Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, July 11, 2017
by AVA News Service, July 10, 2017
MORE HEADS TO ROLL?
Jul 13, 2017 - Anderson Valley Unified School District Board Meeting July 13, 2017 at 6:30pm Anderson Valley High School Cafeteria 18200 Mountain View Rd Boonville, Ca
6:35 P.M - Closed Session - Discussion/Action
Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release (Gov. Code 54957) (Board May Retire to Closed Session to Consider This Matter)
Consideration and Possible Action to Create Board Advisory Committee for Budget
Consideration of Modulars vs. Outdoor Physical Education Space
(Plus reports from Superintendent and High School Principal)
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY CARE-A-VAN will be in Anderson Valley on Monday, July 17, at the Grange in Philo. Spay & neuter surgeries are by appointment only. Please call in advance: 707/888-7698. Rabies vaccine will be at cost: $6.00. Other vaccinations are $10-$13 each and do not need an appointment. Stop by the Care-A-Van for vaccines, heartworm testing, feline combo testing and microchipping, 10am to 2pm. “Working to save lives.” Sponsored by Anderson Valley Animal Rescue.
WHAT KIND OF BIRD AM I?
(Photo by Ben Anderson)
THIS WEEK AT BLUE MEADOW FARM: Walla Walla Onions, Santa Rosa Plums, Strawberries, Corno di Toro, Gypsy & Bell Peppers, Zucchini & Culinary Herbs, First Cherry, Early Girl & Heirloom Tomatoes, a few Sunflowers & Eggplant (late, late season!). 3301 Holmes Ranch Road, Philo 95466 (707) 895-2071.
SAD NEWS from Butte County. Sunday, Laurie Michael Muchowski and her husband Russell lost their home to the rampaging Wall Fire. Laurie, a 1986 graduate of Anderson Valley High School, is the daughter of prominent local Democrats Val and Stephen Muchowski of the Holmes Ranch. Laurie’s sister Mary is organizing help for the couple via a GoFundMe account.
KEEP YOUR DOG out of it whatever it is. The ominous-looking, greenish sludge we see at the convergence of Anderson Creek and the Navarro might be the toxic cyano-bacteria, or blue green algae.
The internet tells us that “Cyanobacteria can expand into a harmful algal bloom under certain environmental conditions that allow it to take over other algae. Some of these conditions include too much sunlight and warmer temperatures, calm water, and excess nutrients. Once a harmful algal bloom grows, it may last for a few hours or weeks.” Our now annual visitations seem to occur from a combination of low flows and chemical run-off from vineyards.
SAY CHEESE! Learn to make it, too. The Farm Bureau’s cheese-making workshop is this Thursday (July 13) at Pennyroyal Farmstead right here in Boomsville, 2-4:30pm. The FB further informs us, “Part of the Farm Bureau’s Homestead Series, Mendocino County Farm Bureau is partnering with Pennyroyal Farmstead to bring this class to our members and community. We will begin with a tour of the farm and creamery. Then we will be taught how cheese is made. Finally we will finish with a demo of recipes. Join us for this tasty afternoon activity.”
RONNIE JAMES of Woodlands Wildlife on tracking mountain lions:
Woodlands Wildlife would like to start recording mountain lion sightings. I've got a map of the coast, I want to put colored pins in and dates for sightings. There should be interesting data in about a year as to where their territories are, and when they are in which part of that territory. I'll take info from the postings on the list serve, but if you have a sighting but don't want to post, you can also email WoodlandsWildlife@mcn.org or Ronnie@mcn.org Try to describe the location of the sight — i.e., an address, or mile marker, and give the date.
THE STATE’S PERV roster may be poised for a revamp. The problem with it in its present form is that it treats all sex offenses the same when they are not the same or anywhere near the same. Everyone agrees that the violent offenders, and the repeat offenders, should be listed forever. But there are lots of people who should be taken off. A violent rapist is not the same as a 19-year-old who experienced mutually consenting carnal relations with a 15-year-old twenty years ago. And lots of people like this are on the list for life. Stay tuned as SB421 wends its way through the legislative process.
THE MAN who jumped off the Noyo bridge last Friday just after 2pm seems to have gone over the side deliberately, but was then seen trying to swim to shore. Seeing that the would-be suicide had changed his mind, a still anonymous Samaritan entered the water and pulled Donald James Neubauer, 70, to shore where CPR efforts failed to revive him. Captain Van Patten of the Sheriff’s Department described the dead man as “a 70-year-old male who’d lived in Fort Bragg for a month prior to his death.”
