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LIGHT RAIN is expected today and early Sunday, mostly north of Mendocino County. Cooler, drier weather is expected late Sunday and Monday before another front moves in late Monday. Strong winds, widespread rain, and high elevation snow are all expected with this second front. (NWS)
20 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
POLICE PURSUIT ENDS AT GUN POINT
by Matt LeFever
Information is scant at this point, but scanner traffic as 9:00 p.m. indicated law enforcement has been dispatched to the entrance of Hendy Woods State Park after a pursuit reportedly ended at the location.
A female associated with the pursued vehicle, the dispatcher added, was out of the vehicle and lying prone on the ground.
The dispatcher revealed the pursuit was conducted by State Parks law enforcement officers and when they requested back up a suspect was reportedly at gunpoint....
SATURDAY MEAL AT THE YORKVILLE MARKET
Hello and Happy November!
For tomorrow's meal, Chef B is preparing a warming Persian lamb stew with aromatic spices, winter squash and dried fruits served with a Basmati rice pilaf. We will be serving from 12:30ish to 4:30ish or until sold out and the price per plate will be $15.00.
Also, The Yorkville Book Club is starting again after a summer break! This is a great opportunity to read some great/fun/interesting literature and discuss it with your friends and neighbors. It is open to all and a fun gathering with snacks, drinks and good conversation, and an opportunity to socialize with others in the Yorkville community. The current novel is ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell and the discussion will be in the first two weeks of December, exact time TBD. If you are interested in joining, please send either me (respond to this chain) or Serge Melle (firstname.lastname@example.org) an email.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Lisa at Yorkville Market" <email@example.com>
THURSDAY NIGHT at Piaci's
EXHIBITS OPENING TODAY AT THE MENDOCINO ART CENTER
In-Person Exhibitions — Art In Action — Second Saturday
Artwork by Rosemary Allen & Carolyn King
continuing through November 29
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Dorr Bothwell collages
continuing through January 2
Art In Action
Hands-on Art — November 13 & 27 — 2pm-4pm both days
In conjunction with the "Rock, Paper, Scissors" exhibit, free, hands-on "Art in Action" collaging events will be open to the public. Drop in and create an individual collage or collaborate on a community wall collage.
Join Us For Second Saturday
Gallery Reception — November 13 — 5pm-7pm
Meet exhibiting artists Rosemary Allen and Carolyn King. While we won't have wine and snacks due to COVID-19*, we will be serving up great art! Free admission.
Gallery Hours: Sundays & Wednesdays through Fridays, 11am-4pm; and Saturdays, 11am-5pm
*COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS
For the safety of all Mendocino Art Center visitors, COVID-19 safety protocols are observed.
— All Mendocino Art Center staff, board and volunteers are fully vaccinated and will be wearing masks at all times.
— Visitors, both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated, must also wear masks on the Mendocino Art Center campus.
— Please observe social distancing guidelines.
Mendocino Art Center
45200 Little Lake Street at Kasten Street, Mendocino
HEY VALLEY MUSIC LOVERS! Longtime valley friend & renown musician Mitchell Holman will be performing his original music with bowable electric bass along with a few “Summer of Love” stories this Saturday night at Lauren’s, 9pm!
Come early for eats or stay to have a cocktail and listen to some great live music! (Lauren’s At The Buckhorn, 895-3869.
ERNIE BRANSCOMB: My grandmother Ruby (Middleton) Branscomb was born in 1900 and raised by the pioneer Middletons. She always had enough food around to feed several armies.
The Old Timers planted as large of a fruit orchard as they could. I still eat the fruit off the trees that were planted in the late 1800’s. The trees are in terrible shape, but the fresh fruit is delicious.
Her “larder” was full of winter squash, potatoes, and fresh fruit picked off the trees until it could be made into applesauce or jarred pears. Her garden was full year ’round. Her joy in life was her “Albert Etter Strawberries”. She would keep them mulched with straw to keep the berries off the ground. The kids were kept busy clipping the runners off them.
The winter garden was full of beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips, and green onions. Whenever we ate at grandma’s we were very careful to take small portions of anything because we had to eat everything that we put on our plates. She would deviously make mashed turnips that looked like mashed potatoes. They were horrid. There are many family tales about her mashed turnips and the dumber kids that would load their plates with them and then have to eat them.
I knew a lot of the old time locals growing up and they still had that “survival fear” in them. I think that you had to have known them to understand the fear that they always had in them to take care of their families. They would protect their families without thought or question like “the biddy hen protects her chicks.”
VETERANS DAY, BOONVILLE: NEXT SATURDAY MORNING
We at post 385 Boonville American Legion were deeply appreciative of the impressive community attendance at our Memorial Day Observance earlier this year. We honored those who have gone before us. Now on the Saturday after Veteran's Day we honor all members of the military and their families who provide a needed strength in keeping our country at peace. Thus we will have a Veteran's Day Ceremony on Saturday morning Nov. 13, at 11:00 a.m. at the Evergreen Cemetary on Anderson Valley Way in Boonville. We invite all community members of all ages to join with us on November 13th as we hope for a brief respite from the most welcome winter rains.
Regards, Gregory Sims
JUST IN: The House passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill - sending it to President Joe Biden's desk - just before midnight on Friday night. The vote came after a day of haggling between progressive and moderate Democrats who agreed to pass Biden's Build Back Better social spending bill no later than November 15. President Biden said the country 'took a monumental step forward'. The result is a substantial triumph for Biden's Democrats, who have bickered for months over the ambitious spending bills. Thirteen Republicans voted with the Democrats to pass the infrastructure bill, while six Democrats voted against it. The six who voted against are 'the Squad' - a part of the progressive wing of the Democratic party. When the bill crossed the line of 218 - which signified passage - applause broke out on the House floor, more applause came when the vote concluded. (Daily Mail)
WE ARE SADDENED at the news of the death of Mike Montana, formerly a popular resident of Rancho Navarro and the Anderson Valley. The Montanas were well known in this area, Mike as a wizard mechanic, wife Lee as our Notary Public. When the Montanas left Navarro for a new life in New Mexico, we all felt the loss as we now feel the loss of Mike.
A TERSE NOTE from CEO Angelo said, “The Board Chamber will not open before January, 2022. Thank you.” I'd asked because people ask us when the Supervisors will again appear in public. They've been zooming for over a year now because, variously, covid and a mysterious re-model of their chambers has been underway to make the inhabitants of those hallowed premises safe from contagion.
WE'VE been awfully critical of the CEO, but not unfairly critical, I'd say and, of course, she's always welcome to write rebuttals. As I've said before, Ms. Angelo has had to function in the context of weak and incompetent boards her entire run as CEO — the present board is simply weak — so it's understandable that she's had to step in to do both jobs.
TRUMP CANNOT claim executive privilege to stop the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riots from getting more than 770 files from his administration, federal judge says.
