Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Mar 24, 2016
by AVA News Service, March 24, 2016
LITTLE MIKEY is coming to Ukiah for a pair of meetings with Mendocino County leaders. You're excused if you weren't aware that we had leaders, but the scrappy lead-off hitter for the basement-dwelling Corporo Democrats, a state senator from Healdsburg, says he's "gathering" them in Ukiah.
IT'S NOT CLEAR if these sessions are one gala affair in the same place or separate events. For sure there's one at Ukiah High School Thursday night. I suppose the senator's office might be able to clarify in between the rah-rahs and the sis-boom-bahs. "March 24! Join us this Thursday for our Mendocino County Town Hall. We have an all star panel: Sheriff Allman, Supervisors Gjerde and McCowen, CalTrans, CHP, Mendocino County Schools & more! We kick off at 6:30p, Ukiah High School… The evening will be packed with great presentations from local and state leaders, and neighbors are invited to join the conversation about moving Mendocino County and Northern California forward. Thanks!"
ALL STAR PANEL? Great presentations? I dunno, Mikey, you might need a pole dancer or two if you expect to draw a crowd with this line-up. All due respect, but County Schools people and CalTrans aren't known for their Wow! factor.
"The Town Hall will be held on Thursday evening, March 24 from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Ukiah High School Cafetorium, 1000 Low Gap Road in Ukiah. Mendocino County Town Hall meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ukiah High School Cafetorium.”
WELL, HECK, I guess we're looking at an important event here. "State Senator Mike McGuire will be joined by city of Ukiah Mayor Steve Scalmanini to begin the event, followed by a county update from Supervisors Dan Gjerde and John McCowen. Mendocino County Office of Education Associate Superintendent Paul Joens-Poulton will provide a local education talk and Sheriff Tom Allman will present a Sheriff’s Office briefing. There will also be a California Highway Patrol update from Lt. Bruce Carpenter and a highway briefing from Caltrans District Director Charlie Fielder."
ASSUMING attendees survive Scalmanini's intro, there's an outside chance that the cops and the two supervisors will have something interesting to say, but I doubt we're looking at a SRO mob for this thing.
from a story in NT News:
"Childhood friend Grace Holt and local musician Steph Harrison are raising money to find their friend. 'Asha’s been back and forth between America and Australia over the last little while and she has a boyfriend over there and they were living in California,' Ms Harrison said. 'From what I understand she’s had some mental health stuff going on that didn’t get picked up. I don’t think the American health system really supports that. She was with her friend and her boyfriend and they were supposed to take her back to the hospital that morning, but they stopped to get pancakes and she went missing from there. It seems like the only option at the moment is to get a private investigator so we can try and pick traces of her up as well as try and put as much literature out there as possible.'”
Alice Springs residents Grace Holt and Steph Harrison are putting on a fundraiser for their friend Asha Kreimer (photo) who is missing in the US. Picture: JUSTIN KENNEDY
Donations accepted here: gofundme.com/656da8y4
YOU THINK A DEER HIT IS BAD?
TRY HITTING A HUGE ELK! ON HIGHWAY 101!
Laytonville County Water District Manager (and editor of the Mendocino Observer weekly newspaper in Laytonville) Jim Shields at the County’s General Government meeting on Monday, March 21:
SHIELDS: In the last five or six weeks, water district personnel including myself on a number of occasions have had to initiate traffic stops on Highway 101 North of Willits approximately one mile south of Laytonville. There are two ranches involved, the 101 Ranch and another about a mile further south on Highway 101, the Shamrock Ranch. I have a small ranch right next to the 101 Ranch. When we moved there originally about 30 years ago there was a sizable elk herd on the 101 Ranch that was relocated as I recall in the late 80s or early 90s to the Shamrock Ranch. The elk which were relocated to the Shamrock Ranch in the last two years have started migrating north along Highway 101 and back up to the original 101 Ranch plus the additional ranches nearby on that mile and a half stretch. I have personally, along with other district personnel -- and this is only have been at night which is the worst time -- the elk are crossing Highway 101 from the 101 Ranch to the ranches on the east side of Highway 101. Fortunately, on those times that I have had to do it or when other personnel have had to do it we are either at work or we had our safety gear and flashlights and traffic signs and so forth so we could actually stop traffic. I don't believe that so far there has been an accident. But as far as I'm concerned there is a public safety concern and wildlife safety concern. We have contacted the Caltrans right-of-way division about posting some signs in the area. But as you are probably aware it takes an act of Congress to get anything done by Caltrans. But we are attempting that. The water district would appreciate any assistance the County Board of Supervisors could offer. We are afraid that there is going to be a serious accident on the highway. We are not talking about a gravel road here.
SUPERVISOR CARRE BROWN: Absolutely. We have 20 head of Tule elk on Potter Valley Road which is a two way road only. We have had some very upset people. Who is liable? The County of Mendocino has some elk signs. We have put some of them up in Potter Valley to try to alert people that they may go around one of those corners, not so straight like Highway 101, and run smack dab into a herd. Obviously I'm really worried a fatality could result. If you're in a small car and you swerve and you go over the side or down the cliff to the Russian River it could be… Yeah!
