Letters To The Editor

by Letters to the Editor, February 10, 2011

PULLING TEETH

Editor,

I was born in 1938. In that year the American Medical Association got the legislation it wanted from the FDR Administration here in the USA. A day that should go down in infamy if nothing else! A day where the US government sided against the American people and took the side of the AMA. A day when the United States government made medicine a legal monopoly, greatly improving the incomes of the medical profession while passing the costs on to the American people. It was passed June 25,1938. Our freedoms took a massive “hit” that day.

After this date, you had to get a doctor's prescription for medicine, even if you knew what was  needed and had been using this medicine before. Since the doctor charged a fee for the office  visit, this was an excellent means by which the incomes of doctors could be increased. Really no different than any other government enforced monopoly where you have no choice but to pay the increased costs simply to obtain access to medicine. Then the doctors also found that they could “control” their patients' lives by exploiting this monopoly provided to them by government. Not only did you have to have your prescriptions renewed on a regular basis, but the doctor could also require you to purchases services from him that you felt you really didn't need. But you had no choice in the matter because with government enforced prescription laws, you had to have a doctor's prescription to obtain your medicine.

The closest parallel to this would be the illicit dealer of illicit drugs. Create a group of addicts, charge them “whatever the traffic will bear” and you are on the road to wealth until the police catch up with you. The only difference here is that doctors can do this legally. Then with medical insurance the doctor can make more money yet because you are more likely to go along with this because in most cases the money isn't coming out of  your pocket (or it appears this is the situation, although in reality you end up paying for all  this in one way or another).

This is really a great deal for doctors and they have pretty much now convinced the general public that this sort of monopoly is right and proper. That they have taken away from you the right to treat yourself (you are considered incompetent to do so) only adds increases the power that these professionals have over you. Then laws were  passed regarding hospitals which then gave them the power of monopoly. So when you do  get sick, you most likely pay far more than you would if you only were to use those services  that you actually required. But you have no choice because health care from A to Z is for  all practical purposes an absolute monopoly enforced by the might of government! With government “licensing” and everything else, you are virtually a right less “serf” despite the fact that you supposedly have a right to vote. Meaningless of course if you are given no choice except to vote (here in the US) for one of two pro-government, pro-monopoly political parties. Yes, there is the Libertarian Party, of which I am a member, but as us Libertarians only collect perhaps one percent (1%) of the vote in national elections, we are mainly impotent to alter this state of affairs as it exists.

I might note here that I am a dentist's stepson. My stepfather, who died in 1980, was one of the “old time” dentists that provided the services “you” wanted, not just a whole lot of stuff that you might not want to have to pay for. However, the “new type” dentists  have discovered that they too, like medical doctors, can force you to pay for all sorts of stuff that you might otherwise not choose to pay for. Part of this comes under the issue of “saving teeth” instead of pulling them. My stepfather would pull any tooth you asked to have pulled. To him, you were a “customer” and customers get what customers want.

However today's dentists don't work that way. While my stepfather was still alive and practicing dentistry, he told me that the young dentists taking over dentistry were only in it for the money. You see, the new style dentists understood that pulling a tooth is a “one time profit.” But if you “save” that tooth (much more expensive), you can then have the patient (remember a patient is not like a customer), come in every six months to have their teeth cleaned, inspected (by the dentist), most likely x-rayed. This is of course far more profitable than the sort of dentistry my stepfather practiced. To him you were a “customer.” To today's dentists you are a “patient” and patients are those who have little if any say in things.

You see, the source of wealth is always monopoly. And today's dentists have agreed among themselves not to pull teeth, but to force their patients to retain their teeth as long as possible because far more money can be made that way. And if you start to refuse all these cleanings, inspections, and x-raying, well, then if you do get a toothache, the dentist won't take care of you because you didn't “bribe” him by first agreeing to allow him to make a nice large profit off of you. This is how dentists here in the USA now operate. And by doing so making incomes like MD's now do. Mainly because they found out how to create  a “hold” over you, a “hold” over you like medical doctors now enjoy. Pays good too!

