Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Sep. 9, 2017

by AVA News Service, September 9, 2017

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FORT BRAGG NOTES

A Moment of Pork

by Rex Gressett

The City Council meeting went down on the wrong day at the wrong time. It was on Tuesday at 4:00 o’clock. The meeting was entirely sedate, not pointless, but relaxed, non-controversial, almost private. I watched it from home. They addressed Bainbridge Park, and the happy event of the receipt of a Community Development Block Grant that had at long last come to us like a homing pigeon that has flown across an ocean of delays, uncertainties, promises, and vast quantities of empty waiting.

The improvements to Bainbridge Park are what long forgotten councilman Scott Dietz had set his councilor's heart upon to justify his term in office. Had it arrived on time it would not have offset the disgrace in which Mr. Dietz covered himself for his complicity in the Old Coast Hotel scam, a matter once again pressing hard upon voters’ sensibilities. I recall the melancholia of having to observe the gentlemanly Scott Dietz hoping and asking and being promised in that long ago time that the Bainbridge grant money would come in time to qualify as identifiable pork associated with him. It was the dream of them all.

The grant didn't arrive for quite a while afterwards. The crawling pace of the project is officially not anyone's fault. The mills of the gods grind slow, the feds even slower. But the mere promise of a groovy inspiring work of government was adequate to keep numerous city councils on the hook while the workers of grant magic stirred their occult pots. Scott Dietz was not alone in his expectations. The people of the city also had expectations, but these are remote from practical politics and are not even considered.

At the Tuesday City Council meeting, the Council finally got around to spending the money, or be seen spending it, or reviewing how it has been spent. The little trees with which they replaced the old pines look like something out of Charley Brown. They cost $1700 bucks each. That is more than a hundred dollars per twig-foot. The park looks desolate, it reminds me of big empty spaces in Newark or Harlem that nobody takes care of because in a city of millions there are other priorities than the parks where poor kids play. The possibility and the vacancy and the visible failure conjoin in a vista of emptiness. Sometimes there are sad little swing-sets.

On the corner of our Fort Bragg park is our plastic playground. Real nice. I raised two sons and of course we had our playground era. We were connoisseurs of a fine playground. In New York you really have your pick. There are six or seven in central park alone, and all of them are different and all of them are very cool. Water runs in trickles down the sides of a giant red brick pyramid. There are caves in the brick terraces and slides. They have a wood cowboy playground with traditional but exaggerated slides and swings. There is a real merry-go-round. They even have a little zoo. Not so little really, but little in scale with the playgrounds and the kids. In the zoo are some very cool and debonair seals. You can hear their barking all the way to Ffth Avenue in competition with the taxis and the car horns. I am a playground expert; all New York daddys are.

For sure the Fort Bragg playground is a very good one. It is safe, it is fun — it has everything, including a super bathroom separated from any possible intrusion by homeless people and a big damn fence. Good.

That playground was pork, i.e., it came from without, through the medium of grants. Former councilman, now Supervisor Dan Gjerde was credited with that one. Like any species of pork he really did not have anything to do with it except (and it is a big except) that he manipulated the city management into action as preferable to inaction. They can go either way.

City Manager Linda Ruffing liked Dan Gjerde, who continuously demonstrated his obsessive obedience to whoever he thinks has the juice. He did it very thoroughly in Fort Bragg. I guess the county didn’t hear that story. It hurt us a lot but it got us a playground. Those were the days.

The Community Development Block Grants, both the old and the new, came from well oiled connections deep within the city management. Jenifer Owen. The difference between them was the takeaway from Monday night's nonevent of a City Council meeting.

When the money flowed the way Linda Ruffing wanted it to it was like a mild little coke habit — it kept everybody happy, it cost all our money, but it ended up very nearly killing us.

Community Development Block Grant money did not just bring us candy, it bought a constituency that was real into sugar. Round and round they went as the spending and the budget deficit did a merry dance. The infrastructure was deliberately neglected because candy was more fun and the redwood pipes that bring us our water and the rest of the pipes that were not that old but old were all hanging more or less in there.

Both the success and the failure of the Block Grant political philosophy can now be observed in Bainbridge Park. The playground is a shining example of what pork should be. The new pork has occurred in a somewhat different context and looks a little different.

The new pork arrived with the same magical tinkling sound that eternally indicates free money has just arrived. But it arrived in the laps of a not very different city but an entirely different City Council.

We now have a council not totally sold on itself. Not intentionally and perversely blind to the facts. Not just happily anxious to be out there collecting strokes for being a good pretender. This city council is not perfect but it is none of the old delusion.

The new council went to boot camp with the $3 million dollar emergency replacement of our misallocated water and sewer money. They went through the shock therapy of comprehension that not on Linda’s watch but on theirs the city faced presumed bankruptcy over the CALPERS assessment in a mere three years. Nobody has a plan. Linda Ruffing will probably read about it from her lounge chair in the Bahamas.

This new council has been hammered relentlessly over the ghastly mismanagement at our homeless shelter by people who overturned an incumbency to vote for new men and who expect action. The temper of this council has been honed in the chronic frustration occasioned by the secretive machinations of the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center management dodging city regulation and breaking their own rules like they got paid for it. Which, come to think of it, they do.

The chastened (and replaced) City Council took the charge account for toys away from the City Manager, and spent the last installment of Community Development Block Grant money on a water tank that we needed. To heck with the social services circus. In spite of the intermittent comedy of Dave Turner fronting for the Noyo Center fiscal black hole in slightly witty and slightly strained double entendre. That lost cause is noone's priority. Things are a bit different now down in City Council Land, now that we are actually admitting being in the fiscal hole and there is no Linda Ruffing to sing the council to sleep.

When the Bainbridge money came around it just about covered the twig trees, the anti-homeless-person fence and the benches that used to be under the trees and are now beside them. I think that there is more stuff coming but the City Council itself was reduced to a very limited number of options. It was not glorious. They debated at length the question of a gearbox toy vs a bongo panel; it was the sole substance of what should have been their moment of pork. It happened in a nearly empty town hall.

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THE PRELIMINARY HEARING for the four remaining defendants in the murder of Laytonville marijuana grower Jeffrey Settler last November ended Thursday morning with holding orders handed down for Gary Blank, Michael Kane, Fredrick Gaestel and Jesse Wells. Among the counts they were held to answer on were murder in the commission of a robbery and burglary of an inhabited dwelling, with several special allegations that add severity to the punishment of the crimes if the defendants are found guilty at trial.