UKIAH POLICE have pointed the finger of suspicion at a pair of transients as the likeliest suspects in a series of arson fires along the railroad tracks that bisect the town. The abandoned tracks function as a kind of alternative highway for the small army of homeless who camp and commute along them to central area stores and to Plowshares where many transients take their daily meals.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I got rid of my fleas by wearing one of those cones. Uncomfortable as heck, and not easy to be called 'Bugle Head' every day by the neighbor dogs, but it worked.”
FULL STEAM AHEAD, CAPTAIN!
(Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo’s report)
MENDO MAN ROBBED ON CREST TRAIL
Los Angeles — Add armed robbery to the threats facing hikers this year on the Pacific Crest Trail.
A section of the popular trail running from Mexico to Canada remained closed Monday as Kern County SWAT team members joined deputies to search for two armed men who robbed rescuers trying to aid a distressed hiker.
The incident Saturday in the remote Piute Mountains about 85 miles (137 kilometers) north of Los Angeles occurred after hiker Charles Brandenburg became dehydrated in scorching heat and activated a rescue device that allowed him to send text messages to authorities.
Hikers trying to complete the 2,650-mile (4,265-kilometer) trail have encountered several challenges from an exceptionally wet winter that left a persistent snowpack and has made for arduous plodding and presented several hazards. Several hikers have been injured, and others have reported close calls scaling icy passes and fording raging rivers.
Brandenburg had left the trail for three weeks in June so the snowpack would melt more before he arrived in the rugged high Sierra Nevada. However, the delay meant he was hiking through extreme desert heat in the past week and with diminishing options for water along the way.
"I needed water really bad," Brandenburg said. "I undercut it. It was a mistake on my part."
After hiking through heat as high as 110 degrees (43 Celsius), he became extremely dehydrated Friday and began dry heaving and cramping.
He awoke at 4 a.m. Saturday to beat the heat, but only had about a cup of water left and was nine miles short of his next water stop. He only got a few miles before he called for help.
Four volunteers with the Kern County Search and Rescue team set out on foot to bring Brandenburg water and became separated, Sgt. Zack Bittle said. One pair turned down the wrong trail, where they encountered the robbers who stole their radios.
The rescuers were unharmed, but they were followed by the gunmen as they hiked back toward the Pacific Crest Trail, Bittle said. Eventually, the two men ran off.
It's extremely rare for rescuers to be assaulted, but it's not unheard of. Last year, a volunteer rescuer searching for a missing hiker was shot and wounded near the South Yuba River in Northern California.
While Brandenburg waited for help to arrive, other hikers showed up and gave him some water and waited with him.
What he expected would take a couple hours turned into about a 12-hour ordeal as he learned by text message about the robbery and was told to stay put until a helicopter could airlift him and the others to safety.
Brandenburg, 55, of Mendocino, said one man hid in the sparse forest while they waited for help. But he and two others weren't sure how seriously to take the warning until the helicopter arrived and lowered a SWAT officer in camouflage to the ground.
"Then we knew it was real," he said. "It was really a trip. It was like a movie."
In addition to searching for the armed men, deputies were trying to determine Monday if the trail could be reopened.
Brandenburg decided to move to higher ground, hoping to hitch a ride to Kennedy Meadows in the Southern Sierra to resume his trek.
(Brian Melley, Associated Press)
* * *
ED NOTE: Brandenburg’s Facebook post afterwards:
Hi all, I had dehydrated, couldn't make it to water, no others on the trail past 2 days. Search and rescue was going to bring me water and 4 more hikers passed kicking me a liter so I was not so bad. Sheriff msg’d me that they were robbed!! He told us they were sending swat and taking us out. We got out at 9pm or so and are now in Lake Isabella rehydrating a little. The trail is closed and don't walk it past 566, you will probably be turned back by sheriff.
