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Project Censored’s coverage of the

top 10 d e r o s n ce stories of 2023



CN&R D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3

Bruce Jenkins


Vol. 47, Issue 6 • Dec. 7–January 3, 2024


Insurance & Financial Services



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Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Editor’s Note. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Guest Comment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 This Modern World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Second & Flume . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Streetalk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7



Briefed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Murky forecast for California’s water supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8



Top 10 censored stories of 2023




December events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Reel World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Chow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Arts DEVO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Brezsny’s Astrology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27


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Tell Congress hunger is an emergency Americans having trouble putting food on the table rose W significantly last year.

e were dismayed but not surprised to learn that the number of

The news comes from a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing that the percentage of households in America experiencing food insecurity rose more than than 2.6 percent in 2022. At a glance, the stats may not appear alarming. But, fact is, that’s a 25 percent jump in food insecure people in this country—from 10.2 to 12.8 percent—which equates to 10.2 million additional hungry Americans. All told, 44.2 million U.S. citizens live in food-insecure households. Tragically, this includes more than 13 million children. This surge in hunger follows a more than decade-long trend in the opposite direction; hunger decreased every year between 2012 and 2021. The recent reversal is concerning, to say the least, and it’s indicative of a lack of recent action from the highest reaches of government to address the issue. Note that rates improved through the first two years of the pandemic, when Congress approved a series of “emergency” measures to combat poverty, such as boosting the allotment of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka SNAP or food stamps) benefits. However, Congress allowed those extra funds—an average of $82 a month—to expire early this year, leaving people to make do with pre-pandemic levels at the same time as skyrocketing food costs. In fact, prices shot up 11 percent from

by Jason Cassidy j a s o n c @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

2021 to 2022—stemming from inflation and supply chain disruptions—more than five times the historic average of 2 percent per year. As a result, many Americans have had to choose between paying for food and other essentials, such as increasingly unaffordable housing. That raises a couple of questions for our congressional representatives, including District 1 Rep. Doug LaMalfa: First, why in the world would you do away with such an important safety net at a time when Americans are facing housing and food crises? And second: What are you going to do about it? That brings us to the Farm Bill, the massive multiyear legislation that was due to expire in September but was extended as lawmakers wrangle over the details. Per usual, Republicans want to increase certain farm subsidies—cotton, peanuts and rice (the commodity LaMalfa farms) this time around—mainly via cuts to food aid. That’s their grand plan despite the fact that the aforementioned farming welfare would benefit only the nation’s wealthiest ag producers. Indeed, food out of the mouths of literal babes to line the pockets of fat cats. Republicans hold the House and will argue that the pandemic is over and its emergency measures should end as well. But newsflash: 40-plus million hungry Americans is an emergency. Suffice to say, it all puts a bad taste in our mouths, as it Ω should yours. Hunger should not be a partisan issue.

LETTERS No animals left behind Re: “Recovery on the Ridge” (Nov. 2, 2023) In remembrance of the five-year anniversary of the Camp Fire, a local nonprofit, donation- and grant-funded animal rescue group should be recognized. Friends United in Rescue (FUR) originated as a small group of dedicated women with a mission to find, save and reunite animals left behind. Suzanne Maxwell and Sunel Waters met and established a makeshift shelter on Pentz Road which in December 2018 became an unofficial rescue location. Over 200 cats were rescued during the Camp fire, with several dozen reunited with their owners. From 2019 to date, they have taken in over a thousand cats/kittens; spayed and neutered and adopted or transferred them to other shelters. In October 2020 FUR moved to its current Chico location and became 4


D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3

a foster-based adoption center with additional programs based on humanely reducing over population and offering other services and education to surrounding communities. To visit, adopt or donate, check out their website (friendsunitedinrescue.org) and social media sites. Sue Fisher, FUR volunteer Chico

Call for cease fire Every 4 minutes an innocent Palestinian’s life is being taken away—murdered. Water, food, medicines, electricity and hygiene are being denied. More than 15,000 civilians killed; more than 30,000 injured and many under rubble. The world is watching in horror; our hearts breaking. Some rationalize that that is what happens in war. When the Japanese government bombed Pearl Harbor, a U.S. military base, the retaliation was

enormous and severe. The U.S. tested two nuclear bombs on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most of the world considers WWII a “just war,” fighting Nazism. My elders illegally incarcerated into American concentration camps were considered wartime exceptions to the “just war.” The U.S. is again complicit by supporting Israel’s long-term occupation of Palestinian lands, apartheid, home demolitions, funding revengeful murderous war crimes and violating human rights. I thank those legislators who are calling for a cease fire now. I thank the progressive Jewish American organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. I’m grateful for our local actions in Chico. Speak your conscience now. Diane Suzuki Chico


Quoting 2023 Tying a bow around 2023 with quotes—by me and others— taken from a year’s worth of this column:

What’s uncomfortable for many people is to meet people where they’re at. It changes people’s lives. Because it shows them immediately that you care. … [Ask] “How can I help you?” And just help them.—Bill “Guillermo” Mash Going into any communication with the understanding that the person on the “other side” shares our same fundamental human needs, and responding without judgment while speaking our own truth (and not parroting a predetermined worldview), is the only way to create a connection. But both “sides” need to be conscious of the process and take part. ... The only other choice is violence, in one form or another.

People who have been broken, people living in the street, have lost faith in themselves and lost faith in the community. Our job, literally, is to get them to start trusting us. ... When they start trusting us and know that we’re not going away, that’s when I start seeing healing in them. Because they’ve had so many failures. When they see that you’re not going away, you can start seeing life changes.—Bob Trausch, board vice president Chico Housing Action Team I am always caught off guard when I hear people say, “I won’t go downtown.” Mostly, I’m taken aback because not going downtown, for me, would be like not going to Chico. ... What downtown needs is you. Just come and things will get better. Standing around the open hatchback, listening to a recording Garr1son had made on a neighbor’s answering machine of a couple of his tunes, I had to force myself not to look around too much. I couldn’t have played a single note if I would have dwelled on the fact that I was standing in the burned-out heart of the man in front of me. As the red sun set behind the charcoal poles littered around the lot at the very end of Green Forest Lane, the three of us got lost in the groove of Garr1son’s bittersweet blues.

It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable.—Nick Cave Thank you, News & Review, for keeping me around, and thank you readers and supporters of this newspaper for sticking around—mistakes and all. And one new one, just for this column—a reminder for the new year: Don’t forget you’re alive—Joe Strummer

Jason Cassidy is editor of the Chico News & Review


Gratitude practice much suffering. So much joy. IHowthiscanyear.oneSoheart hold “everything every-

’m having a hard time writing a holiday reflection

where all at once”? My meditation group has responded with a focus on gratitude, so I’ll start there: I am “grateful-for” having a family, a home, friends, enough food and warmth to make it through life’s challenges. I am grateful-for Medicare, for paved roads, for our beautiful by parks and green spaces, Janet Rechtman The author is a retired for the big sky that greets me every morning. I am University of Georgia faculty member who grateful-for Zoom which moved to Chico in 2018 lets me stay connected to be near her to good friends and good grandchildren. ideas. Being grateful-for is a way to appreciate what life offers. The counterpart to grateful-for is feeling grateful-to. I am grateful-to all those who help ensure I have all the things I am grateful-for. I am grateful-to my family for being

there when I need them while living their own rich lives (for which I hope they are grateful). I am grateful-to folks who make up crossword puzzles and those journalists who report on important issues in the newspapers that surround those crossword puzzles. I am especially grateful-to people who have the courage to stand up for their beliefs, bearing witness to wrongdoing and acting with kindness and compassion in response to suffering. For example, those who appreciate having homes can more deeply understand the challenges of being homeless. People who have enough money may choose to help rather than blame those without resources. Gratitude for good health softens the tendency stigmatize others for their mental and physical illnesses, addictions, and lack of self-care. The practice of gratitude can help ease the pain of loss and grief, by being grateful-for the lives of people now gone and grateful-to those we lost for the gifts they brought when they were alive. I also think of the Camp Fire survivors I’ve met who were burned GUEST COMMENT C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 7

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SECOND & FLUME by Melissa Daugherty m e l i s s a d @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

‘Cost-of-living crisis’ Last month, while sick with a particularly bad virus, I ordered take-out a lot. Over the course of two weeks, I barely cooked. I didn’t have the energy, and the minuscule amount I could muster was spent caring for my kiddo, who also was ill. Suffice to say, my wallet took quite a hit. Dining out is a luxury. But then again, these days, eating in ain’t so cheap. Once I recovered, I headed to my neighborhood supermarket to get the essentials for my favorite vegetarian chili recipe. Given my recent splurge, I was more cognizant of prices. And there it was: $2.99 for a 15-ounce can of corn. Corn! Beans were pricey, too. Luckily, I didn’t have to buy meat. Shortly thereafter, I was shocked when the same chain grocery store was charging $11 for the pound of ground beef I needed for lasagna. All told, I spent around $28 on ingredients. The past few years, as inflation and prices soared, I keep wondering how Americans are feeding their families. Obviously, the surge in costs transcends groceries. Most of the essentials have skyrocketed, according to the Consumer Price Index. I suppose this wouldn’t be a problem if wages were keeping pace, but they most certainly are not. I’m especially concerned about my community, a place whose median household income of $59,000 is far lower than the minimum of $73,000 a year required for a family to live somewhat comfortably in Butte County. In this economy, I keep thinking, This isn’t sustainable. Something’s gotta give. Yet, due to pent-up demand following the initial COVID shutdown, coupled with cognitive dissonance, Americans have staved off a financial crisis by maintaining spending habits. At least for now. Every few weeks I do an online search to see whether a downturn is imminent. I’ve been doing that periodically as far back as 2018, the year a postGreat Recession recession was predicted. It never materialized, but now, half a decade later, I can’t shake the feeling the other shoe is about to drop. The first thing I do is turn to the experts. Problem is, the nation’s top economists don’t have the best track record of late. They wrongly predicted inflation wouldn’t last long, for example, and then it steadily rose for 20 months before peaking at a 40-year high in June 2022. Sure, it’s come down, but prices remain high and are still increasing. The only relief—if you want to call it that—is that they aren’t going up as fast as they did during that aforementioned period. As for the forecast for 2024, it’s pretty much impossible to get a straight answer. I’ve read predictions of catastrophic scenarios and casual warnings of a minor slowdown. Some financial experts aren’t concerned about next year at all. Seems these folks base their outlooks on arcane acronym-laden data that, quite frankly, even they can’t use to draw accurate conclusions. But if you ask me, red flags abound. I say this based on indicators that are more relatable to the everyday consumer, including news that Americans are carrying near-record credit card debt—an average of $6,000—and delinquencies are rising. Of course, the main problem is that people continue to pay more for goods, services and housing without the increased income necessary to make it all affordable. Locally, among other things, that will include a PG&E rate hike of nearly 13 percent next year. And don’t forget corn. Well, maybe not corn specifically. The point is, a lot of people are having trouble putting food on the table (see Editorial, page 4). And when that’s happening, when Americans can’t meet their basic needs—food, water, clothing, shelter, etc.—there’s no doubt we have a cost-of-living crisis.

Melissa Daugherty is editor-at-large for the Chico News & Review


What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Asked in downtown Chico

Jeff Boian Business consultant

This sounds cliché, but time with family, and rest—kind of a reset. My birthday is five days after Christmas, so we have a combination [with the holidays]. My wife and I celebrate 20 years of marriage, [too]. This is a great year.

Shawna Batham Fleet Feet program director

Probably putting up the Christmas tree with my children. All the kids have their own ornaments that they’ve gotten through the years. We’re going to do it the day after Thanksgiving this year.

Ki Leslie retired

I like Thanksgiving—the food, and there seems to be a bit more fellowship among friends and family.

