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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015

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The Anderson Valley Election Committee announces an election for Mayor of the Valley. The PWEIP* party has put forth Steve Sparks as a Candidate for Mayor of the Valley.

Candidates are expected soon from the Tupperware Party, the Wine and Cheese Party, the Garden Party, the la Fiesta Party and perhaps others.

In the interest of Democracy, Transparency and the long standing precedent set by the Chamber of Commerce, the committee will be anonymous. You can get more transparent then invisible! Beware of pretenders to the committee offering favors for drink or sex.

We are looking for volunteers to staff our “Vote or Else!” voter registration drive in front of the Grange at the Variety Show. There will be a Poll Tax, probably a pint, no more than two.

The date of the election is being confirmed shortly as all bars must be open on Election Day. No guns or viscious dogs please.

We are scouting a location for the voting booth(s).

*PWEIP People Whose English Is Peculiar

Name Withheld, Navarro

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by Mrs. Betty Burns (nee Ward)

The following are excerpts taken from letters I wrote home to my parents during the first year and a half that I taught in Sherwood Valley School in Mendocino County. This was my second year of teaching but the first year being on my own away from home. I boarded with Lou and Ethel James. Ethel James was the clerk of the school board. My salary was $100 a month. I paid $30 a month room and board. I had no car so I walked to and from school about 1.8 miles each way.

September 6, 1934 — The first day of school is over. My only students were the little Potter girls. What a boring day! The Anderson boy on the corner would have been here but he did not know that school was supposed to start today. I rode from the corner to school with Mr. Anderson this morning. He talks in a rather sing-song voice and we had a grand conversation the rest of the way to school.

September 7 — The second day is over. I had five children today, all in different grades. Oh, I saw a bear today. He was in the field across from the schoolhouse this morning. I just prayed he wouldn't meet the little Potter girls on their way to school. I know they would have been scared to death. When I first saw it I thought it was a pig but on second look I realized that it was too big for that and it's feet were too big and thick-looking. It also moved with quite rambling gait.

Little Charles Anderson is the cutest kid you ever saw. He reminds me of Jack Clow. The folks up here are very horsey and doggy. They are as apt as not to pick up a full-grown hound dog and hold it on their lap.

September 8 — You remember the man we saw coming up that the girls picked for my boyfriend? Well, I found out who he is. His name is Heffernan or something like that. He lives in that house where we saw him, all alone and does his traveling at night. The Jameses suspect that he is responsible for some of the missing sheep and cattle from the valley here. The other day Bunt Bucknell lost 16 head of sheep. So when you come right down to it, the boyfriend isn't so hot. I really suspected that all the time but — well, anyway. I don't believe there is another to compare with him in the valley. He drives an old horse and buggy. He goes traveling up the valley in the morning at about 5:30. He usually wakes me up and I lay and listen to him creaking by. It is terribly romantic and thrilling!

Mr. and Mrs. James have only one son, Edgar. He lives here in the valley. He is married to Stella who is just 18. Stella told me the other night about her father. He is a very strict old German. When the kids took cake to school their father made them make a kind of sandwich out of it by putting a slice of bread on each side of the cake. She is one of a family of eight.

September 16 — Last evening I walked off into one of the big pastures and closely examined the largest pepperwood tree in California. It sure is a whopper! I'm sending you a view leaves. They don't look like they came from such a distinguished tree, do they?

The first thing I did this morning was to ball out my entire school. They get to school at 7:30 in the morning. I like to come early and get some work done before they all get here, but I no more than get the door open and they all come trooping in. I told them that the next ones who get here before 8:30 will have to come in and study until bell time. I wonder if that will hold them for a while? Poor little urchins, struggling for an education and an old meanie of a teacher trying to foil them!

September 18 — The children have gone home for the day. There's a fire right in back of the schoolhouse, very close. I can feel the heat and hear the roar. I don't know if anyone is fighting it or not — I hope so. You can hardly see for the smoke. I hope the schoolhouse doesn’t burn.

September 19 — Excitement is raining high this morning. The fire I told you about yesterday burned down to within a quarter mile of the schoolhouse. Bunt came down yesterday afternoon and moved the James’ cattle. The fire is burning on the hill back of the James property and has run clear down to the back of the schoolhouse.

