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by AVA News Service, February 8, 2014
THE WEATHER PEOPLE are now predicting as much as 8 inches of rain over the weekend. We’ll all know for certain that we’ve seen a deluge if Highway 128 is closed at Flynn Creek Road when the Navarro River boils over. If the road isn’t closed, we’ve merely had a nice and most welcome rain.
THE BANK OF AMERICA is pulling out of Fort Bragg. The bank’s NorCal media relations person, Colleen Haggerty, issued the following press release: “After careful consideration, we have decided to close our banking center located at 228 N. Main St., on May 30, 2014. The decision to close a banking center is never an easy one, and is driven primarily by a decline in transactions as customers increasingly rely on other channels such as mobile and online banking. As an example of this, Bank of America customers use their mobile phones to log into their accounts 155 million times per month, depositing 158,000 checks via mobile check deposit every day and making more than 4.9 million transfers per week between their accounts and to other people’s accounts as well as to pay their bills. “We notify customers by letter at least 90 days in advance, and letters will be mailed next week to customers outlining their banking options and any steps they need to take. Customers can still access all deposits and account services online, by mobile phone, or at other banking center locations, including Ukiah. The closure does not impact automatic deposits or bill pay withdraws. “When a banking center closes, we provide various forms of assistance to impacted employees, which may range from severance packages to helping them find other opportunities within the company.” FOR MANY YEARS, BofA has occupied an over-large building at Main and Alder where about twenty people are employed.
IT’S NOT AS if Fort Bragg suffers a shortage of banks. There are several plus a thriving credit union. There is some speculation that weekly Occupy demonstrations caused a big bank business drop-off, which seems a wild stretch of wishful thinking by those of us who march under the anti-usury banner.
WHEN WESTAMERICA closed their Boonville branch, it wasn’t because they were losing money, it was because they felt they weren’t making enough money. That’s probably the case with Fort Bragg, too.
STEPHEN HAWKING ON BLACK HOLES: AN EXCHANGE
Your derogatory remarks on science manifest a lack of understanding of conjecture, hypotheses, theories, and the scientific method. Your tone is reminiscent of Fox News at its worst—when they have a story about Wynona Ryder caught shoplifting, or Hugh Grant soliciting the services of a prostitute. Not what I expect from the author of Buddha in a Teacup, one of my favorite books.
A conjecture is just a guess or opinion that is usually made with insufficient information. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon that has not been tested or exposed to peer review. Unlike conjecture, a scientific hypothesis may only be applied to an explanation that is testable. The testing and peer review process may require years of thought and debate, new technologies, and more sophisticated mathematical analysis before it can become a theory. Some hypotheses, like those of multiple universes, are tested only by the most sophisticated forms of mathematics
In science, a theory is a scientific hypothesis that tested and peer reviewed and is accepted as the best available explanation for the present. This last point is important. Unlike orthodox systems, science thrives on controversy, debate, and iconoclasm. Religion depends on obedience; science on challenging, retesting, and revising, when necessary, hypotheses and even current theories.
Copernican astronomy and Einstein physics are example of science at its best; however, both have been refined from their original forms.
Scientists are often fools. Even when their theories are accurate, the consequences of the theories can prove horrendous. This is due to human frailty, not science. Science is not a magic wand that you can just wave and turn Todd Walton into a dung- beetle—although right now, I wish I could if only for a few hours. Science is the most effective engine for accumulating knowledge about the real world that we have. It’s not perfect, but without it you wouldn’t have novocaine, morphine, antibiotics, computers, or Dick Cheney’s pacemaker—as I said, it’s not perfect.
Shame on you Todd. Hawkings may look ridiculous at the moment, but he’s a great scientist and an admirable human being. He does not deserve to be compared with the whore-monger scumbag doctors who peddled cigarettes, or with the caricatures of a Monty Python skit. And, your dismissal of science with the statement, “This is science? You betcha,” is puerile.
