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AN UPSTREAM TROUGH WILL KEEP TEMPERATURES MILD for the next few days before ridging returns and increases temperatures later in the week. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S HIGHS: Ukiah 102°, Yorkville 101°, Boonville 96°, Fort Bragg 61°
THE NAVARRO RIVER — when it was healthy
by Mark Scaramella
In a press release announcing the pending private curtailments of a formerly public resource — water — Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, is quoted as saying, “Conditions in the Russian River watershed have deteriorated rapidly and are already worse than those experienced during the last drought. The board does not take the restriction of water rights lightly, but the situation we are facing demands our attention and action. Diversions must stop to preserve minimum flows for health and safety once storage levels worsen and curtailments are issued.”
The board describes the curtailments as affecting “2,400 water right holders, including 1,600 water users in the Upper Russian River and up to 800 in the Lower Russian River.” It also describes the Russian River as “starting in Mendocino County and flows south through Sonoma County for 110 miles before entering the Pacific Ocean. Water stored in Lake Mendocino, a reservoir north of Ukiah, is released downstream to maintain flows in the upper section of the river. The supplemental water from the lake protects multiple fish species and municipal and agricultural uses, and during drought, accounts for nearly all the water in the river.”
Obviously too little and too late. The irresponsible officials at both the County and the state could have issued mandatory restrictions back in April when they declared a “drought emergency," primarily so that they could qualify for more money. At that time everybody knew this was going to be an historic drought. The “deterioration” could have been substantially mitigated if the authorities had taken any timely “action,” and behaved as if their emergency declaration was indeed an emergency. Instead, they delayed and delayed and delayed. In fact, they still haven’t issued mandatory reductions like the ones in some local cities.
In the wake of Esquivel’s tardy announcement, Elizabeth Salomone, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control & Water Conservation Improvement District in Ukiah, said “Currently, all post-1914 water right holders have been noticed to cease diversions due to insufficient water supply and the curtailment is a further action that expands to pre-1914 and riparian right holders.”
The Potter Valley Diversion is a “pre-1914” water right since the tunnel was built in 1900-1908.
But will the “curtailment” help? Only if it’s enforced. As we learned last week from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat of all places, asking the grape growers in the upper and lower Russian River watersheds to voluntarily reduce even 15% was largely ignored, and that’s why the Water Board is finally making this latest pronouncement.
But the Water Board has a long history of not enforcing its rules. So we don’t expect any real conservation from these water-hogging grape growers unless a downstream user files suit. And by then, there won’t be much water left.
Former Third District Supervisor John Pinches told us in an interview on Saturday that he’s pretty sure the clever pot growers in the Eel River watershed are drawing water out of the Eel River underflow at night, well out of the sight of any law enforcement, and law enforcement, overwhelmed by illegal grows and practices, can occasionally swoop down on an egregious offender but is otherwise powerless to disrupt rogue pot ops.
Similarly, there’s no reason to think that the grape growers along the Russian River, both upstream of Lake Mendocino in Potter Valley, or downstream near Hopland and points south will similarly flaunt the “curtailment” on their water draws from the public well — if there’s any there to be had.
VISIT MENDO WEIGHS IN on the Pot Rules
I have been hesitant to speak on the new cannabis ordinance because of how it’s been portrayed by referendum proponents, but I feel an issue this important for our community merits thoughtful discussion.
It’s ok for community members to come down on both sides of this issue and it’s ok if you signed the petition with the best of intentions but, didn’t realize the impacts a referendum would have.
You can contact the County Clerk if you would like to remove your signature.
For those of us who hold a vision of environmental stewardship and sustainable economic development for Mendocino County, the referendum is unfortunately not the path that it promises to be. While claiming to protect the environment, it would actually remove all environmental protections and limits to activities like water hauling and illegal diversions.
A referendum would effectively shut down the legal cannabis industry and set back our economy several years in terms of developing new tourism opportunities which celebrate our local legacy farms. The new ordinance offers a path forward for licensed farms which will allow them to build out the Mendocino brand and build on our rich heritage of local agriculture to share with the world. This agriculture heritage and the Mendocino Cannabis brand directly support our tourism economy. Visitors are traveling for cannabis, exploring, learning and engaging with communities and tend to stay longer as visitors, spending more during their stays.
Travis Scott, Executive Director
Visit Mendocino County
(1) It’s amazing to me that these puff-piece letters flowing into the media all fail to mention that the new ordinance expands cannabis into the rangelands and allows for grows up to 10% of parcel size. Whenever a county supervisor speaks in opposition to the referendums, the 10% rule is not mentioned unless someone brings it up, at which point they backpedal to their newly proffered 2 acre cap, often without mentioning that it expires in 2026.
