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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Apr 15, 2015

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ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE: On 04-12-2015 at approximately 3:09 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to assist California State Parks Rangers in Caspar, California for multiple drowning victims. Sheriff’s Deputies arrived and learned that a group of five adult males from out of the area were abalone diving in the southern portion of Caspar Anchorage Bay. After entering the water, three of the men became trapped in the surf of a narrow channel between two rock outcroppings where the divers had entered the ocean water. Witnesses to the incident described the surf as being rough and dangerous for diving conditions with an estimated seven to eight foot swells. A nearby fisherman observed the men in distress and called 9-1-1. A joint water rescue operation ensued and was comprised of personnel from the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department, California State Parks, United States Coast Guard and Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. During the rescue, two men were recovered from the water by boat and helicopter then brought to the shore of Caspar Beach. Live-saving measures were initiated, but unsuccessful, and both were pronounced dead at the scene. The third diver could not be located and a search continued throughout the day. At approximately 7:00 P.M., the missing diver was located deceased in a small cove in the same general area. Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department launched a technical rope rescue and recovered the deceased man. A coroner’s investigation into the three deaths is ongoing. All three deceased divers have been identified by Sheriff’s Deputies but the next of kin for one of the divers is still pending. The identities of the divers that can be released at this time are Tae Won Oh (49-year-old male from Dublin, California) and Hyun Kook Shin (49-year-old male from Suwanee, Georgia). The other two surviving divers in the group were uninjured and treated and released at the scene.

UPDATED PRESS RELEASE. On 04-14-2015 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Coroner's Division was able to locate and notify the next of kin of the remaining diver, Aaron Kim (53-year-old male from Fort Lee, New Jersey). The official results of the autopsies conducted on 04-14-2015 in regards to this incident will be pending blood alcohol and toxicology analysis.

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ON APRIL 10, 2015 at about 1:27 AM, correctional staff discovered an unresponsive inmate in her cell during a routine walk through. The 59-year old female was the sole occupant of the cell within a 19-person housing unit. The victim had last been seen sleeping about 40 minutes prior during an earlier cell check. Responding correctional and medical staff determined that she was not breathing and had no pulse, and immediately began performing life-saving measures. Upon their arrival, emergency medical services took over care. The victim was pronounced dead at 2:00 AM. Nothing was discovered at the scene to suggest foul play. The victim had been in custody since April 4, 2015 for possession of a controlled substance for sale charge. The victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin. A thorough death investigation is being conducted by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Bureau. An autopsy was scheduled for April 10, 2015.

UPDATE The victim has been identified as 59-year-old Gloria Ann Burgess of Ukiah. A forensic autopsy was performed on April 10, 2015. Official results are pending blood alcohol and toxicology analysis.

Gloria Burgess
Gloria Burgess

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I DIDN'T KNOW GLORIA BURGESS, but I knew her husband, Henry. Henry went to his reward just over 10 years ago. If there's a next life, and it's based on some kind of heavenly merit system, Henry would have been in big, big trouble.

MY PICARESQUE LIFE has put me in the immediate company of some very tough guys, right from the time as a kid I went through Marine boot camp, presided over in 1957 by psychopaths who beat the crap out of us for fifteen straight weeks. (The boot camp depicted in the movie Full Metal Jacket was a relative cakewalk.) Then there were the usual young guy bar fights, a number of arrests for the very noblest reasons, a few weeks of jail time here in Mendo, and all along the way long associations with the criminal families of my foster sons.

THREATS of ultra-vi are a given in the newspaper biz, and I've racked up quite a few associations with tough guys there, too, although the only newspaper menace I worried about was one where DA Norm Vroman advised me to carry a gun whenever I visited Fort Bragg. (Norm saw the gun rather too comprehensively as the ultimate solution to the more intractable problems.) Real killers don't announce their intentions and, overall, I think I've been fortunate. But in all that time, and all those tough guys, all those threats, the only person who truly scared me was Henry Burgess.

I'M PRETTY SURE Henry was born in Ukiah. He was half Native American and may have enjoyed formal tribal affiliations (the word affiliations will re-occur in this reminisce), although off my experience with him I can't imagine him in a sweat lodge or otherwise celebrating his ethnic heritage.

HENRY wasn't a real big guy, but he was big enough, certainly, large through the chest and shoulders and, in his youth, very strong, and still quite formidable in his fifties, one of these guys about whom an acquaintance said, “You know that expression, 'He's a guy you don't fuck with?' Henry's the guy that expression is based on. You definitely don't fuck with him.”

HE LEFT UKIAH as a kid to join the Marines, not a liberalizing experience for young persons but one many American young people choose, especially young men the authorities and their own families deem in dire need of limits. Henry fought all over Vietnam in the 67-70 period when the fighting was fiercest, and he came home with a chest full of medals. Once at home, he got deep into the fast life and, when I first became aware of him, was alleged to have been involved in the drug-related murders of a Ukiah couple named Cape. That murder remains unsolved, although a Ukiah-area fellow named Figoni was tried for it but hung the jury. Henry's name came up often during the investigations of the Cape dispatch. That's where “affiliate” comes in. Burgess was assumed by the cops of that time to be a drug bill collector for Bay Area-based motorcycle gangs, particularly the Hells Angels, and the Capes, drug dealers in Ukiah, had not paid their bills.

RON GLUCKMAN, A WRITER for the Ukiah Daily Journal at the time of the Cape murders, was terrified by Burgess. As I recall, Gluckman had either been threatened directly by him or someone had relayed a threat or Henry had simply fixed Gluckman with a death glare which, coming from Henry Burgess could very well earn the recipient an eternal follow-up.

