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MCT: Monday, March 25, 2019

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A COLD FRONT will push across northwest California this morning, with rain tapering to showers this afternoon. Tuesday will be in between storm systems, with another front tracking through on Wednesday, followed by continued showery weather on Thursday. (National Weather Service)

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Just days after a high-level meeting in Rome this week, during which Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied - it appears Russia is taking no chances with its South American ally.

This afternoon a delegation of 99 Russian soldiers arrived at the Maiquetia airport, under the command of the defense minister of the largest country Vasilly Tonkoshkurov. They were received on the presidential ramp by the VA Marianny Mata, dir International Affairs and Integration.

Immediately after (14h) a Russian freighter with 35 tons of materials, belonging to the contingent that had just disembarked, arrived at the same terminal. Staff of the Russian embassy and the GB Edgar Colina Reyes were also in the reception procession.

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THE AVA'S SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, JESSICA ANDERSON, reports an estimated 16,000 persons turned out to support Bernie Sanders for President in San Francisco on Sunday.

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Yes, he (SCHULTZ) is from out of the area. But I don’t think the insight to drive it over to building and planning came from him. It was a confabulation that was happening much before his arrival. Code enforcement is going to take priority over the Cannabis program. They think they can make a lot more money off of forcing people to pay for code violations than they can off of the permitting process at this point. Mendocino County’s Cannabis Program has basically been a dismal failure. Many other counties are surpassing them in the success of their programs. When in reality Mendocino was one of if not the first ones to dip their toes in the tepid, turbid water. Pretty sad situation honestly. Inability to think forward, collaborate and not be too heavy-handed. The considerations of those practices in business and marketing are sadly being missed.

Ever Evolving, Never Resolving! Then chew on this. They start taking everybody’s properties through lengthy lawsuits and code violation seizures. Who knows how much money that’s going to cost in litigation alone at $300 per hour attorney rates. Then the properties fall into the hands of the county so who pays the tax base on that? Yes, they think they’re going to make a bunch of money to make up for what isn’t happening in the Cannabis Program when in the long haul looking way ahead they’re going to screw their selves out of more money. One could definitely figure out they aren’t rocket scientists. Just saying!

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This is a hard post for us to make, but it is one that needs to be made. The last two weeks in our town have been uncertain, scary, and well outside of the level of safety we have come to expect living in Fort Bragg. For that, we are sorry. Our Officers share your frustration, anger, and at times, your fears related to the recent shootings. The below video may be disturbing for some of you, but we felt it was a critical opportunity to allow the community to help us identify one or more of the suspects involved in the events of the last week.

The suspects in this video are believed to have been in the downtown area on the night of 03/22/2019, sometime between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. We hope that someone recognizes these suspects, and is able to provide some information related to their identity. Anonymous tips may be left at the Fort Bragg Police Department (Anonymous) Crime Tip Hotline at (707) 961-3049. You may also contact the investigating Officer, Sergeant McLaughlin at (707) 961-2800 ext. 123.

Sunday night, multiple law enforcement agencies from both the State and local level moved through Fort Bragg in a coordinated sweep meant to deter criminal street gang activity and identify evidence related to the recent shootings. While we are unable to positively state that we apprehended any of the shooters, we did arrest several individuals with ties to local criminal street gangs. In the coming days, we ask that all members of our community remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity in their neighborhood, and that you assist us in putting a stop to gang activity in our town. More information to follow on the arrests from today and the attached press release will be distributed tomorrow.

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by Oliver Laughland & Jon Swaine and David Smith

The letter from William Barr also revealed Mueller was unable to draw a conclusion “one way or the other” on whether Trump or anyone in the White House obstructed justice during the investigation.

Mueller has filed no further indictments following an almost two year-long investigation that has seen some of Trump’s closest advisers criminally prosecuted and convicted.

As Mueller was unable to draw a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice throughout the investigation, it was left to Barr and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, both appointed by Trump, to decide not to pursue charges.

Barr described the evidence for obstruction as “not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” Furthermore, Barr insisted in his letter the decision not to prosecute was not made based on any limitations related to the indictment of a sitting president.

The letter from Barr, at just four pages long, offered a small snapshot of Mueller’s extensive investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, which the letter reveals involved more than 2,800 subpoenas, almost 500 search warrants and interviews with around 500 witnesses.

The attorney general faces increasingly bipartisan calls to release Mueller’s report in full, as well as the evidence underlying it. Some Democrats have signaled they will use subpoena powers to obtain the full document, and may also call Mueller to testify before Congress.

The summary was immediately seized on by Trump and his allies to claim victory.

Speaking to reporters as he returned from a weekend of golf at his private club in south Florida, a jubilant Trump described the report as “a complete and total exoneration,” despite the inconclusive findings on obstruction of justice.

“It’s a shame that our country had to go through this, to be honest it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this for, before I even got elected it began,” Trump said, as he stood on the tarmac by Air Force One. “This was an illegal take-down that failed.”

In an emailed statement to the Guardian, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, himself at the centre of the investigation after accepting a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer promising “dirt” on the Clinton campaign, said Barr’s letter proved “what those of use with sane minds have known all along, there was ZERO collusion with Russia”.

Trump Jr continued: “Sadly, instead of apologizing for needlessly destabilizing the country in a transparent attempt to delegitimize the 2016 election, it’s clear that the Collusion Truthers in the media and the Democrat [sic] party are only going to double down on their sick and twisted conspiracy theories moving forward.”

It seems likely the president will now seek to turn the Mueller investigation to his advantage in the 2020 presidential election, suggesting it shows he won the 2016 contest fairly and that desperate opponents will do anything to thwart him.

But the decision by Barr and Rosenstein that the president did not obstruct justice – and their decision to make any such conclusion rather than leave it to Congress – is likely to cause intense controversy for years to come.

Barr was nominated by Trump to be attorney general after he sent the justice department a private memo sharply criticising Mueller’s investigation and arguing that Mueller should even not be allowed to question Trump about potential obstruction.