SINCE he was filmed inciting the sloppy Jan 6 takeover of Congress, if it were you or me we'd already have been convicted of treason and hanged. But the Democrats can't seem to act even on the obvious. If the maga mob had contained a dozen, maybe even fewer, heavily armed people who knew what they were doing and were prepared to die, that confused riot would have been much more serious than it was.
JOE MANCHIN is another guy who has become a millionaire “serving” our doomed country by serving himself via his home state of West Virginia's coal industry. He drives an 80 thou Maserati and owns a $250,000 boat. According to Salon, Manchin, over a mere decade, has picked up a cool $5.2 million from an industry killing the planet.
MANCHIN'S hardly alone in his destructive larceny. As the large majority of US suffer an increasingly tight, unarrested economic squeeze, at every level of government there are insulated people who profit from the public misery they inflict via public policy. Same-same here in Mendo where a population of only 90,000 people we have a publicly-funded apparatus of about 1,500 people making three times the average Mendo wage.
THE AGENDA PACKET for next Tuesday’s Supervisors meeting is, gulp, 767 pages long.
Some randam factoids from those hundreds of pages:
67.3% of Mendocino residents are officially obese.
Between 2015 and 2019 the “crude death rate” in Mendo due to “death of despair” was 69 per 100,000, almost twice as high in Mendo as the rest of California. (This was pre-Covid.) Apparently, somebody has decided that deaths due to drug overdose, suicide or alcoholic liver disease constitute a “death of despair” and somebody got a grant to count them because, and excuse our cynicism on this depressing subject, the mental health bureaucracy can factor this into their budgets and additional grant applications for themselves.
Accordingly, the packet recommends that “Mendocino County Board of Supervisors form an Ad Hoc Community Well-Being Committee to define how the County and Adventist Health can partner to make well-being accessible to everyone in Mendocino County.” So, of course, we will soon see a dramatic drop in despair. I don’t know about you, but the creation of such a pointless committee is by itself a major cause of despair.
The Supervisors are going to “consult” with their risk manager in Closed Session about a “Threat to Public Services or Facilities.”
A huge chunk of the agenda packet is a copy of the proposed $307,000 contract with a consultant called GEI consultants describing all the wonderful things the consultant will do to re-establish a County Water Agency. The consultant will get between $200 and $260 an hour (depending on which consultant calculates his own hours) for this “work,” which will not include the operation of the agency, but will presumably set up a mechanism so that they can prime the grant pump to pull down all the new money that is expected to flow down to Mendo from governments to the east for water project planning and bureaucracy, probably modeled along the lines of the Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG) which plans all sorts of transportation projects but leaves Mendo’s roads that are consistently rated as some of the poorest in the state.
Another big chunk of the packet is a proposed “Ordinance Amending Mendocino County Code, Title 20, Division Ii, Chapters 20.308, 20.316, 20.456, 20.458, 20.472, 20.532, 20.536, And 20.544 To Establish Regulations Related To Accessory Dwelling Units In The Coastal Zone.”
The agenda item is meant to “streamline” the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in the Coastal Zone but it’s hard to understand how over 350 pages of new ordinance and related attachments on this subject will do that.
Just purely at random we snagged this sentence among the hundreds of ADU pages: “In addition, while two structures sited immediately adjacent to one another can largely rely on the same fire clearance area, driveway access, and other exterior improvements, 150 feet is potentially too large a distance to afford this benefit of clustering.”
But this new requirement in the proposed ordinance might present a snag in the hopes of those who think any new housing will result:
“The Division of Environmental Health shall review and approve the availability and adequacy of the water system for all ADUs and any JADUs that are not exempt from CDP requirements pursuant to Section 20.532.020(G) and result in the creation of additional bedrooms. An adequate water supply must be available to serve the proposed new residence as well as existing residences on the property. If the property is located in a service district, the property owner must provide written approval from the service district specifically authorizing the connection of the ADU.”
Talk about despair!
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 5, 2021
ANTHONY BEWLEY, Potter Valley. DUI.
DEANDRE BRAZIEL, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, probation revocation.
CURTIS EVANS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
WILLIAM EVERS, Elk. Attempted murder, parole violation.
CEAN GARNER, Cloverdale/Ukiah. False imprisonment, probation revocation.
JENNIFER HEVEY, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.
MIKE HUTCHINSON, Willits. Ammo possession by prohibited person, suspended license, failure to appear.
SHAWN LANE, Ukiah. County parole violation.
JUAN LOPEZ, Ukiah. Parole violation.
PATTY PIERCE, Willits. Probation revocation.
ANGELA RIVIERA, Ukiah. Burglary, vandalism.
NICHOLAS SABALA, Sacramento. Controlled substance, disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
JASON SJOLUND, Willits. Manufacture/possession of metal knuckles, probation revocation.
CHELSEA TURNER, Ukiah. Mandatory supervision sentencing.
TRISTIN WILEY, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
PEOPLE WHO DEVELOP A JOB SKILL in prison aren't typically able to use it as a reference on their resumes resulting in exactly zero benefit outside of prison. Let's go over the problems;
1. They pay prisoners depending on what state they work, between $0.20 to $0.80 and hour, and store their earning in an account for them to use for personal benefits in prison, or a cash disbursement on leaving prison. These for profit prisons charge between $5.00 and $20.00 an hour for their labor depending on the kind of work they're contracted to do, keeping between 90 - 98% of the profit for their own bottom line. Worse in some states, if you don't perform assigned labor, you can be denied niceties like toilet paper, bed sheets, pillows, a mattress for your bed, clean clothes, basic toiletries, time outside your cell, so though one can argue that it's not forced labor, in fact it absolutely is. So in no small way, this is slave labor in a number of "for profit prisons", and those prisons are making a killing working their prisoners on the cheap.
2. They undercut fair wages for the general population, causing many people in the general public to endure a spiraling devaluation of their professions.
3. Because this is so lucrative, For Profit Prisons have spent billions on passing laws in certain states criminalizing poverty and other social conditions, and pushing for dramatically longer sentences even for misdemeanors, because it's just so good for their bottom line. As such more, and more people are finding themselves trapped in the for profit labor where their toil and their time enriches a corporation, and never themselves.
An equitable system, would entail providing education and occupational training for nonviolent prisoners. Followed by part time, supervised day work in the community, followed by a program of earned parole. This system would be mated with a program that has prisoners paid a fair wage, but that wage being used;
1. First to support their own families to keep them off of or minimize welfare burden to society 2. A program of restitution to the victims of their crimes with the included cost of meetings, counseling, and taking responsibility for the impact of their crime. Time and time again, these programs have shown an incredible value in reducing recidivism, and bringing peace and comfort to the victims of crime. 3. Support and contribution for paying for their own incarceration. 4. Building up a significant nest-egg for the day of prison release, giving the necessary resources to restart their lives successfully. This combined with a strict process of being reintroduced to the outside through halfway houses, and support for education in basic personal finance and a healthy lifestyle. By growing a sense of self reliance and personal responsibility, a foundation for a healthy life can be built, giving a person a better than average chance of succeeding.
This would be a system focused on making society successful, and not corporate billionaires.