The legal profession has also created their own legal monopoly enforced by government. In their case the lawyers virtually are “government.” Take a look sometimes at what the occupations of most politicians is... Lawyers write the laws that other lawyers profit from. "One hand washes the other” is perhaps a good viewpoint when it comes to lawyers. They are “parasites” living off the people. They write the laws as politicians, laws that already benefit other lawyers. So the term “parasite” is a good term for them. This might go a long ways to explain many actions of government. Government is run by lawyers. They pass the laws in Congress, the President (another lawyer) signs the laws into law. We then have nine other lawyers (the Supreme Court) judging the laws passed by others of their profession. So I think you can see just “where” the problem is. Why things are as they are. Congress is filled with lawyers. Many of our Presidents have been lawyers. Many of those who “founded” the United States of American were lawyers.

The Democratic Party is filled with lawyers. The Republican Party is filled with lawyers. Doctors do have some value. Dentists also have some value. Lawyers? Very little. Can you now see “where” the problem is? That our so-called democracy is a myth! Why our living costs are so high? Why health care costs are zooming out of sight? Anywhere you look, there is a “licensed professional” getting wealthy off the rest of us... That is exactly “where” the problem is. What will have to be fixed before we can be free people once again? It's not just the US, it's the same all over!

Jerome Bigge,

Libertarian

Santa Rosa

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OFF WITH THEIR HEADS

Editor —

In 1987 Ronald Reagan (by executive order) abolished the fairness doctrine. No longer were the nation's radio and television stations required to present important public issues in a fair and balanced manner. With this decision, a wealthy few — station and network owners — were allowed to exploit mass media to brainwash the masses. Rupert Murdoch, General Electric and their ilk responded by buying up communications outlets and unleashing the power of the yell-meisters, the radio shockjocks and Fox News (sic) on the masses.

Democracies are fragile. (Hitler was a democratically elected leader.) They require a knowledgeable and engaged citizenry for their survival. We docile Americans take for granted our (remaining) freedoms and protests only lightly when they're withdrawn (i.e., the Patriot Act). Due to our indifference, this country has slowly devolved into a plutocracy — a political system that's run by (and for) the rich.

“America is a failed democracy. Not just failing. Failed.” These may not have been his exact words, but this is the gist of what I got from an interview with Bill Moyers last November on public television.

He went on to explain — all three branches of government are now under the direct or indirect control of a wealthy. This control is facilitated (and affirmed) by a recent Supreme Court decision (Citizens United) to roll back campaign spending limits on corporations. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same right to free speech as an individual.

With that decision, big money will be running this country for the foreseeable future. (I just wish they'd ruled that corporations had the same responsibilities as an individual.)

In theory, these issues could be resolved peacefully by a concerned and informed citizenry. Also, in theory, the rich might relax their stranglehold on the levers of power — in theory. But neither result is likely. Greed is seldom informed by any but violent means — such as occurred in France in 1789 and in Tunisia and Cairo last week. In revolutionary times, power tends to behave rather heavy-handedly. But, in a successful revolution, the elite fare poorly. During the French Revolution the guillotine was considered a humane and effective way to reduce the aristocracy’s influence.

Best regards,

Bart Boyer

San Diego

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POOR NUTMEG

Dear Editor,

Just an update on the saga of Nutmeg, Wallis Williams' little Shih Tzu registered hearing/ear service dog. Surprise! Nutmeg still resides in Angela Hooper's smoky 711 Club despite Judge John Behnke's final order that Wallis's dog was Wallis's dog and had been Wallis's dog all along. Funny that such a simple matter of titled ownership and American Kennel Club registration indisputably in Wallis's name required a court trial, many hearings and an Appeal, all on the taxpayer’s ticket. In addition, Wallis has paid Nutmeg's license fees and kept them updated. Judge Behnke issued a writ of possession in favor of Wallis Williams and against Angela Hooper. You would think that such an order would result in the return of her pet and hearing aid dog - both categories are judgment proof by law - to Wallis. Har de har.

