COMING FROM the incoherent country of America where town and country have become inseparable, the towns slurbing every which way, Scotland is a revelation. Town is town, country is country, and town ends and country begins with strict borders between the two. Leaving Edinburgh's airport and driving to my ancestral beginnings at Selkirk, a beautiful little place on a hillside, we were immediately in sheep country whose pastures were neatly marked off by ancient stone walls. Traffic was light, then non-existent when we turned off to the series of one-lane side roads that led eventually to Hoscote House where 17 of us are staying. The Mendo equivalent would be to drive to the very end of Spy Rock, ford the Eel, then drive up into the hills of Covelo, the difference being that Scotland is a much less menacing place than rural America. We even drove through a streambed at one point, making our slow way through scattering sheep and small herds of long-haired red cattle. But we didn't get into the deep boons until after Selkirk, population 8,000 and the site of Scotland's first king, a fine fellow by the name of Wallace who'd managed to unite the country's medieval warring tribes, descendants of the men who'd shed their kilts, painted their balls blue, and came running out at the Romans with broad axes. The Romans enjoyed a good laugh and then cut the blue balled savages down like so many weeds. Five hundred years after the birth of Christ, and after centuries of fending off raiding parties of various nationalities and fighting constantly among themselves, Wallace got these primitive warrior clans united and re-oriented to fight the English by whom he was eventually captured, taken to London and dragged through the streets. To make sure he was dead the Brits pulled him apart, drawing and quartering as it was called. Many Americans, including me, are descended from these Scots. When the lords grabbed off miles of pasture for themselves early in the 19th century, they rounded us up and packed us off to Appalachia. My grandfather, though, made his way from Selkirk to, of all places, Honolulu, where the world's most uptight persons, the Scots Presbyterians, were proselytizing the world's least uptight persons, the Hawaiians. Grandad was there primarily to make money but did both. He didn't think women should wear make-up, and everyone should spend all day Sunday in church. I met elderly people who remembered him. I remember him for rapping my knuckles with a heavy bread knife when I made an unmannerly reach across the dinner table. Locals these days seem free of the old strictures but they still commemorate ancient battles, and as one said, “These hills are all soaked in blood.” I hiked long and hard to an old Roman mile marker deep in the hills where I tried to imagine their route this far north and on into England. On some initial expeditions they marched on through on elephants accompanied by regiments of African warriors, both the elephants and Africans dumbfounding the Scots. To a Californian, 1850 is ancient history. To these people it's yesterday. I was assured by a friend that “the scones in Scotland are the real thing, the best you'll ever have.” Well, they invented the things and one would think. But on Day Three of this adventure the scones I've tried are so far inferior to the scones of Boonville I'm tempted to mail some Selkirk scones to my informant to show him how wrong he is. We could learn from these people, though. Selkirk, directly on the Scottish tourist path, maintains a public bathroom complete with an on-site attendant. It's scrupulously clean and comes with changing rooms for families travelling with infants. The towns I've seen are deceptively prosperous-looking but unemployment rates exceed twenty percent and many of the shops appear to be struggling. No street people, crazed or otherwise, and every little town with a stream of any size has a streamside walk, and every little town a museum. It's in the low 70s here, a veritable heat wave people say. The balmy days inspire some people to strip to their skivvies and sunbathe stretched out beside the road. I walked around a bend in a remote road to encounter a couple waxing their car. It would have been impertinent to ask why drive miles from the nearest town to spiff up the transportation.
THEY'RE BACK, if they ever left: Miss Jacqueline 'Pixie' Audet, 23, and Miss Audet's love interest and road dog, Mr. Don Jordan.
Pixie and Don were drunk in Fort Bragg where, Deputy Riboli reported, they were also camped illegally.
MARY MOORE WRITES: The Bohemian Grove Action Network will NOT be planning an organized protest this July out at Bohemian Grove. I had earlier sent out the SQUEAKY WHEELS protest (re: sequester cuts led by those in wheelchairs and walkers) and we got plenty of encouraging feedback but when it came to getting folks affected by the cuts (in so many areas) no one showed up to the meetings to do the actual work. It's disappointing but we also got a late start and realize everyone is in overwhelm so we understand — kind of. There are still some from our group who will make an appearance out there on either July 13 or July 20, the first two Saturdays of the encampment, and I can put you in touch with them. Thanks to all those who did lend actual support and good wishes. I'm turning 78 in July and most everyone in our core group is on the aging train. It is truly time for the next generation to take on the important task of connecting the corporate, financial, governmental and military elite that gather in our backyard every summer. There is now a movie in the works and some of us are still working on a book exposing what we already have on the Lakeside Talks at the Grove (one of the main focuses of our work over the years). The latest membership list is from 2010 and new research is always needed. We now have a website exposebohemiangrove.org and have just started a Facebook page. As you already know we are not conspiracy hounds and have been fighting them off for several years. Reality is truly scary enough — no need to invent or embellish. I can be reached at 707 874 2248 if you need more details but for this year at least there WILL BE NO organized protest in July at Bohemian Grove. Thanks, Mary.”
LOOKS LIKE A JAM-PACKED Sierra Nevada Music Festival this year. Vehicle camping at the Fairgrounds is already sold out and visitors are being steered to alternate spots such as the AV Brewing lawn at the corner of 253 and 128 or whatever other campgrounds they can find. Limited “Walk In Camping” for three-day ticket holders is still available for 10x10 spaces for three days, maximum of three people per space. In these cases campers will have to park at the High School, so expect crowded conditions all weekend from June 21-23. Organizers have announced that there will be no overnight vehicle parking in downtown Boonville or on the highway. Parking at the high school will require a Festival-issued voucher/sticker. For more information go to snwmf.com.
