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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, July 3, 2016

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by Malcolm Macdonald

Wade Sturgeon, the Chief Financial Officer at Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) has allegedly insulted and demeaned a hospital employee to such a degree that the employee quit on June 7th. The employee was a department manager at MCDH with more than a dozen years on the job.

This might be considered an internal personnel matter if the descriptions of Mr. Sturgeon's intimidating and harassing behavior did not sound eerily similar to what happened at his most recent place of employment. That would be Bear Valley Community Healthcare District. Mr. Sturgeon apparently resigned from a chief financial officer (CFO) position there just last July (2015).

A search of a Big Bear Grizzly newspaper story from late July, leads to reporting on the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District's Board of Director's meeting of July 24, 2015. At that gathering the hospital district's board president read the following statement: “It has been determined that the CFO [Sturgeon] has violated a significant district policy and the board has authorized administration and counsel to take appropriate disciplinary action.”

The Big Bear Grizzly article goes on to explain, “In April district employees claimed workplace harassment by Sturgeon and human resources director Kathy Norris, who is currently on leave. A letter read by union steward Diane Lopez at the April 23 board meeting claimed Norris and Sturgeon were intimidating staff and creating a hostile environment. The letter stated that [the hospital's CEO] Randy Simmons supported the behavior, leaving staff members nowhere to turn for relief.”

Go back a couple months from there to an April 23, 2015 Bear Valley Community Healthcare District (BVCHD) board meeting attended by thirty or more hospital staffers. During the public comment section Diane Lopez read a letter of concern she claimed was authored on behalf of all the hospital's employees who were willing to risk their jobs despite fear of retaliation. In part the letter stated, “Staff is fearful and go home daily wondering if they will have a job to come back to.” Speaking specifically about CFO Sturgeon and the human resources director, the letter said they “continue to cause undue stress, by intimidating staff and creating a hostile environment.” The letter asked for a complete investigation, since the hospital's CEO had done nothing.

Follow Sturgeon's career back a bit further and one finds him at Klickitat Valley Health (KVH) in Goldendale, Washington, leaving his post as CFO in 2008 after three and a half years on the job. At the time the hospital's CEO commended Sturgeon's financial abilities, “Bottom line, Wade Sturgeon did a fine job at this hospital,” but added, “issues that were present had to do with personal relations.”

Summing up, the KVH CEO said about Sturgeon, “He didn't have the greatest of people skills. He had a way of upsetting people. In the long run it wore on people, and it wore on Wade.”

Sturgeon was hired as MCDH's CFO in September, 2015, less than two months after resigning at Bear Valley Community Healthcare District. Though the new Chief Financial Officer had only been on the job at MCDH for less than nine months, the department manager who resigned on June 7th stated that he was inundated with one demanding email after another until he couldn't take it any more. In a personal encounter, earlier this year, the MCDH department manager reported that he was on the phone doing hospital business when Mr. Sturgeon entered his office. The business call apparently went on too long for Mr. Sturgeon's liking when, without any verbal warning, the CFO yanked the phone away from the department manager and slammed it down.

This sort of abusive behavior is indicative of an underlying contentious issue at MCDH. The problem is greater than just Sturgeon, involving the CEO, Bob Edwards, and administration in general. Several sources within MCDH have recounted stories best summed up as relating to negative morale within the rank and file of employees. The specifics of each story cannot be recounted at this time because employees fear retribution from administration. If that sounds familiar, scroll up a few paragraphs to the 2015 details about Bear Valley Community Healthcare District.

According to one source familiar with the situation, the circumstances surrounding Sturgeon's departure from Bear Valley Community Healthcare District were not brought up during an appearance before some of the members of MCDH's Finance Committee last September. Another source close to the Board of Directors stated that Sturgeon's hire as CFO was essentially a choice made by CEO Bob Edwards. The same source stated that MCDH's Board of Directors was given a relatively brief overview (approximately 15 minutes) of Sturgeon's qualifications by Edwards before approving him for the CFO position. Three different MCDH Board members, from the time of Sturgeon's hiring, were contacted in preparation for this article. None of them indicated knowledge of Sturgeon's Bear Valley situation at the time of his hiring at MCDH.

Who did know Sturgeon? If you put the names Wade Sturgeon and Bob Edwards into your computer's search engine the first things that pop up are notices about 2012 and 2013 receptions for something called the CHPAC Presidents' Club (California Hospital Association Political Action Committee). Bob Edwards was then CEO of Banner Lassen Medical Center in Susanville and Sturgeon was CEO of Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital in Gridley. The 2013 CHPAC reception invitation lists Edwards and Sturgeon at the top of the host hospitals. Obviously, they knew each other. Who knows how much Edwards knew about Sturgeon's history at Bear Valley Community Healthcare District or Klickitat Valley Health. However, if one goes to the “Linked In” page for Bob Edwards, you'll find Wade Sturgeon listed as an endorser of MCDH's CEO along with others, including Ray Hino, the MCDH CEO immediately prior to the institution filing for bankruptcy protection. In short these CEOs and CFOs keep track of each other enough to provide mutual endorsements.

Attempts to contact Sturgeon and Edwards for reaction to this story before press time failed, in large part due to both taking long holiday weekends.

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COAST HOSPITAL NURSE Louise Mariana Writes: There’s a very important meeting happening at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg on July 12, Tuesday evening, at 6pm. The Coast Hospital is sponsoring a Forum on the potential closure of the Obstetrics Department (Labor and delivery). The Hospital claims the department loses $1 million a year. Closure may be in the Hospital’s financial interest. Others disagree with that assessment. The Forum is your chance to weigh in on this crucial dilemma. Administration needs to hear from you. Please make every effort to attend because, as the Hospital slogan says, ‘It’s OUR hospital.’ People who are willing to help with Spanish/English translation would be most welcome. Thank you.

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Jennifer Poole of the Willits Weekly writes: For the record, MSP’s headline, “THERE WAS MORE TO HORRIFIC WILLITS ACCIDENT THAN THOUGHT… DRIVER CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ACTS WITH MINORS UNDER AGE 14” seems to make assumptions that may or may not be warranted – and – despite the disclaimer by MSP that “The arrest may have no relation to the accident“ which is now on the FB post, but not in this AVA repost – the post is giving at least some readers the impression that the kids who were hurt in the accident are also alleged victims in the investigation leading to the arrest of Michael Cruce on sex charges against a minor or minors (the charges do not tell us whether one or multiple minors were involved). As anybody who posts on Facebook knows, many FB readers don’t read below the first few lines of any post at best, and the headline is what is remembered and passed on.

Of course, we do not know officially the names of the minor or minors who were allegedly victims of Cruce as far as sex crimes go – and will never know that officially – as the names of minors in any investigation of sex offenses are rightfully protected.

Comments on Facebook for more than a week now have alleged an ongoing investigation – that started well before the accident – of allegations of sex crimes against a minor or minors by Cruce. Again, for the record: readers should not assume, based on public information, that the kids in the accident, victims of alleged drunk driving by Cruce, are also the victims of alleged sex crimes by Cruce, and it’s unfortunate that the young people are named – via a cut and paste of one of Willits Weekly’s Facebook posts about the accident – in MSP’s post about Cruce’s arrest for sex crimes.

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KZYX GENERAL MANAGER, LORRAINE DECHTER, has told the Ukiah Daily Journal that the station just may move its base of operations to Ukiah. Where it should have been placed in its murky beginnings but, for the convenience of its founder, Sean Donovan, who lived in nearby Boonville, it was placed in Philo.

OF COURSE, no one else was even talking about a public radio station for Mendocino County twenty-odd years ago so it's hardly fair to add errant topography to Donovan's sins, foremost among them the large, retroactive payment his handpicked and dependably pliant board of directors gifted Donovan for his unilateral work founding the station.

UKIAH isn't exactly one of the world's crossroads, but it is at least a crossroads. Philo is more a state of mind, and hardly a sensible site for a locally-focused public radio station. What happens in vast Mendocino County either begins in the county seat of Ukiah or winds up being adjudicated there. Philo was also attractive to Donovan because he could more easily pack the board of directors with votes for whatever he wanted to do.

MS. DECHTER and her husband have rented office space in Ukiah at their own expense that will make a handy center for KZYX and its reporters. The trick now is to persuade the station's directors to abandon Philo, which shouldn't be all that difficult because, mirabile dictu! that board seems suddenly much clearer-thinking than the stooge boards of the past quarter-century.

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MEANWHILE, in Willits, Lannie Cotler, liberal gadfly, has resurfaced from wherever he's been the past few years to launch a modest fm radio station:

"Dear list and friends,

KLLG Willits 97.9 will have its inaugural broadcast on the 4th. The tall tower and antenna went up a few days ago (see pics on Facebook, KLLG), The signal reaches out from the Grange to most of Willits and the surrounding community.

KLLG 97.9 Willits hometown radio! In 2016 we will be fund-raising and building the radio station. Join the team and help build the dream!"