SHIELDS: The count in that stretch of about one mile and a half south of Laytonville near Highway 101 could be in the hundreds. The herds have spread and segregated themselves along that mile and a half and there is a certain concentration at times down by Davidson and Steele Lane. All these properties front Highway 101. That's near the area where Highway 101 goes from four lanes to two lanes. There is a lot of activity with elk crossing south of Laytonville.
Jake Joseph Schuler is wanted on a $50,000 felony warrant for first degree burglary, and grand theft.
Height: 5' 5"
Age: 27 years old
Weight: 145 lbs
If you have any information regarding this individual's location, please call MCSO Dispatch at (707) 463-4086.
A $25 MILLION LAWSUIT, brought by the son of a Mendocino County Jail inmate who was found dead in his cell in 2014, was rejected by a US District Court judge earlier this month.
The inmate’s son, a minor, acting through another family member, had been requesting a jury trial in federal court against defendants Mendocino County, the city of Fort Bragg and two Fort Bragg Police Department officers, alleging nine causes of action after Shane Allen Murphy, 36, of Cleone, died in his cell at the county jail in October 2014, as a result of suicide by hanging.
Among the nine allegations in the suit, Murphy’s son had been seeking wrongful death, failure to provide adequate health care and the failure of the county to adequately train its jail staff.
Along with the $25 million in damages, the suit also sought funeral and burial costs, declaratory relief as determined by the court, which could have included revision of policies related to the handling and restraining of prisoners with mental health conditions at the jail; suicide prevention, “ensuring that medical and custody staffing levels are maintained at constitutional standards, and ensuring that sufficient and effective supervision and oversight over jail operations are in place.”
In a decision by US Magistrate Judge Nandor J. Vadas, Northern District of California — Eureka on March 1, the case was dismissed in part because the lawsuit didn’t show why Murphy’s son was entitled to the relief he was requesting, based on the facts provided.
Murphy was approached by FBPD officers on the morning of Oct. 6, 2014, at the parking lot of the Pomo Bluffs Park near Highway 1 on the Fort Bragg coast.
The FBPD said at the time it had received calls of a report of a reckless driver passing vehicles on the right shoulder, who officers suspected to be Murphy.
Officers said Murphy exhibited signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance, at which time he allegedly told them he had taken Dianabol, an anabolic steroid.
A .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol was recovered from Murphy’s vehicle, according to an FBPD news release, and he was arrested on suspicion of possession of a concealed firearm, and being under the influence of a controlled substance while in possession of a loaded, operable firearm.
A “large quantity of money” was also recovered from Murphy’s glove box, according to police.
The Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force was then called, which led to search warrants being served at residences connected to Murphy in Cleone and Fort Bragg.
Indoor marijuana grows were located at the residences, according to the FBPD news release. Seventy-two plants were seized from the Cleone residence and 25 plants from the Fort Bragg residence, police said.
According to the filed complaint by Murphy’s son, at the time of his arrest on Oct. 6, 2014, the defendants named knew that Murphy was suicidal and in need of medical care.
The son stated Murphy had a history of mental health conditions, including, but not limited to, anxiety, panic attacks and depression, and prior to his arrest had apparently been under the care of a doctor for such conditions and had been prescribed medications.
Murphy’s son’s claim also stated that his father had not been provided with adequate medical and psychiatric care upon arrest and while in the county jail, making the defendants involved “negligent and liable for the incident, injuries and damages.”
The Murphy family now has the opportunity to file an amended complaint.
FATALITY NEAR LEGGETT
On Tuesday, March 22, 2016, at approximately 6:00 PM, A 2001 GMC Yukon with three male occupants was traveling southbound on Highway 271, approaching mile post marker 2.04 [near Leggett], in Mendocino County. For reasons still under investigation, the Yukon briefly drifted off the west roadway edge. The driver over-corrected causing the Yukon to overturn multiple times.
The [41-year-old] driver and front passenger were ejected as the vehicle overturned. The driver sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Both passengers [Rudy Arias and Paul Coleman] suffered major injuries and were transported to Howard Memorial Hospital. Due to one of the passenger’s extensive injuries, he was flown to Santa Rosa to receive further care. The identity of the deceased is currently being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Agencies on scene were Cal Fire, Laytonville Ambulance, Veri-health, Leggett Volunteer Ambulance, Cal-Trans, and CHP.
The collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. It is believed that alcohol or drugs were a factor in the cause of this collision.
WILLITS CITY COUNCIL TABLES PROPOSED BAN ON MEDICAL CANNABIS… FOR NOW
by Jane Futcher
There were moments Monday, March 21, when the anti-cannabis fervor expressed by Willits Mayor Bruce Burton and his two good-old-boy sidekicks on the City Council was reminiscent of “Reefer Madness,” the 1930s propaganda film aimed at stirring up public sentiment in favor of the 1937 federal prohibition of marijuana. That ban continues today.
The council’s five members, three of whom relied heavily on the belief that cannabis has harmed generations of Willits children, weighed in at a special council meeting on the merits of an outright ban of all marijuana use, cultivation and commerce within city limits.
The city’s Ad Hoc Marijuana Committee — Mayor Bruce Burton and Council member Larry Stranske — concocted the ban. The two men were apparently directed by the council to explore the impacts on Willits of California’s new Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA).
