A tale of friendship lost, yet remembered

By Rachel Holtzman

Contributing Editor to the Mountain News-WA

The subject of anti-Semitism came up in a recent zoom gathering of my little international Yiddish discussion group. Zeev, a professor from Toronto and Mira, a long retired programmer from Moscow asked how I experienced anti-Semitism in the United States and my contrary mind conjured up Elaine Seiler.

I was ten by the time our country had been engaged in the Second World War for three years. The life changes we made because of it seemed normal to me. My mother shopped with our family’s food ration cards that she kept in the drawer of the dining room buffet. Its only importance to me was that it had information I was never able to get from any other source – their ages. ”Ah ha!” I exclaimed as I stealthily sneaked a peak at the evidence. My mother was old! Forty-four in 1944.

Morningside Elementary School had shown us such a harrowing movie of the consequences should we not darken our windows at night, that to this day, I can still envision the nightmare of Nazi Stormtroopers with their black boots goose stepping down the streets of New York. Why our teachers felt we had to see it never made sense. Didn’t they know that we had an air raid warden who walked the neighborhood nightly to make sure we did?

I purchased war saving stamps at school. Slowly, one by one, at ten cents apiece, I got close to filling a book that could be exchanged for a real Defense Bond. I planted a pathetic victory garden. It barely yielded stunted carrots and so few radishes that their appearance on our dinner table was greeted by my indulgent father with the same enthusiasm as would a rib steak — if ever that came to pass.

Kids competed with each other over the size of the aluminum foil ball we were able to build. Saving metal was a wartime duty. We’d peal the whisper fine metallic layer from the waxed paper of a chewing gum wrapper to add to our ball and brag about the addition. And we all knew someone who was in the service.

Such was our normal, factored into the day-to-day of the morning walk to school, home for lunch, back to school, and in the afternoon till evening, after snack and homework, play with the kids in the neighborhood

Our Jancey Street gang came from predominately Jewish homes but no one really seemed to register anyone’s religion or cared much about it. We only knew that there were some Catholics kids among us because each morning, as most of us were going toward Morningside, the Catholic kids were heading in the opposite direction to St. Raphael’s parochial school. Red Rover and Hide and Seek were great unifiers.

On one of those ordinary days that October, Miss Keenan, our gym teacher, addressed us. “Girls, we’d like to welcome a new member to our class, Elaine Seiler.” Our attention immediately fixed upon this fully grown girl standing in gym shorts, shoulder to shoulder with the speaker. “Take your place, Elaine.”

We were already lined up in our regular size-height order. All eyes fixed on her as she moved down the line, passing us one person at a time. I was at the end. I was always at the end. Without thought, I automatically walked to the end of every size order line up, but that day felt different. I could feel my heart starting to beat a little faster as this newbie came closer. Soon we were eye-to-eye and then — she moved past me! In those two consequential steps, I no longer was the tallest girl in the class; no, in all of Morningside Elementary – except for Ronald Harper, but he didn’t count because he failed eighth grade. I had just met my soon-to-be best friend.

We began walking home together, getting as far as Vilsack Street where she would turn to go up the hill two blocks to Duffield. We talked and ate penny candy we’d just bought from Schmitt’s across from school. She had much older sisters and a brother but felt like an only child like me. Her parents were older. Well, I’d certainly established that my parents were old too.

But Elaine seemed a little more reserved, different from the neighborhood kids that I played with regularly, and different from Arlene Ebenstein or Tootsie Hornstein with whom I made special plans to play at their house, both of whom were Jewish. Elaine’s family was German.

I’d wondered why I’d never been invited to her house as she was welcomed at mine but it didn’t matter. Playing together was what counted. We were worthy competitors in pickup sticks. She was better at Jacks. We’d sit on the step of my front porch with the newest cut out books on our lap, poised to bring the paper pages of pictured clothes into a wardrobe worthy of the beautiful cardboard women we’d already released from the perforated lines that held them prisoner to the back cover. I matched her in my level of concentration; our work was meticulous. First we’d cut widely around the dress, or hat or shoes, then cautiously guide our scissors around the tabs that folded back to hold them in place.

Yet nothing matched Elaine when it came to the coloring book. She was an artist. While I may have colored the hill a simple green, she’d hold several crayons and shade them together, green blended with yellow at the apex, then shaded with blue as she moved to the bottom.  It was masterful. There was never a doubt as to which of the pages opposite each other had been done by her.

One lazy August afternoon, I called from my porch, “Ma, Elaine just came over and we want to walk up to Schmitt’s. Can I have a nickel?”

Licorice trills in hand, we meandered past school and down to Chislett, a parallel street, heading back toward my house. “Look,” Elaine said, “have you ever gone back there? It looks like it would take you to the hollow.”

I glanced at the narrow side street that seemed more like an alley, with a single worried house and a few corrugated garages leaning against each other for support. I was skeptical. Suddenly our ambling walk was turning into an adventure, a new level of play for us. We’d been sedentary young girls with our coloring books and cut out paper dolls. This would be something else.

The hollow was probably a long overgrown and abandoned aquifer that ran the length of at least six houses it backed on. It was deep and steep and whatever path there may have been was not discernable. “Come on,” Elaine shouted. “Let’s go down!”

“I have on sandals,” I protested, mildly and I was right. They were absolutely the wrong footwear for the decent, but I went anyway, mostly sliding, following Elaine. Our reward was more of getting down than anything we found when we got to the bottom. It was clearly a teenage rendezvous judging from the abandoned soda bottles and cigarette wrappers and no place I wanted to be.

As if a switch was flipped, Elaine turned to me. Her face was constricted and she looked worried. “It’s late,” she said “I’ve got to get home right away.” And without another word, she rushed back toward the hillside we’d come from and started to climb.

I ran to follow. “Wait!” I yelled after her. “Wait!” She’d worked her way halfway up the embankment but never turned her head or looked back. I got to the base and my first step up collapsed in dirt that covered my other sandal. I couldn’t get a foothold “Elaine, help me! I can’t do it. Elaine!” By this time she had cleared the top and started running. I was panicked. How would I get out? I could see her disappearing before me. “I hate you, you Nazi!” I shouted in tears to deaf ears.

I don’t know how I did get out of the hollow that day and I don’t remember what happened to our friendship. Whatever was said between us when next we met is lost to me. Only the words I leveled upon her have remained in my memory. Where did that poisoned word, that bitter accusation come from?

It is not strange that this experience, alive and vibrating in my memory, reappeared so readily in all its force. Our daily news feed brings up countless stories of hatred among us.

What do we store in our subconscious? What lessons of fear and distrust of the other have we learned and sublimated only to emerge at unguarded times of trauma? Would kids in the Jancey Street gang learn that their playmates were dirty Jews or kikes and voice those epithets in some latent anti-Semitic outburst? Were family members in another neighborhood twenty-three years later once kids who heard those slurs, and activate them when they saw that we hosted three black friends on chairs we’d borrowed from them?

Elaine Seiler was not a Nazi. Clearly, somewhere in my mind I’d made the link solely because she was German. On that day, she was only a conscientious ten or eleven year old girl who came from an orderly household that had dinner at a precise hour each day, and she was late. That was all. I have often thought of how I would like to apologize to my friend, even though she’d deserted me. Friends sometimes do that. I could just have called her a rat.

Epilogue: After finishing this reminiscence, I checked Google. Elaine Seiler, 86, died last June, 2020. She never married and, as the obituary stated, “was an accomplished artist, working for Horne’s (and) Kaufmann’s,” two prestigious department stores in the Pittsburgh area. May her name be for a blessing.

Author Rebecca Holtzman on safari, in Africa, circa 2016.

Posted in Barbara Jean Heller, Culture, Folk tales and stories, Rachel Holtzman | 1 Comment

Trista – a personal tale of finding love, finding life

By Bruce A. Smith

From the collection of personal stories: Stories from the Journey – From the Suburbs of New York to Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment

Thirty years ago, I left New York to join Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment in Yelm, Washington. Everyone I was leaving thought I was nuts – BJ, my parents, family and friends. But I felt secure in my decision because I knew my desire to study the science of consciousness and learn the techniques of mind-over-matter was deep and treasured. That’s not to say I didn’t get the heebie-jeebies half-way across the country, and outside of St. Louis I had to pull off the road for a few days and catch my breath.

Twenty years later I left the Ramtha school, not because I had soured on Ramtha, but rather, I felt a calling to strike out on my own – to go into the world with what I had learned from two decades spent studying with a master teacher.

Although I felt lost at first, I eventually found a job as a newspaper reporter. I loved it. However, a corporate change of ownership four years later put me back on the street, and that signaled a downward spiral. I couldn’t find work, became impoverished, and I couldn’t afford to keep my pick-up truck on the road. Then, my body collapsed. My teeth fell out and I had a heart attack. I got so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed for days at a time. Worse, I felt that all of the mind-over-matter stuff that I had learned at Ramtha’s School was not working for me. I despaired and got suicidal. Soon I was re-admitted into the hospital with anxiety attacks.

At that point, my doctors referred me to mental health, saying, “Mr. Smith, you’re not finding answers with us, so we think you should try the Behavioral Health Clinic. We hear it’s pretty good.”

I walked into their Puyallup office feeling like I was a half-formed piece of putty, and that’s where I met Trista. She was a social worker about thirty years old or so – half my age – but she was a savvy gal, and a kick-ass therapist. Fearless even. Nothing I said scared her.

I met with Trista once a week for an hour each session, and she listened attentively, even when it wasn’t apparent. She squirmed endlessly in her chair, crossing and re-crossing her legs underneath her tushie. She also had a fantastic memory, always remembering the details of my personal dramas, including the names and nuances of all my wives.

Endlessly, I processed my grief over not being God-Manifested – being unable to heal myself, earn money, or create a “remarkable life” as touted by Ramtha.

Over time, my life stabilized and I began to assemble years’ worth of notes I had taken on the DB Cooper but had never published due to my editor’s reluctance. Within ten months, I had a book and published it at Amazon. I was getting back on my feet.

I saw Trista for eighteen months, until one day I walked into her office and she motioned me to sit.