Wuester, Fitzgerald, Mohamed, Kane

The other three defendants who participated in the stabbing murder of Settler — Zachary Wuester, Gary Fitzgerald and Abdirahman Said Mohamed — plead guilty or no contest last month, leaving the Blank, Kane, Gaestel and Wells cases pending trial and the subject of last week’s preliminary hearing. Wuester, Fitzgerald and Mohamed have not yet been sentenced.

Gaestel (pre-arrest), Gaestel (after arrest), Blank, Wells

Mr. Blank’s was the simplest case, as he had confessed to stabbing the victim when he was interviewed by homicide detectives early on. Mr. Kane was also held to answer on all charges even though his lawyer made it plain that most of the evidence against Kane came from Zachary Wuester, the main agitator to get the others to go to the site of Mr. Settler’s grow and “take what we had coming.”

Kane’s lawyer, Mr. Ethan Balogh, said that Wuester pointed the finger at everyone but himself and then took a plea deal for nine years in prison, in exchange for his testimony against the others.

Jesse Wells was also held on the charges although his lawyer, Jan Cole-Wilson, seconded Mr. Balogh’s opinion that Wuester was a liar and snitch, and shouldn’t be believed.

As for Fredrick Gaestel, although he’d only lent his car to the others, he confessed to a bartender that he knew what the others were going up there for, and he was worried because they were angry enough to kill Settler.

The four remaining defendants were ordered back in two seeks for arraignment on the information, at which time the prosecutor, Deputy DA Joshua Rosenfeld, will announce whether or not he will be asking for the death penalty.

(Bruce McEwen)

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag, the all-time deadbeat cat, shows up here homeless, and now it's like he runs the place. He even tried to saunter into my house yesterday, which is where I drew the line: ‘One more step closer, Skrag, and it will cost you all nine of your lives’."

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NORM CLOW WRITES:

Just saw your nice send-off for Gloria. This photo is the dedication page of our senior year, 1968 AVHS annual, wherein our first-year librarian was not only the advisor but also the dedicatee. Gloria is a shirt-tail relative through the Greenwood Road branch of the Clows via the Berry line, and also related to Ruth by marriage via the same connection. Absolutely wonderful lady and she is missed by many.

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RUSH LIMBAUGH, the dirigible of drivel as Cockburn memorably assessed him, will evacuate his South Florida residence in advance of Hurricane Irma, despite his previous claims that the news media had intentionally overhyped the storm to boost ratings and gin up fear about climate change. “I’m not going to get into details because of the security nature of things, but it turns out that we will not be able to do the program here tomorrow,” Limbaugh admitted on his radio show. “We’ll be on the air next week, folks, from parts unknown.”

On Tuesday’s broadcast, Limbaugh claimed “There is a desire to advance this climate-change agenda and hurricanes are one of the fastest [ways] to do it.” He added that, via its storm coverage, the “liberal media” is “hell-bent on persuading people of [anthropogenic climate change].” Limbaugh also boasted Tuesday that he had been “exactly right since last Friday” in his predictions about Irma’s trajectory. Turns out he might have been wrong.

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COVELO GRAND SLAM

On 09-06-2017 at approximately 6:10 P.M., Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were contacted by officers of the Round Valley Tribal Police Department regarding an incident they were investigating in the 22100 block of South Airport Road in Covelo. Round Valley Tribal Police (RVTP) advised they were investigating a report of a trespasser on a property at that location and had contacted Bruce Dankemeyer, 53, of Covelo. During the investigation, RVTP officers located equipment at the property that they believed could be a clandestine lab. Deputies responded to assist RVTP officers and determined the items were not a clandestine lab. During the investigation, RVTP found Dankemeyer in possession of a firearm, ammunition, controlled substances, and drug paraphernalia. Deputies learned Dankemeyer was legally prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. RVTP officers placed Dankemeyer under arrest for Prohibited Person in Possession of Firearm, Prohibited Person in Possession of Ammunition, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Deputies took custody of Dankemeyer and he was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 8, 2017

Acosta, Budreaux, Carrillo

ALBERTO ACOSTA, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

WILLIAM BUDREAUX, Leggett. Protective order violation.

TINA CARRILLO, Hopland. Transportation of controlled substance.

Gibson, Guerrero, Hill

MEGAN GIBSON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

CHRIS GUERRERO, Willits. Under influence, probation revocation.

MARK HILL, Fort Bragg. Disobeying court order.

Holm, Kahauelio, Lane

ANDREW HOLM, Ukiah. Under influence, resisting, probation revocation.

KAYLA KAHAUELIO, Napa/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

SHAWN LANE, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.

Macias, Milberger, Richard, Sanchez

JESUS MACIAS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

STEPHANIE MILBERGER, Clearlake/Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.

DAVID RICHARD, Ukiah. Oral copulation with person under 14, engaging in 3 or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with child under 14.*

SAMUEL SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, vandalism, controlled substance. (Frequent flyer.)

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*UKIAH MAN ACCUSED OF CONTINUOUS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

A Ukiah man has been arrested after an 11-year-old girl reported an instance of sexual abuse to the Mendocino County Department of Child Protective Services last month, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

Richard

MCSO detectives have established probable cause that the man, identified as David John Richard, 52, committed acts of sexual abuse on the girl continually for several months. The abuse is believed to have happened about four years ago, when she was 7 and 8 years old.

An arrest warrant was issued for Richard Friday, and he was found and booked into county jail, held under $300,000 bail.

The MCSO is still investigating the accusation and asks anyone with information about the case to call the Tip-Line at 707-234-2100.

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TRINITY, LAKE, AND DEL NORTE COUNTY FILLED MORE OPIOID PRESCRIPTIONS THAN THEY HAVE PEOPLE

by Kym Kemp

America has an addiction to prescription painkillers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports we’re in an opioid crisis. Every day an average of 90 people die in this country because they overdosed on opioids.

People living in the beautiful Emerald Counties of California, unfortunately, are among those that fill a large number of prescription painkillers. And, they die at an alarming rate from overdoses.

(Click to enlarge)

Last year, Trinity, Lake, and Del Norte Counties actually filled more opioid prescriptions than they have people, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee.

The article points out,

Trinity County is the state’s fourth-smallest, and ended last year with an estimated population of 13,628 people.

Its residents also filled prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opioids 18,439 times, the highest per capita rate in California.