A big problem with cannabis in Willits, Burton suggested, is the plant’s strong smell, which sometimes disturbs neighbors. The city cannot remove the plants quickly via its cannabis public nuisance ordinance because the Willits enforcement process is slow and cumbersome. According to Burton and City Manager Adrienne Moore, the staff spends more time than it would like processing complaints and hearing appeals of nuisance citations. The process is apparently so lengthy that the offending gardens are often gone by the time the city can enforce the ordinance.
The city currently allows residents to grow no more than six plants in an enclosed and secure structure.
Attorney Lance explained to the council at the outset of the discussion that adopting a complete ban involves a change in zoning, and zoning changes require a full Planning Commission review with public comment period.
I attended the Willits City Council meeting Monday not as a reporter with note book and recorder but as a community member and Willits property owner who thinks the proposed ban is short-sighted, vague, ill-conceived and unlikely to deter the purpose for which I think it is intended — to stop underground cannabis use, abuse and sales and to limit anti-social behavior that may be related to these activities.
I’m convinced that passing a such ban on medical cannabis when the nation, state and county governments are marching toward full legalization of medical and possibly adult recreational use, would be as effective as sending a passenger train directly into an oncoming express.
Locals have long viewed Willits as hostile to cannabis. The city in the heart of the Emerald Triangle already bans dispensaries, signaling to other cannabis entrepreneurs that they’re not welcome — despite the sign that arches over Main Street.
That’s the way three of the five city council members seem to like it.
In fact, Mayor Burton vowed Monday that he will never condone cannabis growing or commerce in Willits while the drug is on the federal government’s banned substances list.
Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster assured Burton from the podium that Willits has nothing to fear from the federal government. That’s because, Eyster said, Congress passed a 2014 bill protecting states and local governments from federal prosecution if marijuana and industrial hemp operations are legal in those places.
The fact that the county’s no-nonsense DA drew applause from a roomful of cannabis activists and their supporters, as Eyster did Monday night, is a sure sign that this cannabis ban is bad policy.
Burton wasn’t buying. In fact, Burton told the public that he longs for the day when someone can Google Willits on a computer and finds these words: “Willits —The heart of the Emerald Triangle and the only place that outlawed pot.”
About two dozen people spoke against the ban, arguing, among other things, that:
—Medical research and clinical practice have proven that cannabis can be a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of diseases, including cancer and many neurological disorders.
—Cannabis is at the very minimum a billion-dollar industry in Mendocino County, allowing many residents to live, survive and generate tax revenues for the city of Willits through retail shopping and the use of local services.
—Willits faces big financial losses when the Bypass opens. (Council member Holly Madrigal estimated Willits will lose 20 percent of its sales tax revenues from its gas stations when the Bypass opens.) Attractive cannabis businesses can attract drivers into town.
—A well-regulated cannabis industry can bring good jobs and businesses, such as cannabis testing labs, dispensaries and consulting companies to the city.
—Local business owners may go out of business if their customers who grow cannabis are threatened by the city’s ban.
—The state Legislature has already passed detailed medical marijuana licensing procedures and permit types, and the county is in the act of doing the same thing. Why not Willits?
—Cannabis will have less allure for children when it is legal.
—Patients need safe and accessible access to cannabis.
—If alcohol, a substance known to create serious public health and social problems is legal but regulated, why not bring medical cannabis into the light as well?
Only one person spoke in favor of the ban, a woman who said that as a teacher she had seen many Willits children harmed by the easy availability of marijuana.
Following public comment, Stranske shared his thoughts first, speaking strongly in favor of the ban and inviting those in the audience who don’t like his views to run for his seat in two years, when he intends to face the voters again.
Council members Madge Strong and Holly Madrigal opposed the ban. Madrigal argued that banning cannabis would simply add to the economic uncertainty caused by the recent decline in cannabis prices and the losses the city will face when the Bypass opens.
Burton took a pass because he knew he’d have the final word.
Just when it looked like the old-boy majority would easily win passage of the ban, Council Member Ron Orenstein, who moments before had railed against the evils of marijuana, “dropped the other shoe” (his words).
Having read the new state MMRSA regulations, Orenstein confessed that he found the regulations well written and recommended that the council adopt some of the state’s permit categories. Doing so, he argued, would allow the city to reap some of the economic benefits of the industry while closely controlling its regulation.
Whether Mayor Burton was swayed by Orenstein’s implied defection, the emphatic public opposition to the proposed ban, Eyster’s assurances, the objections of Madrigal and Strong, or all or none of the above, he proposed a delay in any action on the ban. When the city attorney has streamlined Willits’ medical cannabis enforcement procedures, the council, he suggested, could take up the ban proposal again. His colleagues offered no objections.
A victory, of sorts, for cannabis.
But a very strange night.
I haven’t seen the Willits City Council in action for some time, and it was not a pretty picture. Neither Mayor Burton nor Mr. Stranske provided the public or their council colleagues with a reasoned argument or context for their proposal, offered no specific language, and gave no coherent explanation of how and why, tasked with an analysis of MMRSA, they cooked up a complete ban on medical cannabis in Willits.
Burton, Stranske and Orenstein appeared to have little knowledge of and no interest in the far-reaching medical benefits of cannabis. One of them even argued that since drug companies provide so many perfectly good pharmaceuticals, medical cannabis should be unnecessary.
What a night. I’m relieved that Orenstein dropped his other shoe.
For now, at least, the Willits City Council has sent its version of “Reefer Madness” back to the archives, where it deserves to stay.