RE: THE FIRST STEP to overcoming addiction is to recognize it. Then, get into a support group. In my experience, this is true for some, not for others. I drank quite heavily for 20 years, beginning at age 19 (well, I got good and drunk once in high school). If it contained alcohol, I drank it, the cheaper the better (the Safeway house brand of rum was great when mixed with Hawaiian Punch…). Also smoked grass (though avoided driving after smoking it because it made me drive too slowly yet think I was speeding) when it was available, and tried cocaine a couple of times in the early 80s, before crack cocaine, (did nothing more for me than allow me to drink all night and awaken with twice the hangover). I started smoking tobacco at age 13 and smoked 2+ packs of cigarettes per day after graduating from high school until the last 3 or so years (bless Allah for American Indian smoke shops). Since then I’ve reduced my smoking to about half a pack a day. I doubt that I go lower than that, but there are plenty of other poisons in the environment out to get me despite all the focus on tobacco. Plus, I have no desire to live forever. Maybe if I could do it without ageing, but hanging around as ones body deteriorates ever more quickly has no appeal to me at all. To me, that’s not living; it’s merely existing. By the mid 80s, I started seriously considering quitting drinking, so I went to a few AA meetings. They completely disappointed me because of the religious tone (which they claim isn’t what they do, but they do), and, more importantly, the requirement that one accept the notion of being unable to whip the problem on ones own without help from some “higher being”, and that one should expect to be dependent on a sort of “buddy system” in order to stay off booze. The dependency-on-others and the 12-Step program lines thoroughly galled me. I accept that such systems work for many, but they don’t work for all, and I have my own pet ideas on the reason why. I also considered rehab, which was covered by my health policy. After researching what was involved, I decided “no thanks” to that as well. Confinement for a month had no appeal for me. One evening, in early 1989, I made a very stupid choice (one of many). During the early evening I, as usual, had been drinking quite heavily at my favorite bar. I managed to get home, but then decided to go back and drink some more. On the way back I got busted. About a month later, I was once more driving home from the bar, plastered, and it hit me that I was acting very stupidly, that I was apt, like so many others, to get a second DUI before my first one was resolved in court. Luckily, I made it home. That was the last time I drank until 2003. I experienced no withdrawal symptoms and found that it was easy not to drink. Hell, I didn’t throw out my booze until I retired and moved east. I had friends who drank after all, but I wasn’t tempted to do so myself. My sister and her husband got my unopened 1.5-liter bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold, that I had owned for over a decade.. In 2003, I decided to see if it was possible for me to drink “moderately”. I did so at night, at home, no driving. I learned in a few months that I in fact could not drink moderately, and that I was drinking as heavily as before, so I quit. Again, for me it was easy. My conclusion is that when one is ready to quit drinking, one does, and one can. It worked for me.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 10, 2017
Alvarez, Beacham-Vanderpool, Curtis
TRAVIS ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, vandalism, firearm discharge.
PARIS BEACHAM-VANDERPOOL, Covelo. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, disorderly conduct-alcohol.
RICKIE CURTIS, Willits. Willful cruelty to child, battery, probation revocation.
Galindo, Gressgott, Joaquin, Macedo
THOMAS GALINDO, Ukiah. Petty theft, vandalism, probation revocation.
BENJAMIN GRESSGOTT, Redwood Valley. DUI, suspended license, possession of concentrated cannabis.
LAWRENCE JOAQUIN, Covelo. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
JAY MACEDO, Sebastopol/Leggett. DUI.
Papke, Pedigo, Velarde-Osuna
WAYNE PAPKE JR., East Meadow, New York/Willits. DUI.
RONALD PEDIGO, Ukiah. Parole violation.
FEDERICO VELARDE-OSUNA, Gualala. Domestic abuse.
WE’RE GOOD PEOPLE, REALLY WE ARE!
by James Kunstler
The disgrace of America’s putative intellectual class is nearly complete as it shoves the polity further into dysfunction and toward collapse. These are the people Nassim Taleb refers to as “intellectuals-yet-idiots.” Big questions loom over this dynamic: How did the thinking class of America sink into this slough of thoughtlessness? And why – what is motivating them?
One path to understanding it can be found in this sober essay by Neal Devers, The Overton Bubble, published two years ago on TheFuturePrimaeval.net — a friend turned me on to it the other day (dunno how I missed it). The title is a reference to the phenomenon known as the Overton Window. Wikipedia summarizes it:
The Overton Window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the public will accept…. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton (1960–2003), a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy….
Devers refines the definition:
The Overton Window is a concept in political sociology referring to the range of acceptable opinions that can be held by respectable people. “Respectable” of course means that the subject can be integrated with polite society. Respectability is a strong precondition on the ability to have open influence in the mainstream.
This raises another question: who exactly is in this corps of “respectable people” who set the parameters of acceptable thought? Primarily, the mainstream media — The New York Times, The WashPo, CNN, etc. — plus the bureaucratic functionaries of the permanent government bureaucracy, a.k.a. the Deep State, who make and execute policy, along with the universities which educate the “respectable people” (the thinking class) into the prevailing dogmas and shibboleths of the day, and finally the think tanks and foundations that pay professional “experts” to retail their ideas.
The Overton Window can be viewed as a mechanism of political control, demonizing anyone who departs from the consensus of respectable thought, and especially if they express their heresies in public speech. This has consequences.
The trouble with the Overton Window as a mechanism of political control, and with politicization of speech and thought in general, is that it causes significant collateral damage on the ability of your society to think clearly. If some thoughts are unthinkable and unspeakable, and the truth happens in some case to fall outside of polite consensus, then your ruling elite and their society will run into situations they simply can’t handle…. An unwise political elite is one incapable of thinking clearly about their strategic situation, acting in concert, or sticking to a plan…. An insecure political elite is one which has either no sufficient mechanisms of political power short of the politicization of speech and thought, or is faced by such powerful but somehow never decisively powerful enemies that they need to permanently escalate to a state of vigorous politicization of speech and thought. We can compare this state to “intellectual martial law” for its structural similarity to the physical-security equivalent.
