As the government and civil society that had been built up in Afghanistan over the past 20 years comes crumbling down under the Taliban takeover, one group that is in particular danger are journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports fielding “hundreds and hundreds” of daily pleas from journalists looking for help to flee the country. While the Taliban has publicly stated it will honor a free press, the reality on the ground is different; at least two women anchors were barred from doing their jobs at Radio Television Afghanistan, and multiple journalists have been attacked and others’ homes have been raided since the Taliban takeover. Meanwhile, the Taliban itself has turned to social media to share its messages, with posts on YouTube, despite the platform’s ban on Taliban content since it is defined as a terrorist organization. Those posts have since been taken down, and Facebook has deleted propaganda accounts of Taliban leaders, prompting the newly empowered group to accuse the platforms of censorship.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I am spiritual, but in a real smartass way.” - Rosalia Webster, ringleader of fire dance/burlesque/poetry performance group BiG SuRCuS (see Onstage story).
GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK
Good news for the city of Marina, which has gone from having zero to not one, but two cannabis dispensaries, both now open. Element 7 opened on Aug. 16 on Reservation Road and STIIIZY opened on Del Monte Boulevard on Aug. 28. (They are two of the three operators that got a license last year in the city’s cannabis program rollout, which is projected to generate about $225,000 in annual tax revenue.) “We can’t wait to start servicing the patients and customers of Marina that have had to drive to dispensaries in other communities since cannabis was legalized,” Robert DiVito, founder and CEO of Element 7, said in a press release. STIIZY is part of a big chain – it’s the ninth location in Northern California – and is expected to provide up to 30 new jobs. Applicants from the Veteran Transition Center and people who are reintegrating back in the community will be prioritized.
The city of Gonzales has something to celebrate this week: 92 percent of residents have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to Monterey County Health Department data released Aug. 30. That’s higher than any other area in South County, Salinas, the Monterey Peninsula or Big Sur. (One tiny North County zip code achieved 100 percent and the Moss Landing/Elkhorn area is at 97 percent.) South County continues to lag behind other regions with 67 percent, so Gonazales’ rate shines. Mayor Jose Rios gives credit to City Manager Rene Mendez and the staff for creating an action plan early on. Using a grant from the Community Foundation for Monterey County they hired VIDA community health workers who went door to door. Partnerships with the Gonzales Rx Pharmacy, Clinica de Salud and Taylor Farms also contributed to the successful outcome, Rios says.