(Jane Futcher writes regularly about cannabis issues and hosts The Cannabis Hour on KZYX FM.)
COMMONSENSE INJECTED INTO SHELTER DISCUSSION:
"Clearly, the board needed to put in place some mechanism to avoid more dissension and drama that recently wreaked so much havoc. If a person is barred from somewhere whatever the reason there are a hundred other ways to advocate and work to alleviate suffering of shelter animals.
"We all know that in rescue, a number of people have certain social deficiencies that led them to turn to animals in the first place, but don't hesitate to turn their contempt towards people in authority - such as shelter staff - as a way to feel empowered. I'm not saying this is so with this case, as I know none of the details.
“But I do know that volunteers are the backbone of every animal shelter, and those that dedicate their energies are valued and should be enabled to come to help without being drawn in to squabbles and intrigue. Paid staff are obligated to follow rules; some volunteers feel entitled to the prestige and authority with no accountability, fueled by their sense of self righteous indignation.
“Before reacting, take a deep breath and re read this. No 'abuse of power' and nothing excessive and outrageous. As the world turns and we as a society become less accountable to what we say and do, these structures become more necessary, to replace what used to be featured by peoples' grace and temperance, instead of a society brimming with perpetual teenagers." (anon)
THE RUFFING-TURNER AXIS SPEAKS:
Measure U update.
First, the initiative to ban social services downtown is now called Measure U and will appear on your June 7, 2016 ballot under this name.
Second, while many of us would like to believe that Measure U could never pass, we must not allow ourselves the luxury of simply hoping we are right. Measure U is still controversial and there is still a lot of misinformation being spread around. It is important to recognize that there is a lot of fear and anger being stirred up around this measure and we must continue to actively push back against these forces. To be effective in the campaign to defeat Measure U we need to reach out to our networks and leverage the support of our friends. We must continue to educate our fellow citizens. We must make Measure U a priority and ask the people we know to do the same, which is why Go Fort Bragg has reached out to the groups who are being targeted by Measure U to lead this campaign. Several leaders within the social service community responded to our call and have stepped up to organize this effort. Their voices and leadership will be invaluable in showing the potential for serious damage to our community if Measure U passes. Go Fort Bragg supports their campaign. We hope you will do the same.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 23, 2016
Adams, Ashworth, Barriga-Barrera
LEE ADAMS, Alameda/Ukiah. Assault on police officer.
CHASE ASHWORTH, Eureka/Ukiah. DUI.
JOSE BARRIGA-BARRERA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
Ellis, Golyer, Guerrero
EDWARD ELLIS, Hopland. Domestic assault.
PAUL GOLYER, Ukiah. Failure to appear, failure to pay, probation revocation.
SHAYLA GUERRERO, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, receipt of stolen property, controlled substance, suspended license, probation revocation.
Huff, Lusk, Meza, Mulvihill
KYLE HUFF, Bellevue, Ohio/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
JASON LUSK, Gualala. Failure to appear.
SERGIO MEZA, Willits. Pot cultivation, sale.
CHARLES MULVIHILL, Redwood Valley. Suspended license, probation revocation.
Philliber, Sparkman, Styles
CYNTHIA PHILLIBER, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
KRISTOPHER SPARKMAN, Boonville. Under influence, court order violation, failure to appear.
REBECCA STYLES, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
Toney, Travis, Vantreese
TAMMY TONEY, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault.
KENDALL TRAVIS, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
WILLIAM VANTREESE, Ukiah. Drunk in pubic. (Frequent flyer.)
A READER WRITES
Interesting timing on Todd Walton's most recent essay "Bernie Blackout" about how the corporate media continues to ignore the candidacy of Mr Sanders.
After reading Todd's piece, I remembered that a number of primaries took place yesterday, so I navigated to the New York Times homepage (silly me) to find out how all that went. The Brussels Bombing business held top spot, of course (corporate media loves the Terror), but right underneath that I spotted the headline "Clinton and Trump Win Decisively in the Arizona Primaries." Bummer, I thought.
But when I probed a little deeper (the search engine Bing provides a nice page on Primary results) I came away with a much different impression.
On Tuesday, March 22, three states held Democratic primaries: Arizona, Idaho, and Utah. Bernie won two of those states by huge margins (almost 80% of the vote) while Hillary took one, Arizona, with less than 60%. The total delegate count for those three primaries: Sanders 73, Clinton 55. A mathematician might conclude that Bernie did pretty well yesterday.
And now, this coming Saturday, March 26, three more Democratic primaries are lined up — Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington — with Bernie the predicted winner of them all. We are feeling the Bern, without any help from the corporate media.
CALIFORNIA PRISONER COUNT DROPS, SPENDING INCREASES
by Dan Walters
Americans of a certain age may remember the term “peace dividend.”
It was uttered after the Vietnam War ended in the 1970s and the Cold War ended in the early 1990s — referring to an anticipated decrease in military spending.
Something of a “peace dividend” was promised — or at least assumed — when California, acceding to federal court pressure, sharply reduced its prison population.
Forget about it.
California went from having about 20,000 prison inmates during Jerry Brown’s first stint as governor to more than 160,000 when he returned to the office three decades later, and spending on prisons had jumped twentyfold.
By Brown’s return, we were spending as much on prisons, about $10 billion a year, as the entire general fund budget during his first governorship.
Although the state had built 22 new prisons during his absence, the system was severely overcrowded and federal judges were demanding reduction.