“Bruce, I have something very important to tell you. I’m starting a private practice and will be leaving the clinic. In fact, I’ve already put in my notice. So, I’m saying goodbye. I need to terminate our sessions.”

I sucked in a breath of air and pondered what she had told me. It didn’t quite compute.

“You’re leaving me?”

“Yes.”

A huge tsunami of emotion poured over me. I gasped, then started weeping profusely, rocking back-and-forth. I sobbed and grabbed tissues, blew my nose and dropped the tissues to the floor. I writhed so violently I slid half-out of my chair and fell to the floor on one knee. I had to grab an armrest to steady myself. I gasped for air. I could barely breathe between sobs. Snot, mucus and moisture flowed. I wept for at least five minutes. Eventually, though, I was able to return to some degree of composure.

“I know this is tough,” said Trista, when I was able to sit upright and look at her.

“It sure is,” I replied. “It’s really tough.”

Trista nodded, and we spent a few moments in silence. She didn’t even squirm in her chair.

I took another breath, and this time there weren’t any waterworks. Trista and I spent the remainder of our time together talking about all the things I had accomplished in therapy – the book, being able to get out of bed every day, finding joy working in the garden – and I nodded in agreement.

By the end of our time I had an additional insight. I realized that the intense weeping I had expressed at Trista’s goodbye proved to me that I was able to develop real feeling towards another person – deep and powerful connections beyond even those that I knew from my romances or friendships. That felt powerful.

As I left Trista’s office the last time, I felt light and happy. I knew that to feel so deeply meant that I was not only able to love, I knew I was ready to live.

Posted in Puyallup, Ramtha, Stories from the Jounrey | 9 Comments

DB Cooper – Assessing the FBI’s 45-Year Investigation, Redux

By Bruce A. Smith

An excerpt from DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking – 3rd Edition.

The FBI is arguably the world’s best investigatory organization, but they couldn’t solve the DB Cooper case. Why not?

I asked former SA Gary Tallis that question and his reply surprised me: “Because they haven’t found a body. If we had a body, all the answers would follow.”

But what happens to an investigation when there isn’t a body? Further, how should the FBI have proceeded when they had so little tangible evidence? It wasn’t an easy job, I admit. Losing evidence didn’t help, either. But large bureaucracies lose stuff and have less-than-adequate staff sprinkled throughout their organizations, even at managerial levels. So, after 45 years of investigating DB Cooper, how did they do?

In general, the FBI did many things very well, but there were obvious failures, clearly, like losing evidence. Overall, there seems to have been several distinct phases of the FBI’s Norjak investigation. The Initial Period lasted for several years, and featured a full-court press from the Bureau. In 1972, the FBI’s new director, L. Patrick Gray, gave Norjak the highest priority, writing “this case is to be vigorously pursued in all facets,” in his memo 164-81-3913, dated 9. 15. 72.

The FBI’s reach was massive: interviewing SOG troopers returning home from Vietnam, chasing copycats and ex-cons, and investigating skydiving centers, such as Elsinore. Add their tramping through the woods of Amboy searching hundreds of out-buildings and wood sheds, or interviewing cabbies, hotel clerks, and waitresses in Portland. They even interviewed middle-aged men named “Cooper” nationwide, so it’s hard to imagine what more could have been done.

However, by 1976 the Bureau’s momentum began to fade as the FBI realized they had very little critical evidence. But they had investigated 810 suspects, clearing 780, as per 164-2111, (dated 2. 5. 76). As a result, Phase Two emerged, where the FBI sought to generate some investigatory traction by adopting unusual measures, even desperate ones.

The FBI held a pow-wow that summer in San Francisco that included agents from Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas and San Francisco, along with top brass from Washington, D. C. Discussions concluded that their Norjak investigation was stymied. Worse, the Bureau felt if DB Cooper was apprehended, they didn’t have a strong case to convict. Simply, they didn’t trust their ten eye-witnesses – the three flight attendants, the two NWO gate and ticket agents, and the five passengers – due to variances in testimonies and sketches. In fact, the FBI decided officially not to show any more pictures to its eye-witnesses unless there was no other means of excluding a suspect. (164-81-7319, dated 1. 25. 77).

In addition, the FBI had no physical evidence other than the aftstair placard – remember this was before the money find at Tina Bar – and the 60-ish fingerprint samples from Reno were thought to be too smudged or too limited in scale to be legally probative.

In addition, they had lost confidence in their original LZ-A of Amboy, and determined the jump zone was ten miles further south, in the area of Hockinson, Washington. However, they didn’t tell anyone, apparently, nor conduct a search, as no one in Hockinson knew about their status in the Cooper investigation when I asked several townsfolk in 2019.

Hence, the FBI decided they needed DB Cooper to make a confession, as is described in a memo titled: “DB Cooper-19823.” To gain that confession the FBI considered offering DB Cooper an immunity deal while insisting on the return of the $200,000. The Bureau pondered announcing this arrangement as part of the annual Cooper extravaganza in November 1976, and began tasking agents to contact local media outlets. However, the FBI never followed through for reasons that are unknown at this time.

This malaise lingered until the money find in 1980 at Tina Bar, triggering Phase Three. After the initial push – digging for days at the beach and obtaining an analysis by Dr. Leonard Palmer – this momentum eventually floundered as well, partially due to Ralph Himmelsbach’s retirement two weeks after the money retrieval. His successor, Dorwin Schreuder, continued the passivity, as he told me he did not initiate any investigatory efforts in Norjak and only waited for the public to bring the Bureau leads.

Whatever the Seattle Division’s perspective was at that time towards the money find remains shrouded in secrecy, since Ron Nichols, the new Norjak case agent after Charlie Farrell’s retirement in 1977, refuses to discuss his investigatory efforts in any manner to this day. Regardless, nothing was found or advanced during the 1980s, so perhaps Nichols has nothing to say.

In addition, the FBI’s top witness, Tina Mucklow, was in her cloistered convent by then, and according to multiple FBI agents her memory was impaired, further dampening federal enthusiasm.

As a result, a second pow-wow was held in San Francisco in 1986. By then the Bureau’s Norjak lethargy was institutionalized. Nevertheless, another “Hail Mary” effort was concocted, pegged to the release of the movie: The Pursuit of DB Cooper. As part of their promotional campaign, Universal Studios announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Dan Cooper. However, it didn’t create any leads, directly.

But Hollywood’s offer did flush-out a suspect. An unknown letter-writer – who signed his offer “sincerely not yours, d.b. cooper” – contacted the Bureau and agreed to surrender, but only if he could keep the film’s million-dollar reward. In addition, he wanted his ensuing prison term capped at just one-year – and he demanded placement in a minimum-security federal prison. Nevertheless, “d.b. cooper” offered to repay Northwest Orient the $200,000 ransom.

However, the FBI declined the offer, as per 164-81-8586.

Entering the 1990s, the Norjak investigation continued to slumber in a sleepy Phase Four, with the FBI reporting that only one lead a month needed follow-up, SE 164A-81, (dated 5. 19. 1998). Nevertheless, an effort was launched by the late 1990s to organize the physical evidence. Sadly, the Bureau discovered that all of the material stored in Las Vegas has been “destroyed,” including the cigarette butts, per SE-164A-81-9288.

At the same time, gadflies like Jo Weber, and citizen sleuths, such as Galen Cook, began stirring the pot, signaling the beginning of Phase Five. This chapter was characterized by a resurgence of interest by the public and joint action by the FBI. By 2003, someone in the Bureau decided to “process” the cigarette butts or gather DNA from the tie, and DNA samples from suspects were now sought. In addition, Galen sued the Bureau in 2004 for access to the Norjak files, and this may be considered to be the “official” starting date for a real partnership between the citizenry and the FBI. Larry Carr’s online contributions in 2008, and the creation of the Citizen Sleuth Team in 2009 can be considered the high points of this period.

After the FBI closed the case in 2016, Phase Six began, where the general public, Tom Kaye’s Citizen Sleuths, and private investigators, especially Eric Ulis, continue the hunt for DB Cooper.

Assessing these phases, we can identify particular people, places, and events that have been problematic. Some investigatory elements might have resolution, some might not. But first, let’s talk about the Bureau’s successes:

What the FBI did right:

Initially, the Bureau did all the basics – maintaining passenger safety, securing the airliner and physical evidence, and debriefing the passengers at Sea-Tac and the crew in Reno. Later, the FBI did what it does so well – a massive, blanket investigation. They interviewed airport employees to ascertain where Cooper came from and when, along with dozens of skydivers and soldiers, and all those forlorn fellas who had been thrown under the bus by their broken-hearted ladies.

The dig at Tina Bar was conducted adequately, in general, as all evidence indicates that the search was done thoughtfully and comprehensively. Yes, they could have taken more pictures, especially of the shards.

Larry Carr’s actions are stellar, as well. Establishing the Citizen Sleuths was superb, as was his posting on Internet chat rooms.

But there is room for improvement. High on the list are lost or poorly collected evidence, such as the fingerprints. Here’s a specific list:

Deficiencies in the Investigation

   1. Lost Evidence

       Where are the cigarette butts? If lost, is anyone looking for them? Were they processed for DNA analysis, as indicated by case agent Larry Carr? If so, where is the paperwork? Also lost, apparently, are the in-flight magazines and cocktail glass that Cooper handled, as are the hair samples and textile fibers collected off the headrest of seat 18-E.

   2. Clip-on Tie

       Why did it reportedly enter the Seattle evidence cache four days after the hijacking? Where was it for that time? Was the chain of custody broken? What does it mean that no one involved in the evidence retrieval in Reno, specifically Tina Mucklow, Red Campbell, Jack Ricks, John Norris, and Alf Stousland, could remember the tie when questioned by Bernie Rhodes in the 1980s? To what extent, if any, did the FBI follow-up on the Citizen Sleuth’s discovery of titanium and rare earth minerals on the tie, beginning in 2009? Why isn’t that a priority now? Simply, it appears the FBI has ignored this evidentiary find.

3. Reno, fingerprints

       How many prints were obtained in the Reno search, and by whom? Where were they found? Have any reconstructions of the fingerprints been undertaken? Did a “second sweep” actually occur at Sea-Tac?

