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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Jan 23, 2016

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YOUNG MEN do a lot of stupid stuff when they're young men. An unformed judgment is the nature of the beast, most of the beasts anyway. It's taken the courts way too long to recognize this basic fact about young men. A kid can commit a horrible crime he will look back and shudder at when he's 30.

IT'S A GOOD THING, therefore, that a state appeals court has ruled that a judge must consider how a kid, when he's no longer a kid, has done in prison. Has he repented? Has he got with the program? Or has he continued to romanticize himself as some kind of outlaw, a tough guy?

ACCORDING to the recent ruling, people sentenced to life-without for murders they committed before age 18 are entitled to new sentencing hearings.


THE NEW MERCY ought also to apply to people like Fort Bragg's Tai Abreu. He got life without because his stunningly incompetent attorney, Mendocino County Public Defender Linda Thompson, refused to plea bargain for a reduced sentence. The murder Abreu was in on as one of the three young Fort Bragg men who committed it got him life without as he'd just turned 20. His two accomplices both pled out and got about twenty years each depending on how they do in prison, and from what I hear all three have been model inmates. The three of them were just out of high school.


ABREU was so egregiously misrepresented by Public Defender Thompson that everyone in the County Courthouse was angered by Thompson's deluded performance. The kid had no defense. He was guilty, and should have pled out. Thompson took him to a jury! Abreu was in and out of court in about a day and a half. His trial was a bad joke. He didn't get one. Thompson called no witnesses on his behalf and spent much of her time telling the jury what a bad guy he was and what a terrible thing he'd done. He wasn't a bad guy but he had done a bad thing, the worst thing, actually. On his own, Abreu never would have been party to murder. But you know what they say about young men — more than two makes one idiot.

IN FACT, none of the three had criminal records. They weren't bad guys. They were young, smoking a lot of dope, wandering aimlessly up and down the Coast, and they killed a gay guy they lured up to Fort Bragg for the purpose of robbing him. We're not talking master criminals here.

IN ABREU'S CASE, he ought to be able to get in front of a judge with an appeal based simply on Thompson's utter lack of reality as it applied to the kid, and there ought to be some remedy for the thousands of men and women locked up for life for crimes they committed before they had any idea what they were doing.

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AVA COURT REPORTER BRUCE McEWEN and I had lunch Thursday at the attractive and affordable vegetarian restaurant at the City of 10,000 Buddhas in Talmage, formerly the State Hospital at Talmage. As we toured the sprawling campus of nearly 500 acres we were struck — again — at how big a waste it was for the state to close this still serviceable and beautiful facility and what a travesty of short sightedness for Mendocino County to turn down ownership of the property in 1972.


MY UNCLE and former County Supervisor Joe Scaramella told me years ago that he thought the reason Mendocino declined ownership of the Hospital grounds after then-Governor Ronald Reagan’s short-notice closure announcement was that the then-Board of Supervisors thought that the cost of “maintenance and upkeep” was too high.

WE COULDN’T FIND any reference to that particular reason in the skimpy newspaper archives of the time. We did find a reference to 1972 being a drought year and speculation that Mendo didn’t think there was enough water to keep the place open. The Russian River Flood Control District apparently even voted to make an emergency allocation for the Hospital to keep it from closing. (But we sure hope that was not the reason to sell it off.)

WE FOUND references to several attempts to prevent the closure including a failed attempted at a class action suit brought by some Ukiah-area used car dealers and another by the California State Employees Association.

THERE WAS ALSO a story that said it would cost an estimated $600,000 a year to keep the place open at the County level with a minimal staff of up to 200 under a plan proposed by then-Ukiah area Supervisor Ernie Banker. Banker suggested converting the Hospital to a Mental Health staff training and research facility.

BUT MENDO didn’t have $600k sitting around and the State wasn’t offering any money. The state terms (under Reagan) were closure and conversion to “community based mental health” programs which came with separate — and substantially smaller — funding.

WE COULDN'T find any reference to simply holding on to the property until a use could be found for it. It’s possible that Uncle Joe was right in that context because simply closing the place and sitting on the property for a few years would have cost some minimal level of maintenance and upkeep which the County shortsightedly may have wanted to avoid spending.

THE COUNTY ended up selling the property to a developer who did nothing for two years after which the Buddhists bought it in 1974 for a reported bargain basement price of $240k (about $1.2 million in today’s dollars.)

ACCORDING to the on-line inflation calculator, $600k in 1972 dollars is about $3.5 million in today’s dollars — which looks pretty small compared to over $20-mil Mendo now pays for only a small fraction of the services provided at the old Talmage State Hospital for as many as 3,200 wards (the high was reached in the 1950s).

THE TALMAGE STATE mental hospital had grown since its founding in 1887 to include separate facilities for drunks, crazy people, retarded adults and children, and the criminally insane. They were also separated by gender.