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Family Fun at the Museum uses sun prints to create images

The Grace Hudson Museum will offer a "Family Fun at the Museum" hands-on art workshop from 1 to 2:30 pm on Saturday, July 9. Cathy Monroe and Tim Easterbrook will help participants create sun prints — creative designs made by leaving objects exposed to the sun on special light-sensitive paper. The event is free with Museum admission. The Ukiah Valley has sun in abundance during the summer season. Taking advantage of this, participants can bring natural objects like leaves or feathers that could be laid out in interesting patterns on the special paper that will leave their outlines after being exposed to the sun. Flat photographic negatives will work, too. For inspiration in creating portraits and images, registrants can view the Museum's current exhibit, She Sang Me A Good Luck Song: The California Indian Portraits of Dugan Aguilar, on view through July 31. This workshop is recommended for children age six and older. Space is limited so reservations are recommended by calling the Museum at 467-2836. Materials are included, although participants may want to bring their own natural objects or photographic negatives. The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm, and Sunday from noon to 4:30 pm. General admission is $4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members. For more information please go to or call (707) 467-2836.

— Roberta Werdinger, Writer, Publicist, Editor

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(From a discussion of Monster Grows in HumCo on Kym Kemp's Redheaded Blackbelt but pertinent to Mendo, especially the NorthCounty)

With so many of these huge grows being financed by foreign entities and cartels, local communities should brace for impact. Seriously, the Wild West will have NOTHING on what is going to begin to go down. I have seen HUGE HUGE convoys of dirt trucks headed up the Alderpoint road, Semi tractor trailers FULL, convoys… not just one truck… Just a couple of days ago we counted EIGHT in a row. Add to that the local store trucks with bags of dirt… The dirt hauling has all but destroyed the road to Alderpoint, and beyond, this year.

Then you will have the “workers” of said grows taking the water resources, by force, eventually at gunpoint.

Then there will be days when the “workers” want to have a night on the town, which ever town… Sort of like when all the cow hands on a large cattle ranch would ride in to town to get drunk and visit the whore house… Sound familiar?

Kids won’t be safe, better not let them play unattended, some of the “workers” come from cultures where children are prey. 
If legalization actually happens, it will no longer be cost effective to grow in remote mountain areas, then there will be fallout from the vacuum created by all these major growers fleeing the area to move to a more affordable growing establishment.


I haven’t been in the hills around Zenia for as long as some. I do remember things being a lot mellower ten years ago. You had your local growers who were small time, careful, discreet, and concerned about sustainability and land use.

The only caution back then was never go horseback riding in the National forest around Watts Lake and Bear Wallow without packing a gun. Truckloads of Mexicans would drive by you and leer, however they remained fairly polite, particularly once said side arm was noticed.

I guess one upside of the green rush into private land is that now I can ride the ridge line, and I only need to pack iron because sometimes the local wild life makes its presence known.

Batten down the hatches mates. We are in for a storm, and it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better, because the big growers themselves are fighting legalization.

If you have lived on your land for 40 years and you have dogs from new neighbors terrorizing stock, shoot the damned dogs. If a new grower neighbor tries to beat you up over water that you probably have documented water rights for, start going to your water source armed. Also, tie them up in legal knots in court.

If you are a long time local low key growing resident, start making a lot of noise about the out of towners coming in and destroying the area.

If folks want to keep their communities intact you have to act. And if the supervisors and people supposedly making regulations etc. won’t enforce them and only give the appearance of concern but do nothing, VOTE THEM OUT, or recall them.

Just my nickel’s worth, and we all know how much a nickel gets you these days.


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On June 29, 2016 about 9:30am, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to investigate a report of domestic violence. Deputies contacted the female reporting party at the Ukiah Sheriff's Office. The female advised she was physically assaulted by her husband, Thomas Houston. The victim received minor injuries due to the altercation. Deputies contacted Thomas Houston at the 1200 block of South State Street. The investigation by the deputies revealed evidence linking Houston to the crime. Thomas Houston was placed under arrest without difficulty for Felony Domestic Battery. Houston was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail on $25,000 bail.

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On June 29, 2016 at approximately 10:09pm, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to investigate a reported assault. Deputies contacted a 53 year-old female in the 2900 block of Mill Creek Road in Talmage. The female stated that on 06-29-2016 at approximately 10:00pm she was physically assaulted by her 57 year-old husband, Steven Lamun. During the altercation Lamun hit the female victim in the face causing her to fall, which caused her minor injury. During the investigation the deputies determined that Lamun was the primary aggressor and placed him under arrest for Felony Domestic Violence Battery. Lamun was transported and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on $25,000 bail.

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On Friday, July 1, 2016, at about 6 a.m. a Humboldt County Correctional Deputy was booking in 55 year old Sheila Karen Sudbeck, AKA Eacret. to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility when a baggie fell out of Sudbeck’s intimate clothing. Sudbeck submitted to a full x-ray body scan, similar to those used in airports, in search of additional contraband. The scan revealed possible contraband in Sudbeck’s body cavity using a SOTER RS Through Body Scanner. Correctional Deputies questioned Sudbeck about the contraband and Sudbeck retrieved the contraband and turned it over to the Correctional Deputy. The Correctional Deputy tested and weighed the contraband. The contraband was positively identified as methamphetamine and weighed a total of 4.6 grams.

Sudbeck was arrested for possession of a controlled substance in jail. She is not eligible for bail. Sudbeck was initially taken to jail for a possession of a controlled substance warrant.

The SOTER RS Through Body Scanner was purchased earlier this year by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office to assist in identifying those persons attempting to smuggle contraband into the facility. Arrestees often swallow balloons of narcotics in an attempt retrieve later which causes a medical threat to the inmate if the balloons break in their body.

For more information on the SOTER scanner, please visit their website

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

(Humboldt County Sheriff’s Press Release)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 2, 2016

Appel, Arreguin, Collins
Appel, Arreguin, Collins

NEVIN APPEL, Albion. Vandalism, under influence.


ANTONIO COLLINS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

Combs, Corcoran, Currey
Combs, Corcoran, Currey

MALISSA COMBS, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

THEO CORCORAN, Willits. False ID, under influence, controlled substance, probation revocation.

DAVID CURREY, Willits. Drug possession for sale.

Ford, Gielow, Guevara, Hensley
Ford, Gielow, Guevara, Hensley

SHANE FORD, Calpella. DUI-drugs&alcohol.

CHARLES GIELOW III, Willits. Controlled substance, sale of organic drug, armed with firearm, ex-felon with firearm, possession of ammo by prohibited person.

RANDOLPH GUEVARA, Ukiah. Pot possession, sale, honey oil extraction.

CHARLES HENSLEY, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

DENNIS MCMAHAN, Redwood Valley. DUI.

JENNIFER MENDOZA, Sunnyvale/Ukiah. Dirk/dagger, suspended license.


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ELIE WIESEL, Nobel Winner & Holocaust Survivor, Dies Aged 87

The peace prize winner, best known for his book Night, which drew on his concentration camp experiences, spoke out against repression

by Alan Yuhas

The Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel has died aged 87 at his home in Manhattan.


His friend Menachem Rosensaft and Israeli Yad Veshem research center confirmed the death on Saturday. “Yad Vashem mourns the passing of Elie Wiesel-Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate, renowned author,” the center said in a statement.

“There were so many dimensions to this unique, truly extraordinary individual,” wrote Rosensaft, general counsel of the World Jewish Congress, in a tribute published by Tablet magazine on Saturday.

Rosensaft remembered Wiesel as passionate and curious, intellectual and spiritual – an indefatigable crusader for conscience and learning.

“He abhorred bigotry of any kind, against Jews certainly, but with equal fervor if it was directed at any other group,” Rosensaft wrote. “He neither flaunted his Jewishness nor presumed to impose it on others. Rather he sought to explain its mysteries and to convey his love of the Jewish religion, of Jewish culture and tradition, of Jewish mysticism and Jewish mysteries.”

Night: Elie Wiesel's memoir and how it preserved the Jewish identity

Born in Sighet, Romania on 30 September 1928, Wiesel became best known for his book Night, which drew on his experiences in Nazi concentration camps during the final years of the second world war. Barely a teenager when Hungary annexed his town and forced its Jewish people into ghettos in 1940, Wiesel was then sent with his father to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland.

His mother and sister were killed in gas chambers. After a forced march to Buchenwald, his father, already suffering from dysentery, was killed by an SS officer’s beating.

Freed from the camp at 16, Wiesel moved to France with other Jewish survivors and became a journalist for French and Israeli papers in the late 1940s. He moved to the US in 1955 and became a US citizen in 1963. In the late 1950s he completed Night, which was translated into English in 1960. The book, which was turned down by more than a dozen publishers, became a perennial bestseller, selling an estimated 10m copies.

Wiesel completed more than 40 other books, including Dawn and Day, which also addressed the Holocaust. He married Marion Rose, another survivor, in Jerusalem in 1969, and wrote and lectured at universities including Yale, Columbia, Boston University and City University of New York.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter named Wiesel to the commission that created Washington DC’s Holocaust Museum, whose entrance bears his words: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

In 1985 Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, awarded Wiesel the congressional gold medal at the White House, where Wiesel denounced the president’s plan to visit a German cemetery holding the bodies of Nazi officers.

“That place, Mr President, is not your place,” Wiesel told him. “Your place is with the victims of the SS.”

