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A FRONTAL SYSTEM will enter the region today and aid in light rainfall during the afternoon and evening across mainly Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. After the frontal passage, an upper ridge will amplify over the northeast Pacific during Tuesday and cold high pressure will spread southward across Nevada. Easterly offshore winds gusting from 20 to 30 mph will be likely as a result across the ridges of Del Norte, Trinity, and Lake Counties during Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Dry and mild conditions will then occur Wednesday afternoon, followed by a period of rain and gusty south winds on Thursday. (NWS)
Marianne Mulheren passed away peacefully in her sleep on Oct. 29th at home with family at her side. Marianne was born March 23, 1951, to Claude and Florence Callander in San Francisco. She spent most of her life in Mendocino County and called Ukiah home for the last 30 plus years. She is survived by her loving husband Jim, mother Florence Callander, sisters Claudia and Joann Callander, Terri Ellen Cunningham (Roger) and Joni Turri (Geno). Her daughter Jennifer Tester-Caughey (Rob), son Cory Gates, daughter Maureen Mo Mulheren and son James C. Mulheren. Grandchildren Hailey and Kyle Caughey, Kasie Gray, Andie Wattenburger, Forest and Maya Mulheren. Last but not least her first great grandbaby Teagan Maria Mendoza.
Marianne loved to travel and have adventures. She helped create some awesome memories for her grandchildren to remember her by. Whether horseback riding, zoo trips, shows, river rafting, Redwood forests hiking, ocean beaches or amusement parks, she left her mark on each of them in her own special way.
Aside from being a great cook, she had an abundance of talents of which she excelled. An avid gardener who loved her vegetable garden which produced an overflow crop yearly which she gladly shared with family and friends.
Her strongest passion was in her designing abilities. She was an owner of Ukiah Custom Cabinets and designed all their projects for the last 10 years. She was also the Managing Partner of J & M Ent. LLC, a business she owned with her husband.
Marianne worked almost daily in her "Fabulous Sewing Room" on her many award-winning quilts. Her greatest passion was in creating beautiful art quilts and she willingly shared her skill and knowledge with other quilters.
She left this world suddenly and unexpectedly and her absence will be forever missed.
Marianne did not want a public celebration of life and the family will hold a private service at a later date.
Donations can be made in her name to Adventist Hospice or the charity of your choosing.
ON MONDAY, the Supervisors are scheduled to discuss a premature item placed on the Board’s agenda by County Counsel Christian Curtis proposing to appoint an outside legal outfit from San Francisco as Sheriff Kendall’s “conflict attorney” at between $275 and $300 per hour. The three advisory “services” to be provided (according to Curtis) are advice on computer system consolidation, whether the Sheriff is personally liable for budget overruns, and this one which appears to require approval by County Counsel before the Sheriff can even consult with the attorney.
The fact that Mr. Curtis has put the first two items — computer consolidation and personal liability for overruns — on the list of subjects demonstrates that the issues are not resolved, that there is a clear conflict (created by the CEO and County Counsel), despite the Board’s half-assed attempts to address them since the issues first arose and Kendall went to Judge Moorman last summer. (Do the CEO and County Counsel even pay any attention to the Supervisors?)
Besides being high- and under-handed, this sneaky attempt to pre-empt judge Moorman and the Sheriff by trying to limit these issues and impose restrictions buried in legalese under reams of contractual boiler plate, they are a clear indication why Sheriff Kendall wants his own attorney.
If the Board somehow approves this item on Monday, they’ll just be digging themselves further in the pointless hole they’ve already dug. And Sheriff Kendall will be able to use this item as more evidence that he needs a truly independent legal advisor. It also seems contemptuous of Judge Moorman who has still not issued her ruling on the case.
After all, according to the transcript of the August 23, 2021 ex parte hearing on the case Judge Moorman and County Counsel Curtis agreed that the Judge is the authority to decide which attorney Kendall will get, not Curtis:
Moorman: “…Has the board changed its position and now is saying, Well, we really don't think there's a conflict of interest as that meaning is used within the Rules of Professional Conduct, but — so there's a disagreement; that's where I see a disagreement. But you want me to know that your client is willing to supply the sheriff with counsel of the county's choosing or the board of supervisors' choosing to give him some advice. Is that where we are?”
Curtis: “I think that more or less sums it up, Your Honor.”
HOW IN THE HELL did this non-issue get so bizarre?
* * *
MEANWHILE, the federal racketeering case filed by Zeke Flatten, and Gurr-Borges is set for a zoom hearing on November 19 regarding motions to dismiss some of the defendants and/or the case itself. Apparently, the public can log in and observe, according to this case posting for SF’s federal district court for federal case # 1:21-cv-07031:
Clerk's Notice Setting Zoom Hearing & Registration: Motion to Dismiss #26 #29 , Motion to Strike #28 Hearings set for 11/19/2021 at 10:00 AM - Videoconference Only before Judge Susan Illston. This proceeding will be held via a Zoom webinar.
Court Appearances: Advanced notice is required of counsel or parties who wish to be identified by the court as making an appearance or will be participating in the argument at the hearing. A list of names and emails must be sent to the CRD at email@example.com no later than 11/10/21 at 2 pm Pacific.
Webinar Access: All counsel, members of the public, and media may access the webinar information at #https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/si General Order 58. Persons granted access to court proceedings held by telephone or videoconference are reminded that photographing, recording, and rebroadcasting of court proceedings, including screenshots or other visual copying of a hearing, is absolutely prohibited.