A bunch of guys from Willits came in last evening with the older Mr. James (Lou’s father) and we had to get supper, midnight snack and breakfast for them. The California Conservation crews came in late last night. I didn't get to bed until after one o'clock last night and got up at 5:30 this morning. The crews are supposed to watch the schoolhouse and protect it, but I'm going to keep a close look myself and if it seems to be too close to the school I’ll close the school and take the kids home.

September 24 — My first two little Indians arrived this morning. They are such cute kids. Everett and Lucille Ray, children of Brown Ray. Everett is the elder. Lucille sits and watches me, her big brown eyes as bright as silver dollars. When I look at her she grins the biggest grin and then ducks her head back to her book.

September 25 — I have a new boy, Willard Gamble. He says he is part Indian, "but not this kind of Indian." He does not live on the reservation. He comes from someplace back east. He has brown hair and brown eyes. He is a real nice boy.

There was a big bunch of White Faces in the field that the little Potter girls come through on their way to school. They were in the field last night so I walked across to them. I hope that someone brings them to school this morning.

Charles Anderson was working with fractions this morning. He had both the fourths and the eighths and wondered what he should do with them. I explained above having common denominators and ended by suggesting he changed the fourths to eighths. Charles simply erased the four from the three-fourths and put down eight making 3/8. How's that for fractions simplified?

September 28 — I'm playing with my kids during noontime and the recesses. I'm trying to get the Indians to play with the others. Ms. James says I can't because no teacher ever could before. But, by cracky, I'm doing it!

October 3 — I rode home with the Indians last night. I worked for three fourths of an hour after school was out and then I started home. Before I got very far they overtook me and stopped. I was afraid if I refused I would mortally offend them so I jumped in and rode. Imagine me sitting in the car (a coach) with two great big Indian men. I talked gaily and sweetly with my most schoolteacherly air. I sat so straight my back hurt cruelly but I endured it manfully all the way home. They were more polite than the whites and said, "Yes ma'am" to everything I said.

Mrs. James said it was unusual for them to even offer to give anyone a ride so they must approve of me.

I just like my little Indian children. Maybe they do have a different odor but it's no worse or really as bad as the garlic on the breath of the little Potter girls at times.

This was in reference to the first visit I had from the County schools office. The supervisor, whose name shall be withheld to protect the guilty, came into the schoolhouse, paused, then turned and threw open the door and exclaimed loudly, "Who are these Indian children? They sure stink, don't they?" I was completely speechless for a moment and then I just glared at him and remarked coldly, "I really hadn't noticed."

(Ed note: The late Betty Burns is the sister of the late Charmian Blattner, long-time columnist for the Anderson Valley Advertiser. We much appreciate Marylin Pronsolino, Anderson Valley's indefatigable archivist, for passing it on to us.)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Feb 16, 2015

Bedell, Bolton, Byrd, Collins
Bedell, Bolton, Byrd, Collins

LARAI BEDELL, Tulsa, Oklahoma/Ukiah. Pot sales, transportation, furnish; possession of: pot for sale, metal knuckles, burglary tools, smoking-injecting device, concentrated cannabis, controlled substance, loaded firearm in public, controlled substance without a prescription.

JOHN BOLTON, Willits. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

DYLAN BYRD, Little River. DUI, driving without a license.

THOMAS COLLINS, Ukiah. Drawing or exhibiting weapon in rude or threatening manner, saps or similar weapons, resisting arrest.

DeWolf, Gottsimmons, Hawes, Humphrey
DeWolf, Gottsimmons, Hawes, Humphrey

HEATHER DEWOLF, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

CHADLEY GOTTSIMMONS, Redwood Valley. Battery.

TIMOTHY HAWES, Arcata/Garberville. DUI-drugs, possession of more than an ounce of pot.

TRAVIS ‘THE HUMP’ HUMPHREY, Talmage. Drunk in public.

King, Majorana, McCapes, O'Sullivan
King, Majorana, McCapes, O'Sullivan

CAROLYN KING, Ukiah. Trespassing.

CHRISTINA MAJORANA, Point Arena. Under influence of controlled substance.

DYLAN MCCAPES, Davis/Fort Bragg. DUI, forgery of vehicle registration, loaded firearm in public.

ROBIN O’SULLIVAN, Murrieta/Ukiah. Drunk in public.

