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Mendocino County Today: December 30, 2012

THE LOST KAYAKER, the update: Rod Giuliani, the Greenwood Road volunteer firefighter, was dispatched to the Philo-Greenwood Bridge to see if the lost kayaker had floated downstream from where his partner came ashore. Turns out, according to Giuliani, the lost kayaker had gotten himself ashore upstream of where his partner reported him missing and had found his way to Jim Boudoures' house. Boudoures gave the missing kayaker a ride down to the Philo-Greenwood bridge, which is where his rescuers found him safe and sound. How he got past his kayak partner without his partner seeing him float by? By truck! The two adventurers still haven't been officially identified, but they identified themselves on Saturday by writing a very nice thank you note to their rescuers and emergency responders:

“Big thanks to the Anderson Valley Search & Rescue, fire department, ambulance, helicopter, swift water rescue team, and anybody and everybody else who helped out on our crazy Xmas Eve kayaking nightmare. Special thanks to Joe and Don Gowan, the brothers Aaron in the Ambulance, and Martha Hyde. — Matt Burnett & Joe Riboli, Point Arena

(Note: Joe Riboli was one of the Point Arena city councilman who, along with Lauren Sinnott and David Ingham, was recalled in 2011 after they fired City Clerk Claudia Hillary in what was clearly a controversial decision.)


Every year come fresh recruits

Adding muscle overseas

Guarding interests for the suits

With every base that guarantees

Profits US business nets—

Prosthetics for returning vets.

* * *

(The US has 1000 foreign military bases. Russia has 10. China has none. — John Wester

DAN HAMBURG, writing on the Coast Listserve said Saturday that Caltrans has contacted the Mendocino County Department of Transportation offering to make a presentation to the Board of Supervisors concerning a change to a speed zones on a five mile section of State Highway 1 between Albion and Little River (Mile Post 43.60 to 48.60). The proposal is the result of Caltrans updating speed surveys required for radar enforcement (every 5 years) to the 85th percentile of prevailing speed. “As I understand it,” Hamburg added, “this means that 85% of people are already driving at speeds that are above the posted limit. This speed survey indicates that about 3.5 miles posted 40 mph now needs to change to 45 mph. Another 0.75 miles would go from 30 mph now to 35 mph. My question is: would people like for Caltrans to make such a presentation at a BOS meeting before the new limits go into effect? Caltrans says that this is an information item only.

WE WONDER what Caltrans would do if their studies revealed that 85% of the people were averaging 100mph on that stretch of highway?

SATURDAY MORNING, NPR's dependably irritating news readers chirped out an enthusiastic review of a comic book about junior high school girls. The two feebs burbled on excitedly over a "book" of no interest to the presumed adults who listen to NPR, and may not even be of interest to 13-year-old girls. Anyway, who besides their parents, if the 13-year-olds happen to be among the dwindling number of American children who have identifiable or functioning parents, could possibly care about a keen teen comic book? It just kept getting worse. Next up was an interview with the guy who produces Spider Man. It was like a one-two punch reminder of how far dumbed down the country has become, how infantilized so many people have become, especially if you assume that the NPR demographic is somehow better educated, more sophisticated, somehow smarter than the general population. I don't happen to share that dubious assumption; the enthusiastic NPR people I know tend to be the same people who are enthusiastic about Obama, the Ukiah City Council, the profundity of Press Democrat editorials, and, of course, the invincibly smug, candy-assed NPR world view.

ScottSimonBUT NPR veers from the merely fatuous to the borders of evil in Scott Simon. This guy sets the phony bar so high he makes Nixon look positively guileless. I love the way he drops his voice a couple of octaves to show how moved he is about, say, the mass slaughter of first graders. (The BBC guy just reads it out, which is the way bad news should be delivered.) We can tell Scott thinks mass murder is bad because Scott lowers his voice, even makes it sound like he's about to choke up. Then we get a brief interlude of treacly-sad music so we can all mourn mass murder with Scott because Scott is a parent and Scott is nearly in audio tears and it's all so tragic and so inappropriate — how could this have happened in the country that pays me, Scott Simon of National Government Radio, a quarter mil a year to fake it? The treacly-sad tune dies away and Scott moves brightly on to pie crusts or basketball.

THE NPR “BOOK REVIEW” set me off just as I sat down to recommend a few real books that may be of interest to the intelligent, dashingly handsome, perspicacious readers of this fine publication, "a newspaper for the rest of us," as it's been called. In no particular order, I will read anything by Sherman Alexie and Junot Diaz and Alice Munro, to name the authors of short stories I liked during 2012. I also thought Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was the best long fiction I've read in a while, and I liked Dave Eggers' Holograph for the King. I think of these people as zeitgeist writers, meaning to me that their sense of reality corresponds with mine. I pretty much stick to non-fiction, agreeing with Philip Roth that reality no longer needs much explaining in fiction form. The non-fiction books I enjoyed most were a biography of the much neglected writer Jim Tully by Paul Bauer and Mark Dawidziak, and a kind of fictionalized bio of Willie Sutton by J.R. Moehringer. Anybody interested in the recent history of San Francisco will be mesmerized by David Talbot's Season of the Witch. George Orwell Diaries edited by Peter Davidson and Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder give us new understandings of World War Two as experienced in England and suffered by the many millions of people caught between Hitler and Stalin, Berlin and Moscow, an estimated 14 million of whom did not survive the war.