CONSIDERING THE 60-BED homeless barn-shelter that Ukiah now operates for a few months of the winter and comparing it with the 3200 inmate capacity of the dorm rooms at the old Talmage hospital we see how far civic pride and obligation have declined.


TO THE CASUAL EYE, it appears that the Buddhists are only maintaining about half of the facility in any level of repair, the rest of the graceful old mission style buildings seem essentially abandoned, including the dozens and dozens of dormitory rooms. And it’s not likely the Buddhists will be offering the abandoned parts of the old hospital facility to Ortner any time soon.

— Mark Scaramella

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(Photo by Susie de Castro)
(Photo by Susie de Castro)

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To The Beast:

"That's how they do." — D'Angelo Barksdale, HBO'S The Wire

The latest and perhaps final salvo directed at the Ukiah Shelter has been fired from the county's executive office. Without prior warning or reasons, shelter supervisor Sage Mountainfire, was told to pack her belongings, exit the premises, and unceremoniously put on administrative leave, an internal investigation pending.

And with that, 12 years of continuous, loyal, hard work has come to an end?

Those of us who volunteer at a shelter whose accomplishments we are proud of, and do not perceive Ms. Mountainfire as a disruptive or deficient employee, find this turn of events distressful, and the timing suspicious. By all appearances, a decision to outsource the shelter has already been made. Administrative leave renders shelter staff and county employees mute and strangling further conversation while lowering the opaque curtain.

Will the public be made privy to the reason for this employee's disciplining? And is this indeed the end of the discussion and the winning hand for a group of people who have slung mud around town and the internet for the past half a year? Will a negative campaign predicated on personal gripes best the thousands of happy dog, cats, and their owners?

I guess we'll see if that's how they do.

Kathy Shearn


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(Photo by Mike Kalantarian)
(Photo by Mike Kalantarian)

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Pining for the redwoods while driving coastal California

by Margie Goldsmith

My husband and I cross San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge and head toward Mendocino County, our first stop on a five-day journey to the famous redwoods of Northern California. We pass glittering views of the Pacific and zigzag through sun-dappled oak woodlands as I poke my head out the open window and breathe in the heady aroma of fresh earth and pine needles.

It is a road trip I have wanted to take for decades, and one that comes with a renewed sense of urgency because the trees are at risk. While some of these giants have stood for of 3,000 years, they face an incredible test: the California drought.

In October, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency because of “the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history.” According to a report released last month by the Carnegie Institution for Science, 58 million trees, including redwoods, have shown signs of significant water loss since 2011. Coastal redwoods draw much of their moisture from fog, but even they are starting to exhibit signs of distress.

In 100 years, “most of the big trees could be gone,” Nathan Stephenson, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told The New York Times in 2014 – a sober reminder not to take anything for granted, and the reason we’re finally in Northern California.

We drive past endless fields of cows and horses on Route 1, and stop for lunch in Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds. The clam chowder is delicious, even better because we’re eating it on a picnic table overlooking Fisherman’s Cove.

Our home for the night is Mar Vista Cottages near Anchor Bay in Gualala (pronounced Wa-LA-la), a 12-cottage complex where a sign welcomes you, “SLOW, CHICKENS AT PLAY.” It’s no joke; the henhouse has 130 chickens of all varieties. As Jamie parks, Lola, a friendly goat, trots over to check out the car. Our cottage has a cozy living room, well-stocked kitchen, a dining area and a bedroom with a window facing the beautiful forest.

A note tells us to leave a small wire basket outside the door if we want just-gathered eggs. There’s a larger basket with a pair of scissors for picking vegetables and herbs from the organic garden.

Although our total mileage for the day has only been about 240 kilometres, we’re too tired to walk down to the beach (across the street and down the path) or get back in the car to find a restaurant for dinner, so we hang out our egg basket, pick tomatoes, green peppers, scallions and herbs from the garden, and make a delicious omelette.

The next day, we head north on the coastal zigzagging roads called twisties, where the scenery constantly changes from golden fields of hay to forest groves or jagged cliffs. Growing near the sides of the road are pink belladonna lilies called naked ladies; in the spring, the plant has green leaves. The leaves drop off in summer and pink flowers appear on the naked stem.

Our new accommodation, and I mean brand-new, is the Inn at Newport Ranch just outside Fort Bragg, where we are the first overnight guests.

The town of Newport sprung up around lumber. Chutes anchored at the top of the headlands transported logs down to ships. If you look over the edge of the cliff at the inn, you can still see the remnants of one of the old chutes.

In 1885, lumber operations were moved to Fort Bragg and Newport became a ghost town – that is, until 85-year-old Vermonter Will Jackson saw a newspaper ad for 839 oceanfront acres in Mendocino. He flew out, fell in love with the land, bought it, and now owns 2,000-plus acres. Jackson has built the most gorgeous inn I have ever seen. Everything is redwood: floors, tables, the bar, even the headboards. He has spared no expense.

