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by AVA News Service, August 4, 2014
TODAY’S UPDATES FROM SONIC.NET on the Mendocino Coast fiber cable repair:
[12:52 am] AT&T was unable to use existing damaged cable, and has an ETA of 3:00am for 6500 ft of new cable so they can begin splicing.
[9:57 am] AT&T has located cable and brought it onto the job site. Latest ETR is 4:00pm.
[2:53 pm] Service appears to be restored, however we have not received confirmation from AT&T that our circuits are stable. We will update again as soon as any additional information is available.
ALONG WITH THIS MCN UPDATE [9:15 am, Aug 5]:
AT&T is now stating that due to further than expected damage to the fiber optic cable, they will need to bring further resources to the area to resolve the problem. The cable should arrive by 10:30 AM and then it will take up to 8 hours to install. We are hoping to have all services restored by 7:00PM.
MCN Fusion DSL/Voice services as well as Comcast Internet and Verizon voice and Internet service went completely dark around 5:20 PM Sunday afternoon. The cause of the outage was a vehicle accident on the Comptche Ukiah Road. The accident took out 400 feet of fiber optic cable which will need to be repaired before service can be restored. We will be posting further updates when we have more information.
MCN UPDATE [2:50 pm]: MCN Fusion telephone and Internet are back online! While everything seems to be working we have not received official confirmation that it will remain stable.
GRANT MILLER of Mendocino Sports Plus has posted photos of exposed cable near Tunzi Ranch (around milepost 10 on the Comptche Ukiah Road) on a Facebook page.
LAST FRIDAY NIGHT CalFire reported that the “Lodge Complex” lightning strike fire outside of Branscomb, to the west of Laytonville had consumed 750 acres and was 20% contained.
AS OF MONDAY NIGHT at 7pm it was up to 3,400 acres but was down to 15% containment. On Friday, just one structure was threatened. But by Monday night 17 structures were threatened. Fighting this dry-lightning fire has cost $3.9 million so far and there’s still no end in the near term although CalFire has assigned 31 fire engines, 27 crews, 22 bulldozers, 14 helicopter tankers, 24 water tenders and now over 960 firefighting personnel. The “Current Situation” is reported to be: “The fire is burning in heavy timber. Firefighters are challenged by steep, rugged terrain with difficult access in the remote Elkhorn Ridge Wilderness and Eel River canyon areas. The weather hampered aerial firefighting efforts due to an inversion layer remaining over the fire throughout the day Monday. Fire growth can be expected on portions of the fire due to severe drought conditions and accessibility challenges. Firefighting personnel and equipment continue to establish and improve containment lines.” The agencies involved besides CalFire now expanded to include the Bureau of Land Management, Laytonville Fire Department, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California National Guard, California Conservation Corps, and the state office of Emergency Services.
TUESDAY MORNING’S UPDATE listed the acreage at 3,527 with these added notes: “The fire continues to spread east along the Eel river canyon and north toward Low Gap creek…. The National Weather service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for isolated thunderstorms for today.”
HUGE TURNOUT at the Grange benefit Sunday night for Charlie Paget-Seekins and Mark Pitner, probably the largest turnout for a fundraiser ever in the Anderson Valley. The popular pair serve as both ambulance crewmen and volunteer firefighters. Charlie was injured in a tree felling accident, Mark suffered a stroke. Both young men survived their catastrophes, but just barely. They have, and will continue to have, medical expenses not covered by existing insurance practices.
THE INDEPENDENT COAST OBSERVER (ICO) is the Gualala-based weekly serving the South Coast of Mendocino County, i.e., Point Arena south to Sea Ranch. The paper took huge criticism recently for daring to report that three boys killed when their car careened off a narrow, twisting country road and into a tree had been drinking. According to the CHP, alcohol was a factor in the 4am tragedy. Simply reporting that the kid driving may have been legally drunk brought out the pollyannas. Versions of “How dare you?” lit up the letters columns for a month. How dare not any self-respecting paper? As the ICO’s Chris McManus editorialized in the August 1st edition, “By almost every measure in the California Healthy Kids Survey, teens in Mendocino County use alcohol more than the state average,” drinking and binge drinking at younger ages than their state peers. “Nothing can bring back those three boys. But maybe, going forward, we can prevent future teen deaths — if we’re willing to talk about it.”
