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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Dec 13, 2014

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David Severn Writes: In a 24 hour period starting Thursday, at 10am until Friday at 10am, the Navarro River at the gauge went from 15 feet in height to 30 feet and back to 15 in an almost perfect steep-sided sine wave. This 15 foot rise and fall was witnessed a few hours earlier at Shenoa in Philo. In the previous 12 hours starting Wednesday night at 10pm the river went from 5 feet to 15 making the total rise 25 feet in 12 hours.


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ARE WE STORM WIMPS? Are we storm wimps? Answer: YES! Try a Minnesota winter storm for the real deal. Making fun of San Francisco

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A POINT ARENA MAN, still not identified, was found dead early Friday morning in his trailer home on Pine Reef Street on the outskirts of town. PA Fire Chief Mike Suddith said a fire was reported at the man's home at 1:15 am and that the victim's car was parked out front.

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BOONVILLE! Mendocino County's most happening community proved it again today when a large group of Catholic celebrants, perhaps 100 strong, paraded through town behind a pickup load of young mariachi musicians and a large picture of the Virgin Mary, probably a local celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe Day (December 12). Some of the women were dressed in old world lace. A bass-drum, a snare, a tuba, a trombone and a trumpet beat out the rhythms. A most exhilarating taste of rural Mexico on an otherwise gray day.

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THE BOONVILLE WINTER MARKET will be in front of the Boonville General Store on Saturday, rain or shine, 10-12:30. You'll find the usual veggies and meat, plus holiday gift items.

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The annual Community Holiday Dinner at the AV Grange is this Sunday, December 14, beginning at 5:30. Community members will be there getting the place ready, beginning at 3:00. If you would like to help, come on down and join in on the fun.

This is a salad, side dish or dessert potluck, with the turkey, dressing, gravy, ham and potatoes provided by AV Foodshed and AV Grange. Please have your potluck dish to the Grange prior to 5:30.

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Anderson Valley Grange meets this Tuesday evening, potluck at 6:00 and meeting at 7:00. If you are already a member, come on down to see what's new. If not, join up while you're there. There was a well-attended Grange Future meeting Thursday night, so there are lots of exciting new ideas being talked about.

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THE US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT has belatedly published a memo it issued in October instructing US attorneys not to mess with tribes that want to grow and sell marijuana on their sovereign lands, as long as those tribes maintain “robust and effective regulatory systems.” This decision could have a major impact on tribes that choose to pursue marijuana cultivation and sales. US News and World Report theorizes that “marijuana may displace casinos as reservation cash cows.” However, as the LA Times notes, “Many tribes are opposed to legalizing pot on their lands, and federal officials will continue to enforce the law in those areas, if requested.”

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LINDA WILLIAMS of the Willits News reports the partial follow-up to 2012’s breathless announcement by the feds that a number of prominent Mendocino-area men and women constituted an intra-state drug ring. "The courts didn't post the outcome of the Dec. 9 hearing until yesterday. The feds threatened to withdraw their deal due to something that defendant Jeffrey Wall did and Wall's attorney filed a flurry of motions to counter. The original plea bargain and the reasons for the final sentence are in documents sealed to the public.

“I suspect similar outcomes for the rest of the Mendo crew. The feds have Wall admitting he received $300,000 for marijuana he sold to the ‘conspirators.’ Full details won't be posted by the court until sometime early next year.”

WE'RE ALL looking forward to reading the Mendo crowd's testimony.

DEFENDANT McCusker was released from prison when the prosecutor acknowledged under the new Federal guidelines he would likely not have to serve any more time for the conviction. He was the only Mendo link who hasn't been out on bail this whole time.

JUDGMENT as to Jeffrey Wall (42) on Count 1 of the 462 Superseding Indictment: Sentenced To Timed Served. Five (5) years supervised release; Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute and to Distribute 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine; to Manufacture, and Possess With Intent to Distribute 1,000 Kilograms or More of Marijuana; and to Maintain Drug Involved Premises, a Class A Felony

Most of the remaining Mendo connection to the Kansas case are now set for sentencing in January, at least as of this week. Richard Smith asked to be sentenced in April, claiming he was misidentified in the trial.

The three people on the list of more than 20 defendants who did not plead guilty were found guilty at trial in July. They haven't been sentenced yet. Most of those with a plea seem to be getting time served and supervised release.

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November 14, 2012

EMERGING SCANDAL, with more fairly prominent Mendocino-area people also about to be rounded up. Arrested last week by a task force raid team led by the DEA but including U.S. Marshals and back-up from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department were John Paul McMillan, no relation to the famous drug guy of yesteryear who built that huge house at the mouth of Big River. At the time, McMillan Sr. ran Catch-A-Canoe. Also arrested was Erin Keller, McMillan’s wife. She maintains a gift shop at the MacCallam House and, at one time, was part owner of the Caspar Inn. Jeff Wall was among the arrested. And Hank McCusker and Rick Smith were also taken into custody. They’ve all been held in federal custody in Alameda County since Thursday, November 8th. Several of the accused own property allegedly purchased with drug money. Our sources say they all graduated from Mendocino High School in the 1980s and are all in their forties.

THE ARRESTS of the Mendocino people began with a huge DEA bust in Kansas involving 35 people charged with 101 federal counts of dealing drugs, transporting, trafficking, money laundering — not just pot but cocaine and other drugs. The Kansas end of the business goes to trial next year. The Kansas people apparently gave up the names of the Mendo people, although press accounts of the Kansas raid indicate that the feds had been watching the operation for years, since 2005, and, by 2012, probably had a clear idea of who was involved on the Mendocino end and how all the money was being laundered. One transaction is said to have involved more than a ton of pot that sold for 16.9 million dollars.

THE FEDS are calling it an organized crime ring and are poised to take down more Mendocino-area people.

IT’S ALL HUSH-HUSH so far because, it seems, the feds don’t want to alert those Coasties still to be arrested, but we can be sure a lot of people in the fog belt aren’t sleeping much this last week. The cops are saying some of the arrested are looking at very long sentences.

