Mendocino County Today: September 3, 2013
by AVA News Service, September 2, 2013
KARMA MITE? Area pot farmers are in a major panic at the appearance of the hemp rust (or hemp russet) mite. If this new pest gets into your pot garden, your garden is gone in a week or two. The hemp rust mite has been confirmed in Lake County where it has infected, we're told, large-scale grows and amateur grows, the ying and yang of the pot business.
An extremely toxic substance called Avid, which is banned in California, is nevertheless being sold for upwards of $500 a gallon under the counter at LA garden stores catering to pot growers. In California, Avid comes in film containers without any warning labels. We haven't heard of any Avid being sold north of San Francisco, but it's bad mojo, basically an agent orange knock- off.
A WRITER says the Navarro River is running low and toxic because of vineyard chemicals, but I've asked people who might know if they think Anderson Valley's streams are ill in the way that some of Humboldt County's rivers are ill. (HumCo's public waterways are tested by their Health Department, and their health department is warning people to keep their dogs and children out of streams where there are algae blooms.) Dave Severn dives into the Navarro every morning. He says there is indeed plenty of algae blooms, and says the water is quite murky. “I'd like to be able to say the wineries are guilty but I don't think so. And I don't think this algae is chemical algae.” Bill Allen writes: “I can only tell you what I've observed from the Greenwood Rd. bridge, and points northward toward the mouth. At the end of June the river looked more like one would expect to see in late August or September: the flow was very low, slow, and there were already large algae blooms. In addition to growing in fairly warm, slow moving water, algae blooms can be an indicator of high nitrate concentration, i.e., fertilizer run-off. Unless someone will go down there and test random samples from various spots along the river, who knows? Of course, it looks even worse today.”
WHO KNOWS how the rivers of Mendocino County are being affected by a long dry spell like this year. So many more people have legal draws on the Russian, the Navarro and our many lesser streams, all of it occurring in a context of no monitoring, that most of these neo-straws in the streams have the riparian right to go on sucking up the water until at least mid-March. So, even though it hasn't rained, really rained, since December of 2012, the Grape Gang has helped itself long after there was any precipitation. They aren't supposed to store riparian water in the hundreds of ponds they've built, maybe thousands of ponds by now, who can tell where all the water in these ponds comes from?
THE SAME WRITER says little Hispanic kids are being taught to hate Whitey. I've asked the young, and I've asked the not-so-young among local Hispanics about it. They say they haven't heard of any local families who might be propagating this particular form of mental illness in their children. I seriously doubt anybody is. Seems to me that we all get along pretty well these days, but I can remember when the first immigrants, circa '75, were often on the receiving end of crumb bum behavior from the more primitive sectors of the gringo community. But that's long over, not that there isn't an episode now and then. If there was any kind of racism prevalent in the schools we'd be the first to hear about it (and expose it.) If you've got names and specific episodes, we're all ears.
IT'S A DRAG to have to do this, but the inland libs, especially Hamburg, keep bringing it up, not directly to me of course because they don't have the cojones for that; they say the AVA is funded by Oracle money, that any paper critical of them in all their wonderfulness couldn't possibly be self-supporting. But the AVA is self-supporting. We sell enough papers every week to pay the print, postage and rent bills with enough left over to pay the writers a pittance. We are self-sustaining. If we weren't we'd be gone. By prevailing newspaper standards we're more solvent than, say, the Press Democrat, the Ukiah Daily Journal or the SF Chronicle, all of them running at big deficits. If Frisco's and Sonoma County's free weeklies had to sell their papers they'd have been long gone. Of course we're a much better newspaper than any of those enterprises because we work harder at it than they do. “Work? Did someone say 'work'? Quick! The smelling salts! The 5th District supervisor has just passed out!”