4. Reno, behaviors of FBI agents

       What caused the memories of the Reno agents to be forgetful, fuzzy or in conflict with each other? Were these agents “victims of some strange post-hypnotic suggestion,” as Bernie Rhodes has written? Did MKULTRA play a part in Norjak?

5. Radar Findings and Flight Path Issues

       Why is the Flight Path still in doubt? Why was Cliff Ammerman never interviewed by any FBI agent? What did SAGE radar record the night of November 24, 1971? Why do the Seattle transcripts have over one-dozen redactions? Why did NORAD tell Major Dawson to “back off” the F-106s, and pull out the chaff?

6. Ground Search

       Why was the ground search of LZ-A called off on Monday, November 29, 1971? After all, the ground teams only covered one square mile out of dozens potentially. Why did Seattle FO tell FBI HQ that there was too much snow on the ground to continue when there was no snow reported in the LZ-A by local officials. Why did the FBI switch the LZ-A to Hockinson in 1976? What kinds of search ensued?

7. SOG and 727s

       What was the role of 727s in the Vietnam War? Were they used to deploy soldiers such as the MAC-V-SOG troopers into combat? Did any combat units utilize techniques similar to those of DB Cooper, i.e.: jumping from a 727 with flaps at 15, gear down and locked, etc.?

8. Money Retrieval

       How many shards of money were found at Tina Bar? Where are they, currently, especially the larger ones in the 2-3-inch category? What kinds of follow-up were done along the Columbia River, i.e.: fishermen interviewed, other sites dug-up, etc.? What does the discovery of springtime diatoms on the money mean?

9. Richard McCoy

       What was he doing in Las Vegas on November 24–25, 1971? What was he doing there on November 2–3, 1971? How did he learn the details of hijacking an airplane? What was his relationship with “Dan Cooper?” Why did the Seattle Division accept McCoy’s alibi that he was home with family on Thanksgiving, refuting the findings from Salt Lake City FBI agents? How did he get the $6,000 in late 1971 that funded his family’s trip to North Carolina?

10.  Earl Cossey

       What was the true role of Earl Cossey in the Norjak investigation? Did he actually own the “back” parachutes delivered to the hijacker, as he claimed? Did Cossey influence the FBI’s perspective that Cooper was an inexperienced skydiver? Why did the FBI flip-flop on their assessment of Cooper’s skills? Why was Cossey murdered? Why is that crime still unsolved?

11. Care of Evidence

       Why weren’t pictures taken of the parachutes? Why weren’t pictures taken at Tina Bar of the shards, and the specific dynamics of the money retrieval, such as the beach slope, the actual location, close-ups of shards buried at three-feet, etc.

12. Suspects: Unanswered Questions –

         What was the real reason Robert Rackstraw was dismissed as a suspect in 1979 after the FBI arrested him in Paris, France on his return to the United States from Iran? Just fingerprints? Did E. Howard Hunt, or someone like him, play a role in Norjak?

13. What was the full impact of the DB Cooper skyjacking?

         Did it affect national politics? Did it enhance the efforts to federalize airline safety?

14. Would the FBI be willing to participate in a public debriefing of Norjak?

         Will the FBI send agents such as Larry Carr and Curtis Eng to CooperCon 2021 to anchor a panel discussion assessing the FBI’s investigation?

Lastly, why aren’t these questions enough to re-open the case? How can the FBI reasonably walk away from Norjak with this amount of doubt?

We may always have the aroma of a cover-up lingering over Norjak. Certainly, there have been numerous instances of sloppy police work, like losing evidence; systemic deficiencies within the FBI, such as Hoover’s rigid model of case management; and problematic decision-making. But does that mean there has been an actual attempt to prevent us from knowing the truth of DB Cooper?

There is no direct evidence that supports a cover up, but Norjak does seem compromised. Is it true that the FBI ran out of credible leads and examined all available evidence by 2016 when they closed the case? If so, they should be able to answer all the above questions.

Besides these specific concerns, perhaps the greatest issue in Norjak is the failure of leadership. This issue has impacted the case in every dimension. At times, no one seemed to be in command of Norjak—certainly not in the early stages of the investigation. Farrell was in charge of Seattle-based activities, Manning on the ground near Ariel, Mattson in Portland and later Himmelsbach; and then Campbell and his Las Vegas-based crew in Reno.

But why didn’t Charlie Farrell jump on a plane and fly to Reno to ensure the proper retrieval of evidence, thus minimizing the predictable bureaucratic turf battles that followed?

Additionally, Farrell and his team worked in secrecy. The public knows little of his work. Farrell is reported to have penned a 300-page account of his experiences in Norjak, and Geoffrey Gray says he has read it. But my efforts to obtain access to a copy have been met by resistance from the Farrell family.

Similarly, why didn’t Ron Nichols jump in his car and drive the three hours to T-Bar to supervise the money recovery? Further, why did his boss, Seattle ASAC Jack Pringel, appear at T-Bar three days into the dig?

If Norjak was too big a case for a single agent, why wasn’t a Task Force developed? True, a quasi-force was formed in 1976 and 1986 when they met in San Francisco. But why wasn’t this group formalized to continue a joint, comprehensive investigation?

Another example of poor supervision was the care given to the evidence stored in Seattle. Before being shipped to HQ in 2016, the main pieces were stored loosely in a cardboard box that looked like it once held knickknacks from someone’s attic. Concerns over the chain of custody pepper Norjak as well, such as the clip-on tie being torn apart by the Citizen Sleuths, as reported by Geoffrey Gray in SKYJACK.

These breaks in the chain of custody are serious concerns. DB Cooper aficionado Mark Metzler, an attorney in the Bay Area, offers a cogent view of the matter:

    The FBI has been amazingly cavalier about the handling of physical evidence (in Norjak). It’s not normal practice. As a defense lawyer, when I had my experts examine physical evidence or run lab tests the prosecution enforced strict protocols so that the custody chain was unbroken and fully documented and that contamination or alteration of evidence was prevented.

    Even in minor cases this was how things were handled. I represented a ghetto bar owner who the cops hated. He was arrested for serving alcohol to a minor. It was a major hassle just to get a sample of the drink which was preserved. My lab had to sign for the sample and document its handling at every step. The prosecution wisely only gave my lab a portion of the sample so that they had a control if my findings were later to be disputed. My client got really lucky. My lab tested zero alcohol. When the police lab repeated their test, they found the same thing. Case dismissed.

    It might be that the FBI has some undisclosed evidence that has been very carefully handled and that is highly probative in identifying Cooper, enough so that a conviction could be secured without any other evidence. Cigarette butts might fit this description. It just makes no sense that they would be ‘lost.’

    Peterson, a highly qualified suspect, was ruled out on DNA. Maybe it wasn’t tie DNA but cigarette DNA, which would be more confidently linked to DB Cooper.

In addition, there was an uncanny passivity to the FBI’s work for much of the 45 years, even during the “active” times. Ralph Himmelsbach never interviewed Tina even though she moved to the Portland area after the skyjacking, circa 1979, and then spent decades in Eugene, just two hours south. Is this the proper handling of a primary witness in a major case? More troubling, Himmelsbach’s book reveals—and Dorwin Schreuder confirms—that for much of the Norjak era the Portland Division had a reactionary stance to the investigation, and only responded to leads as they came in to the office. Similarly, Seattle agents, such as Bob Sale and Sid Rubin, have also indicated that the Cooper case was near-dormant in the Seattle FO between the money find in 1980 and the resurgence in the late 1990s.

Further, did silence on the details of the case really serve the investigation? Why didn’t any FBI agents attend the DB Cooper Symposium in 2011 or 2013, or the CooperCons in 2018 and 2019? What did that avoidance achieve? What kind of investigatory integrity did that maintain?

At times, it appears that FBI agents don’t talk with one another, either, even when working on the same case. Researcher Galen Cook has a telling story on this subject:

    Seems like the NORJAK agents die by the vine, but DB Cooper lives on. The Bureau must hate that. No one ever hears from Carr since he left (in 2010). He e-mailed me about six months after I started talking with Eng, but Eng wasn’t too enthused that I was still talking with Carr about the case. Led me to believe that the agents aren’t necessarily on the same page, and rather territorial of their own turf, even among other agents.

Part of this non-sharing with fellow agents was fostered by J. Edgar Hoover. As discussed previously, Hoover awarded cash bonuses to agents who busted tough cases, so field agents had an incentive not to share since it could cost them money. Plus, we have the pressures seeping from the mundane area of internal politics: promotions based upon performance, and assignments determined by one’s status within the office.

As for my relationship with FBI agents, when I ask questions beyond their initial set story they balk. I call it the “One and Done” scenario. I get one good interview—usually a recitation of their well-rehearsed narrative—then, nothing. Follow-up phone calls and emails go unanswered. Thus, I strongly suspect that what I was told initially was a spin job, and they don’t want me to scratch beneath the surface.

More troubling, formal communications between the FBI and journalists became seriously strained in 2015 when the FBI developed a new policy for media relations. Simply, the FBI stopped talking to anyone about Norjak unless the contact was specifically authorized prior. After years of exchanging increasingly opaque emails with PIO Ayn Dietrich-Williams, she finally stated the obvious on December 7, 2015:

    The FBI’s media policy prohibits discussing ongoing investigations unless a   release is specifically thought to have potential benefit to the investigation.

    …I understand your continued interest in our investigation and apologize that I will not be able to share additional information to answer your questions.

Nevertheless, I have not abandoned all hope in the FBI, and I will be providing them with a “Special Edition” of this book, complete with phone numbers and contact information for all of the major figures of the case. At least then, the Bureau will have a comprehensive overview of the case for future investigators to consult.

Of course, they can call me anytime for assistance.

Posted in DB Cooper | 15 Comments

DB Cooper versus the FBI – An essay from Cooper researcher and author Bill Rollins III

By William S. Rollins III, Guest Contributor

In his book, DB Cooper and the FBI, author Bruce Smith talks about a controversial method of discovering past events, a practice called “Remote Viewing.” Bruce discusses his experiences with Remote Viewing, and some of the people that he made contact with.