Trump did not sit down for an interview with Mueller, instead providing written answers to questions.

In May 2017, it was Rosenstein who wrote the memo to Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, justifying the firing of James Comey, the FBI director. Trump’s firing of Comey was central to allegations that he may have obstructed justice.

Fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe has claimed Rosenstein said he was ordered to write that memo.

Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, said on Sunday he would be calling Barr to testify to his committee about what Nadler called the “very concerning discrepancies and final decision making” described in the attorney general’s letter.


THE MUELLER REPORT, an on-line comment

The only possible outcome would be the Trump family being frog-walked out of the White House in handcuffs.

Tonight, Mueller's probe officially concluded. No further indictments will be filed, and no one in the Trump family will be indicted. The two-year investigation never charged anyone with conspiracy related to the Trump campaign and Russia.

The disappointment was evident on many of the news programs that served as the Mueller probe's biggest boosters. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow appeared to angrily ask why Mueller "let Trump off the hook?"

For a refresher on just how confidently these predictions were made, here are a few flashbacks.

In December 2017, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski said the Trump Team might be going to jail "for the rest of their lives."

In December 2018, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Delaware Sen. Coons — as he often does — if he thought Trump might be facing jail time. Sen. Coons said yes, "the issues outlined against both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, I think, continue to sharpen the ways in which it is clear that the Mueller investigation has produced a whole series of actions not previously exposed to the public."

Democratic lawmakers were not immune from setting lofty expectations from the outcome of the investigation. In December 2018, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Trump could be the first president "to face the prospect of jail time."


It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD

The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it. "There was never real gray area here. Either Trump is a compromised foreign agent, or he isn’t. If he isn’t, news outlets once again swallowed a massive disinformation campaign, only this error is many orders of magnitude more stupid than any in the recent past, WMD included. Honest reporters like ABC’s Terry Moran understand: Mueller coming back empty-handed on collusion means a “reckoning for the media.” Of course, there won’t be such a reckoning. (There never is). But there should be. We broke every written and unwritten rule in pursuit of this story, starting with the prohibition on reporting things we can’t confirm." …

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I'M SURE by now most people know that Larry Baer, the CEO of the Giants baseball team, was in a minor tussle in a public park with his wife over his cell phone, on which we can surmise there was material husband preferred wife not to see. (Watch pro athletes exit their locker rooms sometime and make their way through shoals of bimbos, and Lar spends a lot of time on the road with the ball club.) A video of the Baer incident quickly went viral, but only because he's well known. It shows Baer trying to pry his phone out of his wife's hand when she tumbles over. Baer didn't hit her or shove her or in any way cause his better half to lose her balance, which occurred from what you might call "inadvertent struggle-torque," not violence. Baer almost immediately issued a weasel-lipped statement that the episode did not represent who "he was trying to be." The dude is pushing 60 and should have some idea by now who he is. What he should have said is, "The Misery Lobby is never happier than when they're breaking up families. My wife and I are none of their business." Anyway, the Baers also soon announced there was peace between them, and that all was harmonious in the Baer household. Not good enough, however, for the Madam Dafarges of San Francisco's well-funded domestic violence watchdogs, La Casa de las Madres and the SF Domestic Violence Consortium. They said Baer should be criminally prosecuted. “It was very disturbing and clearly very physically aggressive,” one of them said. Which it emphatically was not as the video clearly shows. In a society where terrible acts of violence against women occur by the thousands every day, one has to wonder how vigilant, how committed to stopping real violence are unhappy women who seize on a non-violent episode between an otherwise agreeable couple as an example of unpunished domestic violence?

A SLOW DAY at the office when my colleague suddenly exclaims, "Boy, this is a dumb letter." After all these years the guy still seems to think we're living in the Golden Age of Greece.

I REMEMBER joining the Frisco throngs to protest W. Bush's pretext to what turned out to be the destabilization of the entire world with the ensuing War On Terrorism that the Bush Gang kicked off with their transparent lie that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. I also remember prior to the big demonstrations watch Colin Powell trot that lie out at the United Nations, a lie eagerly promulgated by both liberal and conservative media. The New York Times' Judith Miller beat the drums for that one for weeks, although my late colleague Alexander Cockburn systematically unraveled Miller's lies as they appeared. Millions of us also knew that Bush was lying because we had a few journalists on our side who warned us.

THE BI-PARTISAN lying did not occur with Trump's alleged Russian collusion. The rightwing press predictably said it was all bullshit from the outset, well before any investigation. The lib media, again led by the "newspaper of record," has claimed for two years now that the Trump Gang colluded with the Russkies, Jeez, how else could a preposterous figure like Trump possibly beat such a splendidly "qualified" candidate like our Hillary? Simple, he did it by constantly denigrating media, which has again denigrated itself, not that any American in full possession can take television's talking heads seriously, and not that any alert American reads the New York Times without being on full bullshit alert. Wolf Blitzer must be bouncing off the walls of his Situation Room today, while Rachel Maddow tries on her widow's weeds.