Wiesel confronted another president, telling Bill Clinton in 1993: “I cannot sleep for what I have seen” in the former Yugoslavia.

“As a Jew I am saying that we must do something to stop the bloodshed in that country!” he said. “People fight each other and children die. Why? Something, anything must be done.”

In 1986, the Nobel committee called Wiesel “a messenger to mankind”. He accepted the peace prize with characteristic grace.

“I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget,” he said in his acceptance speech, “because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.

“When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

Wiesel was given an honorary knighthood by Britain, granted the rank of Grand-Croix in France’s Legion of Honor, and awarded the Israeli president’s medal of distinction.

In 2012 he returned a medal to Hungary, in protest against what he called the government’s “whitewashing of tragic and criminal episodes in Hungary’s past, namely the wartime Hungarian government’s involvement in the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of its Jewish citizens”.

In the 2000s he continued his advocacy work, joining the actor George Clooney at the United Nations to speak about Darfur, signing a 2006 open letter with other Nobel laureates to denounce denial of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman empire, and continuing to speak out about repression in South Africa, Bosnia, Argentina and other countries.

He often returned to the theme of remembrance, travelling with Barack Obama and Angela Merkel to Auschwitz in 2009.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, called Wiesel a “master of words” in a statement released Saturday. “In the darkness of the Holocaust, Elie became a powerful force for light, truth and dignity. His life and work were a great blessing to the Jewish people, the Jewish state and to all humanity,” Netanyahu said. “I feel fortunate to have known him and to have learned from his prodigious wisdom.”

Wiesel is survived by his wife, a son, a stepdaughter and two grandchildren.

(Courtesy, the London Guardian)

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Is Frey or Wiesel the Bigger Moral Poseur?

by Alexander Cockburn

When in trouble, head for Auschwitz, preferably in the company of Elie Wiesel. It’s as foolproof a character reference as is available today, at least within the Judeo-Christian sphere of moral influence. One can easily see why Oprah Winfrey and her advisers saw an Auschwitz excursion in the company of Wiesel as a sure-fire antidote to salve the wounds sustained by Oprah’s Book Club when it turned out that James Frey had faked significant slabs of his own supposedly autobiographical saga of moral regeneration, A Million Little Pieces.

Published in 2003, Frey’s irksome book swiftly became a cult classic. (The present author was offered it in the summer of 2004 by a young relative, presumably to assist in his moral regeneration, but after glancing through a few pages returned it, on the grounds that it wasn’t his kind of thing.) Winfrey picked it for her Book Club in September 2005, and it rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists.

For Frey the sky fell in when, on January 7, 2006, the Smoking Gun website published documents showing that Frey had fabricated many facts about himself, including a criminal record. There were later charges of plagiarism. Frey ran through a benign gauntlet of trial-by-Larry King on January 11, and Oprah called in to stand by her Pick of the Month. She said that what mattered was not whether Frey’s book was true (the Fundamentalist claim for the Holy Bible) but its value as a therapeutic tool (the modern Anglican position on the Good Book).

But by now every columnist and books page editor in America was wrestling the truth-or-fiction issue to the ground. Oprah turned on Frey. On her show on January 26, he clung to the ropes, offering the excuse that the “demons” that had driven him to drink and drugs had also driven him into claiming that everything he wrote about himself was true. Publishers including Random House, which has made millions off him, had rejected the book when he’d initially offered it as a “fiction novel”. Oprah brushed this aside.

“Say it’s all true” is what demons often whisper in an author’s ear. Ask T.E. Lawrence. Did the Bey of Deraa really rape him? Lawrence suggests it in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom in paragraphs of fervent masochistic reminiscence. This and other adventures in Lawrence’s account of British scheming in Mesopotamia against the Ottomans met with the ecstatic admiration of the Oxford-based equivalent of Oprah’s Book Club back in the early 1920s, after Lawrence had the 350,000-word “memoir” privately printed and circulated. He’d written an earlier version in 1919 but claimed this had been stolen while he was changing trains in Reading, on the way to Oxford from London. (Reading has surely been the site of more supposed thefts and losses of “completed manuscripts” and PhD dissertations — “I didn’t make a copy!” — than any railway station in the world.)

Half a century later it occurred to Colin Simpson and Phillip Knightley of the London Sunday Times to ask the supposed rapist for his side of the story. They hurried off to Turkey and tracked down the town to which the Bey had retired, arriving at his home only to learn he’d died not long before. Relatives told the British reporters that the Bey would not have found Lawrence appetizing prey. The Turk was a noted womanizer, and when in Mesopotamia was always getting the clap from consorting with whores on his excursions to Damascus.

It’s fun to think of Oprah grilling Lawrence about his claims, freshly exposed on Smoking Gun, telling him she felt “really duped” but that, “more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of Orientalizing masochists who believed you”.

But hardly had Frey been cast down from the eminence of’s top bestseller before he was replaced at number one by the new pick of Oprah’s Book Club, Elie Wiesel’s Night, which had the good fortune to see republication at this fraught moment in Oprah’s literary affairs. Simultaneous with the Night selection came news that Oprah Winfrey and Elie Wiesel would shortly be visiting Auschwitz together, from which vantage point Oprah, with the lugubrious Wiesel at her side, could emphasize for her ABC-TV audience that there is truth and there is fiction, that Auschwitz is historical truth at its bleakest and most terrifying, that Night is a truthful account and that Wiesel is the human embodiment of truthful witness.

The trouble here is that in its central, most crucial scene, Night isn’t historically true, and at least two other important episodes are almost certainly fiction. Below, I cite views, vigorously expressed to me in recent weeks by a concentration camp survivor, Eli Pfefferkorn, who worked with Wiesel for many years; also by Raul Hilberg. Hilberg is the world’s leading authority on the Nazi Holocaust. An expanded version of his classic three-volume study, The Destruction of the European Jews, was recently reissued by Yale University Press. Wiesel personally enlisted Hilberg to be the historical expert on the United States Holocaust Commission.

If absolute truth to history is the standard, Pfefferkorn says, then Night doesn’t make the grade. Wiesel made things up, in a way that his many subsequent detractors could identify as not untypical of his modus operandi: grasping with deft assurance what people important to his future would want to hear and, by the same token, would not want to hear.

The book that became Night was originally a much longer account, published in Yiddish in 1956, under the title Un di Velt Hot Geshvign (And the World Remained Silent). Wiesel was living in Paris at the time. By 1958 he had translated his book from Yiddish into French, publishing it in that year under the title La Nuit. Wiesel says it was severely cut down in length by Jerome Lindon, the chief editor at Editions de Minuit. In 1960 came the English translation, Night, published by Hill & Wang. The 2006 edition of Night is translated from the 1958 French version by Wiesel’s wife, Marion, and in the introduction Wiesel says he has “been able to correct and revise a number of important details”.

In the New York Times for January 17, Michiko Kakutani wrote in her usual plodding prose, with her usual aversion to any unconventional thought, that “Mr. Frey’s embellishments of the truth, his cavalier assertion that the ‘writer of a memoir is retailing a subjective story,’ his casual attitude about how people remember the past — all stand in shocking contrast to the apprehension of memory as a sacred act that is embodied in Oprah Winfrey’s new selection for her book club, announced yesterday: Night, Elie Wiesel’s devastating 1960 account of his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.” got the message quickly enough. The site had been categorizing the new edition of Night under “fiction and literature” but, under the categorical imperative of Kakutani’s “memory as a sacred act” or a phone call from Wiesel’s publisher, hastily switched it to “biography and memoir”. Within hours it had reached number 3 on Amazon’s bestseller list. That same evening, January 17, Night topped both the “biography” and “fiction” bestseller lists on

Nonetheless, over the next few days there were articles in the Jewish Forward and in the New York Times, also a piece on NPR, saying that Night should not be taken as unvarnished documentary. In the Forward article, published January 20, challengingly titled “Six Million Little Pieces?”, Joshua Cohen reminded Forward readers that in 1996, Naomi Seidman, a Jewish Studies professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, had compared the original 1956 Yiddish version of the book with the subsequent, drastically edited translation.

“According to Seidman’s account, published in the scholarly journal Jewish Social Studies”, Cohen wrote, “Wiesel substantially rewrote the work between editions — suggesting that the strident and vengeful tone of the Yiddish original was converted into a continental, angst-ridden existentialism more fitting to Wiesel’s emerging role as an ambassador of culture and conscience. Most important, Seidman wrote that Wiesel altered several facts in the later edition, in some cases offering accounts of pivotal moments that conflicted with the earlier version. (For example, in the French, the young Wiesel, having been liberated from Buchenwald, is recuperating in a hospital; he looks into a mirror and writes that he saw a corpse staring back at him. In the earlier Yiddish, Wiesel holds that upon seeing his reflection he smashed the mirror and then passed out, after which ‘my health began to improve.’)”

That said, Cohen emphasized that whereas “Frey, for one, seems to have falsified the facts of his life in order to satisfy ego and the demands of the market, Wiesel’s liberties seem more like reconsiderations, his process less revision than interpretation. Reading Night, one encounters the birth of thought about the Holocaust – the future of history, concomitant with its study. In both versions, the book’s intent is to engage not the undeniability of the Holocaust, but the man who has undeniably emerged from its horror.”