Zoom Guidance and Setup: #https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/zoom/. Motion Hearing set for 11/19/202 1 10:00 AM in San Francisco, - Videoconference Only before Judge Susan Illston. (ec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/8/2021) (This is a text-only entry generated by the court. There is no document associated with this entry.) (Entered: 11/08/2021)
THE LATEST FROM FORMER MENDO DEPUTY TRENT JAMES:
PG&E vegetation management concerns can be filed through the "PG&E Report It" mobile app. For those with a smartphone, this has an advantage over reporting to 800-743-5000 in that photos can be attached. If a PG&E contractor has left a mess of debris or has cleared beyond reason, please photograph and submit. State approval of vegetation programs has omitted local government oversight. Submitted reports will allow county, state and PG&E to engage in fact-based discussion.
Late Sunday afternoon the helicopter and giant hoop passed by along the Russian River. Here's a video I shot from just above the river east of Ukiah that you may reuse. Lighting was challenging, especially when I had to shoot straight into the sun. But it turned out ok, and the pilot paused briefly in front of me for a good look at the hoop.
BOS JDSF REMINDER
This Monday, November 15 at 9am the Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors (Bos) Meeting will take place at Board Chambers, Room 1070 at the County Administration Center in Ukiah.
Item # 4a:
Discussion and Possible Action Including Adoption of Resolution Requesting Scientific Review of Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF)
(Sponsors: Supervisor Williams and Supervisor Gjerde)
Recommended Action: Adopt Resolution requesting scientific review of Jackson Demonstration State Forest; and authorize Chair to sign same.
Since March of 2020, the BOS meetings are conducted virtually and not available for in person public participation, but can be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/MendocinoCountyVideo or by toll-free, telephonic live stream at 888-544-8306.
The public may participate digitally in meetings in lieu of personal attendance. Comment may be made in any of the following ways: via written comment to firstname.lastname@example.org, through our online eComment platform at https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx, through voicemail messaging by calling 707-234-6333, or by telephone via telecomment. For details and a complete list of the latest available options by which to engage with agenda items, please visit: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/board-of-supervisors/public-engagement
As some previous e-mails indicated that the meeting would be Tuesday I wanted to make sure you knew it will be this Monday. It was also referred to as a JAG meeting, instead of a BOS meeting.
PG&E PROBATION; REDISTRICTING UPDATE
by Jim Shields
Federal Judge Says PG&E May Have Violated Probation
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) apparently is once more in violation of its probation according to the federal judge overseeing the troubled electrical giant.
This past September, the Shasta County D.A.’s Office filed criminal charges against PG&E in connection with the Zogg fire that left four people dead.
Cal Fire investigators found that a tree toppled into PG&E overhead power lines, which ignited the firestorm that burned 56,000-plus acres, destroying more than 200 structures.
Back in 2017, PG&E was placed on probation following the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas line explosion. This week PG&E’s probation officer stated, “There is probable cause to believe that the company while under probation violated the general condition of probation that they not commit another federal, state or local crime.
Federal Judge William Alsup, who is in charge of the utility's probation, found probable cause of the utility violating the conditions of its supervision. As a result, the judge could extend that probation period — ending next year — or revoke the sentence and re-sentence PG&E.
Stephanie Bridgett, Shasta County's district attorney, said in late September that PG&E “was reckless and criminally negligent” because it had not removed the tree that caused the Zogg Fire.
Just a few weeks ago, Judge Alsup issued a request to PG&E for a final report asking what progress the utility company has made during its probation to improve public safety for both their gas and electric divisions. Alsup also wants PG&E to explain the reasons it has started wildfires and what it has done to prevent future fires.
According to Reclaim Our Power, which is part of a coalition of California organizations that watchdogs the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E’s problems continue to mount, as five counties filed lawsuits recently “for damages from the catastrophic Dixie Fire that the utility admits it likely caused. PG&E faces criminal charges from fires in 2019, 2020, and 2021 as well as revelations that hedge funds have taken billions in profits while fire survivors continue to be given slow, incomplete access to funds to recover damages caused by PG&E.”
Recently, Sacramento’s ABC News 10 which does some of the best political investigative coverage on what’s happening in the state Capitol, (yes, a mainstream media outlet that actually does a good job) reported:
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office exerted control over a powerful state agency that is supposed to operate independently, “micromanaging” decisions big and small at the California Public Utilities Commission according to its former executive director.
“We do whatever the governor tells us to do, period,” former CPUC executive director Alice Stebbins said. “You don't do anything without [Gov. Newsom’s] staff reviewing it or talking to you or approving it. And that's the way it was.”
Internal CPUC documents obtained by ABC10 reveal the agency took direction from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and even submitted its work to the governor’s staff for multiple levels of “approval.”
The records show that on at least one occasion, the need to secure approval from Newsom’s office delayed CPUC business for a matter of days, frustrating the agency’s employees.
The documents were obtained as part of an ABC10 investigation, which examines how the state government under Gov. Newsom responded to PG&E’s crimes by offering the company financial protection.
The evidence of the governor’s office inserting itself into relatively small details of the CPUC’s business raises questions about how much control the governor exerted on bigger issues, like the PG&E crisis.
Article XII of California’s constitution makes it clear that the CPUC, which sets tens of billions of dollars in rates paid by California utility customers, does not serve at the pleasure of the governor.
“It’s absolutely in violation of the state constitution,” said Mike Aguirre, a former San Diego city attorney who has repeatedly opposed the CPUC. “Would you want judges before they make their decisions to run it by the governor’s office to see if it was okay?”
Gov. Newsom does not have the authority to fire CPUC commissioners. That can only be done by a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the legislature, a higher standard than it takes to impeach a judge.
Stebbins said that under Newsom, the governor’s office insisted on being in charge of CPUC business, “especially anything with PG&E, anything with the bankruptcy.”