We’re now living under that condition of “intellectual martial law.” The consequent degradation of thinking means that the polity can’t construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to it (or devise a plan for what to do about it). This is exactly the point where the Overton Window turns into an Overton Bubble, as described by Devers. The bubble comprises ideas that are assumed to be self-evident (though they actually aren’t) and notions that are potentially destructive of society, even suicidally so. Here is a partial list of the current dogmas and shibboleths inside today’s Overton Bubble:
- Russia hacked the election of 2016 (no evidence required).
- Russia (Vladimir Putin in particular) is bent on destroying the USA.
- All immigrants, legal or illegal, have equal status before the law.
- National borders are inconvenient, cruel, and obsolete.
- Western Civilization is a malign force in human history.
- Islam is “the religion of peace,” no matter how many massacres of “infidels” are carried out in its name.
- Men are a negative force in society.
- White men are especially negative.
- Brownie points given for behaviors under the rubric LBGTQN.
- All discussion about race problems and conflicts is necessarily racist.
- The hijab (head covering worn in public by some Muslim women) is a device of liberation for women.
- There should be a law against using the wrong personal pronoun for people who consider themselves neither men nor women (recently passed by the Canadian parliament).
- A unifying common culture is unnecessary in national life (anything goes).
- Colonizing Mars is a great solution to problems on Earth.
That list defines the general preoccupations of the thinking classes today — to the exclusion of other issues. Here is an alternative list of matters they are not generally concerned about or interested in:
- The energy quandary at the heart of our economic malaise.
- The enormous debt racked up to run society in the absence of affordable energy inputs.
- The dangerous interventions and manipulation in markets by unelected officials of the Federal Reserve.
- The extraordinary dysfunction of manipulated financial markets.
- The fragility of a banking system based on accounting fraud.
- The dysfunction and fragility of the American suburban living arrangement.
- The consequences of a catastrophic breakdown in the economy due to the above.
- The destruction of planetary ecology, threatening the continuation of the human race, and potentially all life.
Now, the question of motive. Why does the thinking class in America embrace ideas that are not necessarily, and surely not self-evidently, truthful, and even self-destructive? Because this class is dangerously insecure and perversely needs to insist on being right about its guiding dogmas and shibboleths at all costs. That is why so much of the behavior emanating from the thinking class amounts to virtue signaling — we are the good people on the side of what’s right, really we are! Of course, virtue signaling is just the new term for self-righteousness. There is also the issue of careerism. So many individuals are making a living at trafficking in, supporting, or executing policy based on these dogmas and shibboleths that they don’t dare depart from the Overton Bubble of permissible, received thought lest they sacrifice their status and incomes.
The thinking classes are also the leaders and foot-soldiers in American institutions. When they are unable or unwilling to think clearly, then you get a breakdown of authority, which leads to a breakdown of legitimacy. That’s exactly where we’re at today in our national politics — our ability to manage the polity.
Read Neal Devers’ excellent article, The Overton Bubble.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The monolith in “2001 A Space Odyssey” is the screen. Look at our obsession with the screen. Growing up I thought it was impossible for it to get worse, after all an adult born around my time will spend 10 full years of his or her life watching TV. Since I work on a computer all day every day, double that to 20 years. Since I also surf the web and have a cellphone, triple that to 30 years. 30 years of my life staring at a screen. I am waiting for a scene in a movie where someone goes crazy, like maybe in a Best Buy, and just takes a hammer to every screen in the place. Every TV, every monitor, every computer, every phone every last screen shattered. Like the famous scene in “Network.”
WEED FEED: Stop Blowing Yourselves Up: Solvent-Free Dab Machines at Walmart
WOODLANDS WILDLIFE has a baby raccoon who needs a ride to Humboldt Wildlife in Eureka if anyone is going that way and will arrive before 4 in the afternoon any time this week. It will come in a secure pet crate, and must be in a dog-free environment inside the vehicle (not the bed of a pickup). It's a little baby, and they are able to raise it with more baby raccoons so it grows up knowing it's a raccoon. We do not have facilities to raise mammals past the little-baby stage here. Ronnie@mcn.org 707-937-2014
Ferrous Cement Cistern Workshop: Learn how to design and build a cement water tank from start to finish.
Date: July 22nd and 23rd Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Location: Sustainable Technology House – Mendocino College Ukiah Campus, 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah
Please join us for this 2-day workshop to finish the ferrous cement water tank at the Sustainable Technology (SST) House and learn to harvest, design for, and use rainwater. Set yourself up for success and prepare for next winter’s rains, a single storm can fill your tank.