Stop being disingenuous. The 10% of parcel rule is the elephant in the room. Just striking the rule would take the primary objection off the table. Had the supervisors not doggedly clung to that rule it’s unlikely we’d have the referendums.
(2) Most people in Mendocino are not in support of the 10% expansion but even more won’t sign the referendum because it would destroy all the small farms in Mendocino. The referendum folks should have found a different path than destroying the current small permit holders in Mendo. But they were obsessed over Henry’s Original and decided to screw all the permit holders.
(3) “Most people are in support of the 10% expansion.”
Since that is the case, why does the BOS stubbornly cling to it? Strike it from the ordinance, permanently. The bogus deferral until 2026 isn’t the same as striking it entirely and we all know it. Quit taking us as fools.
“The referendum folks should have found a different path.”
Sorry, but that’s BS. The county is now facing referendums because the county wasn’t listening. It’s the county supervisors that should have found the different path. The responsibility for the existence of these referendums lies squarely on the board of supervisors. They’ve brought this on themselves.
(4) The state gave out provisional permits four years ago so the county could get an ordinance together and do inspections. Permit holders began paying fees and taxes four years ago. They cannot get an annual state license without a county permit and ordinance. The county waited till the last minute and the provisional permits are about to expire. Unless the county gets an ordinance and gives us annual permits before the provisional permits expire then we lose our permits. The referendum if it passes will delay the ordinance after the provisional permit expires also preventing provisional permit holders for a state permit. Putting us out of business. And as far as why the B.O.S is not listening, my guess is they want to put small farms out of business and they know they have us by the balls. And it’s easier to pit groups in the community against each other than to be honest.
MENDOCINO COAST RESIDENT RECOGNIZED BY THE AUDUBON SOCIETY For Her Bird Photography Two Years In A Row
WHY 101 RUNS THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF SANTA ROSA
by Susan Minichiello
Having Highway 101 run north and south smack through the middle of Santa Rosa may be convenient, but the divide it creates between east and west is mostly unfortunate.
Some Santa Rosans in the 1940s thought the Highway 101 route could be placed around the town instead of through it and proposed routes further east or west, possibly along Fulton and Wright roads, to ease truck traffic in the city.
But some businessmen worried about potential customers being rerouted too far from shops lobbied to have it close to downtown, and ultimately the city council agreed.
“This year now coming to a close has seen the physical outline of Santa Rosa changed more than any other year in the city’s history,” Press Democrat reporter Howard Smith wrote in December 1948. “This is the year they ‘sawed the town in half,’ some will tell you.”
State highway engineers in the 1940s recommended a highway overpass, which was protested by Santa Rosans and was referred to in media reports as a “highway on stilts.”
“How would traffic, once hoisted into the air, ever find its way back into our business districts?” asked a 1941 Press Democrat editorial.
Public opinion trumped engineers’ opinions and on May 20, 1949, the ground-level Santa Rosa “freeway” opened to the public. It cost $2.85 million to build the divided, four-lane highway about 4.3 miles long, and around the Davis Street neighborhood, 92 houses were moved and 22 were wrecked to make room for it, according to the state highway commission.
The ground-level freeway intersected with several city streets, including some without stop lights, resulting in a series of accidents and pedestrians fatally struck while crossing.
By September 1950, a Press Democrat editorial described the Santa Rosa freeway as a “death trap” and “perilous bypass.” It suggested the 55 mph speed limit be reduced to prevent the “ghastly toll of accidents” at freeway crossings.
“We suggest — and we believe men far better acquainted with freeway conditions than ourselves will agree — that speed along the entire freeway should be restricted to 35 miles per hour,” the editorial said.
The accident rate continued, anyway. Finally, in 1968, Highway 101 through Santa Rosa was elevated after two and a half years of construction work and another $3.8 million spent.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
SCORCHED, PARCHED AND NOW UNINSURABLE: CLIMATE CHANGE HITS WINE COUNTRY
ST. HELENA, Calif. — Last September, a wildfire tore through one of Dario Sattui’s Napa Valley wineries, destroying millions of dollars in property and equipment, along with 9,000 cases of wine.
November brought a second disaster: Mr. Sattui realized the precious crop of cabernet grapes that survived the fire had been ruined by the smoke. There would be no 2020 vintage.