Although I did not employ the Remote Viewing methodology, I have found the man that we all know as D. B. Cooper as a result of two major factors; Spiritual Guidance and logic. I define Spiritual Guidance as knowledge that is conveyed via some unknown or unrecognized communication channel. I would describe it as being akin to mental telepathy. As I state in my book, “there are forces at work in this universe that are far beyond what we understand.”

Four and a half years ago, I started my research into the case of D. B. Cooper. As I examined the conditions for Cooper’s skydive, I thought, “What is going through this man’s head?”  Here is a middle-aged man jumping from the rear of a jet aircraft on a cold, rainy November night, and he can’t even see the ground. I knew something wasn’t right.

Then I read an article posted in the Mountain News, a brief review of the discussion that Jo Weber had with Tina Mucklow in 2003. Tina reportedly told Jo “He was a very sad man.” I thought to myself, “I wonder if something tragic has happened to this man?” 

Instantly, I was overcome with emotion, my head down on my desk, and I was crying uncontrollably. It was as if someone had just told me that my wife and son had perished, and I was left alone in this world. I felt such utter despair and emotional devastation. I no longer had a purpose in life, so I didn’t want to live anymore, I wanted to be with them. Thus, I contemplated suicide.

But as I planned my ultimate demise, I remembered a key fact. Whatever happened to this man’s family wasn’t an accident, it was preventable. Thus, he harbored a grudge. I thought, “Why waste my life by jumping off a cliff, when I can jump out of an airplane and get my revenge.” So now my life had a purpose – revenge.

After coming to this realization, my emotional episode began to simmer. Although still quite shaken by this event, I was able to stop crying and lift my head off my desk. But I knew this was an external influence that had caused me to understand this man and his emotions. A few days later, I would question whether this was truly an external influence and returned to this emotional outburst, again, crying uncontrollably. At this point I realized that I had been given very important information; this man had endured some tragedy and his grudge was his motivation, not the ransom money.

Although some will dismiss Spiritual Guidance as pseudoscience, I have not shied away from devoting a chapter in my book to this phenomenon, nor did I exclude it from my podcast on the Cooper Vortex. Spiritual Guidance is the essential ingredient that has allowed me to unravel this mystery.

So, as a pilot familiar with aviation and air traffic control, and as an engineer trained to be calculating and logical, I uncovered Cooper’s ingenious plan. It was obvious that this man got away. I was compelled to write in my book what I had discovered.

After finishing my book, I began searching for this man. I searched for a man who had endured some tragic event, but would have held a grudge. Many would be eliminated, but one man fit all of the attributes of D. B. Cooper. As I kept finding more information, I still could not eliminate this man.

Now, the evidence is overwhelming. Just as the Citizen Sleuths completed a probability analysis on Cooper’s tie, I completed a probability analysis on the man I had found, a quiet, polite man from Nashville, Tennessee named Joe Lakich. He is one-in-a-trillion. I realized D. B. Cooper can be no one else.

Initially, I had very few pictures of Joe Lakich, and some had poor resolution. However, in the summer of 2020, I received several pictures of Joe. When I lined up his face with the FBI sketch of D. B. Cooper, it was a miraculous match. It was the evidence that “sealed the deal.”

As I look back over these past four and a half years, I am humbled by what has happened. In July of 2016, I was just another person with a casual interest in knowing the outcome of the D. B. Cooper case. Within four days of research (starting with the announcement that the FBI had closed the case), I knew with 100% certainty that something tragic had happened to this man, and his grudge was his motivation.

Since then, I have written a book that details this man’s ingenious plan, and searched through history to find his identity. But none of this would have been possible without Spiritual Guidance. As I reflect on these events, I realize that I have been chosen to find this man and tell his story.

Feeling this obligation to relate the events of late 1971, I decided it would be appropriate to inform the FBI of my findings. I had sent information to Larry Carr in the past, via an email address that was supplied by the citizens of Cooperville. However, I never received any replies or even an acknowledgment that he had read my information.

Thus, in early September of 2020, I contacted an FBI media relations person in Boston, since I live in New Hampshire. Kristen was helpful, and I explained that I knew the identity of D. B. Cooper. Due to her young age, I don’t think she even knew who D. B. Cooper was. I explained that the overall result of this case would be a black eye for the FBI, but at least a 49-year old case would be solved. Her opinion was that the FBI would want closure.

I mentioned that Larry Carr would be the ideal agent to contact, as in this video, he states that if the case ever reopened, he would be the first with hand up saying “me, me, me.” She agreed to help me contact Larry.

Two weeks went by, and I had not received a reply from Kristen. As it turns out, she had passed my request on to her counterpart in the Seattle office. She sent a reminder, and shortly thereafter I was contacted via email by a media relations person at FBI Headquarters.

In essence, this crew of three media personnel were trying to decide how I should get my information to Larry. They would not confirm or deny his email address, and by early October, hadn’t come to any conclusions. Time was of the essence, so I sent the following email message to Larry on October 2nd, with a copy to each of the three media relations personnel.

Hi Larry,

I have been trying to reach you for nearly a month (through the FBI offices), but time is running out.

This coming Sunday, October 4th, is an important anniversary, as this is the date where the story of D. B. Cooper begins.

I would ask that you watch this YouTube video on what is now referred to as the 58 November incident:

The young woman killed in this incident was named Susan Lakich (maiden name) and she was D. B. Cooper’s daughter. Yes, retired Major Joseph S. Lakich was D. B. Cooper. The attached presentation spells it out. He is one-in-10-billion; it can be no one else. And if there never was this 58 November incident, there never would have been a D. B. Cooper.

Interestingly enough, Ralph Himmelsbach mentions this incident in his book Norjak. Also, the attached FBI documents prove that Cooper hijacked Flight 305 because he had a grudge to settle. Also note that more than 30 years after the Cooper hijacking, Tina would tell Jo Weber that “Cooper was a very sad man” Joe hijacked the plane just 51 days after his daughter was killed.

I have been told that Joe adored his daughter Susan. After her death, I believe he in some ways felt life wasn’t worth living. So, he became Dan Cooper, and took on a daring mission in the name of Justice, Justice for his daughter Susan. And as Ckret knows, no skydiver in his right mind is making this jump for the money!

I believe it is time for a documentary film on this man and the real D. B. Cooper. I am asking for your help. Here are the reasons why this documentary is necessary:

  1. Ralph has passed away and so has Capt. Scott and others. We need to preserve history. Bill Rataczak told me that he doesn’t do many documentaries because they usually have an agenda, and he only wants to tell the truth. We need for him, other members of the flight crew, and key witnesses to tell their story before they no longer can.
  2. There is more evidence to be gathered. DNA comparison, additional witnesses, and ultimately, finding the ransom money.
  3. The world needs to understand the truth of this event.

This could be done in a manner such that your time and expenses, as well as mine, could come from the film budget. It think it could be fun as well!

In closing, Larry, do you have children?  This Sunday marks the 49th anniversary of when the D. B. Cooper saga begins. I would like you to look at this enduring mystery from another perspective, that of a man who has lost his lovely daughter and is in deep despair. Perhaps this understanding will help you see who D. B. Cooper was, an everyday person like most of us who just got pushed over the edge.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Bill Rollins

Note: The presentation that I provided to Larry is similar to my YouTube video “D. B. Cooper – The Man We All Know as D. B. Cooper.” See previously noted link “Evidence” in this article.

I never got a reply from Larry nor the media relations people at the FBI.

Then, in January 2021, I happened to notice that the FBI publishes a magazine called the “Law Enforcement Bulletin.” They actively seek articles from outside contributors. I decided to submit an article for publication. It is shown below.

When Law Enforcement is the Criminal

By William S. Rollins III

Law enforcement is the responsibility of the police, prosecutors, and agents of the government. But it is also the responsibility of the citizens. The general populace wants a safe and secure society where all are free to conduct their daily lives without criminal threats.

And this common ideal is demonstrated every day, as many times law enforcement is able to find and prosecute offenders because they receive help from the general public. This is a healthy relationship; police and the people working together for a common goal.

However, through the past decades, there has become an ever-increasing divide between law enforcement and the citizens they are sworn to serve. In instances where people have felt betrayed by law enforcement, there have been reprisals. Some citizens have even resorted to violence, with just one example being the Dallas Police shootings of 2016, where a man shot and killed five police officers in response to incidents where black men were killed by law enforcement.

I will discuss two distinct historical cases, each with differing stances taken by law enforcement, and each with a profoundly different effect on the reputation of law enforcement personnel.

The first case dates back to 2004 in Boston Massachusetts. The Red Sox baseball team had rallied from a 3-game deficit to win a 7-game series against the New York Yankees, and win the American League pennant. People crowded the streets in celebration. But as is usual for these types of jubilation, some go beyond celebration, and vandalism ensues. The Boston Police responded.

However, to quell the property damage, they used what was deemed to be a non-lethal device, a gun which shot a “rubber bullet”. One bullet missed its intended target and struck an innocent bystander directly in the eye, a young 21-year old student named Victoria Snelgrove. Victoria would succumb to her injuries 12 hours later in the hospital.

But rather than try to divert the blame for Victoria’s death, within hours of the incident, Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole announces, “The Boston Police Department accepts full responsibility for the death of Victoria Snelgrove.”  The Boston Police Department made the ethically correct decision. There were no reprisals.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we can find an incident where law enforcement clearly was at fault for the death of innocent people, but refused to accept blame for its negligence. The incident that I refer to happened on October 4th, 1971, and is so notorious that it has its own name, the 58 November hijacking.

Although warned that the hijacker was a dangerous neurotic, and that complying with his demands would assure everyone would be alright, the FBI took a hard stance. When the hijacked charter plane lands in Jacksonville, Florida, the FBI agents refused to refuel the aircraft. They took further steps to impede the hijacker by shooting out the tires and pumping bullets into the operating engine until it stops.

Realizing he was trapped, the hijacker shot and killed the pilot, shot and killed his kidnapped wife, and then shot and killed himself. This incident has earned the distinction as an example of how not to deal with hostage situations.