WAY BACK, '88 I think, I was placed in the County Jail over a scuffle at a County school board meeting. I'd just written about the Cape murders and had mentioned Burgess, and there I was in the same unit with him. Feets, get me outtahere! And only a few weeks before landing in jail, I was hiking up Mountain View Road, sweating through my daily aerobics, and here comes Burgess on a motorcycle, a woman, Gloria maybe, riding pillion. He slows way, way down and stares at me, goosing his bike alongside me as I kept on walking while scoping the roadside for a tree limb, a big rock — any kind of weapon. Gloria, or whoever it was on the back of the bike, said something to Burgess and they roared on up the hill.

IN JAIL, Burgess didn't seem to recognize me. Or maybe I had the wrong guy on the bike. But I'd seen Burgess in court and I was certain it had been him. Lots of the jail inmates certainly recognized Burgess. They fell all over themselves deferring to him. “Henry, you want my commissary? Anything I can do for you, Henry?” That sort of thing. It was there, in the old jail where well wishers routinely tossed dope over the fence to us vacationers lounging on the lawn, that I heard a career outlaw type say of Burgess, “He's affiliated, you know.”

ALL THIS is from memory. We did a quick search on the internet and Henry's obit popped up. He wasn't born in Ukiah. Henry was from Oklahoma. Gloria? I'm waiting for Eversole Mortuary to tell us more about her. We already know she didn't have an easy time of it.

HENRY BURGESS — Graveside services for Henry Duane Burgess will be held on Friday, October 8, 2004 at 1 PM at Ukiah Cemetery. Visitation will be at the Eversole Mortuary on Friday from 9 am to 12:30 pm. Henry passed away on Sunday, October 3, 2004 in Hopland. Born June 26, 1948 in Oklahoma, Henry resided in the Ukiah area since 1958. He served his country in the United States Marines during Viet Nam. He loved to fish and ride motorcycles. Henry is survived by his wife Gloria, daughters Jassie Burgess and Kara Sylor, stepdaughter Joelle Burgess, granddaughter Ever Ann Burgess, sisters Judy Taylor of Ukiah, Shirlette Squires of Big Bear, brother William Burgess of Ukiah, and by numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. (Published in Ukiah Daily Journal on Oct. 5, 2004.)

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by Will Parrish

In the San Joaquin Valley heartland town of Livingston, located along Highway 99 between Turlock and Merced, the United States' most lucrative wine corporation, E&J Gallo, operates the world's largest winery: a place where serried ranks of massive, 200,000-gallon tanks tower over the surrounding countryside, in a compound ringed by security fences.

Were California its own nation, its wine industry would be the world's fourth largest in terms of revenue. Roughly 570,000 acres in the state are under the vine, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (which chairman, incidentally, was president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers for 13 years). And about half of that acreage is located in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, which operate in conjunction with the area's enormous industrial wineries.

Much of this grape-based alcohol production is enabled by California's unparalleled water infrastructure, which transmits water from north to south, thereby turning the arid lands that supply Gallo's oil refinery-like facility into a bountiful — and profitable — farming region. On the other side of the Coast Ranges, and further north, resides another thirsty portion where the wine industry places inordinate demand on its watersheds.

As the American wine market moved increasingly upscale in the 1990s, Sonoma County emerged as an epicenter of the “premium grape rush” due to its wide variety of favorable microclimates and soils, as well as comparatively low land prices vis-a-vis Napa County to the east. In keeping with the prevailing market trend toward high-end varietal wines, a new division of the Gallo empire — Gallo of Sonoma — amassed a collection of sprawling estates in the verdant hills ranging north to south from Cloverdale to Sonoma

The Gallo clan aimed not only to remake their company's image; they were intent on remaking Sonoma County's physical terrain in that image. Throughout much of the 1990s, Gallo's fleet of D-9 excavators rumbled across the company's vast tracts, steel mandibles akimbo, cleaving oaks and pines and Doug firs from their root systems. Gallo owns about 6,000 acres in Sonoma County in all.

Erected in the mid-1990s, the Gallo of Sonoma Winery consists not of one wine production factory, but eight. It features not merely a large aging cellar, but one that spans the length of a football field. It is capable of producing not simply an enormous volume of wine, but 4.7 million cases of it annually — enough pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and merlot to fill 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools. At a cost of more than $100 million, the facility was one of the largest construction projects in the history of the California North Coast, a veritable Taj Majal to the premium wine boom.

And this facility, along with the sprawling wine-grape acreage that sustains it, relies on a massive volume of water.

As California's historic drought lurches into a fifth year, the outsized demand that the state's agribusiness sector places on its water resources (and water is, indeed, commonly regarded as a “resource”) is receiving greater attention. Almonds, alfalfa and pistachios have been singled out for much of the criticism, particularly because almonds command roughly 8% of California's developed water supply and much of the overall harvest is being exported overseas.

In recent weeks, California Governor Jerry Brown has defended his decision to mandate that towns and cities slash water consumption by 25% compared to 2013 levels, while sparing those who consume the most: agribusinesses. Brown has argued that many California farmers are already facing water cutbacks because of the historic drought.

When questioned by ABC's Martha Raddatz about the fact that agriculture uses 80% of California's available water, while generating only about 2% of the state's economic output, California's governor replied: “Yeah, you bet it's true. But by the way, they're not watering their lawn or taking longer showers. They're providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America.”

Vineyards are not producing a food crop that “feeds the world,” but they remain exempt from the mandatory rationing now underway in California. And they are using an amount of water that even Rodney Strong, patriarch of a famous eponymous wine label in Healdsburg, referred to as “horrendous” in a University of California Oral History interview, in which he described the introduction of irrigation techniques that increased profits and yields beginning in the early-1970s.

Since then, the Russian River basin has been altered to suit any and all individuals wishing to grow grapes. In a 2007 study, the consulting firm Stetson Engineering estimated that there are more than 800 illegal water reservoirs in the Russian River basin alone, out of a total of roughly 1,700 in the North Coast region of Marin, Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties (this includes the Eel River). The capacity of these water impoundments is 48,515 acre-feet, amounting to 3,234 surface acres of illegal reservoirs.