November 15, 2012

NOTE: The following press release from the feds earlier this year is related to last week’s arrests in Mendocino, but no announcements on the Mendocino arrests have yet to be issued.

KANSAS CITY, KAN, July 12, 2012 — 35 defendants are charged in a federal indictment unsealed here today alleging they worked for a drug trafficking organization that distributed $16.9 million worth of high-grade marijuana and cocaine in Johnson and Douglas Counties, First Assistant US Attorney Mike Warner said today. The 101-count indictment alleges that defendants Los Rovell Dahda, 30, Lawrence, Kan., and Chad Eugene Bauman, 33, Lawrence, made millions as the leaders of a drug trafficking organization that operated from 2005 to 2012. Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to order more than $16.9 million in cash and real estate that were proceeds of the crimes to be forfeited to the government. The indictment includes allegations that the defendants laundered the proceeds of their drug operations through unlawful financial transactions involving businesses, real estate and personal property in Lawrence, Topeka, Iola, Kan., Gladstone, Mo., and elsewhere. The indictment also identifies residences and commercial properties in Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City, Kan., and other locations where the traffickers stored or distributed drugs. The indictment also seeks additional penalties against traffickers who are accused of distributing drugs within the 1,000-ft. protected areas around playgrounds and schools including Lawrence High School, West Middle School, Haskell Indian Nations University, Holcomb Sports Complex, Olathe North High School and New York Elementary. The indictment grows out of a federal criminal complaint filed last month in US District Court in Kansas City, Kan. The indictment adds 10 defendants and 100 counts. In the initial complaint, prosecutors alleged the organization’s primary method for getting drugs to Kansas from California was by commercial carrier. Defendants named in the indictment are:

  • Los Rovell Dahda, 30, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Roosevelt Rico Dahda, 30, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Sadie Jolynn Brown, 25, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Justin Cherif Pickel, 32, San Lorenzo, Calif.
  • David James Essman, 35, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Amos Moses Hurst, 31, Eureka, Calif.
  • Phillip Villereal Alarcon, 43, Hayward, Calif.
  • Jeffery David Paviva, 39, Union City, Calif.
  • Mark Lee Romero, 31, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Samuel Villeareal, II, 32, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Peter Park, 41, Olathe, Kan.
  • Wayne Suhan Swift, 39, Hayward, Calif.
  • Charles Thomas Kreisler, 38, Kansas City, Mo.
  • James Michael Soderling, 42, Fort Bragg, Calif.
  • Simon Andrew Tyson, 27, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Trent Jordan Percival, 32, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Chad William Pollard, 34, Lenexa, Kan.
  • Jason Marcus Hansen, 38, Lenexa, Kan.
  • Daniel Mark Sieber, 31, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Justin Jerome Mercer, 35, Olathe, Kan.
  • Jacob Paul Forbes, 30, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Chad Eugene Bauman, 33, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Carey Lynn Willming, 36, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Michael Shane Witt, 37, Olathe, Kan.
  • Stephen Mallison Rector, 50, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Michael J. Berry, 27, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Adam Christiansen, 31, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Aaron G. Gunderson, 36, Topeka, Kan.
  • Nathan Wallace, 28, Topeka, Kan.
  • Ryan Kearns, 24, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Karl Havener, 25, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Damien J. Mick, 33, Shawnee, Kan.
  • Joshua Simpson, 28, Lenexa, Kan.
  • Sarah Soderling, 35, Ft. Bragg, Calif.
  • Elizabeth Dominique Watson, 44, Kansas City, Mo.

Criminal counts and potential penalties upon conviction include: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more 1,000 kilograms of marijuana: Not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $10 million. Conspiracy to commit money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000. Engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise: Not less than 20 years and not more than life and a fine up to $2 million. Money laundering: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. Possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana: Not less than 5 years and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $5 million. Distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school or playground: 10 years and a fine up to $500,000. Possession with intent to distribute marijuana: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000. Unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000. Maintaining a residence in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than a year and not more than 20 years and a fine up to $500,000. Using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking: A maximum penalty of four years and a fine up to $250,000. Unlawful possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than five years and not more than life, consecutive to other sentences. Unlawful possession of a firearm by a user of controlled substances: Not less than a year and not more than 20 years and a fine up to $250,000. Agencies involved in the investigation and the arrest of defendants include the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the Lawrence Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service, the US Postal Service, the Alameda County, Calif., Sheriff’s Drug Task Force, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Lenexa Police Department, the Overland Park Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department and the Hayward, Calif., Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead is prosecuting. In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

November 16, 2012

THE BIG COAST DRUG BUST first reported here Tuesday has prompted the usual anon shots at the AVA for “lying” and for being “irresponsible.” I know it’s difficult for many victims of the local schools to make even the most basic distinctions, but an error is not a lie. A lie is a deliberate fabrication. And error is a mistake, inadvertent. I got one name wrong and one relationship wrong based on the information I had. Within minutes of receiving the information that one name and one relationship was incorrect, I made the on-line change. Unfortunately, the print version of the AVA had already been printed. I will apologize to the person incorrectly named in next week’s print edition. A newspaper is a newssssssssss paper, get it? Newssssssss papers go with the information they have and hope it is without error. The most annoying call about this came from an idiot lawyer named Jeff Wozniak. He said the person I had listed among the bustees was the wife of one of the men arrested and was irresponsible for making the mistake. Mr. Wozniak, presumably, is without error. But he was just doing his job as a lawyer, which is to bluster for his clients.

ALL OF THIS SAID, like most people I don’t like the way the feds operate in Mendocino County, and I certainly don’t approve of the way they’ve handled this particular raid, swooping down on long-time residents and, without so much as a press release, hustling them off to prison in the Bay Area. It’s all too much like CIA “renditions” of alleged terrorists.