Jamie Taylor musician

Usually, after Christmas, when I’m with my family we just play games all afternoon and laugh and do puzzles. Yeah, uninterrupted time with family.


out in the fires around Paradise. One man lost five generations of history when his home burned; another man’s hair caught on fire as he cycled down Skyway with his dog in his backpack; a woman told me about how she noticed the second lane was empty and decided to drive the wrong way down Skyway, with many others following her lead. Every survivor I’ve encountered has said s/he is grateful-for the support of the community and grateful-to the spirit and resilience that helped them survive the fire. As 2024 ends, reflecting on and with gratitude is a promising way to close out this year of everything everywhere all at once. Ω


City of trees? Last month, many of us who live in North Chico were shocked to see a crew cutting down one of most remarkable trees in Chico. This massive black walnut at Henshaw and Nord avenues is estimated to be about 200 years old. In 1973, when it was placed in a registry as the largest black walnut of its kind in the state, it was 112 feet tall with a diameter of almost 7 feet. Yet this majestic giant, and other huge black walnuts next to it, dating back to John Bidwell and the dawn of our rich orchard history, were hacked to pieces in a matter of days. When we neighbors asked what was going on, we either got lies—“Just one tree,” “Just a trim” –—or told to mind our own business. Upset residents who looked into the situation tell me the developer and contractor proceeded with little or none of the due diligence needed. In essence, they moved as quickly as possible to take down the trees before they could be stopped from immediately doing so. I am not naïve about hard choices developers sometimes have to make. But this was an egregious decision, and a terrible loss for the “City of Trees.” Joe Wills Chico

Write a letter Tell us what you think in a letter to the editor. Send submissions of 200 or fewer words to cnrletters@newsreview.com. Deadline for January 4 print publication is December 20. D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3



NEWSLINES BRIEFED COMMUNITY RESOURCES/ACTION CHICO PEACE ENDEAVOR VIGIL: Join peace and social-justice advocates a the corner of Third and Main streets every Saturday, 12:30-1:30pm. facebook.com/ChicoPeaceVigil FREE FOOD DISTRIBUTION: The SCCAC holds free food distributions every second and fourth Saturday. Sat, 12/9 & 12/23, 2pm. South Chico Community Assistance Center, 1805 Park Ave. southchicocac.org MAGALIA RESOURCE CENTER: Food, clothes, and household items distributed Thursdays and Saturdays. Donations of non-perishable food and small household items accepted. Magalia Community Church, 13700 & 13734 Old Skyway. 530-877-7963. WINTER COMMUNITY TREE PLANTING: Butte Environmental Council, City of Chico and CalFire collaborate on biannual community tree planting event. If you would like to volunteer please sign up at bit.ly/BEC-volunteer. Questions: email urbanforest@becnet.org Sat, 12/9, 9am. (530) 894-6424.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUTTE COUNTY SUPERVISORS: Meetings are normally held the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Visit site for posted agenda as well as current meeting calendar. Tue, 12/12, 9am. Butte County Board of Supervisors Chamber, 25 County Center Drive, Oroville. buttecounty.net

CHICO PLANNING COMMISSION: The commission normally meets first and third Thursdays. Agendas are posted to the web the previous Friday. Thu, 12/7 & 12/21. City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. chico.ca.us

CHICO CITY COUNCIL MEETING: City Council meets every first and third Tuesday of the month. Agendas, minutes and video archives are available at chico.ca.us/agendasminutes. Tue, 12/5 & 12/19, 6pm. City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. CLIMATE ACTION COMMISSION: Commission normally meets second Thursdays. Agendas are posted to the web the previous Friday. Thu, 12/14, 6pm. City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. chico.ca.us

OROVILLE CITY COUNCIL MEETING: Council normally meets first and third Tuesdays. Check site for latest agenda. Tue, 12/5 & 12/19, 4:30pm. Oroville City Council Chambers, 1735 Montgomery St. cityoforoville.org

PARADISE TOWN COUNCIL: The town council normally meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Check site for agenda. Tue, 12/12, 6pm. Paradise Town Hall, 5555 Skyway. townofparadise.com 8


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State of water With storms arriving, California’s reservoirs are in good shape, but forecast is murky

A storms in early December, the state’s reservoirs are already flush with water. s forecasts tease California with rain-

It’s a big departure from a year ago: The state’s major reservoirs—which by store water collected Rachel Becker mostly from rivers in rac h e l @ the northern portion of ca l m at te r s .o rg the state—are in good shape, with levels at 123 percent of average About (as of Nov. 27). In late this feature: 2022, bathtub rings of It was produced by CalMatters, an dry earth lined lakes independent public that had collectively journalism venture dipped to about twocovering California state politics and government. thirds of average—until For more info, visit heavy winter storms in calmatters.org. January filled many of

them almost to the brim. Yet healthy water levels don’t mean California’s reservoirs are full. Most of California’s large reservoirs are operated for flood control as well as water storage, with space kept empty to rein in winter storm runoff. The wet season has arrived in California, with El Niño conditions projected to continue strengthening. But for the Golden State, with its unpredictable swings from dry to wet and back again, El Niño doesn’t guarantee heavy rainfall. And as California’s water managers plan for the water year ahead, they’re faced, as always, with their dueling responsibilities: forestalling floods while preparing for possible scarcity in a state where water supplies are often stretched thin and long droughts are common.

When state climatologist Michael Anderson looks into California’s water year ahead, he says the crystal ball is cloudy.

A murky forecast, both near and far After an unpredictable and mostly dry November—which saw heavy precipitation for some parts of the state in the week leading up to Thanksgiving—“things are lining up for the pattern to become progressively more active and wetter in California starting around early to midDecember,” according to predictions from the Weather West climate analysis website. Some headlines heralded last month’s

An aerial photo of Lake Oroville taken from behind the dam and emergency spillway on July 3, when the lake was 99 percent full. As of Nov. 28, the lake is down to 66 percent of total capacity. PHOTO BY FLORENCE LOW, COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES

rains as the first storms of many as El Niño continues to strengthen and intensify. Characterized by warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, El Niño is often expected to bring wetter weather. But in California, the connection is more tenuous. Of seven El Niño events over the past 23 years, Anderson said, two have been dry, three have been roughly average and two have been wet. One recent study reported that El Niño accounts for only about 25 precent of the year-to-year variability in California’s rain and snowfall during the winter. “What that tells me is anything goes,” Anderson said. “El Niño by itself doesn’t define our water year.” In fact, the year is actually off to a drier start: Statewide, California has seen only about 52 percent of average precipitation since this water year began Oct. 1. Marty Ralph, director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at UC San Diego, suspects that it’s atmospheric rivers like the ones that pummeled California last year that will determine whether El Niño will bring a firehose or a trickle to California. “It’s like you’re playing poker, and you’ve got a good hand— that’s El Niño for us. But we haven’t finished the round of the game, and we still have to draw a couple cards,” Ralph said. “But we might not draw the good cards.”

Waste not, want not? With seasonal outlooks unable to reliably say whether a winter will be wet or dry, water managers must plan for both. Fortunately there’s some wiggle room this year, according to Jeanine Jones, the Department of Water Resources’ interstate

resources manager. Last year’s massive snowpack and abundant rainfall filled the state’s reservoirs enough that even if this rainy season leans dry, she said, “We’re going into next year with a cushion, which is always good.” That doesn’t mean the reservoirs are full, though. Lake Oroville—the largest reservoir on the State Water Project, which sends water south to farms and cities—and Lake Shasta—critical to growers and other water users reliant on the federal Central Valley Project—are at about two-thirds of their total capacity. That’s because with reservoirs that serve the dual purpose of flood control and water storage, water managers must release water to keep space empty to wrangle possible floods during the wet seaA bystander watches as water rushes down the spillway from the Lake Oroville flood control gates on March 10. PHOTO BY FRED GREAVES, COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES

son, Jones said. The water that flows into rivers and streams and out to the ocean is often bemoaned as water wasted. But waste is in the eye of the beholder, said Jay Lund, vice-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. “Water that’s ‘wasted’ is always water used by somebody else,” Lund said. The list of benefits for fishing, conservation, Delta farmers, water quality and healthy shorelines is lengthy. Water allowed to flow out into the San Francisco Bay, for instance, washes away salts and pollutants, transports sediment and sand necessary to maintain marshes and restore eroding beaches, assists salmon in migrations and helps maintain healthy ecosystems. Still, the Public Policy Institute of California reports that California could have socked away more water last year, had there been better ways to ferry water from full rivers to groundwater

recharge sites, and better coordination among landowners, local agencies, and others. “I tend to think that there is room for capturing more surface water … if you could afford the cost of capturing it,” agreed Lund. “That, to me, is the biggest problem.” The controversial Sites Reservoir project, for instance, is projected to cost more than $4.4 billion. The reservoir, planned in the western Sacramento Valley, would store as much as 1.5 million acre-feet of Sacramento River water, alarming environmental groups that say drawing more water from the river will imperil its already-struggling fish. In early November, Gov. Gavin Newsom cleared the project to be fast-tracked “to the extent feasible” through any litigation challenging it under the landmark California Environmental Quality Act. That move was made possible with new legislation. Even so, the project is not expected to be com-

pleted before 2030 or 2031. In the meantime, researchers like UC San Diego’s Ralph, along with local, state and federal agencies, hope to operate the state’s reservoirs more nimbly by incorporating new weather forecasting tools into decades-old rulebooks governing when to hold onto water and when to release it. The program allowed the Russian River watershed to hold onto about 7,000 to 8,000 acre-feet more water in Lake Mendocino this past year, and an additional 19,000 acre-feet more in Lake Sonoma, according to Donald Seymour, deputy director of engineering with Sonoma Water. The Department of Water Resources announced that it is expanding the effort to two major reservoirs, Lake Oroville and New Bullards Bar, as well. Many are looking down rather than up for opportunities to store more water. The Department of Water Resources estimates that about 3.8 million acre-feet of water was captured through groundwater recharge by last summer. The Southern California water import giant, the Metropolitan Water District, also recently announced a $211 million groundwater bank in the Antelope Valley. The bank can store 280,000 acre-feet of water, enough to fill Castaic Lake, the largest State Water Project reservoir in Southern California. Though construction to allow withdrawals hasn’t been completed yet, the bank stands ready to accept deposits. The bank is aimed at providing a little more net for the tightrope walk that California’s water managers start anew every water year. “We always plan for it to be potentially very dry, or very wet,” said Brad Coffey, Metropolitan’s water resources manager. “No matter what kind of year we had Ω this year.” Note: The CN&R adjusted some rainfall numbers and weather details in this story to reflect forecasts and totals that were current as of print deadline. D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3




The economy vs. the planet In previous years, I’ve highlighted the multiplicity of patterns of censorship that can be seen. In their introduction to the larger 25-story list in their annual book, The State of the Free Press, Andy Lee Roth and Steve Macek describe these patterns at two levels. First, invoking the metaphor that “exemplary reporting is praised for shining light on a subject or bringing to light crucial facts and original perspectives,” they say. The news reports featured in this chapter are rays of light shining through a heavily slatted window. Each of these independent reports highlights a social issue that has otherwise been dimly lit or altogether obscured by corporate news outlets. The shading slats are built from the corporate media’s concentrated ownership, reliance on advertising, relationship e have made the planet inhospitable to human life.” to political power, and narrow definitions of who and what That’s what the lead researcher in Project Censored’s count as “newsworthy.” Censorship, whether overt or subtle, number one story this year said. He wasn’t talking establishes the angle of the slats, admitting more or less light about the climate catastrophe. He was talking about so-called from outside. “forever chemicals,” per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances But in addition, the authors say, it’s important to see the (PFAS), linked to prostate, kidney and testicular cancer and “list as the latest installment in an ongoing effort to identify additional health risks, and the study he led found unsafe systemic gaps in so-called mainstream (i.e., corporate) news levels in rainwater worldwide. coverage.” They go on to say, “Examining public issues that Even though this story received some corporate media independent journalists and outlets have reported but which attention—in USA Today and on the fall outside the scope of corporate news coverage makes it Discovery Channel—the starkly shockpossible to document in specific detail how corporate news story by ing bottom line clearly didn’t come Paul Rosenberg media leave the public in the dark by marginalizing or blockthrough to the general public. Have you ading crucial issues, limiting political debate, and promoting heard it before? Has it been the subject corporate views and interests.” illustrations by of any conversation you’ve had? No? On the one hand, all that is as true as it’s ever been. But Anson Well, that, my friend, is the very essence Stevens-Bollen on the other hand, the two themes in the number one story— of what Project Censored’s signature environmental harm and corporate abuse—so dominate the “top ten” list is all about: exposing the top-ten list that they send another message as well, a message suppression (active or passive) of vitally about the fundamental mismatch between our needs as a speimportant information, which renders the public unable to cies living on a finite planet and a rapacious economic sysact in the way that a healthy democratic populace is suptem conceived in ignorance of that fact. The climate catastroposed to. The project has been doing this since Carl Jensen phe is just the most extreme symptom of this mismatch—but began it with a single college class in 1976, inspired in part it’s far from the only one. Corporate abuse figures into every by the way the Watergate story got this same sort of treatstory in the list—though sometimes deep in the background, ment until well after the election cycle it was part of. as with the decades-long efforts to destroy unions in story But there’s a second story intertwined with the “forever number six. Environmental harms show up in seven of the 10 chemicals” pervasive presence: the revelation that companies stories. responsible for them have known about their dangers for There are still other patterns decades, but kept those dangers hidden—just here, to be sure—and I encourlike fossil fuel companies and climate catastroage you to look for them yourself phe. The intersection of environmental/public About this story: because seeing those patterns health and corporate criminality is typical of This preview of Project Censored’s enriches your understanding how certain long-standing patterns of censored annual censored-story list was produced by of the world as it is, and as it’s news weave together across the years, even Random Lengths News. The CN&R has a long being hidden from you. But this history of co-publishing this project and is decades, and how the spotlight Project Censored proud to return to this year-end tradition. dominant pattern touches us all. shines on them helps to make sense of much The Project Censored book, State of the The evidence is right there, in the more than the individual stories it highlights, as Free Press 2024—featuring coverage of 25 stories themselves. vitally important as they are in themselves. stories that mainstream media has neglected

Corporate abuse and environmental harm dominate Project Censored’s coverage of the top 10 censored stories of 2023


this past year—will be released Dec. 5 and can be purchased via projectcensored.org.