A freakishly dry winter led to a third calamity: By spring, the reservoir at another of Mr. Sattui’s vineyards was all but empty, meaning little water to irrigate the new crop.
Finally, in March, came a fourth blow: Mr. Sattui’s insurers said they would no longer cover the winery that had burned down. Neither would any other company. In the patois of insurance, the winery will go bare into this year’s burning season, which experts predict to be especially fierce.
A SAVINGS BANK of Mendocino presser on Friday announced the promotion of Stacy Starkey to CEO of the Ukiah monolith, adding that Savings Bank “provided around $100 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans to local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
FORBES MAGAZINE reported recently that “The financial institutions processing coronavirus rescue loans earn fees on a sliding scale based on the total dollar amount approved. Lenders earn 5% on loans of $350,000 or less, 3% on loans between $350,000 and less than $2 million, and 1% for loans of at least $2 million. Additionally, banks will earn a 1% interest rate on loans they hold that are not eligible for forgiveness under PPP rules.”
THE PAYCHECK PROTECTION “LOANS” are not really loans because they are “forgiven” if the recipient spends at least 60% of the money on payroll. Nor do they involve any risk or any of the bank's own money, just some paperwork processing.
SO ASSUMING THE MID-RANGE of 3% — probably higher since most Mendo businesses got less than $350k — the privately owned Savings Bank made at least a quick $3 million for handing out the $100 million in public money.
41 PEOPLE are running in the Newsom recall election on September 14th, none of them particularly viable against the lavishly funded incumbent. They include 21 Republicans, eight unknown Democrats, one Republican Lite calling himself a Libertarian, nine independents and two Greens. Several candidates could not pass a routine mental health test, and one of them, Jenner, is starkers. Ballots go out in August.
IF NEWSOM manages to lose — Trumpers really, really hate him beyond all reason and will turn out in droves to unseat the Frisco slickster — one of the unknown Democrats on the ballot would be fatally pitted against a better known Republican, probably the guy who travels around with a heavily tranquilized bear, resulting in a Republican becoming governor.
BALLOTS will contain two questions: Should Newsom be recalled, and who should replace him. If more than half of voters say “yes" he should be recalled, then whoever among the potential replacements gets the most votes is the new governor of the nation’s most populous state. It's possible that someone could win with less than 25% of the votes, but any of them unseating Newsom is unlikely.
THERE'S no enthusiasm at the mighty ava for Newsom or any of his challengers. The Democrats...well, as the country slides into serial catastrophes the political choices become dreary competitions among political midgets who shouldn't be running anything more complicated than a hotdog stand, especially in an overall context of social and environmental disasters with the US electorate irretrievably divided against itself. (“I think we are in rats’ alley / Where the dead men lost their bones.” T.S. Eliot)
A LONG MARCH of interesting comments today on Kym Kemp's essential Redheaded Blackbelt re the term “redneck” one of which was this one: “My family of rednecks took pride in working hard, figuring things out, we were all mechanics and welders and machinists and such. In a sense, we were some of the original back-to-the-land folks in Humboldt County. We could plant a garden and produce food from it. We always had a pantry of home canned food so we could survive the hard times. And as Hank, Jr. suggested, run a trot line, skin a deer, find a way to survive. My mother made sheets and pillow cases out of flour sacks. She recycled old denim and khaki and made pants and shirts and quilts for her three boys. She was better at cutting up a deer than all of us. Some of us became pretty closed-minded and racist. Some us kept our minds open and thought that the only differences amongst folks were those who worked hard to better themselves and those who didn’t. We never killed for fun, only to protect what we had and to provide for our families. A person that swerves to hit a living animal is not a redneck, they are a psychopath. My father’s personal motto was, “It ain’t what you do with what you have that counts, it's what you do with what you ain’t got that matters.”
ANOTHER ONE: "Rednecks are poor white conservative uneducated laborers typically from the south. You are closer to being Elon Musk than a redneck. Liberals have also recently added racist and bigoted to the definition. I’m not saying you aren’t country or a hillbilly or a good person, you are using the wrong word in redneck. Go to Oklahoma and hang out with some, they will tell you “to take your (edit) liberal California bullshit and get the (edit) off their property. I know this because that’s what my inlaws who live there would tell you. Redneck has their ideology attached to it, and it is the polar opposite of yours, believe me, I’m too liberal for actual rednecks. What you're doing is essentially cultural appropriation of a group of people who you don’t understand. They think gays are going to hell, abortion is a mortal sin, if you don’t drive American you’re a commie, unless it has a SAS swap, then you might be ok, they think the wrong side won in the civil war and would love a rematch, they think climate change is a hoax. Does this sound like you at all? I’m born and raised rural Sohum, and the only rednecks I’ve met here moved here from the south. I’ve met countless people claiming it, but then again everyone who has three acres here says they have a farm also. Oh and if you support gun control in any way or shape a redneck will run you off his property. How do I explain so many people calling themselves redneck? The same way I explain people misusing the word fascist for four years, they hear a word and it suits what they think it means, not what it actually means."