We sit on the wraparound porch, then walk to the edge of the headlands to spot seals and whales in the ocean. Jackson takes Jamie and me on an ATV redwood safari up and down the hills of his property, through the redwood groves, to a quarry, and through a field where cows graze among wildflowers.

Dinner at the inn is fresh and delicious, and we would love to stay another day, but we have limited time and are anxious to get up to the Redlands.

Leggett has a famous drive-through 2,400-year-old redwood tree: 325 feet tall and 21 feet wide. Sure, it’s touristy to drive through, but how can we not? We shoot photos and head to the Avenue of the Giants, a shady road with 51,222 acres of redwood groves. Pulling off the road and looking up at a canopy of these ancient trees is a meditative and humbling experience. The air is fresh, the smell is woodsy and it is absolutely silent except for the slight rustling of branches.

I love the redwoods, but I’m equally happy driving the coastline with kilometres and kilometres of headlands with vista turnouts to stop and admire unending Pacific Ocean views. Happily, we also have ocean views at our next hotel, the Heritage House Resort and Spa in Little River, where James Dean stayed while filming East of Eden. Our room has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open onto a terrace above a little cove. We sit and listen to the waves lapping gently against the rocks.

The next day, we drive down the jaw-gapingly beautiful Route 128, which connects Mendocino Valley to wine country. One minute we’re steering through twisties, the next among shady redwood groves, and then alongside Anderson Valley’s verdant vineyards from Navarro to Boonville. While we like to consume wine, we don’t like to stop and taste at every winery, and we don’t have to because our final accommodation, the stunningly gorgeous Mediterranean compound The Madrones has four tasting rooms on the property.

This is the first time our accommodation is not ocean-facing, but it’s still wonderful. We sit in the garden near the apple and pear trees watching the hummingbirds flit from flower to flower.

Designer Jim Roberts, who calls himself “the groundskeeper,” created The Madrones 20 years ago as his home and office. Seven years ago, he built tasting rooms, added a restaurant and turned the space into an opulent nine-room retreat.

Dinner is outdoors at Table 128 at the Boonville Hotel, eight kilometres away. The delicious green bean salad with onions also features amazing goat cheese. The waitress, who says it’s from a farm down the street, adds, “You can’t throw a rock without hitting a goat or a sheep.”

As we arrive back at our hotel and walk toward our room, I look up at the full moon and then, right below the moon, I see the Big Dipper – a perfect ending to our Northern California journey.

(Courtesy, the Globe & Mail)

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News Advisory: State Body Slashes Transportation Funding

Yesterday, the California Transportation Commission (Commission) approved a reduced estimate of projected funding available for the state’s transportation program by $754 million over the next five years. The Commission's action, which was undertaken after careful review of current and projected financial information from numerous sources, marks the largest scaling back of the state's transportation program since the creation of the current funding structure nearly 20 years ago.


"What this means is that almost every county in California that relies on this source of funding for projects that improve traffic and air quality will have to cut or delay projects indefinitely," stated CTC Chair Lucy Dunn. "The commission adopted the most optimistic scenario we could make in good conscience, in the hope agreement will be reached on a number of reforms and new funding increases currently under consideration by the Legislature. But failing that, I fear we will be faced with even more Draconian cuts next year."

The State Transportation Improvement Program is a key planning document for funding future state highway, intercity rail and transit improvements throughout California. The revisions approved by the Commission today are the result of anticipated additional reductions in a portion of the gasoline excise tax which is the major source of state funding for the program. Set at a level of 18 cents a gallon just a few years ago, the price-based portion of the gas tax dropped to 12 cents per gallon last year. The estimate approved by the Commission today projects that this revenue will fall another 2 cents a gallon for the coming fiscal year and that stabilization of this source may take longer than expected. Each penny reduction in the gas tax decreases revenue to fund state and local roads by about $140 million per year.

The Commission is required by law to estimate the amount of funding expected to be available for the State Transportation Improvement Program which is updated every two years. In August of this past year, the Commission approved a funding estimate for the 2016 program based on previous revenue forecasts that eliminated the capacity to add any new projects to the program. More recent projections, however, point to a worsening financial picture and a significant drop in the dollars expected to be available for projects in the 2016 plan. This will require the Commission to rescind funding previously committed to projects.

The action that the Commission is being forced to make given the shortfall in projected revenue will have a dramatic effect on transportation projects being proposed for construction across the state. Typically, transportation projects are funded from multiple sources. The total impact of the defunding of projects will likely run into the billions. This will have a very real impact beyond just meeting the transportation needs of Californians, as every $1 billion in highway and transit investment supports 13,000 jobs, not to mention higher costs associated with project delays.

