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Je Suis Charlie
"Our republic and its press will rise or fall together." — Joseph Pulitzer

Requiescat in pace
University of Nevada Journalism Prof. Emeritus and longtime Sparks Tribune columnist Jake Highton passed away of a heart attack on Aug. 7, 2017. Adios on Labor Day weekend. May the great teacher rest in peace from work well done and a life well-lived.

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"Media is the plural of mediocre."
— Jimmy Breslin (1928-2017)

¡Viva Chávez!
César Chávez Celebration XVI / Celebración de César Chávez XVI
Saturday 31 March 2018
/ Sabado 31 de Marzo 2018

Highlights from the record-breaking 2017 event at Circus Circus Reno

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   Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
   Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
   Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
   That's how it goes.
Everybody knows...
Everybody knows the scene is dead
   But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
   What everybody knows...
   Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
   and a long red rose.
   Everybody knows. Everybody knows.
That's how it goes.
Everybody knows.

I hope you understand I just had to go back to the island.
Leon Russell, 1942-2016

Virginia City Nevada celebrates Slave Labor Day
Barbwire by Andres Luis Barbáno / Special online Labor Day edition 9-2-2017 / Update 9-3, 9-4 and 9-5-2017

Greatest Hits Dept.


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Note: Alas and alack, Dondero did not make it in 2015 or 2016.
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Barbwire wins 7th Nevada Press Association award


6-pack: BRONZE 2014
Hopelessly trying to win an earthquake / 4-18-2013

The 2013 Loony Tunes Legislative Lexicon / 5-30-2013

The politics of media ga-ga boosterism / 3-20-2014

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The program premiers were available to every television set in the region because of a high-mileage media hybrid.

The shows appeared on both commercial and community stations. The non-corporate entity produced the events, commercial TV greatly expanded distribution.

Thus began an ongoing series of sane public interest programs which generate both entertaining heat and more than a little light.

Please spread the word and consider contributing to the cause online at ReSurge.TV.

You may also take the public option known as the U.S. Postal Service and send a check or money order to ReSurge.TV, P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.

Your contribution will help fund the distribution as well as ongoing efforts at developing new media, including a regional, non-corporate community radio station and the return of community television to Reno-Sparks-Washoe.

You are present at the creation of what I hope can become a new media model where the programming accurately reflects what's happening on the ground and the media impact is powerful enough to forcefully pass the message upward.


Be well. Raise hell.


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The birthplace of trade unionism in the west this weekend smothers history in her crib as the last surviving Labor Day parade in Nevada becomes The Civil War Days Parade.

The entire Virginia City weekend is devoted to Civil War glorification. Read it and weep:

The title photo at the above website shows gray geeks in full Confederate drag shooting at them goddamned yankees. Labor Day has been reduced to a time and date reference.

The whole freakin' weekend is now "Civil War Days." Charlottesvile, Virginia, has appropriately commemorative statuary available. VC has launched an extensive TV campaign showing Civil War re-enactors in various garb marching in a parade with an American flag, an additional insult to men and women who gave their lives for a just workplace.

The VC event website carries a hotlink to the Comstock Civil War Reenactors site which displays a Confederate Battle Flag on its front page. The U.S. taxpayer-subsidized organization's Confederate Brigade page repeats the standard despicable revision of history.

"The primary issues which resulted in the outbreak of war were political and economic as well as a fight over self determination (States Rights). The issue of slavery was entwined in all of these other issues and although a large part of the pie, was not the primary focus as many seem to believe 150 years later. As proof of this it is interesting to note that slavery was legal in parts of the North, before and after the Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation only pertained to areas under Confederate control and indeed existed for a period of time in the North after it’s (sic) passage...It is a tribute to the American spirit that we have managed to heal in great part the rift of the 1860’s despite the poor treatment of the South after the war. No other country in history has managed to survive such a deep division and rise to become stronger in the end....The Confederate Brigade proudly depicts the culture, honor and resiliency of the Southern soldier in an effort to educate and inform the general public about the proud history of our nation, devoid of political correctness."
Non-slaveholders fought for God because the Bible sanctioned slavery
Address to Charleston Library
By Gordon Rhea / 25 Jan. 2011

These guys rate slavery as a weak number four and thus out of medal contention. It was "not the primary focus as many seem to believe" today, so them there hippie freaks have no reason to impinge upon the First Amendment rights of historically correct freedom-loving racists, right? The neo-Nazis, white supremacists and card-carrying KKK kooks in Charlottesville have simply been misunderstood.