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(ORIGINAL CAPTION): August 4, 1948 — Chicago, Illinois: They're on the auction block. These small children of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Chalifoux of Chicago, Illinois. For long months 40 year old Ray and his wife, Lucille, 24, waged a desperate but losing battle to keep food in the mouth and a roof over their heads. Now jobless and facing eviction from their near barren flat, the Chalifoux have surrendered to their heartbreaking decision. Photo shows mother sobbing as the children pose wonderingly on the steps. Left to right: Lana, 6. Rae, 5. Milton, 4. Sue Ellen, 2 years old. (Image by Bettmann/CORBIS)

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DON CLAUSEN, who was born in Ferndale and served in the US House of Representatives for this area from 1963 to 1982, died last week. He was 91. Clausen was finally defeated by conservative liberal Doug Bosco, then Bosco was succeeded by a wacky former cop called Riggs with, by the way, a big shove from the Peace and Freedom Party, then Riggs was succeeded by a double-wack lib from Mendocino County called Hamburg, then Riggs again, then another conservative lib called Thompson, and lately some of us are represented by a glib lib lab from Marin called Huffman. (The wine industry get three votes for every one vote the rest of us get.) The last time the Northcoast was represented by a true liberal was back in the sixties. His name was Clem Miller. Miller died in a plane crash during the election race with Clausen, but dead, Miller, running from his grave, defeated Clausen because his name was still on the ballot. Clausen, I believe, is the only person in Congressional history to be defeated by a dead man, although you could plausibly argue that the Northcoast has been "represented" for years by men dead from the neck up.

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I met my old lover

On the street last night

She seemed so glad to see me

I just smiled

And we talked about some old times

And we drank ourselves some beers

Still crazy after all these years

Still crazy after all these years


I'm not the kind of man

Who tends to socialize

I seem to lean on

Old familiar ways

And I ain't no fool for love songs

That whisper in my ears

Still crazy after all these years

Still crazy after all these years


Four in the morning

Crapped out — Yawning

Longing my life away

I'll never worry

Why should I?

It's all gonna fade


Now I sit by my window

And I watch the cars

I fear I'll do some damage

One fine day

But I would not be convicted

By a jury of my peers

Still crazy… Still crazy

Still crazy after all these years

— Paul Simon

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What we’ve got now with apocalyptic Jihadism spreading clear across the region from Pakistan to Morocco, and Europe blandly ignoring it across the Mediterranean, is an epochal face-off that will change the world. It comes at an odd moment in history, namely as the massive oil wealth of the Middle East and North Africa enters decline. It was that oil wealth that provoked a population spike in a desolate corner of the planet the past century. Now there is a huge over-supply of young men there with nothing to do but act out their angry psychodrama over having no future. When a whole people’s prospects for a decent life on Earth dwindle to zero, is it any wonder that they become preoccupied with end-times visions of feasts and virgins awaiting in an after-life?

— James Kunstler

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by Penny Skillman

Humans are exploring the moon, checking out Mars, digging deeper into the makeup of the atom, mapping incoming asteroids, yet dreaming, a common, ubiquitous experience, still eludes scientific certainties. In the words of William Dement, a leading sleep researcher, “Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.” And we all accept these nighttime states of delusion, disorientation, and non-linear experience as perfectly normal. And despite Freud and other dream symbol adventurers, we’re still pretty much on our own trying to figure out what the heck our dreams have to do with the rest of our lives.

Do dreams have different patterns person-to-person? When the content of a dream slips away so annoyingly just beneath consciousness, doesn’t it seem as if our minds are playing a childish peekaboo game with us? What explains that phenomenon? Can we learn anything useful from dreams, those at least that aren’t quite clearly derived from daytime anxiety?

Scientists claim there’s no sense of smell in dreams, yet some people claim they have experienced smells. Tactile sensation, sight, hearing, and kinetic sense are common. In kinetic dream experiences, lack of control is often a theme; falling, losing a grip, flying without a destination, or running away from something are dream events that most of us have experienced. In my own dreams I would fly with no consciousness of how I was doing that, nor my destination, and that fact would irritate me when I awakened. As a kid and in my twenties I used to have what I called “monster” dreams — something scary is advancing relentlessly and I can’t run fast enough to escape. Both these kinds of dreams I no longer have. Maybe, whatever the “monster” may have represented(ageing, financial failure?)caught up with me, and with a certain age perhaps we’re just too old to dream fly. Strangest to me have been dreams in which I’d been screaming very loudly, and on awakening find I’m making only a tiny croaking sound deep down in my throat.( Even in a dreaming state then, things often aren’t what they seem?)

