It is worth using a column once in blue moon to update past topics, lest the issues we’ve covered (like old acquaintances) be forgotten. (As they say, today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s bird cage liner …)
There is no better time to do so than year-end when our calendar-motivated human condition puts the past 12 months under review and, with hopeful resolutions (mostly short-lived), we look to a healthier, happier New Year. (And after the last two years, I think everyone agrees it would be swell if the powers-that-be would sit back, shut the heck up and let us fearlessly roar into the ’20s.)
We reported from London on whether a high court judge would agree with Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich that his defamation claim against Catherine Belton’s bestselling book, “Putin’s People,” should go forward.
In late November, Justice Amanda Tipples ruled that nine of the 26 passages to which Mr. Abramovich objected shall proceed to trial, which is not expected to take place for very many months.
Justice Tipples’ ruling was based on “what meaning a reasonable and ordinary reader” would take away from the offending passages, which were presented in Ms. Belton’s book as fact, not opinion. (First rule of investigative journalism: Without documentary evidence “It is alleged…” or “I believe…” or “In my opinion…”.)
The British journalism establishment made its voice and sympathies known on this matter by bestowing upon author Catherine Belton the 2021 Magnitsky Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.
Sergei Magnitski was a Russian tax lawyer whom the Putin regime imprisoned, tortured and beat to death because they were displeased about what he had uncovered: rampant corruption at the highest levels.
Bill Browder, an anti-Putin campaigner who brought worldwide attention to Mr. Magnitsky’s plight, wrote in a Tweet: “She (Ms. Belton) has exposed the crimes of the Putin regime in ways that nobody has ever done before. She’s now paid a very dear price in their retaliation with multiple abusive lawsuits.”
A former senior official of Her Majesty’s Secret Service (MI6) told The Investigator he is hopeful the British government will soon crack down on the origins of money brought into the U.K. by Russian oligarchs (presumably to include Mr. Abramovich).
On another front (pertaining to our September column about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Montecito exile), our MI6 friend was also able to enlighten us on the nickname in James Bond circles for Prince Harry’s wife Meghan: “Me Again.”
CRITICAL RACE THEORY
Last June we wrote about Critical Race Theory, a new form of teaching that fixates on ethnic differences instead of equality.
While this new-fangled “woke” curriculum has taken the nation by storm via pressure groups, indoctrination programs disguised as tutorials and school boards, parents have been storming back, a backlash that has resulted in a highly politicized U.S. Justice Department (under the leadership of U.S. Attorney General Merrick “Parent Threat Tag” Garland) targeting parents who protest (if much less offensively than the rioters, looters and arsonists of summer 2020 and “smash-and- grab” criminal gangs in L.A. and Chicago) as if they were terrorists.
For example, while homeschooling her kids, a Grand Junction, Colo., mother named Sherronna Bishop recently answered the pounding on her door to an FBI swat team, who clasped her wrists in cold steel while searching her home after alleging she was suspected of “intentional damage to a protected computer,” which the mom claims to know nothing about.
Meantime, thousands of miles away across the pond, Robin Appleby, the head of school at my alma mater, the American School in London, was forced to resign by that $40,000-a-year private school’s board of trustees after numerous parents complained that she had been indoctrinating her student body by imposing “the controversial divisive” ideology of CRT onto the curriculum and into classrooms from first grade through high school.
Students claimed they were accused of “white fragility” and “white guilt” and lamented about “a culture of fear.”
At a Nov. 3 closed-door faculty meeting, some teachers reportedly referred to dissenting parents (many from racial and ethnic backgrounds) as caring more about anti-Semitism than racism and, ironically, one or more had referred to such parents as “Nazis.”
A spokesperson for The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (in the U.K.) said, “There are claims that ‘Nazis’ were used. Although the school denies this extreme language referred to American parents, it does not dispute that these terms did appear in their discussion, which also featured language suggesting that anti-Semitism and racism are different.”
The parents’ letter to trustees stated that “every subject, from art to literature to history, is now being taught through a prism of race and gender.” Even physical education classes were not immune; normal gym activities were replaced with “politics in sport discussions.”