The Legislature is currently considering proposals to reform the transportation program and increase transportation revenue. The Governor has also presented a proposal for reforms and revenue. The action taken by the Commission today clearly underscores the urgent need for action and a solution to these problems.

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JURY TRIAL RESULT Ukiah, Thursday, Jan. 21 -- A Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations this week to announce it had found Steven Len Munson, age 58, of Willits, guilty of criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor. The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence was Deputy DA S. Houston Porter. Hired recently by District Attorney Eyster, this week's trial was Mr. Porter's first jury trial as a deputy prosecutor with the office. He is assigned to the Ukiah-based misdemeanor trial team.

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The real gymgibbons

Yes, this is the real one many of you know lived in Willits, California for half his life and now is retired in Hawaii... and I say this because my computer was "hacked" about a week ago...and the Evil gymgibbons sent emails to some on my list, asking them to go to I hope you didn't do it or you might have been hacked too.

It gets worse, but first I should mention the good news, that my computer has been reset, I changed my password (so it shouldn't happen again?), and I got my $7,050 returned to my bank account.

Yes, the Evil gymgibbons actually sent emails to a "bank officer," talking her into sending a cashier's check from my account to a Donnie Chlaskak in Texas. The Evil gymgibbons actually convinced this "bank officer" by giving her both my checking and savings account numbers--AND my SSN!

What else does the Evil gymgibbons have??? I'm waiting to see the emails the Evil gymgibbons sent to the "bank officer" via the US Post Office, which are in the mail. I did file a police report and filled out a Hawai'i Police Department's Identity Theft Victim's Packet, but for some reason I doubt if he will be caught.

Meanwhile, I'm still stunned that this happened to me. When I asked the "bank officer" how often this happens, she replied, "I've been working here for 25 years and it's never happened before." More later...Aloha

— Jim Gibbons

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 22, 2016

Crandall, Davenport, Ellison
Crandall, Davenport, Ellison

ERIC CRANDALL, Willits. Failure to appear.


TERRY ELLISON II, Covelo. Vehicle theft.

Hill, Jones, Kidd
Hill, Jones, Kidd

VINSON HILL, Willits. Domestic assault.

CHRISTOPHER JONES, Laytonville. Failure to appear.

JARED KIDD, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

Maynard, Nicks, Ramirez, Rutherford
Maynard, Nicks, Ramirez, Rutherford

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

DAVID NICKS, Reno/Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.


ELIAS RUTHERFORD, Laytonville. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear, probation revocation.

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Letter to Editor:

After Wall Street speculators and big bankers crashed our economy in 2008, many countries jailed the responsible culprits. Even though US bankers were mostly responsible for this worldwide disaster, none were jailed. A major reason was that the financial industry was Obama’s biggest campaign contributor.

And these same special interests are huge funders of Hilary Clinton’s campaign today. Which is why she has made no commitments to jail fraudsters, break up the big banks or seriously reform Wall Street.

In contrast, Bernie Sanders says that under his administration, “Not only will big banks not be too big to fail, but big-time bankers will not be too big to jail.” His campaign does not take money from Wall Street or big corporations, so that he will be free to make badly needed reforms and serve all citizens instead of the monied elite.

Bernie’s campaign, funded by more small donations than any other candidate ever, is catching Clinton in the polls and has passed her in Iowa and New Hampshire. Americans finally have a chance to elect a candidate not dependent on corporate funding who will work for all of us to end this economic recession, the ever-widening wealth gap, and Big Money’s corruption of our democracy.

If you would like such changes, contact Bernie Sanders Headquarters, 328 Main, Fort Bragg, 962-3101.

Tom Wodetzki, Albion

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AS ONE VETERAN LEFTIST TOLD ME, meaning to deprecate no one but himself, to say that you're a socialist and be in no party is something of a contradiction in terms. His remark made me queasy, as the word “party” always does. The problem with socialism is not, as Oscar Wilde reportedly said, that it takes up too many evenings, but rather that it attracts too many people who don't know what to do with their evenings. They scare me to death. But if I'm truly serious in my anticapitalism, I need to affiliate myself with some group. I see no way around it. Even a Sanders victory, much as I hope for one, will not let me off the hook. I need to find my own battalion, an outfit I can stomach that can also stomach me. It won't be the Revolutionary Communist Party, I can tell you that much. But I can tell you this too, that I owe a debt to the Revolutionary Communist Party and, yes, to Bob Avakian, for moving me one paltry millimeter closer to the point of the spear. — Garret Keizer

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“The future belongs to the young, and I have little doubt that they will come up with ideas, alternatives, and possibilities that we who have one foot in the grave are simply unable to see, comprehend, or appreciate.”

The future does belong to the young, who are obsessed with gadgets, virtual reality, social media and a whole lot of other nonsensical useless and unsustainable crap, and don’t have a clue about the socio-ecological-economic realities we aging boomers have understood since the 60’s and 70’s.

