Mendocino County Today: October 11, 2013
by AVA News Service, October 10, 2013
WES, DRUNK OR SOBER! “647” is cop code for drunk in public, and from his photo Wes looks like he's had a few. Which is fine with us. He looks better drunk, more human, like he might actually be having a good time. Go for it, dude!
Governor Signs Curiously Numbered Chesbro Bill, With Booze
By Hank Sims
“647” is the California Penal Code Section for “drunk in public.”
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Press release from the office of Wes Chesbro:
Sacramento — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 647, a bill by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D – North Coast), that establishes clear labeling guidelines for breweries that wish to refill consumers’ “growlers” that were purchased elsewhere, making freshly brewed craft beer more available to consumers. Growlers are glass containers that typically hold four pints of beer.
“Consumers would like to reuse their containers, not just at the original brewery but to sample beers from many breweries,” Chesbro said. “Growlers have become an increasingly popular way for customers to buy beer because it allows them to sample and safely transport craft brews to their homes to enjoy. They won’t have to buy a growler for every brewery they enjoy, which promotes the reuse of glass containers.”
“The new law will help the craft brew industry continue to grow in California, making us more competitive with neighboring states and create more jobs here,” Chesbro continued. “Craft breweries are small businesses, which means the profits they earn and the taxes they pay boost their local economies.”
AB 647 clarifies the labeling requirements for the reuse of growlers. These requirements include identification of the brewery and the name of the beer. The new label must cover all information related to other breweries or beer that was previously in the growler. AB 647 also addresses the abuse of the statutory definition of “beer manufacturer” by entities that do not possess or use facilities or equipment to actually manufacture beer. It also clarifies the law relating to trade show tastings.
“The California Craft Brewers Association thanks Assemblymember Chesbro, the California Legislature and Governor Brown for clarifying the law,” said Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association. “On-site refills of growlers are a fantastic way for consumers to enjoy fresh beer direct from their local breweries.” (Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)
Below: Left to right — Booze, Chesbro, bill, Brown, booze.
(Or, perhaps, for a more alliterative feel: Booze, Bro, Bill, Brown, Booze…)
THE ADVENTIST CHURCH'S Ukiah Valley Medical Center has begun work on a $41 million expansion. The work will be done by two San Francisco outfits, Herrero Builders, and Jennings, Ackerly Architecture & Design. We are trying to find out if the outside contractors are members of the church, but in house or not it's another big Mendo job that doesn't do much for Mendo. Of course an expansion of a for-profit hospital organized as a non-profit charity may be good news for the locals who work there and the people who use it, but the most desirable healthcare model in the County remains the community-owned Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg, presently being mis-managed into a situation where it may also become a for-profit enterprise. The main diff between the two models is price. For-profit hospitals charge their patients more.
SEVERAL ODDITIES in Tiffany Revelle’s account of Tuesday's Supes discussion of Mental Health privatization. (We haven't seen the film of the meeting yet.) Fourth District Supervisor Dan Gjerde seemed to focus on whether Ortner Management Group’s subcontractors were adequately trained on how to file Medi-Cal bills. Gjerde was worried about Ortner’s subcontractors not getting paid. Ms. Revelle reported, “The consequences of not being reimbursed (are) pretty dire to these small organizations,” Gjerde said, noting that the subcontractors need to know how to accurately report the jobs they do and services they provide. “They could potentially go under if they weren't fully reimbursed.”
ISN'T THAT WHAT the County hired Ortner to do? The County’s contract with Ortner does indeed call for the County to train the contractor, who is Ortner, on MediCal’s complicated billing practices and procedures:
“COUNTY will provide Technical Assistance and Training to ensure that CONTRACTOR complies with all components of Medi-Cal, Medicare, MHP and DHCS oversight requirements, including not limited to: Certified public expenditures; Funding, reporting and contract requirements; 5150 Certification; Invoice training; Medi-Cal match training; Medi-Cal services training; Medical necessity training; All Local, State and Federal laws, codes and regulations related to the provision of Medi-Cal services; Full Service Partnership; Mandated reporting; Documentation training and supervisory documentation review and compliance to regulations; Redwood Coast Regional Centers.”