Initially, Brown resisted, but after the US Supreme Court acted in 2011, he embraced “realignment,” which pays counties to handle more newly convicted low-level felons, reducing prison inmates by attrition.
The inmate load declined sharply in just a few years, from 166,000 to 129,000, according to the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor. Realignment was the major driver, along with more lenient parole policies, but voters also approved Proposition 47 in 2014, lowering penalties for some low-level felonies, which has meant 4,000-plus fewer inmates.
One might think that reducing the prison population by 22% would also sharply reduce the state’s outlays for what is called — perhaps laughingly — “corrections.”
Initially, according to Taylor, it did have that effect, lowering prison costs by about $1 billion, or 10%. But all of those savings — and then some — went to counties to pay for realignment, and after the initial decline, the state’s prison costs began to climb and have jumped by nearly $2 billion since 2012-13 — not counting an increase in what’s paid to counties, now $1.1 billion.
Therefore, true prison spending approaches $12 billion a year now, and the average spent on each state inmate has soared to more than $63,000 a year. Prison officials attribute the increase largely to salary increases and federal court pressure to improve inmate care.
The prison system has about 62,000 authorized positions now (but only about 54,000 jobs actually filled). That’s down from 68,000 in 2010, but the payroll, just under $5 billion a year, is virtually unchanged.
Meanwhile, Taylor’s office and Brown’s Department of Finance jointly told voters in their official summaries of Proposition 47 that “Net state criminal justice savings … could reach the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”
The savings were to be spent on drug treatment, juvenile delinquency prevention and other programs to reduce incarceration.
But when the Department of Finance made its savings estimate for the budget this year, it was just $29.3 million, with a projection that it could reach $57 million in 2017-18.
Taylor responded that the number should be much higher, at least $135 million, and advocates for drug treatment and other services were outraged.
The discrepancy was aired last week in a state budget hearing, with both sides defending their numbers, but the issue remains unresolved.
Bottom line: inmates down 22%, costs up nearly 20%. Such a deal.
(Courtesy, the Sacramento Bee)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
C’mon guys — don’t all of us understand that the entire religion “thing” is business?
Catholic, Protestant, Fundamentalist, Hindu, Mohammedan, Hebraic, Buddhist, Voodoo, Zoroastrian, ……..ad nauseum.
A very rare man who saw right through the crap said the following:
“In the Bullshit Department, a businessman can’t hold a candle to a clergyman. ‘Cause I gotta tell you the truth, folks. When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims: religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told.
” Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man — living in the sky — who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!
But He loves you.
He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”
A WORLD WAR HAS BEGUN: BREAK THE SILENCE
by John Pilger
I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, “Where is that?” If I offer a clue by referring to “Bikini”, they say, “You mean the swimsuit.”
Few seem aware that the bikini swimsuit was named to celebrate the nuclear explosions that destroyed Bikini island. Sixty-six nuclear devices were exploded by the United States in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958 — the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs every day for twelve years.
Bikini is silent today, mutated and contaminated. Palm trees grow in a strange grid formation. Nothing moves. There are no birds. The headstones in the old cemetery are alive with radiation. My shoes registered “unsafe” on a Geiger counter.
Standing on the beach, I watched the emerald green of the Pacific fall away into a vast black hole. This was the crater left by the hydrogen bomb they called “Bravo”. The explosion poisoned people and their environment for hundreds of miles, perhaps forever.
On my return journey, I stopped at Honolulu airport and noticed an American magazine called Women’s Health. On the cover was a smiling woman in a bikini swimsuit, and the headline: “You, too, can have a bikini body.” A few days earlier, in the Marshall Islands, I had interviewed women who had very different “bikini bodies”; each had suffered thyroid cancer and other life-threatening cancers.
Unlike the smiling woman in the magazine, all of them were impoverished: the victims and guinea pigs of a rapacious superpower that is today more dangerous than ever.
I relate this experience as a warning and to interrupt a distraction that has consumed so many of us. The founder of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, described this phenomenon as “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the habits and opinions” of democratic societies. He called it an “invisible government”.
How many people are aware that a world war has begun? At present, it is a war of propaganda, of lies and distraction, but this can change instantaneously with the first mistaken order, the first missile.
In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was all fake. He was lying.
The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.
A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.”
In the last eighteen months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two — led by the United States — is taking place along Russia’s western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.
Ukraine – once part of the Soviet Union – has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian speaking minority.
This is seldom news in the West, or it is inverted to suppress the truth.
In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — next door to Russia – the US military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world’s second nuclear power is met with silence in the West.
What makes the prospect of nuclear war even more dangerous is a parallel campaign against China.
Seldom a day passes when China is not elevated to the status of a “threat”. According to Admiral Harry Harris, the US Pacific commander, China is “building a great wall of sand in the South China Sea”.
What he is referring to is China building airstrips in the Spratly Islands, which are the subject of a dispute with the Philippines – a dispute without priority until Washington pressured and bribed the government in Manila and the Pentagon launched a propaganda campaign called “freedom of navigation”.
What does this really mean? It means freedom for American warships to patrol and dominate the coastal waters of China. Try to imagine the American reaction if Chinese warships did the same off the coast of California.
I made a film called The War You Don’t See, in which I interviewed distinguished journalists in America and Britain: reporters such as Dan Rather of CBS, Rageh Omar of the BBC, David Rose of the Observer.
