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Mendocino County Today: October 13, 2013

Gene Penaflor
Gene Penaflor

72-YEAR-OLD GENE PENAFLOR was reported missing by his family on the 24th of September when he failed to reappear after a hunting expedition in the Mendocino National Forest. Penaflor was last seen a short distance north of Lake Pillsbury, on the Mendo-Lake county line. The Mendocino Sheriff's Department announced Saturday the 12th of October that a search and rescue operation has been launched for Penaflor “after sports hunters reported a man in distress.” Lt. Shannon Barney coordinates the Sheriff’s search and rescue team. He said Saturday, “We haven’t found anyone yet and it could be another hunter in distress.”



CRIME OF THE WEEK, from the Ukiah Police Department: On October 6th at about 9:30 PM Ukiah Police responded to a business in the 100 block of West Standley Street for a reported burglary. Officers found a large object had been thrown through the front window of the business and later determined nearly $3000 in clothing had been stolen. Officers learned the suspect was seen walking across State Street at Standley Street by two off-duty tribal police officers, who noticed the suspect was carrying a very large amount of clothing still with the hangers. Believing the suspect may have stolen the clothing, the officers pursued the suspect, who dropped the clothing and ran. The officers caught up to and detained the suspect near the 200 block of North Main Street. It is believed the suspect, identified as 18 year old Guadalupe Garcia, of Ukiah, was carrying the clothing to a waiting vehicle which had since left. Garcia was arrested for burglary, grand theft, vandalism, and criminal conspiracy. (Ed Note: The 100 block of West Standley is across the street from the County Courthouse. The robbery victim was probably “Boutique 120,” an upscale clothing shop next door to Patrona.)



BASEBALL TALK. A READER WRITES: The TBS announcers drive me nuts. Last night they drove me to bed just about the time they went to extra innings. On my bedroom radio I found what I am sure was the Dodger radio network. It was KCBL out of Fresno at 1340 AM. Vin Scully, who taught me major league baseball in LA in 1957 or so, is apparently doing the first and last three innings, so he must have been gone by the time I tuned in. Another guy, who I assume was Charley Steiner, went the last four innings solo and was so much better than the TV crew it wasn’t funny. He took a little getting used to, but he is knowledgeable and subtle. So if you can find Dodgers radio wherever you are, it is worth a try.


RECENTLY I have seen a lot of petitions drifting around cyberspace and facebook asking me to sign up to get congresspersons pay cut off during the shutdown. Sorry, but I cannot sign. I think these petitions are very short-sighted and betray an accurate analysis of what is happening in Washington. I am not a fan of Obamacare (a.k.a. The Affordable Care Act or ACA). As usual Obama gave away too much to the insurance industry. That said, it has passed both houses of congress, was signed into law by the president, survived a Supreme Court challenge, and was a feature of the 2012 Presidential Election. A handful of members of the House are holding the budget, the economy, and our political system hostage in an effort to reverse the entire process. As a Progressive I buy into the argument that our democracy, if it even sill exists at all, is on life support. This handful of reps threaten what little remains. If we, as citizens, buy into the false premise that the blame is to be distributed equally for this debacle then we will become even more disempowered by this radical fringe with no respect for the constitution they are supposedly sworn to uphold. It is easy to throw up our hands in frustration and act as though congress is somehow a bickering group of kindergarteners. In this particular case I must disagree. The Tea Party faction of the Republican Party has basically taking hostages. Let's call it what it is. — Chris Skyhawk, Albion



Wednesday 09 October 2013, 15:25 UTC

Assange, Cumberbatch
Assange, Cumberbatch

Last Wednesday WikiLeaks published the first letter from Julian Assange to Benedict Cumberbatch regarding “The Fifth Estate,” a Dreamworks movie about WikiLeaks set to open in the UK on Friday Oct 11, and in the US on Friday Oct 18. The press release about this letter is here. The letter was sent to Benedict Cumberbatch after he made overtures to contact Julian Assange in January this year, immediately before principal photography commenced.

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2013

From: Julian Assange

To: Benedict Cumberbatch

Subject: Message from Assange

Dear Benedict,

Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks.

My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of.

I think I would enjoy meeting you.

The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.

If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.

But I must speak directly.

I hope that you will take such directness as a mark of respect, and not as an unkindness.

I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film.

I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about.

I believe that it is going to be overwhelmingly negative for me and the people I care about.

It is based on a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me and my organization.

In other circumstances this vendetta may have gone away, but our conflict with the United States government and the establishment press has created a patronage and commissioning market – powerful, if unpopular – for works and comments that are harmful to us.