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“Forever chemicals” in rainwater a global threat to human health Rainwater is “no longer safe to drink anywhere on Earth,” Morgan McFall-Johnsen reported in Insider in August 2022, summing up the results of a global study of so-called “forever chemicals,” polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Researchers from Stockholm University and the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics at ETH Zurich concluded that “in many areas inhabited by humans,” PFAS contamination levels in rainwater, surface water and soil “often greatly exceed” the strictest international guidelines for acceptable levels of perfluoroalkyl acids. They’re called “forever chemicals” because they take so long to break down, “allowing them to build up in people, animals, and environments,” Insider reported. Project Censored notes, “Prior research has linked these chemicals to prostate, kidney, and testicular cancer and additional health risks, including developmen-

Drinking rainwater anywhere in the world may be hazardous to your health.

tal delays in children, decreased fertility in women and men, reduced vaccine efficacy, and high cholesterol.” “PFAS were now ‘so persistent’ and ubiquitous that they will never disappear from the planet,” Lead researcher Ian Cousins told Agence France-Presse. “We have made the planet inhospitable to human life by irreversibly contaminating it now so that nothing is clean anymore. And to the point that it’s not clean enough to be safe,” he said, adding that “We have crossed a planetary boundary,” a paradigm for evaluating Earth’s capacity to absorb harmful impacts of human activity. The “good news” is that PFAS levels aren’t increasing in the environment. “What’s changed is the guidelines,” he said. “They’ve gone down millions of times since the early 2000s, because we’ve learned more about the toxicity of these substances.” All the more reason the second strand of this story is important: “The same month,” Project Censored writes, “researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, published a study in the Annals of Global Health using internal industry documents to show that the companies responsible for ‘forever chemicals’ have known for decades that these substances pose significant threats to human health and the environment.” There’s been limited corporate media cov-

erage (only from USA Today, the Discovery Channel and Medical News Today) on the fact that rainwater isn’t safe to drink, but the general public clearly hasn’t heard the news. However, there’s been more coverage of the series of lawsuits developing in response to PFAS. But the big-picture story surrounding them remains shockingly missing.

products work and what the world sees on its screens and in its search results.” “Chief amongst these is the trust and safety department, whose staff, in the words of the Google trust and safety vice president Kristie Canegallo, ‘[d]ecide what content is allowed on our platform’—in other words, setting the rules of the internet, determining what billions see and what they do not see.” And more broadly, “a former CIA employee is working in almost every department at Google,” Project Censored noted. But Google isn’t alone. Nor is the CIA. “Former employees of US and Israeli intelligence agencies now hold senior positions at Google, Meta, Microsoft, and other tech giants,” Project Censored wrote. A second report focused on employees from Israel’s Unit 8200, that country’s equivalent of the CIA, which is “infamous for surveilling the indigenous Palestinian population,” MacLeod wrote. Using LinkedIn, he identified hundreds of such individuals from both agencies, providing specific information about dozens of them. “The problem with former CIA agents becoming the arbiters of what is true and what is false and what should be promoted and what should be deleted is that they cut their teeth at a notorious organization whose job it was to inject lies and false information into the public discourse to further the goals of the national security state,” MacLeod wrote, citing the 1983 testimony of former CIA task force head John Stockwell, author of In Search of Enemies, in which he described the dissemination of propaganda as a “major function” of the agency. “I had propagandists all over the world,” Stockwell wrote, adding: “We pumped dozens of stories [to the media] about Cuban atrocities, Cuban rapists. … We ran [faked] photographs that made almost every newspaper in the country. … We didn’t know of one single atrocity committed Google offices in Sunnyvale. PHOTO BY GREG BULLA

Hiring of former CIA employees and ex-Israeli agents “blurs line” between Big Tech and Big Brother “Google—one of the largest and most influential organizations in the modern world—is filled with ex-CIA agents,” Alan MacLeod reported for MintPress News in July 2022. “An inordinate number of these recruits work in highly politically sensitive fields, wielding considerable control over how its

by the Cubans. It was pure, raw, false propaganda to create an illusion of communists eating babies for breakfast.” “None of this means that all or even any of the individuals are moles—or even anything but model employees today,” MacLeod noted later. But the sheer number of them “certainly causes concern.” Reinforcing that concern is big tech’s history. “As journalist Nafeez Ahmed’s investigation found, the CIA and the NSA were bankrolling Stanford Ph.D. student Sergey Brin’s research—work that would later produce Google,” MacLeod wrote. “Not only that but, in Ahmed’s words, ‘senior U.S. intelligence representatives, including a CIA official, oversaw the evolution of Google in this pre-launch phase, all the way until the company was ready to be officially founded.’” This fits neatly within the larger framework of Silicon Valley’s origin as a supplier of defense department technology. “A May 2022 review found no major newspaper coverage of Big Tech companies hiring former US or Israeli intelligence officers as employees,” Project Censored noted. “The most prominent US newspapers have not covered Google, Meta, Microsoft, and other Big Tech companies hiring former US and Israeli intelligence officers.” Individual cases may make the news. But the overall systemic pattern remains a story censored via mainstream silence.

Toxic chemicals continue to go unregulated in the United States The United States is “a global laggard in chemical regulation,” ProPublica reported in December 2022, a result of chemical industry influence and acquiescence by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a period of decades, according to reporters Neil Bedi, Sharon Lerner and Kathleen McGrory. A headline example: asbestos, one of the most widely-recognized toxic substances, is still legal in the US, more than 30 years after the EPA tried to have it banned. “Through interviews with environmental experts and analysis of a half century’s worth of legislation, lawsuits, EPA documents, oral histories, chemical databases, and regulatory records, ProPublica uncovered the longstanding institutional failure to protect Americans from toxic chemicals,” Project Censored CENSORED C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 1 3 D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3




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reported. ProPublica identified five main reasons for failure: One: The chemical industry helped write the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). A top EPA official “joked the law was ‘written by industry’ and should have been named after the DuPont executive who went over the text line by line,” ProPublica reported. The law “allowed more than 60,000 chemicals to stay on the market without a review of their health risks” and required the EPA to always choose the “least burdensome” regulations. “These two words would doom American chemical regulation for decades.” Two: Following early failures, the EPA lost its resolve. In 1989, after 10 years of work, the EPA was banning asbestos. But companies that used asbestos sued and won in 1991, based on a court ruling they’d failed to prove it was the “least burdensome” option. However, “the judge did provide a road map for future bans, which would require the agency to do an analysis of other regulatory options … to prove they wouldn’t be adequate,” but rather than follow through, the EPA simply gave up. Three: Chemicals are considered innocent until proven guilty. For decades, the U.S. and EU used a “risk-based” approach to regulation, requiring the government to prove a chemical poses unreasonable health risks before restricting it—which can take years. In 2007, the EU switched to a “hazard-based” approach, putting the burden on companies Online searches by abortion seekers can become criminal evidence against them.

The EPA has been slow to banning asbestos.

when there’s evidence of significant harm. As a result, ProPublica explained, “the EU has successfully banned or restricted more than a thousand chemicals.” A similar approach was proposed in the U.S in 2005 by New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, but it was soundly defeated. Four: The EPA mostly regulates chemicals one by one. In 2016, a new law amended the TSCA to cut the “least burdensome” language, and created a schedule “where a small list of high-priority chemicals would be reviewed every few years; in 2016, the first 10 were selected, including asbestos,” ProPublica reported. “The EPA would then have about three years to assess the chemicals and another two years to finalize regulations on them.” But six years later, “the agency is behind on all such rules. So far, it has only proposed one ban, on asbestos, and the agency told ProPublica it would still be almost a year

before that is finalized.” Industry fights the process at every step. “Meanwhile, the EU has authored a new plan to regulate chemicals even faster by targeting large groups of dangerous substances,” which “would lead to bans of another 5,000 chemicals by 2030.” Five: The EPA employs industry-friendly scientists as regulators. “The EPA has a long history of hiring scientists and top officials from the companies they are supposed to regulate, allowing industry to sway the agency’s science from the inside,” ProPublica wrote. A prime example is Todd Stedeford. “A lawyer and toxicologist, Stedeford has been hired by the EPA on three separate occasions,” ProPublica noted. “During his two most recent periods of employment at the agency—from 2011 to 2017 and from 2019 to 2021—he was hired by corporate employers who use or manufacture chemicals the EPA regulates.” “A handful of corporate outlets have reported on the EPA’s slowness to regulate certain toxic chemicals,” Project Censored noted, citing stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times. “However, none have highlighted the systemic failures wrought by the EPA and the chemical industry.”

Stalkerware could be used to incriminate people violating abortion bans Stalkerware—consisting of up to 200 surveillance apps and services that provide secret access to people’s phones for a monthly fee—“could become a significant legal threat to people seeking abortions, according to a pair of articles published in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion,” Project Censored reports.

“Abortion medication is safe. But now that Roe is overturned, your data isn’t,” Rae Hodge wrote for the tech news site CNET just two days after the Dobbs decision. “Already, the digital trails of abortion seekers can become criminal evidence against them in some states where abortion[s] were previously prosecuted. And the legal dangers may extend to abortion seekers in even more states.” The next month, writing for Slate, University of Virginia law professor Danielle Keats Citron warned that “surveillance accomplished by individual privacy invaders will be a gold mine for prosecutors targeting both medical workers and pregnant people seeking abortions.” Invaders only need a few minutes to access phones and passwords. “Once installed, cyberstalking apps silently record and upload phones’ activities to their servers,” Citron explained. “They enable privacy invaders to see our photos, videos, texts, calls, voice mails, searches, social media activities, locations— nothing is out of reach. From anywhere, individuals can activate a phone’s mic to listen to conversations within 15 feet of the phone,” even “conversations that pregnant people have with their health care providers—nurses, doctors, and insurance company employees,” she warned. As a result, Hodge cautioned, “Those who aid abortion seekers could be charged as accomplices in some cases,” under some state laws. It’s not just abortion, she explained, “Your phone’s data, your social media accounts, your browsing and geolocation history, and your ISP’s detailed records of your internet activity may all be used as evidence if you face state criminal or civil charges for a miscarriage.” “Often marketed as a tool to monitor children’s online safety or as device trackers, stalkerware is technically illegal to sell for the purpose of monitoring adults,” Project Censored noted, but that’s hardly a deterrent. “Stalkerware and other forms of electronic surveillance have been closely associated with domestic violence and sexual assault, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence,” Citron noted. In addition, Hodge explained, “third-party data brokers sell sensitive geolocation data— culled through a vast web of personal tracking tech found in apps, browsers, and devices—to law enforcement without oversight.” And “abortion bounty hunter” provisions adopted by states like Texas and Oklahoma, add a financial incentive. “Given the inexpensive cost of readily available stores of personal data and how easily they can be de-anonymized, savvy informants could use the information to identify abortion seekers and turn a profit,” she noted. “The law’s response to intimate privacy CENSORED C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 1 4 D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3




violations is inadequate, lacking a clear conception of what intimate privacy is, why its violation is wrongful, and how it inflicts serious harm upon individuals, groups, and society,” Citron explained. “Until federal regulations and legislation establish a set of digital privacy laws, abortion seekers are caught in the position of having to create their own patchwork of digital defenses, from often complicated and expensive privacy tools,” Hodge warned. While the bipartisan American Data Privacy and Protection Act is still “slowly inching through Congress” it “is widely thought toothless,” she wrote. The Joe Biden administration has proposed a new rule protecting “certain health data from being used to prosecute both clinicians and patients,” STAT reported in May 2023, but the current draft only applies “in states where abortion is legal.” “Corporate news outlets have paid some attention to the use of digital data in abortionrelated prosecutions,” Project Censored reports. While there have been stories about post-Roe digital privacy, “none have focused specifically on how stalkerware could potentially be used in criminal investigations of suspected abortions.”