This reverent tone about Wiesel and his work is customary. People mostly write about him and his work with the muted awe of British tourists reading guidebooks to each other in a French cathedral. In The Jewish Press for February 1, Andrew Silow Carroll was a bit friskier. He cited Wiesel as declaring to the New York Times that Night “is not a novel at all. All the people I describe were with me there. I object angrily if someone mentions it as a novel.” And yet, Silow Carroll went on, “in the past, Wiesel hasn’t helped matters in this regard. In 1972, Hill & Wang packaged Night with two other books, Dawn and The Accident, which Wiesel clearly identified as novels. The set’s cover refers to the works as ‘Three Tales by Elie Wiesel.’ In a later edition of the same volume, Wiesel refers to all three books as ‘narratives,’ although he calls Night a ‘testimony,’ and the other two ‘commentaries.’”

There are some rather comical instances of Wiesel’s relaxed attitude to autobiographical truth, as excavated in Norman Finkelstein’s book, The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth. Wiesel was one of Goldhagen’s main supporters. In his 1995 memoir, All Rivers Run to the Sea Wiesel writes that at the age of 18, recently liberated from Auschwitz, “I read The Critique of Pure Reason  don’t laugh! ­ in Yiddish.” Finkelstein comments, “Leaving aside Wiesel’s acknowledgement that at the time ‘I was wholly ignorant of Yiddish grammar’ The Critique of Pure Reason was never translated into Yiddish.” Imagine the lacerations Frey would have endured for making that sort of empty boast.

Though sales have now soared, I’m not sure how many people will read Night now, beyond buying the new edition as a gesture of solidarity with Oprah and survivors of the Holocaust. It doesn’t take a background in literary criticism to see that Night is artfully fashioned as a kind of symbolic narrative about the relationship between sons and fathers (there are four such portraits in the short book) and, crucially, between the Christian God (the Father) and his Son. The style seems influenced by Albert Camus, particularly L’Etranger. Camus won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957, one of the youngest recipients ever. This was the time during which Wiesel was reworking his Yiddish narrative into the far more terse, Camusian work, with its Camusian title.

As a piece of historical witness to the experience of the inmates, the doomed and those who survived inside Auschwitz and Buchenwald, there are books far superior to Night, starting with Primo Levi’s writings, or the late Ella Lingens-Reiner’s extraordinary memoir of Auschwitz, Prisoners of Fear, published in 1948. Night’s focus is extremely narrow, primarily on the main character, Eliezer, and his father. One learns with a certain surprise that though Wiesel’s sister Tzipora died in the camps, two other sisters survived. In the new edition, Wiesel doesn’t mention them.

Night certainly contains none of the context offered by Levi or Lingens-Reiner, or much more recently, by Kenneth Waltzer, professor of Jewish Studies at Michigan State University, who is writing a book called The Rescue of Children at Buchenwald and whose interesting letter was published in Forward at the end of February:

“The January 20 article on Oprah Winfrey’s selection of Elie Wiesel’s Night for her Book Club was on the mark (‘Six Million Little Pieces?’). Any memoir is a reconstruction shaped by purpose and audience rather than a direct statement of memory — and even Wiesel’s Night is not an exception.

“Night focuses primarily on the relation of father and son in Auschwitz and in Buchenwald. When Wiesel loses his father in January 1945 at Buchenwald, he drifts into a listlessness and fog from which he emerged only after liberation. He recalls in Night only the terrible final days of the camp, in April 1945, when the Nazis sought to evacuate Jewish prisoners and then all prisoners.

“Wiesel writes of his relation with his father, the presence of God, and his own survival and its meaning. He does not describe the social context in which he existed during the final months. The barracks, his place in the camp, his relation to others — other prisoners, Jews, boys — remain murky.

“What is omitted in Night is that the 16-year-old was placed in a special barracks created by the clandestine underground as part of a strategy of saving youth. Block 66 was located in the deepest part of the disease-infested little camp and beyond the normal Nazi S.S. gaze. It was overseen by Czech Communist Antonin Kalina and by his deputy, Gustav Schiller, a Polish Jewish Communist.

“Schiller, who appears briefly in Night, was a rough father figure and mentor, especially for the Polish-Jewish boys and many Czech-Jewish boys; but he was less liked, and even feared, by Hungarian- and Romanian-Jewish boys, especially religious boys, including Wiesel. He appears in Night as a distant figure, armed with a truncheon.

“After January 1945, the underground concentrated all children and youth that could be fit into this windowless barracks — more than 600 in total. Younger children were protected elsewhere. When the U.S. Third Army arrived April 11, 1945, more than 900 children and youth were found among 21,000 remaining prisoners.

“Wiesel since has acknowledged the role played by the clandestine underground but did not attend to it in Night. Fellow barracks members recall being protected from work and getting extra food. They recall efforts by their mentors to raise their horizons. They also recall heroic intervention by Kalina or by Schiller during the final days to protect them.

“Even then, many boys were lined up at the gate, to be led out April 10. However, American planes flew overhead, sirens sounded, the guards ran and Kalina, who was with them, ordered the boys back to the barracks. They were still in the barracks the next day when units of the U.S. Third Army broke through the barbed-wire fences.

“Wiesel’s Night is about becoming alone. But Wiesel was also among hundreds of children and youth aided by a purposeful effort at rescue inside a concentration camp.”

Forward slightly trimmed Waltzer’s contribution, from an article to a letter. In the fuller version, which he has kindly supplied, Professor Waltzer wrote his last paragraph as follows:

“In Night, Wiesel writes about viewing himself in the mirror after liberation and seeing a corpse gazing back at him. But another picture taken after liberation shows Wiesel marching out of the camp, fourth on the left, among a phalanx of youth, moving together, heads high, a group guided by prisoners who had helped save them.”

A photograph accompanying Waltzer’s text, credited to Jack Werber, of Great Neck, New York, shows exactly that. The young Wiesel’s head is high, like the others’. But this parable of a triumph for human solidarity was absolutely contrary to the parable Wiesel was set on rewriting in French from the Yiddish volume. In the late 1950s a man with instincts as finely tuned as Wiesel’s to useful frequencies on the political dial probably would not have thought it advantageous to dwell on the heroic role of Communists in the death camps. All the more is this true in recent years, when Wiesel’s most celebrated moments have come when hunkering down for sessions of amiable moral counsel with Ronald Reagan (who wanted to pretend that the SS should be retrospectively forgiven because, after all, they weren’t Communists and fought the Great Satan) and George Bush, on whom Wiesel urged the war on Iraq as a necessary moral act, declaring that “the world faced a moral crisis similar to 1938” and “the choice is simple”.

This is not the first time bombing has elicited a positive endorsement from the great moral standard-bearer. In 1999, as NATO’s bombs descended on Yugoslavia, blowing up civilians on train and bus, as well as journalists in their broadcasting studio, Wiesel was questioned by Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Larry King Live. Declared one government toady to another: “I think it [the bombing] had to be done, because all the other options had been explored.” This balderdash put Wiesel, morally speaking, on a par with Cardinal Spellman, blessing the B-52s as they set off to drop napalm on children in the Vietnam era.

(For a decidedly irreverent assessment of Night’s merits On February 10, 2006, Candian tv viewers were able, in February, to watch and hear the former editor of Harper’s magazine, Lewis Latham, delivering a lecture at the University of Ottawa, on the invitation of the university’s Graduate Students Association. Lapham’s lecture, entitled “The Politicization of Research,” was carried on C-PAC, Canada’s parliamentary TV channel, several times in the days that followed. In the Q and A session after the lecture, in response to an enquiry about the decline in the quality of education, Lapham replied:

“I have had three children. My youngest is now 25, my eldest is 32. They all went through a very high-end American education, both secondary schools and colleges. The syllabus of books that they were given in the English courses was terrible. I mean, the books were all tracts

“There was a big fuss about Oprah Winfrey and the James Frey book, and she’s now going to put on [her TV show] Elie Wiesel’s Night. This is really one of the worst books I have ever read, and I’ve had to read it three times to my three children; and it’s junk. But it’s the kind of junk that has become very de rigeur in American universities. It’s a propaganda poster. With the kind of books the kids are given to read, I mean, it would turn them off books forever. No wonder! Because they are being given tracts. And, the big subject of course is victimology.”)

One of the perennially fascinating things about Wiesel is the preternatural sensitivity of his antennae for the opportune audience, his sense of what will, so to speak, “play” usefully for him. This brings us, by way of Eli Pfefferkorn, to Francois Mauriac.

These days Eli Pfefferkorn, age 77, lives in Toronto. A man, on the evidence of several phone conversations, of alert intelligence and charm, he too is a concentration camp survivor. Originally from Poland, he spent seven weeks in Maidanek, then in three labor camps, then in Buchenwald, then in Rehmsdorf. Near the end of the war he endured a death march to Theresienstadt in Moravia, where the surviving inmates were liberated by the Red Army on May 8, 1945. Pfefferkorn’s parents perished in other camps, and he tells me he owes his life to his mother, who shook his hand loose from hers when the family was about to be deported, and told the 13-year-old boy to scram.