Lake and Del Norte Counties have similar statistics. And, Mendocino and Humboldt vie for ninth and tenth place in the number of opioid prescriptions filled per 100,000 residents in California counties.

Rural counties like ours are at the heart of the opioid crisis. For more information, read the Bee article and explore the California Department of Public Health’s detailed reports and graphics on each county here.

Here’s an example of one interesting map that can be found at the latter site.

Humboldt Deaths – Total Population – 2016

All Opioid Overdose: Age-Adjusted Rate per 100,000 Residents. [From the California Department of Public Health]

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A READER COMMENTS: First, this only addresses the legally prescribed and issued opioids. Not a mention of street drugs. Second, there’s no mention of how many people filled prescriptions; just the number of prescriptions filled. Third, this chart has several skew factors in it. What does “age-adjusted” mean in real-life terms? How is age adjusted, and what does adjusting for age mean in terms of total population? Does it kick out a population under say, the age of 12? Is it young adults and adults only? The last time I heard, Humboldt County had a population of about 128,000. So if you’re adjusting per 100,000 in population and you kick out 30% of your population by adjusting for age, your results are going to be much different than if you just do an across-the board prescriptions-per population estimate.

None of this means that I think we don’t have a huge crisis in opioid use. People die, and kill and commit crimes to support their habits. But when you stop blaming addicts and start looking for solutions, it’s pretty clear that over-prescription, and the role of Big Pharma as the pusher of these helldrugs is the obvious place to start.

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THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY WHAT STATE?

Gypsy Mountain Free State, Autumn 1998 FACEBOOK video at Beth Bosk

Part 1

Bob and I were distributing New Settler in Arcata when we learned the forestland defender, Gypsy, had been slain. That night, we attended the bonfire vigil at the base camp at Grizzly Creek, and began to piece together this story with our first video camera, which we had just purchased in Eureka the day before. We returned seven days later for a memorial for Gypsy in Eureka, and late that afternoon, ascended the mountain now named in his honor. We were back on the mountain a week later, and there at the highway the morning of October 8, as the Gypsy Free State was raided and destroyed by the Humboldt County police state… The Gypsy Free State felt to me like everything I have ever heard of the spring thaw in 1968, in Czechoslovakia; that first attempt to take on the might of the Soviet block with non-violent joy and determination . . . to succeed, however so briefly… There is no specific size that establishes a critical mass action. But I know this: by-standing is a woeful trait.

The video (and the ones that follow) are witness to the day-by-day continuing struggle to keep standing the last of ancient forestland. As much as it is the story about the nature of witness.

Part 1: The telling begins the night of September 17, 1998. Darryl Cherney is backlit by the bonfire vigil. Drums beat and his cadence reflects their beat. Shortly, there will be a keening song composed by Francine Allen as she drove to this vigil. The verse swells: Are you willing to lay your body down/ are you willing to give your life to a cause… The following morning, 50 people have blocked a logging crew from entering the logging road that leads up to the unit where Gypsy Chain lost his life. Raven (19 years later, better known as John McCowen, chair of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors) is conferring with a lone deputy sheriff whether of not a P-L security person can come out and the Coroner go in. Raven deftly conducts the circle…

The last twenty minutes includes the video witness (captured by Mike McCurdy) of the enraged logger who felled the tree that extinguished the life of Gypsy Chain, as he rages at the forest defender, Ayr.

The video ends (as my first tape ran out) at Redwood rabbi, Naomi Steinberg’s home. Naomi is on the phone with Estelle Fennel, speaking of her conversation with Gypsy’s mother, as Darryl attempts to patch excerpts of the video brought out by the witnesses from a TV to an AP reporter in Texas, through the head set of his phone. He repeats the screeched obscenities in the attempt…. as Naomi speaks softly to Estelle of Cindy Allsbrook’s brave and open heart, expressed through her tender Texan drawl…

PLEASE tag or SHARE this series with folks with FACEBOOK identities as you recognize them, and kindly COMMENT if you were there…

— Beth Bosk

ED NOTE: Or you could say that stupid and irresponsible people lured a young, idealistic man unaware of the dangers inherent in logging sites to his death with no mention that the faller had warned everyone away, and of course no mention that the faller who worked two jobs and was paid by the foot to do what he had every right to do did not intentionally drop the tree on the kid. Afterwards, the stupid and irresponsible people, as usual, glorified themselves and blamed everything on the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department, which they likened to a gestapo.

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Metropolises built on susceptible coasts, or sprawled along reconstituted deserts of California, or the intact desert of Arizona. Nestled besides old PacNoWe forests prone to dry spells.

The problem isn’t nature. Or climate change.

The problem is too many people.

Too many people in too large hives, sometimes reminded, harshly, of nature.

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Burning Man 2017

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THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF KOREA'S (DPRK'S) ISOLATION IS NOT PURELY SELF-IMPOSED.

by Mitch Clogg

Here's what Wikipedia says:

“In 1910, Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan. After the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones, with the north occupied by the Soviets and the south by the Americans. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948, separate governments were formed: the socialist Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the capitalist Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War (1950–1953). The Korean Armistice Agreement brought about a ceasefire, but no peace treaty was signed.

“North Korea officially describes itself as a self-reliant socialist state and formally holds elections. Critics regard it as a totalitarian dictatorship. Various media outlets have called it Stalinist, particularly noting the elaborate cult of personality around Kim Il-sung and his family cult of personality around Kim Il-sung. International organizations have assessed that human rights violations in North Korea have no parallel in the contemporary world. The Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), led by a member of the ruling family, holds power in the state and leads the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland of which all political officers are required to be members.”

— Wikipedia

MC: The Korean Peninsula, comprising North and South Korea, is shorter and wider than California and has twice as many people, most of them in the South. It thrusts out from the continent of Asia, bending toward Japan. From their closest points, Korea and Japan can see each other. When the Soviet Union and the West were dividing things up after WW2, they separated North and South Korea into two countries. The Korean War didn't reunite them, but the people still long for reunification. That will take some doing.

Korea has been occupied by outsiders through most of human memory. The Chinese are ethnically identical, but Korea has been separate for as long as anybody can remember. A Korean ruler improved on the clumsy Chinese alphabet, and the two countries have solidified their differences even while remaining allies and business partners.