Louis S. Bedrock, Rochelle, New Jersey
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I’m sure your response will echo the sentiments of many others regarding my article, but I think it is important to remind everyone, especially those who bow down so reverently to anything deemed fact by the official scientific organs, that these facts may not actually be facts. Nuclear power is safe, cigarettes are good for you, DDT will save the world from malaria and make life better for everyone, black holes do or do not exist, a little Fukushima radiation won’t hurt you, etc. ad infinitum. These facts may sound like nonsense to you now that we know otherwise, but that is precisely my point. Nonsense often stands as scientific fact for decades and centuries until, and often against incredible resistance from the established scientific community, someone, often someone outside that accredited scientific community, proves otherwise. Read The Body Is the Hero, a history of our understanding of the human immune system, the established scientific community exerting all its might again and again to defeat the emerging truth often to the point of literally killing the messengers. Read the story of the scientist who first discovered the ozone hole over the antarctic who was viciously attacked and discredited for years by the leading scientists of America and Europe, as were the first group of scientists who confirmed his findings, until his discovery became irrefutable.
My remark is not puerile, it is true, and I’m happy to remind people of this truth. Just because somebody who some organization has recognized as an authority says something is true doesn’t mean something is true. You may know that, and science, in its purest form may know that, but this is not what is fed to the world and to the millions of people who swallow such “scientific” ideas because they’ve been trained to think scientists know things by virtue of being scientists. That is simply not so, and Hawking’s blithe retraction is, I think, a hilarious example of that.
So there’s this guy who spends his entire life seeking the meaning of life. After decades of scientific and philosophical study, he searches the world over and finally meets the holiest of holy gurus atop the Himalayan peak and asks, “What is the meaning of life?” And the guru says, “Life is a fountain.” And the guy says, “I spent my whole life studying and searching and striving to find the truth, and you tell me life is a fountain?” The guru thinks for a moment and says, “Life isn’t a fountain?”
Todd Walton, Mendocino
MOONIE! THEY ALMOST GOT ME IN BOONVILLE!
In June 1978, as stated ultimately by the California Supreme Court, while I was planning the Butler kids rescue (Escape from Synanon 3), 27-year-old David Molko graduated from Temple University School of Law, passed the Pennsylvania bar and decided to visit San Francisco, arriving in early January of 1979 while cults were big news following the events of Synanon and Jonestown. Thus he was on the alert for those seeking to proselytize.
On Sunday, January 21 Moonies approached Molko as he waited at a SF bus stop and said they were socially conscious people living in an “international community” in order to discuss important issues. They invited Molko to come to dinner. Molko asked if they had a “religious connection.” They said “no” and did not reveal to Molko that they were members of the Unification Church, or that their purpose was to recruit him into the Church.
Molko attended the dinner, which included a number of other targets. He was kept apart from the other guests, and held in constant conversation with group members. After dinner there was a lecture on general social problems, followed by a slide show on “Boonville” — a “farm” a few hours to the north, owned by the group at the house. The slide show depicted Boonville as a rural getaway where people from the house went for relaxation and pleasure. When the presentation was concluded, all the targets were invited to visit. The group members assured Molko they would provide for all his needs. Impressed by this hospitality and enthusiasm, Molko agreed to go, not knowing his destination was an indoctrination facility for the Unification Church.
Molko was given a sleeping bag and a shelter where others were already sleeping. He awoke the next morning finding more than just the 12 from the van were sleeping in the room. When he walked to the bathroom, a group member arose and walked with him. Wherever he went, a group member attached.
Molko day’s schedule left him no individual time. There were group calisthenics, then group breakfast, then a group lecture on moral and ethics. After lunch was, more exercise and more lectures. After dinner, there were“testimonials,” group singing and more group discussion. At the end of the day Molko was exhausted.
Molko asked the name of the group, and was told it was the “Creative Community Project.” He was told it associated with no religious organizations. By the end of Tuesday, Molko, tired amd uncomfortable, informed he desired to return to San Francisco. They told him he was free to leave but the bus departed at three o’clock in the morning. They strongly urged him to stay and hear the important information that would be discussed. Molko agreed to stay a little longer.