November 23, 2012

THE MUCH DISCUSSED drug arrests of well-known Mendocino people seem to focus more on James and Sarah Soderling than any of their alleged Mendocino confederates. The Soderlings apparently split time between their county of origin, Mendo, and Kansas. The feds are describing the Soderlings as the link between the Kansas headquarters of the alleged conspiracy and the five prominent residents of Mendocino, all of them either presently functioning as volunteers with the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department or past fire department volunteers. Two of the Coast bustees, John McMillan and his wife, Erin Keller, have returned to duty with the Volunteers. Jeff Wall functions as contractor on the Mendocino Coast and Hank McCusker as a property manager. Rick Smith has coached football at Mendocino High School. All seven have entered not guilty pleas and are represented by renowned drug defense attorneys who include Tony Serra. The federal indictment says that James Soderling “is a known high grade marijuana distributor” and pot “broker” whose wife, Sarah, was equally complicit in Soderling’s alleged Mendo-Kansas import-export business. The feds claim that the Soderlings arranged for Mendo bud to be shipped to Kansas, Kansas shipped the cash back to Mendo from a Kansas “motor sports shop” to a Soderling business based in Hayward called “California Connection.” (“California Connection” wouldn’t seem to be the wisest name for a pot op, but that’s the allegation.) Mrs. Soderling, at home in Fort Bragg, has been ordered by the federal court not to have any contact with her Kansas-based husband. The feds, among their many claims, say they intercepted a Soderling-inspired FedEx package containing $84,700 sent from Kansas to their business in Hayward.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 12, 2014

Burch, Croan, Flores, Garcia
Burch, Croan, Flores, Garcia

ERIC BURCH, Willits. Domestic battery, false imprisonment with violence.

CAMERON CROAN, Ukiah. Parole violation.

STEPHEN FLORES, Forestville/Ukiah. Petty theft, failure to appear, probation revocation.

JOE GARCIA, Ukiah. Domestic assault, removing wireless equipment to prevent emergency call.

Garza, Gonzalez, Grunwald
Garza, Gonzalez, Grunwald

MICHAEL GARZA, Indio/Ukiah. Drunk in public.

ANTHONY GONZALEZ, Vista/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MICHAEL GRUNWALD, Ukiah. Resisting arrest, probation revocation.

Heilig, McOsker, Pike, Rodriguez
Heilig, McOsker, Pike, Rodriguez

DANIEL HEILIG, Willits. Court order violation.

REMO MCOSKER, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance and device for injecting/smoking. (Frequent Flyer.)

DARRELL PIKE, Hopland. Under influence of controlled substance, resisting arrest, probation revocation.

FAUSTINO RODRIGUEZ, Fort Bragg. Resisting arrest.

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“…‘Super utilizers’ refers to people who use the emergency room excessively. They're also called ‘frequent flyers.’ Nationally, they are the sickest 5% of patients and, according to the foundation, responsible for more than 60% of healthcare costs. The project's aim was to coordinate these patients' healthcare so its quality, and their health, improved enough to keep them out of the ER. It was based on an approach developed by a family practitioner in Camden, New Jersey. Patients were added to the program throughout the two-year period, so data for many of them are still being crunched. But raw results for 18 of the patients revealed a 70% drop in their emergency room visits in the six months after joining the project, compared with visits the six months before, and a corresponding nearly 100% drop in unreimubursed costs. And, post-project, new initiatives have arisen to continue working with people who use the ER too much, using lessons learned in this pilot project.…

— Heidi Walters, The North Coast Journal

Full Story:

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ON JUNE 11, at about five minutes after midnight, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Correctional staff assigned to work Building One of the Mendocino County Adult Detention Facility entered the cell of an unresponsive male inmate. Deputies found him unconscious and not breathing. Jail medical staff was present and evaluated the man. No pulse or respirations were detected, and life-saving measures were started. Emergency services were summoned and ultimately transported the man to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead. The 55-year-old inmate was the sole occupant of the cell. He had been arrested on June 10, 2014 for being under the influence of a controlled substance by Willits Police Department and has since been identified as 55-year-old Steve Neuroth of Ukiah. Autopsy results are pending. (Sheriff’s Press Release, June, 2014)

AS IT DEVELOPS, we've learned that Neuroth arrived at the jail under the influence of methamphetamine and became combative. He had to be restrained and forcibly placed in an isolation cell where he died. There was no indication that he was beaten or otherwise mistreated.

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LAME BRAIN HED from today's PD:

Storm issues close roads around county
— 36 roads throughout the county are closed either from flooding or fallen trees or debris.”

"Issues"? The cliched word we want here in this kind of hypnotically boring headline is the time-honored "problems." Issues are abstractions, as in, The issues are tissues. The PD used to be edited, but it's pretty much Illiterate City anymore.

WHILE WE'RE ON the subject of minor annoyances, the increasingly frequent verbal tic ,"It's interesting that...." Say it, and we'll decide if it's "interesting" or not.

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Subject: Cost
From: Matthew McDonald
Date: Fri, December 12, 2014


Why is the cost different for California mailing addresses vs the rest of the nation? The cost to the AVA of mailing to San Francisco is the same as the cost of mailing to Chicago.

MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately if you’re an out-of-state subscriber), we have not yet implemented the proposed increased out-of-state subscription rate that would allow us to make any money at all on the out of state subscriptions that you may be referring to. We had planned to raise rates for out of state subscribers (and may still do so) because the cost of mailing out of state has increased steadily year by year since last century. Mr. McDonald must be referring to first class rates which are indeed the same throughout the US, but which apply only to letters, not newspapers or magazines. However, second class (or “periodicals”) postage for out of county (and out of state) papers is based on distance (“USPS Delivery Zones”) and ranges from about 48¢ to 55¢ per paper for various destinations in California, and about 68¢ per paper for out of state. (For fun/comparison, try putting a single AVA in an envelope, put an out-of-state address on it, and mailing it first class or media mail.) Printing costs are about 30¢ per paper these days. Add our other minimum production and administrative costs — office rent, contributor fees, internet and web hosting, layout, office supplies, etc. — and our objective, out of pocket cost for an out of state paper quickly exceeds the $1 cover price which we have haven’t raised for, what?, 20 years? And lately the USPS provides such poor service that their increased rates for out of state mailings is quite galling and is slowly strangling our print edition. But…

Oh, did I mention that Editor-Publisher Bruce Anderson and Managing Editor/Major Contributor (and chief bottle polisher) Mark Scaramella take zero (i.e., $0, nada) out of the paper? In a normal commercial media world our, ahem, services would at least double the cost of an AVA all by themselves. The AVA is the last real paper in America. There’s more readable, well-written, Mendo-centric content every week both on-line and in print than KZYX puts on the air in a year and it is being put out at the lowest possible cost.