WATER, A RIGHT-ON ON-LINE COMMENT
It's been clear since last winter that voluntary cutbacks to preserve storage in L. Mendocino weren't going to work.
It's now also abundantly evident that even with the threat of upcoming mandatory curtailments, some vineyards and ranchers just couldn't help themselves from greed.
"Twice in recent weeks, [SWCA's] Seymour said, dam managers at Lake Mendocino have had to send more water downstream to make up for flows that have gone missing along that particular stretch of the river and to ensure federally mandated minimum levels for the river’s diminished salmon and steelhead trout populations."
It's long past time for the State Water Resources Control Board to institute "Term 91" restrictions: water released from storage (i.e., from L. Mendocino) for instream and fishery needs cannot legally be used by any riparian or appropriative water rights holders - no irrigation, no storage, no domestic use. This would assist SCWA's hard work to maintain instream flow levels for salmon and steelhead. I would hope that SCWA will petition SWRCB to adopt Term 91 conditions for all water rights holders in the Russian River.
It's also long overdue for SWRCB to adjudicate the Russian River: it's overappropriated, meaning there is less water in the river system than already issued water rights allow to be pumped out. Pumping the river dry is not a long term strategy or sustainable practice. Users of the Russian River's bounty cannot continue to depend on taking water from the imperiled Eel River through PG&E's Potter Valley Project to cover their abuses of the Russian River.
WILLITS, MINUS TRAFFIC & EXHAUST
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
I hadn’t been to Willits in a year or more, and when I drove through it a week ago it slowly dawned that the city looked different, and better. Way better. It’s gotten better than anyone could reasonably expect a semi-rundown town to achieve in so short a span. Willits looks great. (NOTE: “Willits looks great” is not a sentence I ever imagined would come popping off a page I wrote.)
But it’s true. Willits has somehow emerged from both 2020’s economic Pandemicide and decades of self-induced doldrums brought on by the absence of the timber industry (think taxes) and the advent of the marijuana industry (think zero taxes).
Before expanding on the virtues of Willits II, let’s recall How Things Were. Raise your hand if you remember when the city was staggered, poor and moribund.
The essence of Willits was one lane each direction, and traffic, traffic and more traffic, with hundreds of motor vehicles crawling each direction. It was common to spend 20 minutes on the clogged main drag, adrift in an endless sea of cars, trucks, RVs and more trucks, including big-rig 18-wheelers chugging, polluting and downshifting their way to the next stoplight.
Summer weekends produced millions of bikers, some sober, in long parades of muffler-free roarings. Bikers from exotic lands like Bakersfield, San Jose and Folsom Prison arrived on northbound tidal waves of noise. Two days later they washed back south. We mourn their absence.
For pedestrians, downtown Willits offered thrills on every block. Running shoes and a deep breath were needed to sprint to the other side, dodging slow big-rigs and quick pickups. Daunting? Not every time. Just 99 out of 100.
All the noise and pollution was unavoidable. Willits was saddled, much like Ukiah, with the burden of being several miles long and half a block wide. That’s how all towns grew up on Highway 101. Consider Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Novato and any number of other California cities once bisected by 101.
Willits was wall-to-wall motels, gas stations and diners at the south end, followed by half a dozen downtown blocks, a few more motels and gas stations, then back to 55 highway miles an hour. Next stop Eureka.
No longer. Visit Willits now and prepare to be impressed. What had once and forever been downtown 101 is now just Main Street, USA. It seems wider, cleaner, with people moseying along sidewalks. And the people doing the mosey are a different breed from the sidewalk stragglers in recent memory. You know: Backpack, vacant stare, dog, nowhere to go until someone offers a job trimming.
The improvements are just the beginning. Willits has a fresh scrubbed look, new shops and businesses blooming on every block, and not just a Subway outlet here and a cannabis joint over there.
Try these: Flying Dog Pizza featuring beer, cider, CDs and Vinyl records?!? (Top that, Round Table!) Across the street: Moon Lady & Moon Man clothing, plus a shop called MonkeyWrench selling men and women’s garb. Plus Cafe 77 and, soon to launch a grand opening, Smokey’s BBQ.