Contemporary dream researcher Rosalind D. Cartwright maintains that Rem sleep (when dreams occur) allows the dreamer to down-regulate emotional states, to dissipate negative emotions — frustration, fear, anger, etc.— by progressive Rem to Rem dreaming states throughout the night. A theory offered by Antti Revonsuo, a Finnish psychologist, at a 2004 conference put on by the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) is that dreaming is central to human evolution and possibly survival, because in dreams we practice “threat simulation.” It helped humans survive, he claims, when stalked by predators in the Pleistocene Era by sharpening the ability to quickly identify and respond to physical threats. In this scenario, remembering dreams isn’t important, the important thing is the threat response practice. Freud’s view of dreams was that they were essentially sexual biographies. For i.e., hats in a dream represent female organs, a necktie or cigar represents a penis, and so on. In Robert Moss’s book, The Secret History of Dreaming, he discusses how many non-Western cultures today, and prior to the modern era, see dreaming as less about personal psychology than about prediction or transpersonal experience. Australian aborigines, for instance, believe you can travel across time and space and into other dimensions, and you can decide where you’re going beforehand. For the Iroquois Indians dreams were messages from the spirits and the deeper self, and could contain guidance for the individual and the community. They believed if a dream told of their impending death that by enacting one part of their dream under controlled circumstances they could prevent the dream events from happening fully in life. For the Iroquois a prophetic dream wasn’t set in stone. Ancient Egyptians believed the gods spoke to them in dreams, that they could “tap into knowledge that belonged to us before we entered the life journey,” and that trained dreamers could operate as seers or telepaths. On the other hand, over the last two decades American Psychology departments of U.S. colleges taught that “dreams are meaningless by-products of brain processes.” Many of the myriad theories about dreams, if not all of them, are still in play. And modern lab research has added at least one more theory by way of sleep lab researcher Rosalind Cartwright, who posits that sleep-walkers can commit a homicide without their own conscious, awake intent — Cartwright has been an expert court defense witness on behalf of this concept. The expanding focuses of dream study are fascinating, can seem confounding, and will no doubt see further evolution.

Feelings in dreams can be experienced from both a participant’s point of view and an observer’s, sometimes serially or maybe simultaneously. The ambiance tends to be unreal, but while dreaming we’re not able to judge that — this lack of what we’d call “objective observation” in awake life is to me what makes dreaming so weird, there’s no rational discerning that can happen. Our walking-around minds can’t easily handle or use this kind of input because day-to-day requires a priority-oriented, goal-oriented kind of functioning, of necessity. So it revolves back to, Why do we have dreams of unfiltered shards of irrational information in seemingly vague, obscure, and confounding productions? Why doesn’t waking fantasy do it all for us, over-burdened sense receptors in our brains notwithstanding?

In dreams we miss a sense of consciousness of being in control of events or the order, and speed, of their flow that — whether illusionary or not — we sense we experience when awake. And the gradations of emotions in dreams are sometimes so nuanced, that it’s not possible to explain them completely. Not before the feelings float away anyway. The unrelated swiftly moving images make it impossible to parse most dreams in a reliable way. Some dreams, however, do seem a little less confusing, in content at least. Years ago I kept a record of my dreams and in 2007 I wrote down a vivid dream about my childhood home in rural New York. I was walking down a dirt road near our baseball diamond (which existed in reality) towards my grandparents’ bungalow, and there were a number of adults wearing Mid-Eastern clothing and they were casually playing baseball, the way we might at a family picnic, say. (After awakening I couldn’t easily accept that Muslims were playing baseball). I continued down the hill along the dirt road, and a bit further on toward my grandparents’ house, which was behind our house, there were men in yarmulkes sitting around conversing. I’m flabbergasted in the dream since this was a small town, and all-Caucasian with one exception. Furthermore, this dream was the second in one week about my childhood home and property, and I’d rarely dreamed of it before in adulthood that I could remember. In the first dream I was walking the same dirt road in the same direction, and heard wires overhead on telephone poles making a very unusual and loud, continuous noise. I thought, I need to tell someone that something is wrong here. I keep walking, and see a telephone pole crack, and its top section fall down. Then I see two small planes in the distance and think, They know about it since they must have seen the telephone pole break and fall. (And, remember, dear reader, sometimes a telephone pole is just a telephone pole.) I thought these dreams might have been prophesying that the early 21st century sectarian and religious-based quarreling in the Mid-East will come to the U.S., and perhaps that shared fun (playing baseball) in a shared space might bring these groups together, eventually to peaceful coexistence. Was I with these two dreams simply remembering the future, or applying wishful thinking?

