BREAKING NEWS from the press conference at the Highway 101 tree sit site this morning: Tree-sitter Warbler is on hunger strike; 4th tree-sitter “Falcon” is across the highway; CHP officer says “That's up to Caltrans,” when asked if CHP would continue to prevent access to ground support crews to resupply Warbler with water.
By Jennifer Poole, Willits Weekly
Local press, including the Willits News, Willits Weekly, KMUD Radio and Nomad Films, and a reporter from KQED San Francisco, attended a 10am press conference this morning, at the front of the now-gated tree-site site on the northbound side of Highway 101.
CHP allowed press access by prior arrangement, but confiscated a written statement Warbler lowered down in a bucket as “evidence,” as well as the contents of three buckets.
Sara Grusky of Save Little Lake Valley then read Warbler's statement, sentence by sentence, as Warbler read it to her, via cell phone.
“As of March 28, the two-month mark of the Warbler tree-sit, I, Amanda Senseman, Warbler, am going on a hunger strike. Currently, I am witnessing the destruction of my home. Caltrans contractors are clearing multiple areas, cutting trees and clearing brush, despite the fact that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act took effect as of February 1. CHP officers have been deployed from around the state to occupy our valley, complete with helicopter fly-bys and 24-hour surveillance. This is an obsolete project which will cause irreparable damage to our watershed, forest and community. The life that this valley harbors will not survive this. I am 24 years old, and I want a future and a future for my children. I will remain on hunger strike until the following demands are met: 1. All construction on the Willits Bypass ceases pending legal resolution; 2. The public and press are able to enter the destroyed and disturbed areas to document said destruction and violations of law, nature and common sense; 3. And the least harmful alternatives and appropriately scaled transportation solutions are adopted. With the utmost sincerity, Amanda Senseman. Thank you.”
Questions from the press included: “Were those three buckets loaded with your food?” “Yes,” Warbler answered via cell phone, “I just sent down all of my food.” And, “Do you have water?” “I have water and tea, and I will take broth for the first couple of days,” Warbler answered. “I have a little bit of juice left.”
CHP at first were going to interrupt the call half-way through, apparently uncomfortable with protesters who were crossing the highway to join the press conference, but in the end, they let the call finish, then stopped traffic on the highway so press could safely walk back across to the southbound side.
When a protester called across the highway and asked CHP: “Are you really going to deprive Warbler of water?” one of the officers answered: “That’s up to Caltrans.”
Save Our Little Valley’s Will Parrish, who has been reporting on the Willits bypass and other local stories for the Anderson Valley Advertiser, then announced he would be joining the hunger strike.
Parrish also announced to the crowd of, by then, about 50 protesters; “Last night, a fourth tree sit was erected right here in this area. ‘Falcon’ is sitting in this oak tree right here.”
Parrish told the crowd that the hill where they were gathered was part of a designated fill dirt supply site for the bypass. “Just yesterday, Caltrans was here putting ‘No Trespassing’ signs around. This is the only area from which we can observe and have access to stand in solidarity with Warbler.”
In a letter published Wednesday, Save Little Valley’s Grusky, invited the community to “Please, come visit Save Our Little Lake Valley in our new storefront office at Leather and Laces” shoe store in downtown Willits. — Jennifer Poole
SO MANY of the people speaking in opposition to the Willits bypass at Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Supervisors were on point, cogent and non-redundant that we are going to print full transcriptions of many of the remarks over the next few days. OVER 150 people crowded the board chambers, most of them opposed to the bypass for very legitimate reasons. Many of them wanted to speak, and they had important, serious comments.
BOARD CHAIR Dan Hamburg introduced the item by pointing out that it was not a timed item. “At first we thought it would be fairly routine,” said Hamburg, looking out over the crowded board room. “It seems we were not quite correct about that.”