— Marie Tobias
WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE
My mother had a bachelor’s degree in journalism and worked as a newspaper reporter. If a public official had spoken to her, saying they were quitting because of “racial bias” and “microaggressions,” her first questions would have been those questions she always said were the core and essence of journalism: Who did what, where, when and why?
But you’ve just reported on two public officials resigning or declining county posts while making those accusations, and you’ve left your readers without the slightest clue as to what actually happened to them, and with no idea whether their accusations are well-founded or are overblown hype.
Admittedly, my experience is from 60 years ago, but do journalists no longer ask those questions?
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
— Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
THREE CHEERS FOR JARED HUFFMAN
Murder, Rape & Torture: Fortress Conservation On Trial
by Subhankar Banerjee
On November 1, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres opened his remarks at the UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, with these words: “The six years, since the Paris Climate Agreement, have been the six hottest years on record. Our addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink. We face a stark choice: either we stop it, or it stops us. And it’s time to say, enough. Enough of brutalizing biodiversity…!”
It was not the first time that Secretary General Guterres had acknowledged the biodiversity crisis gripping our planet in such a prominent manner. In September, during his address to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he used similar language to deplore the “shocking biodiversity loss.”
For many years now I have been urging policy makers and the public to recognize that the intensifying biodiversity crisis is just as significant and consequential as the climate crisis. To hear the UN Secretary General, begin his remarks at COP26 with a reference to devastating biodiversity loss was reassuring. Such public acknowledgements of the current crisis are desperately needed to convince people that the time to act is now.
With that preamble, let me now accompany you to an unprecedented congressional hearing that took place just last week in the United States, a hearing that clarified to me that the “brutalizing” of biodiversity has many faces and takes many forms.
On October 26, a Natural Resources subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing titled, “Protecting Human Rights in International Conservation.” Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) chaired the session. The nearly two-hour-long hearing, excruciating to watch, put “fortress conservation” on trial. The atrocities discussed during that hearing were, in the eyes of Fiore Longo of Survival International, conservation industry’s “Abu Ghraib scandal,” a moment from which the industry “will never recover.” But you likely don’t know anything about this because the hearing was not reported in the U.S. mainstream press. Silence from The New York Times. Crickets from the Washington Post.
Before I discuss the hearing, a few words about fortress conservation may prove helpful.
The Dawn of “Fortress Conservation”
Fortress conservation originated in the United States with the establishment of the Yellowstone National Park in 1872. In his very readable book, Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (2001), grounded in meticulous scholarship, historian Karl Jacoby relates the origin story of the Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world. Five tribes—the Crow, Bannock, Shoshone, Blackfeet, and Nez Perce—actively used the Yellowstone Plateau for subsistence hunting and gathering. Undeterred, supporters of the park idea “persisted in describing the region as existing in ‘primeval solitude,’ filled with countless locations that ‘have never been trodden by human footsteps.’” And thus began the ignominious era of conservation colonialism. “Drawing upon a familiar vocabulary of discovery and exploration, the authors of the early accounts of the Yellowstone region literally wrote Indians out of the landscape, erasing Indian claims by reclassifying inhabited territory as empty wilderness,” writes Jacoby. Subsistence hunters were denounced as “poachers,” inhabitants ridiculed as “squatters,” and subsistence gatherers branded as “thieves,” charges that criminalized the age-old cultural activities of the land’s original inhabitants.
Yellowstone National Park was the first and the most iconic example of fortress conservation. The idea is straightforward: establish a fortress, drawing a hard boundary around an area deemed worthy of conservation; evict the original human inhabitants; and declare their traditional practices illegal.
After displacing Indigenous peoples in the United States, fortress conservation continued its colonial march through Asia and Africa. In his influential, combative essay “Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique,” first published in Environmental Ethics in 1989, Indian historian Ramachandra Guha wrote this: “The initial impetus for setting up parks for the tiger and other large mammals such as the rhinoceros and elephant came from two social groups, first, a class of ex-hunters turned conservationists belonging mostly to the declining Indian feudal elite and second, representatives of international agencies, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), seeking to transplant the American system of national parks onto Indian soil. In no case have the needs of the local population been taken into account, and as in many parts of Africa, the designated wildlands are managed primarily for the benefit of rich tourists.”
In the thirty-two years since Guha penned those words, fortress conservation has only expanded its tentacular grasp, reaching deep into the hearts and pockets of the global South. The brutality of that reach was laid bare during last week’s House hearing.
Investigative Reports Spark Congressional Hearing
In 2019, BuzzFeed News published a series of investigative reports that exposed the mistreatment of Indigenous and local peoples in and around parks managed or co-managed by the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF. “Murder. Gruesome torture. Dozens of reports of rape. Burning a village. Killing men, women, and children. Conducting night raids and terrifying local community members.” These charges rang out during the opening remarks of Rep. Huffman, who added: “When I saw these articles, I immediately asked the (House Natural Resources) Committee to start an investigation.”
Warning the attendees that the incidents to be discussed were graphic, the Congressman provided representative examples, each one more chilling than the last. “In one report, a park ranger in Salonga National Park (in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC) whipped and raped four women carrying fish by a river. Two of the women were pregnant, one later had a miscarriage. In another case, a 52-year-old woman said she was arbitrarily detained and raped for two consecutive days and her husband had to pay a fine to secure her release. Another victim alleged that he and several other men were detained while fishing, and were tortured by rangers beating them, tying their penises with fishing line, hanging them by the branch of a tree. In another case, victims were tortured and killed by rangers through beating and stabbings. And these were not isolated incidents. WWF’s review found 21 accusations of murder in this one park alone.” Fiore Longo’s comparison between these atrocities and the Abu Ghraib scandal was not far-fetched.
Let’s make an important distinction at this juncture. Thanks to the important work of Global Witness, the extrajudicial killings of “environmental defenders” (as they are traditionally called) are widely known and have been reported in the press. Most of those killings are committed by corporations and nation states who aim to expand destructive drilling, mining, and other capitalist projects into territories inhabited by Indigenous and other local peoples. But the murder, rape, and torture that were discussed in the House hearing are of a different nature. Here the victims are not environmental defenders but local people who live in or around protected parks. And the perpetrators are the good guys, or so one would think: the park rangers, known as “ecoguards” in central Africa, whose salaries are paid for by WWF.
A key aim of the hearing was to find out if WWF would take responsibility for the atrocities. Sadly, the answer, as the hearing revealed, was a resounding NO!
“To be perfectly blunt, I and others on this Committee have been extremely frustrated with how WWF handled the situation,” Rep. Huffman pointed out, referring to the time that had passed since the BuzzFeed revelations. The hearing, as it turned out, did little to alleviate his frustration. “Unfortunately, WWF’s President and CEO Carter Roberts declined to testify,” Rep. Huffman said. In Roberts’ place, Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President for Conservation at WWF, appeared. She boldly went where her bosses had feared to tread. They would have been proud of her: Hemley refused to give straight yes or no answers when asked and her remarks were evasive and misleading, including, in several instances, blatant lies.