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THE HUFF IS LOOKING BETTER AND BETTER: The Congressman explains his vote on the latest Wall Street shakedown:

“Disgusted that the ‘CRomnibus,’ a veritable special interest Christmas tree, passed the House with 57 Democrats supporting it. Had it failed, we would have had a short-term clean CR which I believe would have been better strategically and substantively. Major policy concessions were given up -- including permanent repeal of a key anti-bailout provision of Dodd-Frank, a further weakening of campaign finance laws, an anti-environment rider to make it easier for Big Coal to do mountaintop removal mining, and federally overriding the citizens of the District of Columbia who overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize marijuana -- in return for a few more months of government funding, even though we know this is just the beginning of the GOP policy shakedowns. I'm disappointed that instead of drawing a firm line on at least some of these policies, the Obama administration rolled over and actually whipped the bill for the GOP. Democrats had some power for a moment and could have leveraged a better outcome. We have now given a bully our lunch money. He will be back in January bigger, stronger, and asking for more.”


“Once again, House Republicans are threatening to shutdown the government by including provisions in a last-minute funding bill that’s needed to keep the government open past midnight. I just voted against this legislation because we need a clean, straight-forward spending bill that doesn’t hurt our middle class, undermine our democratic process, arm foreign rebels we know little about, or undercut efforts to fix our immigration system.”

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BIG BOOK SALE: Don’t forget Jug Handle Creek Nature Center is having Book Sale Sunday December 21 from 9 a.m. to 3pm. Great place to do last minute shopping for nature lovers.

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KINGS OF TORTURE who made over $80 million inflicting pain:

The incredible story of how two Mormons with no expertise conned the CIA

by Tom Leonard

Their names appear again and again in the US Senate’s shocking report on CIA torture — two clinical psychologists who dreamt up ever more brutal ways to inflict humiliation and pain on uncharged prisoners kept in secret prisons.

Often they would do interrogations themselves, subjecting Al Qaeda suspects to endless waterboardings, beatings and week-long sleep deprivation with a gusto that even shocked hardened CIA agents. And all the time they were raking in millions as they convinced their CIA paymasters — against all evidence — that their illegal, immoral methods were getting results.

The 528-page Senate Intelligence Committee report published on Tuesday identifies the pair — who earned $81 million masterminding the CIA’s disastrous “enhanced interrogation” program from 2002 to 2009 — as Dr. Grayson Swigert and Dr Hammond Dunbar.

These are pseudonyms. US media have named them as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two retired Air Force psychologists who learnt their trade when they helped to teach US servicemen how to avoid capture and survive interrogation.

As part of the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) program at the elite Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State, they subjected US airmen to mock “interrogation techniques that they might be subjected to if taken prisoner by countries that did not adhere to Geneva protections.”

They struck gold when they convinced a gullible CIA that these techniques should be used in deadly earnest on terror suspects.

No matter that the men were almost comically ill-equipped to be interrogation masterminds. As the Senate report witheringly observes: “Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of Al Qaeda, a background in terrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.”

What they did have was some aggressive ideas on how to grill suspected terrorists that perfectly suited the CIA’s grim mood after the 9/11 attacks on New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, in 2001. Mitchell, now 63, had just retired from the military but saw an opportunity to display his gung-ho patriotism and make some money. He already had CIA contacts from his role at the airbase and he approached them with a plan, backed by impressive-sounding psychobabble, for “enhanced” interrogation.

Ironically, Mitchell borrowed his central theory — called “learned helplessness” — from an expert on happiness. Psychologist Martin Seligman studied depression and discovered research from the 1960s in which dogs given persistent small electric shocks eventually became listless and didn’t bother to escape.

Mitchell adapted this research for his own ends. He claimed that if Al Qaeda suspects were made to face “persistent adversity” they would be pushed into hopelessness and co-operate.

It didn’t seem to matter that other psychologists and experienced interrogators disagreed, arguing that there was no scientific evidence for Mitchell’s theory and that experience had shown brutal interrogation techniques did not work: prisoners would just say whatever they thought their interrogators wanted to hear.

Within two months of 9/11, desperate CIA bosses had recruited Mitchell to study an Al Qaeda manual, seized in the UK, which coached members on how to resist interrogations. How could the CIA get around such resistance and elicit intelligence from captives?, they asked.

For help with the answer, Mitchell recruited Jessen, now 65, an old friend from the airbase who shared his Mormon background.

They put together a 12-point interrogation program based on the techniques they had used on US servicemen in SERE training. These included slaps to the face, cramped confinement, agonizing stress positions, prolonged sleep deprivation, forced nudity, slamming prisoners into the wall, making them soil themselves while wearing diapers, and waterboarding.

The pair admitted they had never tried waterboarding but insisted it was an “absolutely convincing technique.”

The SERE methods they taught were based on tactics first used by the Chinese to extract confessions from US prisoners during the Korean War. Now they would be used by the Americans.

The irony that now it was the US that would be flouting the Geneva Conventions seemed lost on everyone.

Mitchell reportedly told CIA chiefs that interrogations required “a comparable level of fear and brutality to flying planes into buildings.” Some of their proposals, such as mock burials, were too extreme even for the CIA, which rejected them.

“Our goal was to reach the stage where we have broken any will or ability of subject to resist or deny providing us information (intelligence) to which he had access,” Mitchell and Jessen said in a cable published in the Senate report.