Orlando, Ojeda
Orlando, Ojeda

ODD OUTCOME in the armed robbery of Point Arena's Redwood Credit Union back on August 23rd. Ray Ojeda and his uncle, Frank Orlando, both of Butte County, operating on the assumption that PA was lightly policed, burst into the fogbelt credit union in full movie style that fraught afternoon, with Uncle Frank threatening anybody who got in the way with instant death. Uncle Frank did the yelling while Ojeda watched the door, and watched one guy exit without much interfering with his departure. One or both the bandidos wore flip-flops, not the footwear usually preferred by armed robbers, and sure enough either one or the other's flip-flop flipped or flopped as Ojeda and Orlando ran off with $45,000 in cash. They made it about halfway to Anderson Valley via Fish Rock Road before being stopped and taken into custody. Orlando has been robbing banks for a long time. He's obviously a drug addict who robs and steals to buy dope. Ojeda immediately surrended on Fish Rock Road. Orlando, however, told Sheriff Allman that he'd thought about shooting it out because he knew surrender meant he'd die in prison, so why not go down fighting. But, he said, he decided to give up when he saw the glint of the wedding band on the young deputy from Anderson Valley, Luis Espinoza, telling the Sheriff he didn't want to risk shooting a kid with a young family. Orlando nevertheless got 50 years in state prison for being the main guy in the PA heist while Ojeda was given a mere four years because he was viewed as much less culpable than Uncle Frank, a perspective on the event DA Eyster found outrageous. Eyster argued that Ojeda and Uncle Frank had both been caught on camera robbing another bank a few months earlier.


It’s easier than you think. That’s the way I start discussions and interviews about my new book titled, “Seventeen Solutions.”

The “solutions” were selected for their long-overdue practicality, fairness, efficiency, safety, employment potential and respect for future generations. A majority of the people, sometimes a large majority, support such redirections. The effects of many of the “solutions” start being seen immediately.

Don’t most Americans believe and want strong law enforcement against corporate crime and fraud and abuses against consumers, taxpayers, the environment and workers? The first step is telling your member of Congress to toughen the weak laws and beef up the law enforcement budgets which will pay for themselves many, many times over in deterrence, damage prevention to innocent people, and fines.

It has been taken off the table by both Democrats and Republicans, but a majority of people (including physicians and nurses) want full Medicare for all with free choice of doctor and hospital. Better outcomes, simpler to use, far less expensive per capita, timely diagnoses and treatment, and tens of thousands of American lives saved a year, are the fruits.

Who in your communities doesn’t want public facilities (public works) repaired and expanded to meet needs? Ending the vast disrepair in our water and sewage systems, schools, clinics, libraries, public transit, highways and bridges creates well-paying jobs that cannot be exported to China.

Reducing the well-documented, bloated military budget, can release monies for repairing America. Demilitarizing our foreign policy will save the horrendous costs and after costs of these boomeranging wars of aggressive choice.

Get Congress to have “skin in the game,” such as no health and other benefits for them, unless all people have them. There would be no taking our country into war without all able-bodied and age-qualified children of the Senators and Representatives being drafted into the armed forces. This duty will encourage Congress to attend to its deliberative, constitutional obligations and not heave them over to a lawless, out-of-control presidency.

Build family and community resistance and engage in alternatives to the commercial exploitation of children by non-stop big corporate marketers. These tricksters undermine and bypass parental authority to sell children junk food, violent programming and other things corrosive of their minds and bodies. Want to poll parent’s reactions to those tricks among beleaguered parents who have lost much control of their children to corporatism?

Getting corporations off welfare, making them pay their fair share of taxes (GE is a profitable tax escapee that even gets checks from the Treasury Department due to the rigged tax code), taxing dividends and capital gains the same as ordinary income of working people, and imposing a tiny sales tax on massive Wall Street speculation are changes an overwhelming number of people support.

These advances, along with restoring our civil liberties, using regular government purchasing specifications for better goods and services to stimulate innovation and safety with our tax dollars, are easier than you think. The engine for these changes is organizing Congressional watchdog groups in every Congressional District around these and other solutions. Taking democratic control of the 535 members of Congress, with its ample constitutional authorities, is a lot easier than you think.

Moving our consumer dollars away from global corporations to local community banks, credit unions, farmer markets, renewable energy, and community health clinics, with emphasis on prevention, is a lot easier than you think. Stronger local economies are more self-reliant, they won’t be shut down and shipped away or abroad by absentee owners making life-altering unaccountable decisions in their skyscrapers.

Local democracy is, like most ventures in life, a learning process of civic skills and experience. Starting in elementary and high schools, youngsters can shed their apathy or despair by working on real problems in the communities as part of their school-to-community courses. Look at all those high school physics, biology, and chemistry labs that, for example, can be testing air, water, soil samples and electromagnetic levels, and reporting the results to their community.

Studying books such as the newly released Slow Democracy (Chelsea Press, 2012) will give you many examples and tools to demonstrate that it’s easier than you think.

Last September, prominent Cornell Economics Professor, Robert Frank wrote a column for The New York Times with the headline “Nation’s Choices Needn’t Be Painful.” He wrote of infrastructure capital improvement programs, new tax policies, reducing highway congestion, curbing carbon emissions and other remedial actions that pay off.

Professor Frank, who told me he’s going to write “a small book” on his assertions, says “the endless hand-wringing about painful economic choices is misguided. With a few simple policy changes, we could restore full employment, rebuild crumbling infrastructure and pay down the national debt without requiring real sacrifices from anyone.”

Making all this and more happen needs some three million Americans (the other one percent) organized and focused on Congress and state legislatures in ways that reflect the “public sentiment.” We have to stop being so discouraged and solution-averse, especially since we have so many solutions already on the shelf, but not on the ground, because we’ve let the few make so many centralized, top-down decisions for us – “we the people.”

No one can stop us from taking these initiatives, except, that is, ourselves. To send us your “solutions” and to order an autographed copy of Seventeen Solutions, visit:

(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.)

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