This weekend-long workshop will engage participants in learning how to design and install a rainwater catchment system. Come ready to get dirty with hands-on training as you help build a 900-gallon cistern to be connected to the existing rainwater catchment system at the Mendocino College Sustainable Technology House.
Led by experienced tank builders Anna Birkas and Peter Field, the course will take you through the steps of connecting a cistern to an existing catchment system, designing and installing the plumbing to catch the roof water, and applying ferrous cement to the inside of the cistern that is currently under construction.
As part of the Mendocino Jumpstart Integrated Water Plan at Mendocino College, these classes offer opportunities to learn advanced skills in the growing field of water conservation, and provide support to further develop water resources curricula at the College.
The Sustainable Technology (SST) Program at Mendocino College, directed by Jen Riddell, provides hands on training in construction, plumbing and electrical, with a special view towards the sustainable link to the community, economy, and environment. The rainwater tank and catchment system will be connected to the SST House and will provide water to flush the toilet.
Water conservation enthusiasts, builders, landscapers, farmers, facilities managers or homeowners can follow the Jumpstart Project at the Mendocino County RCD webpage (mcrcd.org) for updates and future class offerings. Future workshops will include subjects such as xeric landscaping, plumbing (including legal greywater systems), stormwater infiltration, and irrigation efficiency.
If you are interested in gaining advanced skills in plumbing and water systems, consider taking the plumbing class this spring and learn the details around building legal greywater and rainwater catchment systems.
Pre-registration is required. firstname.lastname@example.org. 707.462.3664 ext. 104
Funding for the workshops comes from the California Department of Water Resources - Proposition 84. For more information visit the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District drought website at mcrcd.org/drought-water-conservation-resources.
ALL FEMALE PATHS LEAD TO PHILO
Save the Date for Mendocino Women's Retreat
Calling all Women of Many Paths to Join in One Heart at the 9th Annual Mendocino Women’s Retreat September 22-24th. Come Share in Sacred Circle, singing, dancing, swimming, creating with Nature, or just kick back. Catch up with old friends and make new ones. We will gather again at beautiful River’s Bend Retreat Center where we will feast on organic catered meals and enjoy a variety of accommodations to suit every need. Registrations received through July 26 are discounted $25. So register now. Some scholarships are available and will be awarded based on need and a first come, first served basis. To register or for more info go to www.mendowomensretreat.org or call June 734-0505 or Lara 357-5365. Whatever path you are on and wherever you are on your path you are welcome to join the Circle!
THE CASPAR INN closed a few months ago, but we only heard about it recently when the Caspar's former owner, Peter Lit, stopped by to chat. Too bad. The Caspar, under Lit's management, was the most popular entertainment venue on the Mendocino Coast, and drew people from all over with top notch local and national entertainment. (My late friend Alexander Cockburn and I were the headliners a couple of times, probably the only times Lit took a beating at the cash register.) Lit, who worked like a man possessed to make Caspar the go-to place in the county, sold the place and retired back in the late 1990s, and the Caspar was all downhill from there. Mendo Realty lists the property and building as “former café with deck” for sale for $895,000, not including business license, permits or furnishings." Not even the half of it. The Caspar Inn should be recognized as the pivotal place it once was in the night life of Mendocino County.
(Click to enlarge)
FIGURES OF SPEECH
by Juan José Millás
Translated by Louis S. Bedrock
The couch, as a TV screenwriter would say, is a story. A big story, his colleague would add. And I agree. It’s just that you must see something out of its habitual context to notice it.
Something similar happens with intestines. That is, we don’t pay any attention to them when they’re inside, but it appalls us when we see them outside.
The couch is the intestine of the house. Upon it, green beans are digested and ideas are processed. You invade the couch after eating, troubled by a harmful obsession, nod out, and when you wake up, the obsession has moved to another head. Maybe it’s moved to the head of your neighbor, who has taken a nap at the same time as you, on a couch identical to yours, and who is separated from you only by a thin brick wall. The couch is also the place into which you fall at night—no matter how tall you are, to anesthetize yourself with television before going to bed. The television and the couch are mysteriously connected in such a way that the TV almost turns itself on when someone collapses upon the couch.
The couch also possesses some characteristics of a space ship: from it, without moving, you can realize an imaginary journey to Mars, Venus, or the moon. Perhaps that’s what this little boy, who lives with his family in a famous garbage dump in Manilla, is doing.
According to the information below the photograph, he is eating breakfast. That would mean he has just woken up surrounded by all that filth and has climbed onto the couch to imagine that he lives in a house.
Without realizing it, he is creating a figure of speech that consists of using a part to refer to the whole. But let’s not fool ourselves: the real whole sucks.