Ms. Appleby then extended her teaching “philosophy” beyond the academic curriculum to establish after-school clubs that segregated students — in addition to creating an “affinity group” of 13- and 14 year olds, for the purpose of seeking them to question their gender with a view, presumably, toward surgically altering it.
Her “resignation” is effective Jan. 1, 2022.
Said a parent: “Although it has been presented as a resignation, Robin Appleby’s sudden and unexpected departure as head of school is being viewed as a decision imposed unilaterally by the school’s board of trustees. Unfortunately, she leaves behind many senior members of the school’s administration and faculty who appear resolute in their determination of this racist and toxic ideology.”
In other words, a step in the right direction but more trash to take out. (We wish we were back there to assist.)
Bringing it home to Santa Barbara, oral arguments took place at the Court of Appeal 10 days ago in a case by which Fair Education for Santa Barbara contests the $1.7 million (your tax dollars) given by our unified school district to an organization that purports to “train” educators in CRT. The plaintiff claims that Just Communities Central Coast is an unworthy recipient of public funds because those doing the “training” are themselves untrained — and, more important, there was no bidding process involved.
Breaking news on Dec. 16. That appeal has been denied, as was reported in the News-Press.
This lawsuit was the first legal action in the U.S. against CRT indoctrination in K-12 education.
“Purveyors of CRT are approved by woke school boards and paid for by taxpayers,” a person involved with this case told The Investigator. “CRT’s anti-police agenda is still being pushed by the Santa Barbara Unified School District, whose board on Dec. 14, discussed removing all special resource officers even though SROs have been successful in limiting violence and sexual abuse on school campuses.”
Audrey Nafziger, who works for the Ventura County district attorney and has been a sex crimes prosecutor for 27 years, told The Investigator (speaking as a Montecito mom, not on behalf of her office), “In my experience, removing SROs has significant ramifications for teens who experience sexual abuse. SROs historically have been one of the only safe places teens can report sexual abuse and obtain protection. Removing SROs from Santa Barbara County campuses will leave our most vulnerable students in the crosshairs of predators with nowhere to turn.”
And now we learn that Santa Barbara City College has spent more than $600,000 on CRT training in the last calendar year, some of it on a grievance group called Allies to Accomplice, which offers schools “equity audits.” This expense comes at a time when SBCC is expected to show a budget deficit of $3.7 million. In other words, SBCC spends money it doesn’t have (and hopes to collect from you, the taxpayer) to pay for indoctrinating students with CRT.
We caused a major local uproar with our column about the Bellosguardo Foundation and the Clark Estate.
Most of what we reported was accurate. Some of it was not, a case of those running Bellosguardo doing themselves an injustice by not being communicative with us.
In the interest of fairness (because there are always two sides to every story), we feel an obligation to balance our reporting with the foundation’s perspective.
It transpires that Bellosguardo was in no legal position to begin the process of opening the Clark Estate until December 2017 (when the estate was transferred to the foundation). The Jan. 9, 2018 Montecito debris flow, followed by COVID lockdowns, slowed an already interminably sluggish city planning and permit process that would allow the foundation to open the estate to the public.
On a positive note, plans are under way to gain permits for work that must be done — parking, toilet facilities, etc.— to meet a city of Santa Barbara greenlight for allowing public access.
Hiring out for private events (such as weddings) to bring in money for affecting such improvements is a necessary and accepted form of fundraising. The city issues permits for such access on an event-by-event basis.
A couple of questions remain unanswered but, hopefully, from this point on it is full speed ahead as Bellosguardo endeavors to open the Clark Estate for tours available to all and, eventually, public events that will celebrate culture and the arts.
BEANIE BABY BLUES (CONTINUED)
We reported, in September, that Beanie Baby tycoon Ty Warner is keeping his hotels in Montecito and New York City shut down until a management agreement with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts expires and he can reopen without that company’s involvement.
The Real Deal (New York real estate news) confirmed last month that Ty and the Four Seasons are butting heads: “Warner wants payments to the Four Seasons adjusted based on profitability, while the brand does not.”