There may be more dining spots in Willits than Ukiah. Mexican restaurants are a plurality, but don’t miss Irish pub Shanachie, the Bangkok Cafe, Buster’s Burgers, Vassar’s Pizza and more at the south end of town.
Willits has always had a train depot in the heart of downtown with daily runs to the coast and back. (Top that, Healdsburg!) Two of the county’s finest used bookstores call Willits home. The Book Juggler has the advantage of actually being open when you visit, whereas Used & Rare Books & Antiques entertains guests infrequently. It’s a gem anyway, and worth rattling its door when you’re in town.
Today, Willits is better because the 101 bypass diverts traffic along its eastern edge. But let’s not forget those who tried and tried to keep the bypass from being built.
For CalTrans it was always just a narrow band of concrete a few miles long, the tiniest speck in the teeniest fraction of roadway in California, but local Dirtfirsters erupted (as always) into spasms of uncontrolled anger and fury. They guaranteed the world the bypass would devastate the environment and destroy the local economy. For months they showed up to chant, sing, yell at workers, sit in trees, sabotage equipment, get interviewed on KZYX and throw (their own) feces at cops.
Classy folks. At least none had to take time off work.
What do they think now? Do they miss the congestion and pollution? Do they long for the days it took nine times as long to get from one end of Willits to the other? Do they have happy memories of wasted fossil fuels caused by endless traffic jams? Do they hope to inhale diesel truck exhaust one last time?
If they were honorable people they’d forever boycott Willits to demonstrate their integrity and commitment to a still-righteous cause.
Or are they embarrassed by their childish antics? Will they admit they were wrong? Will they apologize to CalTrans workers, cops and truck drivers for all the hate-filled, dishonest harassment?
In the meantime, we note a lack of outrage in the face of true environmental degradation, right here and right now, at outlaw marijuana grows in Covelo. Suddenly there’s no interest in defending Mother Earth?
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 18, 2021
KATLYNN ANDERSON, Redwood Valley. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, false compartment, failure to appear.
MARCUS DUMAN, Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale-transportation, saps & similar weapons, paraphernalia, failure to appear, offenses while on bail. (Frequent Flyer)
SUNNY EDWARDS, Sacramento/Ukiah. Controlled substance, concentrated cannabis.
JORGE GONZALES-LOPEZ, Willits. DUI probation revocation.
MONROE GREENMILLER, Rogerson, Idaho/Ukiah. Concealed weapon in vehicle, probation revocation.
TRENTON HERRERA, Willits. Stalking and threatening bodily injury.
COREY JAMES, Hopland. DUI.
MARISSA JOHNSON, Marysville/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, leaving scene of accident resulting in property damage, concealed weapon in vehicle with prior, ammo possession by prohibited person, felon-addict with firearm, brandishing.
PHILIP KING, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct/distributing intimate photos, etc., of another.
CARLOS MARTINEZ-TORRES, Ukiah. DUI.
TONY MCELROY, Willits. Annoying-molesting victim under 18, false imprisonment, disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
ALLEN MCKEE, Point Arena. Controlled substance.
MARITZA SANDOVAL-VEGA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOSHUA WILSON, Cloverdale/Willits. Domestic battery, child endangerment, probation revocation.
WORLD WAR II FAMILY PHOTOS
via Marilyn Davin
BILLIONS IN PG&E TRUST Meant for Wildfire Survivors Went to Lawyers and Consultants
A major investigation by KQED and NPR’s California Newsroom found a special trust set up to distribute $13.5 billion to survivors of wildfires caused by PG&E, the state’s largest utility company, was instead spent lavishly on its own administration while distributing almost nothing to the 70,000 fire victims, many of whom still live in trailers.
KING OLIVER’S CREOLE JAZZ BAND, New Orleans
We were the first colored band to play at most of the towns at which we stopped. The white people – the old faces – were not used to seeing colored boys blowing horns and making fine music for them to dance by. But before the evening was over, they loved us.
— Louis Armstrong
IN SHANGHAI (1980) as in other cities in China the air was bad. It stank, it was dark brown. There were people in the streets, mobs of them, because their rooms were so small and crowded. The streets were free. There is little sign of money, no sign of wealth. Small ugly coins and filthy paper rags are money. It is worthless stuff. The people have clean faces and they observe a kind of ragged order. One can only compare this to the competing crowds and distress of India. Here there are scarcely any beggars. There is little apparent violence. Most people are dressed exactly the same. They all wear shoes.