Murder. Rape. Torture.
Among the witnesses who testified at the hearing was Professor John Knox of the Wake Forest University School of Law, who is a former and the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment. In 2019 and 2020, following the allegations reported in BuzzFeed News, he participated in an independent expert panel which, in his words, “conducted an in-depth investigation of WWF’s involvement in alleged human rights abuses in six countries, four in central Africa and two in south Asia.” His 30-page written testimony provides shocking details about those abuses. Here is one example, in Knox’s painstaking reconstruction delivered during the hearing:
“WWF has co-managed Salonga National Park in the DRC since 2015. WWF appoints the Park Director and pays the park rangers. Salonga is an example of fortress conservation. When the park was created the government expelled the communities who used to live there; they now live around the outskirts of the park, and it’s illegal for them to return to their ancestral homes. In 2016, a WWF staff member reported that Salonga park rangers were regularly accused of abuses against the local communities. The WWF country Director and park Director decided not to investigate because they wanted to avoid conflicts with the government. Only after NGOs made public allegations of abuse in the park the WWF commissioned an independent investigation which finally took place in 2019, nearly three years after the staff member first raised the alarm. The investigators went to only a few of the hundreds of villages around the park but they found multiple credible allegations of murder, rape, and torture. In fact, they concluded that rangers used torture and other cruel integrating treatment as a regular part of their operations. WWF has never published this report. WWF continues to provide financial and material support to the park. The surrounding communities still don’t have access to the park, and there is no reason to believe that the abuses have magically stopped.”
Professor Knox didn’t mince words about the WWF’s stonewalling at the hearing: “WWF’s statement to this subcommittee shows that WWF’s leadership is still in a state of denial about its own role in fortress conservation and human rights abuses.”
After Knox’s remarks, Rep. Huffman engaged Ms. Hemley of WWF in a back and forth that was, to put it mildly, exasperating.
Rep. Huffman takes on the WWF
Rather than giving Ms. Hemley another opportunity to air her falsehoods and obfuscations, I want to share some of the more memorable rejoinders by Rep. Huffman. The tenor of Ms. Hemley’s non-answers, devoid of further substance, can be deduced from Rep. Huffman’s insistent prodding.
Huffman: I noted, Ms. Hemley that, you are very careful in how you describe these park rangers. Every time you mention them, you call them, government park rangers. You might just as well mention that these are WWF trained and supported rangers driving around, often in WWF-branded vehicles, in parks managed and funded by WWF. The first things you mentioned were the fact that the rangers accused of abuse were employed and managed by governments, not WWF. There are a number of damning—damning facts in [the panel’s findings] and yet, we’d never know it from listening to your testimony here today. So, let me just ask you: Do you believe WWF bears any responsibility for the abuses that happened in any of the parks that it manages or co-manages?
Huffman: Just yes or no, Ms. Hemley. It’s a simple question: Does WWF bear any responsibility for abuses at the parks you manage?
Huffman: You are declining to answer yes or no, whether you bear any responsibility.
Huffman: I’m not going to give up all my time for you to deflect and dissemble, ma’am, with all due respect. To our knowledge, not a single person in the leadership at WWF has lost their job or resigned over any of these incidents, including the people that that panel found received allegations of human rights abuse and chose not to act on them. So not a single person within the WWF network lost their job. Is that correct?
Huffman: It’s a yes or no question, ma’am.
Huffman: No. No. No. No. You hear my question. It’s a yes or no.
Huffman: There you go again, ma’am. I’m asking, did anyone lose their job? Yes or no.
Huffman: I can only take that as a “NO” and, that itself is just as remarkable.
Rep. Huffman’s frustration brings to mind another, more high profile, congressional hearing that also happened last week, during which the heads of four oil companies (BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell Oil) and two trade groups (American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), collectively known as the “Slippery Six,” testified before members of the U.S. Congress. The hearing was chaired by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
In a tweet, Rep. Maloney wrote: “I demanded that Big Oil Execs pledge to simply no longer spend ANY MONEY to oppose emission reductions and climate action. Unsurprisingly, none took the pledge.” At the end of the hearing, she stated her intent to issue subpoenas to BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and the American Petroleum Institute for documents they have withheld from the congressional committee’s investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s climate disinformation campaign. “We need to get to the bottom of the oil industry’s disinformation campaign, and with these subpoenas, we will,” Rep. Maloney said.
Will Rep. Huffman also try to “get to the bottom” of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the WWF? Given that Carter Roberts, the CEO of WWF, declined to appear at Rep. Huffman’s congressional hearing and that the testimony of his proxy Ginette Hemley was marked by evasions and lies, will Rep. Huffman also issue a subpoena to WWF, and possibly other large conservation NGOs, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, who are also implicated in human rights abuses in the global South?
International Conservation Funding
The U.S. Department of Interior channels millions of dollars into the coffers of the WWF and other large U.S.-based conservation organizations in support of their international work. The House subcommittee’s “bi-partisan investigation into WWF’s practices and the Department of Interior’s oversight of international conservation funding” has yielded clear and unambiguous evidence that crimes were committed by the WWF. It would seem obvious what needs to happen now. Professor Knox predicted that “organizations like WWF will not change their behavior until the United States and other donor governments force them to do so by withholding grants until they make the necessary changes.” And he went on to offer three concrete steps: “First, WWF needs to apologize for its past human rights abuses; take responsibility for its failures; and be open and honest going forward. A good starting point would be, for WWF to commit, here, today, to publish all of its internal reports on human rights abuses. It should never again be the case that the U.S. government finds out about these abuses in parks that it supports only after they are reported in the press. Second, there should be clear red lines. Parks should not receive support unless they have demonstrated respect for Indigenous rights, effective training, and oversight for park rangers, and access to complaint mechanisms for local communities. Finally, to receive funding for any purpose, WWF and other conservation organizations should demonstrate that they have expertise on Indigenous peoples and human rights compliance at every level of the organization, including at the top.”
Now, consider this sinister scenario: what if WWF, which operates in more than 100 countries, suddenly stops taking money from the U.S. government but continues its current practice of fortress conservation and human rights abuses? Will the U.S. government still be able to hold WWF accountable for human rights violations that result from the organization’s operations outside of the United States? Likely not. And that scenario is not as unrealistic as it sounds. For it seems entirely possible that WWF may no longer need U.S. government money; the shortfall could be met by private funding.
In September, nine U.S.-based foundations and NGOs collectively pledged five billion dollars for conservation; a significant chunk of that could certainly go to WWF. Although there is enormous need for conservation funding in the United States, as numerous species are in peril here, not a single one of those nine organizations has expressed major interest in supporting conservation in the U.S. Instead, from what we know so far, their funds are headed for the global South. In a recent opinion piece, I characterized the pledge as “billions for biodiversity boondoggle” and brought attention to the potential colonial violence that the boondoggle might unleash on the global South. In that piece, I focused my analysis on one of the smaller institutions, Rainforest Trust, and the largest, the Bezos Earth Fund. Both of those entities have explicitly expressed their intention to provide support for conservation in the Congo Basin. This was the main region discussed in the House hearing where unimaginable human rights abuses have occurred in the name of conservation, including in and around the Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Messok Dja, a forested area on the northern border of the Republic of the Congo.