ONE BIG PROB, seems to me, is the national set aside of “teenagers” as some kind of separate species who get a free pass on the range of aberrant behavior until they hit the magic age of 18. The educational charade infantilizes the young from the time they are infants on through adolescence, at the outset of which young people used to simply be considered young people, no different than everyone else but for their youth. Now, we have the infantilization of old people, too, and millions of people in between who act like children right on through their adult years.
by Manuel Vicent
For an intellectual, being accused of anti-Semitism is a stigma that is difficult to bear. A strange paranoia impels him to believe that a hidden force will impede his access to any international recognition, including awards, professorships, editorials, and newspapers. For fear of being placed on that supposed black list, artists and writers think twice about proffering a limited condemnation of the intolerable spectacle of cruelty and revenge that the state of Israel is perpetrating against the Palestinian people, where the ratio of their advantage is one hundred to one — the famous biblical rate of return. Any opinion about this one-sided war must be expressed with proper nuances if you don’t want to be labeled an anti-Semite. To save face, it is obligatory to demonstrate beforehand your admiration for the history of those people and restate your horror at the camps of concentration and extermination. I think Leon Bloy was accurate when he affirmed that the Jewish people were like that dike across the river of history — which has elevated the level of its current. It may be that the true promised land of this chosen people is North America, where it has developed its enormous creativity. But, perhaps, in exchange for this sanctuary the western war machine has obliged Israel to adapt a sinister role. Israel has become, in short, an American military base, a tiger’s claw against an enemy civilization. With its back well covered by the Pentagon and by a Europe that salves its bad conscience with ambiguity, Israel is allowed to defy international rules with the sense of an omnipotent avenger characteristic of the biblical Yahweh at his worst. Growing anti-Semitism and hatred are a result of this development.
(Translated by Louis Bedrock.)
DOWN & OUT WITH HILLARY CLINTON
Poor, Poor Pitiful Me
by Jeffrey St. Clair
Pity Hillary. Evicted from her home, jobless, and, as she evocatively put it to Diane Sawyer, “dead broke.” Such were the perilous straits of the Clinton family in the early winter months of 2001, as they packed their belongings at the White House, and scurried away like refugees from Washington toward a harsh and uncertain future.
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Hillary recalled. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”
Hillary was on the cusp of middle age and, at this point, for all practical purposes a single mother. She hadn’t had a paying job in years and the prospects of resurrecting her law career were dim. She was emotionally drained, physically debilitated and hounded wherever she went by the dark forces of the right. All in all, her prospects on that cold January morning were grave.
With no life-ring to cling to, Hillary was forced to work furiously to save her family from a Dickensian existence of privation and destitution. Though she spared Sawyer the harrowing details, we can recreate some of her most grueling tasks. This meant giving several speeches a week to demanding audiences for $200,000 a pop, burning the midnight oil to complete her book so that she wouldn’t have to return her $8 million advance, booking Bill’s speeches at $500,000 an appearance and scrutinizing Bill’s $10 million book contract for any troublesome pitfalls. There were also those tedious documents to sign for Bill’s $200,000 presidential pension and her own $20,000 annual pension for her term as First Lady.
There was also that rather irksome request from the Banker’s Trust that Hillary authorize them to accept for deposit $1.35 million from a certain Terry McAuliffe to secure the Clinton’s loan for the purchase a five-bedroom house in Chappaqua, New York. She was also tasked with itemizing the $190,000 worth of gifts for the family’s new home that flooded into the White House during the last cruel weeks of the Clinton presidency and arranging moving vans for the $28,000 of White House furnishings the family took with them to their humble new digs in New York.
But Hillary put her nose to the grindstone. She didn’t complain. She didn’t apply for unemployment compensation or food stamps. She simply devoted herself feverishly to the tasks at hand and over the course of the next few months the Clintons’ fraught condition began to improve rather dramatically.
By the end of 2001, the Clintons owned two homes: the $5.95 million Dutch Colonial in Chappaqua and the $2.85 million Georgian mansion in DC’s bucolic Observatory Circle neighborhood. Her deft management of the family finances, a feat worthy of Cardinal Mazarin himself, allowed the displaced couple’s bank accounts to swell to more than $20 million. A carefully nourished blind trust also fattened to more than $5 million. In twelve short months, their net worth rose from “dead broke” to a fortune of more than $35 million. Thus the Clinton family was saved from a life of poverty.