This Writ permits a law enforcement officer to request that Angela return the dog, but not to enter and take him. For each attempt at dog recovery, Wallis would have to pay $85, multiple fees she cannot afford. Her other option would be for the police to take Nutmeg and impound him for 30 days of quarantine at considerable cost. Another unaffordable option, plus Wallis doesn't want Nutmeg jailed, left alone in a cell for a month. Another non-viable option. When Wallis requested that Judge Behnke order Angela Hooper to bring Nutmeg to court and return him to Wallis, he refused to take action. Limbo reigns. It's a standoff.

Three months later Angela Hooper files a request To Correct or Cancel Judgment, neglecting to serve Wallis, filing two months later than the legal 30 day deadline. Lo and behold! Judge Cindee Mayfield accepts this late filing, ignoring the fact that Judge Behnke has overruled this illegal request on the day it was filed. Ms. Mayfield decides that the court minutes do not accurately reflect the court's decision. Huh? Instead, the court minutes and Notice of Decision on the Small Claims Appeal over the custody of Nutmeg “could lead a reasonable person to believe that the court had denied Ms. Hooper's appeal. This was not the court's intent.” Huh? Since when do minutes written by a court clerk overturn a final decision after an appeal is lost? Judge Behnke states unequivocally that the dog is Wallis's, that Angela lost the appeal, both in his written orders and in open court.

Undeterred, Cindee Mayfield writes two single spaced pages of so-called clarification in which she reverses John Behnke, awarding Wallis's dog to Angela Hooper on the condition that Angela return the dog to Aeryn Richmonde, the breeder who originally sold the Shih Tzu to Wallis. Cindee Mayfield bases this baseless decision on Judge Basner's Small Claims decision of January 2008, to award Aeryn Richmond $7500 of Wallis's money when Wallis was first sentenced to Chowchilla Women’s Prison and unable to produce her receipts of payment for the falsely claimed property. For some reason — the hidden agenda? — Ms. Richmonde 's unproven allegations received more credence in court than all of Wallis's Williams meticulous documentation, receipts and bank statements, time lines, and impecable legal filings, in pro-per, with assistance from the legal self help court staff, the law library and numerous consultations. If this is an example of your judicial system at work, no wonder government is broke.

If Cindee Mayfield is unable to figure out that Wallis owns her own hearing aid dog, who is judgment proof, how can she possibly provide fair and equitable decisions with parents and family fighting for the custody of children? Remember too that those custody hearings are held in secret. Are Cindee Mayfield and John Behnke competing for the newly opened position of head of the Superior Court with conflicting decisions about who owns Nutmeg. Poor Nutmeg. This dog has been blinded in his left eye while in Angela Hoopers care. He has been stepped on by a drunken customer as reported to Wallis Williams by a horrified witness. Poor Nutmeg.

Sincerely,

Dorotheya M Dorman

Redwood Valley

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WAKE-UP CALL

Editor,

After listening to a recording of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s moving “I have a nightmare speech” (1967) denouncing America's Vietnam war and its use of lower-class cannon fodder, I went to the movies to celebrate the Martin Luther King holiday.

The mini-cinema doublebill featured Robert Altman's 1970 burlesque antiwar comedy, “M*A*S*H,” then a preview of an unreleased movie, “21 and a Wake Up” about the final year of the 24th Evacuation Hospital in South Vietnam.

I first saw “M*A*S*H” in late 1970 at the Seabee base at Port Hueneme in Southern California where I was stationed after returning from Vietnam in 1969.

The film was shown at the base “theater” — a cavernous Quonset hut with folding chairs for seating and a super king size bed sheet screen.

The theater was packed with rowdy, hooting Seabees and Marines, most of whom were Vietnam vets subject to being sent back to Vietnam for “temporary additional duty” (TAD). In the commotion I missed some important dialogue but it was a memorable, thrilling experience.

“M*A*S*H” is a sardonic, cynical take on the horrors of war with Korea standing in place of Vietnam. But Altman shot his war picture without the war — no battle scenes. The 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (“M*A*S*H” ) is three miles from the fighting and the doctors are more interested in sex, drugs, booze, golf and fly fishing.