We may be consigned to swim in a sea of mystery, which is an integral part of the human day-and-night cycle. The more we understand about dreaming scientifically, the more there will be to understand maybe. I tend to see dreams as possibly some of all of the known theories, plus the simple concept that dreams give us a psychic time-out, a space in which there’s no need for self-control or judgment. A liberating event, as long as it isn’t a nightmare.

I recently read that the tenor of our dreams affects our mood the next day, regardless of whether or not we’re able to recall them. The rare occasions on which I’ve had a laughing dream, it has made me happy the following day. This possibility of dream-induced happiness suggests we might be able to induce laughter-producing dreams by as yet uninvented machines, technology, techniques, etc. To me dreams seem like clouds or shadows, delicate nets passing by that for the most part go unnoticed, unless we make a point of focusing on them. Dreaming is an experience that is self-generated, or so it seems, and yet it proceeds so independently. I wonder after “disappearing” dreams, Who’s in charge here, me or me? Afterall, these dreams take place in my own mind-space. Is it possible that “my space” is also part of a larger space? As physicist David Bohm put it, “Each person enfolds something of the spirit of the other in his consciousness.” The etheric web — for want of a better term — might be filled with entities that are capable of accessing our minds, as schizophrenics, pre-modern societies, and religious prophets have long claimed. But that’s why we turn to sleep lab research, to get to replicatable experiments that explain why and how dreams use the physiology and screen of our brains. Because prophets and schizophrenics rarely give reliable information about dreams. And because science is favorable by far to superstition and mumbo-jumbo, both of which have convenient political uses and so tend to be historically persistent, most especially in these times of the “factitional” spin on information.

As far as we now know dreams are no more controllable than the weather, and even less amenable to commercial manipulation (so far). Dreaming is one of the few places in life where there are no rules, or work required. Maybe the real biologic use of dreams is that they are a vacation to the Anarchy Islands. Our psyches in sleep are untethered in opposition to the sometimes frustrating strictures of day-to-day life; this pressure valve theory makes sense, as it allows for free-wheeling creative thought, fantasy, surreal imagery, and imaginative inspiration. Maybe Nature just wants us all to be artists and poets and — if we could interpret our dreams reliably — has given us perhaps a built-in technique for psychological self-examination. If dreams are only one person’s personal symbolism, and it’s so hard to figure out their intersection with our daily lives in a purposeful way, we nevertheless do go on trying to figure them out, and subject them to scientific examination. That’s our nature, to categorize, name, organize, and ultimately subdue. If, as at least one physicist has described it, the universe is more like one big thought then one big machine, we have to hope that the universe can also dream— but mostly happy dreams.

Some of the most recent research into dreaming concentrates on those rare people who are able to induce what’s called “lucid” dreaming, a dream state in which the subject can influence what’s happening in a dream, and can transmit simple signals with eye movements — one of the few movements not paralyzed in a dreaming state — back to electrodes placed around the eye sockets. Researchers can use the subjective reports and behavioral experiments on acts, reason, and recall, etc. to try to learn more about dreaming. University of Bern neuroscientist Daniel Erlacher has put lucid dreamers through experiments that had them counting, walking a specified number of steps, or doing a simple gymnastics exercise in the dream state, and found that mental counting happened at the same speed whether the subjects were dreaming or awake, but the physical actions took longer in dreams than in real life. Yet, Vaughn Bell, author of the online article explaining this in ”The mysteries of ‘lucid’ dreaming,” humbly admits that “the science of dreaming is still very much in the age of exploration.” And, of course, there’s now a developing online industry, gurus of “lucid dreaming” offering up technologies and practices enabling one to become a “lucid dreamer,” including use of electric scalp stimulation (caveat emptor on this one), an Alzheimer’s drug, a dream diary, and a “wake up, back to bed” method. One of the testimonials on a related site has someone crowing about having in one of his “lucid dreams” spent time with a favorite television star. Celebrity tourism (and why limit yourself to just one star?) for “lucid dreaming” initiates, maybe even dream tours inside the houses of Hollywood movie stars — on the horizon for “lucid dream” consumers shortly?

