LATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON Mendocino County Counsel Tom Parker issued this succinct press release: “The County of Mendocino filed a motion to quash the federal grand jury subpoenas issued by the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California in federal court on December 21, 2012 through its attorneys of record. The motion is based on the grounds that the scope of the subpoenas is overbroad and burdensome, oppressive and constitutes an improper intrusion into the ability of state and local government to administer programs for the health and welfare of their residents. No court date has been scheduled as of the date of filing. Please contact Mendocino County Counsel Tom Parker at (707) 234-6885 if you have any questions regarding this matter.”
THIS JUST IN. The world did not end Friday. Repeat, the world did not as predicted ten thousand years ago by Mayan mumbo jumbo men.
TAKE THIS, all you Negative Thinkers who don’t take the Mayan End of the World Prediction seriously: “I would like to say that according to the Mayan Calendar the 21st of December marks the end of the time and the beginning of no-time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha. It is the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood. It is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism... the 21st of December this year. The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a biocentric life. It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love. The end of lies and the beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness and the beginning of joy. It is the end of division and the beginning of unity.” — Evo Morales, President of Bolivia to the UN General Assembly, 67th Session, 2012
MR. MORALES declined to name “the scientists” he was referring to.
CALIFORNIA'S Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom told the New York Times today (Friday): “It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users. These are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it.”
NEWSOME, also the state's emptiest suit, did not name names, but it's a good bet his idea of an upstanding citizen is unlikely to be widely shared.
SIGNS OF NERVOUS TIMES: From the Fortuna (HumCo) Police Department: “On December 20, 2012, the Fortuna Police Department received information that a student was planning on bringing a weapon to the Fortuna Union High School campus to possibly engage in acts of violence. Upon receiving this information, the department met with high school and district administration and began working together to ensure the safety of students and staff. To ensure student safety, Fortuna High School administration and Fortuna Police Department determined that canceling class at the high school today was the safest option and would give officials adequate time to conduct a thorough investigation. The Fortuna Police Department and high school administrators worked late into the night to complete a thorough investigation and determined that the information was false. Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that other students had also became aware of this information and were discussing bringing weapons to school for self-protection should an incident occur on campus. ‘Throughout this investigation, the safety of student and staff was the first priority of both the department and the school,’ said Sergeant Charles Ellebrecht. ‘Together, we decided that canceling class was the best option.’ Despite recent events, schools are one of the safest places kids can be. The Fortuna Police Department works closely with all schools, public and private, within our city to enhance safety for students and staff. Each school is required to have a School Safety Plan specific to that campus that addresses most types of incidents. Officers train for a variety of emergencies in strong partnerships with school staff, who are dedicated to the education and safety of children. There are procedures in place, such as shelter in place, evacuations, and lockdowns that can be implemented depending on the given situation.”
ACCORDING to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department, a slideout about 25 feet across and 20 feet deep on the Covelo Road (Highway 162) has closed the road about 1.75 miles east of Highway 101. Travelers can reach Covelo via the Dos Rios Road and, the CHP says, Mendocino Pass Road, although the Mendocino Pass Road is likely snowbound and anyway comes out at Willows on 1-5, a heckuva way to get in or out of Covelo. The Dos Rios Road can be accessed at Laytonville off 101.
IN THIS SECOND PHOTO you can see a truck axle that fell into the gap and a recently installed culvert, which might lead one to think that the slide might be related to the culvert which obviously wasn't big enough.
UPDATE Caltrans District 1 Public Information Officer Phil Frisbie Jr. (707/441-4678), deploying his office’s brand new logo, agreed: “Route 162 in Mendocino County is closed due to a washout. Caltrans personnel are on scene developing a plan for repairs. No solid estimated time of reopening at this time, but it will likely be closed for two more days. Before traveling and during your trip, be sure to check current road conditions by calling the California Highway Information Network at 1-800-427-7623, or by visiting www.dot.ca.gov)
OBAMACARE NEWS. Asked if fly-by-night and junk health insurance outfits which sell misleading health insurance with ambiguous fine print that allows health insurance companies (many of which are now owned by big Wall Street banks) to disallow major parts of hospital bills to California’s government run “health exchange” (created under Obamacare), California Department of Insurance spokesman Byron Tucker replied: “We can't speculate on that. We don't yet know what companies will sell insurance there and we don't know how they'll be regulated and which ones will be eligible.”