DAVE EVANS at the Navarro Store is gearing up for another summer series of events, albeit somewhat scaled back from the high volume of events of some recent years. On Saturday, July 13 Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings will highlight an evening dinner show along with some popular local groups (to be announced) starting at 6:30pm. The Navarro Store’s grill serve up their usual tasty barbecue to accompany the show. On August 13 a not-to-be-missed appearance of Charlie Musselwhite is on tap with another line-up of locals filling out the card.
THE NAVARRO STORE’S famous barbecue will be up and running throughout the summer with Neil Kephart serving up grilled specialties every weekend from 11-3. To start with the grill will open this Sunday and Monday (June 16-17) from 11-3; then Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the summer.
STATE PARKS OFFICIALS haven’t made an official announcement, but we understand they’ve quietly been forced to close Paul Dimmick Park in Navarro because their generators were stolen by a person or persons unknown a few weeks ago. Without the generators, the basic water, sewer and electrical services have been knocked out with no re-opening date as yet set. To make things worse, their lock boxes were vandalized a few days later.
LADIES AND GERMS, introducing Miss Kelsey Pierce, 19, of Ukiah, 5'4" and 118 pounds, busted for allegedly busting her Sig Other in his undoubtedly deserving chops. Because her bail is set at $25,000 rather than the usual $10,000 Miss Pierce must have struck Lover Man while she was holding something, maybe an electronic gizmo, maybe a whoopee cushion. Whatever, and call us old school, but what kind of shameless wimp-twit would call the police on this fairest bloom of the Ukiah Valley? Wouldn't a self-respecting man cry out in delight, "Again, Miss Pierce! Hit me again! Slay me even, but I'm at your feet forever." Instead, this guy calls the cops.
JOANNE ALDEN WRITES:
Dear friends, I definatly am not big on signing petitions, in fact never when they are outside a market. But this matter of constant and complete surveillance has got to be exposed, and I am not afraid of these people who think they have enough power to change GOD's plan for this country; we have a responsibility to be heard, and it's pretty obvious voting isn't the vehicle that works. This is one of the few ways I see that we can speak truth to power.
HISTORIC CHALLENGE to Support the Moral Actions of Edward Snowden
by Norman Solomon
In Washington, where the state of war and the surveillance state are one and the same, top officials have begun to call for Edward Snowden’s head. His moral action of whistleblowing — a clarion call for democracy — now awaits our responses.
After nearly 12 years of the “war on terror,” the revelations of recent days are a tremendous challenge to the established order: nonstop warfare, intensifying secrecy and dominant power that equate safe governance with Orwellian surveillance.
In the highest places, there is more than a wisp of panic in rarefied air. It’s not just the National Security Agency that stands exposed; it’s the repressive arrogance perched on the pyramid of power.
Back here on the ground, so many people — appalled by Uncle Sam’s continual morph into Big Brother — have been pushing against the walls of anti-democratic secrecy. Those walls rarely budge, and at times they seem to be closing in, even literally for some (as in the case of heroic whistleblower Bradley Manning). But all the collective pushing has cumulative effects.
In recent days, as news exploded about NSA surveillance, a breakthrough came into sight. Current history may not be an immovable wall; it may be on a hinge. And if we push hard enough, together, there’s no telling what might be possible or achieved.
The gratitude that so many of us now feel toward Edward Snowden raises the question: How can we truly express our appreciation?
A first step is to thank him — publicly and emphatically. You can do that by clicking here to sign the “Thank NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden” petition, which my colleagues at RootsAction.org will send directly to him, including the individual comments.
But of course saying thank-you is just one small step onto a crucial path. As Snowden faces extradition and vengeful prosecution from the U.S. government, active support will be vital — in the weeks, months and years ahead.
Signing the thank-you petition, I ventured some optimism: “What you've done will inspire kindred spirits around the world to take moral action despite the risks.” Bravery for principle can be very contagious.
Edward Snowden has taken nonviolent action to help counter the U.S. government’s one-two punch of extreme secrecy and massive violence. The process has summoned the kind of doublespeak that usually accompanies what cannot stand the light of day.
So, when Snowden’s employer Booz Allen put out a statement Sunday night, it was riddled with official indignation, declaring: “News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm.”
What are the “code of conduct” and “core values” of this huge NSA contractor? The conduct of stealthy assistance to the U.S. national security state as it methodically violates civil liberties, and the values of doing just about anything to amass vast corporate profits.
The corporate-government warfare state is enraged that Edward Snowden has broken through with conduct and values that are 180 degrees in a different direction. “I’m not going to hide,” he told the Washington Post on Sunday. “Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”
When a Post reporter asked whether his revelations would change anything, Snowden replied: “I think they already have. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten — and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state.”
And, when the Post asked about threats to “national security,” Snowden offered an assessment light-years ahead of mainline media’s conventional wisdom: “We managed to survive greater threats in our history than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs. It is not that I do not value intelligence, but that I oppose omniscient, automatic, mass surveillance. That seems to me a greater threat to the institutions of free society than missed intelligence reports, and unworthy of the costs.”
Profoundly, in the early summer of 2013, with his actions and words, Edward Snowden has given aid and comfort to grassroots efforts for democracy. What we do with his brave gift will be our choice.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”)