood before the music stand as a charming half-man in a little hat.”
Although Gentileschi’s saintly violinist lifts her eyes upward as if to follow the ascent of the tones she has just played towards heaven, there is earthy real-ness to her that the instrument and its relation to her body projects. One might even see her violin as a form of defense against the Holoferneses of this world—the pussy grabbers of then and now.
In the hushed, climate-controlled confines of the Cleveland Museum my thoughts drifted to the sweltering Lorain County Fairgrounds as Donald Trump mounted the dais: Arm thyself America, not with swords and assault rifles, but with violins!
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
RE: An affront to nature: the hills of the Emerald Triangle were the perfect cover for outlaws. You could thrive in the black market behind the redwood curtain. But that was when unit prices were astronomical. Times have changed. Weed isn’t heroin or meth. Almost all of the problems are due to the price. So I find it laughable that the cannabis culture cries for equity and legalization while still hoping for those black market prices. Those same folks cry in protest about the destruction of redwood forests but then whine incessantly about the over-regulation of their industry. It’s just a plant, right? So it makes sense to grow it in traditional agricultural areas that have water…. not in the backwoods, steep forests where we want to preserve nature. But Mendo County citizens want to try to preserve that culture…..then you realize that they’re growing it in Oklahoma now!
I HEARD A FLY BUZZ (465)
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –
The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –
I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portions of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –
With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
TELL ALL THE TRUTH BUT TELL IT SLANT (1263)
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
— Emily Dickinson
This is a photo taken in 1974 when the first extensive collection of Terracotta warriors was first discovered in Xi'an, China.
What is remarkable about the photo is that it reveals the original bright colors that were painted onto these life-size clay warriors more than 2,000 years ago by skilled artisans. Unfortunately, when they were exposed to air and sunlight during the excavation, the colors began to curl up almost immediately and disappeared within minutes.
These Terracotta warriors were put in place to guard the tomb of the first emperor of unified China. To this day, the tomb has yet to be opened. According to ancient historians, the tomb contains an entire kingdom and palace in which the ceilings are decorated with pearls to mimic the night sky. The tomb is also said to contain extremely rare artifacts and has been rigged with crossbows to shoot anyone trying to break in. In order to retain its location a secret, the workers were entombed with the emperor.
The Han dynasty historian, Sima Qian, also mentioned that inside the tomb, "mercury was used to fashion the hundred rivers, the Yellow river and the Yangtze river, and the seas in such a way that they flowed." Modern tests have indicated extremely high levels of mercury in the surrounding soil.
Interestingly enough, when I looked up how the emperor had died, it was reportedly due to ingesting mercury pills, which at the time was believed to be an elixer of immortality.
MOWING THE GRASS
by John Arteaga
"Mowing the grass". This is the expression used by the Israelis to refer to their periodic annihilation of anything of value in the vast swaths of Palestinian land which they dominate to an increasing degree every year.
The most recent paroxysm of senseless mass murder by Israel is understood by most who are familiar with the situation, to have mainly been ginned up by long time war criminal (as well as other types of criminality presently being adjudicated by Israeli courts) Benjamin Netanyahu, to divert attention from the decades of crimes for which he is, at long last, actually in danger of being held accountable.
Bibi, as he is known, is as aware as anyone just how well the death and destruction of non-Jews living anywhere within striking distance, sells in this country that has gone mad with US subsidies for whatever Geneva Convention violations it chooses to engage in. All they've got to do is recall the Holocaust and say Never Again! And the most racist country in the world will rally around whatever lies and deceit their ‘Dear leader’ has in mind. Clearly the aim this time is to distract attention from Bibi's criminal problems, which could end up with him being housed where he should have been many years ago; prison.
Anyone who has followed this story over the last few decades is aware that Israel has moved during this time steadily to the right; that with the ongoing paid-for propaganda of some very wealthy 'Israel firsters’ from all around the world, Israel has become more hardened and intransigent; that the once numerous faction of Israeli people for peace and freedom for Palestinians has largely been driven out of the country out of the exhaustion of beating their heads against a brick wall. As these good guys have left or been driven out of Israel, they have been replaced by the most retrograde racist Zionist chauvinists, whether from Moldova or Queens. These religious zealots will cite ancient texts to justify their stealing the land of Palestinians who have lived on it for generations. They guarantee an ongoing motivation for bloody conflict between people who should just be able to treat each other fairly and just get along.