Certified rainforest carbon offsets mostly “worthless” “The forest carbon offsets approved by the world’s leading certifier and used by Disney, Shell, Gucci, and other big corporations are largely worthless and could make global heating worse, according to a new investigation,” the Guardian reported on Jan. 23, as part of a joint nine month reporting project with SourceMaterial, and Die Zeit. “The analysis raises questions over the credits bought by a number of internationally renowned companies—some of them have labeled their products ‘carbon neutral,’ or have told their consumers they can fly, buy new clothes or eat certain foods without making the climate crisis worse.” “About 90 percent of rainforest carbon offsets certified by Verra, the world’s largest offset certifier, do not reflect real reductions in emissions,” Project Censored summed up. Verra “has issued more than one billion metric tons worth of carbon offsets, certifies threefourths of all voluntary carbon offsets.” While “Verra claimed to have certified 94.9 million credits” the actual benefits “amounted to a much more modest 5.5 million credits.” This was based on an analysis of “the only three 14


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scientific studies to use robust, scientifically sound methods to assess the impact of carbon offsets on deforestation,” Project Censored explained. “The journalists also consulted with indigenous communities, industry insiders and scientists.” “The studies used different methods and time periods, looked at different ranges of projects, and the researchers said no modeling approach is ever perfect,” the Guardian wrote. “However, the data showed broad agreement on the lack of effectiveness of the projects compared with the Verra-approved predictions.” Specifically, “The investigation of 29 Verra rainforest offset projects found that 21 had no climate benefit, seven had significantly less climate benefit than claimed (by margins of 52 to 98 percent less benefit than claimed), while one project yielded 80 percent more climate benefit than claimed. Overall, the study concluded that 94 percent of the credits approved by these projects were ‘worthless’ and never should have been approved.” “Another study conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Cambridge found that in 32 of the 40 forest offset projects investigated, the claims concerning forest protection and emission reductions were overstated by an average of 400 percent,” Project Censored reported. “Despite claims that these 32 projects together protected an area of rainforest the size of Italy, they only protected an area the size of Venice.” While Verra criticized the studies’ methods and conclusions, an outside expert, Oxford ecoscience professor Yadvinder Singh Malhi, had two PhD students check for errors, and they found none. “I wish it were otherwise, but this report is pretty compelling,” he told the Guardian. “Rainforest protection credits are the most common type on the market at the moment. And it’s exploding, so these findings really matter,” said Barbara Haya, director of the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project, who’s researched carbon credits for 20 years. “But these problems are not just limited to this credit type. These problems exist with nearly every kind of credit,” she told the Guardian. “We need an alternative process. The offset market is broken.” “There is simply nobody in the market who has a genuine interest to say when something goes wrong,” Lambert Schneider, a researcher at the Öko-Institut in Berlin told SourceMaterial. “The investigations by the Guardian, Die Zeit, and SourceMaterial appear to have made a difference. In March 2023, Verra announced that it would phase out its flawed rainforest offset program by mid-2025,” Project Censored reported. But they could only find one brief mention of the joint investigation in major U.S. newspapers, a Chicago Tribune op-ed.

Unions won more than 70 percent of their elections in 2022, and their victories are being driven by workers of color Unions won more than 70 percent of their certification elections in 2022, according to reporting by NPR and The Conversation, and workers of color were responsible for 100 percent of union growth, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute reported by Payday Report and the New Republic. Also, 2,510 petitions for union representation were filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in fiscal year 2022 (Oct. 1, 2021-Sept. 30, 2022), up 53 percent from FY 2021; and 1,249 certification elections were held, with 72 percent voting to certify a union as their collective bargaining agent. “The entire increase in unionization in 2022 was among workers of color—workers of color saw an increase of 231,000, while white workers saw a decrease

of 31,000,” EPI wrote in a Feb. 2023 press release. EPI also noted that “Survey data show that nearly half of nonunion workers (48 percent) would vote to unionize their workplace if they could. That means that more than 60 million workers wanted to join a union, but couldn’t. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act provide crucial reforms that would strengthen workers’ rights to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.” It passed the House in 2020 and 2021 but died in the Senate, where it needed 60 votes to pass because of the filibuster. “Seventy-one percent of Americans now support unions according to Gallup—a level of support not seen since 1965,” Project Censored noted. “Dismantling existing barriers to union organizing and collective bargaining is crucial to generating a more prosperous, equitable economy,” EPI concluded. More than a quarter of 2022 union elections, 354, were held at Starbucks, Marick Masters explained in his January 2023 article for The Conversation. “Workers at Starbucks prevailed in four out of every five elections. Workers at Chipotle, Trader Joe’s and Apple unionized for the first time, while workers at Microsoft and Wells Fargo also had wins,”

Assessing the impact of carbon offsets on deforestation is grossly miscalculated.

Project Censored reported. Union activity spikes during times of social unrest, Masters reported. Unionization rose from 7.6 to 19.2 percent from 1934 to 1939, during the Great Depression, and from 20 to 27 percent between 1941 and 1945, during

World War II. “Masters described the current wave of union activity as driven by record levels of economic inequality and continued mobilization of workers in ‘essential industries,’ such as healthcare, food and public safety, who were thrust into harm’s way during the global pandemic,” Project Censored noted. “Whereas Republican and Democratic politicians often separate concerns over working conditions and pay from issues of identity, these data demonstrate how identity and workers’ rights are closely connected,” Project Censored added. “Unionization and labor struggles are direct mechanisms to better accomplish racial and social equality; the ability for people to afford to live happy and dignified lives is inherently tied to their ability to enjoy fundamental social and civil rights within those lives, too,” Prem Thakker noted at the New Republic. Despite these gains, “the power of organized labor is nowhere close to what it once was,” Project Censored wrote. “As Masters pointed out, more than a third of workers were unionized in the 1950s, whereas only a tenth were in 2021. Before the 1980s, there were typically more than five thousand union elections in any given year, and as recently as 1980, there were two hundred major work stoppages [over 1,000 workers],” compared to just 20 in 2022, which was still 25 percent above the average over the past 16 years. “Corporate media coverage of the labor resurgence of 2022 was highly selective and, in some ways, misleading,” Project Censored reported. There’ve been hundreds of articles on union organizing at Starbucks and Amazon, and “Yahoo republished Masters’ The

Conversation article about union success in elections, and Vox, Bloomberg Law, and the Washington Post all remarked on organized labor’s recent string of certification vote victories,” they noted. “Yet corporate coverage of current labor organizing often fails to address the outsized role played by workers of color in union growth.” Nor has it placed recent union successes in the historical context of prolonged decline, largely due to private employers’ heavy-handed efforts to undermine organizing campaigns and labor laws that strongly favor employers.

Fossil fuel investors sue governments to block climate regulations “Litigation terrorism.” That’s what Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz called the practice of fossil fuel companies and investors suing governments in secretive private tribunals to thwart climate change policies. Litigants claim climate change laws undermine their profits, and thus they must be compensated under what’s known as “investor-state dispute settlement” [ISDS] legal actions, Rishika Pardikar reported for The Lever in June 2022, following a paper in Science by lead author Kyla Tienhaara the month before. It found that “Global action on climate change could generate upward of $340 billion in legal claims from oil and gas investors,” which, “is more than the total level of public climate finance globally in 2020 ($321 billion).” A good portion threatens the global south. “The five countries with the greatest potential losses from ISDS are Mozambique ($7–31 billion), Guyana ($5–21 billion), Venezuela ($3–21 billion), Russia ($2–16 billion), and the United Kingdom ($3–14 billion),” Tienhaara reported. What’s more, “If countries decide to also cancel oil and gas projects that are currently under development, this could introduce substantial additional financial losses from ISDS claims.” “Such [litigation] moves could have a chilling effect on countries’ ability to take climate action because of the fear and uncertainty they cause,” Pardikar noted. “New Zealand, for example, recently said that it could not join the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, an international consortium of governments working to phase Union organizing in Philadelphia in 2022. PHOTO BY JOE PIETTE VIA FLICKR

out fossil fuels, because doing so ‘would have run afoul of investor-state settlements,’” Lois Parshley reported for Grist in January 2023. Project Censored also cited Lea Di Salvatore’s December 2021 report that fossil fuel “investors succeeded in 72 percent of all cases,” winning an average over $600 million, “almost five times the amount awarded in nonfossil fuel cases.” In addition, secrecy is the rule: “54 percent of the concluded fossil fuel cases are confidential—while their existence is known, no case-related documents, such as awards or decisions, have been made public.” Although the tribunals may sound like courts, they aren’t. “Because ISDS systems are written into thousands of different treaties, each with different wording, there’s also no system of precedence,” Parshley wrote, after noting the practice of ‘double batting,’ in which one individual may act as arbitrator, legal counsel, expert witness, and tribunal secretary, either sequentially or even concurrently. Most come from “an elite group of approximately 50 arbitrators who are regularly appointed” to most cases, researcher Silvia Steininger told Pardikar. Conflicts of interest “are viewed as commonplace in international investment arbitration and considered an inherent part of the system,” the Law Review article Parshley references said. What’s more, “Just because arbitrators decide something in one case doesn’t mean that logic has to be applied to another. Proceedings can be kept confidential, and there is no way to appeal a tribunal’s decision,” Parshley noted. Tienhaara’s paper ended with a section “An Abolitionist Approach,” where she warned, “Reformist approaches would be time-consuming and likely ineffectual, based on the experience of previous efforts.” Abolitionist examples include “Terminating all bilateral investment treaties” in order to “prevent existing leaseholders from accessing ISDS,” as South Africa and others have done “without any resulting reductions in foreign investment.” Negotiating the “removal of ISDS clauses from trade agreements, as the United States did with Canada in the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” is also possible. “Another option is for states to withdraw consent to ISDS in cases involving fossil fuel investments, emulating the approach taken by Singapore and others to remove the threat of ISDS claims from the tobacco industry.” But abolitionists face two problems: “sunset clauses” that extend treaty protections “for 10 to 20 years for investments commenced prior to termination” (though they can be nullified), and resistance “from states with powerful fossil fuel lobbies.” Parshley noted that the Energy Charter Treaty, “ratified by over 50 primarily European countries,” is the largest international agreement protecting fossil fuel companies. After six countries announced their withdrawal and a modification effort

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failed, “the European Parliament called for a coordinated European Union departure from the treaty altogether,” but they still face sunset clause threats. While the Independent also reported on ISDS lawsuits “it only briefly touched on the concern that these lawsuits could prevent climate action,” Project Censored noted. “Beyond this handful of reports, the topic has received little coverage from major news outlets.”

Proximity to oil and gas extraction sites linked to maternal health risks and childhood leukemia “Two epidemiological studies, from 2021 and 2022, provide new evidence that living near oil and gas extraction sites is hazardous to human health,” Project Censored reports, “especially for pregnant mothers and children, as reported by Nick Cunningham for DeSmog and Tom Perkins for the Guardian.” Based on 1996–2009 data for more than 2.8 million pregnant women in Texas, researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) found that “for those pregnant women within one kilometer of drilling there’s about a 5 percent increase in odds of gestational hypertension, and 26 percent increased odds of eclampsia,” researcher Mary Willis told DeSmog. “So, it’s this really close range where we are seeing a potential impact right on women’s health.” Eclampsia is a rare but serious condition where high blood pressure results in seizures during pregnancy. “Notably, the data in the OSU study predate the widespread development of ‘fracking,’ or hydraulic fracturing, the process of extracting gas and oil from shale beds by injecting fluids at high pressure,” Project Censored noted, pointing to its years of previous coverage. The second study, from Yale, did study fracking. It found that “Young children living near” fracking wells at birth [less than two kilometers (approximately 1.2 miles)] are up to three times more likely to later develop leukemia,” according to an August 2022 Guardian story. “Hundreds of chemicals linked to cancer and other health issues may be used in the [fracking] process, including heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, benzene and radioactive 16


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material,” they explained. The study, based on 2009-2017 data from Pennsylvania, compared 405 children aged 2 to 7 diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia with an additional 2,080 children, matched on birth year, who didn’t have leukemia. The findings aligned with others, as DeSmog discussed. “One consistent takeaway from so many health studies related to fracking is that proximity is key,” they reported. “The allowable setback in Pennsylvania, where our study was conducted, is 500 feet,” Yale researcher Cassandra Clark told them. “Our findings … in conjunction with evidence from numerous other studies, suggest that existing setback distances are insufficiently protective of children’s health.” State and local governments have tried to create health buffer zones, but “The oil industry has consistently fought hard to block setback distance requirements,” DeSmog reported. For example, “In 2018, the oil industry spent upwards of $40 million to defeat a Colorado ballot measure that would have imposed 2,500-foot setback requirements for drillers.” Regulations are so weak that “In Texas, drilling sites can be as close as 45 meters from residences,” Willis told them. “Last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced new proposed rules that would require 3,200-foot setbacks on new oil and gas drilling, which would be the strongest in the nation and aligns with the distance where Willis’s studies find the most serious risks for pregnancies,” DeSmog reported. “But those rules would not affect existing wells.” No major U.S. newspapers appear to have Studies expose the potentially serious health hazards when living near oil and gas extraction sites.

covered either the OSU or the Yale study at the time of Project Censored’s publication, although “Smithsonian magazine, The Hill, and WHYY, an NPR affiliate serving the Philadelphia region, covered the fracking study.”