SUPERVISOR JOHN PINCHES opened the discussion by asking how many people in the room had read his draft letter to the California Transportation Commission in support of the project. Most of the hands went up. Pinches didn't think very many people had read his letter because if they had, in his mind, they would not be objecting to the project at this late stage. “Okay, probably less than half,” said Pinches grossly underestimating the number of hands that went up. Pinches then went on to point out that the bypass has been consistently supported by the Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG), the California Transportation Commission, the Board of Supervisors, the Willits City Council. Pinches was also dismissive of Senator Noreen Evans's recent questions about the project, saying that she hadn't been to all the past meetings where, Pinches said, various governmental bodies supported the bypass. “Lots of towns have been bypassed,” said Pinches, rattling off a dozen or so Northern California towns. Pinches basically told audience that their objections were too little and too late — “We are in the construction phase now,” said Pinches attempting, unsuccessfully, to convince the roomful of people that they should pick up their protest signs and go home. Pinches then asked jovially if the tree-sitter named “Warbler” was in the audience. Of course, she wasn't. She was still in her tree. “That tree-sitter is very courageous for sitting up in that tree for so long and in all that wind,” said Pinches.
ELLEN DRELL of the Willits Environmental Center provided some important background on how the Bypass project got to where it is. “I sent all of you via e-mail a revised letter to send to Malcolm Dougherty. It uses some of the same language but the message is, there is considerable controversy over this project and we want the opportunity and the time to come to a resolution that is acceptable to the people of Willits, the people of Mendocino County, as well as to the inter-regional travelers. So I urge you to send this alternative letter to Malcolm Dougherty and take the time that is obviously needed to truly, honestly, candidly discuss this issue. The fact that the Chair felt this would be a routine item is an indication of how broad the gap is between the sentiment in Willits and our elected officials. I think we all have to dedicate ourselves now to work really really hard as quickly as possible to be communicating with each other. There is a very long history to this project. I went to my first Caltrans Bypass meeting in 1988. I am very familiar with the history. It's a dismal one. It's mainly a history of Caltrans refusing to take seriously alternatives. Caltrans refuses to look at 30, 12, 20, who knows how many? alternatives that were considered. But in fact as early as 2002 when the draft environmental impact statement and report came out, all but four four-lane freeway alternatives plus the no-build had been eliminated from serious consideration. Only the four four-lane freeway alternatives were quantitatively analyzed and compared to one another. Only those for alternatives were compared in terms of cost, environmental damage, impacts to the business community, impacts to housing, and air pollution, water pollution, costs -- the whole gamut of things that can be quantified. Their capacities, their ability to resolve traffic issues. All the things that were able to be quantified and that rose to a serious level of analysis were only applied to four four-lane freeway alternatives. The alternatives that have been floated around and asked over and over again by the citizens to be taken seriously have been dismissed, and were dismissed early on. This one (holds up a bound copy of a formal presentation booklet) the Baechtel Road-Railroad Avenue connection, was finally put together in a very credible conceptual plan format. But I was at a City Council meeting when Mr. Dow (of Mendocino Council of Governments) and warned or advised the City Council not to come to MCOG asking funding for this project until after the bypass was built. So over the years serious alternatives were never brought to the public, never analyzed. As a result it has always been: Willits, you either suffer with a traffic congestion you have or you get this four-lane mega-bypass, which has the capacity, by the way for 40-60,000 vehicles a day going around Willits at 70 mph. Ludicrous! That's not a scenario any of you want! I know that! You all consider yourself conservationists, you all care about the environment of Mendocino County. You don't want 60,000 vehicles zooming around Willits at 70 miles an hour. That's a future that condemns the young people in this audience. So I plead with you, do not send this letter. Give us some time, 2-3 weeks, to sit down with you, to talk seriously, analytically, quantitatively about these alternatives. Let's come up with a real solution.”