After PG&E committed the felony manslaughter of 84 people by starting the 2018 Camp Fire through criminally reckless operation of its power grid, the CPUC played a key role in approving PG&E’s plan to exit bankruptcy and waived a $200 million fine for PG&E’s safety violations.
In previous interviews Stebbins apologized for her role in facilitating those decisions, which were made by the CPUC’s five voting commissioners.
Gov. Newsom and CPUC President Marybel Batjer both declined repeated requests to be interviewed. ABC10 sent both a detailed list of written questions.
Batjer did not respond at all. Newsom’s response ignored every question related to the independence of the CPUC.
“It’s not just that it’s unethical. It’s not just that it’s not honest. It’s that it is cumbersome and just doesn’t produce good policy,” Aguirre said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began disrupting life on a grand scale in March 2020, the CPUC wanted to do something simple: send a letter to companies it regulates.
It took four days.
The letter was unremarkable; designed to give a “push” to “bad-acting” internet and mobile phone companies.
What is remarkable is the process the CPUC had to go through to get permission to send the letter out.
“It slowed things down,” Stebbins said.
After they finished writing the letter on a Friday, CPUC officials worked through the weekend trying to obtain two different levels of approval for the letter from Gov. Newsom’s staff.
“Alice Reynolds in the Governor’s office has approved the broadband letter,” CPUC spokesperson Terrie Prosper wrote in an email that Saturday evening.
Prosper’s email was directed to a group of more Newsom staffers at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) asking for them to reply that night if they had “any concerns about the letter.”
By the next morning, the approval from Cal OES had not come. It was holding up the broadband letter and another the CPUC wanted to send.
“[Cal OES] has not approved either [of] our letters,” deputy CPUC director Saul Gomez wrote on Sunday morning in an email directed to Batjer. “Given the importance of both letters, and two days of waiting, I suggest [we] move forward on delivering those letters this afternoon.”
When Batjer replied two hours later, she didn’t give permission to send the letter.
“This is not good,” Batjer wrote in response. “We need to get the letters out!”
Batjer promised to reach out to the top staff at Cal OES herself to check on the delay.
The emails do not reveal whether Cal OES finally gave its approval, but that afternoon Prosper suggested it might be okay to send the letter anyway since Cal OES didn’t respond by the deadline she set.
“Usually we are coordinating with the Governor’s office before we send something to [Cal OES] and it’s helpful to let them know if the Governor’s office has already approved,” Prosper replied on Sunday afternoon, pointing out that she had given a deadline for Cal OES to respond the night before.
Cal OES did not respond to emails asking why it believed it had the authority to approve the work of an independent agency.
Batjer gave a “green light” to the letter on Sunday afternoon. The letter finally went out on Monday.
Aguirre, who frequently argues that the CPUC is corrupted by improper political influence, was surprised to see such low-level “micromanaging” of the agency by Gov. Newsom’s staff.
“It’s really kind of silly,” Aguirre said. “Do you mind if we ask the telephone monopolies if they might be providing protection for folks suffering from COVID?”
Stebbins, who is in the middle of a legal battle alleging wrongful termination by the CPUC, says Gov. Newsom’s office went further than making the CPUC get approval when it came to some of the agency's most important decisions.
“When it came to PG&E,” Stebbins said. “It was a different kind of involvement. It wasn't the same. It was more of a direction.”
The agency refused to release messages between Batjer and key staffers at the governor’s office. ABC10 has pursued legal action trying to compel the agency to release those records.
Stebbins was hired to manage the CPUC toward the end of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and witnessed a shift after Gov. Newsom took office.
“Before there was more independence,” Stebbins said. “We weren't used to having to have a lot of our press releases or information reviewed.”
CPUC emails obtained by ABC10 show the agency’s officials did get press releases “approved” before sending out news to the public.
“At first I thought maybe it's because this is a new governor. He just kind of wants to get his feet wet,” Stebbins said. “But I think it was really a control. It was just being in complete control.”
A Workable Logging Plan
Speaking of PG&E, here’s a suggestion by Laytonville’s Robin Thompson, a professional lumber grader, regarding what can be done with some of the trees being removed around the utility’s overhead infrastructure. Thompson sent his recommendation to 3rd District Supervisor John Haschak.
A concerted effort could have been made — by county administration, working with PG&E — to save all the merchantible softwood timber during the PG&E line clearing. Homeowners could then be paid stumpage at the mill, same as any timberland owner. Truckers & local mills would have benefitted. The whole program would have been more palatable to all that way... I had a gorgeous, long, commercially valuable fir log that I had to ask 4 different crew chiefs to leave alone. I come back, it's been cut up: a 7' here, a 5' there, meaningless, ruinous short lengths! Does PG&E run this county or do we? Micro-millers had no chance to work or cooperate with PG&E. Softwood timbers, they could have produced, are quite valuable. Softwood plants from here to the border would lick their chops over all the gorgeous, mature & "grandfather" material that COULD HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE with a little fore thought, planning & implementation. Please forward this to your colleagues.
Since late summer a five-member Redistricting Commission appointed by the Board of Supervisors has been meeting and holding remote teleconference meetings with the goal of using 2020 Census data to adjust and redraw existing supervisorial district boundaries.
Recently both the Laytonville County Water District (LCWD) and Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council (LAMAC) in separate meetings voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors adopt either Draft Map #9 or Draft Map #10. It appeared that both proposed maps represented the best options for keeping as much of the current Laytonville population as possible in the 3rd Supervisorial District.