The Clintons’ rapid reversal of fortune was almost as stunning as Hillary’s miraculous adventures in the commodity market in the 1980s, when with a little guidance from broker (and professional poker player) R.L. “Red” Bone, she shrewdly turned a $1000 investment in cattle futures into a $100,000 payday.
One might call the Clintons’ economic odyssey an American morality tale. It is the story of how a besieged family, staggered by the loss of a home, suddenly without an income and pursued by creditors, can pull themselves up from the gutter through persistence, hard work and a goal-oriented plan for success.
This exemplary narrative of self-salvation must have confirmed in HRC’s mind the righteousness of her decision in 1996 to run interference for Bill’s drive to demolish the federal welfare system. In that fateful season, Hillary assiduously lobbied liberal groups, including her old outfit the Children’s Defense Fund, to embrace the transformative power of austerity for poor women and children.
Over the next four years, more than six million poor families were pitched off the welfare rolls, left with only their own ingenuity to keep them from being chewed apart by the merciless riptides of the neoliberal economy. Politicians cheered the shrinking of the welfare state. Hillary boasted of moving millions from a life of dependency toward an enchanting new era of personal responsibility and economic opportunity.
But what really happened to those marginalized families? Did the village rush in to help rear those millions of destitute kids, suddenly deprived of even a few meager dollars a month for food and shelter? Hardly. In 1995, more than 70% of poor families with children received some kind of cash assistance. By 2010, less than 30% got any kind of cash aid and the amount of the benefit had declined by more than 50% from pre-reform levels. During the depths of the current recession, when the poverty level nearly doubled, the welfare rolls scarcely budged at all and even dropped in some states.
More savagely, most of those “liberated” from the welfare system didn’t ascend into the middle class, but fell sharply into the chasm of extreme poverty, trying desperately to live on an income of less than $2 a day.
Still $2 a day is better off than being “dead broke.” Indeed, those forlorn mothers can always put down their last few bucks on the futures market. After all, as HRC reminds us, children are the future.
(Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray) will be published in June by CounterPunch Books. He can be reached at: email@example.com.)
OBAMA & THE ‘PUBLIC SENTIMENT’
by Ralph Nader
Dear President Obama:
Abraham Lincoln once said that “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.” Presumably, he meant Presidential action on popular issues can and should overcome influential interests.
At long last, the “public sentiment” seems to be aligning with some causes you are advancing.
First, support is increasing for restoring the federal minimum wage to account for the inflation that, since 1968, has greatly diminished its purchasing power. The federal minimum wage is presently stagnant at $7.25 per hour. You are supporting the Harkin-Miller bill (H.R.1010 and S.2223), which would raise it to $10.10 per hour over three years. You have already issued an executive order to require federal government contractors to pay their employees no less than $10.10 per hour, effective in 2015 (see timeforaraise.org for more information).
Restoring the purchasing power of the minimum wage has over 70% public support and would lift the wages of 30 million hard-pressed American workers. Had you pushed to raise the federal minimum wage in 2010 when the Democrats controlled Congress, the House of Representatives might not have been given over to the Republican Party in those November elections. In light of this missed opportunity, you can still pressure Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans to support raising the federal minimum wage by noting that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and former Republican Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, now support this effort.
Affected workers need you to step up the pressure in the remaining months of this forlorn Congress and get an existing discharge petition to the House floor for a vote.
Second, U.S.-chartered giant companies like Pfizer, Medtronic and, perhaps most foolishly, Walgreens — given its 8,000 protestable stores — are planning to move their headquarters to countries that lure them with lower tax rates, such as Ireland and Switzerland, abandon their U.S. “citizenship,” and re-incorporate in those jurisdictions. This is all for another tax escape to add to their existing ones, including large tax credits to Pfizer and Medtronic for research and development that corporatist lobbies have written into the U.S. tax code.
“I don’t care if it’s legal, it’s wrong,” you have indignantly exclaimed in recent speeches. You are supporting legislative efforts by Democrats in Congress (H.R.4679 and S.2360, sponsored by Representative Sander Levin (D-MI) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)) to prohibit such drains on corporate taxes intended for the U.S. Treasury and make the ban retroactive to May 2014.