Pfefferkorn eventually came to the United States, taught, and spent some time working with Wiesel on the conceptual design of the Holocaust museum. Once an uncritical admirer, his present estimate of Wiesel is not favorable, and he sets his views forth at length in a fascinating manuscript he is preparing to submit to publishers. He was kind enough to send me some chapters. By no means short-changing Wiesel on what he regards as his genuine achievements, Pfefferkorn can be unsparing: “He’s become a eulogist of the dead but he doesn’t raise his mellifluous voice against the wrong done to survivors, 35 per cent of them below the poverty line in the US.”

There are piercing passages in Pfefferkorn’s memoir concerning Wiesel’s opportunism and betrayals in the murky battles over the design of the Holocaust Museum, and above all in his artful pursuit of the Nobel Peace Prize, which he was awarded in 1986. “Would Wiesel, Pfefferkorn asks, “ever have received this prize for his work as a journalist?” Pfefferkorn answers his question, “It’s hard to imagine. No. Wiesel got the prize because he elevated himself as the spokesman for the survivors. His mostly absurd pretensions to be a ‘peace missionary’, had nothing to do with it.”

Then, once he had the prize he so fiercely pursued, Wiesel gradually, but consistently –­ so Pfefferkorn stresses –­ “alienated himself from the survivors”.

In Night, Pfefferkorn isolates a number of episodes in which he makes a convincing case that Wiesel dumped truth in favor of fiction. The two I cite here involve a boy playing a violin amidst a death march, and the second is one of Night’s most famous scenes, the hanging of three inmates.

Of the first episode, Pfefferkorn writes:

“The story of the ‘violin episode’ takes place during the death march from Auschwitz to Buchenwald with a short gap at Gleiwitz in January of 1945. Mercilessly driven by the SS guards, stragglers were shot at and shoved to the side road. The columns of inmates arrived in Gleiwitz, after having dragged themselves through the snow-swept roads in freezing temperatures for about fifty kilometers. Immediately upon arrival, they were herded into barns. Drained, they dropped to the floor — the dead, the dying and the partially living piled one on the other.

“Under this heap of crushed humanity laid Juliek, cradling a violin, which he has carried all the way from Auschwitz to Gleiwitz. Eliezer, somehow, stumbles on Juliek, “…the boy from Warsaw who played in the band at Buna… ‘How do you feel, Juliek?’ I asked, less to know the answer than to hear that he could speak, that he was alive. ‘All right, Eliezer … I’m getting on all right … hardly any air … worn out. My feet are swollen. It’s good to rest, but my violin…’

“Eliezer — the inmate — wonders, ‘What use was the violin here?’ Wiesel — the memoirist — does not find it necessary to give an answer to the question. Such an answer, I assume, should be of interest to the reader for if Wiesel were to provide an answer, the veracity of the story would dissolve like the morning mist in the Sinai desert. Maintaining hold on a violin as one marched the March of Death is highly improbable. However, a violin in the midst of human debris strains the imagination and questions memory. How did Juliek hold on to the violin on the death journey? Deprived of food and drink, when each step stubbornly refused to follow the next one, how did Juliek manage to clutch the violin in his numb fingers, let alone play Beethoven on it? Would the SS escorts have let him keep it? (Also, as an Irish reader of a draft of this article remarked to me: “as a professional musician, who has played a wide variety of string instruments for 40 years, including fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin, I immediately thought, How did the violin strings survive the severely cold temperatures and the long march? It’s a minor point perhaps, but very improbable, especially since it was 1945 and they were not modern strings.”)

Pfefferkorn continues: “And from this anus mundi, suddenly the melody of a Beethoven concerto is heard, wafting through the corpses, the groans of the dying, the stench of the dead. Eliezer had never heard sounds so pure. ‘In such a silence. It was pitch dark. I could only hear the violin, it was as though Juliek’s soul were the bow. He was playing his life. The whole life was gliding on his strings — his lost hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future. He played as he would never play again.’ This powerful and emotionally moving scene, celebrating the triumph of the human spirit over the grinding SS machinery is the very stuff that heroic fiction is made of. But is it a memoir factually recorded? Obviously, Wiesel’s putative memoir, written while on a boat to Brazil, is but a recollection of experiences seen through the eye of his creative imagination. And yet, the melancholy melodies that came out of Juliek’s violin were the first strains of a myth orchestrated by Wiesel and his disciples, over a period of thirty years.”

A major scene in Night, one that contributed hugely to the book’s success in the West, and its impact on many Christians starting with Francois Mauriac, was the execution of three inmates in the Buna work camp. As Pfefferkorn writes, “The fascination of Christian theologians with the Wiesel phenomenon must be traced back to a hanging that the 16-year-old Eliezer witnessed in Auschwitz.”

In the incident, two adults and a little boy are being led to the gallows. The little boy refused to betray fellow inmates who have been involved in an act of sabotage; to protect his fellow inmates, the boy is willing to pay with his life. Each one climbs to his chair and his neck is slipped into the rope’s noose. The scene continues as follows in the 1960 English version of Night:

“The three victims mounted together onto the chairs. The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses. ‘Long live Liberty!’ cried the adults. But the child was silent.

“‘Where is God? Where is He?’ someone behind me asked. At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over. Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting.

“‘Bare your heads!’ yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping. ‘Cover your heads!’ Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue tinged. But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…. For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: ‘Where is God now?’ And I heard a voice within me answer him: ‘Where is He? Here He is — He is hanging here on this gallows’”

Not surprisingly, the graphically described hanging scene has been etched into the imagination of the Christian theologians because of the numerous parallels to the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Now, while he was working on the memoir, La Nuit, Wiesel had cause, on behalf of an Israeli newspaper, to visit and interview Francois Mauriac, the Catholic writer and Nobel Laureate in literature. They got on well. Then Wiesel gave him the manuscript of La Nuit. Mauriac found in it an answer to his own anguish at descriptions of the mass slaughters in the death camps, particularly of children.

Mauriac fastened instantly on, in Pfefferkorn’s words, “a resemblance between the crucifixion and Wiesel’s description of the young boy’s hanging. In response to Wiesel’s questioning of God’s benevolence and man’s humanness, Mauriac writes the following in his Foreword to Night: ‘And I, who believe that God is love, what answer could I give my young questioner, whose dark eyes still held the reflection of that angelic sadness which had appeared one day upon the face of the hanged child? What did I say to him? Did I speak of that other Israeli, his brother, who may have resembled him — the Crucified, whose Cross has conquered the world?’”

Pfefferkorn continues:

“The hanged child dangling on the rope is reflected in Eliezer’s eyes, whose image resembles that of the crucified Jesus. Thus in one stroke, Mauriac has drawn a triptych reminiscent of the medieval paintings, making young Eliezer the link connecting the two watershed events in the history of Western civilization, namely the Crucifixion and the Holocaust. Mauriac leaves no doubt as to his Christological interpretation of the Auschwitz hanging. In the year 1960, he published a biography of Christ entitled The Son of Man dedicated to ‘E.W. who was a crucified Jewish child, who stands for many others.’

“Mauriac explains what it was in his interview with Wiesel that drew him so powerfully to the young Israeli: ‘That look, as if a Lazarus risen from the dead, yet still a prisoner within the grim confines where he had strayed, stumbling among the shameful corpses.’ Wiesel’s painfully gaunt demeanor set against the backdrop of the concentration camps’ corpses have inspired a generation of Christian theologians to view Wiesel as a latter day Lazarus.

“It is highly speculative to suggest that from the very inception of his writing, Wiesel consciously laboured to present himself to the Christian world as a composite of a Christ Lazarus figure. However, once the seeds of the myth were sown in Paris at Mauriac’s instigation, and took roots in the soil of Christian America, Wiesel has done his share to encourage the ‘Lazarus risen from the dead parallel.’ But Wiesel has done so more by gesture than act, silence than utterance, indirection than direct statement. The unspoken, the mute, the covert are his metier; albeit an ambiguity laced through with shrewd intelligence that would make many a professional diplomat envious.”

In a letter to David Hirsch dated October 6, 1994, Alfred Kazin writes that at the beginning of their friendship, “I liked him [Wiesel] enormously, and I was in awe of him because of his suffering in Auschwitz.” But at the same time “… it was impossible, when he expanded at length about his experiences under the Nazis, it was impossible to miss the fact that he was a mystifier”.

One who says he directly observed the hanging scene described by Wiesel was Zygfryd Halbereich, who testified at the Auschwitz State Museum on October 19, 1973. Halbereich’s testimony was matter-of-fact, clear and direct. He was acquainted with the three inmates and knew about their escape plans.

“On the whole,” Pfefferkorn writes, “Halbereich’s testimony is in agreement with Wiesel’s narrative, and differs only in one minor detail. But this is an inconsequential disagreement that does not change the substance of the hanging story. What does affect it, however, is the age of one of the condemned, as given by Wiesel. And the age of the condemned is the crux of the matter.