The cold-blooded pair — Jessen the son of an Idaho potato farmer, Mitchell raised in straitened circumstances by his grandmother in Tampa, Florida — got their first chance to try out their ideas when the CIA captured Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in 2002.

He was spirited to a secret CIA prison, or “black site,” in Thailand. Although FBI interrogators used conventional, non-violent “rapport-building” techniques to get crucial information from him, the CIA flew in with Mitchell and he got to work. The psychologist had the prisoner stripped, placed in a freezing cold all-white room and blasted with rock music to prevent him sleeping.

Jessen soon joined his friend in Thailand and, according to the Senate report, FBI agents there complained that the psychologists had “acquired tremendous influence” over the CIA.

Yet even after being waterboarded for two-and-a-half hours and put in a coffin-sized “confinement box” for more than 11 days out of 20, Zubaydah offered no more useful information.

Some CIA interrogators were so disturbed by his treatment they were on the point of tears. Even the agency’s interrogations chief was dismayed, emailing colleagues to say the unending brutality towards prisoners was a train wreck “waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.”

A CIA doctor warned that the pair’s “arrogance and narcissism” — believing “their way is the only way” — could prove seriously counterproductive.

Yet the influence of “the Mormon Mafia,” as they were nicknamed, merely increased as their methods were used on at least 27 more prisoners, and interrogators across the US were trained in their tactics.

Under their lucrative CIA contract they toured black sites across the world, briefing senior politicians including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and conducting interrogations themselves, often training CIA staff “on the job.”

And who was given responsibility for checking on the psychological state of those being interrogated? Amazingly, it was Mitchell and Jessen.

In 2003 they were summoned to a black site in Poland to interrogate another Al Qaeda big fish — 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When he resisted, says the report, Jessen promised to “go to school on this guy.”

They not only threatened his children — a new low — but upped the unpleasantness of his waterboarding (which Mohammed was subjected to 183 times) by waiting for him to open his mouth to talk before pouring water over it.

It was, of course, Mitchell and Jessen who then assessed the state of the suspect. They concluded that interrogation should continue — conducted by them.

Mitchell and Jessen were getting very rich from the CIA’s patronage, each being paid about $1,800 a day — four times what other interrogators were getting. The Senate report reveals that by 2005 the CIA had almost fully outsourced its detention and interrogation program. The pair were the chief beneficiaries.

That year, they formed a company — Mitchell Jessen and Associates — specifically for their work for the CIA. It operated from an unmarked office in Spokane, Washington State. In 2006 its contract with the agency was worth a potential $180 million; by 2007 it was employing 60 people, including senior ex-CIA and FBI staff.

Mitchell was wealthy enough to buy a BMW and build a $1 million dream house in Florida.

By the time the contract was terminated in 2009, when the Obama Administration shut the black sites and stopped contractors doing interrogations, they had earned $81 million of taxpayers’ money, the Senate report reveals. Mitchell and Jessen shut up shop overnight, leaving no forwarding address, and have largely disappeared from public sight. The CIA has agreed to cover any legal expenses for them until 2021.

Neither has ever publicly expressed any regret, citing a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA. But Mitchell defended the CIA’s record within hours of the Senate report coming out.

“It’s like somebody backed up your driveway and dumped a steaming pile of horse crap,” he growled to ABC. He described the report as politically motivated “bullshit” that had relied on “cherry-picked” facts.

The Senate report said there was no evidence that enhanced interrogation ever worked. Other experts say it probably did the opposite, bolstering prisoners’ resolve or producing a string of false leads from people talking just to get the pain to stop.

The US Justice Department has declined to prosecute anyone accused of interrogation abuses — but outrage over the revelations has led to demands from human rights groups, senators and even the United Nations for the guilty to be held accountable.

Many hope that, as the most easily identifiable offenders in the Senate report, Mitchell and Jessen will soon be the ones sweating it out in the glare of the interrogator’s spotlight.

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Why Did They Do It?

In an emotional interview with Vice News, Dr. Mitchell, a former military man, explained how the September 11 attacks inspired him to help America get revenge on Al Qaeda. He said: “It was horrific that people had to choose between burning to death and jumping off of buildings. I don't think that should happen to anybody. So I called up one of the people who was managing one of my contracts and said, ‘I want to be part of the solution,” really not knowing anything about anything other than, like anyone who watched [the attacks] who has a background in the military, we all wanted to be part of the solution.”

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"All About Money", with host and producer, John Sakowicz, returns to KMEC Radio on Monday, December 15, at 1 PM, Pacific Time, with guests, Roy Edelson and Trudy Bond.

Edelson and Bond are two well-known psychologists at Psychologists for Social Responsibility. They just wrote the piece, "The Complicity of Psychologists in CIA Torture".

KMEC Radio is heard at 105.1 FM in Ukiah, CA. We stream live from the web at

Roy Eidelson & Trudy Bond

Eidelson is a clinical psychologist and the president of Eidelson Consulting, where he studies, writes about, and consults on the role of psychological issues in political, organizational, and group conflict settings. He is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.

Bond is a counseling psychologist in independent practice in Toledo, Ohio. She is a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and on the steering committee of Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

They just wrote the piece "The Complicity of Psychologists in CIA Torture," which states: "Earlier this week the Senate Intelligence Committee released the long-awaited executive summary of its 6,000-page classified report on the CIA’s brutal post-9/11 detention and interrogation program. The report provides gruesome details of the abuse that took place in several 'black site' prisons -- waterboarding, confinement in a coffin-sized box, threatened harm to family members, forced nudity, freezing temperatures, 'rectal feeding' without medical need, stress positions, diapering, days of sleep deprivation, and more.

"Two names appear dozens of times in the committee’s summary: Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar. These are the pseudonyms that were given to James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. It has been known for several years that these two contract psychologists played central roles in designing and implementing the CIA’s torture program. Now we also know how lucrative that work was for Mitchell and Jessen: their company was paid over $80 million by the CIA. ...