It is apparent to any objective observer of the conflict over the last half-century, that had the United States not been extending virtually unlimited funding for Israel’s ‘security’, that Israel and its Palestinian neighbors would have long ago worked out some kind of political arrangement in which they all had some voice. But with Uncle Sam’s enormous thumb on the Israeli side of the scales, why should the Israelis give an inch? Instead, it has been rapaciously seizing Palestinian land, uprooting ancient olive trees as punishment for the most trivial offenses, building their garish new ‘settlements’ all over this ancient land, while blowing up the beautiful old hand made stone homes of the people who actually live there.
This most recent massacre of the godforsaken denizens of Gaza, known worldwide as the world’s largest open air prison, stands out in its brazen extended middle finger to the whole rest of the world. It’s virtually unanimous will having been clearly expressed in the United Nations, even though they all know about the inevitable veto of anything critical of Israel that the US guarantees in perpetuity, such expressions of rage and disgust by the rest of the world have become an exercise in futility.
Anyone with any kind of basic human compassion can see that the uncritical support of whatever slaughter the Israelis do can only be harmful to everyone involved; the Palestinian second class citizens of Israel, the occupied people whose daily lives have become endless hours of waiting in the sun at checkpoints waiting for humiliation by merciless Israeli child soldiers, empowered to put them down without consequence at the slightest infraction of their arbitrary rules, and the Israelis themselves! who have been warped mentally by their power over the arabs.
Have I, in recent years, ever experience something as infuriating as hearing an NPR interviewer talking blandly about the ‘conflict’ in Gaza, where, with the lame justification of rocket fire into Israel from Gaza (basically glorified fireworks with no guidance, which may do damage to some Israelis or their assets 1% of the time), the Israelis have unleashed the full panoply of US donated high-tech weaponry which always hits their targets. I wanted to barf when I heard about how they were targeting ‘terror tunnels’ which were conveniently located mostly often under high rise apartment buildings; hey, two birds with one stone! Destroy the ‘Terror Tunnels’, AP, Al Jazeera, etc. news offices and hundreds of the homes of otherwise uninvolved civilians simply trying to exist. If these terror tunnels were so terrible, providing opportunity for murder of say, Israelis, I think we would have heard about it, since the US media seldom passes on an opportunity to bring such deaths to our attention, even while scores or hundreds of Palestinians, many of them women and children, can be massacred with barely a mention in the American press.
I’ve been a fan of much of Joe Biden’s actions since assuming the presidency, which is why I found it so disgusting to hear him say as a reaction to Israel’s most recent horrifying orgy of bloodletting with the decades-long US public officeholder shibboleth of “Israel has a right to defend itself”. So do the Palestinians!
COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE (THE ANGRY AMERICAN)
American girls and American guys
We'll always stand up and salute
We'll always recognize
When we see Old Glory flying
There's a lot of men dead
So we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our head
My daddy served in the army
Where he lost his right eye but he flew a flag out in our yard
Until the day that he died
He wanted my mother, my brother, my sister and me
To grow up and live happy
In the land of the free
Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack
A mighty sucker punch came flyin' in from somewhere in the back
Soon as we could see clearly
Through our big black eye
Man, we lit up your world
Like the fourth of July
Hey Uncle Sam, put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty started shakin' her fist
And the eagle will fly man, it's gonna be hell
When you hear mother freedom start ringin' her bell
And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you
Brought to you courtesy of the red white and blue
Justice will be served and the battle will rage
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage
And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way
— Toby Keith
DONALD RUMSFELD, WAR CRIMNAL, DEAD AT 88
Donald Rumsfeld died on June 29, 2021. He died a free man. He died a war criminal. And that's a damn shame because in his 88 years, Rumsfeld was never once held accountable for his crimes against our country and against humanity.