OFFICIAL MENDO COUNTY just might be the turnover capitol of California. Attorneys come and go with such regularity it's hard to know at any one time who the prosecutors are and who the defenders are. And the County Counsel herself probably has trouble remembering who's working for her among the anonymous drones of the County Admin Building. And not to mention the upper ranks of the County administration. They disappear all the time without explanation. One obvious turnover cause is Mendo's low pay relative to other nearby jurisdictions. Mendocino County's DA pay, for instance, is low comparatively speaking, starting around 60 grand a year, roughly twice that, however, for the average non-civil service worker. Younger people get a little on the job experience then get outta here. The real smart ones — Barry Shapiro of the DA's office comes to mind — are recruited by Sonoma, Marin, or Solano. Factor in the high cost of housing, if you can find it, the negative stimulation of wrap-a-round Ukiah…

ANDERSON VALLEY got off to an early start Sunday morning when frost fans roared into life about 5am, which is when I heard the first ones. And for some reason known only to the noble sons of the soil, a couple of fans roared all day! Frost fans, as Anderson Valley discovered only after getting slam dunked by our wine-friendly Superior Court, are exempt from the County's anyway un-enforced noise ordinance of greater than 50 decibels. Why the exemption? The judge found the sleep-destroying din was necessary to successful grape growing and, as Philo wine magnate Ted Bennett put it, "My grapes are more important than your sleep!" And there it is, Anderson Valley, so quit yer whining. PS. I have moved farther down the highway from a triangle of frost fans that once surrounded me. The fans are still highly audible but not painfully so as they were in South Boonville. I seriously thought about testing the fans against rifle fire but wussed out, mostly because to get a good shot at the propellers I'd have to abandon cover and, given my marksmanship (untested since 1958), I would need to crank off at least a half-dozen rounds to even hope de-commissioning them. And then I was told by a guy who would know, "You gotta shoot the generator, not the blades. You'll only bend the blades but you can kill a generator." Here's to anyone who gives them a shot (sic)!

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by Ken Hurst

It was Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, and a group of old Anderson Valley High School Panthers were on their way to see the Cal Berkeley Bears baseball team play the USC Trojans. It was a good game. We were making the trip mainly because of the Bears’ Star hitter and first baseman, Andrew Vaughn. Vaughn, a graduate of Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa, had won the national Golden Spike award in his sophomore year representing the best players in America who were still amateurs.

Us old Boonville Panthers had played ball with Andrew's grandfather, Ronnie Vaughan, a great high school quarterback who went on to star at Santa Rosa JC.

Tony Summit and his wife Colleen took my wife Joanadele and me along with Danny Summit and Gary Presley from Ukiah. We were meeting Gayle Waggoner and Bill Long. Bill was from Concord and Gayle said he wasn't sure where he was from but a gadget in his car knew how to get him home.

The stadium was beautiful with 320 foot lines to left field and right-field and 420 feet to the centerfield fence. The stadium was next to a park with earthen pathways, trees and flowers.

Andrew Vaughn came into Pac-10 league play with statistics higher than his sophomore year. His batting average was .423 with seven homers and a bunch of RBIs. He has a very quick, beautifully smooth swing, and he's disciplined at the plate, swinging only at strikes.

For a mere six bucks we seniors could watch the ballgame, but they charged $12 for a sip of beer! It was sunny and 74 degrees. Most spectators wore hats. Tony bought a Cal cap for 36 bucks and grumbled about the price. I should have got one myself because my nose soon turned into a red sausage.

It was an excruciatingly long game, at almost five hours. But still great fun. Andrew went one for three with a single but was hit by the pitcher twice. As Cal’s star player, Andrew was the only player who was individually announced when he came up to bat.

Cal jumped in front by a score of 9-4, but USC hacked away at the lead. In the ninth inning USC had runners at every base as Cal’s lead was down to 9-8,

So Cal’s coach brought in his closer just like Tony said he would.

The closer for Cal had a very high leg kick and threw hard strikes. He got the first two batters out quickly. But the third dug in and fought hard fouling off pitch after pitch. Finally he hit a knuckler flyball that Cal’s second baseman barely ran down and caught on a long dramatic dive. Game over, Cal won.

Tony and Danny Summit and Gary Presley soon went out on the field and got a picture with Andrew.

Andrew Vaughn surrounded by Tony and Danny Summit and Gary Presley

When we got back to our cars Gary Presley had a parking ticket for $76. I think it was because his back bumper inched into the entrance to the park. Tony said we were all parked illegally but were lucky that only Gary got a ticket.

Andrew’s dad and mom were there, Mr. and Mrs. Toby Vaughn. Also Andrew's girlfriend, a pretty, young blonde girl who looked to me like a member of Boonville's young Tuttle family back in the day.

Andrew will be a good major league ballplayer. I expect to see him playing third base in the big show. I hope the Giants pick him up and pair him with Crawford and Pence.

The kid loves the game.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, March 24, 2019

Cook, Delgadillo-Vicencio, A.Gonzalez

THOMAS COOK, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting or deterring.

LUIS DELGADILLO-VICENCIO, Calpella. Domestic abuse, DUI.

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.

G.Gonzalez, Hammond, Meloy, Molina

GERARDO GONZALEZ, Ukiah. Resisting.

DARIN HAMMOND, Fort Bragg. Resisting, probation revocation.

MARCUS MELOY, Point Arena/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JAVIER MOLINA, Fort Bragg. Metal knuckles, saps or similar.

Moore, Schaefer, Varelas-Manzo


JUSTIN SCHAEFER, Eureka/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

GUILLERMO VARELAS-MANZO, Olivehurst/Ukiah. Grossly negligent discharge of firearm, loitering/prowling, resisting.

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Edward Luttwak seems certain that Ronald Reagan would never have “‘pressed the button.” My personal experience suggests otherwise. I was raised and educated in California, and after graduating from Berkeley in 1977 was at a loose end for some years before somebody suggested, in 1982, that I take the Foreign Service exam to become a diplomat. I passed the written section and was then invited to participate in the oral exam, which took place on an upper story of the Federal Building in San Francisco. This had several different sections: a personality interview; being grilled by a Central European specialist on the situation in Poland (where regurgitating accounts in Time and Newsweek of the activities of Solidarność provoked disdain in the examiner, and certainly ensured that I failed the exam); and participating in simulated group decision-making in a hypothetical overseas embassy. The gentleman coordinating this exercise was a veteran Latin American specialist for the State Department.

Afterwards, he invited the six of us to fire questions at him, anything we liked: he would respond candidly, but we were never to attribute the answers to him — if we did he would deny the episode ever took place. The first question was, why was such a capable and senior Foreign Service officer testing the likes of us? He was home, he said, after a long tour of duty and had initially been assigned two desk tasks which he could not agree to carry out. And these were? The first, he said, was to draw up a feasibility study for restaging the Bay of Pigs invasion. This had clearly been tailored to his expertise, but was ethically inimical to him. The second proposed project was even more repugnant: to draw up a feasibility study for a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union.