"Responding to the new Senate report, the American Psychological Association (APA) was quick to issue a press release distancing itself from Mitchell and Jessen. The statement emphasized that the two psychologists are not APA members – although Mitchell was a member until 2006 -- and that they are therefore 'outside the reach of the association’s ethics adjudication process.' But there is much more to this story. After years of stonewalling and denials, last month the APA Board appointed an investigator to examine allegations that the APA colluded with the CIA and Pentagon in supporting the Bush Administration’s abusive 'war on terror' detention and interrogation practices.

"The latest evidence of that collusion comes from the publication earlier this fall of James Risen’s Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. With access to hundreds of previously undisclosed emails involving senior APA staff, the Pulitzer-prize winning reporter concludes that the APA 'worked assiduously to protect the psychologists…involved in the torture program.' The book also provides several new details pointing to the likelihood that Mitchell and Jessen were not so far removed from the APA after all.

"Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, APA member and CIA head of behavioral research Kirk Hubbard first introduced Mitchell and Jessen to the CIA as 'potential assets.' A few months later, in mid-2002, Hubbard arranged for former APA president Martin Seligman to present a lecture on his theories of 'learned helplessness' to a group that included Mitchell and Jessen at the Navy SERE School in San Diego. And in 2003 Hubbard worked closely with APA senior staff in developing an invitation-only workshop – co-sponsored by the APA and the CIA – on the science of deception and other interrogation-related topics. Mitchell and Jessen were both participants (having returned from overseas where they were involved in the waterboarding of detainees Abu Zabaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed). …"


* * *


aka The Kids Are All Right

by Nate Collins

Students And Activists Blockade A Major Portion Of Interstate 80 In Berkeley. 157 Eventually Kettled By Police In Emeryville Charged With Penal Code 647(C) And 370.

We the people of the United States believe that the executive branch of our government in the form of law enforcement, has overstepped its bounds and purpose and must be radically re-examined through a national referendum.

As far as the question of violence. Nonviolent direct action can clear the space for our temporary autonomous zone by impeding business as usual and providing an avenue of radical confrontation with the state.

As far as property destruction. Property destruction is not violence. Calling property destruction violence would be falsely equating the destruction of things with the destruction of actual human lives directly caused by US Government and corporate policies at home and abroad.

The blocking of freeways and roads is a spectacular action designed to temporarily liberate the the self, the group, the bystanders and all global witnesses through an albeit brief rattling of our collective mental chains.

We marched from downtown Berkeley down University avenue towards the Bay. At the extended entry ramp to the Eastshore freeway from University Avenue we were met for at least the third night in a row by at least 100 Berkeley Police in full on stormtrooper riot gear. This night the march on University to block the freeway seemed closer to 3,000 which was more than any other night. Perhaps due to a critical mass of sheer numbers the people collectively figured out we should make a quick left on sixth street in front of the police blockade and then a quick right toward the footbridge at aquatic park that goes over the Eastshore Freeway.

I decided to scout ahead to the Bay side of the bike/footbridge and found the CHP there at about two dozen. The dozen or so CHP motorcycles soon headed straight in formation toward the bike/footbridge and so I raced in front of them to make it back to the mass of people still nearing aquatic park. People streamed up the footbridge on the other side only to meet a wall of CHP bikes over the eastbound traffic. I wondered all night how this must have appeared to people in their cars, the unknowing, the unassuming random people out there, this action was certainly for them as well. The CHP pushed the crowd back with their motorcycles until the fence holding people on the footbridge 60 feet above the pavement began to swell and sway, and for a moment appeared as if it were about to drop hundreds of people down onto the pavement. The CHP sensing catastrophe, stopped their assault. By this time people poured onto the access road directly between the body of water at aquatic park and the I-80 East.

The CHP riot police fought back initial attempts of kids to storm the freeway. We protested the first Gulf War and the Rodney King verdict with vigor when I was many of these kids age. You don't know how beautiful it is to see kids almost 25 years later acting with such purpose and courage, without fear.

As the CHP fought back the kids trying to get on the freeway under the footbridge, people just went further on down that road adjacent the lake thus expanding the frontline with the police blockade of the freeway to nearly a half mile and not just a few hundred feet that could easily be covered. About a quarter mile down from the footbridge the first breach took place when about 30 kids pulled down the fence and poured in front of eastbound traffic which had already been stopped some time ago when people first reached the shoulder of the highway.

It was total anarchy, it was beautiful, the freeway belonged to the people. Traffic was eventually stopped in both directions as hundreds poured onto the freeway. It must have been around 8pm or so. Word gradually spread back to the footbridge that the freeway had actually been breached and more and more poured in. The people held both lanes of traffic for at least an hour or more.

In my experience thus far this thing has been entirely spontaneous. I literally joined the march each evening on University avenue as I heard the march go by my house.

In fact one of the major organizing forces for the marches was that each night after people gathered at 5pm it was soon dark and the looming and extremely loud choppers would lead the way, literally with a spotlight, to where the real action was. Not no cinema, not no theatre, no soundtrack, this was the real deal, the real unmediated experience.

Hundreds of what looked mostly to me like high school and young college aged kids held the Eastshore freeway in Berkeley for more than an hour, stopping traffic on the Interstate 80 in both directions. A group of about 300 then decided to march to Oakland on the freeway. In my desire to witness what was certain to be some type of military action by the CHP Riot Police I rode my bike from aquatic park through Emeryville to Powell street to go under the bridge and out onto the Bayshore bike path. I rode back up toward Ashby to see the people advance and the CHP tactics to attempt containment. The people advanced quickly past Ashby and then Powell streets which was my last vantage point for the impending assault. You have to be extremely careful when you scout ahead and when you follow behind in an action like this because many times I found myself just the cops and me or somewhere between the people and the cops.

So I do not wear a mask. I am a citizen observer and writer and I have every right to see what the kids and the cops are doin’, especially right in my backyard. And I am here to say that, “The kids are all right.”