Other war criminals who worked with Rumsfeld to mire our country in illegal and immoral wars, endless wars to support failed states and their corrupt leaders are still living and breathing, being called on for their advice and making blood money as consultants.
These are the very same war criminals who "legalized" torture practices -- cynically named "enhanced interrogation techniques.
Will any of them ever be held accountable for what they did to this country and to millions of innocent civilians -- men, women and children -- around the world?
Here's what international media is saying about Rumsfeld. Much of it is from our NATO partners.
Excerpt: "Documents surfaced after the invasion that showed that Rumsfeld was quite aware of the gaping holes in the intelligence about Iraqi WMD, but he consistently presented the claims to the public as if they were cast-iron certainties."
Excerpt: "Rumsfeld was the worst secretary of defense in American history. Being newly dead shouldn’t spare him this distinction. He was worse than the closest contender, Robert McNamara, and that is not a competition to judge lightly."
Excerpt: "Rumsfeld was the chief advocate of every disaster in the years after September 11. Wherever the United States government contemplated a wrong turn, Rumsfeld was there first with his hard smile—squinting, mocking the cautious, shoving his country deeper into a hole. His fatal judgment was equaled only by his absolute self-assurance. He lacked the courage to doubt himself. He lacked the wisdom to change his mind."
Excerpt: "Rumsfeld and his crony warmongers, including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell, pushed for the Iraq invasion despite massive resistance from across the U.S. They used all the lies and fearmongering and media complicity at their disposal to mire our country in these warrantless genocides and foreign policy disasters that continue to have major impacts today."
Excerpt: "With news of the belated death of Donald Rumsfeld, it’s vital that his true legacy of villainy be recalled. In the name of the sons and daughters of the American military who died pointless deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the names of the millions of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan who died collateral deaths, it is imperative we set the historical record straight. An unimpeachable case against Rumsfeld can be made for his war crimes and crimes against humanity."
Politicians from both political parties have acted badly in supporting the Military Industrial Complex since the end of WWII.
The puppet masters who pull the strings on them are the real shadow government, and they've run our country for the last 75 years.
We need to get these power elites -- and their bankers and lobbyists -- out of our elections and out of our government.
A final thought: Our country desperately needs new leaders. We need peacemakers, not just peacekeepers. We need leaders with vision. With wisdom.
We need the next JFK.
A CASE OF ‘INTELLECTUAL CAPTURE’?
YouTube's use of government guidelines to regulate speech raises serious questions, both about the First Amendment and regulatory capture
by Matt Taibbi
Just under three years ago, Infowars anchor Alex Jones was tossed off Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify, marking the unofficial launch of the “content moderation” era. The censorship envelope has since widened dramatically via a series of high-profile incidents: Facebook and Twitter suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story, Donald Trump’s social media suspension, Apple and Amazon’s kneecapping of Parler, the removal of real raw footage from the January 6th riots, and others.
This week’s decision by YouTube to demonetize podcaster Bret Weinstein belongs on that list, and has a case to be to be put at or near the top, representing a different and perhaps more unnerving speech conundrum than those other episodes.
Profiled in this space two weeks ago, Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying — both biologists — host the podcast DarkHorse, which by any measure is among the more successful independent media operations in the country. They have two YouTube channels, a main channel featuring whole episodes and livestreams, and a “clips” channel featuring excerpts from those shows.
Between the two channels, they’ve been flagged 11 times in the last month or so. Specifically, YouTube has honed in on two areas of discussion it believes promote “medical misinformation.” The first is the potential efficacy of the repurposed drug ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment. The second is the third rail of third rails, i.e. the possible shortcomings of the mRNA vaccines produced by companies like Moderna and Pfizer.
Weinstein, who was also criticized for arguing the lab-leak theory before conventional wisdom shifted on that topic, says YouTube’s decision will result in the loss of “half” of his and Heying’s income. However, he says, YouTube told him he can reapply after a month.
YouTube’s notice put it as follows: “Edit your channel and reapply for monetization… Make changes to your channel based on our feedback. Changes can include editing or deleting videos and updating video details.”
“They want me to self-censor,” he says. “Unless I stop broadcasting information that runs afoul of their CDC-approved talking points, I’ll remain demonetized.”