The days that followed were the same: lectures were repeated verbatim. They spoke of brotherly love and social problems, and included references to God and prayer. On Wednesday, Molko was informed the group’s teachings derived from many philosophical sources, including Aristotle, Jefferson, and Reverend Sun Myung Moon. It was not disclosed that Reverend Moon was the group’s spiritual leader.
On Friday night, Molko was told the group was about to leave Boonville for “Camp K” — another group-owned retreat used on weekends. Molko said he wanted to return to San Francisco, but again was urged to give the group a few more days. He agreed and made the trip to Camp K, still oblivious of his involvement with the Unification Church.
A weekend of exercises and -lectures continued at Camp K and then he was back at Boonville, during which Molko became increasingly disoriented and despairing of his future. On his 12th day of continuous group activity Molko was told for the first time the group was part of the Unification Church. While confused he was told the deception was necessary because of all the bad stories about the Church. He agreed to stay and try to work out his confusion.
That night he returned to Camp K, where he remained for approximately five to seven weeks of “advanced training.” The same regimen and structure continued. Molko’s parents flew in from Florida. They stayed a week, but saw their son for only a few hours, and only in the presence of Church members. The parents urged him to come home briefly, but he refused. Molko — who by this time had been taught that his parents were agents of Satan trying to tempt him away from the Church — was confused by the visit and remained with the Church.
After more advanced training at Camp K, Molko was deemed fit to go to the city to sell flowers and “witness” for the Church. He donated $6,000 to the Church.
Church leaders advised Molko he could help the Church most by becoming a member of the California bar, and promised that the Church would pay for his bar review course. He agreed, and studied for and took the California bar examination while living in the Church’s San Francisco house. As he left the final session of the bar examination, however, Molko was abducted and taken to a motel by “deprogrammers” hired by his parents. After three days of deprogramming, Molko terminated his association with the Unification Church. (— Paul Morantz)
NORMA WATKINS WRITES:
A Meeting To Save Our College:
Monday, Feb. 17, Fort Bragg Town
Hall, 12 noon to 2 pm.
Here is what our Board Member, Barbara Rice, is asking of the CR Board. “…They need to provide continuity and accommodations for students in the midst of their educational programs. They need to plan for a transition, not just abruptly close down, lease buildings out to other purposes. That transition should begin as soon as possible and they need to do whatever they can to transfer the territory to Mendocino college, ASAP. They should not take a vote to “suspend” the campus unless the resolution also describes a commitment to exactly how they will serve students in this area – how and with what? Classes in the high schools and community centers as we did 40 years ago? What will be offered? Who will oversee things from eureka and see that our community’s needs for higher education are met. There needs to be a detailed plan and commitment before the Board votes to ‘suspend’.” We can make this a win-win. Let CR Mendocino continue to function until we can get ourselves redistricted.
If you would like to speak, please do so. But speaking or silent, your presence will count.
Hope to see you there.
MENDO COAST SHRIVEL (in the context of CR’s approaching closure)
What are the public institutions in trouble here: Mendo Art Center, C.V. Starr pool, Coast Hospital, CR, KZYX, public media (MCCET gone!). What others? These are all biggies. Is this coincidence, all these public facilities floundering at the same time? The Kochs own GP. One can imagine unseen hands, slowly castrating a feisty community that is too Left and too prominent for its own good. It’s easy to say tax revenues are down, hard times, mismanagement and so on. Is that too easy, too glib? Am I crying “Conspiracy”? Possibly. This place is prominent to the film industry for advertising (how many car ads are on our local roads) and entertainment. Some misguided local “champions” helped spike the trouble-averse, budget-conscious movie industry here, but what else might explain the absence of movies and Murder-She-Wrotes? Add the U.S. Defense Dept.—for weapons testing; timber (it may be mostly skimmed off, but every year sees the regrowth of how many millions of board feet, in the Pacific Northwest? They’ll be back for it), fishing (we are perennial advocates of marine sanctuaries, perennial foes of destructive mass-fishing methods), oil (now including fracking), other potential energy interests, real-estate developers, big-box chains, etc. etc. etc. These are powerful and ruthless forces in American affairs. We know they spend freely to neutralize and silence dissent. Why should they overlook the California North Coast, a place that is sacred to itself and city-pent souls everywhere? Who talks with our new congressman?