VENUS WILLIAMS, A CAR ACCIDENT & THE OUTRAGEOUS POLICE RESPONSE
by Dave Zirin
My bias is real. When it comes to tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, they have never been just athletes to me, but people. Like many others I have felt an imperative to defend against their detractors, know-nothings, and dime-store bigots.
The reasons are obvious: they were once two black teenagers from the public courts of Compton, treated with contempt—of both a race and class variety—by their sport and they not only survived but thrived. Over the last two decades, as the Williams sisters have moved from champions to icons, my knee-jerk defensive posture has moved decisively toward older sister Venus. No matter what gasbags like John McEnroe and his mainstream defenders belch, Serena is securely recognized as one of the great athletes of the last century, with legions of fans and two dozen Grand Slam titles to show for it. As most photographs show, Venus is the queen.
But Venus, who at 37 is still bludgeoning opponents half her age, has not won a Grand Slam title since 2008. This is best explained not only by her sister’s dominance but also the fact that she was diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome in 2011, a brutal autoimmune illness affecting the joints and causing fatigue. It is a disease defined by chronic pain. The fact that she continues to take the court and win matches has created a different kind of iconography than the one crafted by her sister. That is why the treatment of Venus Williams by the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, police department over the last week has made me want to run to the nearest barricade.
This story begins with unspeakable tragedy. On June 9, 78-year-old Jerome Barson was killed and his wife, Linda, terribly injured after Ms. Williams’s SUV—going five miles per hour—entered an intersection, colliding with the Barsons’ car.
The immediate public statements by police, before any kind of investigation was completed, claimed Williams was “at fault for violating the right of way.” They recklessly announced to the world—in our low-information, 140-character celebrity culture—that Venus Williams had effectively killed an elderly man.
Then at Wimbledon on July 3, the tennis media pressed her to discuss how she felt being “responsible” for Jerome Barson’s death. (I hate that they asked the question, but I get that it would have been absurd not to ask.) Williams broke down in tears, saying, “There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and—yeah. I’m completely speechless. It’s just…” She then put her head in her hands and left the interview table before returning, looking like a hybrid of frayed nerves and steely resolve, to complete the interview.
Later, in a Facebook post, she wrote: “I am devasted [sic] and heartbroken by this accident. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Jerome Barson, and I continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers.”
Then, after all of this, the Palm Beach Gardens police issued a statement effectively saying, “Whoops.” They exonerated Williams of any fault, and video released by TMZ confirms these findings.
Amid this trauma, Venus has advanced to the second weekend of Wimbledon, defeating Naomi Osaka, a 19-year-old player who was not even born when Williams first took to the grass courts 20 years ago. Her ability to persevere is stunning, but this is not a game. There is something very wrong about this entire scenario in Palm Beach Gardens.
For the police to state publicly that Venus was responsible for this death in advance of the facts is a gross dereliction of duty by the department. Palm Beach Gardens is a place of gated communities, luxury golf courses, and wealth. Both Williams sisters call it home. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where other high-profile Palm Beach Gardens residents—such as pro-golf star Rory McIlroy—would be treated in such a way.
I spoke with criminal-defense attorney Steven Gilmore about the case. He said that the actions of police seem bizarre from the start. “It is a national trend that police officers do not issue public, definitive-sounding findings at the scene of accidents in advance of investigations because it draws them into civil suits. It is also very odd, there was a kiosk and video camera at the scene and that they did not look at the video tape before finding fault with Ms. Williams.” I asked Gilmore if he believed that Venus could pursue civil action against the police for implicating Venus in Barson’s death. He said that would be tough. “This is an act of negligence by police, but they have qualified immunity from most acts of negligence. That’s the reality.”
This isn’t about Venus Williams’s “deserving better.” It’s about how police departments treat black women in this country. Even living in one of the Palm Beach Gardens gated communities does not offer sanctuary. It will be more than understandable if Venus Williams just wants to get on with her life and put this ordeal behind her. But if she attempts to publicly challenge how the Palm Beach Gardens police handled this case, she won’t be walking alone.
(Dave Zirin can be reached at email@example.com.)
JERRY BROWN ANNOUNCES GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION SUMMIT AS HE PUSHES FRACKING, DELTA TUNNELS
by Dan Bacher
California Jerry Brown announced on July 6, via video message at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany, that the state will convene the “world’s climate leaders” in San Francisco in September 2018 for a “Global Climate Action Summit.”
Brown made the announcement at a time when increasing numbers of Californians are challenging his “environmental” and “climate” credentials as he teams up with the Donald Trump administration to build the controversial Delta Tunnels and to exempt three major California oilfields from protection under the federal Safe Water Drinking Act. (https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/17/trump-administration-exempts-three-ca-oil-fields-from-water-protection-rule-at-jerry-browns-request/ )
“It’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change," said Governor Brown in his remarks on the eve of the G20 Summit. “That is why we’re having the Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, September 2018.”