There is a powerful silence in the streets and the junkyard smell -- dust and old rags -- is not the smell of death but of illness. Motor traffic would make these cities uninhabitable but in a crude way the people have made motors unnecessary. The people seldom talk -- their silence which looks enforced is the most amazing thing.
Sometimes you can discern the future in the present, yet I could not tell what was in store for these people. Would it always be freezing in winter in cheap cotton clothes? Walking through the muddy streets in slippers? Carting the steel rods that are used for these awful buildings? Saying nothing? Masked against the air pollution that gives China the look of existing in a permanent sunset? China looked sad in its simplicity. It seemed to me that it would look hideous if it ever became prosperous.
Postscript, 1999 -- My Yangtze trip was taken in November of 1980 when the hard-line Maoists were still in control of the Politburo and Hua Guofeng was Party Chairman. The reformers in the government among them Deng Xiaoping had not yet consolidated their power. China has hardly changed since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. The Chinese still wore their revolutionary clothes, blue boiler suits and cloth slippers. Their motto was “Serve the People,” although they were already sick of saying it. China is a different country now.
During the initial stages of Collapse of the Roman Empire, the Romans found themselves progressively uncouth and “Dumbed Down”, and they progressively lost their cultural knowledge and technical edge. At one point, the Roman people wanted to build a huge monument to a great successful Emperor (Constantine?), so the people of Rome decided to build a huge Arch in his honor. The problem was that they had lost the technical knowledge of how to decorate the completed Arch. In the days of yore, it would have been easy to find and commission artists to decorate the Arch, but, tragically, this knowledge was lost, so the people of Rome decided to cannibalize artwork from an Arch dedicated to the Emperor Trajan to put on the Arch. This is what the US is like today. A society of barbaric, uncivilized, dumbed down Neanderthals…. Tattooed Neanderthals….
NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU
It's been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day
Since you took your love away
Since you've been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
I said nothing can take away these blues
'Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
It's been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me, baby, where did I go wrong
I could put my arms around every boy I see
But they'd only remind me of you
I went to the doctor and guess what he told me?
Guess what he told me?
He said, "Girl, you better try to have fun no matter what you do,"
But he's a fool
'Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
All the flowers that you planted, mama, in the back yard
All died when you went away
I know that living with you, baby, was sometimes hard
But I'm willing to give it another try
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares to you
— Prince Rogers Nelson
Athlone, marks the site of what was once a great ford across the Shannon known as the Ford of Great Antiquity. At around 900 AD there lived a man called Luain Mac Luighdeach - Luain son of Lewy. It is known that he established an Inn close to "Áth Mor - The Great Ford". This Inn is today known as Sean’s Bar! Luain acted as a guide to travellers who had to venture across the rapid torrent of the Shannon. A settlement grew up around the crossing point and in time the place came to be known by his name “Áth Luain” - the Ford of Luain which later became Athlone. In 1129, King Turlough O' Connor built the first wooden castle here to protect this settlement.
Sean’s Bar has a detailed and documented history right back to 900AD. During renovations in 1970, the walls of the bar were found to be made of "wattle and wicker" dating back to the ninth century. Old coins which were minted by various landlords for barter with their customers were also found. The walls and the coins are on display in the National Museum. One section remains on display in the pub.
In the face of a widespread rise in delta variant cases in France, President Emmanuel Macron boldly issued a mandate to the French people. Beginning in August, everyone must be vaccinated to attend a concert, go to a bar or have a meal in a restaurant. In the face of a national rise of COVID cases here, President Joe Biden must do the same.
To work in any hospital in France, any employee must be vaccinated. This same law should also apply to every school in America. Get a shot if you think you can work at any school in America.
We face a surge that takes no prisoners. We need to stop trying to stop it with half measures we already know are not working.
THE OVERWHELMING PROPORTION OF WEALTH available to modern humans is the result of the cumulative ingenuity and industriousness of prior generations going back to earliest times. … Contrary to the widespread view that an entrepreneur who becomes a billionaire deserves his wealth, the reality is that whatever wealth he created is a pittance compared to the immense bank of prior knowledge and social practices - the commonwealth - that he took from. It is the moral birthright of every human to share in the vast commonwealth bestowed on us.
— Jeremy Lent
BANNING TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
by Professor Edwin Conner
Of the many books seeking to expose the evils of racial prejudice, it has been said there are few more influential or insightful than To Kill A Mockingbird.