MALACHI SHINDEL, a youngish man in cowboy shirt, cowboy haircut and cowboy hat confidently strode to the podium, dramatically removed his hat, and began: “I live 325 feet from where the current construction is going on. My wife is 8-1/2 months pregnant and our baby is lying breach-transverse right now. I have a 3-1/2 year old daughter. I grew up in Willits. I worked for the Mendocino County Railway. For the last 96 hours my family has endured constant noise. The bulldozers and the chainsaws begin at 6am. As soon as the sun goes down, the generators come on and the lights come on and flood into my backyard. I have witnessed the protocols and the surveys that were carefully done by SHN Consultants violated in sight of California Fish and Game, on video. All of these protocols are being violated. Whether they had been obtained legally or not, they are now not being enforced. They are being violated. We the people who live in this town, the people who are trying to raise our families in the peace that we have known are being disturbed on a level heretofore never seen before in this County! For 96 hours now my family has been has endured constant noise. I'm serious, John! Back in the 90s when you were first running for supervisor, I remember you tellin' the people of our town that you were going to protect the fish. It has been stated by the board that the fish and wildlife would be protected, that salmon would return to the streams. Habitat is being destroyed. My family is being terrorized. I work six days a week and the one day a week that I get to rest, I don't get to. Citizens are being disturbed in their own homes, on a level that is like torture. And the people in the trees yesterday had ropes thrown around their necks and the tree cutters attempted to pull them out of the trees. I have been informed that this county ordinance on sound levels is from 6am to 10pm. But I am having to endure 24 hour a day noise. I have many complaints to the Sheriff's department. And they cannot do anything about it because it's out of their jurisdiction. It's time that this project stops before everybody in this town becomes enraged.”
WILLIAM RAY: “I am a resident of the Willits area for 42 years. As you must understand this is a symbolic endorsement of the freeway project. You don't have to agree to this monstrous destruction. You don't have to because of some agreements you misunderstood in years past. The whole situation has changed now. It has always been a four-lane freeway; they must have a four lane freeway. Now it's a two lane freeway. They said, We want to work with your little town, we love your little town — where would you like to have it? We made a project showing that a two-lane truck route would be perfectly adequate for 5,000 cars a day going through. They rejected that. 'We have to have a four lane freeway.' Now they have a two lane freeway. You are not obligated when Caltrans lies to agree to having a project that is going to be so destructive. I would like to say that I object to the statement by Mr. Pinches, who is smiling, that a vocal minority is speaking out of turn when most people agree to the project. Most people do not agree to the project. 90% of the businesses don't want the project. Is that a vocal minority? Margie Handley who was a member of the California Transportation Commission as a commissioner said it's a total waste of money, it doesn't do anything. But Mr. Pinches doesn't say that Margie Handley is a vocal minority because she has more money.”
ROSAMOND CROWDER came to the podium with several large charts for the board. “My name is Rosamond Crowder. I'm an artist. I live south of Willits. I am presenting you with a graph of average annual daily traffic on Highway 101. This graph was compiled using figures from the Caltrans website. Here you can see that traffic north of Willits is really very small, especially compared with traffic south of us. Like for instance, there is Santa Rosa with 120,000 up there. This traffic north of Willits is the through traffic. Actually it's a little more than through traffic because some of the traffic in is people coming and going from Laytonville and Covelo who don't go all the way to Ukiah. But never mind that. It works for a basic idea of what the traffic on a bypass would amount to. The number when translated to vehicles per day is about 8,000 vehicles. You can see that it has not increased at all since 1992. Here is a picture of what 8,000 vehicles per day looks like. (Almost told they're a much.) These pictures were taken from a webcam one mile north of Willits and post a picture every half hour or so on the Internet, on the Caltrans website. I invite you to go regularly and have a look at that video camera. These pictures were taken at 5:30pm. [Pointing to the nearly empty highway] This is rush hour! (Giggling from the audience.) Caltrans designed a four-lane freeway because they claim that this two-lane road is not good enough. A four-lane freeway is designed to carry 40,000 per day and it reaches capacity at 80,000 vehicles per day. Can you see how this is overbuilt? All the rhetoric in the world does not change what we see on the ground. One poorly designed intersection in a small town of under 5000 people does not justify this amazing expenditure of money and loss of one third of the farmland in Little Lake Valley. It's not too late to support alternatives to keep tourist dollars in town, return land to ranchers, and keep a six mile long overpass from destroying the rural character of our valley. Thank you.”
(MORE TO COME…)
Editor, Fred Gardner's article on “dabbing” (“Year of the Concentrate,” AVA, 3/20/13) points out a growing concern about health impacts of breathing toxic residue inhaled from the process of “dabbing.” It is largely a youthful recreational phenomenon seeking a stronger high. It requires gadgets and a torch and lighter fluid to vaporize a concentrated oil. Not many patients are likely to go to the trouble it takes to light a torch and heat a tiny dab on a nail.
Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather has cautioned that butane and other toxic solvents may leave residue on the concentrated cannabis oil inhaled by dabbers even though most of it evaporates off, and also that metals that seem inert may flake off unseen particles with the dab.
I totally agree with O'Shaughnessy's editorial decision to break the dab story ("Use of Dabs Gaining Popularity” O'S, Winter 2013) and be forthright in reporting potential harm from a chemical process used to increase THC potency of the plant. Butane, hexane and other solvents are highly flammable, as well as unhealthy to inhale. We would be remiss to hide these truths.
What about the butane we inhale every time we flick a ubiquitous Bic to light a joint or a pipe? Are there health impacts from thousands of butane hits from the lighter fluid in the Bic over long periods of time? Would Dr. Hergenrather also caution against use of standard lighters to spark up pipes, joints, bongs next to our nostrils breathing miniscule amounts of butane with every flame? — Pebbles Trippet, Elk
FRED GARDNER COMMENTS: When Pebbles Trippet showed me her letter to the AVA, I mentioned that Lester Grinspoon, the PC (Pro-Cannabis) Harvard Medical School Professor emeritus of Psychiatry, abjured the use of butane lighters. She emailed Grinspoon, who replied:
“Butane is dangerous and toxic. I have no problem with people who occasionally light a joint with the butane lighter but I am concerned about those who use it repeatedly with a pipe or other device that demands repeated applications of heat. The combustible products of butane which will inevitably appear in the first puffs from either source are toxic, and naïve people using it without a healthy respect for its flammability not infrequently by accident get seriously burned.”
A Little Dab’ll do ya — Unsurprisingly, the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, DC, does not wish to distribute O’Shaughnessy’s with its front-page piece about possible dangers of inhaling cannabinoid concentrates (dabbing). But the discussion is well underway among the pot-loving masses.
"Butane is a fire and explosion risk because it is highly flammable,” Hergenrather wrote. “Many people have been severely injured using butane to make cannabis oil extracts.” In addition to the possibility of toxic solvents leaving residue on the concentrate being inhaled, he noted, invisible particles can flake off from metals that seem inert.
Another grown-up, Dale Gieringer of California NORML, described incidents of people fainting after dabbing sessions.
Chris Roberts of the SF Weekly wrote a piece about the dabbing phenomenon in which he suggested that “a glut on the market... too many flowers and too much bud” led to the proliferation of concentrates. “Like many other commodities,” Roberts observed in reference to the sacred-to-some herb, “a repacking or repurposing was necessary in order to find market value.”
Also relevant: moldy cannabis can be transformed into a sell-able concentrate by distillation with alcohol or extraction by butane or other organic solvents.
BeyondTHC.com got this note from Jeff M. in Los Angeles: “I bought a gram or so of ‘wax’ at a local dispensary a while back and had a very bad reaction (I felt high and not high at the same time and for days after wasn't able to get high using traditional product). The dispensary later told me they were having ‘problems’ with the wax. I learned that the ‘manufacturer’ (some guy in his garage?) probably reused the butane, causing contamination. I go au natural now and use a vape.
In response to Dale Gieringer’s note about people fainting after dabbing, we asked Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD —whose piece in O’Shaughnessy’s started a discussion the Reform Honchos have tried to suppress— what might cause such a response. Hergenrather replied:
“The short answer is that cannabinoids —both plant-based and endogenous— lower blood pressure, probably by way of their vasodilating effects.
“The greater the dose of plant cannabinoids, the more likely a person will feel lightheaded, even to the point of fainting. When using high-potency dabs, the user is no longer gradually titrating for a comfortable effect but is rapidly saturating cannabinoid receptors to attain the 'rush.’ Vasodilatation resulting in a sudden drop in blood pressure may be induced by the dab before compensatory mechanisms boost the pressure. As a result, people can fall and injure themselves.