Marc Dubin

Essex, England

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To the Editor:

I think the state of the nation can be placed squarely on the shoulders of both political parties. I wish we could develop a new party, but that does not seem to be possible. Will one of them change enough to make things right? Will one of them remember that government is meant to do the things that individuals cannot do for themselves, like build roads and implement fair laws for the good of the individuals being governed.

Here are some things I would like to see changed (not a comprehensive list):

1- Make lobbying and lobbyists illegal. Start with the NRA. They have way too much power. Why are some people afraid of background checks and a waiting period for purchasing guns? Nobody is trying to take all your guns away.

2- Get rid of the electoral college: One person, one vote.

3- Go back to the tax schedules that were used about 1980. Even Warren Buffett says he doesn’t pay enough.

4- Develop a comprehensive immigration policy. One part of the existing policy that should be looked at is that if you have a baby here they are automatically citizens. Did you know that most countries do not allow this? Redouble our efforts to assist other countries in job development. Many leave home because of hunger and poverty.

5- Develop a better foreign policy. I don’t know how to stop them from murdering their own people (does anyone?), but we should not be fighting wars in foreign lands just to benefit our own oil or other supplies.

6- Stop all gerrymandering and other voting policies that are discriminatory.

7- Stop all discriminatory lending policies towards minorities.

There are a lot of people in the United States. You’d think the parties can end up with candidates that are acceptable to more than 50 percent of the populace. In 2020 I would like to see candidates that have the following characteristics: Are

1- Intelligent

2- knowledgeable

3- Can communicate (no tweeting)

4- Truly believe that all people are created equal.

5- Possesses good character.

Georgann Barre

Redwood Valley

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College was a waste of time. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve… dropped out of high school and gone to work for an uncle who was in commercial real estate (the wealthiest guy in my family) and learned the trade and have gotten a 5-year, earlier start on my life and career.

Glad to see that academia is perishing as they are a blight on our country and ruinous to our youth (not applicable for doctors, dentists and other highly technical professions). I’m all for self-study, mentors, apprenticeships, guilds, trade and professional schools and training. As well as preparing our youth for the new industries and sectors that the future is bringing. Entrepreneurs, unhindered by gov regulation, corruption and high taxes, are the only element that can improve the US economy.

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I took a Democratic Party poll. One question said check boxes for three issues most important to me. I was surprised and disappointed to see that “halting endless wars” wasn’t one of the choices. “Fighting terror” was. What happened to this party that it drags its feet on opposing war, single-payer health care or a Green New Deal?

The answer, of course, is donations from weapons manufacturers, drug and insurance companies and oil companies. Corporate donations have undermined our system and blocked change for decades. That’s why we’re having a progressive political revolution. Our congressman, for instance, isn’t on the wrong side of these issues, but he isn’t working for them. Instead he works on container protocol bills, winery tax breaks and post office name changes.

For a couple years, Democrats had control of the federal government, but because donors prevented them from prosecuting Wall Street fraudsters, pulling out of Afghanistan or doing anything significant about inequality, they lost traction.

Establishment politicians only provide incremental change. We need real change now. We don’t have time for political games. We have problems at every level. Please run for office. Any office. City council, supervisor, school board. We, the people, are the change we’ve been waiting for.

Jason Kishineff

Democratic candidate for Congress, 5th District

American Canyon

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HAILED THE GODMOTHER of rock & roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe helped create the concept of rock lead guitar and was born on this day in 1915. Happy Birthday, Sister Rosetta.

"She would sing until you cried and then she would sing until you danced for joy."

Check out her legendary performance of "Didn't it Rain" at the Manchester train station in 1964:

And a little more:

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Gruesome Newsom commuted all the sentences for prisoners on death row. The victims were raped and killed and dumped on the side of the highway. The families of those poor victims were hoping for closure. Now they get nothing! What about the people who voted not to commute their sentences? Votes don't count. We don't care about votes, I guess.

They spent $30 million chasing the Golden State Killer's to catch a guy who killed 29 people. When they finally caught him he was guilty as hell and instead of killing him he will have a trial that will cost $20 million. So $50 million spent on a killer, okay?

This is a sanctuary state so every criminal and wannabe hoodlum who wants to come into this state can endanger all the local citizens. Newsome thinks that’s fine. Why can't somebody go into Nancy Pelosi's $10 million mansion and use a butcher knife on her like that illegal did to that poor woman in San Jose. They could get away with it because we are a sanctuary state. Right?

I guess the ugly liberals who run our country think they are above the law. They can have their sanctuary states but they stay protected. They have bodyguards and guard dogs and live behind tall fences. I guess they are better human beings than the rest of us. I don't think so. They are not above the law.

All our taxes license fees go to nothing. No infrastructure work. It's pitiful how our state is being run. The people of California don't have the balls to stand up and do anything about it.

Law enforcement does a great job all over the country. Sheriff Allman and his guys do a great job running down criminals, but then the liberal judges turn them loose or give them short sentences. It's disgusting.

God bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick


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I Googled about that UC Davis professor teaching his students, step by step, how to kill cops. What I came up with was that in 2014, a Professor at UC Davis tweeted this as his opinion. There is no indication, regardless of Jerry Philbrick's lurid allegations, that this teacher taught cop killing in his classrooms. How would that even work? As a community college teacher, I know the demographic. Students would have said something like, "Fuck you, man, my dad's a cop," or called 911 on their iPhone.

What I find unsettling is an undercurrent of support for Jerry Philbrick among some of the Anderson Valley Advertiser readership. Hell, somebody recently suggested he should be in control of Mendocino water.