The novel, published in 1960, is a classic of modern literature, routinely cited as one of the most moving books of all time, its reputation further enhanced by the Oscar-winning film that followed shortly afterwards.
In a small town in Alabama, white lawyer Atticus Finch agrees to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who has been wrongly accused of raping a white woman.
Not only does Finch fail in his mission, but his children are left in mortal danger from threats of white racist violence.
I have a particular interest in the novel, not just because it is a powerful denunciation of racial prejudice, but because To Kill A Mockingbird was written by my aunt, Harper Lee, known in our family as Nelle or Nelle Harper.
So I am all the more disappointed to learn that a prominent school in Scotland has banned use of the book in its classrooms.
According to James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh, To Kill A Mockingbird is ‘dated and problematic’ and plays to an outdated idea of the ‘white saviour’.
My aunt would have viewed such notions as nonsensical and, at best, irrelevant.
It is children who will be deprived of Mockingbird and who will suffer.
We must remember, that in many cases, and especially for young white children, To Kill A Mockingbird might be their first exposure to the idea that racism exists beyond a world of newscasts, and they may be completely unaware of how deeply it can seep into the fabric of everyday lives, even those of children such as the book’s narrator – Finch’s daughter, Scout.
Yes, it is set in the 1930s, but the novel prompts the question: how much has really changed?
Today, we live with the terrible illusion that, because racial integration is now more common, racism is a thing of the past. It is not.
There is a historical context to this and other attempts to proscribe the book, of course.
Politicians have inflamed dormant and not-so-dormant prejudices, particularly in the United States.
The words we use – that we are allowed to use – are coming under intense scrutiny, much of it aggressive.
Some critics seem to be saying, for example, that Harper Lee too faithfully depicted the American South of the 1930s simply because her characters use language that people like those in her novel would have used in talking about African-Americans.
Yet the language, which is now understandably taboo for us, is exactly what my aunt – and I – heard growing up in small-town Alabama.
I would argue the novel shows us, as Atticus teaches Scout, that there is power in language. And it often reveals who people are in a way they do not intend.
It tells the truth about those people. My aunt can hardly be blamed for writing honestly and truthfully as a novelist about the world she knew.
Life in a small Southern town in the 1930s was dominated by white people, at whom To Kill A Mockingbird was primarily aimed.
My aunt not only wrote primarily for an adult audience, but for a white one, the audience who most needed – and still need – to hear what she had to say. She did not presume to write from an African-American point of view.
And what of the accusation recently made in Scotland and elsewhere? I’m afraid it doesn’t wash.
Atticus Finch is not a white saviour. Far from it.
Instead, the novel is about the failure of a white community to overcome its racism. There is a tremendous sadness to it.
In the book, Tom Robinson, wrongly accused and wrongly convicted, is shot dead in prison. Atticus not only fails to get Tom acquitted, but in that failure delivers him to his death. Not exactly a saviour.
Harper Lee would have respected, as I do, the prerogative of teachers to decide what is taught in their classrooms.
She was clear that she wrote her books – both of them – for adults, not for children.
But she was delighted whenever teachers chose to teach Mockingbird in their classes.
She didn’t, however, like the idea of banning books, or of putting decisions in the hands of bureaucracies which are often driven by political motives, whether of the Right or the Left.
She realised that her book might have political implications, of course, and she was happy that it helped drive the successes of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, but she aimed squarely at a timeless impact that would sink more deeply than a political message.
And she would have been shocked to find her book withdrawn by any school in Britain. From earliest childhood and all her life, she was an Anglophile and would spend months at a time in the United Kingdom.
We loved hearing her talk about her glorious summer in Oxford and cycling around the UK. She felt a sense of freedom and acceptance there, as if it were her spiritual home.
This is not the first time Mockingbird has been targeted, but to my knowledge it is the first time in the UK.
It has been banned by school boards and libraries, such as in Richmond, Virginia, in 1963, just three years after publication. Now we have gone 180 degrees and it’s not the Right but the Left which has the book in the cross-hairs.
My aunt wasn’t surprised by condemnation from the Southern racist Right. However, I think she was caught a bit off-guard by criticism from the Left.
To Kill A Mockingbird was deeply personal in its inspiration.
Its hero, Atticus, was based on my grandfather, Amasa Coleman Lee, who died in 1962 when I was almost 15. He was a good man.
As a child, my aunt idolised her father and, in part, the novel is about the love between father and daughter.