Deadly decade for environmental activists At least 1,733 environmental activists were murdered between 2012 and 2021—nearly one every two days across 10 years—according to the Global Witness study, Decade of Defiance; “killed by hitmen, organized crime groups and their own governments,” Patrick Greenfield reported for the Guardian, “with Brazil, Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico and Honduras the deadliest countries,” with half the attacks taking place in the first three countries, each reporting around 300 killings. “This has been going on for decades,” scientist, activist, and author Vandana Shiva wrote in a foreword to the report. “The report shows Brazil has been the deadliest country for environmental defenders with 342 lethal attacks reported since 2012 with over 85 percent of killings within the Brazilian Amazon,” Stuti Mishra reported for the Independent. “Mexico and Honduras witnessed over 100 killings while Guatemala and India saw 80 and 79 respectively, remain-

ing one of the most dangerous countries. The report also reports 12 mass killings, including three in India and four in Mexico.” “The killing of environmental activists has been concentrated in the Global South,” and “Indigenous land defenders are disproportionately impacted,” Project Censored warned. “The Guardian reported that 39 percent of those killed were from Indigenous communities, despite that group constituting only 5 percent of the global population.” “This is about land inequality, in that defenders are fighting for their land, and in this increasing race to get more land to acquire and exploit resources, the victims are indigenous communities, local communities, whose voices are being suppressed,” the BBC summed up. “Threats to environmental activists are not limited to killing,” Project Censored noted. “Environmental activists also face beatings, arbitrary arrests and detention, strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) brought by companies, sexual violence, and surveillance. A separate April 2022 report from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, as reported by Grist, documented more than 3,800 attacks on human rights defenders—including not only killings and death threats but also beatings, arbitrary arrests and detention, and lawsuits—between January 2015 and March 2021.” But “campaigners are hopeful that progress is being made,” the BBC reported, citing the sentencing of a former energy executive to 22 years in prison in Honduras for the murder of world-renowned activist Berta Cáceres in 2016, as well as promising international agreements. The Escazú Agreement, the first environmental and human rights treaty for Latin America and the Caribbean “commits countries to prevent and investigate attacks on environmental defenders,” and went into force in 2021. Mexico has ratified it, but “others including Brazil and Colombia have not” so far, the BBC said. There are also plans by the European Union to pass laws making companies responsible for human rights abuses in their supply chains. “These are game-changing decisions that could make a real positive impact for environmental defenders,” Shruti Suresh told the BBC. “We should be optimistic. But it is going to be a difficult and challenging road ahead.” There’s been scattered coverage of Global Witness’ report. A September 2022 New York Times article reporting how Mexico was deemed the deadliest country for environmental activists, a short piece the next month in the New York Times’s climate newsletter “Climate Forward’’ about why Latin America is so dangerous for environmental activists, and Feb. 26, 2023, a Los Angeles Times op-ed about attacks on Mexican Indigenous communities fighting climate change all referenced Global Witness’ findings, but “Otherwise,

Astronomical profits and executive bonuses at corporations have gone unchecked. PHOTO BY COGITO ERGO IMAGO VIA FLICKR

the corporate media have largely ignored the Global Witness study about the deadly wave of assaults on environmentalists during the past decade,” Project Censored noted, adding that it had previously covered the 2014 edition of Global Witness’s report “which was also significantly under-reported by establishment news outlets in the United States.”

Corporate profits hit record high as earnings for top 0.1 percent and Wall Street bonuses skyrocket “Corporate profits in the U.S. surged to an all-time record of $2 trillion in the second quarter of 2022 as companies continued jacking up prices, pushing inflation to a 40-year high to the detriment of workers and consumers,” Jake Johnson reported for Common Dreams in August 2022. “Astronomical corporate profits confirm what corporate executives have been telling us on earning calls over and over again: They’re making a lot of money by charging people more, and they don’t plan on bringing prices down anytime soon,” the Groundwork Collaborative’s chief economist, Rakeen Mabud, said. This followed Johnson’s reporting in March that the average bonus for Wall Street employees rose an astounding 1,743 percent between 1985 and 2021, according to an analysis by Inequality.org of New York State Comptroller data. Then, in December 2022, he reported that “earnings inequality

in the United States has risen dramatically over the past four decades and continues to accelerate, with the top 0.1 percent seeing wage growth of 465 percent between 1979 and 2021 while the bottom 90 percent experienced just 29 percent growth during that same period,” according to research by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). As a result, the average incomes of the top 0.1 percent rose from 20 times that of the bottom 90 percent in 1979 to more than 90 times as much in 2021. “The fossil fuel industry has enjoyed especially lavish profits,” Project Censored notes, citing Jessica Corbett’s July 2022 reporting for Common Dreams that the eight largest oil companies’ profits spiked a whopping 235 percent from the second quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2022, for a combined $52 billion profit, according to an analysis by Accountable.US. “Make no mistake; these profits mark a large transfer of wealth from working- and middle-class people to wealthy oil executives and shareholders,” Jordan Schreiber of Accountable.US told Corbett. “While many consumers were feeling the heavy burden of a life necessity suddenly doubling in price, oil executives were keeping prices high to maximize their profits.” “ExxonMobil profited $17.85 billion; Chevron, $11.62 billion; and Shell, $11.47 billion,” Project Censored notes. “Notably, in 2021-2022, the oil and gas industry spent more than $200 million lobbying Congress to oppose climate action.” Coverage of all this was scant. “The establishment media have reported intermittently on record corporate profits, but this coverage has tended to downplay corporate use of inflation as a pretext for hiking prices,” Project Censored sums up, citing examples from Bloomberg, ABC News and New York Times where the role of greedflation was debated.” The Times quoted experts from EPI and Groundwork Collaborative but refused to draw any firm conclusions,” they note. In addition, “The EPI study on the accelerating incomes of the ultrarich was virtually ignored” while the massive Wall Street bonuses got some coverage, they report: “Reuters ran a story on it, as did the New York Post. CNN Business noted that ‘high bonuses are also good news for Gotham’s tax coffers.’” Ω Copyright 2023 Random Lengths News

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Arts &Culture A DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS CHRISTMAS: It’s Christmastime in the newest and tiniest town in Texas, and it’s beginning to look a lot like trouble in Doublewide. Thu, 12/7, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-9356. totr.org

Music ALLEN HADIDIAN: Live acoustic music. Thu, 12/7, 6pm. Free. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E. 20th St. Ste. 100. 530-809-5616.

CHARMING DISASTER & EMPTY GATE: The playfully dark goth-folk duo with songs about death, crime, myth, magic, science and the occult returns to Chico. Locals Empty Gate and Ken the Revelator open. Thu, 12/7, 7:30pm. $10. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

KALEIDOSCOPE: Experience the magic of diversity in music as the entire Butte College Music Department comes together for a performance featuring the Jazz Band, Choir, Pop Band, Wind Ensemble, small groups and solos by students and faculty. Thu, 12/7, 7pm. $10. Arts Building, Butte College, 3536 Butte Campus Drive, Oroville.

LIVE JAZZ: Every Thursday night. Thu, 12/7, 7:30pm. Free. The DownLo, 319 Main St. 530-354-5028.


Sierra Nevada Big Room

Special Events HANK DUKE’S GOOD-TIME VARIETY HOUR: It’s a Christmas special, with comedy and music and musical comedy. Fri, 12/8, 8pm. $10. Gnarly Deli, 243 W. Second St. gnarlydeli.com



blending nature and technology in delicate, modeled birds. Reception: Dec. 8, 5-7pm. 12/8-31. 450 Orange St. chicoartcenter.com

Galleries & Museums 1078 GALLERY: A Westerly Direction, Christian Laney-Clark's exhibit of wearable art is an homage to the past, an ode to the present, and a glimpse into the future, crafted with beads, paint, dye and quilting techniques. Through 12/31. 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org

B-SO GALLERY: Student Works, rotating exhibits of student works and projects. Through 12/8. Chico State, Ayres Hall, Room 105.

CHICO ART CENTER: Works by Christian V. Davil,

JANET TURNER PRINT MUSEUM: Proof of Concept, from proof prints to cancellation sheets, take a deep dive into the printmaking process from start to finish. Through 12/16. Arts & Humanities Building, Chico State.

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ART: Two exhibits: Artwork By Claudia Steel & After Service, a veterans art show. Through Dec. 17. 900 Esplanade. monca.org

Markets FARMERS MARKETS: Butte County’s markets are open and selling fresh produce and



D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3

an evening of dance, celebrating a diverse range of styles and genres. New and original works by faculty, guest artists, and students. Two performances (Friday & Saturday). Fri, 12/8, 7:30pm. $8-$15. Harlen Adams Theatre, Chico State, PAC 144. 530-898-6333. www. csuchico.edu/hfa/news-events

with Holiday Season Festivities

Theater A CHRISTMAS STORY: See Dec. 7. Fri, 12/8, 7:30pm. $20-$22. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com

more. Chico: Downtown Chico (Saturdays, 7:30am-1pm); Meriam Park/Farmers Brewing (Sundays, 9am-noon); North Valley Plaza (Wednesdays, 8am-1pm); Chico State University Farm (Thursdays, noon-4 p.m.). Magalia: “Farmers Market Mobile,” 1397 South Park Drive (Sundays, noon).

Holiday Fun CHICO ICE RINK: The plaza is transformed into a winter wonderland for the season. Through 1/14. $14-$19. City Plaza, downtown Chico. (530) 345-6500. downtownchico.com

PARADISE ICE RINK: The annual holiday tradition returns to Paradise. Through 1/11. $14. Terry Ashe Recreation Center, 6626 Skyway, Paradise., (530) 872-6393. paradiseprpd.com

SANTA AT CHICO MARKETPLACE: Santa is at his holiday shop for visits and photos. 12/724. Check website for schedule. Chico Marketplace, 1950 E. 20th St. (530) 343-0706. shopchicomarketplace.com

THU7 Theater A CHRISTMAS STORY: A musical version of the classic holiday story about Ralphie and his obsession—a genuine Red Ryder BB gun. Shows through Dec. 17. Thu, 12/7, 7:30pm. $20-$22. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com

A DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS CHRISTMAS: See Dec. 7. Fri, 12/8, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-9356. totr.org

Music BASSMINT CHICO: A night of bass music with Lita Lotus, Sling Wave and False Profit. Fri, 12/8, 8:30pm. $10. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: The Pub Scouts bring

traditional Irish music weekly to Duffy’s. Fri, 12/8, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

GERALD JAMES BAND: Live country music. Fri, 12/8, 9pm. Free. Jen’s Place, 7126 Skyway, Paradise. 530-413-9130.


Submit events for the online calendar as well as the monthly print edition at chico.newsreview.com/calendar

A DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS CHRISTMAS: See Dec. 7. Sat, 12/9, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 DICKENS FAIR: Step back in time and visit a GORE, WITH YOU ALL DAY, OCTOBER ALL OVER: METAL!!! Fri, 12/8, 7pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

OLD SPICE BAND: Live music of the 1950s and '60s. Fri, 12/8, 7pm. $5. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E. 20th St. Ste. 100. 530-809-5616.

PINK HOUSE: Three sets from local alt-rockers. Fri, 12/8, 9pm. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.

TEN FOOT TIGER, MODERN METHODS, FUNKY JUNGLERZ: Sacramento indie-funk trio Ten Foot Tiger headlines this downtown dance party. Fri, 12/8, 8pm. $15. Lost on Main, 319 Main St. 530-354-5028.

SAT9 Special Events BREAKFAST WITH SANTA: Join Little Red Hen at a fundraiser for children with autism programs. Pancake breakfast, photos with Santa, activities for kids, silent auction. Sat, 12/9, 9am. $8-$12. Eagles Lodge, 1940 Mulberry St. (530) 487-7100. littleredhen.org

Victorian mansion at this fundraiser for Mains’l Services/7th St. Center for the Arts, with arts, crafts, refreshments, music and more. Sat, 12/9, noon-4pm. 7th St. Center for the Arts, 820 W. Seventh St.

HOLIDAY MAKER MARKET: Idea Fab Labs Chico and Maker Radio, 94.5FM, host a holiday arts and craft market featuring works by local makers. Sat, 12/9, 10am-4pm. Idea Fab Labs Chico, 603 Orange St. (530) 433-1719. makerradio.org

SENSORY-FRIENDLY FILM: An inclusive and sensory-friendly screening of Inside Out, plus holiday craftmaking. Please bring blankets and pillows for a picnic-style movie experience. Sat, 12/9, 3pm (crafts) & 4pm (film). $3-$5. Chico Country Day School, 1054 Broadway. (530) 212-0266.

UNITY IN MOTION — FACULTY DANCE CONCERT: See Dec. 8. Sat, 12/9, 7:30pm. $8-$15. Harlen Adams Theatre, Chico State, PAC 144. 530-898-6333. www.csuchico.edu/hfa/ news-events

Theater A CHRISTMAS STORY: See Dec. 7. Sat, 12/9, 7:30pm. $20-$22. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com



Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-9356. totr.org

Music ACXDC, BRAT, WITLESS, SEDITION: A night of punk, grind and extreme music with crews from LA, SF and Chico. Sat, 12/9, 7pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

BUTTE BAROQUE WINTER STRINGS CONCERT: Butte Baroque, Chico’s new string ensemble, performs music by Bach, Vivaldi and others. Sat, 12/9, 7:30pm. $20. St. John’s Episcopal Church, 2341 Floral Ave. 510-541-1942. chicotheatrecompany.csstix.com

GERALD JAMES BAND: Live country music. Sat, 12/9, 9pm. Free. Jen’s Place, 7126 Skyway, Paradise. 530--.