Mitch Clogg, Mendocino
COUNTY CRIME REPORT
BURGLARY — Caller in the 500 block of Leslie Street, Ukiah, reported at 9:43 p.m. Monday that a suspicious activity, possibly a burglary, had occurred over recent days because a door was found open and a screen was taken off. An officer responded and extra patrol was requested for transients taking recyclables.
POSSIBLE PROWLER — Caller in the 100 block of Waugh Lane, Ukiah, reported at 10:14 p.m. Monday that she heard someone in her backyard. An officer checked the area but no one was seen.
LICENSE PLATE STOLEN — Caller in the 700 block of South Oak Street reported at 8:18 a.m. Tuesday that a license plate had been stolen off a vehicle while it was parked there. An officer took a report.
LEG CRAMP — Caller in the 400 block of North School Street, Ukiah, reported at 3:39 p.m. Tuesday hearing a man arguing, then crying out in pain. An officer responded and contacted a lone idiot who said he had a bad leg cramp.
BLOOD ON STAIRS — Caller in the 700 block of Village Circle, Ukiah, reported at 7:07 p.m. Tuesday finding “a lot of blood at the bottom the stairs” leading form the neighbor’s door. The caller called back and reported that the neighbor was found and she had a bloody nose.
STUDENT WITH KNIFE — Caller at Frank Zeek Elementary School reported at 11:06 a.m. Tuesday that an 8-year-old student came to school with a knife. An officer responded and counseled the child.
DOG BITE — Caller in the 200 block of Observatory Avenue, Ukiah, reported at 2:07 p.m. Wednesday that dog swere fighting and one person had been bitten. An officer responded and took a report.
RECORDS, VACUUM CLEANER STOLEN — Caller in the 600 block of Leslie Street reported at 4:32 p.m. Wednesday that vinyl records and a vacuum cleaner had been stolen. The information was recorded.
SKUNK ATTACK — Caller in the 1000 block of North Oak Street reported a skunk attack at 4:41 p.m. Wednesday. An officer responded and took a report.
BURGLARY — Caller in the 100 block of Clara Avenue reported at 6:14 p.m. Wednesday that someone broke out a window and door. An officer responded and took a report for burglary.
TRESPASSER — Caller in the 600 block of Oak Street, Ukiah, reported at 6:13 a.m. Tuesday that a man was trespassing. An officer responded and found the 55-year-old man in the bathroom and arrested him for being drunk in public and violating city code.
The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office:
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE — Elisabeth A. Koeppel, 31, of Ukiah, was arrested at 11:07 a.m. Wednesday on suspicion of domestic assault and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The Ukiah Police Department arrested her.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, EVADING — Jesse D.J. Orton, 26, of Oakland, was arrested at 2:23 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of domestic assault and driving recklessly while evading a peace officer, and booked at the county jail under $125,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI, CHILD ENDANGERMENT — Monique M. Valador, 24, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 6:37 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of driving under the influence and child abuse or endangerment, and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The Fort Bragg Police Department arrested her.
BATTERY WITH INJURY — Chad R. Martinson, 18, of Redwood Valley, was arrested at 8:24 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of battery causing serious injury and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
DUI — Jenny A. Whelan, 53, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 9:35 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The FBPD arrested her.
DUI — Alex J. Goeken, 55, of Ukiah, was arrested at 11:17 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, and booked at the county jail. The California Highway Patrol arrested him.