In the meantime, Mr. Warner has filed a $2.7 million lawsuit against Zilli, a luxury retailer that leased space on the ground floor of Four Seasons New York, for skipping out on rent during the COVID-19 lockdown. (It’s not like Zilli could open and sell merchandise with the hotel closed and locked down!)
So: More lawyers and litigation for Ty as he continues to sing the blues (amid — we constantly hear — little sympathy for him around Montecito due to his shutdown of The Biltmore and Coral Casino and his indifference to career employees at both who have been left out in the cold for a second Christmas).
THE BIDEN BUNCH
A new book entitled “Laptop from Hell” reveals that Hunter Biden and his uncle James entered into a deal with CFEC, a Chinese energy company linked to the government of China, for which dad/brother Joe was expecting a 10% cut.
Author Miranda Devine also reveals that CFEC Chairman Ye Jianming gifted Hunter with a 3-carat diamond worth $30 million.
The State Department under the current administration has no moral right to exert pressure on other countries to clean up corruption and graft so long as blatant (and ignored) corruption takes place within our own rafter of turkeys at the White Wattle.
PASS THE SHROOMS, PLEASE
Response to our column on psilocybin’s comeback was mostly from folks wanting to know how to gain access and indulge. But because possession and ingestion of magic mushrooms is illegal except in a handful of cities that have decriminalized its use, the only advice we can offer to readers with such requests is this: Do your own research on the Internet focusing on those places — Oakland and Santa Cruz; Denver; Ann Arbor, Mich., and Washington, D.C. — where such use is lawful and MDs may be willing to assist and dispense.
WORLD WAR III?
Last week we reported that Dr. Philip Petersen, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and Pentagon official, had departed to Eastern Europe to assess the mood of those he claims are on the frontlines if Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.
From Warsaw, earlier this week, Dr. Petersen reported back to The Investigator: “I don’t believe that the Poles will accept a Russian border with themselves; if the Russians enter Ukraine from the East, I expect the Poles to enter Ukraine from the West in alliance with Ukraine, with a guarantee, that is, for Ukrainian sovereignty. This will lead to an automatic escalation from a border squabble to a European War.”
We had the largest avalanche of emails ever from this column one month ago, none of it negative, which tells us there are plenty of independent thinkers around town, not just sheeple hypnotized by a long-winded group fantasy that, if allowed to continue, will destroy democracy and bankrupt our economy.
Or, as George Friedman wrote earlier this week with regard to COVID-19, “Demonizing everyone can be a disease in its own right.”
Rod Serling had it figured 61 years ago when he broadcast a “Twilight Zone” episode called “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.” Watch it to understand how fear and suspicion can cause once friendly neighbors to turn on one another.
Here is a smattering of responses:
Irene: “You covered all the bases. I believe your article will wake up some who are still sleepwalking into what may be a personal hell. It is not every article that may actually save someone’s life, or the quality of their life, but this is one of those.”
Note: We’re blushing.
Eric: “Your analysis is brilliant.”
Gordon: “Unquestionably, one of your best ever. Exactly what is needed, a fact-based revelation of the truth.”
D.L.: “Please continue to dig, discover and spread the truth. We must break apart the mass psy-op being played out by the ruling cabal.”
Susan: “Thank you for everything you do for our community via news and information.”
Note: Our pleasure.
D.D.: “I’m grateful to see that truth-seeking journalists still exist. You give us hope in a world overrun by too many corporate-funded narrators.”
Julie: “I just wanted to say thank you for telling the truth. I can’t even watch any news stations anymore because of how much they push the vaccine. They never tell stories of the deaths and injuries. No mention of our governor and his mysterious health issues. It’s like we live in North Korea.”
Heather: “I am an acute care RN in Hawaii. I’ve watched everything unfold before my eyes exactly as your article depicts.”
Cheryl: “Thank you, brave soul, for Standing Tall.”
Note: “Walking Tall” starring Joe Don Baker (the 1973 version) was my favorite movie as a young adult. Walking tall has always been my objective.
And finally: Dear reader, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Robert Eringer is a longtime Montecito author with vast experience in investigative journalism. He welcomes questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2021 by the Santa Barbara News-Press. All rights reserved.