In the aftermath, there was public outcry that the FBI mishandled the case. The father of the young woman killed, retired Major Joseph Lakich, stated in the media that “The FBI made a gross error” in the way they handled the situation. He later stated in public “The FBI has blood on its hands.” But the FBI insisted that they handled the incident to perfection, and would do exactly the same if the situation were to present itself again.

The families of the victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the FBI. The FBI was not forthcoming with evidence from the incident. They employed legal tactics, for instance, stating “you can’t sue us, we are the government.” When the legal tactics didn’t succeed, the families of the victims were harassed, as they are always followed as they leave their homes. In addition, they received intimidating phone calls in the middle of the night.

But I mention this 58 November incident not because my research started here, but this is where it has ended. As discussed previously, when people feel they have been betrayed by law enforcement, there may be reprisals, and this story is no exception. However, until now, no one has realized that the only unsolved hijacking in the U. S., a 49-year old mystery, the Legend of D. B. Cooper, was one man’s revenge against the FBI.

In July 2016, after the FBI closed the D. B. Cooper investigation, I took a heightened interest in this case. But being an engineer, the forensic evidence, the particles found in Cooper’s clip-on tie, implied he could be an engineer. I took an entirely different perspective on this man; he was not a “dumb criminal,” but rather an intelligent, but everyday person with an intense grudge.

Through research and logic, I uncovered his ingenious plan. I was so overcome by what I had found, that I was compelled to write a book about it.

Knowing Cooper had escaped, and realizing something tragic had happened to this man, I began to search through the tragedies of the day. I looked at the Kent State Massacre, major airline crashes, and even Vietnam War casualties. I examined a few hundred men, all of whom would be eliminated because they didn’t fit the physical description of D. B. Cooper, didn’t have the necessary aviation knowledge, wouldn’t have worn a clip-on tie in a manufacturing environment, etc.

But one incident and one man became my focus. This man was retired Major Joe Lakich, a decorated Army veteran. His daughter Susan was killed in the Five-Eight November incident.

After retirement from the Army in 1961, Joe worked in electronics manufacturing, and all the metals found in Cooper’s tie were utilized in this industry, including titanium, bismuth, gold, silver, and palladium. Joe was stationed in Europe in the late 1950’s, thus his connection to the Dan Cooper comics. He fit the FBI physical description perfectly. But most important was his grudge. As stated, after his daughter was killed, he was quoted as saying “the FBI has blood on its hands.”

I have completed a series of videos that provide the evidence for all of these unique attributes of Joe Lakich. He is one-in-a-trillion!  D. B. Cooper can be no one else.

Note that Joe was 50 years old when he hijacked NWA Flight 305 on November 24, 1971.

But unlike other reprisals, this one was non-violent. D. B. Cooper didn’t kill or hurt anyone. He is even described as being “very polite at all times.” While the public can’t condone violent reprisals where innocent police officers are killed, this reprisal is different. This is part of the reason D. B. Cooper has become a folk hero.

The FBI’s negligent handling of the 58 November incident, combined with their failure to accept responsibility, along with the harassment of the families of the victims, certainly is the polar opposite of the Boston Police response to the 2004 death of Victoria Snelgrove.

The title of this article, “When Law Enforcement is the Criminal,” becomes evident as we reflect upon the events of late 1971. For we will realize, that without this 58 November incident, there never would have been a D. B. Cooper. So, when we ask ourselves “who was the real criminal in the D. B. Cooper case?”  The answer will be, the FBI itself.

The Editor of the Law Enforcement Bulletin did reply. Her response is below.

Mr. Rollins,

Thank you for your e-mail and article submission. We have completed our review. Although the reviewers found the article interesting, they did not feel it was a good fit for the Bulletin.

We appreciate your interest in the LEB and the opportunity to review your article.

Thank you,

Stephanie

It appears that the FBI is still not prepared to make amends for its transgressions of the past.

So, although Bruce Smith’s adventures in Remote Viewing did not yield the results for which he had hoped, I maintain that he received Spiritual Guidance, as the title of his book, DB Cooper and the FBI, is quite prophetic.

In essence, the D. B. Cooper case is a reprisal for the wrongdoings of the FBI.

It is about a man who was so distraught over the death of his daughter that he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But the negligence, arrogance, and harassment by the FBI was too much. He knew there would be no Justice.

Thus, he drew upon his military training as a logistics officer, utilized his experience in electronics by deploying an avionics device, and used his nautical skills – perhaps even his own ski boat – to give the FBI a case that they never could solve. He had become Dan Cooper, a sensitive but daring military man who had taken on a mission in the name of Justice.

Joe Lakich spanked the FBI.

Through the years, D. B. Cooper has been referred to as a modern-day Robin Hood. In actuality, he is a modern-day Count of Monte Cristo, as he exacts his revenge, but does so in such an eloquent fashion.

©

2021

William S. Rollins III

Note: The author would like to extend his thanks to Bruce Smith and the Mountain News-WA for this opportunity to be a Guest Contributor.

Author Bill Rollins, above, attended the CooperCon 2019 and has been researching the DB Cooper case for several years. Picture provided courtesy of Mr. Rollins.

Posted in DB Cooper, Politics | 21 Comments

DB Cooper – Parachute Conundrum Still Unresolved

By Bruce A. Smith

Difficulties continue in determining what back chute was recovered by the FBI in Reno on the night of the DB Cooper skyjacking, and if it is a different parachute from the one returned to Norman Hayden, the owner of the main chutes.

The serial numbers do not comport between the “returned” chute displayed by Norman in 2013 at the Washington State Historical Museum’s “COOPER” exhibit, with recently released FBI documents that reveal different serial numbers recorded by National Guard inspectors in Reno.

Both chutes in question appear to contain a Pioneer harness with a Steinthal canopy inside.

The chute I saw at Norman Hayden’s machine shop in Renton, WA allegedly possessed the serial number “226,” while the FBI reports the National Guard recorded the serial number 60-9707. Are these different parachutes? If so, what kind of mistake has been made? Answers are yet to be forthcoming. Can we even confirm that these numbers are present anywhere on the chutes?

These discrepancies add more concern to an issue that has been fraught with controversy since the night of the skyjacking, when Earl Cossey claimed he provided the back chutes to DB Cooper. In contrast, FBI documents revealed in 2011 that Norman Hayden was the actual owner of the back chutes.

To summarize the conundrum, here is what I have learned in thirteen years of research:

DB Cooper had asked for four parachutes – two “front” and two “back” chutes. The front chutes were known as reserves and were delivered from the Issaquah Sky Sports Center by Washington State Patrol.

The “back” chutes, known as “mains,” are at the center of dispute.

There were two informational streams developed by Northwest Orient to get the needed chutes: George Harrison, the Chief of Flight Ops at Sea-Tac, and Al Lee, the Chief of Ground Ops at Sea-Tac. Apparently, these resulted in two delivery streams – Cossey and Hayden.

Al Lee called Cossey at home on Wednesday afternoon – the day of the skyjacking – according to Cossey. From that call, Cossey shipped his two back chutes from his home in Woodinville: a sage green military NB-6 or NB-8, and a tan-colored luxury civilian chute that has been called many names: Pioneer, Paradise, and Para-Commander over the years, as Cossey and other Norjak researchers have contributed all these names.

Instead of sending these chutes to Sea-Tac (ST), Cossey sent them via taxi to Boeing Field (BF) for unknown reasons, and when I asked why he sent them to BF instead of ST, he became hostile. Also unexplained is how the chutes traveled from Boeing Field to Sea-Tac, a distance of about ten miles. Cossey has said that they were delivered by a private car, but no names of the driver(s) have ever been released publicly as far as I know.

As for George Harrison, he first contacted Barry Halstad, a salesman at Pacific Aviation, which may have had an office at Boeing Field since Pacific Aviation sold airplanes and gear, such as parachutes. Norman Hayden was one of their customers, and Halstad suggested Harrison call Hayden directly and ask for Norman’s back chutes. Initial communications between these three were garbled, but eventually Norman sent his two chutes via taxi from his machine shop in Renton where he stored them directly to George Harrison at Sea-Tac, c/o the NWO freight desk. According to Hayden, they were two, identical Pioneer/Steinthals.

The only FBI documentation that I have seen on this timeline puts the Bureau’s first contact with Cossey on Friday morning, Nov. 26, when Cossey “appeared” in the Seattle Field Office. Afterwards, Coss became quickly enmeshed in the Norjak saga, and was eventually hired by the FBI as a consulting expert on the parachutes.

Currently, researchers are asking for a full photo array of the “returned” chute that Hayden showed me in 2013, just prior to the WSHM exhibit. As a result, I offer the following photo galley. I took all the photographs, and the two gentlemen pictured are Norman Hayden and Bruce Thun. The latter is the jump master and former Manager of Thun Field in Puyallup, WA, and he accompanied me to provide expert witness assistance.

Norman Hayden wearing his “returned” Pioneer/Steinthal parachute.

Close-up of the Pioneer/Steinthal.

Is the number “226” a “Type” or a misplaced serial number?

Bruce Thun, (l) and Norman Hayden (r).

Bruce Thun and Norman Hayden inspecting the Pioneer/Steinthal parachute.

To see other articles on DB Cooper and the parachutes:

https://themountainnewswa.net/2011/10/25/db-cooper-case-heats-up-again-with-controversy-over-parachutes/

Posted in DB Cooper | 1 Comment

Mass Vax Rollout in Eatonville a Success

By Bruce A. Smith

The first mass inoculation program conducted in Eatonville rolled out Saturday, January 30, without any major gaffes or interruptions. One-thousand individuals received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the event, held at the Eatonville High School from 8 am until 4 pm.

A joint project sponsored by Kirk’s Pharmacy, the Eatonville School Board, and the MultiCare Family Clinic in Eatonville, the vaxing was well-organized and greatly appreciated by those receiving their inoculation.

The event was managed by an army of volunteers that delivered the shots and guided the public through the maze of parking, registration, inoculation, and the mandatory fifteen to thirty minute recovery period where staff monitored possible side-effects.

“We had over thirty volunteers from the school district and at least twenty-five health practitioners who volunteered their time to participate in this program,” said Kirk Heinz, the owner of Kirk’s Pharmacy and the organizer of the clinical aspects of the rollout. “We had nurses and dentists, pharmacists and technicians – some from as far away as Maple Valley – helping out today, said Heinz.