This time around, I caught all the dialogue that was catchable, and, in my opinion, the best line in the film was delivered, deadpan, by Anderson Valley's René Auberjonois who played “Dago Red” Father Mulcahy.

Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) verbally abuses “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) and she screams out asking how such a degenerate, foulmouthed and, drunken slob could get into the Army. Father Mulcahy quietly says, “He got drafted.” And there it is in a nutshell — nuts getting shelled.

I'm reading Michel Zuckoff's fascinating oral biography, Altman which is not a hagiography. Like most creative geniuses, Altman was a Jekyll and Hyde character. Zuckoff points out that “M*A*S*H” established Altman as a director, but he was 44 years old when he made it. He was hired for “M*A*S*H” only after 15 other directors — including Stanley Kubrick, Sidney Lumet, Sydney Pollack, George Roy Hill and Stanley Friedkin — had declined. A Fox executive even tried to remove Altman before filming began, warning the producer, “You are making a deal with trouble.”

I think “M*A*S*H” is one of Altman's top three films along with “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and “Nashville.” Through brilliant wit, biting satire, and gallows humor he consistently told the impressionist truth, turning his actors lose to portray the utter folly of human endeavor.

How about an AVA feature on Rene Auberjonois? I'm sure he has some interesting memories. After “M*A*S*H” he starred in several other Altman films — “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” “Brewster McCloud,” “Images” and “The Player” where he played himself.

“21 and a Wake Up,” the first film about the Vietnam war to be shot on location in Vietnam, is based on a dozen true stories, most surrounding the final days of the 24th Evac Hospital in Long Binh, the last American hospital to close as America abandoned Southeast Asia.

Chris McIntyre, Marine Corps veteran (1967-1971) wrote and directed “21 and A Wake Up.” The film focuses on real people he knew in the Marines as well as the experience of Dr. Marvin Wayne, renowned and decorated physician at the 24th Evac in his final year.

The film stars newcomers Amy Acker, J.C. Chasez, Danica McKellar, Andre Royo, and Tim Thomerson and veteran actors Fay Dunaway, Tom Sizemore, Wes Studi, Ben Vereen and Ed Begley Jr.

For information on “21 and a Wake Up” and how to get a copy of the DVD go to www.21andawakeup.com.

The message from both films is summed up by former Army nurse Marcia Four who served in Northern I Corps of Vietnam in 1969 at the 18th Surgical Hospital. Interviewed by NPR correspondent Linda Neary, Marcia said, “If you have not been in war you cannot know war. War has a smell, and it crawls on your body.”

Perhaps President Obama should heed this message as he escalates the war on Afghanistan while pledging to “start” withdrawing troops in July 2012 — an election year.

Meanwhile, vice President Biden in a mid-January article by Ray Rivera in the New York Times is quoted as saying, “The United States, if the Afghan people want it, are prepared and we are not leaving in 2014.” Biden, in a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, promised a lasting commitment to the country well beyond 2014.

Who's in charge here? Who's the director?

What would Martin Luther King Jr. say if he were alive today?

Cheers,

Don Morris

Skunktown/Willits

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WHO’S THE BOSS?

Dear Editors,

Thanks to The Maj for that very nice list of facts for which the Board never asks the sheriff.

I don't know whether, technically speaking, the Board is the sheriff's “boss” or not, but the Board seems to have just a little something to say about the Sheriff's budget. This is a big step in the direction of the Board being “boss” and the sheriff, in essence, a subordinate. That's the way I see it.

Is it really true, though, that the Hamburg/Allman exchange was “entirely unproductive”? It seems to me that the exchange did net us something: a very clear image of Sheriff Allman as conclusionary (“We can't cut anymore”), belligerent, insolent and insubordinate — telling Supervisor Hamburg, “it's gonna be a long four years, I assure you.”

What a jerk. Maybe it has to be long, but must it be four years?

Peter Lippman

Reno

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SHADOWLAND

Editor,

Exploitation. What have you got that can't be taken?

Farina bangs her greed bowl. Groundhog Day, 2011.