Korea is poor, not because it is Communist or isolated – it's just plain poor. It is resource-poor, has way too little farmland, rainfall and sunshine, and way too many mountains. Think Transylvania. They have to irrigate their rice paddies. Because of that and generally poor soil, they're growing and eating, without enthusiasm, potatoes. The quality of their diet has nothing to do with Michelin Guides. It is bluntly measured in calories, whether they are sufficient to stave off starvation. There have been a couple of “minor” famines in the twenty-first century, plenty in the twentieth.

So, naturally, the United States of America, outraged that yet another nation besides us has nukes, has proposed to its vassal United Nations economic sanctions against the bare-bones North Korean economy. The U.S. uses sanctions the way ISIS uses violence, cruelly and often, with civilian casualties the intended victims, weakest first. Here's CNN today: “The draft resolution includes a full ban on exports of oil to North Korea, a full ban on textile imports from North Korea, a ban on North Korean laborers generating earnings overseas, and the asset freeze, which will also target members of the ruling worker's party, the diplomat said, calling it a 'hard-hitting, ambitious resolution.'“

Now, pause and consider what North Korea has or does that is of note. It failed to reunify the peninsula or have its way with South Korea in the 1950 war, our collective memory of which is largely confined to TV's M.A.S.H., which is good, because our behavior in that war was ignoble. To answer my own question, N. Korea has little beyond simple survival to chalk up.

But now it has nukes, and now it commands the attention of the world. If you're the young, still-wet-behind-the-ears leader of a barely significant, impoverished, unloved little country, that has to be almost as intoxicating as the Scotch Whisky you're so fond of. (Kim likes Scotch, food, video games and American basketball. At 5-9, he was taller than most Koreans, and, as a student in Switzerland, he played the game a lot. He was not fat then.)

Kim Jong-un went to school in Switzerland, incognito, as someone named Pak Un, claiming to be the son of an ambassador serving in Switzerland. He studied physics. He speaks English, French, German and Korean, at least. He's the second son and middle child of three, with a younger sister. He was his late father's favorite. He is described as “the spittin' image of his father” in looks and personality, except he is reported to be 5' 9” compared to his father who was 5-3. His mother was Japanese – born in Japan of a Japanese mother and a Korean father. She died of cancer at 51. He has built an imposing tomb for her.

So what have we got? We have a young man, around 35, who would probably rather be elsewhere and doing other things. Pretty wife, probably three kids. She studied voice and, as a singer, was something of a pop star. She's in a picture at the end of this post, touring the new Pyongyang International Airport with Kim.

He has a sense of responsibility toward his country and probably a more international view than he is credited with in propaganda—ours and theirs. He is in a culture that values wisdom and associates it with age. In pictures he is always accompanied by older men in uniform. They are advisers. Often everybody in view is grinning.

What are we to understand from these images? They are 100% controlled. Information that escapes from Democratic People's Republic of Korea is shaped and released by the government, so if we see smiling pictures of the supreme leader, if we see him jubilating with his generals at a missile launch (or a bomb test, the latest of which triggered countless landslides in the mountains), it is the image they intend to convey.

Our take on Kim is warped by propaganda on both sides. The DPRK tells us only what they want us to believe, and our media, the loudest being U.S. government information sources, re-works that into what our government wants us to believe. (Here's an example: An apartment building fell down in Pyongyang, with numerous deaths. The government issued a statement saying Kim apologized and regretted it. Their statement was translated from the Korean as “he sat up all night, feeling painful." This choice of words suggests someone with a stomach ache, reported in pidgin English. A slight adjustment in the wording would give a more dignified picture of a sleepless, grieving head of state, but this not in line with the slightly ridiculous caricature that our media have fashioned for him, that of a childish, irresponsible figure who takes delight in deadly weapons like a child with its toys.)

This is not likely. North Korea's nuclear capability places a small, insignificant country in the company of giants. It is the only national property that does, and the DPRK makes sure that everybody knows it. It is a re-write of the 1959 Peter Sellers movie, "The Mouse That Roared."

The North Korean economy is not rigidly communist. Farmers and fishermen bring their goods to open markets. Citizens supplement their food rations with fresh stores as they are able. Barter is commonplace, reducing reliance on government-issue cash.

The Pyongyang airport, six times the size of the old one it replaces, is very similar to airports elsewhere, except it is in new condition. As with Cuba for six decades, Korea is more cut off from the U.S. than from any other country, a condition that is at least as much imposed by us as by them.

Still, they have the bomb and will soon have means of delivery (however unreliable). “Military first” is a founding slogan of today's North Korea—as it is (only not explicitly stated) with today's United States of America. We picture their leader as somewhat ridiculous, possibly feeble-minded and unpredictable. This probably bears little resemblance to the real man but is a dead ringer for our own head of state.

One thing remains certain. An attack by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on another country would result in the DPRK's quick destruction, a fact known by all and promulgated by our ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. The rising hysteria that is being fanned in this country has little basis in the few facts we know of North Korea, but it has long been noted that people are easier to manage when they're scared.

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CHRONICLE OF A FLOOD FORETOLD

by Jeffrey St. Clair

Houston didn’t need to be warned. The city had already been sunk by four major hurricanes, each less powerful than Harvey, in the last 80 years. Generational storms. But boomtowns have short memories. After each epochal deluge, Houston rebuilt on the ruins. Rebuilt in a Texas way: Bigger. Brasher. Gaudier. Rebuilt on the very same vulnerable grounds. In the same pathway of destruction.

After each inundation, Houston got larger, as if to defy the mutating atmosphere gathering against it. It grew, it bulged and it sprawled. Into bayous. Into swamps. Into brownfields and floodplains. Into coastal prairies. Ripping up the last natural defenses between the city and the well-beaten storm track. Houston absorbed oil men, ex-presidents and immigrants, retirees, hedge funders and refugees from Katrina. Forty thousand new residents stream into the city every year. Houston grew and grew until it swelled into the second largest city in the nation in terms of land area it consumed and the fourth in terms of population. Bigger than Dallas, bigger than Boston, bigger than Phoenix, bigger than Philly.

Houston got bigger, but so did the hurricanes. Now the only barrier between Houston and the storms is the toxic crescent of oil refineries and chemical plants that spike up along the Gulf Coast from Beaumont to Corpus Christi. There would be no escape from Harvey. There will be no escape from the next storm or the ones following that. Storms which will be wetter, fiercer and more poisonous. Storms fueled by a Gulf that is warming inexorably, whose waters are rising inch by inch, year by year. Storms envenomed by the deadly detritus of the very industry which has super-charged them.