The vibe was celebratory, as many were relieved to finally get some protection from the Covid virus, especially as it seems to be growing more contagious.

“Everyone is so happy here – to give it and to get it,” echoed Richard Holley, a pharmacist from South Hill who helped supervise the injections.

“I was panicking about the new strains,” said Gerald Daniels of Puyallup as he rolled up his sleeve for a shot. “I was really tripping, so I’m grateful to be here.”

The mass inoculations were a multi-step process.

First, people had to sign-up in-person at the high school at 8 am to receive an appointment. The decision to use a physical sign-up – as opposed to an online or phone registration – did create huge traffic jams early in the day, but it did provide an alternative to folks without iPhones and computers. Recent mass injection programs, such as conducted by MultiCare and Virginia Mason-Franciscan last week at Clover Park Technical College and the Puyallup Fairgrounds, left many frustrated when they could not access the online system to obtain an appointment. In addition, online methods are employed to deliver appointments for in-store inoculations at Kirk’s and other small pharmacies, leaving many without access to the vaccine.

All one-thousand appointments were dispensed by 8:30 am, and a “back-up” group was formed if extra doses were available late in the day, which proved to be the case. “High Risk” folks were at the top of that secondary list.

When people arrived at their appointed time, they were ushered into the high school’s cafeteria area for registration and a quick medical screening. Although the vaccination is free, individuals with health insurance cards were also asked to present them for identification purposes.

Next, individuals were sent to the vaccination room – a ten-station affair in the small gym. However, most people had registered in small groups of two, three and four, and all were vaccinated at the same station. The person giving the injection was either a doctor, a physician’s assistant, or a nurse.

Near-by and behind the scenes, a four-member team of clinicians loaded syringes with the vaccine from their refrigerated supply.

“Outside the cooler, these shots are viable for up to six hours,” said volunteer Amber Martinez, a nurse from Mary Bridge Hospital.

The actual injection was quick – a two-second jab in the upper arm. Then recipients were directed to the recovery room in the large gym.

“We haven’t seen any serious side-effects all day,” said Dr. Gloria Lowe, who directed the recovery room, and is a staff doc at the MultiCare Clinic in Eatonville. “People are very grateful, and feeling very hopeful, too,” said Dr. Lowe.

However, reports are coming in from state officials that side-effects are being recorded during the second dose inoculation, said “Carolyn,” one of the recovery room volunteers.

Nevertheless, the whole operation was viewed as effective and successful.

“It’s been very efficient,” said MultiCare’s Dr. Howard Hull, one of the clinicians giving shots, adding, “early this morning we processed about 200 per hour, which translates to twenty injections per hour per station.”

All of the inoculations were the Moderna type, which requires a second dose in 28 days. Everyone receiving their first dose today was issued an identity card, which will qualify them to receive their second dose at a follow-up program on February 27, 2021. Individuals are asked to arrive at the Eatonville High School about the same time they had for their first shot.

However, Kirk told the Mountain News that he has received information from Moderna that their second dose has a window of viability of 22-38 days. “If people need their second dose and can’t make the exact date for the second appointment, they can call us and we’ll squeeze them in somewhere,” Kirk said.

As for the larger vaccine rollout, Kirk shared vital information.

“We’re giving between 30-60 doses a day at our pharmacy in Eatonville,” he said. Appointments can be made at their website: https://www.kirkspharmacy.com/ .

However, at this time appointments are not available for another month. Nevertheless, Kirk suggests folks try early in the day to obtain an appointment from cancellations, etc.

Kirk said that all of his doses come from the state health department, and he is receiving shipments on a weekly basis. “I’ve asked for 330 doses for next week, which should cover all the first and second doses coming in. But we’re not hoarding any vaccine. We’re injecting everything we’ve got.”

As for future supplies, Kirk says that issue is “uncertain.”

Saturday’s mass vaccination is a new development in the statewide rollout, switching from small, in-store delivery programs to the large-scale inoculations, such as at the high school.

“It’s more a efficient method,” said Dr. Lowe. “At the Eatonville clinic, we can only dispense two doses every fifteen minutes, since our other treatment rooms are being used for non-Covid purposes.”

Kirk echoed agreement on this shift. “The Governor is pushing for mass inoculations versus the small, in-store approach. But he’s had to ask some facilities for give-backs to get the quantities needed for the big programs.”

Fortunately, Kirk’s Pharmacy has not been asked to give back any vaccine.

Kirk also acknowledged that the early rollouts were marred with disappointment and chaos.

“The transition to 1-B was really confusing,” he said. “We were informed about the switch from 1-A – the frail elderly, nursing home staff and patients, and health care workers, to the 1-B people – individuals over 65 and those over 50 who live in a multi-generational home – at the last minute. As a result, we got 500 phone calls on that first day from people looking for an appointment.”

However, Kirk’s son, Andrew Heinz, improved their website and was able to distribute 1,600 appointments shortly thereafter.

Washington State’s Department of Health has had enormous difficulty with their vaccine software program, known as PrepMod, designed to handle appointments, medical screenings, and second dose appointments – plus sending all that data to the federal CDC, which is tracking the overall national vaccination program. However, Kirk is not using PrepMod. “We’re using Andrew’s program,” he said with a smile, “and it’s working fine.”

As a result, Kirk’s Pharmacy has been able to deliver a significant amount of vaccine to the 1-A group.

“Since December 28, 2020, we’ve given out about 600 doses to the 1-A group. But there’s still a lot of folks who need a shot. On my days off I go to adult family facilities and nursing homes to inoculate the residents and staff.”

Such dedication has not gone unnoticed.

“Kirk is a Super Hero,” said Bev Martin, a volunteer stationed at one of the registration desks. “We’re so lucky to have him here in Eatonville. This event today wouldn’t have happened without him.”

Photo Gallery

Kirk Heinz,(l) and Richard Holley, (r), at the Mass Covid Vaccination Event in Eatonville.

Dr. Gloria Lowe supervising the Recovery Room.

Dr. Howard Hull vaccinating Gerald Daniels in Eatonville on Saturday.

Kirk Heinz, (r), standing socially distant from Ms. Krestin Bahr, Superintendent of the Eatonville School District. “It’s been an amazing journey,” Ms. Bahr said about the vaccination program. “What a way to show love to the community.”

My injector, Dr. Eric Hanson, DDS, of Eatonville. I was a fortunate recipient of a dose as a member of the “back-up group,” and I received my shot late Saturday.

My nurse, Jesse, who is an RN at the Auburn Medical Center in her “day job.”

The Recovery Room at the Eatonville High School. Individuals stayed here for fifteen minutes post-injection, or thirty minutes if they have had a history of allergic reactions. No side-reactions to the vaccine were reported today in Eatonville’s large-scale inoculation event.

Go Cruisers! Over 1,000 people received a vaccination for Covid today at EHS.

Posted in Covid-19, Eatonville News, Events, Health | 2 Comments

Covid-19 Vaccines Arrive in Eatonville

By Bruce A. Smith

The Covid-19 vaccine has come to Eatonville. Kirk’s Pharmacy on Mashel Ave has confirmed this week that it is currently giving the vaccine to individuals in the group known as “1-A.” These folks are emergency and frontline health care workers, and seniors in long-term care and the caregivers who tend to them. 1-A has two “tiers,” and the 1st Tier are the individuals listed above. The 2nd Tier expands the list to include all health care workers once the first tier is complete.

Kirk’s says that people desiring their vaccine shot need to call and make an appointment. The number is 360. 832. 3121. The dose will be administered at the Kirk’s Pharmacy store in Eatonville, only.

A much greater roll-out appears to be coming next week. Kirk’s today announced that they expect to receive people from the “1-B” group, possibly as soon as January 19. Details are not confirmed as of this date, but should be available by the end of this week, January 15.

According to Kirk’s website, 1-B is currently designated by the Washington State Department of Health (WSDoH) to include individuals over 75 years of age. However, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD), states clearly on its website that the current age-limit for 1-B has been reduced to 70, and also includes all individuals over 50-years of age who live in a multi-generational household.

https://www.tpchd.org/healthy-people/diseases/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine-information .

 Either way, these groups are huge, totaling over 60 million people, nationwide. Again, Kirk’s is saying that individuals in 1-B must call first and make an appointment. However, details from Kirk’s is sketchy, and the best that staff can say as of today, January 11 is, “Call us back towards the end of the week and we should know more and be able to give you an appointment.”

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) says that they are using an “honor system” at this time in terms of determining who will get a vaccine shot and when – hoping to speed up the vaccination process. Officials at the TPCHD indicate that the vaccine is free, and everyone who gets their first shot will receive a card announcing the time for their second vaccine shot.

Nevertheless, Kirk’s is asking that everyone coming for the vaccine bring their medical insurance cards with them.

Of note, the Multi-Care Clinic in Eatonville announced today that it is not administering Covid-19 vaccines, and is referring all who seek the vaccine to Kirk’s.

Kirk’s posted on its website that the vaccines are from the Moderna stock, and are procured through the Washington State Department of Health. This vaccine will require two doses, administered 28 days apart. Health officials are also suggesting that everyone who receives a vaccination continue to wear a mask and socially distance themselves in public settings.

In addition, Kirk’s is requiring that all individuals seeking the vaccine must fill out a pre-vaccination checklist, which determines if people are safe to receive the vaccine. Questions include: do you have allergies, are you currently experiencing a fever, etc. These forms are available at the Kirk’s website: https://www.kirkspharmacy.com/covid19 .  

Further, Kirk’s is also requiring that individuals receiving the vaccine also print out the seven-page take-home packet that lists warnings on side-effects and other important details.

Kirk’s is also administering free “EverlyWell” Covid-19 test kits to anyone 16-years and older and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has had a known COVID-19 exposure. Folks desiring these kits can receive them in-person at three Kirk’s locations: Eatonville, Sunrise, and Puyallup between 8:30 am and 6 pm. Call first, please. Pick-up will be at curbside.