Diana Vance

Mendocino

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SAVE OUR DEPUTIES

Editor,

If you are interested in working to keep both of our deputies in Anderson Valley, come join the newly formed task force. Our next meeting will be Friday, February 18 at 5pm in the Career Center at the high school — the newest building on campus on the right side of the main parking lot. Together we can a make a difference.

For more information call 895-2146.

Terry Ryder

Boonville

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FAIR PLAY FOR ANTONIA

To the editor —

Mr. Scaramella might be happy to know that I'm wearing my tinfoil hat as I write this. I consider his attack on Ms. Antonia Lamb to be highly offensive. I forgive him because I know that too many hours on the cellphone has affected his judgment.

Regardless, Ms. Lamb is correct when she asks why “this technology” is being forced on us? As a taxpaying citizen of Mendo, I ask the same question.

Also, what does Mr. Cockburn's opinion have to do with anything in Scaramella’s article?

Otherwise, I love the AVA!

Yours Truly,

Buddy Stubbs

Little River

Ed note: The Major has never owned or used a cellphone.

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CHECK ME OUT

Dear Mr. Anderson:

It’s my understanding that most publishers do not accept personal ads from prison inmates these days .Few who do require the ad itself to provide notice that it is placed by a prisoner. As I don’t expect you to believe a word I say, below you will find personal references, my ex-wife (Christina Sims) and a friend (former landlord, Jae Allen). (Reference contact info available on request.) I’ll accept their judgments to my benefit or otherwise. I’m 60 years old, unlikely to be released, and have served some 30 years for the death of a known predator in my community, somewhat unfairly labeled a “taking the law into your own hands” type of case. I was a former registered Democrat and voter, college drop-out, tech-school guy and suburbanite with no prior criminal record whatever from a working class and military family who have stood by me and maintained support these many years. So I’m not a typically “poor” prisoner. I would like to place a personal ad to read:

“PRISONER AUTHOR, ‘lifer,’ age 60, seeks semi-retiree to do easy stress-free research/fact checking or final edit of true-crime non-fiction. Some knowledge of Solano, Sonoma, Napa area and computer access desirable. Personal references. Snailmail: Ken Gage C-71542, PO Box 4000 11-114-L, Vacaville, CA 95696.”

If acceptable please advise of cost per week and of course the cost to reimburse for phone calls to check references.

Respectfully,

Kenneth E. Gage

Vacaville

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WHERE’S THE BEEF?

Editor,

Re: Alexander Cockburn’s column “President Gasbag,” last week:

Wow, what an analysis. You accomplished the almost inconceivable in writing 1,790 words of the English language, not a single one of which I can agree with. But I will say this, you laid down some stylish prose.

“Nothing about the costs of that Big Thing — the American gulag and its three million unproductive denizens.”

Of course, the ideal would be to eliminate crime and criminals. Since we fail at that, what’s the cost of incarcerating versus the cost of NOT incarcerating? It’s cheaper to incarcerate than to not, that’s why we do it. This is an area where we’d actually benefit from becoming quite a bit less ‘American’ and a lot more like the Japanese, who are very law abiding people. Japan has ‘criminals’, but the police and the criminals operate by an elaborate and well understood code of conduct. And civilians rarely get involved. If only American criminals (and cops) would act like that.

The cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we eliminated all those costs, it would reduce the current year deficit from $1.4T all the way down to $1.2T. Since 2001, we’ve spent $1T on the wars and added $8T to the debt. This is not to defend the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to point out that fanciful math doesn’t help the cause (whatever that may be).

The United States did not invent slavery; we inherited it from the British. It was a horror, a national shame, an inexcusable injustice, but the Founding Fathers didn’t just cook it up out of thin air. The three-fifths rule was the only thing that allowed the Constitution to pass muster with the states and get ratified. It might have been gratifying to pull a Barbara Boxer — fist thrust into the air — but then there’da not have been a United States to later perfect. And Washington and Jefferson were deeply troubled by slavery. Washington freed his slaves; he could afford to. Jefferson did not (he only freed five slaves) because he died deeply in debt. We did fight a Civil War to preserve the Union and end slavery, credit given where credit due?

It’s late, I have to go, best wishes to all in the Valley.