Tropical Storm Harvey entered the cauldron Gulf of Mexico on August 23, rapidly intensified, formed an eye and was declared a Hurricane the following day. Fed by the sun-seared waters of the Gulf, Harvey roared into a Category 3 storm in a matter of days, swirling with 100 mph winds as it bared down on the Texas coast. In the early morning hours of August 26, Harvey slammed into Rockport as a Category 4 storm, lashing the town with a ferocious storm surge propelled by 130 mph winds. Boats were torn from their moorings, trees were uprooted and sent flying, entire blocks of buildings were obliterated. Three hours later the storm had traversed Capano Bay before smashing into the town of Holiday Beach, where suddenly it began to slow, edging closer and closer to Houston, until the storm finally stalled for two days, a hovering cyclone of destruction, as it unleashed 50 inches of rain on the most densely populated swath of land on the Gulf. Then it backed out onto open water again, reorganized itself, and crawled north making landfall again near the oil port of Beaufort, then tearing up into Louisiana, where it swamped hundreds of homes in Lake Charles under four feet of water.

As the waters surged into Houston’s bayous, streets and neighborhoods, more than 30,000 people fled their homes looking for shelter. Bay City was evacuated, as the downtown submerged under 10-feet of water. The town of Conroe was cleared on August 28, after the local dam began to overflow. The next day a levee along the Columbia Lakes breached and with the waters rising more than 6 inches an hour the Army Corps of Engineers began spilling water out of the dams at both Barker and Addison Reservoirs, flooding Buffalo Bayou. In a scene that resembled the fleet of Little Ships in the film “Dunkirk,” the so-called Cajun Navy of volunteer boaters deployed into the floodwaters to rescue people trapped on the roofs of houses, cars and buildings and clinging to overpasses, trees, and floating telephone poles.

At least 60 people perished in the floods and the death count is still rising. According to the Texas Department of Safety, 185,000 homes were damaged by the floodwaters, at least 10,000 of them rendered uninhabitable. Thousands remained in shelters two weeks after the storm dissipated with nowhere to go.

Along the petro-chemical zone, refineries flooded, pipelines ruptured, chemical plants exploded, and toxic waste sites were swamped. An early estimate, almost certainly low, calculated that two million pounds of hazardous chemicals had been released into the air during the flood by the big oil companies alone. Two oil tanks ruptured spilling 30,000 gallons of crude into the floodwaters. Another storage tank released 9,500 gallons of highly toxic wastewater. These were only the highlights in a state where regulators are charged with concealing not exposing such incidents.

In the spirit of American exceptionalism, Trump called the flooding “unprecedented.” Wrong. It wasn’t even unprecedented for that very same week, as more than 2500 people perished in flooding from monster storms in Sierra Leone and Bangladesh. With the even more potent Hurricane Irma charging across the Caribbean toward Florida, these super-storms are beginning to look like the new normal. We hear the boosters and politicians reassuringly describe Harvey as a “1000-year event”. The term itself suggests that the hurricane was the product of some vast celestial cycle for beyond human influence. Nonsense. This was Houston’s third “500-year flood” in the last three years! Time must be moving much faster now.

The liberal response to all of this is to demand that Trump make a public act of contrition by acknowledging the existence of climate change in some primetime speech. How quaint. I don’t care what Trump believes or what he says. What difference could it possibly make at this point? Climate change is a fact. The sea levels are rising. The polar ice caps are melting. The forests of the West are burning. The Colorado River is dwindling. The snowpack in the Rockies, Sierras and Cascade Mountains is shrinking. Bird migration patterns are changing. Coral Reefs are bleaching out. Salmon and grizzlies are being driven toward extinction. All of this is happening whether Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt believe it or not. And there’s little they could do to change the dynamic, even if they were willing to try.

Barack Obama prattled poetic platitudes about global warming week after week for eight years and over that time atmospheric carbon levels rose from 392 PPM in 2008 to 412 PPM this summer. Since Obama took office, the average water temperature of the Gulf of Mexico rose by 1 degree Fahrenheit and the sea level of the Gulf is now six inches higher than it was when Rita hit the coast of Texas in 2005. I tend to see Harvey as the latest aftershock of the political mentality that led to Deepwater Horizon. The Obama mentality, if you will. The pious mentality that signs the toothless Paris Accords, while authorizing deepwater drilling, fracking, coal liquidification, mountaintop removal mining, LNG terminals and offshore drilling.

At root, Trump and Obama share the same lethal ideology of endless growth and consumption that has served as a death warrant on the planet and millions of new solar panels and wind turbines won’t bring us back from the brink. Trump may believe his own bullshit. Obama knew better and didn’t have the guts to speak the truth. What is that truth? That unchained capitalism is the invisible hand driving the destruction left by Katrina, Sandy and Harvey. Here I’m not referring only to the manufactured power of the new breed of hurricanes themselves, but to the moral blindness that stalks the aftermath, an omnivorous economic machine that learns nothing from so much tragedy, privation and death.

In a few months, amnesia will once again begin to grip Houston and the Gulf Coast. The reconstruction will begin. Bridges, roads and levees will be repaired. The refineries will fire back up. The chemical plants will resume their dark operations. New buildings will be built on the old, financed by federal and state subsidies and loans. Houston, which brands itself “the city without limits,” will continue its ceaseless expansion. The displaced will quietly move on, desperately looking for shelter and work in San Antonio, Memphis, Biloxi. But what’s misery for many is a business opportunity for the few. The most malign kind of looting is done by the post-disaster speculators, bankers and real estate magnates who will pilfer the wreckage for profit. Five years from now Houston will look shiny and new again, as it blindly awaits the flood next time.

* * *

"When The Levee Breaks"

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break

When the levee breaks I'll have no place to stay

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan

It's got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home

Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well

Don't it make you feel bad

When you're tryin' to find your way home

You don't know which way to go?

If you're goin' down South

They got no work to do,

If you don't know about Chicago

Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good

Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good

When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move

All last night sat on the levee and moaned

All last night sat on the levee and moaned

Thinkin' about my baby and my happy home

Going, going to Chicago...

Going to Chicago...

Sorry but I can't take you...

Going down... going down now... going down....

(Led Zeppelin)

* * *

HUMAN NATURE is not black and white but black and gray.

— Graham Greene

* * *

SWAMP FEVER

by James Kunstler

Further proof, as if more were needed, that God is rather cross with the world’s number one exceptional nation: Hurricane Irma is tracking for a direct hit on Disney World. In the immortal words of the Talking Heads: This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.