Covid-19 symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Details on the free test kits are:

1. Pick-up your kit at Kirk’s Pharmacy

2. Register your kit with EverlyWell, which is the manufacturer.

3. Follow instructions to collect your sample

4.) Ship your kit the SAME DAY you collect your sample with FREE overnight shipping via UPS.

For more information, go to the Kirk’s Pharmacy website.

https://www.kirkspharmacy.com/covid19 , or call: 360. 832. 3121.

Posted in Covid-19, Eatonville News, Health | 3 Comments

Netflix Favorites – My top TV shows and Films

By Bruce A. Smith

I’m heavy into spy thrillers, cerebral dramas, and comedies with redeeming social values. Some of these shows have been on my movie lists in the past, but they have updated seasons, or compelling dramatic reasons to watch again because of global climate change, Black Lives Matter, or other current issues.

In No Particular Order:

  1. Occupied: A Norwegian serial TV show that is utterly engrossing as it speculates on the near political future. Season 3 now playing. Watch 1-3. They’re all good and different.
  2. The Old Guard: An interesting action-thriller that is suitable for watching after a tough day. Charlize Theron kicks ass in all the right ways.
  3. The West Wing. An oldie but a goodie. Imagine Bill Clinton being able to keep his pants on.
  4. Madam Secretary: What power looks like when wielded by a thoughtful, compassionate, realistic woman. Top Notch all the way through. Seasons 1-6
  5. Intelligence: A Canadian serial, Seasons 1-3 that is a superb spy/cop show that tells the truth from all angles.
  6. The 4400: Another Canadian serial that is superb sci-fi, speculating on interdimensional travel to save a doomed race.
  7. The Travelers: A third Canadian gem that borrows some of the cast from the other shows above. Add time travel to the interdimensional potentials, this time to alter history to the betterment of Humanity.
  8. Comedians in Cars – Getting Coffee: Jerry Seinfeld interviews his comedic friends in fifteen-minute clips to talk about the business of making people laugh. A superb tutorial for teaching people how to be serious about their passions.
  9. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction – Dave Letterman: An uneven serial of one-hour long interviews. Some guests have got the juice for 60 minutes – like Barack Obama – but some do not.
  10. Dave Chappelle: Netflix broadcasts several of his recent specials. They are all winners. I absolutely love this guy – he makes me laugh all the time – but I especially revel in his truth telling.
  11. Wanda Sykes: When I want a change of pace from Chappelle, I switch to Wanda. You just can’t lose.
  12. Molly’s Game: A film based on a true story of a gal named Molly who started a private gambling club and ran afoul of the Big Boys. Articulate, powerful, insightful, and absolutely satisfying at every step – and she wins at the end. You’ll cheer and cry. I know I did.
  13. Spy: The true story of Israel’s top spy back in the 1960s. I could not believe that Sasha Cohen played the lead. He was fantastic. The story is top-notch.
  14. Turn: An uneven series on the spies who aided George Washington and the Continental Army during the Revolution. Very interesting take on the different personalities making history. Also, good to see the Brits in a different light.
  15. Longmire: Imagine a thoughtful detective story based upon an old-school cowboy sheriff dealing with rednecks, big-time gambling interests, and the nearby Indian Police from the Rez. A modern western that is balanced and nuanced.
  16. Queen’s Gambit: A superb six-part series that is being acclaimed by many. Engrossing story, and the acting is top-notch. Note: I would have loved a little more chess theory to explain the many moves the Wunderkind Gal makes to squash the Poo-Bahs of International Chess.
  17. The Two Popes: A fascinating true story that is well-told. Held my interest every step of the way.
  18. Spotlight: This movie won an Academy Award for Best Picture a few years past and Netflix still features it. It shows the dark side of priestly abuse, and the shining light of good journalists who care, are backed by a newspaper that has enough resources to pay the bills, and a Jewish Editor in Chief who kicks his reporters’ Catholic asses into gear.
  19. Mindhunters: An uneven series that is fascinating by turns and numbing in its details of why and how serial killers become who they become. Also, a superb look at the internal politics at work in the FBI. It ain’t pretty.
  20. The Highway Men: If Sgt Hank Voigt of TV’s Chicago PD fame was a cop in Texas in the 1930s, this is how he would have captured Bonnie and Clyde. Utterly realistic, truthful, and captivating even if many of the practices of the Texas Rangers are legally questionable. But what can not be disputed is the impact of dogged, thoughtful police work performed by competent, fearless men.
  21. Die Hard: Bruce Willis’ opening flick in his multi-faceted “Die Hard” series. This movie is my FAVORITE Christmas movie. Yippy-Ki-Yay… well, you know the rest.
  22. Body Guard: If Bruce Willis was British and went to a boarding school, this is how he might have turned out when he became a cop and started chasing terrorists. This serial telecast has several seasons at this point, and will probably have more as this show is a Big Hit in the UK, and that’s well-deserved.
  23. The Impossible: Is a based-on-true-incidents related to the Indonesian tsunami a few years back. Truthful and meaningful, and delivers a well-needed look at how the local Indonesians struggled valiantly to save the thousands of tourists affected by the catastrophe, along with endeavoring to save themselves.
  24. Frida: Another oldie but a goodie. The best acting job ever by Salma Hayek, portraying the Mexican artistic genius Frieda Kahlo.
  25. Defiance: A top-notch film showing the based-on-facts resistance of hundreds of Jewish refugees in eastern Poland at the end of WW II. Liev Schreiber delivers a superb portrayal of a leader who has a tough job to do with little to work with.
  26. The Twelfth Man: A gritty, based-on-facts of the unlikely survival of a British commando during a raid on a German military outpost in Norway. It’s as much a story of how the Norwegian Resistance deals with the fears of their own people as it is of how they out-foxed and out-lasted the Nazis. The film even shows how a herd of reindeer aided the Brit in reaching safety in Sweden.
Posted in Culture, Netflix | Leave a comment

DB Cooper – The Fingerprint Conundrum

By Bruce A. Smith

The fingerprints are perhaps the most convoluted issue in Norjak. To date there is no definitive statement from the FBI that declares how many fingerprints they have, what kinds of fingerprints in terms of palm prints, thumb print, etc., or where they were collected. The confusion over the fingerprints is so complete that we are only learning snippets now, as we read the 302s in 2020. It is akin to reading tea leaves.

In fact, the dearth of information on the fingerprints is so complete that I’ve never written about it before, and this chapter was not included in previous editions of this book. Along those lines, the early works on Cooper barely mention the fingerprints at all, such as Richard Tosaw’s Dead or Alive – DB Cooper, and they fail to declare any specificity as to number, types, and clarity. More troubling information comes from Geoffrey Gray, who, even with his unlimited access to FBI files, was unable to deliver any definitive statement on the fingerprints in his SKYJACK, and in an email to me in 2020 stated: “However many sets there were… we know the quality and origin are… no good or incomplete.”

But the FBI seems to have some fingerprints that it does trust, which it uses to disqualify suspects. So, what does the FBI have on file? Here are the tidbits I have gathered.

Calame and Rhodes, in DB Cooper – The Real McCoy, offered the first – and for decades the only inkling – of what kind of fingerprints the FBI had collected in Reno. They state that 11 sets of fingerprints were retrieved, but were soon found to be too smudged to be of any value. This finding of 11 unusable prints is corroborated by the FBI document 164A-81-8868, (dated 12. 9. 86.) However, this doc also states that these prints were lifted off the ashtray, which suggests that more prints were recovered in other places.

That larger number hovers in the 66-80 range. Larry Carr told me in 2008 that the FBI had 66 sets of prints, which is corroborated by 164-2111, (dated 10. 9. 75), and backed by Himmelsbach in his book, NORJAK.

Similarly, 69 prints are declared by 164-81-7153, (dated 10. 26. 76), and 70 sets are claimed in document SE 164A-81-8767, (dated 8. 14. 84). In addition, a highly redacted 302 announces 77 sets of fingerprints, 164A-81-8816, (dated 8. 13. 85), while the undated SE 164-81-P says “approximately” 80.

In terms of where the additional fingerprints were retrieved, we know only of general areas. Document 164-81-1029, (dated 12. 13. 71), says that the two seats Cooper sat in received heavy attention, along with the airphone on which Cooper called the cockpit to ‘slow the plane down.” Further, the rear door and the surrounding area near the aftstairs were dusted for prints, along with four plastic drinking glasses found in the trash near the back door. It is also believed that the rear lavatory was dusted, as per Summary Report, LV 164-60, page 291, (dated 11. 26. 71.)

Palm prints were also obtained, as per SE 164-81-9260, (dated 3. 8. 79), and it is widely believed these prints were found on the arm rests of seat 18-E, which was removed and examined in Quantico.

As for these fingerprints and palm prints, we now know that they included the “tips, sides, and lower joint areas of fingers,” as per a report from the FBI’s Latent Fingerprint Division, (dated 8. 20. 1976), and again cited in an undated memo, 164-2111. Note: These prints are characterized as “latent” because they do not match any prints on file in FBI data banks.

In addition, fellow researchers at the DB Cooper Forum report that the FBI had been requiring full sets of fingerprint and palm prints of all suspects being investigated in Norjak as early as 1973. As a result, many citizen sleuths feel the Bureau has its greatest confidence in its palm print.

That is disputed by Galen Cook, however, who told me that Larry Carr had informed him in 2008 that the best Cooper print the FBI had was a fingerprint lifted off an in-flight magazine, and was using it as its primary means of dismissing suspects.

Ironically, the issue of magazines is another conundrum, as Calame and Rhodes claim the Reno team did not collect the magazines and were severely chided by the Bureau as a result. Nevertheless, there is another FBI document that suggests a second survey of magazines was conducted after the initial one in Reno – most likely the following day at Sea-Tac – from which clear and clean fingerprints were retrieved. [SE 164-81, page 2, “DB Cooper 8571.” However, this doc states that the magazines were dusted 11. 25. 72, but that is generally thought to be a typo since notes from George Harrison, the NWO official at Sea-Tac working closely with the FBI, describe a thorough search of the aircraft by the FBI when it returned from Reno the day after the skyjacking, Thanksgiving Day.