Somewhat frustrated by the vacuousness of a young student teacher she was supervising, my wife asked him if there was any basis for his understanding of the world, or any belief or ethical system upon which he operated. His answer: “I believe in technology.” And then he left school, as early as allowed, to go party, which is his and his contemporaries normal behavior.

If civilizational survival depends upon valuable, creative ideas from the empty-headed, politically- and historically-illiterate millennials I know, there’s no fucking hope.

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by Jeffrey St. Clair

Is the crisis in Fukushima over or just beginning? You might be forgiven for scratching your head at that one. Nearly five years after the nuclear meltdown triggered by the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami, one of the planet’s worst radioactive catastrophes has almost completely faded from both the media and public consciousness. Amid that information void, the lethal history of those events has been swamped under pernicious myths being spread by nuclear hucksters.

In brief, the revised story of the Fukushima meltdown goes something like this: the Daiichi facility was struck by an unprecedented event, unlikely to be repeated; the failsafe systems worked; the meltdown was swiftly halted; the spread of radioactive contamination contained and remediated; no lives or illnesses resulted from the crisis. Full-speed ahead!

One of the first to squirm headlong down this rabbit hole of denial was Paddy Reagan, a professor of Nuclear Physics at the University of Surrey: “We had a doomsday earthquake in a country with 55 nuclear power stations and they all shut down perfectly, although three have had problems since. This was a huge earthquake, and as a test of the resilience and robustness of nuclear plants it seems they have withstood the effects very well.”

For Reagan and other atomic zealots, the Fukushima meltdown did not represent a cautionary tale, but served as a real time exemplar of the safety, efficiency and durability of nuclear power. Call it Fukushima Mon Amour, or How They Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Atom.

Such extreme revisionism is to be expected from the likes of Reagan, and other hired guns for the Big Atom, especially at a moment of grave peril for their economic fortunes. More surreal is the killer compact between the nuclear industry and some high-profile environmentalists, which reached a feverish pitch at the Paris Climate conference this fall. Freelance nuclear shills, such as the odious James Hansen and the clownish George Monbiot, have left carbon footprints that would humble Godzilla by jetting across the world promoting nuclear energy as a kind of technological deus ex machina for the apocalyptic threat of climate change. Hansen has gone so far as to charge that “opposition to nuclear power threatens the future of humanity.” Shamefully, many greens now promote nuclear power as a kind ecological lesser-evilism.

Of course, there’s nothing new about this kind of rationalization for the doomsday machines. The survival of nuclear power has always depended on the willing suspension of disbelief. In the terrifying post-Hiroshima age, most people intuitively detected the symbiotic linkage between nuclear weapons and nuclear power and those fears had to be doused. As a consequence, the nuclear industrial complex concocted the fairy tale of the peaceful atom, zealously promoted by one of the most devious conmen of our time: Edward “H-Bomb” Teller.

After ratting out Robert Oppenheimer as a peacenik and security risk, Teller set up shop in his lair at the Lawrence Livermore Labs and rapidly began designing uses for nuclear power and bombs as industrial engines to propel the post-World War II economy. One of the first mad schemes to come off of Teller’s drafting board was Operation Chariot, a plan to excavate a deep water harbor at Cape Thornton, near the Inuit village of Point Hope, Alaska, by using controlled (sic) detonations of hydrogen bombs.

In 1958, Teller, the real life model for Terry Southern’s character Dr. Strangelove, devised a plan for atomic fracking. Working with the Richfield Oil Company, Teller plotted to detonate 100 atomic bombs in northern Alberta to extract oil from the Athabasca tar sands. The plan, which went by the name Project Oilsands, was only quashed when intelligence agencies got word that Soviet spies had infiltrated the Canadian oil industry.

Frustrated by the Canadians’ failure of nerve, Teller soon turned his attentions to the American West. First he tried to sell the water-hungry Californians on a scheme to explode more than 20 nuclear bombs to carve a trench in the western Sacramento Valley to canal more water to San Francisco, the original blueprint for Jerry Brown’s Peripheral Canal. This was followed by a plot to blast off 22 peaceful nukes to blow a hole in the Bristol Mountains of southern California for the construction of Interstate 40. Fortunately, neither plan came to fruition.

Teller once again turned to the oil industry, with a scheme to liberate natural gas buried under the Colorado Plateau by setting off 30 kiloton nuclear bombs 6,000 feet below the surface of the earth. Teller vowed that these mantle-cracking explosions, marketed as Project Gasbuggy, would “stimulate” the flow of natural gas. The gas was indeed stimulated, but it also turned out to be highly radioactive.

More crucially, in 1957 at speech before the American Chemical Society Teller, who later helped the Israelis develop their nuclear weapons program, became the first scientist to posit that the burning of fossil fuels would inevitably yield a climate-altering greenhouse effect, which would feature mega-storms, prolonged droughts and melting ice-caps. His solution? Replace the energy created by coal- and gas-fired plants with a global network of nuclear power plants.