In day-to-day existence, when something quite out of the ordinary occurs, we’re apt to ask ourselves, “Am I dreaming this?” Do we mean by that the difference between reality and dreams at times fades and isn’t discernible? In these cases are space and time breached? Maybe weird things happen even when space/time isn’t breached, but we’re too ignorant and untuned to subtleties to recognize these events? In life sometimes there’s no satisfactory explanations for some events or concatenations of events. Dreams are like the weather, luck, immortality, the perverse workings of fortune — all those things that haven’t yet been scientifically nailed down, made amenable to human control. But we might like to maintain one or two wild frontiers. We might be better off chasing both the high and low frequencies while following that shimmering yellow brick road. Who knows what intricacies we’d discover? Uncertainties and mystery — do we want to lose them, or embrace them as affording some sort of a grand pinball game that exercises our essential and redeeming muscles of imagination, wonder, and awe?

(Copyright©2015, Penny Skillman)

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by Dan Bacher

The year 2014 started off with a record drought that was aggravated by the impact of the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources draining Trinity, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs to record low levels to fill southern California reservoirs and the Kern Water Bank.

Folsom Lake dropped to its lowest level ever, forcing the closure of the American River to fishing as releases were reduced to 500 cfs. While February and March were wet months, the drought continued throughout the year, with the exception of a few big storms in December.

2014 was one of the toughest years ever for fish in California history. As a result of the mismanagement of Folsom Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation during a drought, Nimbus Fish Hatchery staff counted the lowest number of steelhead ever recorded, 10 fish, by December 29, normally a date when hundreds if not thousands of fish had already returned to the river.

For its disastrous water policies and the near-extinction of American River steelhead, as well as its continuing drive to raise Shasta Dam, David Murrillo, MidPacific Director of the Bureau, receives the “Extinct Steelhead” award.

However, the Bureau of Reclamation had a very willing partner in the destruction of California’s fisheries, California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird.

As if draining the reservoirs and endangering American River steelhead and winter run Chinook salmon on the Sacramento River weren’t enough, the California Fish and Wildlife’s Fall Midwater Trawl Survey on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta revealed that the Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014. Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of over 100 sites sampled each month from September through December.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta. The striped bass index was the third lowest in history, the longfin smelt index was the third lowest in history, the threadfin shad index was the sixth lowest in history, and the American shad indiex was the second lowest in history.

For their continued commitment to driving Delta smelt and other fish species towards extinction, the esteemed “environmentalists” Cowin and Laird receive the “Delta Smelt Destruction Crew” award.

The year 2014 began and ended with moves to push forward drought relief legislation by Congressman Devin Nunes, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and Congressman David Valadao, with the support of House Speaker John Boehner, to allow the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to operate "as long as water is available.”

Restore the Delta described the legislation “nothing more than a blatant, short-sighted water grab, fueled by years of political contributions from huge growers in the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water Agency to these Central Valley Congressional Representatives.”

On December 9, in spite of intense opposition by fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and Northern California Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by 230 to 182 "drought relief" legislation, H.R. 5781, that would eviscerate protections for Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other fish species.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and the Obama administration opposed the bill, but you can expect a similar bill to be introduced in the new Congress and Senate this year.

For their efforts to destroy what’s left of the Delta fisheries, co-sponsors Reps. David G. Valadao (CA-21), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), and Devin Nunes (CA-22), received the “Corporate Welfare Crybabies” award.

On the ocean front, Brown administration officials and corporate “environmental” NGOS continued to greenwash the fake “marine protected areas” created under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, in spite of the fact that the science underlying the process was terminally flawed, according to the Yurok Tribe science team and other Tribal scientists, while the process was overseen by corrupt corporate interests.

The illegitimacy of the MLPA Initiative “science” was highlighted when a federal judge in San Francisco on May 20 sentenced Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to serve 10 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle over $852,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe. In February, LeValley pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond.