Jerry, it doesn't take a lot of balls to insult and threaten strangers behind the safety of a screen. Fat teenage boys do it every day.

Richard Russell

San Jose

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WHEN STUDENTS ARE INFORMED that the Dutch bought Manhattan for $24 worth of trade goods, presumably they are meant to smile indulgently. What a bargain! What foolish Indians, not to recognize the potential of the island! Not one history textbook points out that the Dutch paid the WRONG TRIBE for Manhattan. Doubtless the Canarsees, native to Brooklyn, were quite pleased with the deal. The Weckquaesgeeks, who lived on Manhattan and really owned the land, weren’t so happy though. For years afterward they warred sporadically with the Dutch.

The biggest single purchase from the wrong tribe took place in 1803. All the textbooks tell how Jefferson “doubled the size of the United States by buying Louisiana from France.” Not one points out that it was not France’s land to sell — it was Indian land. The French never consulted with the Native owners before selling: most Native Americans never even KNEW of the sale. Indeed, France did not really sell Louisiana for $15,000,000. France merely sold ITS CLAIM to the territory. The United States was still paying Native American tribes for Louisiana throughout the nineteenth century. We were also fighting them for it: the Army Almanac lists more than 50 Indian wars in the Louisiana Purchase from 1819 to 1890. To treat France as the seller, as all our textbooks do, is Eurocentric.

The United States has to admit that Adolf Hitler displayed more knowledge of how we treated Native Americans than American high schoolers who rely on their own textbooks. Hitler admired our concentration camps for Indians in the west and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination — by starvation and uneven combat — as the model for his extermination of Jews and Gypsies.

—John Toland, “Adolf Hitler”

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I DON’T KNOW if I'd call this one of my greatest hits. But out of all the comics I did over the years, this particular panel is one that regularly gets re-posted by people on the internet.

Somebody even took my caricature of Nancy and reprinted it as the beer label for a batch of home-brewed beer that he titled Nasty Nancy. As an alcoholic myself I couldn't have been more honored.

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Free Citizenship Workshop April 3 in Manchester

There will be a FREE Citizenship workshop on April 3 from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Garcia Guild/Manchester Community Center at 43970 Crispin Road. To sign up for the class or to ask questions, contact Asucena Calderon from California Human Development at (707) 523-1155 Ext 4714.

Gary Levenson-Palmer,

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The last couple of weeks has enlarged the point. We live in enormously complex times. Anything that can go wrong probably will. Murphy was an optimist. Etc. My special reminder of this truth has come in the form of a twenty dollar transistor radio I ordered from Amazon a couple of weeks ago. I still don't have it.

Why I have not yet heard it proceeds from the usual ways of comedy: chance, misunderstandings, confusion, slapstick routines. Life. Every time I think we are about to see the little thing, some new confusion ensues. The latest was my taking 'weekend's' to mean Friday. This is doubtless a belief leftover from being a teacher. Weekend football games and all that. But to the rest of the world, the weekend starts on Saturday. Duh.

I have thought of shuffling over to get it at my daughter's office, close enough to shuffle off to. But a recurring leg cramp puts me in fear of even doing the proper thing and walking it out. The most recent cramp felt like a broken leg. IT'S NOT FAIR. I have just started rereading Why We Should Read Moby Dick. And of complaining. The whale looms. And in any case, time gets short. Tick. Tock. Tic…

(Bruce Brady)

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ERNEST HEMINGWAY would always say that he learned his trade at the Kansas City Star. With this in mind I should pause for a little reflection on what I learned at the National Thunder, beyond the depths of vulgarity of which I was capable. Certain laws obtain in all fictive enterprises, low journalism included. They are almost moral laws, the way grammar in its way is moral.

I have come to believe that language, a line of print, say, is capable of inhabiting the imagination far more intensely than any picture, however doctored. The same principle applies to the novel, if it works. No Hollywood flick, no movie of any provenance, can ever provide an experience of the Battle of Borodino as intense as that provided in Tolstoy's pages. Descriptive language supplies deeper penetration, attaches itself to the rods and cones of interior perception, to a greater degree than any recovered or remembered image. Language is the process that lashes experience to the intellect.

I learned this working against deadline trying to get an old horror movie still to work as my front page. Our one-person art department serving the entire Fat Lou editor’s realm was Natasha, an artist a great effrontery and zeal. Our prospective cover was a head shot of a slain lady vampire. In order not to limit possibility and make the fantasy our own, we asked her, the art department, to ink out the fangs. In the process she had an accident; ink covered everything. Time was running out; the mats had to go to Jersey to be printed inside of half an hour. Our front page was a distressed looking starlet whose mouth was a mass of slop. In black and white the ink looked for all the world like blood.

I started playing with the ghastly headlines, sizing them in. All at once, driven by hysteria, by Satan, by my Friday afternoon craving for a paycheck, suddenly I had it:

“Mad Dentist Yanks Girl’s Tongue”

By god, it fit like a nail! Still, it remained to write the story and I wanted this one for myself.

Dateline: Podunk, Alaska, or Gondawooleroo, NSW, or Bluebell, Delaware. Anywhere that didn't exist. We maintained an atlas to avoid the accident of hitting on an actual place. By now the readers (you, ladies and gentlemen, not the readers of the National Thunder) will have surmised the great redeeming element in our work. What kept us on the right side of madness was this: that as lousy as the world might be, though life might condemn us to the sick soft underbelly of journalism, things were not quite so awful that the lunatic nightmares we fashioned had any direct connection with reality or, as it is sometimes called, truth.

Anyway, this just in:

A beautiful young model suffering an impacted wisdom tooth in this isolated desert community was the victim of a ghastly mutilation yesterday. Overcome by periodontal pain while driving by Egg Drop, she called the office of the town dentist, Dr. Hunter Creel. Rendering his patient unconscious, he proceeded to work his ghoulish "surgery." Speaking with great difficulty and Yoof City Animal Hospital, the model, Miss Latitia Fumpton, fought bravely to describe her ordeal.