“In the original Yiddish Un di Velt Hot Geshvign and in the French and the English translations, one of the three condemned is frequently referred to as a child or a young boy. Halbereich is silent about the ages of the condemned, and this omission is surprising. For in Wiesel’s painfully elaborate description of the hanging, the young boy’s execution stirred up deep emotions among the inmates standing on the roll call. The Kapo who was assigned to administer the hanging ‘excused himself from serving as a hangman. He did not want to hang a child.’ A Kapo’s refusal to obey an SS order was tantamount to a death sentence. His extraordinary behaviour would have certainly registered with Halbereich, whose testimony is meticulously detailed. Halbereich’s silence on the Kappo’s courage calls into question Wiesel’s account of the hanging. One of the skeptics is the known Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg, who is, in his own words, a seeker of truth.

“Cautious by temperament and scholarly discipline, Hilberg gingerly raises the issue related to the hanging scene. In a review written for the Boston Globe about Wiesel’s autobiographical book All Rivers Run to the Sea, Hilberg makes mention of the three hangings. ‘Describing the incident in his [Wiesel’s] book Night,’ Hilberg notes, ‘he recalled someone behind him asking: Where is God? At that moment Wiesel believed that one of the three was a boy, and in his mind identified the child with God.’ Citing Kazin’s contention that the entire event is fiction, Hilberg concludes, ‘To be sure, the doubters may claim a concession.’”

Pfefferkorn’s considered judgement is harsh on Wiesel’s claims for the absolute truth to life of Night:

“If the hanging scene turns out contrary to Wiesel’s description in his purported memoir Night, a fictionalized episode as Kazin claimed and surmised from Halbereich’s testimony, then Wiesel’s entire moral and theological edifice collapses, bringing down with it the ‘Suffering Servant’ theology, which first gave him recognition and eventually led him to fame.

“Though it is virtually impossible to verify the exact ages of the condemned, it must be noted, as Hilberg observed, that in Wiesel’s recent autobiography ‘the suffering body is no longer that of a boy.’”

Quite aside from the theological questions, part of the impact of the scene derives from Wiesel’s description of this boy whose weight was too insubstantial for the noose to swiftly strangle him. Does this, in the last analysis, really matter? It does if you are disobligingly contrasting Frey to Wiesel’s “apprehension of memory as a sacred act”. All the same, I don’t suppose Smoking Gun would ever gleefully feature the third victim’s birth certificate.

After talking to Eli Pfferkorn and reading chapters from his memoir, I called Raul Hilberg, now 80, at his home in Burlington, Vermont.

“From a purely academic viewpoint”, Hilberg began, “it would be interesting to have a scholarly edition, comparing the Yiddish version with subsequent translations and editions, with appropriate footnotes, Wiesel’s comments etc. He was addressing two entirely different audiences, the first being the Yiddish-speaking Jews, members of the world of his youth whom he addressed in nineteenth-century terms. There’s more detail, more comment. I made that suggestion to Wiesel and he didn’t react favorably.”

Hilberg turned to the crucial scene: “I have a version of the hanging from an old survivor with the names of all three adults.” That survivor had said that there was no boy among the three. Hilberg mentioned this in a review of Night, in which, he told me, “I made no secret of our differences. But whereas it [the age of the central figure in the hanging] may seem somewhat small, it makes a very big difference to Christians, particularly Catholics, because it’s very clear that mystics are intensely interested in the scene because it seems to replicate the crucifixion. It made a considerable impact. So the fact that this figure may not have been a boy at all is disturbing.”

“It would appear”, Hilberg went on, “from the record I have, that some witnesses have questioned whether this scene took place at all. I have a long statement by an older man, a man whom I judge to be quite trustworthy, though one must always remember that things are sometimes observed or heard about later. I talked recently to a survivor of that section of the camp who said it [the hanging of the three] didn’t take place, but maybe it took place earlier. I don’t know. Dating these things is hard for survivors. Some have doubted this would have taken place. Buna was a work camp, so this other survivor, a PhD in history and a very intelligent man, didn’t believe it. I said to him, ‘How do you know this didn’t happen?’ I consider it not only a possibility but plausible. But age is a big issue to some people. That’s something he did not discuss in the new edition of the book.”

“Wiesel’s is the most read of all Auschwitz memoirs”, Hilberg remarked, “not only because of its brevity but because it has something mystic, surrealistic in it.” He mentioned the episode of the little boy playing the violin, and said how it evoked images from the Russian-Jewish mystic painter Chagall, also of Fiddler on the Roof.

“Wiesel comes from Sighet, a city in Romania. In Sighet there were many religious Jews, also Ukrainians. Much of Sighet was rather primitive at the time Wiesel was growing up. Most roads were not paved. It was shtetl life. However an assimilated group of Jews was emerging. I went there when I was 11, in 1937, and spent the summer. There was a tennis court, very middle-class. My aunt and her husband, a Sigheti, manufactured violins in Sighet where there was a major tradition of violin playing. I heard quartets in our garden. Wiesel’s parents had a store. So in some respects Sighet was very nineteenth century, and in others there were all the earmarks of a group of Jews emerging into the twentieth century who were evidently wide awake to modern civilization. So was the violin scene realistic, or was it a fantasy? Certainly, for Jews the violin was the instrument of choice. It was portable.

“So I would not say that the violin scene is impossible, even though I know someone from the death march who said it was utterly impossible. He was in Auschwitz, also Wiesel’s age. But that still doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Nothing is inconceivable.

“The model of all survivor accounts is of an idyllic childhood, then the hell of the Holocaust, then since they survived they underline the fact that it was only by luck they survived. With Wiesel, his original title was And the World Was Silent. It’s accusatory. Night is more surreal and mystic. It goes back to Middle Ages. Wiesel fits right into that style. It’s not a novel, but what it does have is the imprint of someone who wants to leave behind the impression that if you weren’t there, you cannot know what it was like, but then that dooms trying to write what it was like.”

I asked Hilberg what accounts of the death camps and the Holocaust did he admire most. “That really depends on the reader. I don’t have that kind of favorite. For my purposes, obviously they have to be correct. There’s an account by Filip Mueller, who was on the gas chamber detail in Auschwitz in 1942, written in collaboration with two people: Eyewitness Auschwitz. It has to be read with care. Another book is Rudolf Vrba’s I Cannot Forgive, written with Alan Bestic. Vrba escaped from Auschwitz. He became professor of pharmacology at the University of British Columbia. This is the most remarkable of survivors, a man of absolutely incredible energy and abilities. In sheer ability to cope with the situation, this man is beyond belief.”

I didn’t press the point, but Hilberg, who stressed to me that he admires Wiesel, did not include Night in this little list. A clue to this omission may be found in Hilberg’s often acrid memoir, The Politics of Memory, published in 1996. In the chapter “Questionable Practices”, notable for a devastating account of underhanded behavior by Hannah Arendt, Hilberg discusses “areas of inappropriateness or illegitimacy”. “I try to nod wisely when poets or novelists step forward with their art, which in its very nature is much less disguised than mine. Nor am I disturbed when popularizers of history excavate the monographs of the footnote writers [among whom Hilberg included himself] and, distilling the contents, highlight story and drama for a large reading public. There are, however, limits. Among the practices that give me discomfort is the creation of a story in which historical facts are altered deliberately for the sake of plot and adventure.”

Then a page later Hilberg continues, “If counterfactual stories are frequent enough, kitsch is truly rampant The philistines in my field are truly everywhere. I am surrounded by the commonplace, platitudes, and clichés. The first German publisher of a small volume, containing my introduction and documents about the railroads [viz. their role in the destruction of the Jews] inserted a poem for which, he said, he had paid good money, describing human beings in freight cars including children whose eyes glowed like coal . The manipulation of history is a kind of spoilage and kitsch is debasement.”

Reading those lines, my mind did go at once to some of the scenes in Night ­ –Juliek playing his violin on the death march for example –­ which hover on the edge of kitsch or, to take a less forgiving view, plunge into it.

“In 1981”, Pfefferkorn remembers, “Wiesel invited me to give a talk to his seminar students at Boston University. In the course of my talk, I discussed the relationship between memory and imagination in a number of literary works. I then pointed out the literary devices he used in Night, devices, I stressed, that make the memoir a compelling read. Wiesel’s reaction to my comments were swift as lightning. I had never seen him as angry before or since. In the presence of John Silber, the then President of Boston University, and my own Brown University students whom I invited, he lost his composure, lashing out at me for daring to question the literalness of the memoir. In Wiesel’s eyes, as in the eyes of his disciples, Night assumed a level of sacrosanctity, next in importance to the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. In terms of veracity, it is a factually recorded work, virtually meeting Leopold von Ranke’s benchmark of historical accounts: Wie es eigentlich gewessen, how it really was.”

As he roosts on his pile of gold amid the abuse of Oprah and the literary world, Frey can comfort himself with the thought that to making Night is not how “it really was”, and that even though there is a vast gulf between what Wiesel actually endured and Frey’s lies about his own life, when it comes to making literature he and Wiesel were both in the business of artistic and emotional manipulation, of dressing fiction up as truth.

As Pfefferkorn stresses, you didn’t survive in the death camps just by luck. “Securing a spot in a desirable labor detail, for instance, involved shoving to the head of the line, seen as a risk worth taking. Upon encountering opposition, however, one had to know when to retreat into the chameleon-pyjama-like background of the concentration camp. This was also true about lining up for soup. Finding the right spot in the line could mean a thicker bowl of soup - which may add a week’s longevity, but this entailed rough elbowing, as well as timing.”