Edward Teller’s deranged ideas of yesteryear have now been dusted off and remarketed by the Nuclear Greens, including James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis, with no credit given to their heinous progenitor.

There are currently 460 or so operating nukes, some chugging along far past their expiration dates, coughing up 10 percent of global energy demands. Teller’s green disciples want to see nuclear power’s total share swell to 50 percent, which would mean the construction of roughly 2100 new atomic water-boilers from Mogadishu to Kathmandu. What are the odds of all of those cranking up without a hitch?

Meanwhile, back at Fukushima, unnoticed by the global press corps, the first blood cancers (Myelogenous leukemia) linked to radiation exposure are being detected in children and cleanup workers. And off the coast of Oregon and California every Bluefin tuna caught in the last year has tested positive for radioactive Cesium 137 from the Fukushima meltdown. The era of eco-radiation has arrived. Don’t worry. It only has a half-life of 30.7 years.

(Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: Courtesy,

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by Manuel Vicent

A long line has formed in front of La Basilica de Nuestro Padre Jesus de Medinaceli, a Roman Catholic Church, specifically a basilica, located in central Madrid. The line is spread across several blocks. Dejected and chilled to the bone, the faithful waited for the sacristan to open the door of the temple so they might kiss the miraculous image and request favors.

The morning fog made it difficult to distinguish the point where this line of Jesus de Medinaceli joined another line a few blocks away from the church in which, at the same time, people were waiting for the famous shop of Doña Manolita to open so they might buy a Christmas lottery ticket.

During the night both formations, watched by the police, had waited silently; but in the early morning hours they began to move with intense anxiety and, although they surged forward in opposite directions--each line advancing to its destiny, these people sought the same miracle beneath the morning fog: some sought the miracle of chance, some the miracle of divine compassion.

For solving the problems of this wretched life, the powers invoked were interchangeable; so it wouldn’t have made a difference if the lottery tickets were sold in the church at the foot of the altar or if the image of Jesus of Medinaceli had been placed in the store of Doña Manolita.

Today, December 20th, general elections are being held. Until eight o’clock this evening, there will be other lines at the voting sites, which could be confused with the lines at stores offering state sponsored betting or the churches where people will go to pray. In this case too, the ballot, the lottery ticket, or the prayer to the saint of your choice are interchangeable.

But what is the most improbable: That you hit the jackpot? That Divine Providence comes to your aid? Or that the candidate elected fulfills his campaign promises?

The Church of Jesus of Medinaceli, the shop of Doña Manolita, the voting site around the corner: three votes for a hopeless dream.

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TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY: 10% OFF WIND CHIMES at The Garden Store at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Get your chimes then stroll the dramatic blooms in the Gardens... Magnolias, Camellias, and Rhododendron oh my! Remember, there is never an admission fee if you just want to shop the store or nursery open daily from 9am to 4pm. For more information call The Garden Store at 964-4352 ext.16

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Witches & wizards of all ages are invited to attend Harry Potter Book Night at the Ukiah Library. Step onto Platform 9 ¾ , just through the brick wall, & enter A Night of Spells. Let the sorting hat decide your fate, make wands and spell books, discover hidden Horcruxes during our scavenger hunt, and participate in a gross-flavored jellybean eating contest. Please reply by owl or call us at 463-4490 to sign up. For more information, please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.

Melissa Eleftherion Carr
Teen & Adult Services Librarian
Ukiah Library
105 N. Main Street, Ukiah CA 95482
(707) 467-6434

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  1. BB Grace January 23, 2016

    You might enjoy the maps on the right on this Wiki link that dipicts the number of continents, which is a “hot topic” as flat Earth makes a dramatic comeback.

    The seven-continent model is usually taught in China, India, the Philippines, parts of Western Europe and most English-speaking countries, including Australia[26] and England[27]
    The six-continent combined-Eurasia model is mostly used in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Japan.
    The six-continent combined-America model is used in France and its former colonies, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Latin America,[28] Greece,[19] and some other parts of Europe.
    A five-continent model is obtained from the six-continent model by excluding Antarctica as uninhabited. This is used for example in the Olympic Charter.[29]

  2. LouisBedrock January 23, 2016

    The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant continues to dump about 560 tons of radioactive garbage in the Pacific Ocean every day.

    Christian Fundamentalists are trying to eliminate abortion rights, sex education, and birth control for women, and trying to turn the republic into a Christian theocracy.

    Our state department is laden with lunatic like Samantha Power, Victoria Nuland, and Susan Rice who seem to think a nuclear war with Russia is a good idea.

    The economy is crashing all around us. I have friends who struggle to pay their rent and find enough to eat.

    The human race is facing extinction because of runaway climate change.