Extrapolating from the Stetson Engineering study, it's likely that the Russian River has more illegal diversions than any other California river system. It's safe to say most of the diversions are for vineyards. The diversions submerge stream reaches and headwaters, thereby drying up spawning habitat critical to fish.

As Arcata-based fisheries biologist Patrick Higgins observes, these “reservoirs are ideal habitat for bull frogs, which decimate native amphibian populations. They are often stocked with warmwater game fish that escape into water bodies below and may predate upon salmonids or displace them through competition.”

If the problem of illegal water impoundments that destroy fish and frog habitat sounds familiar, it's probably because everyone from the County Supervisors to the local Congressman to the Department of Water Resources to the regional corporate media have been focused on the problem vis-a-vis the marijuana industry.

With respect to the wine industry, the problem has eluded attention.

Back to Gallo, which accounts for one of the Russian River's only well-studied illegal diversions. In one case, Gallo constructed an 8.2 surface-acre pit reservoir to capture the headwaters of a Dry Creek (Russian River tributary, with much of its watershed in Mendocino County) feeder stream, located at its properties at 8900 and 9015 Westside Roads, near Healdsburg. This reservoir has a capacity of 250 acre-feet and a reported depth of 45 feet. The water was diverted from the Russian River, approximately one mile away, and pumped uphill to fill the reservoir. After it had operated for nearly two decades, the Water Board finally cracked down.

The powerful tend to set the terms of debate, and the wine industry is indeed powerful. As case after case has shown, the wine industry tends to get its way with respect to water, zoning, labor laws, subsidies, wind fans, and more. As a crude reflection of that power, Darwin Bond-Graham and I studied the wine industry's lobbying activities and campaign contributions as compared to California's agribusiness sector as a whole (“How Wine Rules,” AVA, July 27, 2011).

Among California agribusiness lobbying organizations, the Farm Bureau (effectively equivalent to the wine industry in Mendocino County) gave the most money to political campaigns, according to 2009-10 CA Secretary of State data. The Wine Institute of San Francisco (of which the president is none other than George W. Bush's brother-in-law, Robert Koch) came in second. The California Association of Wine-grape Growers (CAWG) landed fourth on the list. Of agribusiness four biggest campaign donor entities, two represent the wine industry. Suffice it to say wine is possibly the largest, most coherent interest group funding North Coast and North Bay politics.

The consequences for our local water supply are enormous. More on this in the weeks to come.

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Caltrans Albion River Bridge 'Scoping' Meeting Intro

Introduction to the Caltrans "Scoping Meeting" Tuesday night on the enviromental review the Highway 1 Albion bridge will undergo was by Frank Demling, PLS, Project Manager, Caltrans, District 1, Project Management.

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THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS derive from KZYX station manager John Coate's Facebook page. Coate and his "management team" are always good for the laughs they inspire because their "enemies" number about a half-dozen, with one of them, John Sakowicz also functioning as a station trustee. But from their hysterical reaction to the slightest criticism and non-threatening opposition, you'd think that Coate, Aigner and their captive board of trustees were so seriously besieged they were about to be unseated. Not even close. Dissidents couldn't even get 40% of the vote, not that the 37% of the vote that they did get is trivial. If 37% of the paid membership is critical of management, sane management would take steps to modify their behavior. I found these remarks absolutely hilarious:

John Coate (April 1 at 2:24pm) — The KZYX Board of Directors election ballots were counted and the hate group candidates got clobbered. One got 37% of the vote and the other got 31%. They can STFU now. Not that they will.

Anna Schweitzer What am I missing???
April 1 at 2:42pm

John Coate KZYX is the public FM station I manage. There is a group of people - I call them a hate group because they defame me by lying in letters to the editor and in online talk groups - who tries every year to get elected onto our Board of Directors so they can fire me. They lose every year. This year they were much better organized and their public statements were even more hateful than usual. But they lost big.
April 1 at 3:05pm · 8

Anna Schweitzer — How lame, you are the best, how could anyone be mean to you! 
April 1 at 3:06pm

John Coate — Well if you have to tell certain people they can't be on the radio in the way they want, it can make them very angry. But that is part of the job. In some cases their response is to come after me personally instead of getting their own act together.
 April 1 at 3:09pm

Anna Schweitzer — I'm sure you are doing a great job! 
April 1 at 3:10pm

Cathy Bogh Coate — He is. 
April 1 at 3:14pm · 7

Linda Speel — Congrats!
 April 1 at 3:25pm · 2

Jon Rochmis — I fart in their general direction.
 April 1 at 3:26pm · 6

Ralph McAtee — Apparently the a$$ clown population there is somewhere between 31% and 37%.
 April 1 at 6:47pm

Martha Gould Issod — GW or Rick Scott's approval rating runs about 30%, in other words, at any given time 30% of the voters are idiots.
 April 1 at 7:05pm

Nancy Jones Presley — I'm glad you got the satisfaction of prevailing...
 April 1 at 7:53pm

BenNancy Housel — Does this mean they are off the Board altogether?
 April 1 at 8:32pm

John Coate — One of the winners, Ed Keller, is an incumbent. Great guy. A big help. A Ukiah realtor, he knows more people up here than anyone. He defeated a former Board member and former programmer who messed up on the air a couple of times and instead of doin... See MoreApril 1 at 9:06pm · 1

BenNancy Housel — Take a deep breath. Blow it out hard. Hug your honey, and enjoy the sunset. We're happy for you Tex.
 April 1 at 9:26pm · 1

John Coate — Thanks. This makes the money situation no less challenging, but if they got on the board it would be unbearable. 
April 1 at 9:37pm · 2

Debra Heavens — thanks for the update, always admire you Tex
. April 2 at 7:20am

Jim Coate — Good for you, John - and the whole station and community. 
April 2 at 10:31am

Anthony Miksak S— o happy and gratified for my station, and for you, John! 
April 2 at 5:11pm

Art Siegel — Don't mess with Tex, ass! 
April 3 at 6:06am

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NOTE TO CITY READERS: Vote for Aaron Peskin for SF's board of supervisors. Good guy, genuine political progressive opposed by all the right people — Ron Conway, Willie Brown and the rest of the City's Democratic Party apparatus, Mayor Silly Pants, and so on. Natch, the forces of high rises prefer the mayor's appointed robot, Ms. Christensen.