PIXIE SIGHTED; PIXIE LIKED. In case you missed it elsewhere on this website Friday an “ol friend” of Jacqueline Audet aka “Pixie” aka “Goldilocks” posted the following note: “She is very nice, and would go out of her way to help you, she is always there for you if you need her, she has a good heart and good morals, and just wants to have a little fun. I knew her years ago back where she come from (; She is very aware of her current situation and is the only person capable of handling what she has been through, enjoy her presence because she won’t be there long. yo jackie if ya read this, hope you alright, and (= love ya ol girl)” (Note: Ms. Audet is 22.)
A READER informed us Thursday that Ms. Audet was seen on Tuesday outside of the Fort Bragg drugstore with her distinctive large white/brindel dog and appeared to be accompanied by a middle-aged woman.
SOMEWHERE, ALEXANDER COCKBURN IS GROANING: We were disappointed to see that alternative health crackpot Gary Null posted a piece on CounterPunch.org, formerly edited by Alexander Cockburn before his untimely death in July at the age of 71 on Friday and during which time the likes of Gary Null never made it onto CounterPunch.org. Gary Null is a threat to public health. The tag line at the end of the article he apparently co-authored reads: “...Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including Vaccine Nation and Autism: Made in the USA.”
WE LOOKED UP Null's own description of his “documentary” — “In his documentary film Vaccine Nation, award-winning investigative film director Dr. Gary Null challenges the basic health claims by government health agencies and pharmaceutical firms that vaccines are perfectly safe. This is one of the most critical questions facing today’s children and future generations to come. If inoculation with a large regimen of vaccines is safe, what can account for the rapid increase in autism and other mental disabilities that are now at epidemic proportions? And why isn’t the sudden onset of neurological illnesses in children being treated as an urgent crisis by our government and medical industries? Weaving together interviews with many of the nations most expert medical researchers, private physicians specializing in autism, parents of children victimized by immunization, congressmen, vaccination activists, legal authorities and more, Vaccine Nation will awaken viewers to one of the continual perils to the health and future of children.”
THE SCREWBALL NOTION that children should not be vaccinated because the vaccines may not be safe, represents a clear and present danger to the children of the wackos who take Null seriously. Whomever is throwing this stuff up on the CounterPunch website ought to wake the fuck up.
SHERIFF ALLMAN may want to take the standard advice his deputies give to suspects — “you have the right to remain silent” — in the wake of his “internal investigation” into allegations that his Undersheriff/Captain Randy Johnson is under investigation by the feds regarding an allegation that 500 pot plants were found on property next door to Randy Johnson’s house owned by Johnson’s father and brother. On Friday Allman told the Press Democrat — clearly not a news organization that is friendly to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department — that his own investigation has “cleared” Captain Johnson “of any potential wrongdoing related to a federal marijuana raid on property owned by the captain’s family.” Allman said the 80-page investigation (conducted by a Sonoma County deputy with prior connections to Mendocino County) couldn’t be released because it was “a personnel matter.” But that he (Allman) “was given permission” [by who? County Counsel? That would be surprising] to “discuss the findings.” “I feel very comfortable in stating that Capt. Johnson was not involved in illegal activity,” Allman insisted. “But if anyone can provide additional information the investigation will be re-opened.” PD reporter Derek Moore asked Allman “how anyone could have missed 500 marijuana plants being grown on the property. Allman told the PD that he doesn’t know whether that number is accurate or whether the pot in question was being grown indoors or outside. “Five-hundred plants doesn’t mean that it looks like a vineyard,” Allman said. “It could mean that the plants were inside. The DEA has not told me that Capt. Johnson is a suspect in this.” (The DEA hasn’t said anything to anyone about the investigation which is still pending.) According to the PD Allman added that Johnson “contacted state [not federal] Department of Justice officials in 2010 and 2011 to report that he smelled marijuana at the property and he asked them to investigate. No action was taken.” (Meaning…? What? That the grow was legal?) The PD piece ends with “Allman said he’s known Johnson for 28 years and that ‘his record is unblemished’.”
NOTHING WRONG with standing up for your friends, among whom Captain Johnson obviously ranks very high in Allman’s Sheriff’s Department. But Allman should know that all of these public remarks are subject to more investigation and challenge by whoever is investigating Johnson. And if any of it is disputed by, say, the State Department of Justice, neighbors, other records, witnesses, etc. it will only lead to more complications. Given that Mendocino County has officially decided to file a motion to quash the federal subpoena regarding the County’s innovative 9.31 pot program — in essence invoking the County’s Fifth Amendment right of non-self-incrimination — Allman would probably be better off keeping his own counsel for a while, not providing fodder to the Press Democrat or, indirectly, the feds.