“Cofactors in this phenomenon would likely include dehydration, excessive heat, concomitant use of alcohol, and/or various medications. Chronic heavy cannabis users naturally reduce their concentration of cannabinoid receptors, probably making them less likely to experience fainting spells.
“The U.S. Army discovered the incapacitating, blood-pressure lowering effects of synthetic cannabinoids in the 1960's while conducting chemical warfare research at the Army's Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. Captain James Ketchum MD, one of the principal investigators at Edgewood tells the story in his book Chemical Warfare, Secrets Almost Forgotten. Ketchum was a psychiatrist in the Edgewood team charged with developing chemical weapons to temporarily incapacitate combatants rather than kill them. Drugs such as LSD, atropine derivatives, and cannabinoids were studied in more than 7,000 willing, informed Army volunteers evaluating these chemicals.
“One of the first cannabis derivatives, described as “red oil,” was a synthetic related to THC. This was followed by another synthetic cannabinoid produced by the Arthur D. Little Laboratories. Their synthetic cannabinoid was named EA 2233, another analogue of THC. EA 2233 was a mixture of eight isomers, same chemical formula with different combinations of shapes as mirror images of components. When these isomers were later isolated and purified, two were so potent —intake of these compounds caused such a large decline in blood pressure— that the trial subject was rendered incapacitated for several hours, unable to stand upright and perform duties. When the effects eventually wore off. the subjects showed no signs of harm. The Army abandoned the use of these molecules for unrevealed reasons —probably because they were impractical to deliver as weapons. (The fact that the U.S. signed the 1925 Geneva Protocol banning chemical warfare had not stopped the Army from conducting the research.)”
FIVE UGLY EXTREMES OF INEQUALITY IN AMERICA. The Contrasts Will Drop Your Chin to the Floor
The first step is to learn the facts, and then to get angry and to ask ourselves, as progressives and caring human beings, what we can do about the relentless transfer of wealth to a small group of well-positioned Americans.
1. $2.13 per hour vs. $3,000,000.00 per hour
Each of the Koch brothers saw his investments grow by $6 billion in one year, which is three million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour 'work' week. They used some of the money to try to kill renewable energystandards around the country.
Their income portrays them, in a society measured by economic status, as a million times more valuable than the restaurant server who cheers up our lunch hours while hoping to make enough in tips to pay the bills.
A comparison of top and bottom salaries within large corporations is much less severe, but a lot more common. For CEOs and minimum-wage workers, the difference is $5,000.00 per hour vs. $7.25 per hour.
2. A single top income could buy housing for every homeless person in the U.S.
On a winter day in 2012 over 633,000 people were homeless in the United States. Based on an annual single room occupancy (SRO) cost of $558 per month, any ONE of the ten richest Americans would have enough with his 2012 income to pay for a room for every homeless person in the U.S. for the entire year. These ten rich men together made more than our entire housing budget.
3. The poorest 47% of Americans have no wealth.
At the other extreme, the 400 wealthiest Americans own as much wealth as 80 million families -- 62% of America. The reason, once again, is the stock market. Since 1980 the American GDP has approximately doubled. Inflation-adjusted wages have gone down. But the stock market has increased by over ten times, and the richest quintile of Americans owns 93% of it.
4. The U.S. is nearly the most wealth-unequal country in the entire world.
Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.
Yet the financial industry keeps creating new wealth for its millionaires. According to the authors of the Global Wealth Report, the world's wealth has doubled in ten years, from $113 trillion to $223 trillion, and is expected to reach $330 trillion by 2017.
5. A can of soup for a black or Hispanic woman, a mansion and yacht for the businessman.
Minority families once had substantial equity in their homes, but after Wall Street caused the housing crash, median wealth fell 66% for Hispanic households and 53% for black households. Now the average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 in net worth.
What to do?
End the capital gains giveaway, which benefits the wealthy almost exclusively.
Institute a Financial Speculation Tax, both to raise needed funds from a currently untaxed subsidy on stock purchases, and to reduce the risk of the irresponsible trading that nearly brought down the economy.
Perhaps above all, we progressives have to choose one strategy and pursue it in a cohesive, unrelenting attack on greed. Only this will heal the ugly gash of inequality that has split our country in two.