AND, “CONTRACTOR shall remain fully responsible for compliance by its subcontractors with all the terms of this Agreement, regardless of the terms of any agreement between CONTRACTOR and its subcontractors.”
THE CONTRACT with Ortner does not mention the County training subcontractors as well. If the County has to train Ortner’s subcontractors, why do we need Ortner?
NOR IS the financial stability of Ortner’s subcontractors the responsibility of the County — it’s Ortner’s responsibility. If Ortner subcontracts with Manzanita or Hospitality Center or Ford Street then Ortner must pay them for their billable services no matter what billing problems may arise.
IT'S NOT CLEAR from Ms. Revelle’s report who Gjerde is blaming for the failure to train the subcontractors. But according to the Ortner’s Contract with the County, the County is only responsible for training Ortner.
HISTORICALLY, Mendo has had great difficulty getting reimbursed for Mental Health services and in some cases the State audits (usually at least three years or more after the fact) required Mendo to return millions of dollars for services provided which turned out not to be covered by MediCal.
NOW WE SEEM to have introduced two new layers of billing processing, with billing being shifted to a few local Mental Health non-profits who may well end up having to eat the cost of some of the services they provide, jeopardizing their existence, while Ortner makes excuses about who’s supposed to train who and how complicated the process is and how slow the state is to pay and how some services are not covered. (Whine, snivel, weasel.)
AND HERE'S the first harbinger of fiascos to come, as reported by Ms. Revelle: “Ford Street asked to withdraw from the contract because the administrative burden on the organization was higher than the amount for which the organization is compensated, Jackie Williams, director of the Ford Street Project, said.”
TRANSLATION: It’s clear to Ms. Williams that the privatization scheme was ill-thought out, and if Ford Street stayed involved, they’d probably lose lots of money.
IN OTHER WORDS, Mental Health Privatization is already starting to unravel. How long will it take for Ortner's other local subcontractors to jump ship?
SUPERVISOR PINCHES' push to get Mendocino County its fair share of Lake Mendocino's water, and get paid for it, elicited the usual cryptic report out of closed session, “Direction was given to staff.”
WHICH STAFF? Which may beg this question: Why can't one or another of our nine attorneys in the County Counsel's office handle all the County's legal business? Why is so much of our legal business contracted out at great expense to local taxpayers when we already maintain a gang of tax paid lawyers at County headquarters on Low Gap Road?
STATEMENT OF THE DAY from Dr. Jack Rasmus, author of “Obama's Economy: Recovery for the Few”: “Yellen as Fed Chair will continue policies no different in content than Ben Bernanke. Yellen will continue to pump Quantitative Easing (QE, or cheap loans) into bankers and investors, stocks and bond markets, global speculators and offshore investors, as had Bernanke. If she really were liberal, she’d take the $1 trillion given them in just the past year of QE3 liquidity injections and use it to fund a government direct job creation program. That would create 20 million $50k a year jobs, and jump start the economic recovery overnight. But the Bernanke-Yellen policy of giving that $1 trillion (and $12 trillion more) to bankers and investors will instead continue to prop up the stock, bond and other speculative financial markets. And just as Bernanke ‘chickened out’ this past summer when he rapidly backed off suggesting the $85 billion a month QE3 injections might be reduced by modest $5 billion, so too will Yellen go slow, and reverse course quickly as necessary, when the bondholders revolt again at any such suggestion. There will be no fundamental change, in other words, from a Bernanke Fed to a Yellen Fed. As currently structured and led, the US Federal Reserve is an institution serving bankers and wealthy investors. Before the Fed can ever begin serving the rest of the economy, the country and its citizens, it will have to be radically restructured and its leadership democratically chosen. The Federal Reserve will have to be democratized and the bankers and investors totally marginalized from its operations. The Fed will have to become an institution that functions as a ‘public banking entity,’ not a private banking conduit. It will then provide low money cost loans to households, small businesses, students, and workers—instead of wealthy investors, bankers, and speculators. And instead of issuing QE for the latter, it can then issue QE to create jobs, raise incomes, and generate a sustained economic recovery for all instead of a perpetual subsidized recovery for the 1%. But that won’t happen under a Yellen Fed, or under a government led by the dual one-party system in the US today. It will take a new, grassroots movement for real democracy in the US, and a new party based upon that movement.”