WHICH ISN'T to say we aren't feeling the pinch all papers are feeling. We are struggling, and in January we'll be raising prices, retaking control of our website and generally battening down the economic hatches. But if we have to ask for handouts, we are finito because I won't do it. My paper in Oregon failed for lack of capital. If I had access to Oracle money, I'd still be in Eugene.
KING LIB wrote to me earlier in the year that he hoped “the good people of Mendocino County will send you down the road like the good people of Oregon did.” This from a guy who's never worked a day in his trust fund life. Unacquainted with the world of work all his days, Hamburg also contacted us last year wanting to know how to get his hand into the Oracle purse so, as usual, and not to be too judgmental about our fave limo lib, the guy's deep into his usual double standards. Just to be clear (sic), I think Hamburg is a crook and a nut case. Only in this odd little sanctuary of the 5th District of Mendocino County could he possibly be elected to office. Ditto for his lunatic predecessor, Dr. Colfax.
THE REAL PROB, which is a universal newspaper prob, is this: people under the age of fifty aren't reading in the newspaper format anymore. People under the age of thirty aren't reading anything longer than a tweet or less interesting than a twerk. Print is doomed in non-electronic formats. Print and postage prices continue to go up and up, and for the small fortune we pay for our weekly mail dispatch we're paying more for less timely delivery. All us print people are being shoved into cyber-space. It's only a matter of time before we're also forced into the ethers. But for now, Mr. Entitlement Guy, Mr. Doobie Brain, gitchy-gitchy goo!
OCEAN FRACKING IS NO SURPRISE
By Dan Bacher
The California Coastal Commission and other state officials recently expressed “surprise” after they read an Associated Press report documenting that at least 12 fracking operations have been conducted in the Santa Barbara Channel in recent years. Under pressure from legislators, they called for an investigation into fracking operations off the California coast.
However, the failure of the state and federal governments to stop or even regulate the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California's ocean waters is no surprise to those of us familar with the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the same lobbyist now pushing fracking in California, apparently used her role as a state marine “protection” official to increase her network of influence in California politics to the point where the Western States Petroleum Association has become the most powerful corporate lobby in California. The association now has enormous influence over both state and federal regulators – and MLPA Initiative advocates helped facilitate her rise to power. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/07/the-ocean-frackers/)
Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent more than $16 million lobbying in Sacramento since 2009.
The association spent the most of any organization in first six months of 2013, $2,308,789.95, to lobby legislators and other state officials, according to documents filed with the California Secretary of State.
When the oil industry wields this much power - and an oil industry lobbyist oversaw the process that was supposed to “protect” the ocean - it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody that California's ocean waters are now being “fracked.” Both the state and federal regulators have completely failed in their duty to protect our ocean, bays, rivers and Delta.
At the same time, Governor Jerry Brown, a strong supporter of the oil industry, is fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The tunnels will be used to export massive quantities of water to corporate agribusiness interests and oil companies seeking to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas. The construction of the tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.
For more information about the MLPA Initiative, go to: http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/
OBAMA WILL LAUNCH A HUGE PROPAGANDA BLITZ — and May Attack Syria Even If He Loses the Vote in Congress
by Norman Solomon
Grassroots pressure has forced President Obama to seek approval from Congress for an attack on Syria. But Obama is hell-bent on ordering a missile assault on that country, and he has two very important aces in the hole.
The administration is about to launch a ferocious propaganda blitz that will engulf a wide range of U.S. media. And as a fallback, the president is reserving the option of attacking Syria no matter what Congress does.
Until Obama’s surprise announcement Saturday that he will formally ask Congress for authorization of military action against Syria, the impassioned pitches from top U.S. officials in late August seemed to be closing arguments before cruise missiles would hit Syrian targets. But the pre-bombing hyper spin has just gotten started.
The official appeals for making war on yet another country will be ferocious. Virtually all the stops will be pulled out; all kinds of media will be targeted; every kind of convoluted argument will be employed.
Hell hath no fury like war-makers scorned. Simmering rage will be palpable from political elites who do not want to see Congress set an unprecedented precedent: thwarting the will of a president who wants Pentagon firepower unleashed on another country.