"he told me something," she said, on regaining consciousness, "something about discomfort."

Creel was taken into custody by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service —

(Here space and custom required a picture of Dr. Homer Creel. Working against the clock, we shuffled through our gallery of pictures of creepy people. The weirdest, nuttiest person we could find represented was a 19th-century novelist. Since the novelist had never been a resident of Utah, at that time the only American state in which dead people could sue, we were home free. Dr. Creel's head shot did not even require doctoring; his period attire was taken as a function of his eccentricity.)

Our foto file had many morbid pictures of deceased individuals undergoing the gruesome horrors of decomposition. There were also many portrait pictures of people in the fullness of health. Some of these portraits with a little alteration could be passed off as anyone. Like Dr. Hunter Creel, for example, the predatory periodontist. We used Generalissimo Francisco Franco as a Haji Baba, the progressive astrologer. Trotsky had a role too, I remember, as a slumlord brained by one of his defective bathtubs. Woodrow Wilson was the horse handicapper, a role undertaken in real life by one of Fat Lou’s cronies.

Identity was a protean and unstable element around the Thunder. We could combine an action shot with a grinning cadaver or terrified victim-to-be, a vehicle, a harness, what have you, all spliced by the genius of Natasha in the art department, into a form that told a very grim story indeed.

Thus: "Skydiver Devoured By Starving Birds."

And lickety-split there it was and you could hear the clacking beaks and the echoing screams of the doomed sportsman, his features ripped warm and bleeding, his fingers clawed from the harness by the hunger crazed kites and corbies, not 4 and 20, but thousands! All this above the horrified upturned faces of the watching crowd!

—Robert Stone, ‘Prime Greene: Remembering the 60s’

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by Diane Peterson

In his new book, “Farming for the Long Haul,” Willits author Michael Foley hopes that what’s old can be new again for a new crop of farmers who may feel they are facing an uphill battle.

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Warmest spiritual greetings, We are interested in developing a creative/spiritual environment at a spacious residence in Redwood Valley, CA (near Ukiah). We've already been through the Mendocino County party-time experiment. You are invited to get involved if you wish to be a part of this new direction. Thank you very much.

Craig Louis Stehr


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by Mark Scaramella

Houdini was born as Ehrich Weisz in Budapest, Hungary to a Jewish family; upon immigration to America the family name was changed to Weiss. In 1891, after working for several years as an apprentice for a locksmith, Weiss became a professional magician, and began calling himself "Harry Houdini" because he was influenced by French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin and his friend Jack Hayman told him that in French adding an "i" to Houdin would mean "like Houdin." The first part of his new name, Harry, was an homage to Harry Kellar, another of Weiss' large influences. Initially, his magic career resulted in little success, though he met fellow performer Wilhelmina Beatrice (Bess) Rahner in 1893, and married her three weeks later. For the rest of his performing career, Bess would work as his stage assistant.

When Harry Houdini was first getting into the magic business in the early part of the last century he quickly saw that there was a lot more money to be made by being a "spiritualist" or "medium" than in being a dime-a-dozen magician. Houdini combined his highly-developed conjuring skills with clever local research wherever he was appearing to dupe unwitting but desperate believers into thinking he was channeling or was in touch with their dead relatives.

It worked out well for several years until Houdini started to realize that his victims, er, customers, er, audience, were really believing his spiritualism schtick. After a couple of incidents where his clever but dire predictions (transmitted “from beyond the grave") came tragically true, Houdini had second thoughts about taking advantage of poorly educated people who seemed to really believe his intense communications from the dearly departed. Houdini soon abandoned the spiritualist program and started working on the increasingly amazing and complex escape tricks which he would later become famous for.

Houdini was a master of many trades in magic — he was so good at sleight of hand that even other magicians had trouble figuring out how he did his close-up work. Houdini was also a master lock-picker, from his days as a locksmith apprentice where he learned the mechanical construction of locks from the inside out. Houdini was also very athletic and strong with a highly developed musculature that made him look like a weightlifter in his prime. Houdini was also pretty good at disguise. And he was a true showman, with a gift for knowing what the public would pay to see, then presenting it with drama and excitement. And he was very, very clever and smart, as well as strong-willed with, literally, nerves of steel. He combined these talents and capacities to concoct escape tricks which had never been seen or heard of before. To this day many of his tricks remain a mystery, and even some of those which are not a mystery are too risky for ordinary magicians to undertake.

Like other great magicians, Houdini "gimmicked" almost everything in his elaborate shows. Nothing was as it seemed.

For example, the oversized locks which appear in old photographs of a chained-and-padlocked Houdini were actually Houdini's own locks which he insisted be added to the ordinary padlocks to truss him up even more securely before an escape. What the public didn't know was that Houdini's oversized locks had hidden compartments which contained his lock-picking tools. When Houdini went behind his screen, he simply opened his own lock, took out the pick and deftly picked the other ordinary locks, then popped out in a matter of seconds.

When Houdini did his famous jail escapes from real jails, the cops didn't know that when he was "inspecting" the jail prior to the escape, he was actually casing the place, planting secret keys and picks in advance with camouflaged tape, gum, and wax. Sometimes he would visit the site of an upcoming future trick in disguise to case it out or prepare it with pre-planted or gimmicked devices.

In one famous trick Houdini got himself invited to London’s most famous prison where the warden had claimed that he had a fool-proof, unpickable handcuff design and boldly challenged Houdini to try to break out of them. Houdini, gladly took the warden up on his challenge. To this day no one knows for sure which of his clever tricks he used for this particular escape — probably a combination of them. The warden cuffed Houdini to a large circular pillar in his jail with his arms around the pillar so that Houdini couldn’t see his hands. The warden and his entourage (which probably included a Houdini confidant or associate) strolled off as the Warden said, “We’re going to lunch. We’ll be back in an hour to see how you’re doing.” No sooner had the Warden uttered that remark, that Houdini loudly cracked the handcuffs against the pillar and, waving the cuffs in his hands at the Warden, shouted, “Wait! Wait! I’m coming with you!”