Third, and perhaps most impressively, you are questioning the “economic patriotism” of many giant U.S. corporations who have received support (financial and otherwise) from U.S. workers, taxpayers and the public laws and benefitted from the infrastructure of our country. The mere implication that these companies are unpatriotically abandoning their native country has outraged the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (to which you paid a courtesy visit in 2011) along with the predictable Wall Street Journal editorial page.
That highly vocal reaction means you touched on a vulnerability that has been on the minds of tens of millions of Americans. May you continue to promote the importance of insisting on the patriotic character of corporations, since the U.S. Supreme Court (5 to 4) keeps telling us that corporations are people.
The public sentiment awaits your leadership on other positive redirections as well. Large majorities on both the left and the right: favor breaking up the “too big to fail” New York City banks; support cracking down on corporate crime and fraud (see the Hide No Harm Act of 2014); and, the more they know about its benefits and fairness, support a Wall Street speculation tax, a sales tax that could bring in about $300 billion a year, fund repairs of our public infrastructure, and dampen some of the reckless gambling with other peoples’ money, such as pension and mutual funds.
The many rallies in New York City, in front of the White House and around the country — some of which have been led by the National Nurses United — are pressing Congress for such a transaction tax. Such activities have laid the groundwork for your exercise of the “Bully Pulpit.”
Another easier initiative, pointed out in my new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, is to highlight, once again, the legislation that you as a Senator co-sponsored with Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) in 2006 to require that the full text of all federal government contracts above a minimum amount be available online.
As I’ve written previously, putting the full text of these contracts online will: give taxpayers both savings and higher quality performances; let the media focus more incisively on this vast area of government disbursements to inform the wider public; encourage constructive comments and alarms from the citizenry; and stimulate legal and economic research by scholars interested in structural topics related to government procurement, transfers, subsidies and giveaways.
There is already support by members of both Parties in the Congress for this measure. Online disclosure would provide for greater scrutiny of some $300 billion in annual contracts by the media, taxpayer groups, competitors and academic researchers.
Yes, indeed, Mr. President, wondrous and beneficial changes can come to our country when you and Congress heed the long-standing “public sentiment,” more recently called the “voices of the people,” and translate that “public sentiment” into beneficial action by our government.
Sincerely, Ralph Nader
(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)
THE LONG SOBERING AFTERMATH of World War Two is over now and World Opinion can once again assume the role of a rough beast slouching toward cataclysm. Starting from the premise that nothing is funnier than unhappiness, how funny is it that the US affects to manage the great demographic upheavals of the Middle East and Europe while it can’t even protect its own citizens from the still-florid looting and swindling operations of Wall Street — not to mention the wholesale renting of congressmen, cabinet secretaries, supreme court justices, and White House aides by US chartered corporations?
Steve Heilig’s response to my letter completely misrepresents my words.
The point is that Steve you cannot control and contain the content of music, all the more offensive that you’re trying to denounce a music not even from your own people or country, but from a viciously downtrodden former slave colony. You compare reggae and dancehall to songs about rednecks beating and lynching black people. Well as long as you mention racist songs from your own fellow countrymen, I would say yes Steve YOU should be going THOSE Country Music festivals and denouncing the music of your own people (white american) that is racist, sexist, antigay and all that bad stuff. The fact that you would equate the racialist speech of a Marcus Garvey inspired music with the racialism inspired by a system of brutal slavery, oppression and colonialism based here in the good ole US of A truly reveals the infantile nature of your opinions on social reality.
On to your next calamitous statement when you write, “Reggae music was originally ‘conscious’ about uplifting a race, equal rights, and spiritual messages.” Reggae music still is about uplifting a race, equal rights, and spiritual messages. You think you can dash away all the massive work done by modern artists that is 100% positive and unassailable and yes deeply tinged with notions of Black Power, unless it is really the nationalist aspirations of the descendants of Africans that you and the rest of America and the West are truly afraid of. So don’t miss what the youth are saying, or rather you should miss it, GET OUT OF THE WAY you old rock.
To quote the great Sixto Rodriguez from the great tune Establishment Blues, “the systems gonna fall to an angry YOUNG tune.” Capiche Steve.