PLEASE JOIN Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman and Steve Sparks on Sunday April 7th at the Mad Dog in the Fog. The event starts at 3 pm with the Book Signing and Q&A discussion following at 5:30 PM. The Q&A discussion will cover such topics as Mental Health, Gun Control and the Marijuana culture of Northern California and promises to be a thought provoking event. To view this invite, copy and paste this link into your browser: http://new.evite.com/l/IVZZA2HZYY
DISTURBING STUDY finds that more than 110 million Americans have a sexually-transmitted disease.
About 20 million Americans diagnosed with new cases of STIs in 2008 — bringing national total to more than 110 million.
20% of infections are among men and women aged 15-24.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is most common.
An unsettling new study has revealed a surging number of sexually-transmitted infections in the US, especially among young adults, the CDC reports.
The new survey reports that about 20 million Americans were diagnosed with an STI in 2008 (the most recent year data was available).
That figure brings the total number of existing cases diseases to more than 110 million.
The study says: “Of these, more than 20% of infections (22.1 million) were among women and men aged 15 to 24 years.
“Approximately 19.7 million incident infections occurred in the United States in 2008; nearly 50% (9.8 million) were acquired by young women and men aged 15 to 24 years.”
Sexually transmitted infections are common in the United States, with a disproportionate burden among young adolescents and adults.
The number of new infections in the country has been growing over the last couple decades, a startling epidemic among sexually active Americans, mostly between the ages of 15 and 24.
Previous studies reported 15 million new infections in 1996 and 18.9 million in 2000.
Though researchers noted that the methods for gathering information about new infections back then were slightly different, and may account for some discrepancy in the numbers.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) tops the list as the most common infection followed by herpes, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, HIV, hepatitis B, gonorrhea and syphilis.
Much of the $16 billion in annual healthcare costs that go to STI's is spent on patients with HIV/AIDS, who require lifetime care.
But less serious infections aren't always less expensive.
Diseases like Chlamydia can lead to complications, especially if they are not treated, which can end up costing patients thousands of dollars out of pocket.
To combat the growing number, the CDC suggests focusing on prevention among young adolescents and at-risk populations to reduce the number and impact of STIs. (Courtesy, the London Globe & Mail.)
MENDO'S CLAP & CRABS STATS aren't readily available, but we've got a call in to find out how we're doing in relation to the rest of the state.
EDITOR: As much rich laughter as P.G. Wodehouse has blessed us with, credit should go where it is due. The quote attributed to him in the 3/20/13 AVA is actually a misquote of that great creator of Archy and Mehitabel, Don Marquis. The accurate quote from his Sun Dial is “Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.” Here's another fine Marquis observation: “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you. If you really make them think, they'll hate you.” All the best as ever, from Jim Lowe.
SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE, scrupulously careful in his public remarks, told us on Wednesday that a few remarks regarding the County’s travel reimbursement police and his own travel required a bit of clarification and expansion, a sensitive subject since his predecessor, Kendall Smith, was so famous for abusing the policy to her own personal gain. “The travel allowance, unlike a reimbursement, also counted toward retirement,” explained Gjerde, “which allowed Smith to pad her retirement income by several thousand dollars a year.” In contrast, Gjerde pays for his own motel room, rightly reasoning that the taxpayers should not be expected to pay both the travel allowance and the motel cost. Likewise, California's pension reform law, PEPRA, has now kicked in, and car allowances do not count towards pensions for people like Gjerde, who become County employees after December 31, 2012.
THE SIERRA SNOW PACK is 52% of normal for April 1, and the last three months are just about the driest on record, according to State Water Resources. The amount of water in the snowpack at this time of year is crucial because the largest proportion of the ice that melts in the Sierra after April 1 is captured in nearby reservoirs. That water used to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and quench the thirst of most of California's 37.8 million people. Paltry precipitation has been a statewide issue over the past three months, which is unusual because those 90 days are normally the wettest. The unusually dry weather was caused by a ridge of high pressure that has lingered over the West Coast, pushing storms north of California and over the eastern half of the country. It is also why the Plains and Eastern United States have been pounded by storms and, in some cases, record cold.