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by Fred Gardner

Candy Bergen has just published a memoir called "A Fine Romance." According to the New York Times, the actress "parses the nation’s infatuation with the CBS sitcom 'Murphy Brown,' in which she starred for a decade as a take-no-prisoners, formerly booze-guzzling television reporter." (If Cockburn didn’t send the verb parse to the guillotine, let’s do so now.)

It was November 5, 1997 — a year to the day after California voters legalized marijuana for medical use — that Murphy Brown, diagnosed with breast cancer, smoked marijuana to deal with the effects of chemotherapy. Today, with the media totally marijuana-infused, the episode on prime time TV seems insignificant. But back then it was unprecedented, a cultural milestone.


And how far we have come! Today we have drug companies deploying stoner types in prime time advertisements for their potentially fatal products! As I write this, Kevin Nealon is pushing a blood thinner called Xarelto, aka Rivaroxaban, which is made by Bayer and distributed by Jansen. The other side effects are not easy to find on the Xarelto site. You have to go deep into the product information to find that Xarelto caused back pain in 22% of users (vs. 7% of placebo users) in the biggest clinical trial.

Kevin Nealon is featured in the Xarelto push alongside golf great Arnold Palmer and NASCAR driver Brian Vickers. Nealon starred on the Showtime hit “Weeds,” playing Doug, the likable accountant who advises Nancy (Mary Lousie Parker, a housewife who becomes a dealer) to set up a legitimate small business as a front.

In an early episode Doug comes over to Nancy’s house, she’s not there, and he and her stoner brother-in-law go into her personal stash, only to discover that a rat has found it, too. They get loaded and hunt for the rat, which they intend to shoot with a pellet gun. They use peanut butter as bait and get it all over the furniture. They trash the living room and kitchen, then crash in a stoned stupor.

In the next episode, Nancy shows up at Doug’s office to make a delivery and he tells her he doesn’t need anything. He takes out his wallet and shows her the reason why.

DOUG: It’s my medical marijuana card. I got a note from a clinic doc for a hundred bucks. Went down to the pot store and mama, I was home! It’s a weed wonderland, Nancy. It’s like Amsterdam, only better, because you don’t have to visit the Anne Frank house and pretend to be sad and stuff. See this lollipop?

NANCY: It isn’t...

DOUG: (Medium shot of Doug sucking) Yes! I’m getting high right now. You can’t even tell.

NANCY: How is it possible?

DOUG; The genius of Prop 215: medical marijuana for sick people. And seriously, who couldn’t use a little medication, right? My friend’s friend’s friend gave me the address of the clinic, I went down there, and loaded up. [From his desk he takes a baggie full of big colas.] I love California! I can’t wait to tell the poker game about it. The one buzz kill is you can only buy eight ounces a visit.

NANCY: That’s half a pound!

DOUG: Well, they allow you to make two visits a day, but you know with all the traffic on the 110 it’s practically impossible.

Hats off to the ad agency that booked Kevin Nealon for the Xarelto gig. A celeb so far ahead of the curve on cannabis has automatic credibility when it comes to anticoagulants.

Deadly Drug Allergies

Most fatal allergy attacks in the U.S. are caused not by insect stings or food, but by pharmaceuticals — antibiotics and radio contrast drugs — according to a recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. And the rate of drug-induced fatalities almost doubled between 1999 and 2000. Here's Nicolas Bakalar's summary in the NY Times:

Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers found 2,458 cases of fatal anaphylaxis from 1999 through 2010. Almost 60 percent of the deaths, or 1,446, were caused by reactions to drugs, and in cases where the specific drug was known, half were caused by antibiotics. The rate of drug-induced fatal reactions almost doubled over the period.

Insect stings caused 15.2 percent of the fatalities and food 6.7 percent. The cause was not recorded in a fifth of the cases... Older age was associated with a higher risk for death and that blacks had a higher risk of dying from drugs and food reactions. For insect sting deaths, rates among whites were almost three times as high as rates among African-Americans.

The lead author, Dr. Elina Jerschow, an assistant professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, said, “We are using more imaging studies than other countries, and they’re potentially life-threatening."

Just imagine how much media attention there would be if every couple of days an American was keeling over dead from an allergy to cannabis (an extremely rare event, as noted in recent correspondence from Stephen Robinson, MD).

Neonicotinoids Kill — Not Just Bees

Ever since the '50s, when the tobacco companies suppressed and then challenged the scientific evidence that cigarettes cause lung cancer, manufacturers of toxins keep their products on the market by insisting that "more research is needed." An extended stall in the name of science ensues — and the poisoning of our world.

In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority reported that neonicotinoid pesticides were killing off bee colonies. In 2013 three neonicotinoids were banned in Europe. (Of course they are still applied by the ton by farmers in the U.S.)

The manufacturers — Syngenta and Bayer CropScience — questioned the regulators' findings in a lawsuit that is still dragging on. Now the European Academies Science Advisory Council has issued a report, based on more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, which concludes that neonicotinoids are killing many species, including earthworms, parasitic wasps, and lady bugs. Since the latter provide organic insect control, Syngenta and Bayer are effectively killing off the competition with their synthetic pesticides. In few more years they'll be able to say there are no alternatives to neonicotinoids. It's a corporate win-win!