As Always, Nate Collins, Oakland
* * *
STEVE HEILIG RESPONDS
Editor: I rest my case.
Steve Heilig, San Francisco
PROTECT CALIFORNIA’S GROUNDWATER & THE PUBLIC INTEREST
by Chris Malan
In this drought year the Brown administration is pushing hard to bring regulation to the outdated and anarchic world of California groundwater. That is something all Californians should support. While there are a few groundwater basins — primarily in Southern California — which are managed locally or regionally, in most parts of California anyone can still buy a parcel of land, sink a well and begin extracting as much groundwater as that person or corporation can afford to pump.
The result of this free-for-all is that, in many of California’s groundwater basins, groundwater extraction now exceeds the ability of precipitation to recharge the groundwater. As the elevation of groundwater falls, municipal drinking water and irrigation wells must now be deepened at regular intervals at great cost to taxpayers and farmers. The quality of groundwater has also declined leading to further increased costs to render groundwater suitable for drinking and, in some cases, even for irrigation.
In some watersheds, excessive groundwater pumping has also negatively impacted stream flows. In the most extreme cases, excessive, unregulated groundwater extraction has dewatered streams and entire rivers. In these watersheds swimming areas which served communities for generations have vanished and fisheries — including salmon and other fisheries on which local economies depend — have been decimated or totally lost.
So it is a good thing that California, being the last state in the western USA to do so, could finally regulate groundwater on a systematic and state-wide basis. And since another “well-drilling arms race” is underway in the San Joaquin Valley and groundwater levels are falling across the state, groundwater regulation can’t come on line soon enough.
As with all things political, however, the devils of groundwater management will be in the details of what emerges from the California Legislature and the State Water Resources Control Board. There are currently two groundwater bills — SB 1168 and AB 1739 — working their way through the legislative process. Agricultural, environmental and other interests — as well as local and regional water agencies — are working hard to influence the legislation; what will emerge from this political process remains in doubt.
With so many powerful interests vying for influence, it is very possible that the public interest will be lost or damaged in the process. In particular, there is a real possibility that the impact of groundwater extraction on streamflows will not get appropriate attention. If that happens, the dewatering of California’s rivers and streams will continue or could even accelerate, as will the loss of the public benefits of free flowing streams.
Gov. Brown, the California Legislature and the State Water Resources Control Board can and should usher in a new era in which groundwater is managed responsibly state-wide. Responsible management will include clear legislative recognition of what is now settled science: groundwater and surface water are a single resource and can only be properly managed as such. The artificial distinction in current California law dividing groundwater into two distinct, fictional phenomena — percolating groundwater and underground streams — must be abolished.
Recognizing the clear connection between surface and groundwater and requiring that the impact of groundwater extraction be assessed and addressed in groundwater management is not favored by many of the powerful interests vying to influence California Groundwater Management. Gov. Brown, California legislators and the State Water Resources Control Board must resist the desire of those interests to sweep the public interest aside. As they usher in a new era of water management, California leaders sworn to uphold the public trust should make sure that the impact of groundwater extraction on streamflow is assessed and addressed. Anything less would not be in the public interest.
(Chris Malan is chairwoman of the North Coast Stream Flow Coalition.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 4, 2014
DAWN BARNES, Point Arena. DUI.
DUSTIN GOLYER, Ukiah. Receiving stolen property.
PEGGY HERNANDEZ, Gualala. Attempted murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit a crime, false imprisonment.
TRE MANSHACK, Pot growing, possession for sale.
RYAN RAYA, Ukiah. Parole violation.
GERALD ROEHRICH, Willits. Refusing to leave, failure to appear.
RIGOBERTO RUBALCABA, Ukiah. Sale of meth.
DUSTIN RUSBARSKY, Willits. DUI.
ALEJANDRO RUVALCABA, Ukiah. Parole violation.
THOMAS SANDERS, Willits. Battery.
JUAN SANDOVAL, Ukiah. DUI, Resiting arrest. Battery of peace of officer.
TONYA SCHEURICH, Fort Bragg. Possession of drug paraphernalia, probation revocation, failure to appear.
ROBERT TAYLOR, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
LARRY TONEY, Willits. Drunk in public.
FRANKLIN TUNEBATUN, Fort Bragg. DUI, Hit & Run.