ALICE MUNRO is a wonderful writer and an ok choice as Nobel Prize winner for literature. But how about Phillip Roth?
As for Nobel's peace prize — forever fouled by awards to Kissinger and Obama — Malala, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for standing up to them, is the logical choice.
LINDA ANN REUTHER
Coming full circle, Linda Ann Reuther passed away at Zen Hospice of San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2013, at the age of 71. She was surrounded by sunflowers, love and she had a smile on her face.
She was born Aug. 24, 1942, the first child of Walter P. and May Wolf Reuther of Detroit. Walter P. Reuther was an ardent labor leader and the founder of the UAW. Linda grew up in Detroit and environs, attending high school at Putney School in Vermont, and later graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in education.
She moved to San Francisco in 1965 and worked as a Head Start teacher in Hunter's Point as well as a waitress and a flower girl at the Spaghetti Factory. Her great pleasure in handing out flowers continued for the rest of her life.
Following the untimely death of both her parents in a plane crash in 1970, Linda left teaching and began following her extraordinary talent for recognizing and creating beauty. A very special passion was for antique quilts. "They represent the fabric of our lives," she often said of her beloved quilts.
Linda collected and assembled quilts as early as 1965. Along with her childhood friend, Julie Silber, she opened a quilt store in Marin County, curated museum shows, and simply immersed herself in the world of quilts. Linda lived in San Anselmo for 25 years.
Linda had many passions, a major one of which was music. She relished her participation in the women's percussion band, "Sistah Boom," with whom she marched in Washington, D.C. for women's and LGBT rights. She was delighted to sing in the Mendocino Women's Choir and Mendocino Music Festival. She was proud to have started the "Heartbeats," a percussion group she assembled in Albion to march on International Women's Day.
Linda was passionate about many socially progressive causes and about the environment. She dearly loved all four legged friends.
She studied with anthropologist Angeles Arrien, whose work inspired the next part of Linda's life. In 1997, at the age of 55, she moved to Albion to create a retreat center. Linda called it "Heart and Hands." She always said that her vision for healing and inspiration came directly from her grandmother, Anna Reuther.
Between 1996 and 2009, hundreds of people came to Hearts and Hands to be restored through writing, yoga, meditation, movement and Womenclan workshops. They felt welcomed and sheltered by Linda's inimitable style and the bountiful beauty and sense of abundance she had created in what has been described by many as "the quintessential home."
Linda is survived by her aunt, Christine Reuther Richey, and her uncle, Gene Richey; her only sister, Elisabeth Reuther Dickmeyer; her brother-in-law, Bruce Dickmeyer; her beloved niece, May Reuther Silva; her sweet great-nephew, Jonah Sol; her nephews, Walter Dickmeyer and Victor Reuther; her cousins, Valerie Reuther, Sasha Reuther and many other cousins; her life-long pal, Julie Silber; and her life companion, Michele Tellier of Albion.
She will be deeply missed by her very large circle of friends and her dog, Annie.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Friends of Hospice of the Northern Mendocino Coast, or to a charity of your choice.
A memorial potluck in Linda's honor to share stories and to remember Linda will be held at Hearts and hands on "F" Road in Albion, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Please bring a potluck dish or beverage, any seating you require, and your sense of humor.
The Lincolns Are Leaving Us
by Nadya Connolly Williams
As of this writing, Delmer Berg is alive and well in his Tuolumne County, California, home at the age of 97. He is the last known member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, one of the nearly 3,000 Americans who volunteered to fight fascism in Spain in the opening years of World War II. From 52 countries 40,000 men and women came, even from China, to defend democracy in Spain during the bitter civil war of 1936 to 1939 against a wealthy oligarchy and factions of the church and military, which ended in a brutal take-over of the freely-elected republican government. These International Brigades, along with the Loyalists of the Spanish Army and people’s militias, were unable to defeat the fascist coup.
The definition of Fascism in Webster’s New World Dictionary: “A system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized government control, belligerent nationalism, racism and militarism, etc.; first instituted in Italy in 1922.”