“President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris Agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America. We in California and in states all across America believe it’s time to act, it’s time to join together and that’s why at this Climate Action Summit we’re going to get it done,” he claimed.
Mainstream media provides fawning coverage
After hearing the announcement, the mainstream media responded with fawning puff pieces portraying Brown as an international “climate leader,” with doing little or no research into the Governor’s actual environmental policies.
“Gov. Jerry Brown of California on Thursday reinforced his reputation as America’s de facto leader on climate change, announcing to cheering crowds in Hamburg, Germany that his state would gather leaders from around the world for a global warming summit next year," wrote Lisa Friedman of the New York Times.
“Speaking by videoconference to the Global Citizens Festival in Hamburg, where President Donald Trump is joining other world leaders for the Group of 20 economic summit, Governor Brown said the president ‘doesn’t speak for the rest of America’ in pulling out of the Paris agreement on climate change,” Friedman said. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/climate/jerry-brown-california-climate-summit.html )
The New York Times didn’t mention that “America's de facto leader on climate change” received $9.8 million from oil, gas and utility companies, often within days of winning big favors, since he ran for Governor, according to a report released by the the Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog last August: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/dirtyhands
Consumer group says summit should be held in California refinery city
Liza Tucker, consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog, responded to the announcement by challenging the Governor to hold the summit in Northern California’s Richmond or in Southern California cities like Wilmington or Torrance—home to emissions-spewing refineries.
“It’s time to get real about the need to regulate refinery emissions directly and as quickly as possible when their global warming gases come in a package with toxic, smog-forming chemicals and murderous fine particles that lodge deep in the lungs and other organs of children as well as adults,” said Tucker, who has relentlessly exposed Brown's anti-environmental and pro-Big Oil policies that betray his “green” rhetoric.
“So far, Governor Brown has failed on this score, and is considering the exemption of refineries from air pollution regulation. But it is these California communities who are feeling the consequences of global warming’s pollution. It may be more comfortable to hold a summit and dine in San Francisco, but the proper venue is a refinery town that must be seen to be understood,” Tucker stated.
For example, she said data for Richmond, home to a Chevron refinery, reveals that refinery community residents are one-and-a half times more likely to die from heart disease and strokes than the Contra Costa County average, according to a 2010 report by the Contra Costa Health Services’ Public Health Division.
Big Oil and Brown collaborate on carbon trading measure
Tucker pointed out out that Brown’s call for a summit comes as he spearheads negotiations to extend California’s 2006 law on capping global warming emissions and trading pollution allowances past 2020, when it is set to expire.
“Consumer Watchdog recently obtained documents showing that Governor Brown is shopping cap and trade bill language directly from Big Oil’s playbook to exempt refineries from air pollution regulation as part of a deal to extend the program. If introduced and enacted, the legislation would block powerful Air Districts in the Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin from setting tough limits on emissions that would leave refineries no choice but to install pollution control equipment,” said Tucker.
“Instead the legislation would hand regulation of refineries to the state regulator in charge of emissions from trucks and cars that is not equipped to oversee refineries. That regulator, the Air Resources Board, would be prohibited from deviating from the use of a prescribed cap and trade system that would keep the program from becoming anything more than just another cost of doing business,” said Tucker.
As is the case with the leaders of many consumer, Indigenous and environmental organizations, Tucker is highly critical of neoliberal carbon trading policies that do little to actually lower emissions while at the same time imperiling Indigenous and front line communities across the globe.
“California’s cap and trade system has done little to lower emissions of global warming in the state and, as currently envisioned, will not meet the state’s aggressive goal of lowering emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030,” said Tucker. “Instead, researchers have found that emissions have actually risen from high emissions-producing sectors such as refineries since cap and trade was introduced.”
In fact, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create faux “marine protected areas” in Southern California, backs carbon trading. She says a "well-designed cap-and-trade program is the prudent approach to meeting the state’s climate change targets.” http://www.dailykos.com/ ...
On June 28, In These Times revealed that leaked documents show that the Brown administration is promoting a cap-and-trade measure, not yet a bill, “that’s laden with talking points that appear to be ripped near verbatim from a policy paper by the state’s influential oil and gas lobby.” (http://inthesetimes.com/article/20282/jerry-brown-climate-change-sb775 )
Indigenous leaders oppose pollution trading, REDD
The opposition to carbon trading was spotlighted at the end of Governor Jerry Brown’s keynote address at the World Climate Summit in Paris on December 8, 2015, when indigenous leaders heckled Brown, challenging him on his support of controversial carbon trading polices that they say represent “a new form of colonialism” that could potentially cause genocide.