Following the meetings of the LCWD and the LAMAC, the BOS met on Tuesday, November 9, and received an update from staff and the Redistricting Commission, and held a public workshop to receive public input on communities of interest and potential district boundaries. The Commission reported that the town of Mendocino submitted 65 comments/recommendations, almost all opposing moving the town from the coastal 5th District to the equally coastal 4th District (Fort Bragg area). The second most public input came from the Laytonville area, where approximately 55 people submitted objections to being moved into the 4th District. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Supes voted to accept a new draft map, #12.
Maps 9, 10, and 12 all shared one feature in common for the 3rd District: approximately one-half of the Spyrock community and all of the Bell Springs community, would be transferred into the 4th District.
The whole problem with the 3rd District is a numbers game, albeit a legal numbers game. The federal 10% disparity rule (which requires the population difference between the largest and smallest districts be less than 10%) should have an exemption for cases like ours where the result is an undoing of the goal to unite “communities of interest,” which are defined as groups of people who live in a common geographical area and share common political, social or economic interests, which is certainly true of Laytonville, Spyrock and Bell Springs.
At Tuesday’s' redistricting workshop, with all five Supes OKing Draft Map 12, which moves part of Spyrock and all of Bell Springs to District 4, and moves Hopland (at their request, think of it as a friendly divorce) from coastal District 5 (Supe Ted Williams) to inland District 1 (Supe Glenn McGourty). By the way, as noted — ironically — by 4th District Supe Dan Gjerde, long-time former 3rd District Supervisor Johnny Pinches, who lives on Bell Springs Road, will soon be an official resident in the 4th District). So Laytonville's fate is basically a done deal at next Thursday’s, Nov. 18, special meeting where the Supes are expected to approve Map #12.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 14, 2021
MICHAEL CAMPBELL, Beaverton, Oregon/Ukiah. DUI.
MARSHALL COLLINS III, Manchester. Probation revocation.
ALESHIA DEDRICK, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, disobeying court order, failure to appear.
ALFONSO DELTORO, Madera/Laytonville. DUI.
RAFAEL GARCIA-SANCHEZ, Willits. DUI, no license.
LARIZA GONZALEZ, Ukiah. DUI, child endangerment, probation revocation.
KEVIN LEONARD, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, probation revocation.
REBECCA LOPEZ, Upper Lake/Ukiah. DUI, no license.
RYAN ORTIZ, Upper Lake/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
LYDELL WILLIAMS, Covelo. Metal knuckles, probation revocation.
ELON MUSK SLAMS BERNIE SANDERS OVER BILLIONAIRE TAX DEBATE
Tesla CEO and the world’s richest man Elon Musk slammed Sen. Bernie Sanders over his calls for billionaires to pay more in taxes before suggesting he may sell more Tesla stock — after he already shed almost $7 billion worth last week.
“We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share. Period,” the lefty senator from Vermont tweeted Saturday.
“I keep forgetting that you’re still alive,” responded Musk — who’s worth some $285 billion.
“Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word …” Musk added....
IF YOU’RE YOUNGER THAN SIXTY, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it. If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope.
— Jonathan Franzen
COVID FLU FOR ROOKIES
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
The Covid 19 toll seems staggering.
We spray disinfectant, wipe surfaces, practice social distancing, stay indoors so we can watch lots of TV and listen to news anchors tell us again and again of the unimaginable horrors and dangers we face, the stress in our lives and the brave heroes on the front lines.
This planet-sweeping flu, we tell ourselves, is like nothing that’s come before. We tremble contemplating that in two short years more than five million(!!) have died across the globe, while in the USA the number of deaths has topped 735,000.
Trying to move forward feels overwhelming. It’s simply too much and there’s no end in sight.
Now take a deep breath and erupt in riotous joy at how easy we have it. Covid 19 is minor league stuff. Our nonstop sobbing at how difficult life is today demonstrates not the depth and width of our pandemic, but the ignorance and dishonesty of our citizens and media.
Read this: The Spanish Flu broke out 100 years ago, and so did the first World War.
A) WWI killed 21 million people in four years.
B) Spanish Flu also killed 21 million people … in its first four months.
C) Starting in 1918, between autumn and the following spring, 548,000 Americans died from the pandemic.
Approximately 80% of American soldiers killed in WWI died from flu, not from enemy fire. Globally the disease killed between 50 million and 100 million, but statistics are understandably unreliable from that era. Who counted flu deaths in Chinese cities, or tiny villages in Africa or Brazil that even Africans and Brazilians had never heard of? Or a rural county in Wyoming?
World population was far smaller 100 years ago, thus fatality rates were even more staggering. Today, Covid 19 cuts its widest, deadliest swath through the oldest of our elderly and the sickest of our sick.
The Spanish Flu took another route. By far the most vulnerable were the young and healthy. Soldiers and the working class, for example. Medical investigators trying to get a handle on the Spanish Flu learned of a man standing on a street corner conversing with friends who suddenly dropped to the pavement, dead.
Or of a nurse who went to work, clocked her hours, came home, had dinner and died that night. Not many ventilators and respirators were involved.
The Spanish Flu hopscotched the globe, appearing simultaneously in remote villages and sprawling cities. Outbreaks were separated by oceans, mountain ranges and thousands of miles without air travel to help spread it. There still is no explanation for how this happened.
Today, our nationwide Covid 19 policies dictate we drape hankies over our noses, avoid friends and strangers, and keep our children isolated from relatives, playmates, schools and life. All these drastic measures despite children being nearly immune to dying from Covid 19.
You can find many books about the Spanish Flu, detailing everything from the race to find a cure to personal accounts of its terrifying impact on cities, families and the world.
Someday books will be written about Covid 19, and I look forward to reading what similar impacts, if any, the disease wreaked upon the planet.
INFLATION? WHAT INFLATION?
It’s encouraging to know inflation is in check and that your dollar’s value is intact. I see the figures and I read the explanations and it appears the government has everything under control. The economy is great and getting greater. Me, I’m not sure we can stand things getting a lot more greater.