    Yet all that occupies that almost empty little head of yours is that the United States is referred to as “America”.

    The needle has been stuck in the same damned groove for about two weeks now.

    Give it a rest.

    • BB Grace January 23, 2016

      Or Muslim women rights being at the forefront of closing abortion clinics, ending sex education and birth control.

      “Muslim women’s traditional importance in Islamic society has always been and continues to be the foundation of the Islamic family. Social values strongly reinforce orientation towards marriage and children as the normative pattern based on Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) own example. Child rearing, early education, and socialization of children are among women’s most important tasks in Islamic societies worldwide. Although traditionally excluded from the public male domain, Muslim women have been privately involved in study and oral transmission of Islamic source texts (Qur’an and Hadith). In modern times, they have entered into both secular and religious forms of education with enthusiasm supporting their long standing role as family educators and moral exemplars as well as training for professional careers in the workplace outside the home.”

      • LouisBedrock January 23, 2016

        Countercurrents is light weight right wing trash that publishes nonsense–like revisionist biographies of George Lincoln Rockwell.

        Muslim women are not at the forefront of closing abortion clinics.
        Project Rescue and its ilk are Catholic, and fundamentalist Christian organizations.

        One of many problems with the internet is it fosters a kind of inverted research.
        When I taught freshman English, I would encourage students to get an overview of the problem in general research books like encyclopedia and then pursue the problem by reading a variety of periodicals.

        Today it seems that people form an opinion and then search the internet to find support for this opinion no matter how loony it is. And Countercurrents, despite intellectual pretensions is right-wing loony.

      • LouisBedrock January 23, 2016

        “Or Muslim women rights being at the forefront of closing abortion clinics, ending sex education and birth control.”

        Qazi’s light-weight article says nothing supporting this view.
        Did you cite the wrong article?

    • LouisBedrock January 23, 2016

      Didn’t think Californians would have a lot of sympathy for us right coasters on that theme.

      Incidentally, snow is up to my chest. My Mendocino comrades should get a good laugh or two from that. And the chill factor is about 9º.

      Enough of the “America” nonsense. “Africa” is misused in the same way when we call people African-Americans. Africa is a diverse continent that ranges from Algeria to Zambia. Africa too is a continent, not a country. But let’s not obsess with it.

      • BB Grace January 23, 2016

        There’s no reply button on your posts, so I’m going to post here to say:

        My issue with the article was it was written by a man, and that’s what gets me about most information I find searching about what is Muslim Women’s rights. The article does not go into detail rather it mentions the Hadith

        I also have issues with Wiki, However, as you pointed out, or so I thought, the internet has changed research, because it is not reliable, and limited ways to share on a short thread. Feminism is an important topic for me, and I agree with Islamic feminism on abortion, so there’s no reason for the public to pay for personal choices of others when terminating a life.

        re: Snow. I would have to have grown up with it to live with it, so you have my sympathy, However, when it comes to culture and arts, you know you have us beat snow or not.

    • Harvey Reading January 23, 2016

      Actually, simply the most current “one”. Remember the Katrina “one”, and other “ones” since? This has been going on throughout our lifetimes, and before, accelerated by burning of hydrocarbons, particularly since the mid 19th Century. It’s probably too late already for us monkeys. Good riddance to an ignorant, authoritarian, egotistical species that thought it was actually the greatest thing in the universe, though it will probably become extinct thinking that very same thought, or justifying the end as an inevitable result of disobeying some bunch of imaginary beings, called gods.

  3. BB Grace January 23, 2016

    Why not ask the folks at 10K Buddahs how the transaction happened and what the possibilty of them giving up the location as an exercise in rebuking materialism?

  4. Harvey Reading January 23, 2016

    Re: ACCORDING to the recent ruling, people sentenced to life-without for murders they committed before age 18 are entitled to new sentencing hearings.

    Long overdue.

  5. Harvey Reading January 23, 2016

    Re: …As we toured the sprawling campus …

    Hospitals, business parks, businesses, etc. have grounds, not campuses. Educational facilities have campuses. This chamber talk got popular in the 80s.

  6. Rick Weddle January 23, 2016

    re: ‘Winter Oak’…

    Golly, what an excruciatingly pretty picture. It’s so evocative of place and time…I recall this tree (yeah, or one very like it and very near it, maybe 30 years ago), all in white, snow on everything fresh and powdery, ice hard and white on the road south out of town…up the hill past the Forestry deal…

  7. Harvey Reading January 23, 2016

    Re: The future does belong to the young, who are obsessed with gadgets, virtual reality, social media and a whole lot of other nonsensical useless and unsustainable crap, and don’t have a clue about the socio-ecological-economic realities we aging boomers have understood since the 60’s and 70’s.