The Confederate Brigade posting is a particularly egregious rewrite of reality thru shameless sin of omission, worse than "Mussolini made the trains run on time so he wasn't all that bad."

Lincoln included only slave states in the Emancipation Proclamation as a way to pressure the south into surrender and perhaps save a few thousand lives. That's why he held it back until a more strategic moment. He of course knew that it would have no effect in areas controlled by Confederate forces. This cynical revision is a typical reflection of The New Jim Crow all the way down to the Trumpian knockdown of the standard straw man of "political correctness."

Upon first reading this claptrap, I was as angry as a desensitized old man can be in an era when every day's news brings fresh humiliation to tarnish our once-shining city on a hill, the erstwhile beacon of freedom in the world — pick your favorite clickbait clichés and boring bromides.

Then, on a sweaty afternoon last week, a refreshing wave of regret washed over me, a visceral feeling that my reaction has been all wrong. Upon reflection, Virginia City Civil War Days and Labor Day appear to be a perfect weekend match, complementary conundrums.

Participating unions can celebrate organized labor while Civil War re-enactors can pay homage to the ultimate in deregulated non-union labor —  SLAVE LABOR.

All on one big happy, gay and oppressively hot, Civil War Day on the Comstock. Freedom-loving racists welcome.

And with the local sheriff's affinity for old-fashioned law enforcement, the ambience will be worthy of both the old south and the new south, especially Joe Arpaio's southern Arizona.

Tesla County Sheriff Gerald Cook-Antinoro is cut from the Arpaio mold. Like Jim Crow Joe, he has made a career of unpardonable, unspeakable acts while making the boardwalks of Virginia City safe for electric cars.

Cook-Antinoro and Douglas County, Nevada, Republican Assemblymember Jim Wheeler have long enjoyed a budding bro-mance, endorsing each other for re-election among other skulduggerous pursuits.

Wheeler believes in constituent service to a fault, once stating that if his district wanted to re-institute slavery, he'd vote for it. (I've heard unconfirmed rumors that Wheeler will sponsor a bill in the next legislative session requiring that all beds in Douglas County must use only white sheets.)

It was exactly Wheeler's brand of states' rights/local option euphemistic dunderthinking that sparked the Civil War in the first place. The great fortunes of America were and are, with rare exception, built with shameless tapping of the taxpayer till.

Mississippi West Nevada has always been a victim of that affliction and new outbreaks of the disease remain a recurring herpes upon the body politick.

The idea that poor people have too much money and rich people too little is so hard-wired into the American caste system that its apologists are running out of ways to justify the rape and pillage.

Last July 22, the Reno Gannett-Journal gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 500 words of free ink to publicize the preposterous libel that Nevada unions have been using legal tricks to force workers into sub-minimum wage servitude.

Par for the course in the post-facts epoch of Tsar Donaldov.

The only thing left to proselytize is the concept that slavery is the ultimate right to work. There are few enterprises as profitable as paying workers nothing for their labor.

As to Monday's parade on the Comstock, I have suggested that unions lead their always-large delegation with a big banner announcing THIS IS LABOR DAY, NOT CIVIL WAR DAY

Probably won't help.
Americans love play-acting in comfortable rewrites of history.

Remember the Alamo? The legendary Texas "patriots" actually went to war because Mexico had outlawed slavery.

I guess it was just too much to expect Walt Disney, Charlton Heston or John Wayne to tell the truth.

I played cowboys and Indians with other children, blissfully unaware that I was re-enacting genocide, something we still perpetrate today in places like Yemen.

We simply have never cared much for brown people, as the late George Carlin often noted.

In today's America, it's OK to hate again.