In fact, Houdini also made heavy use of confederates, many of whom weren't known to be associated with Houdini, and others, who appeared to be "assistants," were actually first-rate magicians in their own right who could easily and invisibly palm him a key or lock pick as they shook hands before a trick was to begin.

The staged or public part of a trick which appeared to be unfolding before the audience's very eyes, was the culmination of a lot of hard, clever prep work. In other words, what appeared to have happened isn't what happened at all.

When it came to handcuffs, Houdini wasn't above pre-"shaving" the teeth off locks making them easy to literally bust out of by banging them against a wall or pillar. The gimmicked or shaved cuffs would be secretly swapped for the real cuffs with a combination of slight-of-hand and pre-arrangement. Then when he appeared to escape from a set of cuffs with ease, no one would know they'd been switched while nobody was looking. (Houdini could pick most handcuffs if necessary as well, an option which frequently gave him a back-up plan for his riskier stunts.)

Through the early 1900s spirit mediums and semi-private (paid-for) seances became an increasingly popular craze which captured much of the public's imagination. These self-appointed spirit mediums claimed they could bring a client into contact with a dead relative at a seance, typically in a dark room in their (gimmicked) home.

(Nowadays, of course, seances are out of vogue, having been replaced by Boards of Supervisors meetings, Democratic Party Central Committee meetings, General Plan Scoping Sessions, pot permit process discussions, KZYX, School Board meetings, etc.)

The death of Houdini's mother in 1913 re-focused his attention on the still thriving business of spirit mediumship, or contacting the dead. At first he was open-minded, thinking that there might really be a chance that his mother could come back from the beyond and communicate with him. But as Houdini attended more and more seances he saw that these "mediums" were using the same kinds of tricks and gimmicks that Houdini was an expert in.

Houdini then became a well-known "debunker" (the term used for exposing fraudulent spiritualists today; in Houdini's day they were called “exposers.”)

Some critics think that Houdini's interest in debunking spiritualists was a crass commercial decision on his part, since he devoted a big part of his stage act to explaining how mediums did their "mysterious" stunts. But these critics didn't realize that Houdini had renounced being a spiritualist in the past when he saw how gullible people could be. Houdini's insistence on exposing them was probably sincere.

Either way, it certainly angered his targets — and may even have lead to his death. Spiritualists, whose income was reduced by his exposures, publicly threatened to take their revenge against him on a number of occasions.

In the 1953 movie "Houdini," starring Tony Curtis, Houdini is portrayed as having died while performing his famous Chinese Water Torture escape. But Houdini actually died of complications of a burst appendix — there's evidence that it was brought on when Houdini suffered a vicious surprise assault in the stomach by a man who had ties to the famous spiritualist and Houdini-antagonist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Holmes mystery series. Typical of Houdini, even after his death, it is all very suspicious.

For more on all this and other fascinating Houdiniana (including Houdini's dabbling in the international spy business) pick up the Houdini biography "The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero" by William Kalush and Larry Sloman.

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How a Group of Marin Teenagers Created 420

Four San Rafael High students unwittingly coined pot’s most popular code name.

by Zack Ruskin

Initially, the phrase “420 Louis” was a code — a reference to the time of day the Waldos would meet at a statue of chemist Louis Pasteur after school. Their agenda: to search Point Reyes for a crop of marijuana marked on a map they’d been given by a friend’s brother in the U.S. Coast Guard.

While the Waldos — Dave Reddix, Larry Schwartz, Steve Capper, Mark Gravitch and Jeffrey Noel — never found their bounty of bud, the term “420” stuck. It became an easy way to refer to marijuana without parents or teachers being the wiser, which was fantastic for the group, as smoking pot was part of nearly everything they did.

Now, almost 50 years later, Reddix and Capper are still marveling at the way their little inside joke has spread around the globe. Seated in Capper’s Sleepy Hollow home, they review the latest traces of their unexpected legacy. For starters, there’s H.R. 420 — a bill recently introduced in Congress by Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. Officially known as the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” the legislation seeks to build on a mounting public outcry calling for cannabis to be removed from the federal Controlled Substances Act. Capper and Reddix believe that step could help many unjustly incarcerated individuals go free, but they acknowledge such efforts remain controversial within the larger cannabis community. “We’re not political,” Capper says. “We’re not one side or the other.”

Another recent 420 reference comes courtesy of Tesla founder Elon Musk. “It was funny to watch him get in trouble for saying that the stock price would be evaluated at $420 a share,” Capper says. “He did it to impress his girlfriend, who likes to smoke out, and then all of a sudden he was in trouble with the [Securities and Exchange Commission].”

Musk’s misstep isn’t the biggest instance of 420 entering the zeitgeist. That would be the unofficial adoption of April 20 as a high holiday for marijuana worldwide. In San Francisco, thousands gather on this date each year at Golden Gate Park’s “Hippie Hill” to light up in unison when the clock strikes 4:20 p.m. Similar celebrations large and small happen everywhere from Vancouver to Amsterdam.

No one in the group is entirely sure just how the number leapfrogged their circle to become something so massive. Reddix notes that his brother Patrick Reddix was close friends with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, even managing two of the musician’s side bands, which almost certainly helped: in 1990, a flier for a Dead show in Oakland made ample use of the term and found its way to the offices of High Times, which published the first article investigating the origins of the phrase.

Capper first realized just how big 420 was getting when fellow Waldo Larry Schwartz phoned him in 1997. “Larry called me up one day. He said, ‘Steve, it’s everywhere. There are T-shirts and hats. Everybody is capitalizing on it.’ ”

Reddix recalls hiking with Capper in the expanses of Utah and finding a tree with 420 carved into its trunk. For a time, 420 inspired a real-life Waldo Easter egg hunt: whenever one of the gang saw a graffiti tag or park bench engraving, they’d gleefully share the news.