The triumphant dictator of Spain, General Francisco Franco, was allied early on with Germany’s Hitler and Italy’s Mussolini. Franco was backed with a massive force of arms and would never have succeeded without Hitler’s Condor Legions and Mussolini’s Black Shirt troops and tanks. An estimated half million Spaniards died; including, at least 20,000 who were executed, and many more disappeared, starved or worked to death in prison camps after the war’s end. Many thousands were exiled or fled in mass emigration. Close to half of the international volunteers were to die in combat, including nearly a third, 900 in all, of the Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
The ensuing World War by these fascist regimes, the Axis powers, cost the lives of upwards of 30 to 40 million. Had the Western powers backed the defenders of democracy early on in Spain, like Del Berg did, perhaps the carnage could have been averted or reduced. One must not forget the collaboration, not just in France but throughout much of continental Europe, with the fascists. In fact many in the International Brigades continued to fight fascism by joining the Resistance Movements in their respective countries after leaving Spain. The scourge of Mussolini and Hitler were both eliminated in 1945, but Franco remained to become the longest standing dictatorship in modern Western European history — unleashing a reign of terror until his death in 1975.
With his near century-long life, Delmer Berg has been a keen observer of his country’s role in world history, watching with alarm as more democratic governments and movements were crushed. The Cold War began in earnest after Spain, with the West using the “fear of a Communist take-over” as a cover for empire expansion. Indeed, with Franco as a model, Western-backed elites and militaries of the Third World took heart. A CIA-backed coup in Iran deposed a democratically-elected government in 1953, imposing the megalomaniac Shah for 26 years; likewise in Guatemala in 1954 with essentially military rule to this day. Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in the Congo in 1961 — installing the odious, but compliant, Mubutu; then “regime change” in 1963 in The Dominican Republic and in Brazil in 1964, and Indonesia in 1965, where the murderous General Suharto deposed the democratic President Sukarno (death toll 2 million) — all with US and Western power complicity and involvement. The attempt in Viet Nam failed, but cost 8 million South East Asians their lives, and 60,000 plus of our own sons. The people of Cuba and Nicaragua triumphed, in 1959 and 1979 respectively, but were both severely punished for their “disobedience.” Next came Greece in 1967 (helping to install “The Colonels” for seven years), Chile in 1973 with General Pinochet for 17 years, Argentina in 1976 with its ugly “Dirty War,” then the Reagan-era funding of the Contras in Nicaragua and the feudal-like oligarchies in Central America (Guatemala again, El Salvador, Honduras) — with close to half a million deaths there, and the list goes on and on — to say nothing of the West’s more recent interventions in the Middle East and North Africa. As political historian Noam Chomsky says, it’s always about domination and the resources — plunder and profit — Colonialism in new clothes. All this can be considered part of the shameful fallout from the Spanish Civil War and a people’s defeat.
So what is the legacy of the Lincolns? Beyond this past history, men like Del Berg guide and inspire us to stand up and take action for what is Just. Around the world today, the sacrifice and courage of the International Brigades are remembered, honored and passed on to the young. Ernest Hemingway, who came to Spain to cover the war, said no nobler men entered the Spanish earth than the members of the International Brigades. He was speaking of the thousands of Brigadistas who were buried in mass and unmarked graves, giving their lives for a foreign cause. Del Berg survived, though gravely wounded, and returned at 22-years-old to California in 1938.
“I was born into a very poor farm family in Southern California.” said Del in a recent interview in his Sierra foothills home. “We lived near Modesto [in California’s Central Valley], and I became a radical early on in life.” Born on December 20, 1915 of Ukrainian and Dutch ancestry, the lives of his family were made even more miserable and precarious during The Great Depression. To Del the hardships of so many came directly from the Capitalist system, where the 1% did very well, while the majority suffered unemployment and poverty. Thus, at age 21, he joined the Young Communist League, which was among the many and diverse organizations recruiting volunteers for Spain.
The Spanish civil war was widely viewed as primarily a class war of the wealthy elites of the church, military and oligarchy against the masses of impoverished peasants. In short, Spain of 80 years ago was just emerging from a feudal society. “There is no civil war in Spain,” asserted one prominent American labor leader at the time, who happened to also be an avowed anti-communist. “It is an invasion of a democratic country by hostile forces of fascism and Nazism as part of a plan to subdue workers in every land. American labor cannot ignore this threat to itself.”