Weinstein’s travails with YouTube sound like something out of a Star Trek episode, in which the Enterprise crew tries and fails to communicate with a malevolent AI attacking the ship. In the last two weeks, he emailed back and forth with the firm, at one point receiving an email from someone who identified himself only as “Christopher,” indicating a desire to set up a discussion between Weinstein and various parties at YouTube.
Over the course of these communications, Weinstein asked if he could nail down the name and contact number of the person with whom he was interacting. “I said, ‘Look, I need to know who you are first, whether you’re real, what your real first and last names are, what your phone number is, and so on,” Weinstein recounts. “But on asking what ‘Christopher’s’ real name and email was, they wouldn’t even go that far.” After this demand of his, instead of giving him an actual contact, YouTube sent him a pair of less personalized demonetization notices.
As has been noted in this space multiple times, this is a common theme in nearly all of these stories, but Weinstein’s tale is at once weirder and more involved, as most people in these dilemmas never get past the form-letter response stage. YouTube has responded throughout to media queries about Weinstein’s case, suggesting they take it seriously.
YouTube’s decision with regard to Weinstein and Heying seems part of an overall butterfly effect, as numerous other figures either connected to the topic or to DarkHorse have been censured by various platforms. Weinstein guest Dr. Robert Malone, a former Salk Institute researcher often credited with helping develop mRNA vaccine technology, has been suspended from LinkedIn, and Weinstein guest Dr. Pierre Kory of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) has had his appearances removed by YouTube. Even Satoshi Ōmura, who won the Nobel Prize in 2015 for his work on ivermectin, reportedly had a video removed by YouTube this week.
There are several factors that make the DarkHorse incident different from other major Silicon Valley moderation decisions, including the fact that the content in question doesn’t involve electoral politics, foreign intervention, or incitement. The main issue is the possible blurring of lines between public and private censorship.
When I contacted YouTube about Weinstein two weeks ago, I was told, “In general, we rely on guidance from local and global health authorities (FDA, CDC, WHO, NHS, etc) in developing our COVID-19 misinformation policies.”
The question is, how active is that “guidance”? Is YouTube acting in consultation with those bodies in developing those moderation policies? As Weinstein notes, an answer in the affirmative would likely make theirs a true First Amendment problem, with an agency like the CDC not only setting public health policy but also effectively setting guidelines for private discussion about those policies. “If it is in consultation with the government,” he says, “it’s an entirely different issue.”
Asked specifically after Weinstein’s demonetization if the “guidance” included consultation with authorities, YouTube essentially said yes, pointing to previous announcements that they consult other authorities, and adding, “When we develop our policies we consult outside experts and YouTube creators. In the case of our COVID-19 misinformation policies, it would be guidance from local and global health authorities.”
Weinstein and Heying might be the most prominent non-conservative media operation to fall this far afoul of a platform like YouTube. Unlike the case of, say, Alex Jones, the moves against the show’s content have not been roundly cheered. In fact, they’ve inspired blowback from across the media spectrum, with everyone from Bill Maher to Joe Rogan to Tucker Carlson taking notice.
“They threw Bret Weinstein off YouTube, or almost,” Maher said on Real Timelast week. “YouTube should not be telling me what I can see about ivermectin. Ivermectin isn’t a registered Republican. It’s a drug!”
From YouTube’s perspective, the argument for “medical misinformation” in the DarkHorse videos probably comes down to a few themes in Weinstein’s shows. Take, for example, an exchange between Weinstein and Malone in a video about the mRNA vaccines produced by companies like Moderna and Pfizer:
Weinstein: The other problem is that what these vaccines do is they encode spike protein… but the spike protein itself we now know is very dangerous, it’s cytotoxic, is that a fair description?
Malone: More than fair, and I alerted the FDA about this risk months and months and months ago.
In another moment, entrepreneur and funder of fluvoxamine studies Steve Kirsch mentioned that his carpet cleaner had a heart attack minutes after taking the Pfizer vaccine, and cited Canadian viral immunologist Byram Bridle in saying that that the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t stay localized at point of injection, but “goes throughout your entire body, it goes to your brain to your heart.”