For the demonstration of his lack of scientific ethics, we grant Ron LeValley with the “Junk Science Criminal” of the Year “ award.

But we’re not done yet. In spite of calls for an investigation of the terminally flawed science developed by the “Science Advisory Team” under the embezzler’s helm, Chuck Bonham, Department of Fish and Wildlife Director, and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird continue to propagate the “Big Lie” that the process was “open, transparent and inclusive” and “based on science.” For their "heroic" efforts to greenwash the MLPA Initiative, Bonham and Laird receive “The Big Lie” award of 2014.

Of course, we can’t give these awards without a big “round of applause” to Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California. She also served on the task forces for the Central, North Central and North Coast.

The (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, has spent a total of $32,871,430 on lobbying since January 1, 2009. The group paid a record $8.9 million on lobbying to eviscerate California’s environmental laws, oppose fracking moratorium legislation and to defeat a bill to protect the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and Tranquillon Ridge from new oil drilling.

For her service to Big Oil by kicking fishermen and tribal members off vast areas of the ocean while opposing California’s environmental laws, Reheis-Boyd gets the “Oil-Drenched Marine Guardian” award.

Always a big contender in these awards, the Westlands Water District and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority are awarded the “Raid on the Trinity” plaque for their continuing litigation to block the release of Trinity River water to stop an imminent fish kill on the Klamath in August when the water was warming up.

Fortunately, due to direct action protests by the Hoopa Valley Tribe and members of the Yurok, Karuk and Winnemen Tribes, combined with litigation by the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the Bureau of Reclamation made the decision to release the water from the river and stop a massive fish kill from taking place like the one when over 68,000 salmon perished in September 2002.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills billionaire owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting the construction of the peripheral tunnels and campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations.

The Resnicks made over $270,000 in contributions to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, $350,000 to support Gov. Gray Davis, and $102,000 to Gov. Jerry Brown. Most recently, Stewart Resnick made a donation of $150,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 and 2 campaign to make sure the bond benefited him and corporate agribusiness allies. For their continual dedication to destroying our fisheries while making huge profits off selling back subsidized water to the public, Lynda and Stewart Resnick receive the “Koch Brothers of California” award.

Finally, there comes the most prestigious award, the “Cold, Dead Fish.” The common link in much of the destruction and mayhem I’ve described in my articles is Jerry Brown, the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in recent California history. Brown has constantly gushed about his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he enthusiastically supports the expansion of fracking in California and is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

While the mainstream media and Brown's collaborators continue to greenwash the Governor's neo-liberal carbon trading policies, he has in fact continued and expanded the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration, including exporting massive quantities of northern California to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California water agencies and implementing the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create fake "marine protected areas.

Brown and his backers in 2014 dumped over $16.4 million into Proposition 1, a water grab for agribusiness that passed in November. Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, summed up the water bond as “a poster-child of why California is in a water crisis: it enriches water speculators but accomplishes little in addressing the drought, solving California's long-term water needs, reducing reliance on The Delta, or protecting our rivers and fisheries."

Brown and his staff also continued to fast track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, in spite of the fact that the fiasco could violate the federal Clean Water Act and increase harm to endangered fish species, according to a scathing43 page letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Brown administration, in collaboration with the Obama administration, presided over the near extinction of Delta smelt, formerly the most abundant fish in the estuary, as well as a record low steelhead run on American River. In recent California history, it is hard to find a Governor that has overseen more destruction of California's fish, waterways and environment than Jerry Brown, yet the mainstream media and corporate "environmental" NGOs continue to falsely portray Brown as a "green" Governor.

For his continuing efforts to plunder California’s natural resources while posing as a “Green Governor” promoting “green energy” and addressing “climate change,” Brown gets the “Cold, Dead Fish Award” for the third year in a row.


  1. Harvey Reading February 17, 2015

    Yes, of course, Mr. Kunstler, it has nothing to do with U.S. mass murders of innocent people, including in wars based entirely on lies, across the Middle East. Wave that flag, you moron. Sweep that history under the carpet, and peddle your high-sounding propaganda.