My wallet suffers. It’s been losing weight and is now a mere shadow of itself. Dollars evaporate when I stop at a gas station or liquor store. Trophy and I are planning to rent a couple ribeye steaks for a barbecue this coming weekend and return them Monday morning for the deposit.
Housing prices go up so fast you can’t afford to buy the house you own. Economists are already planning future bestsellers to explain the real estate boom, and inevitable bust.
As someone who once took Econ 101 in college I know rising prices are balanced by reductions in other segments of the economy. Beachfront homes in Hawaii are perhaps going for a fraction of 2018 prices.
Or maybe the cost of a two minute rocket launch with Elon Musk has dipped, and cocaine futures are trading at all-time lows. Cuban cigars, a nickel each.
MY IDEA, YOUR BOOK
Here’s a story pitch that you are free to steal and make your own. I’ve thought of it over the years but have done nothing so it’s all yours.
First, do a little research in old newspaper astrology columns that appeared daily over the years. Next look up famous (or infamous) people on momentous days and check what had actually occurred to them versus what the celestial gods had foreseen.
When Janis Joplin scanned astrological columns the morning of October 4, 1970 were there vague misgivings?
How about Don Larsen, an astrological Leo? Reading the New York Daily News over breakfast on October 8, 1956, did Jeanne Dixon advise him how his afternoon among the Brooklyn Dodgers would go?
I’ve read no historical accounts of any of the Titanic’s 2240 passengers opting to disembark the ship in Belfast prior to launch on April 2, 1912. Surely some had read the morning’s horoscope predictions. Why weren’t they terrified?
We can only wonder what the stars and planets foresaw for Alec Baldwin on October 22, 2021. Was it “Your job offers challenges today; be extra-kind to co-workers”?
(Tom Hine writes this column and today makes comparisons between pandemics 100 years apart. But, guarding against Covid, he’s had two vaccines and an extra booster shot, and recommends you do the same. TWK is invisible, imaginary, and immune from diseases.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Hey, fuck the elites is my motto. But THE reason I never had children was because if I had received a dime every time some adult claimed they cared about kids, but sandbagged, hamstrung or nickled – and – dimed the kid I was, by age 13 at the latest I would have been rich enough to tell adults to fuck off. And I’m sure I would have been no worse off if I could have done so. It looks to me like a huge percentage of the population fetishizes or pimps a transient stage of life. That looks highly questionable to me, before we go anywhere else. I wonder if you ever saw the South Park episode where Mickey Mouse of Disney Corporation explicitly states what the real policy regarding 12 year old girls is ? I can’t find it on YouTube now. My guess is they censored that shit. (Except I don’t think it is shit. It was simply true.) Children are the ultimate virtue signalling. Hitler loves kids so.... When I was a kid to be called a kid was practically an insult. Today, 25 year olds want to be labelled kids. I don’t know which is worse, that, or all the adults who want a politician – like photo op with a kid. I wish the word 'Child' or any reference to such beings was eradicated.
REP. MIKE THOMPSON’S WINE COUNTRY DISTRICT GAINS GROUND IN LATEST REDISTRICTING MAP
by Andrew Graham
California’s latest congressional redistricting map expands the district held today by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, but abandons an earlier proposal that could have dramatically restructured the area’s political landscape.
The redistricting for U.S. House Districts is nearing its conclusion. The latest maps, approved by the bipartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission on Nov. 10, now undergo a two week public comment period before tweaks will be made again.
Final versions should go to the California secretary of state by year’s end.
“The iteration of maps we have now will probably only change on the margins,” Sonoma State University political science professor David McCuan said in an interview.
Perhaps the biggest shift for the North Bay is the addition of the entirety of Lake County into District 5, capturing a swath of rural voters who tend to lean rightward of Sonoma and Napa counties politically. Thompson’s current district only includes the west side of Clear Lake and does not include the town of Clearlake.
Thompson’s district would also expand east toward Sacramento, absorbing Vacaville, Davis and Fairfield, but losing Vallejo and a sliver of Contra Costa County across the Carquinez Strait.
Some voters living in the unincorporated areas north and west of Santa Rosa who currently vote in District 5 would end up as District 2 voters according to the new map.
The latest maps undo earlier proposals first published on Oct. 26 that briefly sent local politicos into a tither. That’s because they potentially lumped Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, into Thompson’s district by cutting Huffman’s home county of Marin out of the extensive North Coast district (running from the shore of San Francisco Bay to the Oregon border) that he has represented since 2013.
Had such a restructuring stood, the two congressmen — Thompson, an influential Blue Dog Democrat and Huffman, a member of the Progressive Caucus with a rising profile as a climate-action champion — could have wound up squared off for reelection.
Such questions are avoided in the latest draft.
Huffman’s district appears largely unchanged under the new maps. Digital, large format versions of the latest maps are available at wedrawthelinesca.org.
The latest visualization of how redistricting could change Northern California’s congressional districts, released Nov. 10 by the bipartisan redistricting commission. (wedrawthelinesca.org) The latest visualization of how redistricting could change Northern California’s congressional districts, released Nov. 10 by the bipartisan redistricting commission. (wedrawthelinesca.org)
Thompson first won a House seat in 1998 and has handily won all his races since, according to the election data website Ballotpedia.
The new lines for District 2 absorb Solano County territory represented today by U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove.
California law does not bind politicians to campaigning only for the districts they live in, though most choose to.
How the lines fall during congressional redistricting can influence politicians’ strategic calculations up and down the levels of elected office, McCuan said. As people eye higher office, they wait to see what seats might be opened up as politicians decide to step down, or step up, due to the shifting lines of campaign battlegrounds.