MIKE SHERM: West Coast underground rapper plays two nights in Chico (Dec. 9 & 10). Sat, 12/9, 7pm. $30-$50. El Rey Theater, 230 W. Second St. elreychico.com

ZAKK SABBATH: JMax Productions presents the all-star Black Sabbath tribute act led by Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society/Ozzy) on the Senator stage. Sat, 12/9, 8pm. $30. Senator Theatre, 517 Main St. jmaxproductions.net

SUN10 Theater A CHRISTMAS STORY: See Dec. 7. Sun, 12/10, 2pm. $20-$22. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com

A DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS CHRISTMAS: See Dec. 7. Sun, 12/10, 2pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-9356. totr.org

Music LANGDON KENNEDY: Live music Sun, 12/10, 3pm.


Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

MIKE SHERM: West Coast underground rapper plays two nights in Chico (Dec. 9 & 10). Sun, 12/10, 7pm. $30-$50. El Rey Theater, 230 W. Second St. elreychico.com

TOMMY AND THE COMMIES, TITE-NAUTS, CULL: No-nonsense racket from Canadian punks Tommy and The Commies. Locals Tite Nauts and Cull open. Tue, 12/12, 7pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

TUE12 Music After a year and a day, he came, as I have heard, and carried her away in a golden chariot, drawn by silver horses. There danced at the wedding two-and-twenty thousand of the most splendid figures, adorned with pearls and diamonds; and Maria, it is said, is at this hour queen of a land, where sparkling Christmas woods, transparent Marchpane Castles—in short, where the most beautiful, the most wonderful things can be seen by those who will only have eyes for them. Northern California Ballet presents The Nutcracker ballet, Dec. 15-17, at the Paradise Performing Arts Center.

VIC STAR: Live music. Tue, 12/12, 6pm. Free. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

WED13 Music CHICO JAZZ COLLECTIVE: Live music. Wed, 12/13, 7pm. Free. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

Dec. 9

OCCULT BLOOD, VOYEUR, SEDGE, REGIME: Eugene black-metal outfit Occult Blood join local death-grinders Voyeur and a couple brandnew crews. Wed, 12/13, 7pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

THU14 Theater CHRISTMAS CABARET: California Regional Theatre presents a musical revue that captures the joy, warmth and spirit of the holiday season with a selection of classic carols, contemporary hits and original compositions. Shows Dec. 14-16. Thu, 12/14, 7:30pm. $20-$25. First Street Theatre, 139 W. First St. crtshows.com

A CHRISTMAS STORY: See Dec. 7. Thu, 12/14, 7:30pm. $20-$22. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com

A DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS CHRISTMAS: See Dec. 7. Thu, 12/14, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-9356. totr.org

Senator Theatre

Music LIVE JAZZ: Live music. Thu, 12/14, 7:30pm. Free. The DownLo, 319 Main St. 530-354-5028.

LO & BEHOLD ALBUM-RELEASE: The seven-piece soulful “groove band” from Chico hits the Big Room stage to celebrate the release of their new album. Local rockers Surrogate join the party. Thu, 12/14, 7pm. $15-$20. Sierra Nevada Big Room, 1075 E. 20th St. sierranevada.com

FRI15 Special Events COMEDY SHOW: An evening of stand-up hosted by TJ. Fri, 12/15, 8pm. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

HIGH-QUALITY COMEDY: Comedy night hosted by


D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3




C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 1 9

Jake Rizzly. Fri, 12/15, 8pm. $15. Gnarly Deli, 243 W. Second St. gnarlydeli.com


THE NUTCRACKER: Northern California Ballet's annual performance of the holiday classic. Four shows in three days (Dec. 15-17). Fri, 12/15, 7:15pm. Paradise Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise.

Dec. 9

St. John’s Episcopal Church

Theater Theater

First St. crtshows.com

CHRISTMAS CABARET: See Dec. 14. Sat, 12/16, 7:30pm. $20-$25. First Street Theatre, 139 W.

A CHRISTMAS STORY: See Dec. 7. Fri, 12/15, 7:30pm. $20-$22. Chico Theater Company,

First St. crtshows.com

166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com

A CHRISTMAS STORY: See Dec. 7. Sat, 12/16, 7:30pm. $20-$22. Chico Theater Company, 166

A DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS CHRISTMAS: See Dec. 7. Fri, 12/15, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735

Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com

Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-9356. totr.org

A DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS CHRISTMAS: See Dec. 7. Sat, 12/16, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735


Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-9356. totr.org

CHARLIE ROBINSON BASH: Chico Concerts pres-

DIRTYSNATCHA, PIERCE, CHOMPPA: EDM night with hella DJs and producers. Fri, 12/15, 8pm. $20. Senator Theatre, 517 Main St. jmaxproductions.net

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: The Pub Scouts bring

traditional Irish music weekly to Duffy’s. Fri, 12/15, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.


Chico Women’s Club

Music CHARLIE ROBINSON BASH: See Dec. 15. Sat, 12/16, 7pm. $30. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. chicoconcerts.net

SAT16 Special Events CELEBRATION MARKET: A holiday pop-up event with local vendors—jewelry, art, clothing, soaps, candles, skin-care products and more. Plus, live music, food vendors and cider. Presented by TurkeyTail Farm, Moon Medicinals, & Lassen Traditional Cidery. Two days—Saturday & Sunday. Sat, 12/16, 11am. No cover. Lassen Traditional Cidery, 643 Entler Ave. Ste. 52. 530-591-0198.

THE NUTCRACKER: See Dec. 15. Sat, 12/16, 2pm & 7:15pm. Paradise Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise.

IVY FLATS: Local cover act. Sat, 12/16, 8pm. $5. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

THE NORTH VALLEY CHAMBER CHORALE: North Valley Chamber Chorale (plus orchestra) presents a sacred Christmas concert featuring works by J.S. Bach and others. Two shows (Saturday & Sunday). Sat, 12/16, 7pm. $25. Abbey of New Clairvaux, 26240 Seventh St, Vina. 530898-6127. northvalleychamberchorale.org

NTH POWER, WRECKLESS STRANGERS: NOLA funk-inspired sounds from the East Coast. Wreckless Strangers open. Sat, 12/16, 8pm. $20-$25. Lost on Main, 319 Main St. 530.892-2445. eventbrite.com

THE RIGGED BAND: Live music. Sat, 12/16, 8:30pm. $10. Mulberry Station, 175 E. 20th St. 530-809-5616.

SUN17 643 Entler Ave. Ste. 52. 530-591-0198.

COMEDY AT THE STATION: A night of standup hosted by Jacob McClain. Sun, 12/17, 8pm. $5. Mulberry Station Brewing Co, 175 E. 20th St. 530-809-5616.

THE NUTCRACKER: See Dec. 15. Sun, 12/17, 2pm. Paradise Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise.

Theater A CHRISTMAS STORY: See Dec. 7. Sun, 12/17, 2pm. $20-$22. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com

A DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS CHRISTMAS: See Dec. 7. Sun, 12/17, 2pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-9356. totr.org

Music THE NORTH VALLEY CHAMBER CHORALE: See Dec. 16. Sat, 12/17, 2pm. $25. Abbey of New Clairvaux, 26240 Seventh St, Vina. 530-8986127. northvalleychamberchorale.org

SOUND OF SOUL: Live music with Lisa Langley and Dave Elke. Sun, 12/17, 3pm. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

TUE19 Music VIC STAR: Live music. Tue, 12/19, 6pm. Free. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

Music CHICO JAZZ AMBASSADORS: Live music. Wed, 12/20, 7pm. Free. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

THU21 Music LIVE JAZZ: Live music. Thu, 12/21, 7:30pm. Free. The DownLo, 319 Main St. 530-354-5028.

FRI22 Special Events COMEDY TOURNAMENT: Conor Fitzgerald hosts this Sac vs. Humboldt battle. Fri, 12/12, 8pm. $10. Gnarly Deli, 243 W. Second St. gnarlydeli.com


D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3


CELEBRATION MARKET: See Dec. 16. Sun, 12/17, 11am. No cover. Lassen Traditional Cidery,




Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville.

Special Events

CHRISTMAS CABARET: See Dec. 14. Fri, 12/15, 7:30pm. $20-$25. First Street Theatre, 139 W.

ents a two-night celebration (Dec. 15 & 16) of the local guitarist's 90th birthday. With an all-star lineup of local players, including Charlie Robinson & Friends. Fri, 12/15, 7pm. $30. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. chicoconcerts.net

STEALIN’ CHICAGO: Chicago tribute band. Sat, 12/16, 10:15pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino &


or many, this time of year is especially tough. If you have it to give, the following places could use your money or time to better help those in our community who need it the most: Chico Housing Action Team: Visit chicohousingactionteam.net or call 530-399-3965 for more info. Far Northern Regional Center: 530-895-8633, farnorthernrc.org. Jesus Center (including the pallet shelter): Call 530-345-2640 or visit jesuscenter.org for info. North Valley Community Foundation: Visit nvcf.org or call 530-891-1150 to donate and for more information. Safe Space Winter Shelter: Visit them online at safespacechico. org and follow on Facebook. Salvation Army: Info: chico. salvationarmy.org; 530-342-1871. 6th Street Center for Youth: Call or visit site—530-8948008. 6thstreetcenter.org. True North Housing Alliance (including the Torres Community Shelter): 530-891-9048, truenorthbutte.org

at Lost & Found Thrift Shop! D N U FO 169 Cohasset Road, Suite 7 Chico CA 95926 lostandfoundchico@gmail.com (530) 809-4192 @lostfoundthriftshop

PAINTINGS AT GRUB: A showing of oils, water colors and pastels by Anna Elena Marsh and Jonathan Richman, Dec. 22-24. Opening reception Fri, 12/22, 6-8pm. GRUB Farm, 11630 Dairy Road.



BASSMINT: A night of bass music. Fri, 12/22, 9pm. Free. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville

Chico Art Center

Dec. 8-31


THE CHRISTMAS JUG BAND: A holiday concert and benefit for the PPAC. Fri, 12/22, 7:30pm. $25.

Open Tuesday to Saturday 9:30AM - 5:30PM Closed Sunday & Monday

Paradise Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise.

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: The Pub Scouts bring

traditional Irish music weekly to Duffy’s. Fri, 12/22, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

Providing affordable,

integrative health care

THE SPAZMATICS: 80s tribute band. Fri, 12/22, 10:15pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville.

since 2010


• Acupuncture • Cupping • Massage • Pregnancy & Fertility

Special Events PAINTINGS AT GRUB: See Dec. 22. Sat, 12/23, noon-4pm. GRUB Farm, 11630 Dairy Road.

Music BRIGHTEN, SURROGATE, WATASHI WA: A night of loud, emotional indie rock for the holidays. Sat, 12/23, 9pm. $10. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

LOSE YOUR ILLUSION: Guns 'n' Roses tribute band. Sat, 12/23, 10:15pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville.

SUN24 Special Events PAINTINGS AT GRUB: See Dec. 22. Sun, 12/24, noon-4pm. GRUB Farm, 11630 Dairy Road. OFF CAMPUS COMEDY: Monthly stand-up hosted by Jessy James. Sun, 12/24, 7pm. $15. Blue Room Theatre, 1005 W. First St. 408-449-2179. eventbrite.com

WED27 Music THE BROTHERS COMATOSE: The Bay Area Americana faves return to the Big Room. Wed, 12/27, 6pm. $25. Sierra Nevada Big Room, 1075 E. 20th St. sierranevada.com

CHICO JAZZ COLLECTIVE: Live music. Wed, 12/27, 7pm. Free. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

THU28 Music LIVE JAZZ: Live music. Thu, 12/28, 7:30pm. Free. The DownLo, 319 Main St. 530-354-5028.



Special Events

Special Events

COMEDY WITH GREG WARREN: Stand-up in Carlino’s

COUNTRY NEW YEAR’S EVE: Ring in the new at a

club with Greg Warren. Plus, opener Erik Escobar and emcee Hitman Thornton. Fri, 12/29, 8pm. $35. Rolling Hills Casino, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning.

Music BEC FUNDRAISER: Raising funds for the Butte Environmental Council with live music. Fri, 12/29, 9pm. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: The Pub Scouts bring

traditional Irish music weekly to Duffy’s. Fri, 12/29, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

PETER ROWAN & BROKEN COMPASS: Chico Concerts presents Grammy-award winner and member of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame Peter Rowan, a singer/songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. Broken Compass Bluegrass opens. Fri, 12/29, 7pm. $37. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. chicoconcerts.net

SAT30 Music DECADES: A free show with local superstar tribute band Decades, performing material spanning from the 1940s to today. Sat, 12/30, 10:15pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville.

country-music party with the Gerald James Band. Sun, 12/31, 9pm. $10 - $15. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. eventbrite.com

KINGS OF QUEEN: Queen tribute act for NYE. Sun, 12/31, 9:30pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville.