Pfefferkorn says now that one of the greatest disappointments of his life was Wiesel’s “betrayal” –­ Pfefferkorn’s word – of the survivors. Looking at the man’s career overall, I’d say that as a moral fabulist, Wiesel has far more than Frey to answer for. Should not Oprah ask him about the millions he could have helped with the moral stature won by the Nobel peace prize he so unrelentingly campaigned for with his rough elbows, but whom he has betrayed for reasons of base political calculation?

Although the Nobel committee extolled him as a “messenger to mankind” it is difficult to find examples of Wiesel sending any message on behalf of those victimized by the policies of the United States, and virtually impossible when it comes to victims of Israel.

Wiesel’s pusillanimity was well illustrated in an interview with The National Jewish Post & Opinion for November 19, 1982. Asked about the massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatila, he said he felt “sad”. Lest anyone leap to the conclusion that Wiesel was at last expressing sadness for the victims of Israel’s invasion — he remained silent throughout the bombing of Beirut — Wiesel added that this sadness was “with Israel, and not against Israel”. As he put it, “After all, the Israeli soldiers did not kill”. In 1985, Wiesel was asked by a reporter from Ha’aretz about Israel’s aid to the military junta in Guatemala. By way of response Wiesel remarked that he had received a letter from a Nobel laureate (Salvador Luria of M.I.T. had written to him on this subject a month earlier) documenting Israel’s contributions to mass murder in Guatemala and urging Wiesel to act privately to pressure Israel. Wiesel “sighed”, the Ha’aretz reporter wrote, and said, “I usually answer at once, but what can I answer him.”

Wiesel could, I suppose, argue that a sigh constitutes a technical breach of silence, but why did he not go further?

In an interview published in the second volume of Against Silence, Wiesel says that, as a Diaspora Jew, the “price I chose to pay for not living in Israel . . . is not to criticize Israel from outside its borders.” In another interview, published in the London Jewish Chronicle for September 10, 1982, he lamented criticism of Israel during the Lebanon invasion and asked these rhetorical questions:

“Was it necessary to criticize the Israeli government, notwithstanding the spate of lies disseminated in the press? Or would it not have been better to have offered Israel unreserved support, regardless of the suffering endured by the population of Beirut? In the face of hatred, our love for Israel ought to have deepened, become more whole-hearted, and our faith in Israel more compelling, more true.”

It’s unclear how many times, if any, Wiesel has ventured criticism inside Israel’s borders. Wiesel himself mentions one occasion on which he exerted what is usually called quiet pressure.

Commentary on Wiesel in the Hebrew-language press in Israel following the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 was more robust than the statutory honorifics printed in the United States. In Davar, for example, a reporter named Miri Paz discussed the troubled course of a conference on holocaust and genocide held in Israel in the summer of 1982. Responding to the urgings of the Turkish government, the Israeli Foreign Ministry demanded the removal of six items on the agenda concerning the Armenian genocide. Several people on the conference’s organizing committee, including its chair, Professor Israel Charny, refused to bend to such interference. But Wiesel, who headed the conference, did weaken. He pulled out of the conference, explaining, in Paz’s words, that “as a Jew he cannot act against the government of Israel”.

In Koteret Rashit, a liberal weekly, the Israeli journalist Tom Segev wrote of Wiesel:

“He is always careful not to criticize his nation. . . . What does he have to say about the situation in the territories? When people from Peace Now asked him to criticize the Lebanese War he evaded the request. He’s never been in the habit of standing up seriously against Israeli leaders. . . . What in fact has he done to realize his fine intentions? Bob Geldof has done more. . . . How nice it would have been if they had divided the prize among those truly good people of the world, those still alive, those people who endangered their lives at the time of the Holocaust in order to save Jews.

“Who symbolizes the lesson of the Holocaust as they do?

“Who is as worthy of the respect of the world as they are?”

(Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch. Courtesy,

* * *


Income for the richest sliver rose twice as fast as it did for the remaining 99 per cent of households, according to a tax data analysis by an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley

Financial inequality became even wider in the United States last year, with average income for the top 1 per cent of households surging 7.7 per cent to $1.36 million.

Income for the richest sliver rose twice as fast as it did for the remaining 99 per cent of households, according to an updated analysis of tax data by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Still, the incomes of households outside the top 1 per cent appear finally to be recovering from the Great Recession, which officially ended seven years ago.

After accounting for inflation, their average income rose 3.9 per cent last year to $48,768 — the strongest annual gain since 1998.


Contrast that with the period from 2008 to 2011, when the economy remained in a rut and inflation-adjusted income for the bottom 99 per cent of households was falling.

'It is indeed the best growth year for the bottom 90 per cent and bottom 99 per cent since the late 1990s,' Saez said.

'At the same time, top incomes grow even faster, leading to a further widening of inequality, which continues an alarming trend.'

Income inequality has been a rallying cry of the 2016 election, with more Americans turning fearful and angry about a shrinking middle class.

Donald Trump has pledged to restore prosperity by ripping up trade deals and using tariffs to return manufacturing jobs from overseas.

Hillary Clinton has backed a debt-free college option and higher minimum wages to help the middle class.

Much of the debate has been fueled by research conducted over the years by Saez and his collaborator Thomas Piketty.

The IRS data reviewed by Saez shows that income growth last year was greatest among the super-wealthy — the top 0.1 per cent of households.

Their incomes climbed nearly 9 per cent to an average of $6.75 million.

The tax data helps capture income inequality more fully than government surveys, which often fail to include the tiny fraction of ultra-rich Americans who play professional sports, star in Hollywood blockbusters, manage global corporations or trade successfully in the financial markets.

(Courtesy, the Associated Press)

* * *


* * *


by Melody Gutierrez

California voters will face a long and weighty list of statewide ballot measures this November — 17 measures in all made Thursday's fall election deadline and they include big decisions on the death penalty, marijuana use and taxes on the wealthy.

"It's incredible the amount of substance and complexity on the November ballot," said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California. "It's going to be overwhelming for voters to deal with."

Among the issues voters will decide are whether Death Row inmates should be executed faster or not at all in two competing measures. Other initiatives would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, require background checks for ammunition sales, overturn a 1998 initiative that banned bilingual instruction in public schools and overhaul the state's prison parole rules to allow inmates to be released earlier.

"There is something on the ballot for everyone," said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. "A lot of them are on topics people have debated a long time and voters are likely to have a strong opinion on."

Alexander said the crowded ballot will be just as difficult as ever for proponents to earn voter approval, with 1 in 3 initiatives typically passing.

"You can get on the ballot with just money, but you can't win with just money," Alexander said.

Baldassare said the default for many people is to vote no on a measure unless they are confident about its benefit.

Here's a look at qualifying measures:

PROP. 51. SCHOOL BONDS: Should voters authorize $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new school construction and modernization, with $2 billion for community colleges and the rest divided among K-12 districts, charter schools and vocational education? Proponents say the state's schools don't have the money to maintain their facilities or build new ones for a growing population. Opponents say bond debt costs the state too much.

PROP. 52. HOSPITAL FEES: Should lawmakers be required to meet a two-thirds majority vote — instead of a simple majority vote — when they divert Medi-Cal fees meant to fund health care for the state's poor? This measure would also prevent the expiration of a fund financed by hospitals that brings in matching federal dollars. That fund is set to expire in 2017.

PROP. 53. REVENUE BONDS: Should the state be barred from issuing more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds without voter approval if repaying those bonds would require an increase in taxes or fees? Supporters say the initiative ensures the state doesn't have a blank check while opponents, like the governor, say it would result in costly delays in repairing roads, buildings and water systems. The measure could be a major obstacle for the delta tunnels and high-speed rail projects supported by Brown.

PROP. 54. LEGISLATIVE TRANSPARENCY: Should lawmakers wait 72 hours after a bill is made public before voting on it except in cases of a public emergency? The Legislature would have to post videos of all of its public hearings on the Internet. Proponents say the measure increases transparency.

PROP. 55. TAX EXTENSION: Should the temporary personal income tax under Proposition 30 be extended for 12 years? The tax, which primarily funds K-12 schools and community colleges, is paid by individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples making more than $500,000. Proponents argue the extension is needed to prevent billions in cuts to schools and vital services, while opponents say Prop. 30 was temporary and should remain that way.

PROP. 56. CIGARETTE TAX: Should California raise its cigarette tax for the first time in nearly two decades? The tax would rise from 87 cents per pack to $2.87 per pack. Proponents say the tax would generate up to $1.6 billion in 2017-18, with money going toward tobacco-related health care, prevention programs, research and training. Opponents say the tax hurts poor people and creates antismoking programs reliant on revenue from an activity they are trying to stop.

PROP. 57. SENTENCING REFORM: Should prisoners convicted of nonviolent felonies be considered for early parole? The initiative would let inmates with nonviolent offenses seek parole after serving time on their primary offense, while erasing secondary offenses or enhancements with good behavior. The initiative would require a juvenile court judge, not prosecutors, to decide whether to charge juveniles as adults. Gov. Jerry Brown supports the changes. Opponents include the California District Attorneys Association.