In light of the “billions for biodiversity boondoggle,” I’m not so sure that Professor Knox’s action plan will provide the remedy that is needed.
Where I Find Hope
“Going forward, we will see legislation in response to these matters that we have been discussing today,” Rep. Huffman said at the closing of the hearing. I’m cautiously hopeful.
On October 26, the day the hearing was held, the Princeton University Press published a significant and beautifully produced book, Picture Ecology: Art and Ecocriticism in Planetary Perspective, edited by Dr. Karl Kusserow of the Princeton University Art Museum. The back cover of the book features a humble photograph I took in 2002. It shows my friend Charlie Swaney, from Arctic Village, Alaska, in his hunting camp along the East Fork of the Chandalar River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, scanning the landscape for animals.
That photograph acquired its own history. During 2001-2002, I traveled to Washington, DC several times to take part in various activist campaigns. During one of those visits, upon seeing my photograph, a young environmental activist demanded to know, with honest bewilderment, “How could there be a hunting camp in a pristine wilderness?” That day, I didn’t have a good answer. But that young activist’s question, more than anything else, prompted me to learn more and think deeply about the history of American conservation.
More than sixty years ago, the Arctic Refuge was established without consulting the Indigenous peoples who have lived there for thousands of years. Having been involved in protecting the refuge over the last two decades, I can confidently state that the Indigenous peoples are at the forefront of the conservation campaign to protect the refuge from industrial development. In this campaign, Gwich’in and Iñupiat peoples collaborate with each other as part of a larger coalition of conscience that includes environmental NGOs, religious organizations, human rights groups, and more. The unlikely alliances that have emerged from these collaborations are the subject of historian Finis Dunaway’s recent and revelatory book, Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice (2021).
Biodiversity conservation does not need to look like a horror movie that we witnessed at the House hearing. It can be just. It can be inclusive. It can protect our nonhuman relatives. It can support the needs of Indigenous and other ecosystem peoples. It can protect the relations those people have built with their nonhuman kin.
I do strongly believe that we are living through a significant turning point in the history of biodiversity conservation. Moving forward, rights-based approaches should shape global conservation policy. I hope that fortress conservation will fade away as a historic, racist relic.
(Subhankar Banerjee is an artist, activist and public scholar. He was most recently cocurator (with Josie Lopez) of the exhibition Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande. Editor of Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press, 2013), Subhankar is currently cowriting (with Ananda Banerjee, with drawings by laura c. carlson) a book on biological annihilation to be published by Seven Stories Press, and coediting (with T.J. Demos and Emily Eliza Scott) a book on contemporary art, visual culture and climate breakdown to be published by Routledge. He has spent two decades contributing to the multispecies justice campaigns to protect significant biological nurseries and human rights of the Indigenous peoples in Alaska’s Arctic. Subhankar is the Lannan Foundation Endowed Chair and a professor of Art & Ecology at the University of New Mexico. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
AARON RODGERS SUCKS AND HAS ALWAYS SUCKED
The tired act of the legendary Packers quarterback
by Drew Magary
It shouldn’t surprise anyone to discover that, two months into the NFL season, the Packers superstar quarterback hasn’t been vaccinated (and just tested positive for COVID-19). It shouldn’t surprise anyone that before the season, Rodgers told the press he was “immunized,” a quote you can interpret as a delusion, a purposeful obfuscation or an outright lie. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Rodgers, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, has conducted his press conferences in person and maskless all season, despite not being jabbed. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Aaron Rodgers, as a person, sucks.
And yet here we are. Every time Rodgers disobeys his coaches, he makes up for it by improvising a brilliant play on the fly. Every time he threatens to hold out of training camp, he makes up for it by finally showing up wearing ironically cool sunglasses. Every time he seethes because Green Bay management dared to draft his potential successor (Jordan Love, who will start on Sunday against the Chiefs), he makes up for it by reaching the NFC title game. And on and on and on it goes. There is no rush of bad PR that this man cannot deftly evade.
I’m getting tired of it. Aren’t you?
This is where I disclose that I cheer for the Minnesota Vikings, but I assure you that I hate my OWN quarterback just as much as I hate Aaron Rodgers, if not more so. So when I tell you that Rodgers is a demonstrably awful person, it’s not just because of the uniform he’s wearing. You don’t have to cheer for the opposition to be sick and tired of Rodgers imposing his vast psychological needs on the rest of humanity because he’s too chickens—t to fix himself.
I was reared on Michael Jordan and Dan Marino and myriad other greats whose inherent psychopathy was both forgiven and directly credited for their successes. I don’t have to buy that anymore. I don’t have to sit there like a complete sucker and believe the pro sports version of the Tortured Artist myth, and I don’t have to accept that winning cures everything. Aaron Rodgers has been winning football games for years and still leaves too many people — far, far more than is necessary — with a bad taste in their mouths. Two years ago, former Packers wideout Greg Jennings told this story to Tyler Dunne, who was then working for Bleacher Report:
"It was 2012, and the Packers were hosting the 49ers when, mid-timeout, cornerback Carlos Rogers playfully asked Jennings why he was running so many short routes. 'You know how it is,' Jennings told him. 'Contract year.' That's when Rodgers stepped in to say, per Jennings, 'You guys should get him at the end of the year.' Come again? Jennings walked back to the huddle speechless. 'I don't think he realizes what he said and the impact that it had,' Jennings says. 'Had the shoe been on the other foot and I said, "Hey, man, I should come and play with your quarterback," he would've been so offended by that. But when it comes out of his mouth — and we all know there's truth behind jokes — for him to say that and just act as though everything was the same? It just wasn't.' The next day, Jennings told his position coach, Edgar Bennett, he knew this was his last year in Green Bay."
Jennings is far from the only person in Rodgers’ orbit to be treated like s—t. Ask Rodgers’ family. There is no grudge he’s not willing to take to extremes and no bit of personal scrutiny he won’t spit upon. As a result, I now hate his face. Not quite as much as I hate Ben Roethlisberger’s face, but the gap is closing quickly.
If you still wanna call Aaron Rodgers the greatest quarterback of all time, whether it’s because of his incomparable style of play or because you just don’t wanna say it’s Tom Brady like everyone else would, go right ahead. I’ve idolized terrible men in sports, and I’d be fine with the character clause for the Baseball Hall of Fame crumpled into a ball and then smacked 475 feet into a flowing river. But SOME measure of public accountability would be nice here. I’d like the man booed. I’d like his coaches to denounce him publicly instead of doing whatever the f—k Matt LaFleur is doing here.
LaFleur is being adamant about not answering whether Rodgers has been vaccinated even though it's obvious he hasn't. Taking the party line.