NEW YEARS EVE WITH TYLER RICH: A NYE party with the country music star behind hits like “Big Machine” and “Feels Like Home.” Sun, 12/31, 7pm. $25-$30. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. (800) 3349400. goldcountrycasino.com

REECE THOMPSON: Live music for New Year’s Eve day. Sun, 12/31, 3pm. Secret Trail Brewing

• Herbal Therapy • Pediatrics • AND MORE!

1815 MANGROVE AVE, CHICO Details & Appointments (530) 345-5300

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Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

ROARING 2024 COSTUME PARTY: Come in your best 1920s get up and ring in the new year. Sun, 12/31, 9pm. Free. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

MON1 Special Events POLAR BEAR PLUNGE: A loosely organized local ritual. Show up before 1 p.m. at the One-Mile pool and have a pal waiting with a towel on the other side. Mon, 1/1, 1pm. Sycamore Pool, Lower Bidwell Park.

With your recurring or one-time contribution, the Chico News & Review can continue our award-winning coverage on the topics that impact the residents of Butte County, including homelessness, the arts, the fight for equality, and the environment. You can make a donation Online at: chico.newsreview.com/support Or mail a check to: Chico News & Review P.O. Box 56 Chico, CA 95927 (Please include return address, email address, and do not send cash.)

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CN&R D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3

MUSIC Maker Radio volunteers record a video for a fundraising campaign. PHOTO COURTESY OF MAKER RADIO

Below: Roxi Doll shines on stage during the What is Art? open mic at Idea Fabrication Labs. PHOTO BY KEN PORDES

Strengthening the signal Idea Fab Labs’ Maker Radio nurtures local performers from stage to the airwaves

Radio’s Events Director. “This place in general has always been a Willy Wonka Factory of opportunity for art, tech stuff and sharing knowledge, and this is a way to apply that to music as well,” she said. “As an artist, I know that if I want to get into a gallery in San Francisco or New York or some other place I need a portfolio with high-quality photos of my work, etc. [The recordings] help musicians do the same, plus we’ve really built a community here. Performers have been able to find their audience here in town, as well as meet people and make connections.” Thus far, What is Art? has been running 40-plus weeks and amassed a catalog of more than 300 performances on their YouTube channel. Quillin, who says she never had musical aspirations before, said the

given a more tangible reward: every W held Thursday nights at Idea Fab Labs (IFL) Chico—is a far cry performance is filmed and the audio hat is Art?—a weekly event

from your typical coffee shop or bar open mic. by The stage on Ken Smith which it is held kens@ occupies one cornewsrev iew.c om ner of a cavernous room rivaling What is Art? the size of those open mic/open stage, at mid-sized, bigThursdays, 7 p.m. city clubs, and is Holiday Maker Market lit by state-of-theDec. 9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. art LED panels covering the roof Maker Radio 94.5 FM above it. Speaker cabinets the size Idea Fab Labs of refrigerators 603 Orange St. sit in front of the stage, making up part of a sound system that one of the organizers claims is “probably the best set-up [in California] north of the Bay Area.” And every week, a growing crowd of supportive regulars and newcomers turn out to cheer on the evening’s entertainers—who are mostly musicians, but also include dancers, poets, comedians and other performance artists. All are welcome. In addition to the opportunity to live out rock-star dreams on IFL’s

superstage, performers are also

and video are edited by volunteer professionals, posted to YouTube, and select tracks are broadcast via Maker Radio 94.5 FM. Maker Radio is a nonprofit, commercial-free community station headquartered at IFL. It has broadcast intermittently for the last several years, since the maker space obtained an FCC license once held by the Chico Peace and Justice Center. But it kicked into high gear in 2023 after the radio station secured its nonprofit status in January. The weekly open mics are an essential element of the radio station’s mission as stated by IFL co-founder and station director Erin Banwell: “The whole vision is basically to create an ecosystem for musicians in order to further their musical endeavors,” he said. “We want to go far beyond just radio.” The hope for the still-developing radio station, coupled with the open mic, is that they’ll be able to help even greenest artists become performers. “If you’re just getting started, you can perform at our open mic, and for a lot of people it’s been their

first time getting on stage. It’s super welcoming and everyone is going to cheer you on, and you get audio and video recordings. Those are hard to come by for a lot of people because it’s hard to do it yourself when you’re on stage performing, or the cost of paying someone to do it makes it impossible.” Maddie Quillin, a visual artist who works under the name Maevyn Corvid and earlier this year participated in IFL’s Resident Artist Incubator Program, serves as Maker

event even inspired her to get in on the act. After sitting in with a few regulars, she invested in a cajon (a wooden, box-shaped drum) and now regularly performs.

Makin’ radio

There is an equipment room at IFL housing the station’s computers, transmitter, and other necessary equipment, and the antenna is on the building’s roof. But to date, the radio station’s studio “has existed only in the cloud,” said Banwell,

meaning that everything is prerecorded and uploaded online. Since October, however, the station has overtaken two large rooms adjacent to the area where the open mic is held, which are currently being turned into Maker Radio’s home base. One large room will contain audio and video editing bays, volunteer resources and space for the station’s administrative needs, while the other is being transformed into a separated control room and sound-proofed studio. Banwell predicted the studio will be ready to go live in four to six weeks and said it will do double duty as a broadcast and recording studio, giving the station the ability to do live broadcasts and to record musical acts. In the future, he envisions Maker Radio as its own record label, as well. The station’s format has traditionally been ultra-eclectic: “You never know what the next track will be,” Banwell said. “It could be singer-songwriter, electronica, old-school blues, rock-’n’-roll, rap, R&B and anywhere in between.” While the format will remain the same on weekdays, the station recently started broadcasting some scheduled programming on Saturdays (between 9-12 a.m. and p.m), including a show called “Dub and Grub” featuring a reggae-loving chef named Dr. John who talks food while dub music plays in the background. Banwell said more programs will be added to the weekend line-up in the future. Additionally, recordings captured at from What is Art? events are played around the 40-minute mark of every hour, introduced by local musician Fox E. Jeff. The station currently has several fundraising efforts underway—to build and equip the studio; rent a boom lift to raise the antenna (which will increase the signal’s reach); invest in new video equipment; and cover other expenses needed to run a radio station. They already have 20-30 volunteers, according to Banwell, and are welcoming more. “We are completely listener and community supported,” Banwell said. “The weekly [open mic] events are donation-supported. Since we’re a fairly new nonprofit, we don’t have any grants or funders, and we’re really operating on a shoestring budget.” Ω D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3



REEL WORLD The quietly perceptive Past Lives.

Season’s streaming CN&R critic’s fall film queue

SStream & Dream Lounge:

ome recent highlights from the

The Killer (Netflix) David Fincher’s new film, with Michael Fassbender playing a high-priced professional assassin, strikes me as one of by the very best films Juan-Carlos of the year. It pays Selznick close, richly detailed attention to the eponymous marksman as he waits for his “target” to appear, and continues with that ironic lucidity and tense, eerie calm even as the mission goes awry and the pace necessarily quickens. At times, we hear the character’s thoughts, and the music on his earbuds (he prefers Morrissey and The Smiths), and we soon come to recognize a compressed emotional tension beneath his mantric insistence that he is—and must be—a nihilist, pragmatist, a kind of self-shielding automaton. Fassbender’s quiet, precise performance evokes both the intensity and the pathos of this man’s relentless self-abnegation. The story advances more by The darkly romantic Afire.



D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3

showing than by telling, and nearly every shot in the movie has something worth seeing and thinking about. And when the assassin’s interior monologue switches to the second person pronoun, the “you” he speaks of might also be us, you, me—the movie’s viewers.

Afire (multiple streaming services) A rather self-absorbed young German novelist and his best friend check into a summer cottage near the Baltic Sea. They are surprised to find that they must share the place with Nadja (Paula Beer), a smart, attractive young woman who is quite friendly, but maybe a bit mysterious as well. The lifeguard from the local beach gets involved too, and Afire becomes a wry, shape-shifting group portrait—part comedy, part psychodrama—as the characters’ illusions about each other, and about themselves, play out. (Soon there is a forest fire edg-

ing dangerously close as well.) Pudgy Thomas Schubert is especially good as the peevish, passive aggressive young novelist. And Beer is excellent as Nadja—who seems to be a person of real but temporary interest to all three males, but finds herself appreciated, or even adored, in unsatisfactory ways. (When Thomas’ editor comes for a brief visit, he gives the bulk of his attention, and approval, to Nadja’s writings and to the photographs of best friend Felix.) The lifeguard and the best friend spend less time in the foreground, but they are every bit as complicit in this darkly romantic roundelay of delusion and misjudgment. Afire is the work of the esteemed German auteur Christian Petzold (Undine, Transit, Phoenix). Past Lives (multiple streaming services) As children in Korea, Nora (aka Na Young) and Hae Sung were exceptionally good friends. Years later, she’s living in New York with her American husband when the two of them reconnect via email, and Hae Sung decides to come to New York for a visit. Writerdirector Celine Song intertwines scenes from their youthful encounters with scenes from the present, and both reflect on Korean traditions of lovers’ relationships with past lives.

The Killer may be one of the best films of the year.

The later stages of the film linger attentively over the complex emotions that emerge with all three characters (including the husband) during the brief but momentous visit. Greta Lee (as Nora), Teo Yoo (Hae Sung), and John Magaro (Arthur, the husband) all deliver exquisitely subtle and incisive performances. It’s not a tearjerker, but it is quietly perceptive and, at times, very moving. Fair Play (Netflix) Emily (Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) are young folks working at a hedge fund run by rather hard-nosed guy named Campbell (Eddie Marsan). It’s against company policy, but the two of them fall for each other, begin a serious romance, and half-commit to getting married. But their respective dealings with Campbell complicate things, and when she’s given a promotion that was rumored to be going to him, things get very messy for them, and very provocative and intriguing for us viewers. What results is what one reviewer called a “relationship thriller.” I like the phrase but prefer to say it’s part psychodrama, part satire on the culture of corporate finance, part tragicomic romance— an exercise in amour fou in which both lovers are warped by mixtures of ambition, suspicion and delusion. Both are victims of the very values they mean to celebrate. Dynevor’s performance in the true lead role is outstanding. Fair Play was written and directed by Chloe Domont. Ω


Family style

A lot of love, and time, goes into the meals at new mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant

UMariastopatby,TresyouMaria’s. won’t find anyone named But, when the doors are nless a patron with the name happens to

open, you will be warmly greeted by co-owner Sonia Montes, who is happy to explain the name. story and “These are the three photos by Marias, although none of Ken Smith them is actually named kens@ Maria,” Montes offered withnewsrev iew.c om out being prompted, beaming as she held up a picture that permanently graces her host Tres Maria’s 1020 Main St. station. “Me and my beautiful (530) 519-9949 daughters—Sonia Elizabeth and Jocelyne Caroline.” Open Tuesday-Sunday, Tres Maria’s, which is 11 a.m.-8 p.m. housed in the space on Park Avenue where Sicilian Cafe was formerly located, opened in March, fulfilling Montes’ longtime goal of opening a restaurant with her husband, co-owner Jose Rios. Rios is a long-time chef with decades of commercial kitchen experience, while Montes worked for the last 35 years as a hairdresser. Their restaurant dreams were delayed by the COVID-19 pandem-

ic, and further complicated by storm damage sustained in late September that closed their doors for a few weeks. The couple prepare all the food together and are the restaurant’s primary employees (they get some help with the dishes, Montes said). They run the place six days a week, making it a true mom-and-pop business. Though the staffing decision has financial benefits—important for any restaurant in its early days—Montes said it’s all about quality control. “It’s too hard to find somebody to do the recipes the way that they need to be done,” she said. “Sometimes they want to make the recipes like they make in another place, or they say, ‘Oh, this way is more faster …’ She stopped cold and shook her finger in a chiding fashion. “No, no, no! Here it all has to be step-by-step and like the recipes say! These are our family recipes and we want them to have all the time they need.” The interior of Tres Maria’s is simple, clean, uncluttered, and mostly decorated in shades of gray, though the neutral motif is offset by a tidal wave-sized splash of color filling one wall—a photograph of the colorful city of Guanajuato, Mexico. On my most recent visit, Montes was putting up Christmas decorations, including a fullsized tree decorated with pictures of the restaurant’s happy diners. My partner and I visited a bit on the late side (relative to the eatery’s closing time) on a Saturday evening and found the restaurant uncrowded. The menu, like the décor, is simple, elegant and easy to read. All of the standards (tacos, burritos, quesaThe three “Marias”: Tres Maria’s co-owner Sonia Montes holds a picture of her with her two daughters (none of whom are named Maria).

dillas with choices of meat) are available, as are a number of unique main courses. The entries for the main course entree feature the region of Mexico from which the dish originates. They also serve wine and beer, and that night they offered select Mexican brews for $2 each. We started our meal with the cuatro flautas ($12)—sumptuous shredded carnitas in cripsy rolled flour tortillas garnished with house-made salsa, sour cream, lettuce and cotija cheese—from the short list of appetizers. An excellent kickoff for the meal to come. My date ordered the Del Mar tacos ($16)—two battered fish and/or shrimp tacos (she chose one of each) topped with salsa Bandera and chipotle crema. (It’s usually garnished with a Mexican coleslaw but she’s allergic to cabbage, so Rios in the kitchen substituted it with fresh shredded lettuce.) Rather than a few small pieces of fish, the fish taco was filled with a thick, perfectly fried filet. I took a few bites and appreciated whatever kitchen wizardry gave it a distinctive, garlicky flavor. I opted for the poblano relleno ($17)— the namesake pepper stuffed full of cheese, battered in egg whites, and covered in a light and zesty tomato sauce. Chile relleno in any form is one of my favorite dishes in the world, and Tres Maria’s definitely competes with some of the best I’ve ever had.