Politifact rated the claim that spike protein is cytotoxic “false,” citing the CDC to describe the spike protein as “harmless.” As to the idea that the protein does damage to other parts of the body, including the heart, they quoted an FDA spokesperson who said there’s no evidence the spike protein “lingers at any toxic level in the body.”
Would many doctors argue that the 226 identified cases of myocarditis so far is tiny in the context of 130 million vaccine doses administered, and overall the danger of myocarditis associated with vaccine is far lower than the dangers of myocarditis in Covid-19 patients?
Absolutely. It’s also true that the CDC itself had a meeting on June 18th to discuss cases of heart inflammation reported among people who’d received the vaccine. The CDC, in other words, is simultaneously telling news outlets like Politifact that spike protein is “harmless,” and also having ad-hoc meetings to discuss the possibility, however remote from their point of view, that it is not harmless. Are only CDC officials allowed to discuss these matters?
The larger problem with YouTube’s action is that it relies upon those government guidelines, which in turn are significantly dependent upon information provided to them by pharmaceutical companies, which have long track records of being less than forthright with the public.
In the last decade, for instance, the U.S. government spent over $1.5 billion to stockpile Tamiflu, a drug produced by the Swiss pharma firm Roche. It later came out — thanks to the efforts of a Japanese pediatrician who left a comment on an online forum — that Roche had withheld crucial testing information from British and American buyers, leading to a massive fraud suit. Similar controversies involving the arthritis drug Vioxx and the diabetes drug Avandia were prompted by investigations by independent doctors and academics.
As with financial services, military contracting, environmental protection, and other fields, the phenomenon of regulatory capture is demonstrably real in the pharmaceutical world. This makes basing any moderation policy on official guidelines problematic. If the proper vaccine policy is X, but the actual policy ends up being X plus unknown commercial consideration Y, a policy like YouTube’s more or less automatically preempts discussion of Y.
Some of Weinstein’s broadcasts involve exactly such questions about whether or not it’s necessary to give Covid-19 vaccines to children, to pregnant women, and to people who’ve already had Covid-19, and whether or not the official stance on those matters is colored by profit considerations. Other issues, like whether or not boosters are going to be necessary, need a hard look in light of the commercial incentives.
These are legitimate discussions, as the WHOs own behavior shows. On April 8th, the WHO website said flatly: “Children should not be vaccinated for the moment.” A month and a half later, the WHO issued a new guidance, saying the Pfizer vaccine was “suitable for use by people aged 12 years and above.”
The WHO was clear that its early recommendation was based on a lack of data, and on uncertainty about whether or not children with a low likelihood of infection should be a “priority,” and not on any definite conviction that the vaccine was unsafe. And, again, a Politifactcheck on the notion that the WHO “reversed its stance” on children rated the claim false, saying that the WHO merely “updated” its guidance on children. Still, the whole drama over the WHO recommendation suggested it should at least be an allowable topic of discussion.
Certainly there are critics of Weinstein’s who blanch at the use of sci-fi terms like “red pill” (derived from worldview-altering truth pill in The Matrix), employing language like “very dangerous” to describe the mRNA vaccines, and descriptions of ivermectin as a drug that would “almost certainly make you better.”
Even to those critics, however, the larger issue Weinstein’s case highlights should be clear. If platforms like YouTube are basing speech regulation policies on government guidelines, and government agencies demonstrably can be captured by industry, the potential exists for a new brand of capture — intellectual capture, where corporate money can theoretically buy not just regulatory relief but the broader preemption of public criticism. It’s vaccines today, and that issue is important enough, but what if in the future the questions involve the performance of an expensive weapons program, or a finance company contracted to administer bailout funds, or health risks posed by a private polluter?
Weinstein believes capture plays a role in his case at some level. “It’s the only thing that makes sense,” he says. He hopes the pressure from the public and from the media will push platforms like YouTube to reveal exactly how, and with whom, they settle upon their speech guidelines. “There’s something industrial strength about the censorship,” he says, adding. “There needs to be a public campaign to reject it.”