How slick and deceitful are the scientists who vouch for the safety of neonicotinoids (in journals reliant on ads from Syngenta, Bayer, et al)? Typically their studies involved testing the ability of bees to survive a single exposure to a given neonicotinoid. But as Dave Jolly pointed out in a New York Times piece about the European Academies Science Advisory Council report, "the effect of the chemicals is cumulative and irreversible, meaning that repeated sublethal doses will eventually be deadly if a certain threshold is passed."

Cannabis v. Tylenol for Back Pain

A public defender in Nevada was asked by a judge last week for "peer reviewed medical research articles relating to treating back pain with marijuana." The best we could provide was what Ethan Russo, MD, called "a balanced shot" from the Canadian Arthritis Society:

In a position paper issued today (9/9/14), The Arthritis Society calls for more research into the efficacy and safety associated with the use of medical cannabis as a therapy to alleviate symptoms of pain and fatigue caused by a chronic disease.

“More and more Canadians are accessing medical cannabis as a treatment option for severe arthritis symptoms,” explains Society president and CEO Janet Yale. “We have a duty to the people we serve to ensure that the scientific basis for the use of medical cannabis is clear and appropriate, with patient safety and improved care our foremost priorities.”

Thousands of Canadians have already received authorization from Health Canada to use medical cannabis and as many as two thirds of those people are using the drug to help manage pain due to arthritis...

“For a subject that’s drawing so much public attention, both in Canada and around the world, the paucity of quality scientific research into cannabis is concerning,” explains Dr. Jason McDougall, professor of pharmacology and anaesthesia at the University of Dalhousie, and chair of the scientific advisory committee of The Arthritis Society. “Given the number of people taking cannabis now, or who are thinking about taking it, the need for evidence-based research into efficacy and safety could not be more pressing.”

No sooner had we forwarded the above to the public defender, then we read about a large study by Australian researchers published in the British Medical Journal disproving the efficacy of Tylenol (the corporate alternative to cannabis for back pain). As summarized by Nicholas Bakalar in the Times, the authors "found high quality evidence that Tylenol is ineffective in treating low back pain or disability. It also found evidence that the drug quadruples the risk of an abnormal liver function test, but the clinical significance of that finding is unclear. The studies of pain from knee and hip arthritis found a small but clinically insignificant short-term pain-relief effect for acetaminophen compared with a placebo."

We sent the BMJ item to Russo, who commented, "Acetaminophen is garbage as an analgesic, and is an insidious hepatotoxin responsible for thousands of annual deaths."

We hope the judge considers the defendant's real-world options in evaluating his or her use of cannabis.

Wonderful Oliver Sacks

An essay by Oliver Sacks on the time he has left — given a diagnosis of metastasizing liver cancer — left one of our correspondents wondering if maybe the great neurologist hadn't heard about cannabis concentrates working miracles on occasion. We assume that Sacks is fully informed. One of the people to whom he dedicated "Musicophilia" is Orrin Devinsky, the physician who has been monitoring the use of Epidiolex — GW Pharmaceuticals' pure CBD concentrate — by epileptic children at NYU.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, April 14, 2015

Humphrey, Maynard, Strasser
Humphrey, Maynard, Strasser

MICHAEL HUMPHREY, San Francisco/Ukiah. False ID, resisting arrest.

ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

TERRON STRASSER, Molalla, Oregon/Redwood Valley. Possession of meth for sale and drug paraphernalia.

Vargas, Vonnet, Zubia
Vargas, Vonnet, Zubia

ROBERT VARGAS, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault.

MAURICE VONNET, Laytonville. Honey oil extraction, DUI, use of someone else’s bank card, suspended license.

CHARLES ZUBIA, Leggett. Vehicle theft, battery on school grounds, interfering with business, failure to appear.

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by Shepard Bliss

Neighbors to Preserve Rural Sonoma County (PRSC), a 2-month old environmental organization with over 1,000 supporters, is challenging the proposed Dairyman Winery Event Center Project on Highway 12 between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol and has learned that the property owner has no deeded easement onto the property.

Representatives from the group met with Supervisor Efren Carrillo and county parks’ staff last week to request denial of an easement based on the driveway’s crossing the popular Joe Rodota walking and bike path used by 650 people daily, in addition to concerns raised by CalTrans’ review of the developer’s application.

PRSC representatives were informed by Supervisor Carrillo that Joe Wagner, the property owner, had agreed to an Environmental Impact Report and that the park department would make their recommendation whether to grant an easement or not, after all studies were in.

“We are asking the county to deny the easement under any circumstances,” said Padi Selwyn, co-chair of Neighbors to Preserve Rural Sonoma County. It is unfair to ask Mr. Wagner to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and 12 months of studies, plus untold hours of county staff time if he may not be able to get an easement on his property for commercial purposes. We think the county has this backwards – the easement issue must come first,” she added.

Granting commercial easements over public trails has historically been denied by the County. A few years back, the Santa Rosa Junior College was denied an easement over a public path and had to scrap plans for a west county campus off highway 116 North after a court challenge.

Cal Trans Department of Transportation has also expressed concern about the project, noting in their letter to the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department:

“Major special events involving 300 and 600 guests may cause significant delays to SR (highway) 12. Temporary mitigation measures such as the use of the California Highway Patrol for traffic control at the intersection, shuttle buses, valet parking, encouraging car pooling and advanced public notice should be considered.”

Dairyman Winery and event center plans to hold 62 public events each year, according to their application. In addition to the bike path crossing the driveway into the Dairyman property, opponents object to the industrial use of agricultural land, where Wagner plans to produce 500k cases of wine and 250k gallons of spirits, of which 99% of the grapes used will have to be trucked in. In addition to hundreds of visitors attending events and tastings weekly, there would be approximately 1,500 tanker and truck crossings to bring in grapes, juice, bottling supplies and outward shipments of product.