Undocumented dark-skinned flood victims will now be denied humanitarian aid in Houston and environs.

As Columbia University history Prof. Barbara Fields said in Ken Burns' sanitized, Emmy-winning 1990 Civil War documentary, “I think what we need to remember, most of all, is that the Civil War is not over until we, today, have done our part in fighting it, as well as understanding what happened when the Civil War generation fought it...If some citizens live in houses and others live on the street, the Civil War is still going on. It’s still to be fought and regrettably, it can still be lost.”

If the retro Nevada outback feels compelled to celebrate the Confederacy, I suggest moving Civil War Days to July 4 to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg. Accurate history and American workers are both besieged in the corporate-controlled America of today. They should not have to fight a two-front war and compete with each other on the same co-opted weekend.

The South has risen again in Virginia City, Tesla County, Mississippi West. History, workers and the future are all losers if this continues unchallenged.

AWAKE FOR JAKE TODAY. Appreciation and adios for late UNR journalism legend and Tribune columnist Jake Highton will appropriately happen on Labor Day weekend; 3:00 p.m. Saturday, September 2 in the UNR library rotunda.

Bureaucrats call it a "knowledge center." Remember the great George Carlin's warning about adding syllables and subtracting meaning?

Better there than that firetrap theater atop the student union. (Barbwire 12 Dec. 2013)

Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniator Hall of Flames
(As of 8-16-2017 in order of induction)

Ned Day
Hank Greenspun
Guy Richardson
Bob Brown
Mike O'Callaghan
Travus T. Hipp
Jake Highton

Tribune Columnist, UNR Journalism Professor Jake Highton Dies at 86
By Kayla Anderson
Sparks Tribune 8-16-2017

JAKE: Memories, accolades and occasional aspersions
Remembrance gathering Sept. 2


Jake Highton died of a heart attack on August 7.

I recently placed Jake in the Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniator Hall of Flames, an exclusive club with just two entry requirements. Your writing must have serious impact. And you gotta be dead.

"Only six Nevadans stand immoralized therein," I wrote last April 4. "It's time to waive the rules for a lucky seventh, my longtime Sparks Tribune colleague in columny Jake Highton.

"His widely published and prolific writings pale in comparison to his impact on generations of UNR journalism students. Every one I've met or labored alongside remarked upon Jake's awesome influence.

"So welcome aboard, old son. You're Lucky No. 7 while still around to enjoy it. We'll work on the Nevada Press Association HOF right after Don Dondero gets voted in."

Jake now rides eternally with the Magnificent 7. Long may he run.

YOUR DON THANKS YOU. My sincere gratitude goes to readers who called or wrote the Nevada Press Association Board of Directors ahead of the Aug. 4 hall of fame vote. It's my sincere hope that erstwhile Tribune and world-famed photographer Dondero (1920-2003) finally receives long overdue respect. We'll know soon if there will be a larger than usual delegation to the NPA state convention next month in Carson City, Dondero's home town.

I hope so because we have to work for Jake's installation next year. He will nonetheless be honored at the event.

You will find remembrances, selected Highton columns and articles from other publications at the Highton Archive.

END OF TIMES SURVIVAL KIT. All the news you never knew you needed to know 'til now: Tell your friends and friendly enemies to subscribe to Barbwire Confidential for warm laughter, cheap thrills, hot scoops and occasional cold logic. Hush Hush!

"Media is the plural of mediocre."
— Jimmy Breslin (1928-2017)

Last year's dark foreshadowings unfortunately became reality. I thus suggest inoculation by signing onto the HushHush! list at BallotBoxing.US/

It's cheap as well as enlightening entertainment.

Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)

Andrew Barbano is a 48-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of and BallotBoxing.US and and As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988. Barbano's work has occasionally appeared in regional and national media, and almost all Nevada media.

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Copyright © 1982-2017 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 48-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee. He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

Barbwire by Barbano moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
Whom to blame: How a hall-of-famer's hunch birthed the Barbwire in August of 1987
Tempus fugit.

Betty J. Barbano
2-7-1941 / 12-27-2005

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