In 1998, the Waldos contacted High Times in hopes of setting the record straight, so to speak.

Their evidence was compelling. Among the keepsakes (currently stored in a bank vault) they offered as proof of provenance was a postmarked letter from Reddix to Capper mentioning 420 in the early 1970s. There’s also a 420 flag a friend of the Waldos made for them in arts-and-crafts class at San Rafael High.

Reddix says the Waldos have little interest in benefiting financially as 420’s creators; they just want proper credit. Besides, while the number’s improbable popularity has been a wild ride, it’s only one of countless signifiers of the gang’s mischievous days. “It’s totally secondary,” he says. “When Most noteworthy is the unofficial adoption of April 20 as a high holiday for marijuana. Marin County has never suffered from a lack of celebrity residents. Over the years figures like Metallica’s James Hetfield, actor Robin Williams, and novelist Isabel Allende have all lived here. Yet in addition to the writers, musicians and film stars, Marin has been home to another set of famous folks. They haven’t starred in movies or written hit singles, but the five friends known as the Waldos have become counterculture phenoms, thanks to a slang term they invented as students at San Rafael High School in 1971. you think about it, we didn’t get any coverage on this until 1998. That was 27 years after we created the term. That’s a long time.”

So what were the Waldos doing when not hunting reefer in Point Reyes? Most of the time, riding around in Capper’s 1966 Chevy Impala on “safaris” — impromptu escapades that more often than not involved smoking a little grass and doing something slightly insane.

“We went to all kinds of places in Marin,” Capper says. “We’d go to the Golden Gate Bridge, get high, and jump in the painters’ nets.” “We’d climb out on the girders,” Reddix explains. “Underneath there was a net in case someone was painting and they fell off. We’d go out there, get stoned, and start jumping in those nets like they were trampolines.”

Other antics: driving to Hamilton Army Airfield in Novato to sprint across the runway as planes were taking off; racing the planes in Capper’s Impala; surprising unsuspecting elevator riders by stopping the lift between floors and pulling apart the doors. After reading in Rolling Stone about a laboratory working with holograms near Palo Alto, Capper decided to visit it in the middle of the night. “I got fed up with a football game, so I went down there. It was like one in the morning; I pounded on the door and asked if I could see the holograms. They said, ‘Yeah! Come on in! We’d love to show you!’ ”

“Basically, we were a brotherhood of outlaw weed smokers,” Reddix says. “We’d challenge each other every week to come up with a new, weird place to go.”

These days, 420 pops up in the Waldos’ lives in other kinds of surprising ways. Last December, Reddix’s brother Pat passed away after a battle with cancer, and beyond family, longtime friend Phil Lesh was also there during that difficult time.

“I was there, and Pat died at exactly 4:20 p.m.,” Reddix says. “It’s on his death certificate. What are the chances of that?”



  1. Eric Sunswheat March 25, 2019

    Takeaway may be… increased rate of senility or perhaps Alzheimer’s Disease, suggested from other studies, but not shorter lifespan from reduced sleep weekly recovery..

  2. George Hollister March 25, 2019

    “reckoning for the media.”

    A reckoning for James Comey, and the FBI, because media believed them. James Clapper, and John Brennon too. The big question is, how did the Russia collusion narrative get it’s start? It looks like with the HRC campaign, and Russia. Comey, and the FBI look like the Pink Panther, and the Key Stone Cops. But who is the biggest loser? Far and away, it’s Russia. The winner is the American process, and the Constitution, believe it or not.

    • Harvey Reading March 25, 2019

      LOL, George. That’s a fine example of distortion and wishful thinking. Thanks.

  3. Bruce McEwen March 25, 2019

    Believe It Or Not, asking The Big Question is The Fool’s Errand and the News is what some NYT Editor says it is, at Press Time, not what happened in the world while you slept. The Mueller Probe was A Means To An End, to keep you focused on The Big Picture, where Your Influence is Infinitesimal to the Point of Insignificance, so as to keep you from attending to The Local Shysters and Shills (who are doing the same things as The Big Players, only upon a smaller scale) where you can actually Make A Difference, by confronting them and ignoring The Distraction of The Big Question.

    • George Hollister March 25, 2019

      True. What you do to make matters better for yourself, your family, and your community is what is the most effectual, and far and away the most important. How you spend your money, not someone else’s money, has much more effect as well. It’s true even if the money is spent on a full neck tattoo, or a $70,000 4X4 pickup truck.

      • Bruce McEwen March 25, 2019

        George, I’m deliriously impatient to see you tooling around town in your jacked-up four-by sporting a full-neck tattoo –!

  4. Eric Sunswheat March 25, 2019

    Two Berkeley scientific wizards have produced THC from patent GMO yeast, and are starting up business laboratory to produce the THC for $400/ kg, to compete with growers. Also they have plans to further lower cost of production to duck under taxes paywall.

  5. Eric Sunswheat March 25, 2019

    Statewide, about 80 percent of records released so far to members of the coalition have involved use-of-force investigations by departments into the actions of their officers, including those involving deadly shootings. Another 15 percent of the cases involve sustained investigations into dishonesty, and 4 percent detailed sexual misconduct, according to statistics provided by the California Reporting Project.

    The project includes the San Jose Mercury News and other Digital First Media newspapers in Northern and Southern California, KQED, the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee and other McClatchy papers in California, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, among others. The newsrooms have agreed to set aside competition and work collaboratively to share records with each other and the public.

  6. Craig Stehr March 25, 2019

    Just exchanged Facebook messages with Andy Caffrey in Garberville. In response to the latest political tracts which he shared, I just kind of spontaneously responded that after my 15th time in Washington, D.C., I am not interested in reading political tracts anymore. I suggested that he contact the authors, and recommend that they spend their time engaged in direct action. The deluge of current writing about the American political situation is about as valuable as a pitcher of warm spit.

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