“It’s a 3D chess game that most people don’t pay attention to,” he said. With the newest North Bay maps promising less upheaval, McCuan said, eyes will turn more closely to the redrawing of lines for statehouse seats, county supervisor offices and on down the political food chain.
1-2-Buckle my shoe . . .
Da-Doop Doop Doop Doop Doop Doo-da-Doop
Da-Doop Doop Doop Doop Doop Doop Doop
Da-Doopy Doopy Doopy Doopy Diddly Doopy etc.
Oh no! Oh no-o-o!
I tried to find
How my heart
Could be so blind, (wanna buy some pencils?) Dear
How could I be fooled
Just like the rest
You came on strong
With your fast car
And your class ring
Sad eyes & your bran flakes
I fell for the whole thing
I don't regret
Up with a girl who breaks
Hearts like they were
Nothing at all (here's one for mother!)
I've done it too
Now I know
Just what it feels like . . .
— Frank Zappa
by Harry Stopes
The plague first came to Marseille on a ship from Spain in 588, forty-seven years after the disease’s appearance in the Eastern Mediterranean marked the beginning of the first pandemic. ‘Many citizens bought various merchandise’ from the ship, according to Gregory of Tours. ‘The fire of the plague did not at once spread through all the houses, but after a definite time like a fire in standing grain it swept the whole city with the flame of disease.’
The second plague pandemic began in the 14th century with the Black Death. Trading states and cities across the Mediterranean Basin developed a patchwork of public health systems to manage the flow of suspect goods and people. From the 16th century, sailors and merchandise arriving in Marseille were confined at the lazaret on the island of Pomègues.
By the 18th century the city had a three-tier system of 15 to 60-day quarantine. The period of confinement depended on the health of the crew, the origin of the ship – the Levant and North African coast were considered more suspect – and whether the captain could provide letters attesting to a healthy situation in his recent ports of call.
The system was effective, but not perfect – Marseille was the site of the last major outbreak of plague in Western Europe. Between 1720 and 1722 around half the city’s population of 90,000 died, along with a similar number elsewhere in Provence. The outbreak is the subject of Marseille en temps de peste, a new exhibition atthe Musée d’Histoire de Marseille. The museum overlooks the ancient port where the Spanish plague ship docked.
Le Grand Saint Antoine arrived on 25 May 1720 from the Eastern Mediterranean via Livorno. It was loaded with cotton and silk cloths worth around 100,000 crowns. The ship’s investors intended to sell the merchandise at Beaucaire, a city on the Rhône between Nîmes and Avignon, whose annual fair was the largest in southern France. Under the strictest quarantine conditions, however, the cargo would be released too late for the fair.
One of the investors was Jean-Baptiste Estelle, a powerful figure in the city government. The exhibition implies he may have had something to do with Le Grand Saint Antoine’s quarantine being laxly enforced. The ship and its remaining wares – those that had not mysteriously escaped the lazaret – were burnt in September, but the city was already infected.
The local authorities at first denied that the mysterious deaths of late June and early July were caused by the plague, fearing the effect on commerce. ‘A malign fever caused by bad diet’ was the official position, but it quickly became untenable. On 31 July the parliament of Provence banned all commerce and communication between the city and the region. Movement through the streets was limited, schools were closed, funeral rites regulated, and citizens ordered to burn sulphur in their homes to purify the air.
By the end of August deaths had reached around a thousand a day. A priest had an ironworker make a six-foot set of pincers for socially distanced administration of the sacraments. They are on display at the museum along with smaller tongs for holding letters while disinfecting them in vinegar, medical tools for applying heat to or cutting buboes, texts on treatments, a beaked plague mask, and a public appeal from the city offering 1000 to 2000 livres a month for surgeons to come and work there.
In early September, the royal authorities appointed Charles-Claude Andrault de Langeron as an extraordinary executive in Marseille. Six companies of soldiers were dispatched to clean up the city, arrest looters, gather corpses, close gambling dens, collect waste, reorganise the hospital and register the dead. Ordinances were issued against throwing stones or firing arms in the city. The shops, however, were kept open.
The bodies piled up in mass graves. Examining a site in Le Panier in the early 2000s, archaeologists found definitive evidence of the Yersinia pestis bacterium. Responsible for the third plague pandemic, which began in China in 1855, the bacillus is now known to have caused the first two as well.
The permanent exhibition at the Musée d’Histoire describes Marseille as ‘a mixed picture ... a poor city characterised by criminal gangs settling their scores, but also an attractive lively city where culture and tourism have become prime factors for economic development.’ Hitchhiking into the city in the summer of 2016, I was told by the driver as we passed the social housing estates of north Marseille that this was ‘the most dangerous place in France ... you would think you were in another country.’
The city is currently experiencing a cycle of predatory affection. Average property prices have increased 6.5 per cent in the last year. After I left the museum I tried to find the plague pit, walking up and down the Rue de l’Observance and all around Le Panier, but all I saw were restaurants and anti-gentrification graffiti: ‘AirBnB destroys the city’; ‘My neighborhood is beautiful, but not hipster’; ‘Parisians, we don’t want you.’
Who may use which urban spaces under what conditions? To enter the museum you have to show proof of a negative Covid test or vaccination. The same goes for the Stade Vélodrome, where the other weekend I watched Olympique Marseille beat Lorient 4-1. It was the first game since the funeral of the former club owner Bernard Tapie, ‘Le Boss’. A text from the ultras group South Winners was read aloud before the match:
“In the depths of France, in Europe and in the world, your daughters, your sons, our children, will continue to defy the whole world – in joy, in song, in rage and in euphoria – and will show, thanks to their beloved Boss, what it is to be from Marseille.”