"The proposed Dairyman Winery/Event Center would use over one billion gallons of California water annually in their production of wine and spirits during this drought,” said Selwyn.

“Because the state mandated 25% reduction in water use doesn't apply to farms at this time, local residents will be saving water so that a winery operator and visitors can use it for their profit and recreation. People are angry. It is not justifiable to expect residents to let their lawns go brown and curtail water usage while a Napa county vintner proposes an enormous project in the Laguna de Santa Rosa,” she added.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was most frequently ‘challenged’ book in US libraries in 2014

by Alison Flood

Sherman Alexie’s award-winning young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tops a list of the books readers tried hardest to remove from the shelves of America’s libraries last year.

Announcing the top 10 titles most frequently “challenged” in the US in 2014, the American Libraries Association said that it had been “tracking a significant number of challenges to diverse titles,” and that “authors of color, as well as books with diverse content, are disproportionately challenged and banned.”

Winner of the National Book Award in 2007, the Native American writer Alexie’s semi-autobiographical tale was removed from the curriculum in Idaho schools last year. According to the Idaho Statesman, this story of a boy who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to go to an all-white high school was criticized by one local for containing words “we do not speak in our home,” and because it makes “reference to masturbation, contains profanity and has been viewed by many as anti-Christian.”

Alexie said at the time that “book banners want to control debate and limit the imagination. I encourage debate and celebrate imagination.” The ALA said his novel was challenged for reasons ranging from being “sexually explicit,” to its “depictions of bullying.” It takes the top spot from Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series, which was 2013’s most challenged book over its “offensive language [and] violence.”

Eight of 2014’s top 10 challenged books include “diverse content,” said the ALA. Second-placed was Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed graphic novel Persepolis, about growing up during the Iranian revolution, cited for being “politically, racially, and socially offensive.”

Third was Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s picture book about two male penguins who rear a chick together, And Tango Makes Three, and fourth was Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, about a black girl who prays to have blue eyes like her classmates.

The ALA pointed to the author Malinda Lo’s analysis of its top 10 banned books over the last decade. Writing last autumn, Lo found that 52% of the books challenged or banned in the 10-year period included “diverse” content. “Books that fall outside the white, straight, abled mainstream are challenged more often than books that do not destabilize the status quo,” she wrote.

“This isn’t surprising, but the extent to which diverse books are represented on these lists – as a majority – is quite disheartening. Diversity is slim throughout all genres of books and across all age groups – except when it comes to book challenges. The message this sends is loud and clear: diversity is actually under attack. Minority perspectives are being silenced every year.”

The ALA’s office for intellectual freedom received 311 reports about “attempts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves” in 2014. The number is equivalent to the 307 challenges recorded in 2013, and significantly down from 464 in 2012. Most challenges – 35% – came from parents in 2014, with the sexually explicit nature of a text the most cited (34%) reason for a challenge.

The top 10 also features Robie Harris’s guide to puberty and sexual health, It’s Perfectly Normal, in fifth place. The book, revealed the ALA, was challenged for containing nudity, and for covering “sex education,” for being “sexually explicit,” and “unsuited to age group.” It was also, said the libraries organization, alleged to contain “child pornography.” The list is completed with Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Jaycee Dugard’s A Stolen Life and Raina Telgemeier’s Drama.

The 2014 Top 10 Frequently Challenged Books

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie—Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying.”
  2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi—Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions.”
  3. And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell—Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
  4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison—Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
  5. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris—Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleged child pornography”
  6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples—Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini—Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky—Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
  9. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard—Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier—Reasons: sexually explicit

(Courtesy, the Guardian of London)

* * *


Let me tell you how it will be

There's one for you, nineteen for me

'Cause I'm the taxman

Yeah, I'm the taxman


Should five per cent appear too small

Be thankful I don't take it all

'Cause I'm the taxman

Yeah I'm the taxman


If you drive a car, I'll tax the street

If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat

If you get too cold I'll tax the heat

If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet


Don't ask me what I want it for

If you don't want to pay some more

'Cause I'm the taxman

Yeah, I'm the taxman


Now my advice for those who die

Declare the pennies on your eyes

'Cause I'm the taxman

Yeah, I'm the taxman


And you're working for no one but me

— George Harrison

* * *


The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is very pleased to reveal that the previously announced "special guest" who will be performing at our 22nd annual summer solstice and world peace gathering is none other than the legendary Max Romeo. 

Max Romeo was catapulted into fame with the release of his 1969 song "Wet Dream." After being banned in Jamaica, "Wet Dream" became a huge hit both there and in England where it reached the top 10 and remained on the charts for nearly six months. 

Romeo would go on to become one of the first Rastaman singers to record a series of deeply spiritual and socially conscious roots songs. In the mid-'70s, Max teamed up with production wizard Lee Perry which led to the release of "War Ina Babylon" in 1976 that ranks as one of the best albums ever by many reggae enthusiasts. 

In 1980 he appeared as a vocalist on The Rolling Stones album "Emotional Rescue." The favor was returned the following year when Keith Richards co-produced and played on Romeo's album "Holding Out My Love to You." 

Despite his huge following in Europe, Max Romeo has not performed in the United States in nearly 25 years. He has a massive catalog of hits that include "Chase The Devil," "Let The Power Fall," "Three Blind Mice," "War Ina Babylon," Macabee Version," "One Step Forward," "Melt Away," "Revelation Time" and "Open The Iron Gate." And the good people of Boonville will get to hear all these songs and more when Max Romeo makes his California debut at SNWMF on Saturday, June 20, 2015.