That’s the moral equivalent of opting for a field goal instead of going for the win at the end of the NFC title game. I’d like people, especially the press, to draw more attention to Rodgers when he outs himself as a chemtrails guy, or hangs out with Dave Portnoy, or goes on vacation with the worst anti-vaccine actor in Hollywood, or endangers those same members of the press by potentially infecting them with his own aerosoled spittle every week for two months. Everyone is so afraid of this dickhead, and what has he ever done off the field to earn that deference? All he does is bitch.
I’d like the press to ask ALL unvaccinated athletes when they plan on getting vaccinated. At every press conference. And if those players claim they have been vaccinated, I want it verified. Because Rodgers just taught athletes that you can lie and no one will bother to catch you until the protocols do. I’d like NFL announcers, who barely mention unvaccinated players on the air much less criticize them, to note the potential damage that Rodgers just did to both himself and to his peers by being a selfish prick. I’d like ol’ Roger Goodell to weigh in here. He’s got nothing to do, since he’s letting the Washington Football Team email scandal blow over, so why NOT openly castigate someone who isn’t his boss?
And I’d like there to be taunting. A LOT of taunting. I’m not gonna pass on suggested chants to you because I am not a Duke student. You can figure it out yourself. But we vaccinated people are still being much too nice to the unvaccinated people, particularly those unvaccinated people who should know better and do. LaFleur just used the dreaded “personal choice” phrasing when discussing the matter, essentially letting Rodgers off the hook. You don’t have to do the same. Taunt this man. Use chants. Use signs. Use your own two middle fingers, unless you’re a Bears fan. Give him everything you got, because it’s what he deserves, and because the truth about Aaron Rodgers is that, deep down, he can’t take it. He never could.
AARON RODGERS LIED. THAT'S ALL THIS IS
by Dave Zirin
Aaron Rodgers, the Super Bowl winning quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, a three-time MVP blessed with a golden arm, has come down with Covid-19, but of course that’s not the crux of the story roiling the NFL. The story is about the way he was untruthful with the public and potentially put his teammates and other people at risk of infection.
When asked about his vaccination status in August, Rodgers did not respond as Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley did: “You’re damn right I’m not vaxxed!” Nor did Rodgers play the privacy game and say he’d rather not share his personal medical information. Had he given either response, his testing positive for Covid-19 would be a one-day story and not one that has inspired a formal NFL investigation and has journalists licking their chops — that is, if they’re not currently being tested themselves for having been in a Packers press scrum.
The problem is, of course, if analyses like this ESPN report are to be believed, Aaron Rodgers lied. Many commentators are using kinder language, saying he elided the vaccination question in August or saying he “misled” the media.
But that’s giving Rodgers a pass. In these times when hospitals are overstretched and people are having to watch the funerals of their loved ones on Zoom, if someone asks if you’ve been vaccinated, then your answer should be “yes” or “no.” Even a “none of your business” would do (even though I believe the vaccination rate is all of our business), since it at least signals that there’s a possibility a person is not vaccinated. But if your answer is, "Yeah, I've been immunized” when you haven't been vaccinated, that’s a lie more fitting in the mouth of a politician.
Rodgers didn’t meet with reporters Wednesday, and Packers coach Matt LaFleur refused to answer questions about the quarterback’s vaccination status. Even so, it was clear that Rodgers wasn’t vaccinated as soon as the team announced that his positive Covid-19 test from that morning meant he was definitely out for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Per the NFL’s Covid protocols, a vaccinated player who tests positive on a Wednesday morning wouldn’t automatically be ruled out of a Sunday afternoon game. But unvaccinated players must isolate at least 10 days.
Rodgers’ defenders are coming up with some inventive answers to justify his response. Some say that because he was doing some kind of homeopathic therapy, he thought himself to be immunized. Well, Covid doesn’t care about postmodern wordplay, as Rodgers has surely found out.
In August, Rodgers asked the NFL to consider him “immunized” because of his home remedies. He was told no, that he was not “immunized” if he hadn’t been vaccinated and that no matter how many times he insisted he was “immunized,” it didn’t make it so. Rodgers’ answer is akin to stating you don’t believe in gravity as you fall out of an airplane.
But the problem isn’t just that Rodgers lied; it’s that his lie put others at risk. As an unvaccinated player, he should have had to go through a series of protocols — including wearing a mask when not in uniform or on the sideline and when talking to the media. He clearly did not do those things.
According to rules collectively bargained by the NFL and NFLPA, an unvaccinated player cannot gather in a group of more than three players, coaches or other members of the football operation staff. Rodgers was clearly doing all that, too. Per his social media posts, he even attended a Halloween party as John Wick, a fictional character known for his ability to dodge “shots.”
But reality isn’t the movies, homeopathic medicine (even when funded by millions of dollars) doesn’t stop Covid, and Rodgers isn’t bulletproof. Now we can expect investigations into the Green Bay Packers' coddling of Rodgers and management’s decision to let him function by a different set of rules — that is, allowing him to move about as if he were vaccinated when he wasn’t. This scandal will already cost Rodgers two games. It could also cost the team a mountain of fines and draft picks.
Recently, Rodgers has taken to blasting “woke culture” and cheerleading crypto-investments — a long way from his soulful image as the Cal-Berkeley-educated QB who was defending Colin Kaepernick’s ability to play in the NFL just a few years ago. But I don’t particularly care about Rodgers’ recent personal and political transformation. The issue that matters is that his lie has put people at risk.
Given the grief that NBA players such as Kyrie Irving have received for refusing the vaccine, it’s important that the media not exhibit a double standard and go easy on Rodgers. If they do, then that will be yet another disappointing and infuriating story.
Rodgers could have either gotten vaccinated or had the courage to face a public and media who would have expressed disappointment that he would put the season and his teammates at risk. Instead, a promising Packers season has hit a rough spot from which it may not recover, and Rodgers, who’d been carefully cultivating the image of himself as a moody introspective leader of men, instead looks like a thin-skinned prevaricator.
HOPLAND REC ANNOUNCES NEW UC CLIMATE STEWARDS CLASS
As international negotiations on climate change continue at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), a new class is being offered to support local action against climate change. The Hopland Research and Extension Center is excited to offer a brand-new certification course in 2022: the UC Climate Stewards program. Participants in this course will learn how climate is changing natural and social systems, and what they can do to improve ecosystem and community resilience.
The UC Climate Stewards course will introduce participants to social-emotional resilience and trauma-aware practices, climate change communication, climate science, and community resilience planning.
“Our hybrid of class discussions with self-paced online learning, and field-based activities will integrate locally relevant themes of fire, water and stewardship,” said class instructor Jennifer Riddell PhD. “We’ll have guest speakers, independent field trips and activities to learn about and discuss the principles and practices towards increasing community and ecosystem resilience to fire, drought and floods.”
Who can sign up to become a Climate Steward? Anyone aged 18 and over.
“Climate change affects us all, and we welcome every member of the community to this class and the discussions and actions that it will seed,” Riddell said. The class and materials are geared toward adults, 18 and over.