President Obama and top Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will twist every arm they can to get a “yes” vote for attacking Syria. Meanwhile, most mainline media pundits, numbingly addicted to war, will often chastise and denigrate foes of authorization.
But we have a real chance to prevent a U.S. attack. One cogent argument after another, from intelligence veterans and policy analysts and weapons experts, has debunked the messaging for war on Syria. And some members of Congress — not nearly enough, but some — have begun to speak up with cogent opposition.
One of NPR’s inside-the-box hosts of “All Things Considered” on August 30 asked Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) about the Obama administration’s claim that missile strikes on Syria would be “a limited action” and not “war.” Congresswoman Lofgren replied: “I think that anyone who argues that shooting missiles and dropping bombs on another country is not an act of war has got some further education warranted. If somebody shot cruise missiles at Washington for only one day, we would still consider it an act of war, wouldn’t we?”
Not many members of Congress have Lofgren’s clarity, and many of their votes on authorization are up for grabs. Each of us can help affect the outcome by demanding that our senators and representative oppose the war resolution. We should make our voices heard in all sorts of public venues.
The president’s move for a congressional vote should cause a major escalation of anti-war activism. A straw in the wind: during just a few hours after Obama’s announcement on Saturday afternoon, nearly 10,000 people took the initiative via RootsAction.org to email members of Congress with a “No Attack on Syria” message.
National opinion polling and momentum inside Congress indicate that we can defeat Obama’s war resolution. It’ll be a tremendous fight, but we can prevail.
But even if Obama loses the vote in Congress, there’s a very real danger that he will proceed with ordering an attack on Syria.
Burying the lead almost a dozen paragraphs into a September 1 news story, the New York Times mentioned in passing: “White House officials indicated that Mr. Obama might still authorize force even if Congress rejected it.”
A careful reading of Obama’s Rose Garden announcement on Saturday verifies that he never quite said he will abide by the decision of Congress if it refuses to approve an attack on Syria. Instead, the president filled his statement with hedging phrases, detouring around any such commitment with words like these:
* “I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. … And I'm prepared to give that order. But … I'm also mindful that I'm the President of the world's oldest constitutional democracy.”
* “I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress.”
* “Over the last several days, we've heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they've agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.”
* “And all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote.”
* “I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage. Today I’m asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation.”
At the grassroots, people across the United States will be working very hard to prevent congressional approval of an attack on Syria. That activism is imperative. But we should also understand that Obama has not committed himself to abide by the decision that Congress makes.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information on the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.)
BETH'S FRONT PORCH
Three travelers on the no-path take refuge
On the front porch of an Austin area artist's
Compound (near Lake Travis), in its construction phase
Everything here is big, just like the Lone Star state's
Website says it is. Huge sky with puffy white clouds
Slowly, and I mean very slowly, drift past the front porch
It's summer and the air is hot and the ground is real dry
Hummingbird feeders are visited, and a circling hawk
Is watching us. Nobody is moving...only this writing pen
Moves...everybody is slouched into the comfortable
Wicker furniture, following an evening of soft partying
It is quiet here, save for the cooler air which streams through
I took an outdoor shower this morning surrounded by
Red cardinal birds, which are sharing the compound with
A dozen cats, all scampering around over and under
The picnic table, as I got revived from the early morning heat
By clear southwest hill water at the shower station
Hooray for friends! This would be impossible except that
We all made friendships along the life highway,
Proving that everything good just keeps increasing in value;
Key to removing the hellacious enigma of postmodernism
We create our collective social reality together
Every day. The result may or may not be "society",
But it's cohesive right now on Beth's front porch
OMing on the outbreath, I watch backing being glued
To an art sculpture, some sort of moonscape looking
Surface that fits together puzzle-like, maybe destined
For the bottom of an aquarium, this witnessed by two new friends
And one true comrade and fellow traveler on the no-path
As three clouds have now fused, and are barely moving
Past us, like a huge pearl colored ship in the sky
OMing on the outbreath, we are encircled by trees on the surrounding
Hillsides, we sit at the bottom of a shallow bowl in the bush,
The main house is in a Texas forest, grasshoppers are many
But the rattle snakes and scorpions are few; there is
An intensity hereabout that balances the pervasive calm
I glance at my wristwatch, observing that the time is 4:20 P.M.