Fort Bragg man wanted in gun theft arrested at traffic stop
A Wednesday traffic stop ended in the arrest of a Fort Bragg man suspected of stealing chainsaws and several guns, according to the Fort Bragg Police Department.
Kenton Michael Colberg, 25, had been at large for over a week since the initial report of the thefts. Officers took reports Jan. 28 that two chainsaws had been taken from the front porch and 12 to 16 guns had been stolen from a gun safe inside a home in the 200 block of Whipple Street, according to the FBPD.
Officers knew Colberg from prior contacts and searched his mother’s home, where they found the chainsaws, according to the FBPD. Colberg was identified as the suspect in the case, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
An officer stopped a vehicle in the 600 block of South Main Street at 2:20 a.m. Wednesday for a minor traffic violation, according to the FBPD, and recognized the passenger as Colberg. he was arrested on suspicion of charges on the warrant of burglary and possessing stolen property. He was booked at the Fort Bragg Police Department and taken to the Mendocino County Jail in Ukiah, where he is held under $90,000 bail.
Door kicked in, girlfriend injured in Fort Bragg incident
Officers responded at 4:38 p.m. Feb. 5 to a home in the 700 block of Stewart Street for the reported incident, and spoke with a woman who had a minor injury on her ear and scalp, according to the FBPD.
She told police she had been holding her son in her arms when her boyfriend had kicked the door, and that she was injured when debris hit her in the head. She declined medical attention.
Officers found the boyfriend, Wilbur Escobedo, at the home and arrested him without incident on suspicion of domestic battery, child endangerment and vandalism. He was booked at the Fort Bragg Police Department and taken to the Mendocino County Jail in Ukiah, where he posted $25,000 bail early Thursday morning and was released.
DAVID YEARSLEY’S Latest Listening List Entry:
Jacqueline du Pré: The Complete EMI Recordings (Warner Classics, 2007).
With a repertoire extending from François Couperin to Edward Elgar and encompassing concertos, chamber works, and a pair of Bach solo suites, the sets runs from the year of du Pré’s debut at the Wigmore Hall in London in 1961 at the age of 16 to a live performance of the Lalo Cello Concerto in Cleveland under the baton of her husband Daniel Barenboim in October of 1973, the same month she was diagnosed with the multiple sclerosis that ended her career and led to her death in 1987. The haunting E Minor Sonata of Brahms, in two versions from 1968 both with Barenboim on piano, is holding the week’s top spot, fending off the mighty concertos of Dvorak, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, Lalo, Delius, Britten, and—of course—Elgar.
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STEPHEN ELLIOTT’S TOP TEN
Here are my top ten. I stuck to novels, which was hard enough.
War and Peace — Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina — Leo Tolstoy
Fathers and Sons — Ivan Turgenev
Les Miserables — Victor Hugo
Madame Bovary — Gustave Flaubert
Mansfield Park — Jane Austen
Middlemarch — George Eliot
Little Women — Louisa May Alcott
House of Mirth — Edith Wharton
This Side of Paradise — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Steve Elliott, Bridgewater, Massachusetts
JAN. 9, 1939: Tom Mooney made a triumphal return yesterday to the city that was ready to hang him two decades ago. An estimated 50,000 persons joined in the homecoming, 25,000 flooding Market Street and joining the parade of unions on their march to the Civic Center, where another 25,000 waited to see and hear him. Mooney was on foot and took his place immediately behind the band that led the procession. Behind him were massed American flags, then the massed banners of the unions. A number of men linked hands and like moving fences kept the welcomers from swarming in on the liberated leader, free after 22 years in prison. Directly ahead were the motion picture cameras that would transmit the scene to the farthest corners of the earth. Mooney, in a close-fitting grey suit, his gray hair flying, looked more like an evangelist than a man who had been convicted of contriving an infernal machine for mass murder. Sporadic shouts went up. “Welcome home, Tom!” “Good old Mooney!” There were strangers, to whom he was a legend, who were anxious to see “the world’s most famous prisoner.” A short block from the Ferry building he approached Steuart Street the place where on the afternoon of July 22, 1916, 50 persons were torn by shrapnel from an exploding bomb. Ten of them were killed. Mooney had now arrived at the tragic spot. The cameras had purposely halted him there. There was a loud roar when Mooney stepped out before the throng at the Civic Center. Never before had San Francisco offered such acclaim to a man for something he didn’t do. (San Francisco Chronicle archive)
NOT ON THE BILL
by Russell Brand
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was not on the bill.