    Youth of today are no more obsessed with the available gadgetry nor no more clueless than any other generation. Every one of those generations had different, “better” gadgets than the one before, and every one had the same degree of supposed “cluelessness”. This is just more BS from my pompous generation, and the one preceding it. I see plenty of idiots my age — and older — completely absorbed by their “smart” phones and such, and totally clueless about reality.

    • Bill Pilgrim January 23, 2016

      The commenter was simply preaching about what is almost universally depicted in the MSM.
      The are plenty of millenials nation-wide, worldwide, who have a clear grasp of the crises facing them- political, economic, cultural, environmental – and are actively trying to deal with them.
      The Boomers have much to be ashamed of. Their ‘kickthecanism’ and self-absorption have left the younglings to tackle a colossal mess.

  8. james marmon January 23, 2016

    Regarding Shelter Maneuvers.

    “Will the public be made privy to the reason for this employee’s disciplining?”

    Most likely Ms. Mountainfire doesn’t even know what the reason for being placed on Administrative leave is. This is how Ms. Angelo (Nurse Ratchet) works.

    Mendocino County has a history of placing employees on long extended paid administrative leave status “while an investigation is being conducted.” This could go on for months.
    While you are on paid Administrative Leave you are directed not to speak anyone regarding your status. You are assigned to your home (work station) and can not leave during work hours without prior permission from your immediate supervisor. They also conduct surprise visits to your home to make sure you are compliant. Any violation of these directives are cause for immediate termination.

    The primary goal of this type of action is to get the employee to read the writing on the wall and just resign.

    I was once put on Administrative leave by Angelo and Cryer in 2010, and they paid me for 4 months, nearly $20,000.00 to just sit home while they conducted an investigation. At the end of the 4 month period I was called back to work and given a letter of reprimand for “sarcasm.”

    Sarcastic comments boost creativity, a study finds

    Oscar Wilde once said that “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence,”

    “research suggests, there may also be some unexpected benefits from sarcasm: greater creativity. The use of sarcasm, in fact, promotes creativity for those on both the giving and receiving end of sarcastic exchanges. Instead of avoiding sarcasm completely in the office, the research suggests sarcasm, used with care and in moderation, can be effectively used and trigger some creative sparks.”

  9. Mike January 23, 2016

    Took a little photo tour myself of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas a week ago:

    There were indeed signs of buildings in disrepair, or looking unused (and frozen in time, reflecting the old look of things).

    Re: usage in the manner you are hinting at (housing and serving long term mentally ill and substance abusers who qualify for conservatee status). You might have hit on something big here!

    Really haven’t looked to deeply into that scene there…’s an old school and very conventional oriented Zen scene (like Alan Watts said, there’s square Zen, beat Zen, and Zen) BUT I imagine a monastic and educational center in the square Zen mode just might “hear” you (MS) here and recognize their potential role here for the community. It could also be a site for nursing training programs (specializing in psych and addiction recovery services)!!

    It would be helpful to get a good inventory of what’s there that is not being used.

    Your article is probably stir something up there, right?

    • james marmon January 23, 2016

      Mike, in the early early 80’s I went to work for the Monks at the City of 10,000 as a maintenance man. I’ve been through just about every building in that facility. That place was built to last forever. The State spared no money on architectural design and construction.

      One of the biggest problems I found then was the plumbing. The pipes were allowed to corrode due to not being used for nearly 10 years at that time. I don’t know what kind of shape they are in now nearly 35 years later.

      • james marmon January 23, 2016

        These guys can kick your ass. I once accidently turned the sprinkler system on them as they were walking out of the Hall. I thought I was going to have to rum for my life. Thankfully, I was forgiven.

        It was their first visit ever to the Western Hemisphere and I soaked down good. Welcome to America, by James Marmon.

        • james marmon January 23, 2016

          When I hit them with the sprinkler, I woke them all up, we were on Bodhi street.

          Bodhi in Buddhism is the understanding possessed by a Buddha regarding the true nature of things. It is traditionally translated into English with the word enlightenment, although its literal meaning is closer to “awakening.” The verbal root “budh” means to awaken.

          Bodhi – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      • Mike January 24, 2016

        Hi James, I think we still will need the Sheriff’s 1/2% sales tax initiative so that we (the county) can retrofit the buildings to the services soon to be delivered by that community who I am sure would dutifully consider a proposal to lease buildings to the community to serve our most vulnerable citizens. :-)

        That’s great to hear about the likely strong structural integrity with some plumbing and other work to be expected.

        • Mike January 24, 2016

          that wasn’t too clear……services not to be delivered by the monk community but by trained professionals.

  10. Randy Burke January 23, 2016

    As a public health administrator, and as a certified water treatment operator with state of CA, I cannot believe what was directed and allowed in Flint, Michigan. Duh?

  11. Mike January 24, 2016

    That video is a major turnoff to me because I aint looking for no lily white America, that’s for sure. Look at all those pale skinned people there! Gee, yuck.

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