Performers Booked To Date:

Jimmy Cliff, Thievery Corporation, Steel Pulse, Third World, Max Romeo, Common Kings, Ken Boothe, Yellowman, Big Youth, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, The Very Best, Gentleman's Dub Club, Nattali Rize + Notis, Jesse Royal, Stick Figure, Taj Weekes, Soul Syndicate + Special Guest, Bixiga 70, Meta + The Cornerstones, Admiral Tibet, Keith & Tex, B.B. Seaton, No-Maddz, Bustamento, Hirie, The Itals, The Melodians, Monty Morris, Ras Muhamad, Pentateuch, Joseph Israel, La Misa Negra, Hempress Sativa, Tafari. In The Dancehall: Rorystonelove, Black Dub, Mungo's Hi Fi, Comanche High Power

* * *


I don’t believe I’ll be jumping on the Rodham bandwagon anytime soon. Anyone who summarizes a situation by saying “we came, we saw, he died” – referring to Qaddafi – as though that is some light-hearted comedy punchline – is not really the person I’m looking for.

Actually, I can’t imagine voting for either a “D” or an “R” for a long, long time. What we need are candidates who break away from the ‘infinite and accelerating growth forever and ever’ meme. That puts me out there in third, fourth or fifth party land, but I don’t care. Pursuing infinite growth, which actually benefits only a tiny but very powerful subset of persons, while destroying the conditions needed for life and any semblance of a Republic, is not my idea of a sound choice.

The argument against that of course is ‘but then your candidates will never win’. So? I never win when the ‘Corporations uber Alles’ candidates get elected either.

As ‘Joshua’ remarked to Prof. Falken ‘the only winning move is not to play.’

Time to drop out, my friends. Tend to the plants in your garden; incorporate more perennials, make compost. Forget the “D”s and the “R”s. That way lies only death.

* * *


Willits – Starting in April, CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit hand crews will be conducting a wildland fuel reduction project in Brooktrails Township. This project is being funded through a State Responsibility Area (SRA) grant fund.

The project consists of the reduction of hazardous fuels located within the greenbelt area managed by the Brooktrails Township Community Services District (BTCSD). CAL FIRE hand crews will remove dead material and trim live vegetation for the purpose of reducing fire hazard on approximately 52 acres adjacent to the BTCSD water supply system, including redwood water tanks, the water treatment plant and along a community trail system which could serve as firebreaks/control lines in the event of a wildfire. Treatments include the removal of dead woody material and ladder fuels, thinning of trees less than 6 inches in diameter to a minimum spacing of 10 foot and pruning of trees to height of 10 foot above ground level. The work will be accomplished using hand tools and chainsaws. Vegetation removal will be consistent with the hazard abatement standards of the Brooktrails Fire Department. Overall, the project will reduce fuel loads and promote forest health. Woody material generated by the project will either be chipped on site or burned in piles if allowed by weather and permissive burn days. (Calfire Press Release)

* * *


* * *


Dear Editor,

A gremlin seems to have wormed his or her way into the hallowed halls of the AVA, intent on making the readership turn page after page again and again to the point of ultimate annoyance. Now, I must admit that I am 13 editions behind in my reading, and if the situation has been remedied in the meantime, then my fullest apologies to all for the waste of precious time. But, failing that happy change for the better, here's what I mean:

If memory hasn't completely failed me, it seems as though, in the dim distant past of many years ago, articles and stories were nowhere nearly as 'continued on p. xx' as nowadays. In an issue from near the end of 2014 that I just finished off, two side-by-side short articles of the same approximate length began on p. 10, and both were continued to p. 11, forcing me to turn pages twice as much in order to avoid losing continuity. In an ideal world, the first of the two shorties would have started AND finished on p. 10, and the second would have started and finished on p. 11. But, no! Some evil gremlin in your hallowed halls insists that your readership must endure maddening wastes of time by having to endlessly turn pages. I recently read an average-sized article that was continued 3 or more times! Little pieces of the article here, there, and everywhere, forcing me to search for one little section after another! Now, where is the reading pleasure in that?!?

Now, don't get me too wrong. I have gotten quite used to all four articles on the front page being continued on pages 11 or 12, no problem. And I do understand that the Valley People articles often have to be continued somewhere else if they don't all fit on p.4. No problem there, either. Other reasons for continuing articles are no doubt not worth arguing about. But, what has developed over the past year or so is truly diabolical in its excessiveness! Making me speculate - no, it would be too SAD to contemplate the demise of our favorite publication brought on by a callous disregard for the patience of the readership, whose members probably are no more inclined than I to be forced to constantly shuffle pages.

So, dear editor, please do what you can to rein in the gremlins who are inclined to chop stories into smaller and smaller pieces, and for no valid reason that I can detect.

Thank you for considering my plea,

Ken Ellis, New Bedford, MA

* * *


by Jeff Costello

The Rodney King video had police brutality victims coming out of the closet everywhere. Three cases were in the mainstream papers. Like rape victims, they’re often afraid to say anything because sooner or later the perpetrators are likely to find them again. But this time it was right there on TV for all to see and innocent people who have taken the billy club were speaking out. Naturally, police organizations issued denials at a record pace, while assuring us at the same time that the offending officers, the bad apples, will be punished.

A few cops will be suspended, maybe one or two will even go to jail, but nothing will really change. The police are a national institution, and an institution is by its very nature an immovable object. When an incorrigible criminal resigns himself to a life in prison, he’s said to be institutionalized, which means it’s too late, he cannot change. So it goes with the police.

1964 - It might be interesting to take a look at the kind of individual who wants to become a policeman in the first place. I offer as an example Pete Flynn, a kid from Unionville, my Connecticut home town. He didn’t seem to have many friends, but he knew most everybody by name. In high school Flynn already had the barrel-bellied midsection of the stereotypical Irish cop. I never paid much attention to him until the time at the drug store lunch counter when he interrogated me. The Orchard Pharmacy was the only teenage hangout in town, and I was a regular... and a greaser, part of the “wrong crowd,” and to top it off I was putting together the town’s first rock & roll band. I was being watched.