If it’d been the sacrifice of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, that we are invited to anticipate daily, we could delight in the Faustian justice of the righteous dispatch of a fast-living, sequin-spattered denizen of eMpTyV. We are tacitly instructed to await their demise with necrophilic sanctimony. When the end comes, they screech on Fox and TMZ, it will be deserved. The Daily Mail provokes indignation, luridly baiting us with the sidebar that scrolls from the headline down to hell.
But Philip Seymour Hoffman? A middle-aged man, a credible and decorated actor, the industrious and unglamorous artisan of Broadway and serious cinema? The disease of addiction recognises none of these distinctions. Whilst routinely described as tragic, Hoffman’s death is insufficiently sad to be left un-supplemented in the mandatory posthumous scramble for salacious garnish; we will now be subjected to mourn-ography posing as analysis. I can assure you that there is no as yet undiscovered riddle in his domestic life or sex life, the man was a drug addict and his death inevitable.
A troubling component of this sad loss is the complete absence of hedonism. Like a lot of drug addicts, probably most, who “go over,” Hoffman was alone when he died. This is an inescapably bleak circumstance. When we reflect on Bieber’s Louis Vuitton embossed, Lamborghini cortege it is easy to equate addiction with indulgence and immorality. The great actor dying alone denies us this required narrative prang.
The reason I am so non-judgmental of Hoffman or Bieber and so condemnatory of the pop cultural tinsel that adorns the reporting around them is that I am a drug addict in recovery, so like any drug addict I know exactly how Hoffman felt when he “went back out.” In spite of his life seeming superficially great, in spite of all the praise and accolades, in spite of all the loving friends and family, there is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void.
Addiction is a mental illness around which there is a great deal of confusion, which is hugely exacerbated by the laws that criminalise drug addicts.
If drugs are illegal people who use drugs are criminals. We have set our moral compass on this erroneous premise, and we have strayed so far off course that the landscape we now inhabit provides us with no solutions and greatly increases the problem.
This is an important moment in history; we know that prohibition does not work. We know that the people who devise drug laws are out of touch and have no idea how to reach a solution. Do they even have the inclination? The fact is their methods are so gallingly ineffective that it is difficult not to deduce that they are deliberately creating the worst imaginable circumstances to maximise the harm caused by substance misuse.
People are going to use drugs; no self-respecting drug addict is even remotely deterred by prohibition. What prohibition achieves is an unregulated, criminal-controlled, sprawling, global mob-economy, where drug users, their families and society at large are all exposed to the worst conceivable version of this regrettably unavoidable problem.
Countries like Portugal and Switzerland that have introduced progressive and tolerant drug laws have seen crime plummet and drug-related deaths significantly reduced. We know this. We know this system doesn’t work – and yet we prop it up with ignorance and indifference. Why? Wisdom is acting on knowledge. Now we are aware that our drug laws aren’t working and that alternatives are yielding positive results, why are we not acting? Tradition? Prejudice? Extreme stupidity? The answer is all three. Change is hard, apathy is easy, tradition is the narcotic of our rulers. The people who are most severely affected by drug prohibition are dispensable, politically irrelevant people. Poor people. Addiction affects all of us but the poorest pay the biggest price.