As an example of how disparate the politics and backgrounds of the Lincolns was, a Northern California resident, James Benét, who as a 23-year-old also fought in Spain, came from a famous and well-to-do literary family. After a successful career as a journalist for The New Republic, The San Francisco Chronicle, KQED-TV, and as a professor at UC Berkeley, Benét retired, and died at the age of 98 in December, 2012. He said of his time in the Spanish Civil War, “Spain made a man of me. Going to Spain was the right thing to do. You couldn’t have a better beginning in life! We thought then, and I know now, the civil war was a genuine attempt by the Spanish people to defend democracy against the tyrannical and inhuman regimes of Franco, Hitler and Mussolini.”
Unlike Benét, Del Berg had already received some military training in the Oregon National Guard infantry, then the US Army 76th Field Artillery. At Manteca High School, he’d studied Latin, which helped him to become proficient in Spanish, and he’d also read Cervantes’ Don Quixote, starting a fascination with Spain. After arriving in-country in February of 1938 at the age of 22, his past military experience was put to use, and he was assigned to laying communication lines for anti-aircraft artillery from Republican bases to the battle fronts. (Those fighting to preserve the democratically-elected government were called Republicans and Loyalists, the fascist military “rebels” were referred to as Nationalists.) Berg’s unit worked first near Barcelona, then in the defense of Teruel, and at the battle of the Ebro River. “We helped blow up the bridge on the Ebro, because it was an important connection to the Mediterranean Sea for the fascists,” he said smiling.
Next came his fateful assignment to the central coast city of Valencia, where he was largely idle, as lines had already been laid. “We got a liter of wine a day,” he recounted happily, “and I even got to go to the movies a couple of times in Valencia.” But in August of 1938, at 10 pm, fascist Italian Air Force planes came to Valencia dropping their bombs on the dormitory of a monastery where the brigadistas billeted — not on their intended target, the railroad station. “’If you want to be safe,’ we used to say, ‘go to where the fascists want to bomb,’” he said. Del, who was sitting up in bed, was hit in the side by shrapnel — which still rests in his liver today! But several of the internationals from Italy were killed — ironically by the very fascists who had taken over their country. (Just a few years later, Mussolini’s bombers were to be blessed and sprinkled with holy water by the Pope before take off during WWII.) After Franco’s victory in April of 1939, the outskirts of Valencia were to hold the largest mass grave of the ensuing repression — with an estimated 26,000 bodies yet to be exhumed and identified to this day.
Like Jim Benét, Del Berg and all the surviving volunteers left Spain in October of 1938. In a devil’s bargain, an agreement was proposed, but never honored by Franco’s nationalists, for the civil war to be free of ‘outside intervention.’ The International Brigades were to leave, and, likewise, the fascists were to not receive more of their overwhelming armaments, troops, planes and tanks from their allies in Germany and Italy — equipment the Republican forces had never been close to matching. About having to leave the Spanish people to their fate, Del admitted, “I felt bad, because I was not that active in Spain. But you do what you can do.”
In a Spring, 2012, interview in the spacious, stone, hillside home that he built himself in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Tuolumne County, Del spoke of his return home. He got married, had two sons, and was drafted into the army for World War II for three years, where he was stationed in New Guinea — again for anti-aircraft artillery, but was discharged early due to his disabling shrapnel wound from Spain. He then returned to Modesto, joined the Communist Party USA in 1943, and found work where he could. For 20 years he was a farm laborer, “working primarily with Oakies and Arkies,” for which he was later ineligible for Social Security benefits! He recalled making $400 in one summer bucking hay — the only money he’d been able to earn that entire year. A life-long radical organizer, he eventually founded his own cement and stonemason business with a son.
Del Berg became a nearly full-time activist with: the agricultural workers’ rights movement of the UFW (United Farm Workers); the local NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) — the only white member; MAPA (the Mexican American Political Association); the anti-Viet Nam War movement; the Central Valley Democratic Clubs; the Congress of California Seniors; numerous peace and justice committees; and many more. He was one of three farm workers chosen to testify in Washington, DC before an open Congressional hearing on farm labor, attended by Eleanor Roosevelt. Asked if he was ever harassed by HUAC (the House Un-American Activities Committee) of the McCarthy-era witch hunts of Leftists during the 1950s and ‘60s, Berg proudly produced a 1966 letter asking him to “please contact” their office. “They could never find me to serve a summons,” he grinned.