Houston is still soggy and punch-drunk, with a fantastic explosion of breeding mosquitoes, and otherwise it’s not even in the news anymore. This week, the cable networks had their scant crews of reporters scuttling around Florida, asking the people here and there about their feelings. “What’s gonna happen is gonna happen….” I think I heard that one about sixty times, and there’s actually no disputing the truth of it.

For the moment, though (Friday morning), it’s a little hard to calculate the effect of a complete scrape-off, wash, and rinse of the state of Florida vis-à-vis the ongoing viability of the US economy. There’s going to be a big hole with dollars rushing into it and that will likely prompt the combined powers of the US Treasury, congress, and the Federal Reserve to materialize tens of billions of new dollars. Overnight the DXY plunged to a new low for the year.

Am I the only observer wondering if Irma may be a fatal blow to the banking system? The mind reels at the insurance implications of what’s about to happen. Urgent obligations triggered by an event of this scale can’t possibly be serviced. Look for it to snap the chain of counterparty leverage that has been propping up the banks, insurers, and pension funds on mere promises for years on end. Finance, both private and public, has been feeding off unreality since well before the tremor of 2008. The destruction of Florida (and whatever else stands in the way up the line) will be as real as it gets.

You’ve heard the old argument, I’m sure, that a natural disaster turns out to be a boon for the economy because so many people are employed fixing the damage. It’s not true, of course. Replacing things of value that have been destroyed with new things is just another version of the old Polish Blanket Gag: guy wants to make his blanket longer, so he cuts a foot off the top and sews it onto the bottom. The capital expended has to come from something and somewhere, and in this case it probably represents the much talked-about necessary infrastructure spending that is badly needed for bridges, roads, water and sewer systems, et cetera, in all the other parts of the USA that haven’t been hit by storms. Instead, these places and the things in them will quietly inch closer to criticality without drawing much notice.

The second major weather disaster this year may not be enough to induce holdouts to reconsider the issue of climate change, but it ought to provoke some questioning about the development pattern known as suburban sprawl, which even in its pristine form can be described as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. Surely there will be some debate as to whether Florida, or at least parts of it, gets rebuilt at all. The wilderness of strip malls, housing subdivisions, and condo clusters deployed along the seemingly endless six-lane highways that accumulated in the post-war orgy of development was an affront to human nature, if not to a deity, if one exists. There are much better ways to build towns and we know how to do it. Ask the shnooks who paid a hundred bucks to walk down Disney’s Main Street the week before last.

Apart from all that remains the personal tragedy that awaits, the losses of many lifetimes of work invested in things of value, of homes, of meaning, and of life itself. Many people who evacuated will return to… nothing, and perhaps many of them will not want to stay in such a fragile place. But the America they roam into in search of a place to re-settle is going to be a more fragile place, too. A week or so after Irma has gone away, the ill-feeling that heaps this country like a swamp fever will still be there, driving the new American madness into precincts yet unknown.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)

* * *

PACIFIC ISLAND FIREFIGHTING CREW HEADS HOME

There are 541 crews currently assigned to wildland fires across the western U.S. traveling to incidents, working long, hot, arduous days, and resting a few days before doing it all over again. One of these crews recently traveled home approximately 8,000 miles after a month of firefighting in California.

In early August, a 15-member Saipan crew from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) arrived in California and was assigned to the July Complex, a series of lightning caused wildfires on the Modoc National Forest. The crew spent two weeks working on the fireline, then received days off before returning to firefighting on the Six Rivers National Forest.

Through the U.S. Forest Service’s Cooperative Fire Program, resources such as the CNMI crew can be ordered to assist with wildfires on the mainland. The mission of this program is to work with our Pacific partners to increase capability in the fire community. These partners include: Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, American Samoa, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

This program also sends instructors from the mainland to the islands to provide a variety of wildland fire training courses. Graduates from the basic wildland fire training are chosen, through a competitive process, to serve on the crew each season. When the CNMI crew is ordered to the U.S. to assist with wildfires, instructors may have the opportunity to serve on the crew as a senior firefighter or crew boss.

Victor Espinoza, a crew boss with the Sequoia National Forest said, “I’ve really enjoyed working with this crew. They are eager to learn and have a very strong family culture, which makes it easier for them to work together as a team. Forest Service employees that are working with the crew are learning as much from the crew, as they are learning from us.”

The crew was hosted by the Mendocino National Forest during its stay in the U.S. Thanks to the Saipan crew members for their assistance during this long, challenging fire season. We look forward to their return.

Crew members on the fireline

 

Group shot

 

–Punky Moore, Public Affairs Officer, Forest Service

* * *

MATEEL GM REFLECTS ON THE FAILURE OF THIS YEAR’S REGGAE FEST, THE FUTURE OF THE COMMUNITY CENTER AND SOHUM’S COLLAPSING WEED ECONOMY

by Ryan Burns

Justin Crellin, general manager of the nonprofit Mateel Community Center, isn’t quite sure why the organization’s trademark event and primary fundraiser, Reggae on the River, turned out to be such a financial dud this year. But he has some theories:

The low attendance may have had something to do with the lineup, with California-based acts such as Slightly Stoopid and Stick Figure proving less appealing to fans of old school roots reggae.

Or — a related theory — it may have to do with growing generational and cultural divides. Thirty-three years in, organizers of the annual festival are trying to appeal to young people and SoHum newcomers without alienating the fans who’ve been coming since the beginning. Plus there are now countless other music festivals to attend each year, including the Northern Lights Music Festival at Cooks Valley Campground.

And then there’s the financial component. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the local weed industry — long the lifeblood of Southern Humboldt — has cratered this season, with an overabundance of product leading to sharp declines in wholesale prices. If people are working harder for lower profits, they’re less likely to have disposable income for a four-day festival.

What’s clear, Crellin said, is that it was the local community that didn’t come out in its usual numbers to support the fest. In the weeks leading up to the Aug. 3-6 event, online ticket sales were strong, thanks largely to customers in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

“In the past with locals, the majority would either buy at local [ticket] outlets or come in [to the festival] for single-day tickets,” Crellin said. But the usual 11th-hour “Humboldt time” purchases didn’t materialize. “That’s definitely where we saw a reduction this year. I would certainly say Reggae this year didn’t have the local support we’ve had in past.”

Meanwhile, locals have been offering their own reasons for skipping Reggae. In a Garberville-focused Facebook group, popular explanations include the length of the four-day event, the quality of the lineup, the price of tickets and a change in atmosphere of the event.