FORT BRAGG BAND BOOSTER Dine Out at the MacCallum House: Dine-Out at the MacCallum House in Menocino, January 16, 2013 from 5:30 to 8:30pm, 45020 Albion Street, Mendocino, CA. Reservations: 707-937-0289 or visit www.maccallumhouse.com. “Come dine at the MacCallum house on January 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 and support music in the Fort Bragg Schools. All profits from the evening
will benefit the Fort Bragg schools band programs" Contact: Ray West, Fort Bragg Band Boosters, 961-2870 ext. 3674 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWTOWN’S MORAL AUTHORITY FOR ACTION; 'We have to do it now.'
by Ralph Nader
Po Murray, a mother of four children in Newtown, Connecticut, the location of the shooting rampage that took the lives of 20 youngsters and six adults, met with about forty of her townspeople in the local public library to take their grieving to a new level of resolve that they call Newtown United.
The PBS NewsHour carried the conversation. “This catastrophe happened in our town,” Murray said, “this is an opportunity for us to do something really good from a very tragic event that happened. This is a watershed for meaningful change. And I think that we could do something big. And I want to be defining our town by that, not by the tragic event that happened.”
Others agreed. James Belden, who runs an environmental nonprofit, said that Newtown, finding itself in “an unfortunate place right now,” has “a little more of a voice than we did on Thursday.” Tom Bittman, a technology consultant, added: “And if nothing else, if we can get a good national discussion going, and keep it going and get to a resolution, then we win.”
From such horrible tragedies emerge the beginnings of a national movement that moves sanctimonious politicians from talking to acting. Newtown has a moral authority to be heard and respected in Washington, D.C. and around the country. It is an authority born of a determination that these children and brave adults shall not have perished in vain. Imagine 12,000 human beings in the U.S. who, in columnist Richard Cohen’s words, annually succumb “to the routine mayhem caused by guns,” not counting thousands of suicides.
In other countries where such rampages have occurred – Australia and Norway – legislative reforms followed quickly and they worked not to eliminate but to reduce risks and harms. Drawing on his experience as Chief of Staff to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Joseph A. Califano, Jr. provided President Obama with important advice in The Washington Post, “Demand action on comprehensive gun control immediately from this Congress or lose the opportunity during your presidency.”
In Japan, with a third of the U.S.’s population, eleven people lost their lives to guns in 2008, a tiny fraction of one percent of the casualties of the same kind in the United States. Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has organized hundreds of Mayors in a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns said: “We are the only industrialized country that has this problem. In the whole world, the only one.”
The problems are numerous, some more tractable than others. The greatest consensus starts with requiring stricter criminal background checks on gun sellers and gun buyers. This receives majority support among NRA (National Rifle Association) members. Next in public support would be the renewal and strengthening of the ban on assault weapons and other military hardware, followed by limits on high-capacity magazines and certain kinds of ammunition.
There are, of course, more controversial measures, including two proposed by President Johnson – licensing all gun owners, suitably trained, as we do with those wanting to drive, and registering firearms, as we do with motor vehicles. Also, as noted by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and Doris A. Fuller in The Wall Street Journal that there would be fewer mass shootings “if individuals with severe mental illnesses received proper treatment.”
Officially, the NRA continues to urge stronger enforcement of existing laws. Yet its Congressional lobbyists and those of the gun industry have worked hard to keep the budget of the enforcement agency in the Justice Department inadequate to the task. And they’re succeeding, there are fewer enforcers now than there were forty years ago. In the Senate, these advocates are even blocking President Obama’s nominee for director of the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives).
Now, back to Newtown United. Tom Bittman, sensing that the current public shock and outrage may soon atrophy, declared “But now is the time where we can do the most. So, we have to do it now.”
Who is we? “We the people,” that is who, led by the abiding mourning of Newtowners, in sympathy with the daily fatalities on the streets and the same tragedies in Tucson, Aurora, Columbine and other places of slaughter. For the president and the members of Congress are susceptible to “bogging down” and being otherwise predisposed. It’s happened many times before.
Joe Nocera, columnist for The New York Times, found an apt precedent with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.), started by Candy Lightner, who lost her 13-year-old daughter to a drunk driver. She and other grieving mothers raised funds, hired staff and lobbyists and toughened many of the drunk driving laws and penalties around the country with a salutary though obviously not perfect effect. “Minimize risk and reduce harm” are the pathways to addressing the gun problem, sourced in multiple causations and conditions.
The Wall Street Journal devoted an entire page in color to pictures of the Newtown children. That page or its likeness should be sent to the White House and your representatives in Congress again and again, to remind them of those innocent little ones and of the nearly 3,000 children every year who are killed by guns in this country.
People across the nation and especially from the surrounding, affluent towns – such as Greenwich, Darien and Wilton – should help provide the resources to Newton United so that its sorrowful determination is solidly based with enough resources to catapult its effort into an America United.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.)