Of his life-long Communist Party membership, Del explained that for him they were simply doing what he saw needed to be done. While living in Los Angeles in 1937 after his US military stint, he joined the Workers’ School, got a union job in a hotel washing dishes, and helped out in a strike at another hotel. Walking to work one day he saw a billboard for “The Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade” — the first he’d heard of American support for Spain. In April of that year came the infamous destruction of the Basque civilian city of Guernica by waves of German Condor Battalion incendiary bombers — practicing their very first “Blitzkrieg.” Cynically, the Spanish fascists initially announced to the county and the world that “the Reds” had leveled the defenseless town. Pablo Picasso’s most famous painting was to be the haunting “Guernica.”
In an eerie and equally cynical move, in January of 2003 before General Colin Powell delivered falsehoods to the United Nations Security Council to justify America’s aerial assault of Bagdad later in March, U.S. officials had the tapestry of “Guernica” that hangs just outside that chamber’s walls covered up with a curtain.
In late 1937 Del Berg volunteered with the North American Medical Bureau of the “Friends of the Brigade,” but since that organization was not sending anyone overseas, he sought out the American Young Communist League, which was helping to send brigadistas. So, with passport — marked “Not Valid for Travel to Spain” — in hand, the 22-year-old and three other comrades scraped together bus fare and headed for New York. One month later they were in Carcassonne, Southern France, 50 miles from the border with Spain when French gendarmes try to stop them, but “the French Communist Party was too strong, so we got through,” he said. They were bussed to the border for the long walk at night in the snow over the Pyrenees Mountains to Figueres, a fort in northern Spain. The Soviet Union had already been sending volunteers, arms and some planes to the Loyalist side in Spain.
Conversely, not only did Americans like Del court danger and death on the battlefield, but they had to defy their own government that shamefully denied aid to the Spanish Republic, hid behind “neutrality” and tried to actively prevent American volunteers from going to the aid of the beleaguered Spanish people. To add insult to injury, many of those Lincolns who survived and returned home faced confiscated passports, employment blacklisting and political persecution — and even barriers to fighting for America in World War II. HUAC even concocted the singularly convoluted label of “premature anti-fascists” to pin on the Lincolns.
An avowed Atheist, Del spoke at length about the sharp division within the Catholic church of Spain, with, as in so many countries and conflicts, the “priests of the people” siding with the majority against the elites. However, historic photos from Spain show the Catholic hierarchy literally standing next to the generals and the oligarchy — all giving the straight-arm fascist salute.
As the last of the known American Lincolns, Del Berg is even more rare in the world today because the great majority of the other international brigadistas were older when they volunteered — and more experienced militarily — than the American youths who joined up for “The Good Fight.” Thus nearly all of the tens of thousands from Europe, the Soviet Union, South America, and even Africa and Asia, have already passed on. Their remaining numbers are largely unknown. These internationals and their supporters were of all political stripes: from communist to socialist, from anarchist to labor unionist, from quite conservative to the apolitical, and even anti-communist — their unifying bond being belief in justice and democracy, and the courage to put their lives on the line for their ideals.
Del was keenly aware of the Soviet sacrifice during World War II to defeat the Nazis, which cost the USSR upwards of 30 million lives, three quarters of them civilians; thus he joined the party in 1943 upon discharge from the U.S. army. (The perennial joke in the party was that probably 80% of the members were FBI moles.) To this day, Del is a staunch defender of the Soviets, and an arch opponent of “the Trots.” Trotskyists were the followers of Leon Trotsky, who identified as an orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik-Leninist, and whose politics differed sharply from those of Stalinism. Not one to forgive or forget easily, Del recalled being housed outside of Barcelona right after his arrival in Spain with other brigadistas, when “some Trot painted a swastika on our door! If there’s anything that I detest, it’s a Trotskyite. Whenever I confront them, I kick their ass.” Given the deeply-held political principles of the Spaniards and internationals, factionalism played a divisive and weakening part in their defeat, but paled in comparison to the overwhelming force of the combined Axis powers, the active embargoes of support by the West, and the ruthlessness of the fascists.