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death is a reminder, though, that addiction is indiscriminate. That it is sad, irrational and hard to understand. What it also clearly demonstrates is that we are a culture that does not know how to treat its addicts. Would Hoffman have died if this disease were not so enmeshed in stigma? If we weren’t invited to believe that people who suffer from addiction deserve to suffer? Would he have OD’d if drugs were regulated, controlled and professionally administered? Most importantly, if we insisted as a society that what is required for people who suffer from this condition is an environment of support, tolerance and understanding.
The troubling message behind Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, which we all feel without articulating, is that it was unnecessary and we know that something could be done. We also know what that something is and yet, for some traditional, prejudicial, stupid reason we don’t do it.
WAR ON THE POOR
by Robert Reich
Opposing a minimum wage hike, blocking unemployment insurance, cutting food stamps, keeping millions from accessing Medicaid… I believe these positions are part of a concerted effort to keep struggling folks down that represents nothing less than a war on the poor and working class.
Go to here to see what I mean:
The first step toward solving a problem is understanding it. So if, after you watch this video, you agree with me that it all adds up to a war on the poor and working class, please share the 2-minute video with your friends:
Together, we can build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1%. Thanks for playing an active role in our democracy.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: Pessimism, pessimism, and more pessimism. It’s like the whole country is on the brink of despair. Maybe Phil Grahm was right, after all. Maybe we are just a nation of whiners. But I kind of doubt it. What’s really going on can be summed up in one word: Frustration. People are frustrated with the government, frustrated with their jobs, frustrated with their shitty, stagnant wages, frustrated with their droopy incomes, frustrated with their ripoff health care, frustrated with living paycheck to paycheck, frustrated with their measly cat-food retirement plan, frustrated with their dissembling, flannel-mouth president, frustrated with the fact that their kids can’t find jobs, and frustrated with the prevaricating US media that keeps palavering about that delusional chimera called the American Dream. (—Mike Whitney)
WESTERN STATES PETROLEUM ASSOCIATION SPENT MOST ON LOBBYING IN 2013
by Dan Bacher
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State’s Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called marine protected areas in Southern California, led the successful campaign last year by the oil industry to defeat all one bill to ban or regulate the environmentally destructive practice of fracking last year.
The oil industry added last minute amendments to Senator Fran Pavley’s already weak legislation to regulate fracking in California, Senate Bill 4, last September, making an already bad bill even worse. Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation, dubbed by environmentalists the “green light for fracking” bill, on September 20.
Another oil company giant, Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries, spent $3.95 million, the third most spent by any group on lobbying state government in 2013. Chevron also spent much of its money on lobbying against bills that would ban or regulate fracking in California.
The top 10 companies and groups that hired lobbyists during 2013 spent a total of $30.5 million, reported the Capitol Weekly (http://capitolweekly.net/top-10-lobbying-firms-billed-40-million/).
The rest of the top 10 spenders were:
• California State Council of Service Employees, $4.26 million.
• California Chamber of Commerce, $3.7 million.
• California Hospital Association/California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, $3.15 million.
• Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. — $2.24 million.
• AT&T Inc. and its affiliates — $2.33 million.
• California Medical Association — $2.27 million.
• SEIU-UHW (Labor organizations) — $1.88 million.
• Southern California Edison, $1.84 million.
Since it is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, the oil industry is able to wield enormous influence over state and federal regulators and environmental processes. The result of this inordinate money and influence is the effective evisceration of the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 during the MLPA Initiative process and the signing of Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4.
A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/oil-lobbying-in-california)
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.
Governor Brown, a strong supporter of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking, has become known as the “Big Oil Governor.” Robert Gammon, East Bay Express reporter, revealed that before Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, Brown accepted at least $2.49 million in financial donations over the past several years from oil and natural gas interests, according to public records on file with the Secretary of State’s Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/fracking-jerry-brown/Content?oid=3726533)
In addition to supporting the expansion of fracking in California, Governor Jerry Brown is fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels during the midst of a record drought. The massive tunnels won’t create one drop of new water, but they will divert huge quantities of precious water from the Sacramento River to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting steam injection and fracking operations in Kern County. The construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity River, the largest tributary of the Klamath River.