(Capt) Chuck Becker

AVHS ’68

West of the Farrallones, San Francisco

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THE JURY

Editor,

This is a photograph of my great-grandfather Silas G. Williamson (upper left corner) and some of his compatriots at a Civil War reunion sometime during the presidency of William McKinley. Silas and several others of these men served in the 10th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment and survived three years of hard fighting and harsh field conditions in campaigns from the Alleghenies to Appomattox. Their expressions speak volumes.

For the possible educational benefit of all the dopes, mopes, badd boyz, gang-wankers and ordinary bums and crooks who read the AVA, my father liked to call this picture: “The Jury.”

Jay Williamson

Santa Rosa

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WAR CRIMINAL IN PEARLS

Editor,

Thanks for the darkly humorous book review by Deborah Friedell: "He Wanted A Boy".  Aye, Ms. Rice's father wanted to raise a son. He raised, instead, a monster. If we can believe the memoir of a pathological liar and historical revisionist, the Rice family lived in a "placid cocoon" in the heart of the Jim Crow South, apparently unconcerned about the terror and violence being perpetrated upon their black brethren throughout the community. Segregation, she averred, provided the family a way to "control their environment."  That's a nice, disingenuous way of describing sheer denial, indifference and moral cowardice.

Rice glossed over that she lived just up the street from another girl who would grow up to be a powerful voice in American political culture: Angela Davis.  While children, they both knew a little girl who was killed when the KKK blew up a church with worshippers inside. Davis remembers being traumatized by the event. Rice doesn't mention it, probably because the girl was not a black "blueblood" and (worse) was a Baptist.

Deeply affected by the experiences of those days, Davis would become an outspoken activist for political, economic and social justice, focussing mainly on the plight of the black poor. Rice emerged from her "placid cocoon" to become a neocon. She became a scholar and political advisor on all things Russian -  a thumpin' good one, too, except for that tiny little matter of the Soviet Union's collapse, which she and her right-wing Russian-expert colleagues completely failed to foresee, insisting to the very last that the USSR was a powerful, growing threat to national security.

It would be a  telling irony if the jewelry counter incident described at the end of Friedell's review was the infamous "jewelry shopping" event of 2006. The Israeli war against Hezbollah in Lebanon was in full fury. The Israelis were bombing civilians and civilian infrastructure to bits throughout the country, even though Hezbollah forces were concentrated mainly along the southern border. On a day when foreign leaders and international organizations were pleading with the Bush administration to arrange a ceasefire, Rice - a member of Bush's cabinet - went shopping for jewelry.  When asked why Bush & Co. were not calling for a ceasefire and were continuing to replenish Israel's supply of bombs, her reply was typically cold and cruel: " We are seeing the birth pains of a new Middle East." It will be interesting to see how she spins her involvement in lying us into the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Today, Angela Davis teaches at UC Davis, lives a relatively modest lifestyle, and continues to be an outspoken critic of the growing social and economic injustice in America.  Condi, flush with her multi-million dollar book deal, teaches international relations (sic) at Stanford, and enjoys cocktails with other discredited neocons from the sclerotic Hoover Institute while treating them to a few bars of Chopin on her Steinway. By the standards of a half-dozen international laws and treaties to which the US is a signatory, she is a war criminal, an enabler of torture and a mass-murderer — who wears fine jewelry.

William Allen

Philo

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DRUNKS ON THE LOOSE

To Whom It May Concern.

The Boonville Saloon, on Hwy 128 in Boonville, is creating a public nuisance. Since the opening of the Saloon some months ago, the street in front of this establishment has been frequented by drunken patrons of this establishment. Loud fights and screaming into the early hours of the morning are routine. Last night a group of drunks were racing their cars up and down Highway 128 recklessly as well as yelling at the top of their voices into the early hours of Sunday.

Today one can see a dense pattern of tire marks that they left in the highway last night, including an inch deep depression in the crosswalk eroded by these drunks by spinning their tires in a stationary position. I am also sending a copy of this to the Mendocino Sheriff. My understanding of the permit process is that it is supposed to regulate just this sort of dangerous, drunken behavior.