Ever passionate and informed of world politics, Del is very aware that the civil war is still unfolding, and being — literally — unearthed today. Crusading Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón is now in a battle for his professional life as he attempts to “recover lost memory” of the tens of thousands of “desaparecidos” — ‘the disappeared’ of repression, mass executions and prison death camps. Garzón was initially lauded worldwide and in Spain for his use of Universal Jurisdiction laws in 1998 to famously indict Chile’s ex-dictator Pinochet, and to later bring authorization of torture charges against six Bush-presidency officials in 2006. However, in October of 2008 he then turned his legal scrutiny onto his own country to investigate the crimes of the Franco regime, calling for the exhumation of at least 19 mass graves — much to the outrage of those who still have a lot to hide and to lose. Wikileaks cables clearly showed both the Bush and Obama administrations in active collusion with reactionary Spanish authorities over human rights violations on both sides of the Atlantic. Garzón was disbarred from the Spanish judicial system in 2010 after Spain’s supreme court found that he had “ignored the 1977 amnesty law” — put in place two years after Franco’s death to protect the guilty.
Huge monuments to Franco’s nationalists blight the country, but a fight to preserve a new monument to the Brigades at the University of Madrid — site of a bloody battle — now rages in 2013. The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, which is active in many countries, notably Argentina, sent a commission this September to Madrid to examine whether the Spanish government is complying with international obligations to investigate the disappearances. Representatives from the Spanish Commission for Truth Platform and the Social and Democratic Memory Association presented the UN Working Group with a dossier containing 130,000 cases of people who disappeared. “The state must assume a leadership role and engage more actively to respond to the demands of thousands of families searching for the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones who disappeared during the civil war and the dictatorship,” concluded the Working Group. A report on their findings will be presented to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council next year. “There is no ongoing effective criminal investigation nor any person convicted,” the experts said. They regretted that Spain’s amnesty law remains in force, and also complained of difficulties in accessing archives. The Spanish group wants the government to agree to open the 2,800 common graves scattered around the country that have never been excavated. Doubtless, some of these graves contain International Brigaders, and Lincolns as well. In addition, the children of an estimated 10,000 families were taken away at the end of the war, to be placed in fascist homes — their parents often killed or disappeared. As in Argentina, many of these now-adult victims want to know the truth about their origins. The Spanish people’s and the world’s endurance of 36 years of this cruel regime is far from over.
Del Berg returned to Spain three times after Franco’s death, to attend joyous reunions of the International Brigades in that slowly democratizing country. In the 1980s he even went to Namibia, Africa to serve as an election monitor there! It must also be said that Del’s life of commitment had been lauded and honored by many organizations in his local area over the years. Until very recently, he cared full-time for his ailing wife, June; but with a brief hospitalization in early October for Del for an ulcer, they both now receive more in-home care.
His proudest moments since Spain? “When I was elected vice president of the local NAACP,” Berg says, “and when one of my grandsons was valedictorian at his Oregon high school graduation and said in a newspaper interview, ‘My grandfather is my inspiration. He’s a Communist!’”
A quote from American journalist, Martha Gellhorn, who was in Spain during the war: “The men who fought and those who died for the [Spanish] Republic, whatever their nationality and whether they were communists, anarchists, socialists, poets, plumbers, middle class professional men, or the one Abyssinian prince, were brave and disinterested, as there were no rewards in Spain. They were fighting for us all, against the combined forces of European fascism. The deserved our thanks and our respect and got neither.”
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Sign the Petition to Save the Monument to the Brigades in Madrid at: www.alba-valb.org
See YouTube: International Brigades: Threat to Madrid Memorial, 2013 www.international-brigades.org.uk
http://stillcause.blogspot.com/ — also from Britain
The Volunteer, ALBA’s quarterly magazine can be found on line at: www.albavolunteer.org
FFALB — Friends & Family of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, also in New York City. Tel: 212 989 8624 E-mail: email@example.com
Books: Many great books have been written about Spain’s fight, especially recommended are ones by Lincolns and other Brigade members. Hemingway’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.’
Films: “The Good Fight” from 1984 is still the definitive documentary on the Lincolns — www.thegoodfight.org. The award-winning 2012 HBO film, “Hemingway and Gellhorn,” with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen, contains actual footage of the Spanish Civil War.