Not satisfied that I had witnessed all that the night and this action had to offer, I stood frozen still, staring toward downtown Oakland from Powell street, imagining the kids advancing on one of those elevated freeways toward Oakland, trapped on both sides by menacing stormtroopers. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bike go between the stores, my fate was sealed, Now I remember, that's right there's loading and back exits and garbage for all these um garbage stores and all the garbage they carry. I headed on my bike back between the stores with what can only be seen now as reckless abandon. It was literally like an alleyway. I don't know why it felt like a safe place to go. I was blinded by my desire to see what I dreaded might happen to the kids, that they would be viciously trapped and attacked by riot cops. Within a couple minutes it was clear that the freeway action was dissipating from a solid line of riot police shooting rubber bullets and flash grenades at this point.

People came in mass over the freeway fence as the 60 or so CHP stormtroopers swept the highway at 15 feet apart firing rubber bullets into the crowd. But that was not it. They were after bodies and some type of head count for the statistics, some kind of head count for the books. All the good white liberal people with power and influence were extremely dismayed at the actions of the people on the previous nights and outraged at the lack of people arrested by police.

I know some and I listened to them, “Well if those kids can't behave we'll just have to lock them up,” and things like “Well we live in a peaceful society and if people want to disturb the peace well we'll just have to get rid of them,” and other such nonsense. We headed running from the bullets and grenades around the corner and boom, right there, 30 stormtroopers running at as with busses and vans full of more right behind them. One last chance was the wrought iron fence toward the Marriot parking lot. We squeezed between the fence and bushes and highway and soon the front people were yelling “Go back!! Go Back!!!”

We were surrounded on all sides not by uniform cops but by full on stormtroopers in what can only be described as some incredible fuckin’ gear. Damn, that is one sinking feeling to be, as the term I learned from the kids there, kettled. We were in a human kettle between Ross and the Powell Street exit to Emeryville, we were probably seated on a shellmound, or former shellmound. We did have a window of a few minutes when only a few dozen cops stood between us and freedom until it became several hundred police surrounding us, the overkill being quite intimidating in and of itself. I thought they were gonna attack us from all sides in a flurry of assault as their numbers kept building. We could have rushed the line at first but clearly people would have gotten hurt and it was not a solid number of people who actually desired to break through the police line. That's it, we were trapped.

A modest group of 150 young women and men, students and activists versus a group of frustrated bloated overfed ex football players itchin’ to crack someone’s skull. Well let’s just say the point of confrontation is to win. Blood I did not want to see at this point.

It was a successful nonviolent action that stressed and confounded the authorities we meant to confront. It was tactically beautiful which can only last for so long in a spontaneous action. The CHP eventually outmanuvered us. Good for them. It was time to sit down for the night.

And that we did, on the cold pavement for almost three hours, wrists bound tightly behind our backs in plastic zip ties. And then in the caged Alameda County Sheriff’s blue bus with the midnight bus to Santa Rita blues. And then through the night in bullpen after bullpen at Santa Rita County Jail. Somewhere around 4 in the morning we were brought across the main yard of the jail to cell block 32 West. It was somehow oddly satisfying that they used an entire cell block to house us. And an entire cell block to house the women who were in the majority of the 157 or so people arrested. They stripped the cell block all the way down to just metal bunks and toilet paper. It was oddly satisfying.

Yes it was oddly satisfying in the same way I was happy sitting on the ground in those twist ties for hours in some form of torture yoga. The satisfaction came from the certainty in my mind that this scenario could only be extremely temporary, and would have to change soon. A feeling not to dissimilar to the feelings I have been having lately about our society in general.

We will be in Oakland Municipal Court at 661 Washington Street, Oakland, CA at 9 am in Department #107 on Tuesday January 6, 2015 facing charges of trespassing and obstruction. Any support from the people is welcome.

* * *


Spiritual Direct Action Group Forming

Warmest spiritual greetings, Please know that I am inviting all interested individuals to join with me for the purpose of creating a spiritual direct action group! This is clearly an idea whose time has come. The purpose of this group is to "intervene in history", on the eve of permanent global climate destabilization, endless war, a visionless global economic oligarchy, and a pointless existence for all sentient beings. This is a hardcore magickal working group, using every tool in the tool box. If this interests you, let's convene in Washington D.C. soon.

Craig Louis Stehr



* * *


Oregon Right to Know

Technically, we lost. By about 800 votes. A fraction of a percentage point. But we’ll never really know. Because this week, a judge in Oregon ruled against a lawsuit filed this week by our YES on 92 Campaign. The suit would have required the state to count the 4600 votes that election officials threw out — because they said the signatures on the ballot envelopes didn’t match the signatures on the voters’ registration cards. Monsanto and Big Food will claim victory. What they won’t say is that it took a record-breaking $20.7 million of advertising, intended to misinform and confuse voters, for them to buy this “victory.”

Full Story:


  1. Rick Weddle December 13, 2014

    re: the heartwarming mental health professionals, Mitchell and Jessen
    Mitchell claims his motivation came from his reaction to the horrors of 911, that he wanted to ‘…help America get revenge on Al Qaeda…,’ an effort he plainly thought of as patriotic in all its dimensions. I don’t recall any provision supporting enhanced interrogation techniques in the Flag Salute, do you? Does Liberty and Justice for All include military/industrial grade sadism? The good (NOT) doctor ignores this crucial disconnect, among others. And he isn’t alone. The U.S.’s first leap after 911 was for revenge. Not Justice. Revenge. And there is a vast difference, Virginia; Revenge is still getting us down this deadly road at rocket speed, while Justice would save us (and others) from this supersonic tailspin. There’s plenty of revenge…more than enough to go around. The increasing rarity of Justice, though, is why our Corpirate world looks and smells the way it does…
    These ‘doctors’ must be brought to Justice, along with as many of their alumni as can be rounded up, and most specifically, those who ordered these crimes against humanity and those who have profited so mightily by such ghoulish ‘patriotism.’