PROP. 58. ENGLISH IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Should the ban on bilingual education be repealed? The Legislature placed this initiative on the ballot to repeal most of Proposition 227, the 1998 measure that barred bilingual education programs in public schools.

PROP. 59. CONDOMS IN PORN: Should performers in adult films be required to use condoms during sex scenes? The proposition would make producers, distributors, talent agents and in some cases performers liable for violations. Porn producers would be required to pay for certain health exams.

PROP. 60. PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS: Should the amount state agencies pay for a prescription drug be capped to match what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays? Supporters say the measure would lower drug prices on lifesaving treatments, while opponents say the measure would reduce the availability of some drugs and impact research on new drugs.

PROP. 61. DEATH PENALTY REPEAL: Should the death penalty be repealed? Inmates would face life without parole and could, if ordered to, pay 60 percent of wages earned while incarcerated to victim restitution. Proponents say the measure would save the state $150 million a year and opponents argue that justice will not be served if the state's worst murderers aren't executed.

PROP. 62. AMMUNITION SALES: Should California require background checks on ammunition purchases? Sponsored by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the measure would also ban possession of large-capacity rifle magazines, require gun owners to notify police when their weapons are lost or stolen and create new procedures for confiscating guns from persons prohibited from possessing them. Opponents say the measure will not reduce violence.

PROP. 63. MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: Should the state license, regulate and tax the recreational use of marijuana? Buyers would pay a 15 percent sales tax and suppliers would pay a cultivation tax. Proponents say the measure will save the state more than $100 million by decriminalizing marijuana use and would raise $1 billion a year in sales tax. Opponents say the legalization would increase drug use and crime.

PROP. 64. BAG TAX: Should money charged for paper bags be sent to a special fund for environmental projects? If the plastic bag ban becomes effective, a yes vote on this initiative would require grocery and retail stores to send fees they charge for paper bags to a fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board. A no vote would allow stores to keep the fees.

PROP. 65. DEATH PENALTY FIX: Should executions be fast-tracked? The measure would revise deadlines and limit appeals for inmates. It would also require Death Row inmates to work and pay victim restitution. Proponents say allowing inmates to sit for decades on Death Row costs millions. Opponents say shortening appeals increases the likelihood of executing innocent inmates.

PROP. 66. PLASTIC BAG REFERENDUM: Should California's statewide ban on plastic bags go into effect? A yes vote would allow the ban to go into effect immediately. A no vote would overturn the plastic bag ban, which was signed into law in 2014 by the governor but halted by a referendum.

PROP. 67. CITIZENS UNITED: Should elected officials use their authority to support a US Constitution change that would reverse the Citizens United case? The controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened the door for unlimited spending by corporations and unions in federal candidate campaigns. The ballot measure was placed before voters by the Legislature, but has no legal force, instead conveying California voters' will to Congress.

(Courtesy, the San Francisco Chronicle)

* * *


by Meatloaf

The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling

Way down in the valley tonight.

There's a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye

And a blade shining, oh, so bright.

There's evil in the air and there's thunder in sky,

And a killer's on the bloodshot streets.

Oh, and down in the tunnel where the deadly are rising,

Oh, I swear I saw a young boy down in the gutter,

He was starting to foam in the heat.


Oh, baby, you're the only thing in this whole world,

That's pure and good and right.

And wherever you are and wherever you go,

There's always gonna be some light.

But I gotta get out,

I gotta break it out now,

Before the final crack of dawn.

So we gotta make the most of our one night together.

When it's over you know,

We'll both be so alone.


Like a bat out of hell

I'll be gone when the morning comes.

When the night is over

Like a bat out of hell

I'll be gone-gone-gone.

Like a bat out of hell

I'll be gone when the morning comes.

But when the day is done, and the sun goes down,

And the moonlight's shining through,

Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,

I'll come crawling on back to you.


I'm gonna hit the highway like a battering ram

On a silver black phantom bike.

When the metal is hot and the engine is hungry,

And we're all about to see the light.

Nothing ever grows in this rotting old hole.

And everything is stunted and lost.

And nothing really rocks

And nothing really rolls

And nothing's ever worth the cost.


And I know that I'm damned if I never get out,

And maybe I'm damned if I do,

But with every other beat I've got left in my heart,

You know I'd rather be damned with you.

Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned

Dancing through the night with you.

Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned—

Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned—

Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned

Dancing through the night—

Dancing through the night—

Dancing through the night with you.


Oh, baby, you're the only thing in this whole world,

That's pure and good and right.

And wherever you are and wherever you go,

There's always gonna be some light.

But I gotta get out,

I gotta break it out now,

Before the final crack of dawn.

So we gotta make the most of our one night together.

When it's over you know

We'll both be so alone.


Like a bat out of hell

I'll be gone when the morning comes.

When the night is over

Like a bat out of hell

I'll be gone gone gone.

Like a bat out of hell

I'll be gone when the morning comes.

But when the day is done and the sun goes down,

And the moonlight's shining through,

Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,

I'll come crawling on back to you.

Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,

I'll come crawling on back to you.


I can see myself tearing up the road

Faster than any other boy has ever gone.

And my skin is raw but my soul is ripe.

No one's gonna stop me now,

I'm gonna make my escape.

But I can't stop thinking of you,

And I never see the sudden curve until it's way too late.


And I never see the sudden curve 'til it's way too late.


Then I'm dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun.

Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.

And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.

And the last thing I see is my heart

Still beating,

Breaking out of my body and flying away,

Like a bat out of hell.


Then I'm dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun.

Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.

And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.

And the last thing I see is my heart

Still beating, still beating,

Breaking out of my body and flying away,

Like a bat out of hell.

Like a bat out of hell.

Like a bat out of hell.

Oh, like a bat out of hell!

Like a bat out of hell!

Like a bat out of hell!

* * *


We’re all just walking each other home." — Ram Dass

The recording of last night's (2016-07-01) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available to download and keep and skip around in via

Also at you'll find links to a deluxe assortment of not necessarily radio-useful things to read and play with and learn about, such as:

Stolen and lost art recreated using stock photos.

Are you a fan of controlled explosive demolition events? Here is a soothing hypnotic shitload of those.

Escher y el efecto Droste.

And "Rhamphorhynchus, a long-tailed pterosaur, hypothetically feeding on squid."

— Marco McClean


  1. Paul McCarthy July 3, 2016

    Slow news day over at the Willits Weekly ? Jennifer Poole wrote that a Mendocinosportsplus headline “seems to make assumptions that may or may not be warranted.” Re-read that sentence. Huh ? Was MSP right or wrong ? Well, we might or might not be.
    She then added, “it’s unfortunate that the young people are named – via a cut and paste of one of Willits Weekly’s Facebook posts about the accident.”
    Yes, we did “cut & paste” (with attribution) their next-day coverage of the accident – we could not afford to hire a monk to copy it then translate it into Latin with a quill pen & ink.
    MSP covered the accident WHEN IT HAPPENED – something the Willits Weekly should learn to do.
    Our coverage began A 8:30 pm the NIGHT of the accident:”
    The scanner & the CHP Traffic ‘incident’ page are reporting (8:26 pm) a ‘vehicle rolled over into the river’ near the ‘Silver Bridge’ @ East Hill & Eastside Roads.
    The CHP reported @ 8:27 pm it was a ‘Black SUV with five kids in it.’ At 8:32 pm, the Mendo Sheriff Department was informed an injured subject was “still trapped in the vehicle’….”
    The Willits Weekly first post on the accident was the next day was @ 8:59 am: “Willits Weekly is getting inquiries about a very serious accident last night in the Willits valley…”
    See the difference – MSP covers breaking news while the Willits Weekly doesn’t. In fact, truth be told, seldom is heard a discouraging word about Willits in the weekly that reads more like a “rah-rah-sis-boom-ba Chamber of Commerce publication than a newspaper. We’re surprised they covered the accident at all.
    If, as Ms Poole alleges, “As anybody who posts on Facebook knows, many FB readers don’t read below the first few lines of any post at best, and the headline is what is remembered and passed on” then readers would have never reached the end of the MSP post, thus would have never SEEN the names of the children hurt in the accident.
    File her post under “Much Ado About Nothing” or “The Lady Doth Protest Too Much Methinks.”

    • Lazarus July 3, 2016

      The Willits Weakly as many call it here is widely and wildly know for lack of serious,non-complementary coverage of anything Willits. And to add on a bit…their co-founder and photo queen is detested by anyone who has ever vied for a photo op she was involved in…not good, Homers at best, out and out biased at worst.

  2. Jim Updegraff July 3, 2016

    Coast Hospital: public hospitals just can not make it financially in small rural areas. They just can’t get benefit of the economies of size. What is happening in Mendo County has and is happening in other rural areas in the State.The bigger problem is we still have an obsolete county system of 58 counties many of them too small to effectively deal with the complex issues we have today. The state needs to be reorganized into a system of perhaps 30 to 35 regional governments of common interest and varying size that can effectively deal with complex governmental problems.

    The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Nothing will change as long as we have a system where Congresspersons can be bought by the power brokers for the benefit of the very rich.

  3. John Sakowicz July 3, 2016

    Interesting article about Elie Wiesel by Alexander Cockburn — controversial.

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