14,000 HIROSHIMAS STILL HANG IN THE FUKUSHIMA AIR
by Harvey Wasserman
Japan’s pro-nuclear Prime Minister has finally asked for global help at Fukushima.
It probably hasn’t hurt that more than 100,000 people have signed petitions calling for a global takeover; more than 8,000 have viewed a new YouTube on it.
Massive quantities of heavily contaminated water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean, dousing workers along the way. Hundreds of huge, flimsy tanks are leaking untold tons of highly radioactive fluids.
At Unit #4, more than 1300 fuel rods, with more than 400 tons of extremely radioactive material, containing potential cesium fallout comparable to 14,000 Hiroshima bombs, are stranded 100 feet in the air
All this more than 30 months after the 3/11/2011 earthquake/tsunami led to three melt-downs and at least four explosions.
“Our country needs your knowledge and expertise” he has said to the world community. “We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem.”.
But is he serious?
“I am aware of three US companies with state of the art technology that have been to Japan repeatedly and have been rebuffed by the Japanese government,” says Arnie Gundersen, a Vermont-based nuclear engineer focused on Fukushima.
“I have spoken with six Japanese medical doctors who have said that they were told not to discuss radiation induced medical issues with their patients. None will speak out to the press.
“Three American University professors…were afraid to sign the UN petition to Ban Ki-Moon because it would endanger their Japanese colloquies who they are doing research with.”
Abe, he says (to paraphrase it politely), might not be entirely forthcoming.
Fukushima Daiichi is less than 200 miles from Tokyo. Prevailing winds generally blow out to sea—directly towards the United States, where Fukushima’s fallout was measured less than a week after the initial disaster.
But radioactive hot spots have already been found in Tokyo. A worst-case cloud would eventually make Japan an uninhabitable waste-land. What it could do to the Pacific Ocean and the rest of us downwind approaches the unthinkable.
“If you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool” at Unit #4, “the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs,” says Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute
The Unit #4 fuel assemblies were pulled for routine maintenance just prior to the earthquake/tsunami. An International Atomic Energy Agency document says they were exposed to the open air, did catch fire and did release radiation.
Since none of the six GE-designed Daiichi reactors has a containment over the fuel pools, that radiation poured directly into the atmosphere. Dozens more designed like these reactors operate in the US and around the world.
Then corrosive sea water was dumped into the pool.
Unit #4 was damaged in the quake, and by an explosion possibly caused by hydrogen leaking in from Unit #3. It shows signs of buckling and of sinking into soil turning to mud by water flowing down from the mountains, and from attempts to cool the cores missing from Units #1, #2 and #3.
Tokyo Electric Power and the Japanese government may try to bring down the Unit #4 rods next month. With cranes operated by computers, that might normally take about 100 days. But this requires manual control. Tepco says they’ll try to do it in a year (half their original estimate) presumably to beat the next earthquake.
But the pool may be damaged and corroded. Loose debris is visible. The rods and assemblies may be warped. Gundersen says they’re embrittled and may be crumbling.
Some 6,000 additional rods now sit in a common storage pool just 50 meters away. Overall some 11,000 rods are scattered around the site. Vital as it is, bringing Unit #4’s rods safely down is a just a small step toward coping with the overall mess.
Should just one rod fall or ignite, or buildings collapse, or cooling systems fail, radiation levels at the site could well force all humans to leave. Critical electronic equipment could be rendered unworkable. The world might then just stand helpless as the radioactive fires rage.
Gundersen long ago recommended Tepco dig a trench filled with zeolite to protect the site from the water flowing down from the mountains. He was told there was not enough money available to do the job.
Now Prime Minister Abe wants an “ice wall” to run a mile around the site. No such wall that size has ever been built, and this one could not be in place for at least two years.
Gundersen and 16 other experts have filed a list of suggestions with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Thus far there’s been no official response.
Abe’s request for global help with Fukushima’s water problems may be a welcome start.
But the fuel rods at Unit #4 embody our Earth’s most serious immediate crisis.
The team in charge of bringing them down must embody all the best minds our species can muster, along with every ounce of resource we can bring to bear.
The whole world must be watching as this operation begins.
(Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and is author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His SOLARTOPIA GREEN POWER & WELLNESS SHOW is at www.prn.fm.)