Brown had just finished his brief remarks when Penny Opal Plant of Idle No More, San Francisco Bay, stood up and shouted, “Richmond, California says no to REDD and no to evacuating indigenous people from their forests. NO REDD!”
Indigenous leaders and environmental activists in the room around her joined her in yelling, "NO REDD!"
REDD is the acronym for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.” It is used by the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force, including California officials, to describe programs to promote reduced emissions from deforestation and land use.
However, Indigenous leaders say REDD really means "Reaping profits from evictions, land grabs, deforestation and destruction of biodiversity.”
For more on California’s current cap and trade negotiations, see: http://capitolwatchdog.org/article/jerry-browns-cap-and-trade-bill-would-exempt-refineries-air-pollution-regulation
Brown administration praises Trump regime’s Delta Tunnels decision
Meanwhile, the Trump administration on June 26 released a no-jeopardy finding on the biological assessment to build the tunnels, claiming that the California WaterFix will not jeopardize threatened or endangered species or adversely modify their critical habitat. The biological opinion is available here: https://www.fws.gov/sfbaydelta/HabitatConservation/CalWaterFix/Index.htm
The Brown administration praised the deeply flawed biological opinion, a document that may have been politically manipulated, in spite of the vow Jerry Brown made in January to “resist” Trump administration attacks on science.
"We've got the scientists, we've got the lawyers and we're ready to fight," Brown said during a speech to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. (http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/ p2p-92125641/)
However, Michelle Banonis, Assistant Chief Deputy Director at the California Department of Water Resources, was hardly ready “ready to fight” when she spoke at a joint teleconference, a virtual lovefest between the two administrations to promote the decision.
Banonis gushed, “On behalf of the California Department of Water Resources, I would like to thank the US FWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service) and the NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) for their significant efforts in putting together the biological opinion for California Water Fix. We feel this is a momentous step towards the future and we feel that this will help in the future in balancing between water and environmental resources in California."
Background: California oil lobby tops spending in 2015-16 session with $36.1 million
In spite of California's reputation as a "green leader, Big Oil is the largest corporate lobby in the state and exerts enormous influence over the Governor's Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies.
As usual, the California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million as of December 31, 2016.
The spending amounts to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day — over the last two years. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an American Lung Association report. “That’s enough money to buy 103,000 goats,” reported Stop Fooling California, stopfoolingca.org.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders this session.
Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016, sixth among all lobbyists in the current session.
In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials while billionaire Tom Steyer's Next Generation Climate Action spent an unprecedented $7.3 million, almost 3 times the oil industry group’s expenses.
The spending by Steyer’s group helped propel the passage of Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in spite of strong opposition by the oil industry.
Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent $133 million in lobbying in California.
To read the complete report, go to: http://www.lung.org/local-content/california/documents/Oil-Industry-Lobbying-2016-update-4_1-31-17.pdf
BLISSED IN BERKELEY
Sundays at the Krishna Temple as We Roll On Toward Rathayatra Festival
It was another blissful Sunday evening at Berkeley's Krishna Temple. Lots and lots of chanting until our mental wheels came off and we soared...speaking of which, the 51st annual Festival of the Chariots Rathayatra Parade in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is Sunday July 30th, 2017. The parade begins at 11 a.m. at Transverse & JFK Drive, and with three carts bedecked with flowers, deities, and devotees ecstatically singing, being pulled by the crowd with long ropes in the traditional style, proceeds to Sharon Meadows (directly across from Hippie Hill). Enjoy free entertainment including cultural dance and very alive music (featuring the Indian sitar maestro Habib Khan, accompanied by temple president Jagannath Swami das on western style drums), while a FREE PRASADAM LUNCH for 1000 is being served. And bring your camera, because this will certainly be a major event in the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love. For more information, contact the Berkeley Krishna Temple at (510)540-9215. Keep chanting, abandon the present disaster of postmodernism's Trumpocalypse, and dance your way back to Godhead. See you at the festival. http://www.iskconberkeley.net
This message is a public service announcement sent to you by Craig Louis Stehr, who encourages everybody to perform spiritual sadhana, and be consciously totally free from the rotting quagmire of samsara. Go on Sri Krishna's tour of the spiritual sky, all the way back to Goloka Vrindavan. For the full itinerary, contact Gurudas at http://www.VedicCare.org
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE
PS. Another Perfect Trip to Kabuki Spa: Following four hours at Kabuki Spa in San Francisco's Japan town, am so relaxed, am not even bothering to do any sadhana. It's too much to even chant OM! Sat out by the Peace Pagoda in J-town on a stone bench enjoying the cool afternoon breeze from the Pacific Ocean. No need to do anything at all.