There are dozens of positive books about WikiLeaks, but Dreamworks decided to base its script only on the most toxic. So toxic is the first book selected by Dreamworks that it is distributed to US military bases as a mechanism to discourage military personnel from communicating with us. Its author is publicly known to be involved in the Dreamworks production in an ongoing capacity.

Dreamworks' second rights purchase is the next most toxic, biased book. Published and written by people we have had a bitter contractual dispute with for years, whose hostility is well known. Neither of these two books were the first to be published and there are many independent authors who have written positive or neutral books, all of whom Dreamworks ignored.

Dreamworks has based its entire production on the two most discredited books on the market.

I know the film intends to depict me and my work in a negative light.

I believe it will distort events and subtract from public understanding.

It does not seek to simplify, clarify or distil the truth, but rather it seeks to bury it.

It will resurrect and amplify defamatory stories which were long ago shown

to be false.

My organization and I are the targets of political adversary from the United States government and its closest allies.

The United States government has engaged almost every instrument of its justice and intelligence system to pursue—in its own words—a ‘whole of government’ investigation of ‘unprecedented scale and nature’ into WikiLeaks under draconian espionage laws. Our alleged sources are facing their entire lives in the US prison system. Two are already in it. Another one is detained in Sweden.

Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion.

This film is going to bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads.

It is going to smother the truthful version of events, at a time when the truth is most in demand.

As justification it will claim to be fiction, but it is not fiction. It is distorted truth about living people doing battle with titanic opponents. It is a work of political opportunism, influence, revenge and, above all, cowardice.

It seeks to ride on the back of our work, our reputation and our struggles.

It seeks to cut our strength with weakness. To cut affection with exploitation. To cut diligence with paranoia. To cut loyalty with naivety. To cut principle with hypocrisy. And above all, to cut the truth with lies.

The film's many distortions buttress what the prosecution will argue. Has argued. Is arguing. In my case, and in that of others. These cases will continue for years.

The studio that is producing the film is not a vulnerable or weak party.

Dreamworks' free speech rights are not in jeopardy — ours are.

Dreamworks is an extremely wealthy organization, with ties to powerful interests in the US government.

I must therefore question the choices and motives behind it: the opportunism, fears and mundanity; the unwritten rules of film financing and distribution in the United States; the cringe against doing something useful and brave.

I believe that you are a decent person, who would not naturally wish to harm good people in dire situations.

You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it. To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth.

Not because you want to, of course you don't, but because, in the end, you are a jobbing actor who gets paid to follow the script, no matter how debauched.

Your skills play into the hands of people who are out to remove me and WikiLeaks from the world.

I believe that you should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise.

Consider the consequences of your cooperation with a project that vilifies and marginalizes a living political refugee to the benefit of an entrenched, corrupt and dangerous state.

Consider the consequences to people who may fall into harm because of this film.

Many will fight against history being blackwashed in this way. It is a collective history now, involving millions of people, because millions have opened their eyes as a result of our work and the attempts to destroy us.

I believe you are well intentioned but surely you can see why it is a bad idea for me to meet with you.

By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give.

I cannot permit this film any claim to authenticity or truthfulness. In its current form it has neither, and doing so would only further aid the campaign against me.

It is contrary to my interests, and to those of my organization, and I thank you for your offer, and what I am sure is your genuine intent, but I must, with inexpressible regret, turn it down.

— Julian Assange



by Steve Heilig

More than one friend, when told I was reading the “definitive” new biography of Charles Manson, said “Why would anybody want to read that?”

It's a reasonable question. The Manson murders, almost 45 years ago, were gruesome, sordid, tragic and completely pointless. Manson himself was a seedy figure with huge delusions. His “family,” who carried out the actual killing at his direction, were about as pathetic a collection of young losers as could be found. But find them Manson did, in the ferment of mid-60s Bay Area countercultural flowering. Most of them never quite figured out that he had spent most of his life up to 1967 in reform schools and other “correctional” institutions, where he was not corrected but learned even more about how to hustle people. One of the most striking facts in the new biography, in fact, is that his favored teachers and role models, besides imprisoned pimps, were L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the “Church” of Scientology, and the bestselling wholesome Dale Carnegie's handbook “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” In some things, at least, Charlie seemed to be a good student.