  2. Betsy Cawn February 17, 2015

    We seem to feel no remorse, our government stops for not one second to grieve and take a major time out when horror prevails. It’s too late, we’re all psychotically commenting on nonsense masquerading as erudition, except the ava, of course. This shit makes my brain want to break out of my skull and scream, so I sigh and then?

  3. Rick Weddle February 19, 2015

    re: ‘…apocalyptic jihadism spreading…’

    So, what’s spreading apocalyptic jihadism? The same thing, by mostly the same forces, that STARTED apocalyptic jihadism…the same thing, by mostly the same forces now gathering to do something decisive (for once) about ‘radical extremism,’ but poising to use precisely the same methods that originally caused, and are now aggravating the Problem.

    When Desert Storm was cranking up and Bush Sr. was about to drop the hammer on Saddam’s foray, there was a pertinent little piece in Esquire or somewhere examining that uninformed adventure. It recalled when Iraqis were being uncooperative about paying taxes to the Brit Crown AND losing their own petro-resources to BP early in the 20th century, Brit Jingos debated what to do about it. The young Winston Churchill advocated bio/chemical gassing the unruly natives, but was overruled by his colleagues, so they dropped High Explosive ordnance instead…a LOT of H.E. By the time BP and Brits had dissolved from the scene, and Standard Oil, etc., had emerged in ‘control’ there, the pattern of war criminal exploitation had been well set. On the eve of Desert Storm, Iraq had already been visited with more H.E. than anywhere else on earth…and that’s saying TONS and TONS, y’all. This against a background of almost constant kidnappings, assassinations, disruptions and cancellings of democratic elections, installing puppet ‘kings’ in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, ‘Israel,’ and I don’t know where all…

    Then, G.H.W.Bush presided over bombing Iraqis (our Cradle of Civilization, no less) “back to the stone age.” Brilliant action, from whichever angle one observed it. This pattern of unlawful, terroristic exercise of Empire has been worked all over the mideast for OIL; it has never had anything whatever to do with Freedom, or Liberty, or Democracy or any of that. (The same brutal, bullying behavior has been visited on a lot of other places and peoples, with similar results: Big Quick Bucks, and Bigger Troubles down the line). It was pointed out then, in Desert Storm time, that such ‘policies’ would lead directly to the rise of radical Islam.

    Too bad that Bigger Troubles is both the middle name and the bread and butter of the shadow forces running the show in America, presently. They will not stop unless they are made to stop. Hello?

  4. Nate Collins February 19, 2015

    The images of whites in dire poverty elicits specific emotions. Perhaps due to a memory of a historical ethnic past, or perhaps due to the desensitization of always seeing non-whites in poverty. Whatever the case I feel the sting of my own personal prejudice. When I was in Oroville, one of the poorest cities in California I saw I relatively young white boy collecting cans and searching through the garbage and I stopped him, a bit incredulous, and inquired into his scenario and helped him out. Just weeks later in the Bay Area I saw a black boy of the same age doing the same thing, and I had a delay before I felt a reaction and by the time I did I had identified the difference in my reactions. Clearly we are conditioned.
    In The City – “Is Tin Poli”(greek) – Istanbul.
    Very nice I will share that.
    Gotta make stickers out of that “Illusion of Choice”…

  5. Nate Collins February 20, 2015

    Regarding the preceding comments on the James Kunstler quote. While indeed European colonialism has completely exacerbated all problems of the Near East and can be classified as genocide in many cases, the zealotry existed in the first century after Muhammad, when Muslims declared other Muslims not good enough or strict enough and therefore said it is okay in fact incumbent to kill them. Eerily similar to ISIS et al is the mandate to kill the non-believers AND the weak sellout Muslims(in their opinion all but their small minority, the “true believers”). These rebels were called Kharijites and their mischief predated the Europeans, who were in fact looked down upon or even pitied by Turks, Arabs, Africans and Muslims of all ethnicities. There are many theological and tradition oriented questions that the Islamic world is grappling with and ONE positive role the US could play is that we could address MORE of these pressing questions through the institution of the University and NOT the institution of the Military or the Corporation. Apart from the religious BUFFOONS that the US has to offer through popular culture and politics, there are high minded intellectuals grappling with these issues of making the world a better place. That should be our offering, a helping hand instead of a hammer. Obama says we are not at war with Islam. I hear him at face value, NOW put your money where you mouth is Barack!!!

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