UC Climate Stewards is a brand new program of the UC ANR California Naturalist Program, and follows their successful learning model, designed to create a community of practicing Climate Stewards.
Registration is now open at https://bit.ly/climstewards. An equity pricing model allows participants to choose their registration fee between $200 and $400 based on the individual capacity to pay the full registration fee. Hopland REC donor funds will support the costs of those who are unable to pay the total amount.
The 10-week course will meet online, and occasionally in-person, once a week on Wednesday evenings from Jan. 5 to March 2, with three Saturday field trips on Jan. 22, Feb. 12, Feb. 26 and graduation on March 5, 2022.
In-person class discussion meetings and field days will incorporate COVID-19 safety protocols.
* * *
About the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center:
The Hopland Research and Extension Center is a multidisciplinary research and education facility run by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. As a steward of more than 5,300 acres of oak woodland, grassland, chaparral and riparian environments, the center aims to maintain and enhance ecosystem integrity through applied research, adaptive management and educational activities, while also supporting working landscapes, with diverse agricultural products and recognized ecosystem services derived from these landscapes.
CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION Votes to Increase Gas Storage at SoCalGas Aliso Canyon Facility
by Dan Bacher
Los Angeles, CA — The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today approved a controversial oil and gas industry-backed proposal to increase the gas storage capacity at SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon natural gas facility, the home of the worst natural gas blow out in U.S. history.
The Commissioners voted to increase the facility’s capacity to 60 percent allowable capacity, despite 62 public comments from public health advocates, residents and environmental activists urging the commission to shut the facility down.
In a statement, the CPUC claimed they acted to ensure sufficient natural gas supplies for gas and electric customers in the Los Angeles Basin this winter “to maintain energy reliability.”
In approving the proposal of assigned Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves by a vote of 4-0, the CPUC set the amount of working gas storage capacity in the field to an interim level of 41 billion cubic feet (Bcf) “to ensure SoCalGas meets minimum reliability needs for the region, versus a proposal that would have set the capacity to 68.6 Bcf, the maximum amount allowed by the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM),” the CPUC explained.
“Our Decision today helps ensure energy reliability for the Los Angeles Basin this winter in a safe and reliable manner,” said Commissioner Guzman Aceves. “We continue to move forward on planning how to reduce or eliminate the use of Aliso Canyon, and to ultimately reduce our reliance entirely on such natural gas infrastructure as we transition to a clean energy economy.”
The proposal voted on is available at https://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M420/K154/420154131.PDF
Food and Water Watch and other opponents of the increase condemned the decision to increase the storage capacity, noting that allowing the increase is “not only dangerous,” but is “needless.”
“The Public Utilities Commission voted today in favor of fossil fuel interests, not the well-being of California ratepayers,” said Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy. “Allowing any increase in storage capacity at SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon facility is not only dangerous, it is needless. SoCalGas and its shareholders are the only ones who profit from this disastrous glut of natural gas in the backyard of their ratepayers.”
“Governor Newsom has instituted setbacks to protect frontline communities from oil and gas drilling. But where is the protection for communities in the shadow of gas infrastructure like Aliso Canyon? Governor Newsom has made it clear that Aliso Canyon should be shut down. Now he must follow his mandate with action and ensure the CPUC closes this facility once and for all,” Nagy concluded.
Members of environmental advocacy organizations including Food & Water Watch, Save Porter Ranch, Aliso Moms Alliance, Sunrise Movement Los Angeles, Extinction Rebellion Los Angeles, along with public health professionals and community health advocates and Impacted San Fernando Valley community members, urged the CPUC to vote against the proposal during the public comment period.
On the other hand, Indicated Shippers, a group of oil companies including California Resources Corporation, Chevron, Phillips 66 and Tesoro, were among those calling for the increase.
Aliso Canyon, located in the Santa Susana Mountains near Porter Ranch in Los Angeles, was the site of the worst gas blowout in U.S. history starting in October 2015. The blowout resulted in the displacement of thousands of residents of Porter Ranch and nearby communities and an alarming incidence of nosebleeds, headaches, nausea and cancer suffered by residents.
The facility is owned by SoCalGas, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy and a major contributor to the campaigns of California legislators, governors and other politicians, as well as to some “environmental” groups that support the energy company’s projects.
In 2019, Governor Newsom directed the CPUC to expedite the closure of Aliso Canyon. In the interim, the L.A. City Council ( https://www.laprogressive.com/aliso-canyon-gas-storage-facility/) and the L.A. Board of Supervisors have also voted in favor of shutting the facility down immediately.
The most recent legislators to call for the closure of SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon facility are Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Alex Padilla (D). On Tuesday, Senators Feinstein and Padilla released the following statement on the 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak:
“More than six years after the well failure at Aliso Canyon endangered the health of more than 7,000 families, it is increasingly clear that we must close this facility in order to protect the safety of Californians. It is critical that the California Public Utility Commission outline concrete steps to close this facility while ensuring the reliability of our power grid as we continue the transition to cleaner electricity, heating and cooling. We must permanently close Aliso Canyon to ensure that it is no longer a threat to public safety.
“The 2015 blowout at Aliso Canyon resulted in the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history, releasing hundreds of thousands of tons of methane and other toxic chemicals into the air and severely impacting the health and welfare of thousands of residents in the northern Los Angeles community of Porter Ranch and surrounding areas.
“After the leak, then-Governor Brown directed the Public Utilities Commission to undertake an orderly phase out of the Aliso Canyon facility by 2027, and Governor Newsom reaffirmed that decision in 2019. We look forward to working in a strong federal-state partnership to achieve these goals.”
Chamber Music Concert this Sunday!
Jason Sia in Concert at Cotton Auditorium, Sunday Nov. 7th at 3 PM. Plan you weekend and get tickets now for this live performance.
Recognized for his eloquently expressive depth of interpretation and seamless technique, pianist Jason Sia presents a program of beloved works by Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and others. Mr. Sia has performed in France, Hong Kong, South Korea, the Philippines as well as New York’s Carnegie Hall. Selections will include romantic favorites Debussy’s Claire de Lune, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, and others.
This concert will be held in Cotton Auditorium, Fort Bragg. Tickets online at brownpapertickets.com, at Out of this World in Mendocino and at Harvest Market in Fort Bragg.
Presented by Symphony of the Redwoods Opus Chamber Music Series.
See you all in Cotton!
RACHEL MADDOW'S SHOCKING NEW LOW
With last night's loony response to the indictment of Igor Danchenko, the MSNBC anchor takes a bold leap off the credibility cliff.
by Matt Taibbi
Yesterday, Special Counsel John Durham indicted Brookings Institute analyst Igor Danchenko, better known as the primary source for Christopher Steele, the ex-spy who compiled the now-infamous “Steele Dossier” on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016. The case has implications for higher-ranking figures, but the indictment is most immediately devastating to the reputation of the many famous news personalities who hyped the Steele story. They almost all look terrible today, but the response by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was a thing beyond.
Whatever the category below “disgraced journalist” is, she entered it with gusto with last night’s performance.