The Mendocino connection here is that Manson's growing band of followers made several trips “up north” in the summer of 1967, “camping along the beautiful, tree-lined coast, sleeping in the VW van.” Nothing too unusual about that in those days; I did just that myself years after. But residents of the town of Mendocino “thought the women in Charlie's group looked a little odd as they had sewn together old blankets to serve as skirts” — again likely not a wholly unique sartorial look then — but, “After a few days they were ready for Charlie and the girls to move on.” They did so, back to the already-souring Haight where “all these kids who had had flowers in their hair were now lying around with needles in their arms,” but Charlie soon sent some followers back to look for a better, more durable home. Susan Atkins, who would become a multiple murderer, led a small group including Charlie's doomed son Pooh Bear — another Family baby was named Ze Zo Ze Cee Zadfrack “because it seemed like a good name” — to Philo. But “soon after they arrived, parents began complaining to county police that their underage children were being given drugs by women living in what neighbors dubbed 'Hippie house'.” Soon the “girls” were arrested on drug charges, and spent a few months in county jail, despite a rescue attempt by family hanger-on Bobby Beausoleil — himself soon to join the list of Manson family murderers. That was the end of their Mendocino sojourn.

MansonBookBiographer Jeff Guinn spent years on this book and it shows: He found Manson's relatives — who understandably spoke to him under conditions of anonymity — acquaintances, “family” members and others who had never spoken before in the numerous books about Manson; he recreates Manson's trashy, troubled youth and shows how his long residencies behind bars even before the “Summer of Love” seemed almost inevitable. While “little Charlie” had cute dimples and a nice smile, he had no father in his life and his mother — around 15 years old when he was born in 1934, in Cincinnati — went to jail while he was very young, and he was troubled and trouble from the start, “obsessed with being the center of attention,” and a cousin recalls “there was never anything happy about him.” By the time he went — briefly — to regular school, he had “three interests — he became fascinated by knives or anything that was sharp. He enjoyed handling guns…and above all, he fell in love with music.”

Flash forward over episodes of armed robbery and car theft, stints in some rough institutions, where he was raped, did some raping, and learned to use knives in unwholesome ways, and in early 1967 Charlie was being released after a seven-year stint “inside” from Terminal Island prison in Southern California. He could play some guitar and wrote some songs and, like millions of others, had big dreams of big rock-stardom. He headed for Berkeley, where he becomes a “stranger in a strange land” but quickly figured that the burgeoning hippie culture provided him with plenty of fresh naive fodder for his “Church of Charlie.” He gathered innocent young women from Berkeley and the Haight-Ashbury, where the clinicians at the landmark free clinic diagnosed him as an “ambulatory schizophrenic” with all manner of manipulative behaviors, not to mention a fondness for LSD, speed (Guinn focuses more on the ritual use of LSD, but amphetamines were more likely a bigger part of the picture) and marathon orgiastic sex directed by Charlie, and treat his “family” for sexually-transmitted infections. But Manson says his gang are “slippies,” not hippies, and thus they move south to chase his dreams of musical stardom.

That did not go well. He befriended some stars, used his pimping skills and girls to cultivate friendships with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson and charmed and impressed others like Neil Young to some degree. Wilson and Young called him “The Wizard.” He wanted — demanded — auditions, but those didn't go well, not only due to his insufficient talent but also his smell and tendency to threaten, including with knives, those who disagreed with him.

Between bad deals of bad drugs and the constant need to hustle for food, automobiles, and rent, people started to die when they got too close to the Manson Family. The random violence arose from Manson's grandiose vision and absurd paranoid interpretation of Beatles' songs from their latest “White Album,” including “Helter Skelter,” which Charlie just knows warns of an impending race war between whites and the blacks he has learned to hate from his long years in prison. “The Family was meant to rule the earth after Helter Skelter. It was ordained by the Beatles and the Bible through Charlie. They would reign benevolently and the world would become a far better place.”

That did not turn out so well either. When rejected by the music industry at every turn, Manson sends his minions to kill in a house where one of the producers who rejected him had lived, in order to bring about his vision a bit faster. The horrid story of the Tate-Labianca slaughters has been told too many times already, but Guinn has to do it again, this time with more detail than anyone before. The actual killers are all teenagers or not much older. They are so brainwashed that they run amok in blood and remain unrepentant through their brief fugitive period and trial, until years of prison show most how tragically deluded they'd been under Manson's spell. Guinn retells the search and capture of the dozen or so culprits, the long trials (where Manson once attacks a judge “In the name of Christian justice”), the media circus surrounding the whole affair, and the sad fates of those who encountered him.

The loyal Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, of course, tried to prove her loyalty by attempting to assassinate President Ford, but fortunately was as inept at that as in most everything else. She escaped from prison briefly some years after, but even perfect jailhouse records and fervent conversions to religious ministries have never freed a Manson follower, convicted killers who were saved from earlier execution by the banning of the death penalty in California after their sentencing. These are the kind of cases where even some who oppose the death penalty might have wished to make exceptions. In any event, nobody has bothered to calculate the sum total of tax dollars spent on the Manson family over the decades. It's probably best not to know.