On the table at Tres Maria’s: two seafood tacos (one fish, one shrimp) and the poblano relleno plate.

Here, as it is traditionally, it was accompanied by delicious sides of rice and beans. I’m also a big fan of mole sauce, and Montes brought out a small bit of chicken drenched in the savory slightly spicy sauce made with dark chocolate that whetted my appetite for my next visit. It wasn’t until after our meal that Montes said their Mole Tres Maria is listed first on the menu because it’s their house specialty. “It has more than 30 ingredients … all sorts of little pinches of this and that … and it takes us more than six hours to prepare,” she said. “At least two of those hours are doing this …” Montes stirred an imaginary pot with an imaginary spoon before feigning shoulder pain and laughing. Another family favorite, which Montes said she makes for birthday parties and other holiday celebrations, is pozole—a traditional pork soup—which the restaurant just began serving on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the winter months. Tres Maria’s is a bit more pricey than most other local Mexican cuisine options, but well worth it for a date night or a splurge. The atmosphere is comfortable and cozy, the service is incredibly warm, and the food is next level. I’m eager to make my way through the entire menu. Ω D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3



ARTS DEVO by JASON CASSIDY • jasonc@newsreview.com

THE 2023 DEVOS Welcome to the 16th edition of Art DEVO’s annual local arts and culture awards. The envelopes, please ...

THE HOPE AWARD: Chikoko’s Gravity In advance of the Oct. 21 fashion/art show at Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, the CN&R wrote: “Just the fact that Chikoko is back at full power, directing what has historically been the arts party of the year ... is reason for hope and a sign that things are getting relatively better.” The arts collective’s three instigators—Nel Adams, Sara Rose Bonetti and Muir Hughes—fulfilled that promise with Gravity, pulling Chico into its creative field and working with/for the community toward a fun, healing, hopeful future.

LOCAL BADASS: Jake Sprecher If there’s a primary mission for the CN&R arts section, it’s to shine a light on those putting energy into the scene. And Jake continues to provide more rock-’n’-roll power than most—putting on shows at Duffy’s, Naked Lounge, Argus and Winchester Goose via his Valley Fever productions; rocking those same stages (and stages around the country) with his garage-punk trio The WindUps; spinning on the air at KZFR 90.1 FM and behind the decks at local events; and working behind the scene to help others realize their musical visions.

LOCAL ARTIST: Lola Lola Yang turned much of Chico into her personal studio this year—from a solo show at the Naked Lounge in May to the fully immersive Conduit at the 1078 Gallery in November. For the latter, Yang transformed the gallery, filling the room with her art and giving performances “centered around the themes of ritual, chance, and repetition” every night for 24 days in a row.

BEST USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: Chico Old-School Music Scene Facebook group An overflowing repository of local-scene nostalgia, curated mostly by longtime Chico guitarist/ drummer and former CN&R staffer Charles Mohnike, whose connection to the scene, research and clever prose make for some of the best reading on Chico’s history—musical or otherwise.

BEST CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Kai Music & Arts booking Friday Night Concerts Whether it was out of inspiration or desperation, the Downtown Chico Business Association deserves a round of applause for giving up the reins to the young folks at Kai Music & Arts who transformed the historically staid calendar of weekly concerts into an impressively eclectic lineup of shows that better represented the breadth of local culture—and were actually fun!

BEST REASON TO BUY TIX EARLY: Bonfire Storytelling Since its June debut, Bonnie Pipkin’s “multi-generational storytelling” events have sold out every month, including for the expanded November and December editions held at the Chico Women’s Club.

MEATY BITES OF THE YEAR: Pork katsu sando at PB & Jimmy’s PB; pork-belly burnt ends at Momona; double cheeseburger at Roselle Bar & Lounge.

THEATER EVENT OF THE YEAR: Legacy Stage’s smash production of Lizzie the Musical bringing punk rock and blood to the The Barn at Meriam Park.

ART SHOW OF THE MOMENT: Tree With City in the Distance, the 500-piece AI-evolution of a sketch by Erin Banwell at Idea Fab Labs.

NEW LOCAL BAND: Kid Cops A noisy meeting of three of Chico’s most kick-ass musical minds: bassist Mathew Houghton (Cat Depot), guitarist Travis Wuerthner (Americas), and drummer Casey Deitz (Americas, Velvet Teen).

LOCAL ALBUMS OF THE YEAR: Bicycle Ripper – XDS; Space Mountain – Surrogate LOCAL SONGS OF THE YEAR: “Your Valentine (Come Over),” Scout the Wise; “Oh I Know,” The Wind-Ups;

“Dark,” Melli Farias; “Mermaid Shit,” Similar Alien; “Clockwork Orange Juice,” Phantom Falls; “Empty Cities,” Infinite Kamikaze.


Bill “Guillermo” Mash (11/29/22), citizen journalist, community builder, arts/music supporter Mark McKinnon (12/1/22), CN&R co-founder, musician (Ha’ Penny Bridge), Butte College instructor Ronald Angle (12/2/22), CN&R contributor, social justice advocate Lori Powers (12/26/22), former owner Upper Crust Bakery Alan Rigg (2/25/23), jazz/Zydeco/rock/funk/R&B musician/bandleader Corey Walters (5/2/23), metal bassist (Burial Grounds) Robert Herhusky (5/3/23), artist, Chico State professor, Glass Lab savior Miles Van Housen (5/18/23), trumpeter for Smokey the Groove Laura Golino (9/19/23), longtime CN&R senior sales rep Gene Kelly (9/21/23), longtime Butte County guitarist 26


D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3

FREE WILL ASTROLOGY ARIES (March 21-April 19): I will cheer you

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In January,

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Booker T.

get a big jolt of feeling how much I don’t know. I am overwhelmed with the understanding of how meager my understanding of life really is. On the one hand, this is deflating to my ego. On the other hand, it’s wildly refreshing. I feel a liberating rush of relief to acknowledge that I am so far from being perfect and complete that there’s no need for me to worry about trying to be perfect or complete. I heartily recommend this meditation to you, fellow Cancerian. From an astrological perspective, now is a favorable time to thrive on fertile emptiness.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Have you reached

your full height? If there were ever a time during your adult life when you would literally get taller, it might be in the coming weeks. And that’s not the only kind of growth spurt that may occur. Your hair and fingernails may lengthen faster than usual. I wouldn’t be shocked if your breasts or penis got bigger. But even more importantly, I suspect your healthy brain cells will multiply at a brisk pace. Your ability to understand how the world really works will flourish. You will have an increased flair for thinking creatively.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I like Virgo au-

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): According

to my interpretation of your astrological prospects, you now have the capacity to accelerate quickly and slow down smoothly; to exult in idealistic visions and hunker down in pragmatic action; to balance exuberant generosity with careful discernment—and vice versa. In general, Libra, you have an extraordinary ability to shift moods and

Among our most impressive superpowers is the potency to transform ourselves in alignment with our conscious intentions. For example, suppose you feel awkward because you made an insensitive comment to a friend. In that case, you can take action to assuage any hurt feelings you caused and thereby dissolve your awkwardness. Or let’s say you no longer want to be closely connected to people who believe their freedom is more important than everyone else’s freedom. With a clear vision and a bolt of willpower, you can do what it takes to create that shift. These are acts of true magic—as wizardly as any occult ritual. I believe you will have extra access to this superpower in the coming weeks. Homework: Identify three situations or feelings you will use your magic to change.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The

eminent Capricorn philosopher William James (1842–1910) is referred to as the “Father of American Psychology.” He was a brilliant thinker who excelled in the arts of logic and reason. Yet he had a fundamental understanding that reason and logic were not the only valid kinds of intelligence. He wrote, “Rational consciousness is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.” This quote appears in his book The Varieties of Religious Experience. In accordance with astrological omens, I invite you to investigate those other types of consciousness in the coming months. You don’t need drugs to do so. Simply state your intention that you want to. Other spurs: dreamwork, soulful sex, dancing, meditation, nature walks, deep conversations.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Are people

sometimes jealous or judgmental toward you for being so adept at multi-tasking? Are you weary of dawdlers urging you not to move, talk, and mutate so quickly? Do you fantasize about having more cohorts who could join you in your darting, daring leaps of logic? If you answered yes to these questions, I expect you will soon experience an enjoyable pivot. Your quick-change skills will be appreciated and rewarded more than usual. You will thrive while invoking the spiritual power of unpredictability.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Romantic

relationships take work if you want them to remain vigorous and authentic. So do friendships. The factors that brought you together in the first place may not be enough to keep you bonded forever. Both of you change and grow, and there’s no guarantee your souls will continue to love being interwoven. If disappointment creeps into your alliance, it’s usually wise to address the issues head-on as you try to reconfigure your connection. It’s not always feasible or desirable, though. I still feel sad about the friend I banished when I discovered he was racist and had hidden it from me. I hope these ruminations inspire you to give your friendships a lot of quality attention in 2024. It will be an excellent time to lift the best ones up to a higher octave.

www.RealAstrology.com for Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY AUDIO HOROSCOPES and DAILY TEXT MESSAGE HOROSCOPES. The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888.


thor Cheryl Strayed’s thoughts about genuine togetherness. She says, “True intimacy isn’t a cluster fuck or a psychodrama. It isn’t the highest highs and lowest lows. It’s a tiny bit of those things on occasion, with a whole lot of everything else in between. It’s communion and mellow compatibility. It’s friendship and mutual respect.” I also like Virgo author Sam Keen’s views on togetherness. He says, “At the heart of sex is something intrinsically spiritual, the desire for a union so primal it can be called divine.” Let’s make those two perspectives your guideposts in the coming weeks, Virgo.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):


CANCER (June 21-July 22): I periodically

dess — Thank you a trillion times for never fulfilling those prayers I sent your way all those years ago. Remember? When I begged and pleaded with you to get me into a sexy love relationship with You Know Who? I am so lucky, so glad, that you rejected my prayers. Though I didn’t see it then, I now realize that being in an intimate weave with her would have turned out badly for both her and me. You were so wise to deny me that misguided quest for “pleasure.” Now dear Goddess, I am asking you to perform a similar service for any Scorpio readers who may be beseeching you to provide them with experiences they will ultimately be better off without.


Washington (1856–1915) was an American Black leader who advocated a gradual, incremental approach to fighting the effects of racism. Hard work and good education were the cornerstones of his policies. Then there was W. E. B. Dubois (1868–1963). He was an American Black leader who encouraged a more aggressive plan of action. Protest, agitation, pressure, and relentless demands for equal rights were core principles in his philosophy. In the coming months, I recommend a blend of these attitudes for you. You’ve got two big jobs: to improve the world you live in and get all the benefits you need and deserve from it.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Dear God-


I will tempt you to be a spirited adventurer who undertakes smart risks. I will invite you to consider venturing into unknown territory and expanding the scope of your education. But right now, I advise you to address your precious needs for stability and security. I encourage you to take extra good care of your comfort zone and even add cozy new features to it. Here’s a suggestion: Grab a pen and paper, or open a new file on your favorite device, then compose a list of everything you can do to feel exceedingly safe and supported.

modes with graceful effectiveness—as well as a finely honed sense of when each mood and mode is exactly right for the situation you’re in. I won’t be surprised if you accomplish wellbalanced miracles.

C H I C O ’ S

on as you tenderly push yourself to be extra exploratory in the coming weeks. It’s exciting that you are contemplating adventures that might lead you to wild frontiers and halfforbidden zones. The chances are good that you will provoke uncanny inspirations and attract generous lessons. Go higher and deeper and further, dear Aries. Track down secret treasures and lyrical unpredictability. Experiment with the concept of holy rebellion.


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D E C E M B E R 7, 2 0 2 3



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