Much of the indictment concerns false statements Danchenko allegedly made to the FBI concerning his interactions with “PR Executive-1,” described as a “U.S.-based individual" who was a long-time participant in Democratic Party politics and was then an executive at a U.S. public relations firm.” New York Times reporter Charlie Savage received confirmation from the lawyer of a man named Charles Dolan that Dolan is, in fact, the executive:
MORE: A lawyer for Charles Dolan, a public relations executive with a long history of ties to the Democratic Party, confirms his client is the person identified as "PR Executive-1" in the indictment. Updating story shortly.
Russiagate is already a sizable boil on the face of American journalism, but the indictment of Danchenko has the potential to grow the profession’s embarrassment to fantastic dimensions. For instance, a key claim of the Steele dossier involved a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between Trump and Russia that supposedly went back years, and was managed on the Trump side by Paul Manafort and Carter Page. At one point, it was believed this claim was sourced to an anonymous phone call Danchenko thought came from the former president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, Sergei Millian. Danchenko moreover reportedly told the FBI that he and the “anonymous caller” made an appointment to meet in New York.
The indictment, however, asserts that Danchenko never even spoke to Millian, repeatedly emailing him and getting no response. As for that trip to New York, hoo boy:
From on about July 26, 2016 through July 28, 2016, DANCHENKO traveled to New York with a family member. On or about July 28, 2016, DANCHENKO visited, among other places, the Bronx Zoo with the family member. During this trip, DANCHENKO did not meet or communicate with Chamber President-I. It’s bad enough that the “well-developed” conspiracy tale appears to have been sourced to a graduate of the Jayson Blair school of investigation, who was strolling in the Bronx Zoo during the time when he was supposedly landing the scoop of a lifetime (note that Steele himself reportedly believed the pee tape was sourced, “in part,” to Millian).
Every reporter who touched that allegation should be ashamed, and Rachel is at the front of that huge crowd. Among other things, she emphasized the importance of Steele’s “broader assertions,” repeating the claim that the “Russia regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years,” going so far as to praise Steele for keeping his “head down” and listening to his “deep cover sources]” like Danchenko.
However, that’s not the most damning part. It turns out at least one assertion by Steele, a relatively minor observation in an August 2016 report that claimed a senior member of Trump’s inner circle was glad when Paul Manafort resigned as campaign manager, came directly from Dolan, via Danchenko.
The indictment shows an email chain in which Danchenko tells Dolan he’s working on a “project against Trump,” and is looking for any “thought, rumor, allegation” that might be useful. Dolan replies, after Manafort’s resignation, that “I had a drink with a GOP friend of mine” who told him “a number of people wanted [Manafort] gone. It is a very sharp elbows crowd.”
On one hand, this exchange almost makes Steele look not-dishonest, because it shows there was at least some attempt by some of the people involved in his “project” to gather information from someone, at one point.
However, the indictment goes on to quote Dolan about that tidbit:
PR Executive-I later acknowledged to the FBI that he never met with a “GOP friend” in relation to this information that he passed to DANCHENKO, but, rather, fabricated the fact of the meeting in his communications with DANCHENKO. PR Executive-I instead obtained the information about Campaign Manager-I from public news sources.
A source whose lawyer has confirmed his identity is saying, outright, that he “fabricated” a story that made it into the Steele dossier. This is degrees worse even than the assertions of the previous Durham indictment of former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman. That case detailed how the “sources” behind the infamous Trump-Alfa Bank story speculated that it might be easier to fake a scenario to make Trump and the Russians “appear to communicate,” even using the word “faking.”
If I were Rachel Maddow and had a record of saying things on air like, “Above all else, we know this about the now-famous dossier: Christopher Steele had this story before the rest of America did. And he got it from Russian sources,” news like the Dolan item would make me furious. Not only did she flog the Steele document for years, she specifically hyped its credibility on the grounds of how it was put together, and by whom. Now, we find out that the actual construction of the reports was like something out of a Three Stooges episode, with Igor, Chuck, and a Bronx Zoo zebra standing in for Moe, Larry, and Curly. The mere fact that some of Steele’s supposed “Russian sources” turned out to be this absurd stateside parade would have any honest journalist fuming.
Rachel not only isn’t upset, she’s expressing pride in having been burned, and is digging in for more. ...
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It begins to look like the 2021 elections put a decisive end to the Woke-Jacobin-Progressive reign-of-terror, and its demonic efforts to cancel the authority of truth in human affairs — truth being derived from reality. For years, in an ever-escalating campaign of coercion, persecution, and punishment, the WJPs made their own reality-optional “truth” and foolishly expected the nation to roll over for it. On Tuesday, voters all over the land, in effect, whapped the Party of Chaos upside its head with thirty inches of No. 6 rebar and said “no more.” Days later, he Wokesters are still seeing stars and planets blink in their temporal lobes.
The Virginia governor’s contest illustrated plainly and clearly what was at issue, all crystalized in the Loudoun County School Board’s idiotic behavior this past year. First was the sex module of the mess: A fifteen-year-old boy pretending to be a girl in a dress raped an actual teenage girl in a “Girls’” bathroom. The Loudoun County School Board covered it up so as not to interfere with its innovative gender confusion pedagogy. The boy rapist was transferred to another school where he committed the same crime all over again. Very bad optics. And WJP candidate Terry McAulliffe told parents to stay out of it, stupidly driving a stake through his own heart in the process.
Second was the Woke race module, namely Critical Race Theory, the principle that American society is hopelessly and systemically racist and that white people need to be punished for it. The School Board and its political allies denied that this doctrine of Marxist identity politics was being worked into the curriculum. They were lying, of course, and stupidly, because it was very easy to prove.
Now, I’m going to tell you succinctly what is behind Critical Race Theory, and it’s going to hurt: After sixty-odd years of civil rights policy and legislation, a sizable cohort of African-Americans are not making it in this society and white WJPs (aka “liberals”) are stricken with guilt and shame at the failure of their efforts to uplift this group and heal the world. So, they’ve teamed up with the nation’s race hustlers to construct a scaffold of excuses for why this is so. The actual reasons for why this is so are taboo, namely, liberal deconstruction of American family life, unwillingness to prescribe behavioral norms, and self-sabotaging cultural choices such as the failure to promote the teaching of language skills as a primary task of public education — because ghetto English is more stigmatizing and economically disabling than skin color or any other feature of self-presentation, unless you are a professional comedian. That’s the cold, hard reality and that is what needs to change — but it won’t change as long as race-hustling (making money off the excuses) is considered “okay.”
Too many Americans see through the WJP sex-and-race nonsense and are now voting to evict it from the public square and run it out of the halls of power, at least at the state and local level. For now, though, it remains entrenched at the national level, in Washington, where it receives huge support from the very well-paid permanent bureaucracy that administers bad social policy. The 2021 election results suggest that the Woke Democrats will be run out of Congress and the White House in 2022 — if the USA can make it there without cracking up, which remains painfully uncertain under the toils of Covid-19.