One night I was sitting alone at the counter drinking a milkshake when Pete walked in and sat two stools away. He spoke to me and right away I noticed something I didn’t like. His tone was condescending and paternal, even though he was only a year or two older.

”So how’s your band coming?”

”Not bad, we’re going to have a dance at the K of C Hall.”

I looked away and drank my milkshake, trying to indicate a lack of interest in speaking with him.

”How’s your home life? You know, since your mother died.”

”What?” My home life, I reasoned, was none of his business.

”I was just wondering. Doesn’t your father drink a lot?”

He went on in this fashion, trying to probe as deep as he could. My mother had died a few years before, and my father drank. It was a small town and people knew things like this, but no seventeen year-old kid had ever interrogated me about it before. Even after I refused to go along with his questioning, he kept at it. There was a quality about him I couldn’t describe until I learned the word sadistic.

About five years later I was living in Boston when some guys from the home town came to visit.

”Remember Pete Flynn?” asked one of them.

”Yeah, what about him?”

”He’s a cop now, and he hounds everybody he didn’t like in school. He planted some dope in Bill Flaherty’s car and sent him up for five years.”

Was he an odd case, a maverick, a bad apple? Are most cops kind protectors, or is the very nature of the job what attracts the Pete Flynns, the guys in the Rodney King video? And what effect does the police institution have, even on cops who start out with the best intentions?

I’ve never been what could be called a model citizen. Like many other baby boomers, my outlook was changed in the 60’s and I’ve run afoul of the law a few times. But I’ve never been involved in violence, never even had a fistfight, and not because of any religious or moral convictions. It’s strictly self-preservation, and I’ve had to develop some tricks to throw would-be attackers off the track. As it turns out, I’ve used these against cops as much as against drunken rednecks. In my experience, a greater percentage of police officers than drunken rednecks are genuinely belligerent or sadistic.

1972 - The state of New York enacted a law that made possible a 20-year sentence for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, even a single joint. I had the misfortune to be there shortly after that law went into effect. A state trooper in Fishkill, N.Y stopped me for a suspicious-looking license plate on a car I had just bought, and the plate turned out to be bogus. I went into my total-cooperation-with-an-officer-of-the-law mode, knowing that one wrong word could start the club flying. I had long hair and was dressed pretty much like a hippie.

After the tow truck came to impound the car, I rode to the courthouse with the trooper. He had a weird grin on his face, like the cat who ate the canary even though he hadn’t eaten me yet.

”You’re from California, huh?”


”I bet you’ve got some weed on you or in the car. I can’t wait til we do the search.”

I had no marijuana. “You’re going to be disappointed,” I said.

And he was. They had to let me go with only a ten-dollar fine. The judge was apparently quite impressed, given my appearance, that I had no pot. Of course they got a free car, but the cop had been itching for a big drug bust. Okay, so this one wasn’t violent, but he made up for it with a subtle kind of meanness and bigotry. Need I say things have gotten worse?

* * *


April 23rd

Disseminating information on Behavioral Health Programs and resources in partnership with the Mendocino County Book Mobile at the following locations:

9:00am - 9:30am Pinoleville Head Start School

10:00am - 10:45am Hopland Hwy 101/175 Lot

11:45am - 12:30am Golden Rule - opposite the entrance

12:45 - 1:15 Redwood Valley - opposite the Fire Station

1:45 - 2:15 Potter Valley - across from the Post Office

For more information contact MHSA Coordinator, Robin Meloche at 707-472-2332


  1. Bill Pilgrim April 15, 2015

    RE: KZYX and the “haters.” They can gloat, disparage and self-congratulate all they want. Meanwhile, the last two pledge drives came up 30% short, not a day passes when the broadcast signal is lost or covered over with annoying static, and other community stations continue to go forward with innovative, local programming.
    While the chamber orchestra plays on in a gala room, the iceberg looms in the darkness nearby.

  2. Harvey Reading April 15, 2015


    I’m surprised that Huckleberry Finn isn’t on the Christofascist top-ten list. Or The Bible According to Mark Twain. Those superstitious morons are determined to force everyone to toe their line.

  3. Harvey Reading April 15, 2015

    Cops have generally NEVER served the general public. They work for the Chamber of Commerce, and they have always protected business interests first. How many times have you had an altercation with a peddler in which the cops shut down the business until the question was settled rather rather than the cops telling you to file a complaint with the DA?

  4. Harvey Reading April 15, 2015

    So good to see Jerry sticking up for wealthy agribusiness speculators, like Ms. Feinstein and her husband. The fact is that most of what we eat does NOT originate in CA, and that includes fruit and vegetables, picked before ripe and kept in storage until sold to big food outfits. Amazing how 30-million-plus people are controlled by a few thousand wealthy scum. I’m amazed that the ABC interviewer actually had the courage to provide the truth to Jerry. The crops portion is far less, however, than what she stated, since the overall figure includes timber, aquaculture, and commercial fishing.

  5. james marmon April 15, 2015

    I remember Henry as far back in the early 60’s when I attended the old Yokayo Elementary School (now city hall). He and another boy had challenged each other to a fight. The whole school gathered to watch the match, and Henry won. I learned that day to never get on Henry’s bad side. He was really good with his fists. I am happy to say that in the 40 plus years I knew Henry, he always treated me well.

  6. Jim Updegraff April 15, 2015

    I’m surprised Jerry Brown has done as much as he has to reduce water consumption although it is a woeful effort. But then he has to look for his big ($$) supporters. One thing he and his pals can’t change is the effect of a long term drought.

  7. Stephen Rosenthal April 16, 2015

    Why spend 50 billion or more dollars on a train to nowhere instead of putting that money into the construction of desalination plants? Just asking, but I already know the answer, as do most readers of The AVA.

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