The oil industry extends its influence not only by direct lobbying, but through its presence and leadership on boards and panels, in a classic example of the fox guarding the hen house. In an extreme conflict of interest, WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd not only chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, but she served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-Top-Censored-Environmental-Story-of-2012-Marine-guardian-lobbies-for-offshore-oil-drilling-fracking.php)
The MLPA Initiative, under the “leadership” of Reheis-Boyd and other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interests, created fake “marine protected areas” that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.
While Reheis-Boyd served on the task forces to “protect” the ocean, the oil industry was conducting environmentally destructive hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations off the Southern California coast. Documents recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and truthout.org reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a “marine guardian.”
The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is a landmark law, signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, designed to create a network of marine protected areas off the California Coast. However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 created the privately-funded MLPA “Initiative” to “implement” the law, effectively eviscerating the MLPA.
When will there be a long overdue investigation into the conflicts of interest, terminally flawed science, violation of the Yurok Tribe’s gathering rights and failure to provide comprehensive protection in so-called “marine protected areas” that have made the MLPA Initiative into one of the most tainted environmental processes in California history?
While California has been falsely portrayed as a “green state” by the mainstream media and corporate “environmentalists,” the state’s current political leadership is in reality controlled by Big Oil, Big Ag and other corporate interests.
For more information on oil industry power and money, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/11/08/sacramento-a-capital-awash-in-oil-money/
JOSEPH ISRAEL & THE JERUSALEM BAND TO PERFORM IN MENDOCINO
Singer-songwriter presents a release party concert On February 22nd, 2014 Joseph Israel will perform in Mendocino County at the Caspar Community Center in Caspar. Veteran reggae chanter Rocker-T opens up the evening with an acoustic set. The event will mark the premiere of the new “Kingdom Road” music video which will be shown. An organic dinner will be offered by Mendocino-based Tastebuds, featuring vegetarian cuisine with a Jamaican/Caribbean flair. This is an all-ages, family friendly, alcohol free, community event. The concert is in celebration of the singer-songwriter’s highly-anticipated third CD release Kingdom Road, which features 14 tracks that chronicle his personal journey in his spiritual beliefs and his musical evolution as a recording and performing artist. The songs on Kingdom Road have decidedly rock-driven, melodic themes, punctuated by sophisticated guitar lines, complex harmony arrangements with song structures that mirror his reggae origins as they reinvent his sound in a modern roots style. In the live setting, Joseph plays rhythm guitar and shares the stage with the Jerusalem band. They include a powerhouse rhythm section in Marlon “Cat” Davis who started playing drums when he was three years old, born into a rich heritage of gospel tradition and Rupert McKenzie, a New York-based Jamaican bass player who is well-regarded both as a stage performer and as a session musician. Vocalist Michael Walker who also hails from the gospel tradition, will provide harmony vocals. Also performing with the Jerusalem band are Matt Smith on lead guitar, Carl Blackmon on keyboards, with Kristy Fennel (wife of Joseph) on support vocals. A truly unique reggae artist, Joseph Israel was born Joseph Fennel in Oklahoma and grew up in Arkansas. Joseph was the sole reggae artist to be signed to Universal Music in recent history, which is an impressive accomplishment with the record label that is home to Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Island Records catalog. His 2007 Universal release Gone Are The Days was recorded in Jamaica at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong studios, with legendary guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and producer/bassist Christopher Meredith. The album received considerable attention at radio and at retail and led to a series of festival performances and tours throughout the United States. Joseph has toured extensively throughout the US, and has shared the stage, performing his songs of peace and righteousness with the likes of Luciano, Michael Franti, Earl “Chinna” Smith, Toussaint the Liberator and Matisyahu with whom he wrote the song “Away With This” which they performed together on the “Youth” tour in 2006. Recent 2013 Northern California shows have included support for Midnite at the New Parish in Oakland and Reggae on the River in Humboldt County.