I would appreciate some official attention to this public health hazard, and expect that the liquor license will be suspended if the establishment continues to serve alcohol to drunken patrons. Based on watching this operation from across the street for several months now I expect that this liquor license will be suspended pending further investigation.

Herb Ruhs, MD

Boonville

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PROSECUTING THE DUMBS ONES

Dear Editor:

George W. Bush canceled a trip to Geneva where he was scheduled to speak on February 12th at a dinner in honor of the United Israel Appeal. And there goes a big fat speaking fee. He canceled because the Center for Constitutional Rights and European human rights groups were planning to file a criminal complaint against Bush as soon as he entered Switzerland. Then the hope was the Swiss prosecutors would open a criminal case against him.

Now Cheney, Gonsalez, and Yoo who were directly involved in sanctioning the torture are far too smart to go to a country where they might be indicted, but, not good old Dubya. Bush didn't have a clue what was going on around him when he was President and he still doesn't have a clue.

In peace,

James G. Updegraff

Sacramento

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THINGAMAJIGS

Editor,

While one might perceive that PG&E’s smart meter system appears to be designed by Larry, Moe and Curly Joe, the real problem is that the FERC and other power regulators have not only put the cart before the horse. The horse is in another country while the FERC shakes hand with its new organization called the NIST to create standards that are not really considered, let alone out of the box. “The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA)1 directed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to coordinate development of a framework of, among other things, IT standards for ensuring that smart grid systems and networks are interoperable.( GAO report below.)” We could have them deployed by 2012 just in time to replace them when NIST completes the study.

Now these meters cost $200 each and well they have had problems, so sometimes one to three meters have been necessary to get it right, and at every mistake the power company goes to the mandators (AKA California’s PUC) for another rate hike, so rate payers can pay for a poorly designed system. What is revealing is that the meters are not secure as the GAO study shows and yet they are being ‘deployed’ on innocent civilians, who worry about friendly fire. Sorry the jargon got me.

We provided the Board of Supervisors with the AP article: “‘Smart’ meters have security holes: Flaws could allow hackers to tamper with power grid, researchers say,” by Jordan Robertson. The security company InGuardian was asked to explore five different version of the Smart Meter and found holes that would allow the introduction of worms, viruses and allow hackers to adjust power use figures up or down or manipulate the meters control of power or other Smart Appliances (turning them off or down.) Joshua Wright, a senior security officer felt that the SM technology is 10 years behind the time on security issues (March 26, 2010.)

Recently, the US General Accounting Office (GAO) points to similar concerns about security in a recent GAO report January 2011 ELECTRICITY GRID MODERNIZATION: Progress Being Made on Cybersecurity Guidelines, but Key Challenges Remain to be Addressed

“As we (GAO) and others have previously reported,5 these potential vulnerabilities include: increasing the use of systems and networks increases the number of entry points and paths that can be exploited by potential adversaries and other unauthorized users; increasing the use of new system and network technologies can introduce new, unknown vulnerabilities; interconnecting systems and networks can allow adversaries wider access and the ability to spread malicious activity; and increasing the amount of customer information being collected on systems (and transmitting it via networks) provides monetary incentive for adversaries to attack these systems, and could lead to the unauthorized disclosure and use of private information.

“For example, cybersecurity experts have demonstrated that certain smart meters can be successfully attacked, and the impact of such attacks includes the ability to disrupt the electricity grid. In addition, we reported in 2007 that certain smart systems — commonly referred to as control systems — used in industrial settings such as electric generation have cybersecurity vulnerabilities that, if exploited, could result in serious damages and disruption.6 Further, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with a DOE national laboratory, ran a test that demonstrated that a vulnerability, commonly referred to as ‘Aurora,’ had the potential to allow unauthorized users to remotely control, misuse, and cause damage to a small commercial electric generator. Moreover, in 2008, the Central Intelligence Agency reported that malicious activities against IT systems and networks have caused disruption of electric power capabilities in multiple regions overseas, including a case that resulted in a multicity power outage.”

While NIST largely addressed the key elements in developing its guidelines, it did not address an important element essential to securing smart grid systems and networks that NIST had planned to include. Specifically, it did not address the risk of combined cyber-physical attacks. “

The abstract (directly quoted) actually summarizes this best:

%Aspects of the regulatory environment may make it difficult to ensure smart grid systems’ cybersecurity.

%Utilities are focusing on regulatory compliance instead of comprehensive security.

%The electric industry does not have an effective mechanism for sharing information on cybersecurity.

%Consumers are not adequately informed about the benefits, costs, and risks associated with smart grid systems.

%There is a lack of security features being built into certain smart grid systems

%The electricity industry does not have metrics for evaluating cybersecurity.

With the Libertarian concern around privacy, in a time when robo-calls drive residents to consider phone destruction, and companies continue to know one’s personal business. The Smart grid plan is to put the life of resident’s power use, waking, sleeping, and absence through the vulnerable wireless air and onto the hackable web. There are reports that not only might the information be sold to inquisitive business but also actual access to the Smart cybergrid. PG&E representatives recently said that this part of the process is voluntary, but that is not the mandate of the Smart Grid concept which requires interactive connection with user’s appliances to control them in a potential black out scenario. One simply wonders about errors. Consider the accidental shutting down of the wrong customer, or a person unwilling to have remote control of their home by someone else.

The questions fly. One wonders, if this could simply be done with total daily consumption?  Is it necessary in low use rural areas? Would fiber optic plugged in lines have more security? France librarians and educational Administrators choose to go that way for three reasons: 1) security, 2) speed, and 3) health concerns. This with the added concerns of overcharges and trespass/damage to personal electronics or very personal health implants (heart, insulin etc.,) brings one back the 3-stooges concern, to be fair, at the administrator level. Why a total rollout? Why such expense that rate payers will pay now when everyone is pinching pennies? Why take chances?

Greg Krouse

Standing with straw fork near Meter

Philo

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FESTIVAL APPRECIATION

Editor,

The Fifth Annual Anderson Valley Film Festival yielded profits of just short of $2,000, all of which is earmarked for these Valley recipients: AV Animal Rescue, AVHS film class and senior scholarships, AV Senior Center, The Grange, and the AV Elder Home.

Those attending not only saw a wide variety of films for which the feedback was extremely positive, but hopefully also enjoyed the array of food and drinks on offer and the various discussions taking place, and perhaps even won one of the fabulous raffle prizes.

The festival is held yearly on the last weekend of January, and volunteer support is always welcome. On behalf of the AVFF Committee I would like to thank the 44 sponsors whose support during these tough economic times made the event possible, our wonderful crew of many volunteers, and of course those of you in our community who were able to attend.

(All films for the Sixth Annual Film Festival in January 2012 should be submitted before November 15th, 2011.)

Sponsors: Alicia’s Restaurant, Anderson Valley Advertiser, Anderson Valley Farm Supply, The Apple Farm, Jim Ball Winery, Boont Berry Farm Store, Boonville General Store, Boonville Hotel, Breggo Cellars, Brutacao Winery, Claudia Springs Winery, Joe Dresch at the Philo P.O., Drew Cellars, Esterlina Winery, Farmhouse Mercantile, Anne Fashauer, Golden Eye Winery, Greenwood Ridge Winery, Handley Cellars, Husch Winery, KOZT-95.3FM The Coast, KZYX&Z Community Broadcasting, Laughing Dog Books, Lauren’s Restaurant, Lemons Philo Market, Maple Creek Winery, Mendocino Brewery, Meyer Family Cellars, Mosswood Market, Navarro Store, Navarro Winery, North Coast Realty-Mike Shapiro, Perry Gulch Farm, Phillips Hill Winery, Philo Ridge Winery, Pic and Pay, ProSeed Landscape Contractors of Philo, Pugh’s Pumps, Roederer/Scharfenberger Wineries, Rookie-To Gallery, Sheep Dung Estates, Tom Towey, Toulouse Winery, and Yorkville Cellars.

Kind regards,

Steve Sparks, Festival Coordinator

Navarro

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