“The vibes at ROTR went from peace and mushrooms to fuck off and cocaine,” one woman wrote. “Times have changed.”

Parents said it’s not a friendly place for children anymore, and several women said they fear sexual assault (for which there is a precedent).

Another comment:

It used to be THE event of the year where all the locals turned up. We all camped together in volunteer camping and basically partied for two to three days. The drugs were lsd and mushrooms. The vibes were (mostly) friendly, safe, and happy. People looked out for and took care of each other. Last year when I went there were more hard drugs, lots of drunks, and a ton of rude people, not to mention three rapey vans with skulkers loitering around them. Didn’t feel safe at all, didn’t see many locals outside of the staff area, and certainly didn’t remind me much of the “good old times.”

Whatever the reasons, the result was a surprising and potentially devastating financial loss for the Mateel Community Center, an organization that offers everything from barbecues and music festivals to kids’ aikido lessons, fine art programs, comedy, theater and more.

Last week Crellin sent an urgent email to members of the Mateel breaking the news and imploring them to attend a Sept. 19 meeting to discuss the future of the organization and the festival.

“Very challenging times lie ahead,” Crellin wrote. “[T]here are difficult decisions to make, and the future of both [Reggae on the River] and the [Mateel Community Center] is at stake.”

In a conversation with the Outpost earlier this week, Crellin elaborated a bit about what went wrong, what’s at stake and what the changing SoHum community must do if it wants to save both Reggae and the Mateel.

Organizers worked to keep costs down, he said, reducing the number of comp tickets and bringing in more volunteers, but the lower attendance meant a double-hit on revenue, affecting not only ticket sales but also concessions and other income streams generated during the festival.

Regarding this year’s slate of artists, Crellin said, “When we put these lineups together we try for diversity. We think about where reggae is globally as a genre.” That means bringing in acts from around the world. But organizers are also conscious of changing tastes.

It’s been 33 years” since the festival began, Crellin said. “It’s not same attendees as back in the day. … To stay relevant we need to cater to younger fans while remaining true to [Reggae] as a cultural event.” Slightly Stoopid and Stick Figure have proven to be popular draws, with the former filling the Mateel. But they’re not universally liked.

“We didn’t feel we tipped the scales to being overly California, but there’s a bit of a schism in reggae,” Crellin said. “Our logic was to bring in younger folks, to cultivate an audience to support [the festival] in long the run.”

He brought up the changing economy in Southern Humboldt, and we mentioned hearing stories about local weed farmers being unable to sell their crop for previously unheard-of low price of $750 or even $500 per pound.

“We were hearing the $500 figure,” Crellin said. “That’s definitely a factor.”

But he thinks there also might have been a failure in messaging. Organizers haven’t emphasized how important Reggae is to funding the Mateel throughout the year.

“That’s not necessarily in people’s consciousness, the correlation between those two things,” Crellin said. “Reggae on the River and the Summer Arts and Music Festival are our two bread-and-butter fundraisers. It will be important to get people to understand the need for deep community support” if they want those events to continue, he said.

There are lots of new arrivals in Southern Humboldt, people who moved here to capitalize on the region’s weed bonanza in one way or another. But the population boom doesn’t automatically result in higher attendance at local festivals.

Despite there being more people in hills these days, maybe some of the new arrivals aren’t dialed in yet to the importance of these events,” Crellin said. “We need to figure out how to invite some of these people to Reggae on the River and the Mateel [so they come] to view this as their community center.”

How dire is the financial situation? Crellin didn’t want to get into specifics. He just said that, because the festival has been such a reliable fundraiser for the past three decades, organizers were caught totally unprepared.

“To take a loss, that’s just crippling,” he said. The organization now has a “fairly significant debt load” that will “compromise the Mateel in the near term if a path forward doesn’t emerge soon.”

He’s hoping to find investors or partners to help finance Reggae on the River and said a number of proposals have already been made. He’s hoping more are presented at the Sept. 19 meeting.

“There’s a lot at stake right now,” Crellin said. “Is it possible that the Mateel will fall by wayside? Absolutely not. But Reggae on the River is a question mark.”

He sounded stunned to be saying this about “probably the most iconic festival in Humboldt County,” but he remains hopeful that it can be saved. With new ideas and, perhaps, some new investors he believes Reggae is “well-poised to enter another phase of existence.

Regardless, he said this is bigger than just one annual festival.

“Even if people aren’t fans of Reggae on the River, other stuff is important. For fans of any style of art or entertainment, it’s important to support the things you’d like to see happening in our community.”

He implored people to show up at the meeting later this month with their opinions and ideas. The gathering will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 19, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Mateel Community Center, 59 Rusk Lane in Redway.

(Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)

* * *

WHERE CALI-KA-ZOWEE {CANNABIS} COMES FROM

[click to enlarge]

* * *

MEMO OF THE AIR: GOOD NIGHT RADIO FRIDAY NIGHT!

Live from the back room of the KNYO storefront at 325 N. Franklin, Fort Bragg. So if you want to come in and play your musical instrument(s) or recite poetry or talk about your project or unfair firing or Hostility House, or whatever, just wander in any time after 9pm, head for the lighted room through the half-curtained doorway and get my attention. I always bring enough material to read the whole time even if no-one shows up or calls, so there's no pressure. (I'm mainly there just to read aloud on the air everything you email me to read and the interesting bits of what I've been reading all week. The deadline to get your story in is always about 5 or 6pm on the night of the show, whether I'm in town or live from Juanita's; of course there's email there too. And if you miss that deadline, and you can't wait until next week, phone during the show and read your work in your own voice. And if there will be swears, wait till after 10pm to call, otherwise it agitates the weasels.* 707-962-3022.)

Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to about 4am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, including midnight to 3am 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. And also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org or http://TuneIn.com

*When I mention the weasels in that context, it's because of the Cordwainer Smith story that ends with a planet's main defense against attack from space being hundreds of tortured, miserable mutant telepathic weasels kept asleep in a vault until an enemy force enters the system, then a watch witch wakes them and directs their attention to the enemies, and the full force of the weasels' pain and self-loathing is unleashed in a burst of psychotic energy, and the enemies destroy themselves and each other with their own fingernails and teeth. Then the planet has to get another watch witch, because a single use of this defense instrument burns out her brain. Cordwainer Smith was big on people as tools that can be burned out by nobly fulfilling their function.