All of them said that had journalists and broadcasters done their job and questioned the propaganda that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction; had the lies of George W. Bush and Tony Blair not been amplified and echoed by journalists, the 2003 invasion of Iraq might not have happened, and hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today.
The propaganda laying the ground for a war against Russia and/or China is no different in principle. To my knowledge, no journalist in the Western “mainstream” — a Dan Rather equivalent, say – asks why China is building airstrips in the South China Sea.
The answer ought to be glaringly obvious. The United States is encircling China with a network of bases, with ballistic missiles, battle groups, nuclear-armed bombers.
This lethal arc extends from Australia to the islands of the Pacific, the Marianas and the Marshalls and Guam, to the Philippines, Thailand, Okinawa, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India. America has hung a noose around the neck of China. This is not news. Silence by media; war by media.
In 2015, in high secrecy, the US and Australia staged the biggest single air-sea military exercise in recent history, known as Talisman Sabre. Its aim was to rehearse an Air-Sea Battle Plan, blocking sea lanes, such as the Straits of Malacca and the Lombok Straits, that cut off China’s access to oil, gas and other vital raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.
In the circus known as the American presidential campaign, Donald Trump is being presented as a lunatic, a fascist. He is certainly odious; but he is also a media hate figure. That alone should arouse our scepticism.
Trump’s views on migration are grotesque, but no more grotesque than those of David Cameron. It is not Trump who is the Great Deporter from the United States, but the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.
According to one prodigious liberal commentator, Trump is “unleashing the dark forces of violence” in the United States. Unleashing them?
This is the country where toddlers shoot their mothers and the police wage a murderous war against black Americans. This is the country that has attacked and sought to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and bombed from Asia to the Middle East, causing the deaths and dispossession of millions of people.
No country can equal this systemic record of violence. Most of America’s wars (almost all of them against defenceless countries) have been launched not by Republican presidents but by liberal Democrats: Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.
In 1947, a series of National Security Council directives described the paramount aim of American foreign policy as “a world substantially made over in [America’s] own image”. The ideology was messianic Americanism. We were all Americans. Or else. Heretics would be converted, subverted, bribed, smeared or crushed.
Donald Trump is a symptom of this, but he is also a maverick. He says the invasion of Iraq was a crime; he doesn’t want to go to war with Russia and China. The danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton. She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted “exceptionalism” is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.
As presidential election day draws near, Clinton will be hailed as the first female president, regardless of her crimes and lies – just as Barack Obama was lauded as the first black president and liberals swallowed his nonsense about “hope”. And the drool goes on.
Described by the Guardian columnist Owen Jones as “funny, charming, with a coolness that eludes practically every other politician”, Obama the other day sent drones to slaughter 150 people in Somalia. He kills people usually on Tuesdays, according to the New York Times, when he is handed a list of candidates for death by drone. So cool.
In the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran with nuclear weapons. As Secretary of State under Obama, she participated in the overthrow of the democratic government of Honduras. Her contribution to the destruction of Libya in 2011 was almost gleeful. When the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, was publicly sodomised with a knife – a murder made possible by American logistics – Clinton gloated over his death: “We came, we saw, he died.”
One of Clinton’s closest allies is Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of State, who has attacked young women for not supporting “Hillary”. This is the same Madeleine Albright who infamously celebrated on TV the death of half a million Iraqi children as “worth it”.
Among Clinton’s biggest backers are the Israel lobby and the arms companies that fuel the violence in the Middle East. She and her husband have received a fortune from Wall Street. And yet, she is about to be ordained the women’s candidate, to see off the evil Trump, the official demon. Her supporters include distinguished feminists: the likes of Gloria Steinem in the US and Anne Summers in Australia.
A generation ago, a post-modern cult now known as “identity politics” stopped many intelligent, liberal-minded people examining the causes and individuals they supported — such as the fakery of Obama and Clinton; such as bogus progressive movements like Syriza in Greece, which betrayed the people of that country and allied with their enemies.
Self absorption, a kind of “me-ism”, became the new zeitgeist in privileged western societies and signaled the demise of great collective movements against war, social injustice, inequality, racism and sexism.
Today, the long sleep may be over. The young are stirring again. Gradually. The thousands in Britain who supported Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader are part of this awakening – as are those who rallied to support Senator Bernie Sanders.
In Britain last week, Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally, his shadow treasurer John McDonnell, committed a Labour government to pay off the debts of piratical banks and, in effect, to continue so-called austerity.
In the US, Bernie Sanders has promised to support Clinton if or when she’s nominated. He, too, has voted for America’s use of violence against countries when he thinks it’s “right”. He says Obama has done “a great job”.
In Australia, there is a kind of mortuary politics, in which tedious parliamentary games are played out in the media while refugees and Indigenous people are persecuted and inequality grows, along with the danger of war. The government of Malcolm Turnbull has just announced a so-called defence budget of $195 billion that is a drive to war. There was no debate. Silence.
What has happened to the great tradition of popular direct action, unfettered to parties? Where is the courage, imagination and commitment required to begin the long journey to a better, just and peaceful world? Where are the dissidents in art, film, the theatre, literature?
Where are those who will shatter the silence? Or do we wait until the first nuclear missile is fired?