    • Harvey Reading December 13, 2014

      The U.S. was, and is, in no position to be vengeful. It created Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, when Ben Laden was our good buddy. It slaughtered Iraqi civilians in the first oil war, slaughtered more, including at least half a million young kids, with sanctions, and yet more with the second oil war against Iraq, based totally on lies by war criminals, who still walk the streets as free men and women, including ex-presidents and members of congress. This country has been slaughtering innocents for decades (remember Vietnam, Korea?). It has no high horse of “revenge” or “justice” to ride. Unless it changes its ways, its days of power will end, sooner than the pledge-spouting, flag-waving crowd can imagine, especially given their basic stupidity, and gullibility.

      • Rick Weddle December 13, 2014

        Mr. Reading,
        Maybe I wasn’t clear; the present course of revenge pursued here and there by some (including these torture-doctors) has dead-end consequences proven not just often, but EVERY time. In the Mean Time, revenge is so astronomically rewarding, it’s…well, it’s about our sole remaining export, here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I mention Justice, not just as a word blathered by rote, but as being conspicuously absent from most U.S. ‘policy’ these days, both at home and abroad. This bleeding, dying absence of Justice is what’s WRONG with the picture where Corpirates rule. Conversely, it’s revival would also be the cure for what’s ailing our politics, our economies, our planet. I guess what I meant to say, in this case as in many others, is: Justice or She’s All Over!
        I’d like to add to this simplistic list of symptoms that there are actually growing numbers of folks (People) who’re heading for the Cure, not just whining about the problems.

        • Harvey Reading December 14, 2014

          Not nearly enough, and Margaret Mead’s statement about a few, dedicated people being able to effect change is baloney. Maybe a few, dedicated, very wealthy people, but for the rest of us, it takes a mass movement, and there’s no sign of that here in the land of exceptionals (e.g., how many people boycott sporting events because they are sick of the nationalistic bullshit, like murder machines flying overhead?). Occupy had the numbers, but they seemed to have no clue about how to get things done … repeating a speaker’s words interminably to other listeners in the crowd is ridiculous.

          • Rick Weddle December 14, 2014

            I mostly agree. My personal anthem these days is Mose Allison’s ‘I don’t worry ’bout a thing, ’cause I know nothin’s gonna be alright.’ Who could hope to make any sense whatever of such a senseless situation? We just about have to conclude that any sense available will be found elsewhere.
            However, the ‘critical mass’ number for social change has been hinted at in past dramatic social changes (good/bad). The roughly 28% of colonials in N. America who made their revolution pulled off a democratic republic, however briefly; the ‘great landslide’ electoral victory of Reagan in ’84 was a whopping 28.3% of those REGISTERED voters who actually turned out at the polls (the lowest turnout then – 48% – of any ‘democratic’ country except Botswana!!). So it looks as if the real number is between a quarter and a third of the population as sufficient to ‘get the idea’ for social metamorphosis, to get Real Change on the ground. This is not a guarantee. It clearly does not work all the time. But as Ms. Mead pointed out, it’s the ONLY thing that EVER works, bless her elitist little heart.
            Looking at the present Media Picture, we might get the notion that we homo sapiens are smart and determined enough to get ourselves into this fix, but not quite smart enough, or committed enough to solve these artificial problems. But you have, yourself, put questions that challenge that unflattering Media Picture…and thank you.
            And thanks yet again to the AVA!

          • Harvey Reading December 14, 2014

            I second the part about the AVA. A person can express true opinions here. Quite a different story with my (Cal) alumni magazine … which generally only prints letters favorable to big, welfare ag. It’s become nothing but a right-wing rag, right wing including the yuppies who call themselves liberals.

            Have you ever tried getting a large government agency to do the right thing? All one gets for the trouble is a bureaucratic run-around, a lot of practice writing letters … and, in the end, no change, even when the actions are clearly in violation of the stated policies of the agency. Now, if even a thousand people made the same complaint … but they don’t.

  2. John Sakowicz December 13, 2014

    Thank you for posting Tom Leonard’s fine article.

  3. Harvey Reading December 13, 2014

    Will be interesting to see how the North Coast reps are bought off. They’re talking big, now, for headlines, just like Lizzie Warren, but I betcha they’ll cave in the end. Democraps always do. Won’t be long before that “party” is calling for a return to the Jim Crow laws they supported prior to the 60s.

  4. chewsome December 13, 2014

    “Autopsy results are pending. (Sheriff’s Press Release, June, 2014)

    AS IT DEVELOPS, we’ve learned that Neuroth arrived at the jail under the influence of methamphetamine and became combative. He had to be restrained and forcibly placed in an isolation cell where he died. There was no indication that he was beaten or otherwise mistreated.”

    …RESPONSE: After six month wait for a followup to Sheriff’s Press Release, is that all the info you have, no cause of death? Of course there is no indication of being beaten or mistreated, beyond “restrained and forcibly placed in an isolation cell where he died,” because the body was cremated within weeks of death, so no second opinion and goodbye trace of evidence. June 2014 Press Release, described that jail staff just happened to do a checkup while the corpse was fresh and attempted to save a life. Helping hands. Just does not add up.

  5. Rick Weddle December 14, 2014

    *wups* The 28.3% of REGISTERED voters elected Reagan; because the turnout was so low (48%), the Republican vote of just over half (52%?) stole the show. I called the FEC when the votes were counted, and asked how many people in the US were ELIGIBLE to register that year who didn’t bother. The nice lady told me they didn’t know. I asked if I’d dialed the right number. She said yeah. So…at that moment, that office, like many others in ‘our’ government, had all the lights on, and we were paying all the bills, but the public servants were not only AWOL, but up to No Damned Good, to boot.

    Like the revered University of California following welfare-ag around like a balloon on a string. But, see, the rewards can be so astonishing. Ever seen Willie Brown’s shoes, on any day? He’s got bushels of ’em. All you’ve got to do is sell the whole damned State of California Down the River once in a while. It’s one of those Equal Opportunity deals. A lot like they run it in D.C.

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