One of the most striking things in this saga, though, is the strange durability of some of Manson's madness. He's been imprisoned this time since 1969, and was called “The Most Dangerous Man Alive” on the cover of Rolling Stone (a dubious claim given that Nixon was still President at that point). From his numerous public appearances, at doomed parole hearings, on in recordings, and in print, he has not been “corrected” in any way and is still an uneducated, delusional, manipulative maniac. Yet he has remained an object of fascination to many, his songs covered by rockers both famed and obscure, films of his life made, his name and face popping up all over on t-shirts and other images. But most disturbingly and pathetically, he still has followers. One of them, who used to haunt Haight street into the 1990s, recalled that the violence was not to his liking but he did not want to give up access to the “girls.” Another used to park an old van on the streets and try to sell Manson memorabilia. Some others, even those who did not know Manson during the brief couple of years he was on the “outside” and caused so much mayhem, have moved to the towns where he has been incarcerated, maintained websites in his support and honor, and at least one couple have recently carved up their faces as some of his women “family” did during his trial over 40 years ago. And of course, they, like Charlie, still maintain his innocence. Whether he killed with his own hands remains arguable, but that he was the cause of brutal murders is not. And as Truman Capote, no stranger to murderous tales and psyches since the years producing his classic study “In Cold Blood,” said about him, “I have seldom met a murderer who did not tell you he was innocent.”

Capote, who met some of Manson's “family,” also observed, in Rolling Stone in 1973, that Manson was just “an institutionalized thug” who used drugs and sex to take advantage of kids, in keeping with the Haight Clinicians' suspicions years before. This in a nutshell is Guinn's conclusion as well — his nearly 500-page book is a demythologizing of Manson, for anybody who still harbors any illusions about his real self.

Manson was and probably still is a completely amoral, racist, misogynistic, antisemitic, physically abusive, megalomaniacal, delusional, failed little convict pimp. Guinn stretches a bit in trying to compare the Manson Family with The Weathermen, those failed violent radicals, but their motivation at least had some “political” leanings, however misjudged and distorted. How much Manson has ever truly believed his own ravings is somewhat mysterious, but Guinn builds a strong case that it was all part of Charlie's modus operandi since his childhood, and the stakes just grew higher and nastier. Guinn concludes that Manson “is a product of the 1960s — and also of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s… By the time the 1960s arrived, Charlie was already a lifelong social predator” who “was always the wrong man in the right place at the right time.”

The Manson murders have been seen as the end of “the sixties,” ironically occurring in the same month as the Woodstock Festival — a week before it, actually. But that's buying into the idea that there was anything of wider or deeper importance about the crimes. Guinn doesn't buy any of it. “There was nothing mystical or heroic about Charlie — he was an opportunistic sociopath. The unsettling 1960s did not create Charlie, but they made it possible for him to bloom in full, malignant flower.”

“Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson” will remain the definitive biography of this “true life criminal.” I hope somebody gives him a copy, and that he reads it if he is able. His own response or review might be something to read as well.



For the past 36 years, the Mendocino Study Club, formed by ten ladies on Oct. 30, 1908, has held an Annual Country Christmas Bazaar. This year, the Country Christmas Holiday Bazaar will be held on Saturday, Nov 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Presbyterian Church’s Preston Hall on Main Street, Mendocino. Handmade items for sale will include quilts, pillows, placemats, potholders, aprons, table runners, embroidered tea towels, knitted items, fine clothing, kitchen items, special creations, holiday decorations, ornaments and some fine treasures. To top it off, there will be a delicious variety of home baked cookies, pies, breads, candy, etc., in addition to homemade jams, jellies, chutneys, including those delicious Quinault pickles, and other pantry items. And don’t forget the cheerful bird feeders with pine cones, peanut butter, honey and birdseed for your feathered friends. Janet Barnes chairs the bakery/sweet shoppe. Study Club president Marilyn LeRoy is in charge of the pantry. Additional booth leaders are Kathy Barnes, Ann Birdsell, Jean Droz, Martha Racine Taylor, and Robin Wheat. Proceeds will provide college scholarships for both Fort Bragg and Mendocino high school seniors and adults re-entering college and also are applied to the building loan of the Mendocino Community Library. Coordinators for this year’s Country Christmas are Kathy Barnes, Martha Racine Taylor and Robin Wheat. Thank you. — Debbie L. Holmer Country Christmas Publicity Chairman, Mendocino Study Club.

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