(This is an edited version of an address by John Pilger at the University of Sydney, entitled A World War Has Begun. John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
SCIENTISTS URGE FEDS TO CONTINUE FRACKING MORATORIUM OFF CA COAST
by Dan Bacher
As oil companies were fracking like crazy off the Southern California Coast, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to created so-called "marine protected areas in Southern California from 2009 to 2012. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)
In one of the biggest environmental conflicts of interest in California history, Reheis-Boyd led a process that created faux "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil spills, offshore oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering. At the same time that Reheis-Boyd was leading the campaign to expand fracking and offshore drilling in California, state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates praised the process that she oversaw as "open, transparent and inclusive" when it was anything but.
The "marine protected areas" created under the leadership of Reheis-Boyd and other corporate operatives not only fail to protect the ocean, but they are based on incomplete and terminally flawed science and violate the traditional gathering and fishing rights of the Yurok Tribe and other North Coast Tribes. The Brown administration "completed" the "network" of flawed "marine protected areas" on December 19, 2013, when the North Coast MPAs went into effect. (https://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/)
The suspicions of Tribal leaders, fishermen and grassroots environmentalists that there was something very "fishy" about the failure of the oil lobbyist-overseen MLPA Initiative to protect the ocean from oil drilling and pollution were confirmed in the summer of 2013 when an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act investigation revealed that oil companies had fracked at least 200 wells in state and federal waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and in the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel.
"Hey, nobody is happier than I am about the MPA network off our coast, and nobody wants to see them succeed more either," said Joey Racano, Director of the Ocean Outfall Group, in December 2013 in a comment on the North Coast Journal website. "But there are fatal flaws.
"As Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Panel during the final important phase (implementation), Catherine Reheis-Boyd absolutely must have known offshore fracking was going on with no public knowledge or input. As President of the Western States Petroleum Association, it isn't possible that she didn't know. So she steered the MLPA process clear of the subject, and now we have a grave threat to all State Marine Reserves," said Racano. (http://www.northcoastjournal.com/humboldt/joey-racano/Profile?oid=2449818)
Since the extent of offshore fracking in federal waters has been revealed, representatives of fishing groups, indigenous organizations and environmental groups have pushed for a fracking ban on the California coast.
However, the Obama administration, like the oil industry-captured Jerry Brown administration, has supported the expansion of fracking and other extreme oil drilling techniques in California. In February, the federal government released a draft proposal to lift the offshore fracking moratorium, which had been put in place under a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and Environmental Defense Center.
"Interior’s preliminary environmental assessment proposes allowing oil companies to frack and discharge their wastewater — including toxic fracking chemicals — into the ocean," according to a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity.
The opposition to environmentally destructive fracking in California's marine waters is building rapidly. On March 22, over 30 prominent scientists urged the federal government to continue the moratorium on fracking in federal waters off the California coast and to prepare a comprehensive environmental impact statement for the controversial oil-industry technique.
The letter, signed by ocean and climate scientists including Drs. Sylvia Earle, Carl Safina, Michael Mann and risk assessment engineer Dr. Robert Bea, counsels the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to consider the documented risks of hydraulic fracturing and significant data gaps on offshore well stimulation. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/offshore_fracking/pdfs/16_03_22_Offshore_fracking_scientist_sign-on_letter.pdf)
"We write as scientists to urge you to conduct a comprehensive environmental review of the risks of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), acidizing, and other well-stimulation techniques off the California coast," the scientists wrote. "We strongly advise you to continue the current moratorium on offshore well stimulation in California until a comprehensive review and scientific studies demonstrate that fracking and acidizing do not threaten wildlife, the marine environment, coastal communities, and the climate."
"Scientific studies have documented that fracking and acidizing pose a wide range of risks to human communities and ecosystems. Documented threats include air and water pollution from toxic and carcinogenic chemicals used during well stimulation, climate disruption particularly due to methane leakage, increased earthquake risks, and significant harms to species and ecosystems from habitat loss and degradation, pollution, habitat avoidance, and human disturbance," they said.
In another letter sent yesterday to the Department of the Interior, 128 health, environmental, indigenous, labor and business organizations urged the federal government to ban offshore fracking. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/offshore_fracking/pdfs/NGO_letter_re_offshore_fracking_2016_.pdf)
“Given the known environmental and health hazards of fracking, as well as the information gaps of offshore fracking, we ask you to prohibit oil companies from fracking and acidizing wells off the California coast,” the letter states.
The letter is signed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Food and Water Watch, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Protection Information Center, (EPIC), Flycasters, Inc. of San Jose, CA, Idle No More SF Bay, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the Surfrider Foundation, League of United Latin American Citizens, and Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, Environmental Caucus, California Democratic Party, among many others.
The letter explains the three major ways that offshore fracking causes environmental harm:
"First, oil companies dump their wastewater mixed with fracking chemicals into the ocean. Many of these chemicals are toxic to people and animals and pose a threat to California’s marine life.
Second, offshore fracking brings the same risks as onshore fracking - which has a bad track record of spills, accidents and earthquakes, with the added risks of the ocean environment.
Third, fracking off the California coast will intensify offshore oil and gas development. Increased offshore drilling deepens our climate crisis and impedes our nation’s ability to limit global warming to 1.5°C."