(London Review of Books)
WHAT IF WE STOPPED PRETENDING?
The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.
by Jonathan Franzen
“There is infinite hope,” Kafka tells us, “only not for us.” This is a fittingly mystical epigram from a writer whose characters strive for ostensibly reachable goals and, tragically or amusingly, never manage to get any closer to them. But it seems to me, in our rapidly darkening world, that the converse of Kafka’s quip is equally true: There is no hope, except for us.
I’m talking, of course, about climate change. The struggle to rein in global carbon emissions and keep the planet from melting down has the feel of Kafka’s fiction. The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.
If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope.
Even at this late date, expressions of unrealistic hope continue to abound. Hardly a day seems to pass without my reading that it’s time to “roll up our sleeves” and “save the planet”; that the problem of climate change can be “solved” if we summon the collective will. Although this message was probably still true in 1988, when the science became fully clear, we’ve emitted as much atmospheric carbon in the past thirty years as we did in the previous two centuries of industrialization. The facts have changed, but somehow the message stays the same.
Psychologically, this denial makes sense. Despite the outrageous fact that I’ll soon be dead forever, I live in the present, not the future. Given a choice between an alarming abstraction (death) and the reassuring evidence of my senses (breakfast!), my mind prefers to focus on the latter. The planet, too, is still marvelously intact, still basically normal—seasons changing, another election year coming, new comedies on Netflix—and its impending collapse is even harder to wrap my mind around than death. Other kinds of apocalypse, whether religious or thermonuclear or asteroidal, at least have the binary neatness of dying: one moment the world is there, the next moment it’s gone forever. Climate apocalypse, by contrast, is messy. It will take the form of increasingly severe crises compounding chaotically until civilization begins to fray. Things will get very bad, but maybe not too soon, and maybe not for everyone. Maybe not for me.
Some of the denial, however, is more willful. The evil of the Republican Party’s position on climate science is well known, but denial is entrenched in progressive politics, too, or at least in its rhetoric. The Green New Deal, the blueprint for some of the most substantial proposals put forth on the issue, is still framed as our last chance to avert catastrophe and save the planet, by way of gargantuan renewable-energy projects. Many of the groups that support those proposals deploy the language of “stopping” climate change, or imply that there’s still time to prevent it. Unlike the political right, the left prides itself on listening to climate scientists, who do indeed allow that catastrophe is theoretically avertable. But not everyone seems to be listening carefully. The stress falls on the word theoretically.
Our atmosphere and oceans can absorb only so much heat before climate change, intensified by various feedback loops, spins completely out of control. Some scientists and policymakers fear that we’re in danger of passing this point of no return if the global mean temperature rises by more than two degrees Celsius (maybe more, but also maybe less). The I.P.C.C.—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—tells us that, to limit the rise to less than two degrees, we not only need to reverse the trend of the past three decades. We need to approach zero net emissions, globally, in the next three decades.
This is, to say the least, a tall order. It also assumes that you trust the I.P.C.C.’s calculations. New research, described last month in Scientific American, demonstrates that climate scientists, far from exaggerating the threat of climate change, have underestimated its pace and severity. To project the rise in the global mean temperature, scientists rely on complicated atmospheric modelling. They take a host of variables and run them through supercomputers to generate, say, ten thousand different simulations for the coming century, in order to make a “best” prediction of the rise in temperature. When a scientist predicts a rise of two degrees Celsius, she’s merely naming a number about which she’s very confident: the rise will be at least two degrees. The rise might, in fact, be far higher.
As a non-scientist, I do my own kind of modelling. I run various future scenarios through my brain, apply the constraints of human psychology and political reality, take note of the relentless rise in global energy consumption (thus far, the carbon savings provided by renewable energy have been more than offset by consumer demand), and count the scenarios in which collective action averts catastrophe. The scenarios, which I draw from the prescriptions of policymakers and activists, share certain necessary conditions.
The first condition is that every one of the world’s major polluting countries institute draconian conservation measures, shut down much of its energy and transportation infrastructure, and completely retool its economy. According to a recent paper in Nature, the carbon emissions from existing global infrastructure, if operated through its normal lifetime, will exceed our entire emissions “allowance”—the further gigatons of carbon that can be released without crossing the threshold of catastrophe. (This estimate does not include the thousands of new energy and transportation projects already planned or under construction.) To stay within that allowance, a top-down intervention needs to happen not only in every country but throughout every country. Making New York City a green utopia will not avail if Texans keep pumping oil and driving pickup trucks.
The actions taken by these countries must also be the right ones. Vast sums of government money must be spent without wasting it and without lining the wrong pockets. Here it’s useful to recall the Kafkaesque joke of the European Union’s biofuel mandate, which served to accelerate the deforestation of Indonesia for palm-oil plantations, and the American subsidy of ethanol fuel, which turned out to benefit no one but corn farmers.
Finally, overwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting. They must accept the reality of climate change and have faith in the extreme measures taken to combat it. They can’t dismiss news they dislike as fake. They have to set aside nationalism and class and racial resentments. They have to make sacrifices for distant threatened nations and distant future generations. They have to be permanently terrified by hotter summers and more frequent natural disasters, rather than just getting used to them. Every day, instead of thinking about breakfast, they have to think about death.
Call me a pessimist or call me a humanist, but I don’t see human nature fundamentally changing anytime soon. I can run ten thousand scenarios through my model, and in not one of them do I see the two-degree target being met.