Where did the slow moving day go? Everything changes here
Just barely, but yet the morning has disappeared altogether
And the afternoon might be next. It looks fairly stable
Right now, but insect noises are beginning further down
In the trees, and this signals the oncoming of the evening
OMing on the outbreath, OMing on the outbreath...
Craig Louis Stehr, Leander, Texas
WINDS OF CHANGE
Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. At least 20 if you can. It has to stop somewhere. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have this message. This is one idea that really should be passed around. *Congressional Reform Act of 2013 1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office, and receives no pay when they're out of office. 2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional Retirement Fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose. 3. Congressmen/women can purchase their own retirement plans, just as all Americans do. 4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%. 5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people. 6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people. 7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/31/13. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women. Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work. If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Don't you think it's time? This is how you fix Congress! If you agree with the above, pass it on.
LABOR DAY IS A TIME TO MOBILIZE
Shining Light on the Rights and Plights of Workers
By Ralph Nader
For far too many Americans, Labor Day is simply another day off, another store sale and another small parade. The meaning of the holiday has been dulled by both rampant commercialism and public apathy. Where is the passion for elevating the wellbeing of American workers? Shouldn’t Labor Day be a time to gather, contemplate and celebrate more just treatment of all those who toil without proper recognition or compensation?
Labor Day is the ideal time to highlight the hard-fought, historic victories already enjoyed by American workers, and push for long-overdue health and safety measures and increased economic benefits for those left behind by casino capitalism. After all, it was the labor movement in the early 20th century that brought us such advances as the minimum wage, overtime pay, the five-day work week, the banning of child labor and more.
The reality is that big corporations have abandoned American workers by taking jobs and industries to communist and fascist regimes abroad — regimes that oppress their workers and enforce serf-level salaries and hideous working conditions. America’s working men and women have also largely been abandoned by the corporate dominated Republican and Democrat two-party duopoly, whatever their rhetorical differences may be. The federal minimum wage has been allowed to languish far behind inflation as corporate bosses’ pay skyrockets. The gap between worker salaries and CEO pay widens, even as worker productivity rises. Corporate CEO’s in America make approximately 340 times more than that of the average worker. In 1980, by comparison, CEO pay was 42 times greater.
Look to the fast food strikers around the country for inspiration. Backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), workers in cities across America are demanding fair pay at $15 an hour and the right to unionize. Beginning in New York City and spreading to other major cities, workers are beginning to rally and speak out against their poverty wages from hugely profitable fast food chains. Willietta Dukes, in a piece for The Guardian, writes:
Burger King says they can’t pay employees, like me, higher wages because it would force them out of business. Yet last year it made $117m[illion] in profits and its CEO took home $6.47m[illion]. It would take me 634 years to earn that much. I’ve worked in fast food for 15 years, and I can’t even afford my own rent payments. We just want fairness and to be able to provide for our families. No one who works every day should be forced to be homeless.
Where are the other advocates for American workers? Now is the time to speak out and push for long-overdue action.
Where is President Obama? Candidate Obama promised that he would press for a $9.50 federal minimum wage by 2011. Now, in 2013, he has settled for $9 by 2015. This is far less than what workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be $10.70 today. If it kept up with worker productivity in the corporate sector, it would be $22.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law in 1938 — which established the federal minimum wage amongst other things — it was in the face of considerable opposition and criticism from Big Business, not to mention in the midst of The Great Depression. This is the type of courageous leadership we need from the White House today.