Yet being from the South, Nelle faced the challenge that all white Southerners who want to be honest about the matter face – of how to acknowledge and deal with the racism in their heritage, and more often than not in their families and in themselves.
A. C. Lee’s own father had been a veteran of the American Civil War. He fought at Gettysburg for the Southern confederacy, a cause dedicated to keeping black people enslaved.
If you grow up in a loving family, if you love your parents and your grandparents, how do you handle a heritage such as that?
Part of Harper Lee’s personal answer was to write a great novel about the failure to overcome the evils of racism and bigotry in a Southern community.
It was a book she said she’d felt ‘compelled’ to write and is thoroughly infused with the power of love as the potential to overcome all the evils in the human heart.
There came a point in about 1964 – and I’m not sure precisely what triggered her decision – when she decided she would give no more interviews and had nothing more to say publicly unless she might choose to do so in print.
She was becoming a centre of attention detracting from as much as adding to her book, and she had no interest in that. The book, she said, spoke for itself. Moreover, she was an introvert, like me. She simply had no interest in and did not enjoy the limelight.
Today, the novel speaks as powerfully as it ever did. And it is needed now more than ever, especially in America, where the past five years have demonstrated how deep and pervasive racism and bigotry are here.
The Black Lives Matter movement had already started when my aunt died five years ago, although it had not yet gained worldwide coverage.
I am in no doubt she would have said: ‘Of course black lives matter.’ She would have had no problem with the essential message of the movement or its initial application to police brutality and the killing of black people.
But Nelle didn’t like attempts to judge her novel using the criteria of any particular political ideology, whether of the Right or the Left. And To Kill A Mockingbird is not a political novel.
My aunt spent most of her working life in New York, but returned to Alabama for her final years.
At first, there was almost nothing in the spartan room she occupied. Before too long, however, it was overflowing with books.
She had little use for the money she’d made from the novel other than scholarships for young people, charitable donations – and buying more books.
That is one reason why she would have found attempts to ban her novel so disturbing. Books were her life.
Books have something to say. And we need to read Mockingbird today just as much as ever.
We live in a world where there is still racism and bigotry. And until those evils of the human heart are gone, To Kill A Mockingbird should be read – and taught.
(Professor Edwin Conner is Harper Lee’s nephew.)
WHERE ARE THE GUARDIANS OF PUBLIC HEALTH During the Covid-19 Pandemic?
by Dr. Nayvin Gordon
The failure of the guardians of public health during the Covid-19 pandemic in the US is a catastrophe. Physicians and Public Health workers have a duty to protect the health of the people. Why is there silence from the medical community as politicians of every stripe remove protective Public Health measures, leaving us all “free” to be infected, as Covid-19 spreads across the nation, leaving sickness, disability and death in its wake, A deliberate policy, rationalized by a non-scientific, dark ages, “herd immunity” fiction. In the UK, scientists and doctors are not afraid to shout out publically, that ending all Covid-19 restrictions is “dangerous and premature.” https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1751
Which US physicians and public health organizations have taken a public stand to protect the people?
Have medical schools, State Medical Boards, The American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association taken a public stand to condemn the governments abandoning all public health measures? Have they issued statements, made press releases, held demonstrations, or job actions? The silence is deafening!
Will stand up for the people’s health?
Vaccines alone, without public health measures, cannot effectively contain or eliminate Covid-19. The Science of Public Health can rapidly reduce transmission and spread of the virus, through social distance, masking, testing, tracing, and isolation.
Will fight against the 24 states that are actively trying to draft laws to dismantle or weaken the powers of public health? https://khn.org/news/article/pandemic-backlash-jeopardizes-public-health-powers-leaders/
Is organizing to immediately replace the more than 180 state and local public health officials in 38 states who have resigned, retired, or been fired?
Will struggle to demand the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), keep workers safe on the job with compulsory and enforceable regulations? https://www.nelp.org/publication/worker-safety-crisis-cost-weakened-osha/
Will demand an immediate reversal of the cuts to OSHA inspectors, now at the lowest number since 1975?
Will speak out, and take action to confront the destruction of public health, the rejection of science, and the resulting risk of disease and death for millions?
The population has been abandoned by the guardians of public health.
We the people, the vast majority, the working people, are on our own. We must rely on ourselves to insist that the government protect us.
Trillions of dollars have gone to Wall Street and the military, while pennies go to protecting our health. The health of millions depends upon our organizing independently to demand our social needs be met.
(Dr. Nayvin Gordon, firstname.lastname@example.org, lives in Oakland and writes about health and politics.)