To judge from recent opinion polls, which show that a majority of Americans (many of them Republican) are pessimistic about the planet’s future, and from the success of a book like David Wallace-Wells’s harrowing “The Uninhabitable Earth,” which was released this year, I’m not alone in having reached this conclusion. But there continues to be a reluctance to broadcast it. Some climate activists argue that if we publicly admit that the problem can’t be solved, it will discourage people from taking any ameliorative action at all. This seems to me not only a patronizing calculation but an ineffectual one, given how little progress we have to show for it to date. The activists who make it remind me of the religious leaders who fear that, without the promise of eternal salvation, people won’t bother to behave well. In my experience, nonbelievers are no less loving of their neighbors than believers. And so I wonder what might happen if, instead of denying reality, we told ourselves the truth.
First of all, even if we can no longer hope to be saved from two degrees of warming, there’s still a strong practical and ethical case for reducing carbon emissions. In the long run, it probably makes no difference how badly we overshoot two degrees; once the point of no return is passed, the world will become self-transforming. In the shorter term, however, half measures are better than no measures. Halfway cutting our emissions would make the immediate effects of warming somewhat less severe, and it would somewhat postpone the point of no return. The most terrifying thing about climate change is the speed at which it’s advancing, the almost monthly shattering of temperature records. If collective action resulted in just one fewer devastating hurricane, just a few extra years of relative stability, it would be a goal worth pursuing.
In fact, it would be worth pursuing even if it had no effect at all. To fail to conserve a finite resource when conservation measures are available, to needlessly add carbon to the atmosphere when we know very well what carbon is doing to it, is simply wrong. Although the actions of one individual have zero effect on the climate, this doesn’t mean that they’re meaningless. Each of us has an ethical choice to make. During the Protestant Reformation, when “end times” was merely an idea, not the horribly concrete thing it is today, a key doctrinal question was whether you should perform good works because it will get you into Heaven, or whether you should perform them simply because they’re good—because, while Heaven is a question mark, you know that this world would be better if everyone performed them. I can respect the planet, and care about the people with whom I share it, without believing that it will save me.
More than that, a false hope of salvation can be actively harmful. If you persist in believing that catastrophe can be averted, you commit yourself to tackling a problem so immense that it needs to be everyone’s overriding priority forever. One result, weirdly, is a kind of complacency: by voting for green candidates, riding a bicycle to work, avoiding air travel, you might feel that you’ve done everything you can for the only thing worth doing. Whereas, if you accept the reality that the planet will soon overheat to the point of threatening civilization, there’s a whole lot more you should be doing.
Our resources aren’t infinite. Even if we invest much of them in a longest-shot gamble, reducing carbon emissions in the hope that it will save us, it’s unwise to invest all of them. Every billion dollars spent on high-speed trains, which may or may not be suitable for North America, is a billion not banked for disaster preparedness, reparations to inundated countries, or future humanitarian relief. Every renewable-energy mega-project that destroys a living ecosystem—the “green” energy development now occurring in Kenya’s national parks, the giant hydroelectric projects in Brazil, the construction of solar farms in open spaces, rather than in settled areas—erodes the resilience of a natural world already fighting for its life. Soil and water depletion, overuse of pesticides, the devastation of world fisheries—collective will is needed for these problems, too, and, unlike the problem of carbon, they’re within our power to solve. As a bonus, many low-tech conservation actions (restoring forests, preserving grasslands, eating less meat) can reduce our carbon footprint as effectively as massive industrial changes.
All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was winnable. Once you accept that we’ve lost it, other kinds of action take on greater meaning. Preparing for fires and floods and refugees is a directly pertinent example. But the impending catastrophe heightens the urgency of almost any world-improving action. In times of increasing chaos, people seek protection in tribalism and armed force, rather than in the rule of law, and our best defense against this kind of dystopia is to maintain functioning democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities. In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the country of assault weapons—these are all meaningful climate actions. To survive rising temperatures, every system, whether of the natural world or of the human world, will need to be as strong and healthy as we can make it.
And then there’s the matter of hope. If your hope for the future depends on a wildly optimistic scenario, what will you do ten years from now, when the scenario becomes unworkable even in theory? Give up on the planet entirely? To borrow from the advice of financial planners, I might suggest a more balanced portfolio of hopes, some of them longer-term, most of them shorter. It’s fine to struggle against the constraints of human nature, hoping to mitigate the worst of what’s to come, but it’s just as important to fight smaller, more local battles that you have some realistic hope of winning. Keep doing the right thing for the planet, yes, but also keep trying to save what you love specifically—a community, an institution, a wild place, a species that’s in trouble—and take heart in your small successes. Any good thing you do now is arguably a hedge against the hotter future, but the really meaningful thing is that it’s good today. As long as you have something to love, you have something to hope for.
In Santa Cruz, where I live, there’s an organization called the Homeless Garden Project. On a small working farm at the west end of town, it offers employment, training, support, and a sense of community to members of the city’s homeless population. It can’t “solve” the problem of homelessness, but it’s been changing lives, one at a time, for nearly thirty years. Supporting itself in part by selling organic produce, it contributes more broadly to a revolution in how we think about people in need, the land we depend on, and the natural world around us. In the summer, as a member of its C.S.A. program, I enjoy its kale and strawberries, and in the fall, because the soil is alive and uncontaminated, small migratory birds find sustenance in its furrows.
There may come a time, sooner than any of us likes to think, when the systems of industrial agriculture and global trade break down and homeless people outnumber people with homes. At that point, traditional local farming and strong communities will no longer just be liberal buzzwords. Kindness to neighbors and respect for the land—nurturing healthy soil, wisely managing water, caring for pollinators—will be essential in a crisis and in whatever society survives it. A project like the Homeless Garden offers me the hope that the future, while undoubtedly worse than the present, might also, in some ways, be better. Most of all, though, it gives me hope for today.
(The New Yorker)