Also his story-title sense was impressive. Some of my favorites: The Game of Rat and Dragon; Golden the Ships Were, Oh! Oh! Oh!; Alpha Ralpha Boulevard; No! No! Not Rogor!; The Ballad of Lost C'Mell. And so on. Look up Cordwainer Smith and read about him. He had an amazing life. Serving as a translator/spy in the Korean War, in a single afternoon he saved thousands of lives by an ingenious poetic trick of translation.

Marco McClean
memo@mcn.org
http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com

* * *

SPECIAL BOARD OF RETIREMENT MEETING

September 13 & 14, 2017

Please visit www.mendocinocounty.org/retirement to view the agenda and supporting documents.

Judy Zeller

Judy.Zeller@mendocinocounty.org

* * *

THE TRUTH has never been of any real value to any human being – it is a symbol for mathematicians and philosophers to pursue. In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.

–Graham Greene

* * *

CROSSING

by Manuel Vicent

Translated by Louis S. Bedrock

At the end of summer, on your way home, you begin to navigate along a new course at the mercy of dark forces that stalk you in a sea that is filled with dangers.

It is necessary to be well prepared.

To arrive home safe and sound in a sheltered harbor, after getting around all the obstacles of the difficult crossing, there is no safer ship than the first paper boat that we made when we were kids with a sheet of paper from our school notebook in which we had recorded our purest dreams.

After folding the paper several times is a certain way, you would open it up and suddenly the most wonderful sailboat would appear between your fingers. With a light push, you launched it from a bank of the pond and it began to sail through the stagnant water beneath the flight of green and yellow dragonflies. It could be a pirate ship, a ghost ship, a merchant ship, or a battleship.

Although the pond was inhabited by frogs, the boat always managed to carry our dreams to the other bank uncontaminated. It was a boat that never shipwrecked.

We live in hazardous times amid violence and banality. You don’t know who is watching you, who is controlling you, or who is making decisions for you, but you are aware that someone can press the button that will blow you to smithereens.

There are no longer teachers to follow or solid values to hold on to; and since everything is permitted but nothing is certain in this confusing crossing, salvation is now a question entrusted to the imagination of each seafarer.

A prisoner condemned to a life sentence discovered the only way to escape: he painted a wide open window with a blue horizon on the wall of the dungeon and through this window he achieved his freedom.

That paper sailboat that you made with a sheet of paper from your school notebook, to carry your dreams, can become a rescue boat if the dreams it was carrying have not been betrayed.

 

 

7 Responses to Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Sep. 9, 2017

  1. mr. wendal Reply

    September 9, 2017 at 2:16 am

    re:CROSSING

    It’s another beautiful translation of Vicent’s work and a nice way to end today’s reading of the AVA. Thank you.

  2. michael turner Reply

    September 9, 2017 at 6:32 am

    You’re not going to control the opioid crisis until you fix the medical disability system. The welfare system morphed into the medical disability system beginning with the Clinton Administration in the 90s. Whereas formerly you had to demonstrate indigence to receive financial aid, now financial benefit was linked to disability, the definition of which expanded and became nebulous. Claims of chronic pain are hard to quantify and harder to refute. Those claiming chronic pain as a disability receive not only a monthly stipend, but prescriptions for pain medications. What better way to document your disability then regular visits to doctors with escalating demands for treatment? Yet drug testing these patients often shows them to have no prescription drugs in their systems. Why? Because you can often make more selling your prescription drugs than you receive in your monthly check. So there’s a doubled financial incentive for claiming chronic pain. News reports on this crisis often focus on the financial incentives for the pharmaceutical and medical professions. While these are certainly there, the real genesis lies at the grass roots level, within the so-called culture of poverty. Instead of reforming welfare we merely medicalized it. This is not to say that medical disability is wholly fraudulent. Certainly the poor and disabled have much higher rates of chronic cardiopulmonary disease, obesity, diabetes etc. But chronic pain and its treatment has insinuated itself into health care for the poor, particularly the rural poor, with the perverse results demonstrated in the graph above.

    • George Hollister Reply

      September 9, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Thanks for that input.

  3. burnunit Reply

    September 9, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Don’t worry Lil’ Dog, it won’t be long before Skrag is found dead in the middle of 128, as cats are wont to do!

    Then you can relax with the knowledge that that homeless deadbeat is no more!

    Now, if we could only make that work for the human variety.

  4. sohumlily Reply

    September 9, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Lovely, Louis. Thanks.

    on another note

    That mask is *scary*…

  5. susie de castro Reply

    September 9, 2017 at 11:48 am

    The real victims in this opioid crisis are the innocent people who show up to the E.R. or physician’s offices with real emergencies, like having been prescribed an antibiotic that produced sides effects so severe, you are doubled over. You present to the E.R. where you feel medical personnel question the veracity of your words. You wait for so long to be treated that now other organs begin to be affected – your body is in severe crisis mode. Finally, anti-spasmodic medication mixed with Tylenol is prescribed and the crisis subsides, but you now have to take take another antibiotic because there is another organ involved. You go home, but have to return to the E.R. two more times.
    You are unable to eat because you vomit or have diarrhea or bleed, internally, but you don’t want to return to the E.R. You go, instead to the physician’s office where it all started because that is where you are assigned. They can’t do anything for you, other than offer Mylanta. Weeks go by and you are up from 9:00 p.m. when it strikes, until 4:00 a.m. when the stomach cramps subside. Miraculously, your Primary Care physician insists you begin taking baby steps: BRAT: absolutely nothing to eat, except bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. You have been on this diet for one year, because sometimes foods can make you bleed. Unfortunately, you’ve also discovered that you can eat as much chocolate ice cream, as you want.
    *the doctors are also victims in this crisis, too.

  6. Bruce McEwen Reply

    September 9, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Did Rush evacuate for Andrew?

    I forget, but I remember this song by Jay Leonheart in the key of C Major:

    “Carbon monoxide is spilling from cars,
    It blots out the sun and it blots out the stars…

    Heating the atmosphere, so scientists say,
    And melting the ice caps …away.

    (tinkle the alto ivories, here)

    As the ice melts, it is not surprising,
    The oceans are ever so steadily rising…

    Steadily rising, through high tide and low…
    Florida will be first to go.

    (Tempo picks up for the chorus):

    Good-bye Miami, Goodbye Lauderdale,
    Pass me a bucket, pass me a pail…

    Old folks in condos are up to their knees
    In a saline solution with palm trees…

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