The letters come just before the March 23 end of the public-comment period on the proposal to resume offshore fracking. After the close of comments the government could resume permitting offshore fracking for oil and gas off the California coast "at any time," according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Offshore fracking, an environmentally devastating oil extraction technique that threatens fish, marine mammals, invertebrates and the entire marine ecosystem, blasts vast volumes of water mixed with toxic chemicals beneath the seafloor, at pressures high enough to fracture rocks. It is about time that both the Obama and Brown administrations support a permanent ban on fracking off the California coast.
At the same time, it is important that we pressure the Brown administration to fully enforce the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999. That means protecting California's "marine protected areas" from pollution, oil spills, corporate aquaculture, military testing and other human impacts to the ocean besides fishing and gathering.
The oil and gas industry is the most powerful corporate lobby in California and the West. Big Oil spent a record $22 million to lobby state officials in 2015 - and the Western State Petroleum Association spent the most, a record $11 million. The massive gusher of money ensured that no bills opposed by the industry made it out of the Legislature. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2016/02/11/california-oil-lobby-spent-a-record-22-million-in-2015)
In related news, a new study in the Journal of Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry reveals that oil companies use dozens of extremely hazardous chemicals to acidize wells in California, raising water contamination and public-safety concerns, (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/03/22/18784399.php)
THE UNIVERSE WITHIN FOR TEENS
Saturday, April 16th 2-4 pm
Our journey through the universe will begin with a screening of the classic 9-minute film by Ray & Charles Eames: Powers of Ten, an illustration of “the universe as an arena of both continuity and change, of everyday picnics and cosmic mystery.” After the film, there will be a discussion & Q&A on fractals, exponents & scale with attention to human biology. Using visual aids, teens will learn about fractals & grow more connected to the universe.
After the discussion, teens will have the opportunity to make their own working telescopes. This event is designed for teens, grades 6-12.
Reservations are requested for teens wanting to make telescopes. To make your reservation or for more information, call the Library at 463-4490.
This event is sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library and is part of Ukiah Library’s Explore Space, Our Solar System and Beyond exhibit.
Explore Space, Our Solar System and Beyond, a traveling exhibition for libraries, is part of the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) led by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. Exhibit partners include the American Library Association, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Afterschool Alliance. Explore Earth is supported through a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Melissa Eleftherion Carr
Teen & Adult Services Librarian
105 N. Main Street, Ukiah CA 95482
QUILLS is hilariously irreverent!
Quills, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright, continues this weekend on the Mendocino Theatre Company stage with performances on Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm.
Tickets are available at the box office, 707-937-4477, or online at mendocinotheatre.org
Find our more about this outrageous comedy about the Marquis de Sade HERE mendocinotheatre.org/quills.
Hope to see you at the theatre!
IN ADDITION TO OUR REGULAR FULL SCHEDULES of events for family members of all ages, we are proud to announce the Family preview of the Explore Space: Our Solar System and Beyond exhibit on Friday, April 8th from 4-7 pm. Ukiah Library is the only California library among the 14 recipients of the exhibit grant. We are planning an Grand Opening of the Exhibit for Adults on Friday, April 15th. Martin Bradley, President of the Friends of the Ukiah Observatory, will speak on the history and future of our very own Latitude Observatory. More information on the Grand Opening Event, sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library, will follow.
Many additional events are planned for children, teens, families and adults.
Anne Shirako, Branch Librarian
Mendocino County Library
105 N Main St., Ukiah CA 95482
THE YOUTH PROJECT IS NOW ACCEPTING SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS FOR GRADUATING SENIORS OF MENDOCINO COUNTY.
The Mendocino County Youth Project, through its private non-profit arm Mendocino Family and Youth Services, is pleased to announce the annual Jim Levine Legacy Scholarship is open for applications now. The $500 scholarships are given in recognition of a student’s personal journey and achievement towards taking steps into adulthood.
Students interested in learning more about the Jim Levine Legacy Scholarship can obtain application packets from: 1) their high school counseling departments; 2) by calling MFYS/MCYP at 707-463-4915; or 3) by going online at www.mcyp.org The application deadline is April 15, 2016.
Individuals and organizations wishing to make a contribution to the Jim Levine Legacy Scholarship Fund may send their tax-deductible check to: Mendocino Family and Youth Services (MFYS), 776 S. State Street, Suite 107, Ukiah, CA, 95842.
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICE is accepting applications for anticipated vacancies on the following Boards or Commissions:
- Archaeological Commission of Mendocino County. (1) Archaeologist
- Area Agency on Aging - Governing Board. (1) Mendocino County Supervisor or Designee
- County Commission on Medical Care (Partnership Health Plan Governing Board). (1) Director
- First 5 Mendocino. (1) County Representative
- In-Home Supportive Services Advisory Council. (1) Older Adult/Dependent Adult Advocate
- Mendocino County Planning Commission. (1) At-Large - Agricultural Representative
- Mendocino County Resource Conservation District. (3) Long-Term Director (3 Seats Available)
- Policy Council on Children and Youth. (1) Member #12 A Representative of a Private Nonprofit Corporation Serving Children and Youth
- Workforce Development Board. (4) Business Labor Optional Mandatory
If you are interested in serving on this Board or Commission, contact your District Supervisor, or the Executive Office, at 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010, Ukiah, CA 95482 (707) 463-4441. LAST DATE FOR FILING: March 30, 2016, or until filled.
CARMEL J. ANGELO, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors