JAMES WALKER BENÉT (1914-2012)
We just received the sad news that Jim Benét, journalist and veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, passed away this weekend in Santa Rosa, California. This past August he was interviewed for Public Radio International; in July, he spoke with Nadya Williams for a piece in the Volunteer: Already a professional journalist in New York City, 23-year-old Stanford graduate Jim Benét arrived in Spain in the spring of 1937 to drive ambulances. Later he volunteered for combat. Before leaving for Europe, he wrote in the New Republic magazine that many in the crowd at a fundraising rally for the Spanish Republic in Madison Square Garden “feel (for they called out during the collection) that the money should be given for arms, instead of supplies.” Benét arrived in Spain soon after the destruction of the Basque city of Guernica in April 1937 by German incendiary bombers practicing their first “Blitzkrieg.” Cynically, he said, the Spanish fascists announced to the country and the world that “the Reds” had leveled the defenseless town. He saw combat in the battle of Brunete in July 1937 and then again during the first and second attempts to stop Franco’s offensives at Aragon in March and April 1938. Of combat, he recounted, “I saw a young Lincoln’s hair turn white, in the space of one week, completely white — from fear. He was then transferred away from the front.” “I’m very proud of the fact that my family name is Catalan,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m mostly Irish, but one eighth Spanish — from Catalonia.” After 15 months of duty, Benét left Spain in the fall of 1938 along with the other internationals. “We were tricked by the fascists,” he said of the defeat of Republican Spain the following year. “The fascists had much more technologically advanced weaponry, but the Republican and the international troops had greater numbers and bravery.” Benét, whose uncle was the famous Stephen Vincent Benét, author of “John Brown’s Body,” resumed his journalistic career with the New York bureau of TASS (the Soviet news agency) during World War II. He later worked for the San Francisco Chronicle for 20 years and for the Pulitzer prize-winning KQED television show Newsroom. For several years he taught at the university level. Until his death he lived alone in a cozy home in rural Sonoma County, assisted by regular housekeepers. He advises young people today to always question and seek truth for themselves, so that “when you get old you won’t feel, ‘I should have known. I should not have believed or accepted [the lies]’.” “Spain made a man of me,” Benét added. “Going to Spain was the right thing to do. You couldn’t have a better beginning in life! We thought then, and I know now, the civil war was a genuine attempt by the Spanish people to defend democracy against the tyrannical and inhuman regimes of Franco, Hitler and Mussolini.” — Sebastiaan Faber (Courtesy, “The Volunteer.” [Founded by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade] Photo by Phil Richardson.)
ON MONDAY MORNING, Dec. 10 at approximately 11:10am officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department responded to a report of a missing female adult. Fort Bragg Police contacted the reporting person, her husband, who told police he last saw his wife 5:30am that morning when she left to go for a walk. He stated he had not heard from her, stating they were preparing to leave Fort Bragg and drive to Santa Cruz. According to the husband, his missing wife, 61, did not have any identification, money or cell phone with her. This area is where the famous Fort Bragg Haul Road is located, a roadway closed off from vehicular traffic and used only for walking and bike riding. This road is also near the coastline. Fort Bragg Police requested assistance from State Parks, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and CalFire helicopter. A request was made for the Mendocino Sheriff Hound/Tracking K-9 from Ukiah. A ground search was conducted by all agencies. CalFire helicopter crew 902 arrived in the area and began a search of the cliff area. Within 40 minutes CalFire 902 located a female in a brushy area off Airport Road near the White property, east of the location where searchers were looking. The helicopter landed to check the female's status and Fort Bragg Police responded. During the contact the female became aggressive and began swinging a stick at the helicopter crew as State Park and Fort Bragg Police officers arrived on scene. Fort Bragg Police, with assistance from the other agencies, were able to control the female; she was taken to Mendocino Coast District Hospital for a mental health evaluation. The couple are from Canada. Fort Bragg Police wishes to thank all the agencies for their assistance and the CalFire helicopter 902 for their quick arrival and locating the missing person.
THE NEW COURTHOUSE for Ukiah is proceeding whether the rest of us want it or not, and few people apart from our cossetted cadre of judges, want it. A new County Courthouse is not needed.
The present Courthouse is old but serviceable. The new Courthouse will not include the many ancillary offices the old Courthouse now houses, which means the new Courthouse will contain only the judges, which further means huge inconvenience for everyone else.
And the new Courthouse will be a major eyesore for Ukiah, a town already struggling with visual squalor in most of its public areas. The public, as usual, is barely aware that this abomination is underway. Tonight, the Ukiah City Council will undoubtedly sign off on a cleanup of the area adjacent to the old train depot on Perkins where the Courthouse will rise, a hideous counterpoint to the prison-like complex to its north, the Ukiah Medical Center. Our eight Superior Court judges are shoving this project ahead just as they recently tried to reduce Ten Mile's operating hours with a view to closing it, all part of the grand strategy to benefit only themselves and their developer pals who will build County offices on adjacent parcels.
MENDOCINO COUNTY has agreed to house up to 10 inmates from the Shasta County Jail in an agreement that should bring in up to $80 per day for each Shasta County inmate housed locally. The memorandum of understanding for the program was approved at Monday's Board of Supervisor's meeting and depends on room being available. To ease California prison overcrowding, since 2011 many criminals who would have traditionally been sentenced to state prison are now being sentenced to county jail. At the same time, the Legislature nearly halved the time most inmates spend in prison or jail by increasing the credit each receives for time served. Mendocino County Jail has a maximum capacity of 304 beds and currently houses 256 inmates, according to Sheriff Tom Allman. While Mendocino County jails were not considered overcrowded when the new program began, other counties were not as fortunate. Some counties were routinely releasing jail inmates early just to make room for new ones. In 2005, there were 20 counties with court-ordered population caps and nearly a dozen with self-imposed caps. The caps led to the routine early release of 9,323 inmates per month and another 9,148 pre-trial releases, according to a 2006 report by the California Sheriff's Association. State-imposed realignment is already making that condition worse and is anticipated to place an ever-increasing burden on county jail systems as growing numbers of career criminals are sentenced to serve time in county jails rather than state prison. The Shasta County Jail had capacity problems before realignment. In March, Shasta County received a $33 million state grant for construction of a new 232-bed jail. The county turned down the grant in August due to the cost burden the new facility would place on the county general fund. Shasta supervisors estimated it would cost the county a minimum of $2.4 million for construction and an additional $5.5 million annually to operate the new jail. Shasta County Sheriff Bosenko told the Shasta County board of supervisors he would need to release about 4,600 inmates early from jail this year due to overcrowding. Shasta County was one of 11 counties receiving state grants for jail construction. Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles each received the maximum $100 million grant. The state estimates counties will need to add at least 9,222 new beds statewide to accommodate the new realignment burden, according to Assembly Bill 900. This is in addition to the needs which existed prior to 2011.
PRESS RELEASE OF THE DAY.
The San Francisco Bulls Professional Hockey Team, strong supporters of the Mayan calendar, are hosting the “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” game this Friday, December 21 at 7:15pm at the Cow Palace, when the Ontario Reign come to town for one last hurrah. Believers or not are invited to attend what could be the final game in the Bulls’ brief history of existence. “There is a lot of pressure to win the game on Friday because it could be the last,” said President and Head Coach Pat Curcio. “No matter what happens, we will finish the game. I don’t care if locusts invade or fireballs rain down on the Cow Palace. I have faith this old barn will withstand anything.” Fans attending the game are encouraged to wear their best “End of the World” outfits, be it zombies, Mayans, aliens or grim reaper costumes. Wearers of “End of the World” outfits can stop by the Guest Services table at the Main Lobby of the Cow Palace to receive two ticket vouchers to the Friday, December 28 contest between the Bulls and the Las Vegas Wranglers at the Cow Palace, in the event predictions are wrong. In addition, fans can visit the Bulls Facebook page at fb.com/sanfranciscobulls and enter for a chance to win a one month emergency supply of food and 10 tickets to the December 21 game. Fear not, seekers of sanctuary, the Cow Palace has withstood over half a century of storms, earthquakes and mobs, and may be the safest place to be on Doomsday, when the Mayan calendar is set to expire. Those that can prove that they sought refuge in Bugarach, France, but were denied entry, are allowed to seek refuge at the Cow Palace, free of charge the night of December 21. Please note, you must seek shelter elsewhere at the conclusion of the game. Throughout the game, a Doomsday theme will ignite the Cow Palace and fizzle the visiting Reign. Come be part of a fun night as we ring in the end of days in style. With the expectation of mass hysteria the day of the game, we recommend you purchase tickets early by calling 855-SF-BULLS or by visiting sfbulls.com/tickets. We’ll see you one last time at the Cow Palace, this Friday.
COMMENT OF THE DAY:
…Today merely four US banks have derivative exposure equal to 3.3 times world Gross Domestic Product. When I was a US Treasury official, such a possibility would have been considered beyond science fiction. Hopefully, much of the derivative exposure somehow nets out so that the net exposure, while still larger than many countries’ GDPs, is not in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. Still, the situation is so worrying to the Federal Reserve that after announcing a third round of quantitative easing, that is, printing money to buy bonds — both US Treasuries and the banks’ bad assets — the Fed has just announced that it is doubling its QE 3 purchases. In other words, the entire economic policy of the United States is dedicated to saving four banks that are too large to fail. The banks are too large to fail only because deregulation permitted financial concentration, as if the Anti-Trust Act did not exist. The purpose of Quantitative Easing is to keep the prices of debt, which supports the banks’ bets, high. The Federal Reserve claims that the purpose of its massive monetization of debt is to help the economy with low interest rates and increased home sales. But the Fed’s policy is hurting the economy by depriving savers, especially the retired, of interest income, forcing them to draw down their savings. Real interest rates paid on CDs, money market funds, and bonds are lower than the rate of inflation. Moreover, the money that the Fed is creating in order to bail out the four banks is making holders of dollars, both at home and abroad, nervous. If investors desert the dollar and its exchange value falls, the price of the financial instruments that the Fed’s purchases are supporting will also fall, and interest rates will rise. The only way the Fed could support the dollar would be to raise interest rates. In that event, bondholders would be wiped out, and the interest charges on the government’s debt would explode. With such a catastrophe following the previous stock and real estate collapses, the remains of people’s wealth would be wiped out. Investors have been deserting equities for “safe” US Treasuries. This is why the Fed can keep bond prices so high that the real interest rate is negative. The hyped threat of the fiscal cliff is immaterial compared to the threat of the derivatives overhang and the threat to the US dollar and bond market of the Federal Reserve’s commitment to save four US banks. Once again, the media and its master, the US government, hide the real issues behind a fake one. The fiscal cliff has become the way for the Republicans to save the country from bankruptcy by destroying the social safety net put in place during the 1930s, supplemented by Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” in the mid-1960s. Now that there are no jobs, now that real family incomes have been stagnant or declining for decades, and now that wealth and income have been concentrated in few hands is the time, Republicans say, to destroy the social safety net so that we don’t fall over the fiscal cliff. In human history, such a policy usually produces revolt and revolution, which is what the US so desperately needs. Perhaps our stupid and corrupt policymakers are doing us a favor after all. — Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury (under Reagan) and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, Wirtschaft am Abgrund (Economies In Collapse) has just been published.
A READER WRITES: “Nice piece on the parole board in last week's paper, which I finally read this morning. A suggestion to Sprinkle — in one of his past letters to the editor he disparaged the victims in his case. Bad idea. If the board ever got a copy of that he would really be screwed. You can do that — Sprinkle can't. As for not taking any responsibility for what went on that day in that car, good luck with that one. He's got to work all that out for himself in his own head. I'm not saying the guy isn't getting screwed, he is. But he has to bring something to the table other than "I didn't do it, now let me out.”
NEW NORTH COAST ‘UNDERWATER PARKS in Effect Today. By Jennifer Savage
Today, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 is not the best day to visit one of the new North Coast marine protected areas. The waves are big (the 22 buoy is showing 14 feet at the moment), the wind is picking up (13 mph, gusts to 21 mph), more rain is on the way (up to a quarter inch) and this is only the beginning of the storm. But today is the day that the marine protected areas are, at last and officially, real.
Spanning from just south of Fort Bragg up to the Oregon border, the 19 underwater parks encompass about 137 square miles — 13 percent of the North Coast region. This leaves 87 percent of state waters in our area available for fishing, seaweed harvesting and abalone diving, while protecting places that include Pyramid Point’s dynamic coastline, Point St. George Reef — home to the second largest nesting seabird colony south of Alaska — and waters at the mouth of waterways like Ten Mile River that are critical for salmon and steelhead populations.
Local fishermen, divers, tribes, business owners and conservationists put aside their differences and created a single, unified proposal of where the new marine protected areas should go. A huge part of the conversation centered around ensuring traditional non-commercial tribal uses will continue with no additional restrictions in the 13 State Marine Conservation Areas, areas in which limited recreational and commercial fishing will also be allowed.
Not only does today mark the implementation of the North Coast underwater parks, but it signifies the completion of the entire network, from the Oregon border to the Mexican border, confirming California’s leadership in ocean protection. Scientific studies show that well designed marine protected areas have a greater diversity of species, making them more resilient, and more and bigger fish and other sea creatures, relative to fished areas in similar habitat. Because big fish have more and healthier young, these areas can be engines of productivity — a great investment in the state’s economic future.
This calls for some celebrating! So when the ocean calms down, the skies lighten and the wind relaxes to a gentle breeze, take a visit to one of your new underwater parks. Enjoy the beauty of our coastline and the knowledge that the sea critters living within have new and necessary protection.
Tune into KHUM’s Coastal Currents today at noon for an overview of the specialness.
I write more about this great day on The Blog Aquatic.
A natural resources educator waxes eloquent in the Press-Democrat.
Today’s L.A. Times has coverage, too.
NRDC: An Ocean Legacy to Make Californians proud details the story of the MLPA from inception.
(Jennifer Savage is Ocean Conservancy’s North Coast Coordinator, Pacific Programs.)
LA TIMES GREENWASHES Marine Life Protection Act Initiative; Alleged “marine reserve” network doesn’t protect the ocean by Dan Bacher
Today’s LA Times article, “California's marine reserve network now complete," claims that "California officials today completed the largest network of undersea parks in the continental United States — 848 square miles of protected waters that reach from the Oregon state line to the Mexican border." (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-undersea-parks-20121219,0,4717471.story)
However, this article, as previous ones in the Times, fails to address any of the real, substantial criticisms of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative process by grassroots environmentalists, Indian Tribe members, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers and advocates of democracy and transparency in government.
The reporter, Kenneth R. Weiss, portrays a false conflict of "fishermen versus environmentalists" over the MLPA Initiative when the real conflict is one of public policy between those that favor corporate greenwashing and the privatization of conservation and those who oppose corporate greenwashing and the privatization of conservation. The reporter fails to mention the "inconvenient truths" about the MLPA Initiative.
First, the Times falsely portrays the new closed zones as "undersea parks" when they are anything but. These so-called "marine protected areas" do not protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and all other impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.
In violation of the letter and spirit of the landmark Marine Life Protection Act of 1999, these marine reserves fail to comprehensively protect the ocean from ocean industrialization and other threats to the marine ecosystem.
“Marine protected areas can in some instances be beneficial for specific areas, species or ecosystems,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “However, the problem we have here is that these ‘marine protected areas’ are in essence no fishing zones and they don’t protect for water quality and other types of development or insults to the environment from activities such as seismic testing.”
Oil-industry overseen 'protection'
Second, the Times fails to mention that the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that oversaw the implementation of these "marine protected areas" included a big oil lobbyist, marina developer, real estate executive and other individuals with numerous conflicts of interest.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the South Coast, Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. Reheis-Boyd, a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, CHAIRED the task force that developed the MPAs that went into effect in Southern California on January 1. (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/06/24/the-most-censored-environmental-story-of-2012)
Most recently, Reheis-Boyd on December 10 claimed that "hydraulic fracturing is safe for California" in her letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee. (http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/10/5040406/hydraulic-fracturing.html)
"Hydraulic fracturing has been employed in California for 60 years and there has never been evidence that it has caused harm to water supplies or the environment," she claimed. "As president of the Western States Petroleum Association, I can state that members remain committed to producing safe, reliable California energy supplies while continuing to protect the environment and public health."
If having a big oil lobbyist, an advocate for offshore oil drilling and hydrofracking, in charge of the development of "marine protected areas" on the South Coast isn't corporate greenwashing and bad public policy, I don't know what is!
Many grassroots environmentalists and fishermen believe that Reheis-Boyd was appointed to the task force to make sure that the oil industry's interests were protected and to ensure that recreational and commercial fishermen and seaweed harvesters, the most vocal opponents of offshore oil drilling and hydrofracking, are removed from many areas on the ocean to clear a path for ocean industrialization.
David Gurney, independent journalist and co-chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition, commented on the opening of new lease-sales for hydrofracking — and Reheis-Boyd's role in pushing for increased fracking in California. (http://noyonews.net/?p=8215)
"Last week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced new lease-sales for Bureau of Land Management lands in California for 'fracking' development. Offshore areas are showing up on maps: reservoirs of underwater natural gas deposits, that lie under the ocean off Santa Barbara and Southern California," he said.
"It's clear that government and petroleum officials want to 'frack' in the very same areas Reheis-Boyd was appointed to oversee as a 'guardian' of marine habitat protection for the MLPA 'Initiative,'"said Gurney.
"What's becoming obvious is that Reheis-Boyd's expedient presence on the 'Blue Ribbon Task Force' for the MLPAI was a ploy for the oil industry to make sure no restrictions applied against drilling or fracking in or around so-called marine protected areas," Gurney emphasized.
"Objections to the obvious conflict of interest of Reheis-Boyd at the top level of the MLPA 'Initiative' fell upon deaf ears during the MLPAI's run, and were in fact actively discouraged by the Kearns and West energy interest facilitators during the quasi 'public process,' during which fishing and food gathering interests were exclusively thrown off areas of ocean slated to become sacrifice zones for oil industry pollution," concluded Gurney. (Resources Legacy Foundation: The shadowy foundation behind the MLPA Initiative)
Third, the Times claims that "Michael Mantell, a Sacramento lawyer who coordinates philanthropy and conservation, organized the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Marisla Foundation and two others to pick up the state's costs, including paying for panels of local leaders to take testimony and make recommendations. So far, the foundations have spent more than $23 million."
However, the reporter doesn’t mention that this money was funneled through the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. This is an inherent conflict of interest, since this foundation also funds many of the corporate "environmental" NGOs who lobbied for the creation of marine reserves with the least possible protection from all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing.
The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation also funds, along with the Stephen Bechtel Jr. Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) studies advocating the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel. The canal or tunnel would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish populations. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/05/18714814.php)
Incomplete and terminally flawed science
Fourth, the Times failed to mention that the Northern California Tribal Chairman's Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, believes the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger's Science Advisory Team is "incomplete and terminally flawed." (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/06/08/yurok-tribe-challenges-mlpa-initiatives-terminally-flawed-science)
The Yurok Tribe said it has attempted on numerous occasions to address the scientific inadequacies with the MLPA science developed under the Schwarzenegger administration by adding "more robust protocols" into the equation, but was denied every time. This denial of consideration of the Tribe's scientific data flies in the face of false claims by MLPA advocates that the privately funded initiative creates "Yosemites of the Sea" and "underwater parks" based on "science."
For example, the MLPA Science Advisory Team in August 2010 turned down a request by the Yurok Tribe to make a presentation to the panel. Among other data, the Tribe was going to present data of test results from other marine reserves regarding mussels.
"The data would have shown that there was not a statistical difference in the diversity of species from the harvested and un-harvested areas," wrote John Corbett, Yurok Tribe Senior Attorney, in a letter to the Science Advisory Team on January 12, 2011. "The presentation would have encompassed the work of Smith, J.R. Gong and RF Ambrose, 2008, The Impacts of Human Visitation on Mussel Bed Communities along the California Coast: Are Regulatory Marine Reserves Effective in Protecting these Communities.'"
It must be noted the Ron LeValley, Co-Chair of the MLPA Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, and two others were arrested earlier this year by the Del Norte County District Attorney for conspiracy to embezzle over $870,000 from the Yurok Tribe. "Raymond, McAllister and LeValley are accused of using an elaborate system of fake invoices, false purchase requests and electronic bank transfers to embezzle more than $870,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe during a three-year period of wildlife preservation studies," according to the Eureka Times Standard on September 28. For more information, go to: http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_21651665/hearing-continued-three-accused-embezzlement
The LA Times article, as many others published about this process, fails to mention the conflicts of interest, failure to comprehensively protect the ocean, shadowy private funding and incomplete and terminally flawed science that have made the MLPA Initiative into one of the most egregious examples of corporate greenwashing in California history.
The LA Times, by failing to do any research into the conflicts of interest and multitude of public policy problems that plagued the MLPA Initiative, performs a great disservice to its readers and effectively greenwashes this privately funded, rigged process.