Along those lines, Larry Carr posted on the DropZone chat room that the FBI had gotten good prints off the magazines. Specifically, Carr stated: “No fingerprints from the airstairs, in fact no fingerprints recovered from the airplane during the first evidence sweep… On a second sweep some magazines were located in the area where Cooper had been. These were processed and a few latents were recovered that are of value.”

However, lifting prints off the magazines is incongruous. When did DB Cooper have time to read any magazines? He had his hand on the bomb trigger for much of the flight – to the degree that Tina had to light his cigarettes. Plus, Richard Tosaw states in DB Cooper – Dead or Alive that Tina told him she never saw Cooper touch a magazine during the skyjacking.

Nevertheless, Tosaw’s statements are also suspect because he told others, such as Bill Rataczak and Galen Cook, that Tina’s memory was exceptionally faulty when he interviewed her in the convent in the mid-1980s. As a result, whatever Tosaw has claimed from Tina must be viewed as less-than-reliable information.

Clearly, the fingerprint issue is controversial. In the view of many researchers, the truth probably lays close to the following scenario: The FBI has a lot of prints, including palm prints, but they don’t know conclusively if any are DB Cooper’s. But they might have DB Cooper’s prints somewhere in their pile. Hence, when a suspect is presented, they check his fingerprints against the whole bunch, and if nothing matches, they rule out the individual.

Posted in DB Cooper | 42 Comments

Predictions for the election and Covid – the arrival of “Grampa Joe”

By Bruce A. Smith

Here on the day before the official “Election Day” of November 3, I’d like to post my predictions for the 2020 Election:

Biden will win the national count by 12 million, and take the presidency with an Electoral College victory of 310-228 or so. I believe the Democrats will also take Senate 53-47, and maintain their majority in the House of Representatives. These numbers will probably not be confirmed until Friday, November 6.

Further, state legislatures nationally go Democratic in a major tidal wave of Blue as the GOP is crushed. In response, the GOP will become the “Resistance,” and obstruct the Biden administration at every step. Trump and FOX News will be the loudest voices, but over time the GOP will become less “Trumpy,” less white supremacist, less racist, and more working-class – certainly by 2024.

The Democrats will have absolute dominance for 4-5 years, politically. But they will struggle to blend their globalization and corporate instincts with effective policies that help working people in the USA, especially the manufacturing sector in the heartland. Ultimately, their efforts fail politically even though many Americans benefit financially. The GOP will regain a lot of strength as the dynamics of the Cultural War are just too strong for the Democrats to overcome, especially the issues of abortion and white fears of the “Browning of America” – the growth of Hispanic populations and the growing political clout of African-Americans.

In the near-term, though, the Mask War intensifies. Mask-wearing becomes more political, and Republicans/Trumpers don’t wear them while Democrats and Liberals do. Locally, it is charged and bitter, but veiled. Certain stores get identified as
“Trumpers Only” and no one wears a mask or socially distances. Other stores become “Liberal Only” and require Covid protocols to be followed. But enforcement of these safe practices by departments of health are meager and ineffective.

As a result, Covid continues to cripple the economy and society. It lingers through 2021 and into 2022 with waves and troughs. Vaccines arrive but are only marginally effective – approximately 70%. More troubling, 35% of the country refuses to take any vaccine. Death total by end of 2020 is 350,000. Another 300,000 die in 2021 despite Biden’s best efforts. Total Covid deaths in USA by end of 2022 will exceed 800,000.

Even though Trump is defeated in the election, the polarization of America continues to intensify. especially as many Liberals view the Trumpers as “trying to kill us with Covid.” The legal effort to adjudicate Trump for negligent homicide – stemming from the hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths generated by his ineffective policies – fails, as Biden gambles on trying to unify the national psychologically. He is partially successful.

A new stat emerges: unaccounted-for deaths. Already we are seeing 100,000 deaths in 2020 that are not Covid-specific but are above the expected projections from prior years. Who are these extra deaths? How do they die? From what? Covid-like complications?

QAnon is still with us. Lots of folks still drink the Kool-Aid. Conspiracy theories abound. But no one examines closely the Jeffrey Epstein case, such as who called Alexander Acosta when he was the Florida Attorney General and convinced him to squash the first Epstein sex trafficking case in Palm Beach. Nor why Acosta was then elevated to the Secretary of Commerce by President Trump. Nor why the alleged suicide of Epstein in federal detention was allowed and the follow-up investigation so flawed.

The economy fractures and struggles, but many Americans thrive and prosper – perhaps 2/3 of the population – as they can work from home, have Internet connection, or the skills to earn them a good income in the new, distanced, informational economy.

But many don’t have those resources and flounder. One-third of the population remains unemployed or under-employed for years. The entertainment and travel industries are non-existent. Airlines go belly-up and Boeing files for bankruptcy. The European Airbus agency, with its governmental support, exists only as a shadow of its former self.

Restaurants struggle and few are successful. Bars and taverns remain mostly closed or at greatly reduced capacity. As a result, illegal parties and drinking clubs flourish, which also helps to spread Covid in an endless cycle.

Schools remain mostly closed. Hybrid programs of partial-attendance-in-class coupled with home-schooling predominate, but many families are reluctant to send their kids to school. Most teachers are afraid to enter their classrooms, but do so with strict testing and disinfectant practices. In effect, classrooms become like the iconic NBA bubble. Some kids thrive in this environment; many don’t.

The financial hardships drive many individuals and families into homelessness. Addictions and health problems abound. The Biden Administration launches Depression-Era-esque federal programs to address the chronic job loss and homelessness. These efforts are mostly successful and Biden is hailed as a hero who has saved America. His nickname becomes “Grampa Joe.”

China emerges as the dominant world power as it controls Covid better than anyone else, and as a result is able to maintain its economy. Europe, like the United States, continues to struggle with Covid and a limp economy.

Global Climate Change dominates world attention within the decade, and countries shift their politics to address the situation, but there is much resistance regionally and within the political factions of the right. In the United States, de facto confederations emerge to address local climate issues, such as forest fires, and the western states form the Cascadian Confederation to pool resources and advance useful policies. These latter issues include a vast increase in fire-fighting resources, the mandating of electric cars, amplification of alternative energy sources, and decreasing the use of oil and gas. Within ten years all new homes will be required to have solar power arrays installed on their rooftops, along with other energy saving devices such as infra-red hot water heaters.

Biden does not run for re-election in 2024 due to this age, and is replaced by Kamala Harris at the top of the ticket. The GOP gropes for an answer to the Trump debacle, but opts for the arch-conservative Tom Cotton, who loses disastrously to Harris.

The nearly one-million Covid deaths by 2024 casts a pall over the political passions of 2020, and most folks are just looking to survive. Culturally and psychologically, many turn inward and find a deeper level of spiritual mindfulness. Many are “woke” and active. This becomes a major force in the country and counters the social isolation brought about by the Covid restrictions and social disruptions of poverty.

New cultural norms are developed for celebrating holidays, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays. New jobs are created, and public art flourishes. The talismans that were once used to produce tribal identities shift and reform. Ten years from now, Americans will see themselves and their neighbors in a new way, and many will say that this period of time was the best thing that ever happened to them.

Addendum

Within minutes of posting the above essay, Mountain News readers began sending me messages of concern for violence, especially Tuesday night and the days following the vote counting.

Will Trumpers go violent if The Donald loses? I don’t think so, at least not with any organized, substantive violence. I think the Trumpers will stay home and watch the news to see how big their Red Wave actually is tomorrow night, and once they realize it’s not big enough they will sit down, ponder, and regroup – waiting for some leader, like DT, to tell them what to do.

I am surrounded by Trumpers here in rural WA, and I am not afraid of any violence.

Addendum II

Reader response has been phenomenal. Besides the above concerns, some readers are questioning whether Donald Trump will leave office peacefully. I believe he will leave, but not quietly – and in veiled pathological ways. I don’t think DT will ever concede to Joe Biden, nor will he congratulate him. I think DT will leave the White House long before the Bidens show up at the customary noon-time arrival on January 20th.

On Tuesday night as the reality of his loss becomes apparent, I think Trump will enter a sullen, depressed state – much like he did when he realized he won in 2016. Back then he was reportedly overwhelmed by the enormity of his victory. Melania wept then, too, supposedly and she might tomorrow night as well, but for very different reasons. She and her husband might be going to jail in 2021. For more on that aspect, I recommend reading Jane Mayer’s article in the New Yorker, as submitted by a MN reader this evening. Titled; “Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose,” Mayer addresses all the lawsuits and illegalities of The Donald and those close to him. It’s stunning.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/09/why-trump-cant-afford-to-lose

Addendum III

A MN readers posted his own prediction that Trump will win and “…the Marxist wing (Antifa/DSA/BLM) of the Democrat party riots in major cities and tries to take Washington. They are planning it already. BTW, I am not American and don’t vote. “

In turn, I replied with the following:

The Antifa guys I’ve spoken with were not Marxist in the least, and didn’t have a clue about communism or any of that stuff. I interviewed a couple of Antifa people back in the “Occupy Movement” days, and I was stunned at how cruel and violent they were. But they are also very disorganized and not particularly sophisticated – intellectually or organizationally.

The Antifa folks who have presented themselves at rallies, do so to “protect” other protestors. That seems to be their MO: a reactive force to other people’s violence. The antifa people I have met have a hard time ordering lunch, let alone paying the rent or raising a kid – or launching a revolution.

As for the BLM – Black Lives Matter – I see them as focused more on social justice and real reform, not the looting and tearing down the walls of civilization. One of the real issues of the summer and our nationwide social protesting is that no real leaders emerged, nor did any recognized leaders step forward and try to organize the demonstrations. The whole thing was very organic and localized. That allowed Trump and the right-wing commentators to control the narrative of who was doing what and why – in my view.

This issue remains. We still don’t know what to do with our cops – or what it will take to stop the murdering of black men by white police officers. Clearly “Defunding the Police” is a non-starter, and certain reforms, such as posting mental health counselors in squad cars to de-escalate crazy, violent incidents, is still not widespread. Mentally ill guys are still getting killed, such as occurred in Philly two weeks ago.

Posted in Covid-19, Culture, Environment, Politics | 94 Comments