A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal cited an analysis by Mark M. Gray, a researcher at Georgetown University, who found that President Obama “mentions the poor in his speeches less than any other president in decades” — even Ronald Reagan mentioned the poor in his speeches and public statements about twice as frequently.
What of the AFL-CIO, which represents 13 million American workers? I recently wrote a letter to its president, Richard Trumka, asking for his leadership in pushing for more attention about the plight of workers on this Labor Day. No response. The AFL-CIO has an opportunity for a major showing with rallies before the White House and Congress. Some reporters in the mainstream press have indicated they do not think the push for a higher minimum wage is serious without Mr. Trumka, President Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exerting serious efforts.
What of former President Bill Clinton? In his speech to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Clinton made passing rhetorical reference to “building a modern economy of good jobs and rising incomes.” But the time for simply talking about these issues is long past. What about publicly supporting Rep. Alan Grayson’s bill in Congress (H.R. 1346) which provides for a $10.50 minimum wage to catch up with 1968, and allow $30 million workers to afford more of life’s necessities for themselves and their children? The support of Mr. Clinton might help galvanize the media and those in Congress to make this into the front burner issue it deserves to be.
And, what about the leading Democratic Presidential candidates for 2016 — Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden? Why aren’t they seriously championing this important cause that is both good for the economy and for workers and their children?
In an ideal world, the Sunday political shows the day before Labor Day would feature various prominent labor leaders and discuss key issues like the minimum wage, income equality, trade and more.
Labor Day should be a moment for the nation to shine a light upon the rights and plights of the nation’s workers and recognize the need to reform restrictive labor laws, such as the notorious Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. After all, workers are the backbone of the economy.
(See here for facts and information on our efforts to raise the minimum wage to catch up with 1968, inflation adjusted, and find out how to get involved.)
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.
THANK YOU, GEORGE PULLMAN
Labor Day & ‘Bloody Chicago’
by Clancy Sigal
I was born on Labor Day in Chicago, the Paris of the American labor movement, the cool place to be if phrases like “class war” didn’t bug you. My home town should have been called “bloody Chicago” for its violent history of riots, massacres and pitched battles between workmen and National Guard scabs. The city’s secular shrines include Haymarket Square, the site of an 1886 workers’ protest meeting where a bomb was thrown at the police and four anarchists wrongly hanged for the crime (and where a statue to the dead cops was blown up so often it’s now housed inside police hq.)… the field in south Chicago where police shot down ten strikers at the 1937 Republic Steel massacre (my mother nursed some of the wounded)… the convention hall at Clark and Erie Streets where in 1905 “Big Bill” Haywood founded the anarchist IWW- International Workers of the World, Joe Hill’s “One Big Union”. Indeed, Chicago’s elegant, lake-facing Sheridan Road, today lined with luxury condos, originally was paved to rush Federal troops to break an 1894 railway workers strike.
That Chicago-based Pullman railroad cars workers’ strike is the reason we enjoy Labor Day’s jamboree of barbecues and shopping sprees. In 1894 company boss George Pullman slashed the pay of 4000 of his lowest-paid workers who lived in his “model village” (company town) on Chicago’s outskirts. The men struck spontaneously “wildcat”.
America’s labor saint, Eugene Victor Debs, co-founder of the new American Railway Union (ARU), called for a boycott which mushroomed into a national stoppage of all the railroads west of Detroit. Vicious guerrilla war between workers and their families against local and federal militias erupted all along the railway tracks.
Class war! Rebellion! Anarchy!
The Democratic president, Grover Cleveland, sent in federal troops and marshals who shot and bayoneted the strikers and their friends. There had been plenty of violent boss/worker confrontations in America before. But for some reason, this particular incident touched public opinion. President Cleveland, fearing a voter backlash, to conciliate organized labor, in a panic designated Labor Day as a federal holiday.
Thank you George Pullman.
(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.)