IF YOU'VE NEVER attended the Anderson Valley Wild Flower Show we're here to tell you it's worth the drive to Boonville tomorrow or Sunday. The ladies who put it on really knock themselves out, and the displays, reinforced by the knowledgeable gardeners available to answer questions, are always not only delightful but a gen-u-wine learning experience. All this plus some very good deals on plants. See you there!
ANDERSON VALLEY WILDFLOWER SHOW
April 27th & 28th
This year, Earth Week ends with the opening of the AV Unity Club, Garden Section’s Annual Wildflower Show, April 27th & 28th. The outstanding collection of local native plants and introduced species are the main attraction at the Wildflower Show; and they are spectacular. This year’s Wildflower Show is expected to be the best show in years. Next week, on Saturday and Sunday, the Unity Club Garden Section will open the doors to June Hall from 10:00 to 4:00, at the Fairgrounds, Boonville . Admission to the Show is FREE. Raffle tickets will be available at the door, for a chance to win some plant-related prizes, including a beautiful, big Rhododendron. The drawing will be on Sunday, April 28th, before closing. You do not need to be present to win. A selection of plants will be available for purchase. Some of which are especially recommended for our Valley by Ken Montgomery, from the Anderson Valley Nursery. Other of these plants have been lovingly propagated by members of the Garden Section. Proceeds from the Raffle and Plant Sales go to Scholarships for two graduating AV High School Seniors. You can beautify your home and support our youth at the same time. Books, stationery, and gifts will be on sale, sponsored by “Bookwinkles” of Mendocino, benefitting the Lending Library. Our community Library will be open, as usual, on Saturday, April 27th, from 2:00 to 4:00. The Hulburt collection of fabulous photographs of local wildflowers, will grace the walls surrounding the Tea Room; where you can grab a snack and some tea, or other beverage. The isles of June Hall will be filled with plant specimens from all over Mendocino County. Plant Identification experts will be ready to assist you in identifying those strange plants that inhabit your yard. You may ask, “Is this a noxious weed, or a wildflower?” Literature on Alien Invaders, California Native Plants, and Lyme Disease will be presented for your education. Come prepared to be amazed at the 2013 Annual Wildflower Show; it is the best in California.
— Miriam Martinez
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These beautiful spring days bring out our spectacular wildflowers. Come see hundreds of specimens at the annual Wildflower Show put on by the Garden Section of the AV Unity Club on Saturday, April 27th and Sunday, April 28th at the Fairgrounds in downtown Boonville. Each day the show will be open from 10am to 4pm. Colorful specimens will be grouped according to plant families, and experts will be on hand to identify local wildflowers you bring in. Plants for your garden, delicious food, and beautiful books will be for sale. Displays will include student artwork, invasive plants, and Lyme's Disease. Many wonderful raffle prizes have been donated. All proceeds will go towards student scholarships. This year's show is dedicated to the memory of three Unity Club members who gave countless hours of their time and energy to the Wildflower Show, Bobbie Peterson, Cleo Hixon, and Bobbie Hiatt. Come join the fun! Admission is free. Questions? Call Robyn Harper, 895-2609
THE HAMBURG-ROBERTS race for Fifth District Supervisor in 2010 was, for Mendocino County, intense and bitter even while it was underway. It's not likely to become less bitter with the news that the California Fair Political Practices Commission has fined Hamburg $9,500 for not accurately reporting his campaign finances during his winning campaign of November 2010. The most serious charge is that Hamburg failed to report more than $5,000 in cash contributions and “more than $100” in in-kind donations. The inaccuracies occurred over six reporting periods that included the run-up to the June primary through the November election.
WAS ANY OF THIS deliberate? It wouldn’t seem so. One discrepancy, for instance, involved $1,458 less than the true campaign balance of $10,316. With money coming and going in a relatively brief period of time, and an error of only $1,458, none of this seems like anything to get all huffy about, especially put against state and federal elections where all kinds of deliberate accounting fraud involving millions of dollars is commonplace.
WENDY ROBERTS, throughout the campaign, was rightly aghast that the Hamburg forces were lying about her and continually misrepresenting her positions. The same thing happened way back in the deVall-Galletti race for Fifth District supervisor back in 1978. The liberals broke out the secret slander in that one that said incumbent Fifth District supervisor Ted Galletti was planning huge developments in the Elk area and was a “redneck” besides. (Anyone who didn’t smoke dope was a redneck.) Wasn’t true about Galletti, an honest man who couldn’t refute all the lies about him fast enough to win re-election.
DEVALL himself, like Hamburg, is a gentlemanly sort unlikely to engage in straight-up slander and dirty tricks, not that either of them publicly denounced untrue statements about their opponents at the time. But this is politics, my dears. It happens.
MRS. ROBERTS, unlike Galletti or Gentleman George Hollister who also ran against deVall in a subsequent election, took it personally, and has now achieved a measure of revenge with the FPPC report and the $9,500 in fines assessed against Hamburg that Hamburg and/or his campaign committee have had to pay. (The FPPC is famous for penalizing minor outback campaigns to make it look like they’re a real watchdog organization. Fact is, you’ll never see them go after the Big Boys.)
IN RESPONSE TO WENDY’S REVENGE, Hamburg told the Ukiah Daily Journal, “This action resulted from complaints filed in the fall of 2010 by a retired judge (William Masterson) who is a friend of Wendy Roberts. They went through our campaign reports with a fine-tooth comb (as is their right, and maybe even their obligation, ed) in an attempt to disrupt our campaign. It's my belief that the vast majority of these complaints are frivolous, mostly pertaining to ‘in-kind’ donations made in support of campaign and fundraising events. My opponent held almost no such events so didn't have that exposure. There was also some misreporting on my campaign that was totally unintentional but nonetheless out of compliance.”
ON HER PART, Mrs. Roberts defended the complaint to Fair Political Practices as nothing personal. “It was certainly not a witch hunt. We felt they were hiding money and not disclosing where they were getting it, or where they were spending it.” She told the Journal that she hadn’t held the retro-hippie campaign boogies that Hamburg had but that “those big events are very good at hiding where your money comes from.”
HAMBURG inspires cult-quality devotion among his supporters throughout the County, and especially in the Fifth District with its concentration of well-heeled liberals. Ever since the deVall-Galletti race of 1978 the Fifth District supervisor’s seat has been held by conservative liberals of the deVall-Peterson-Colfax-Hamburg-Obama Democratic type.
THE FIFTH DISTRICT is also the stronghold of the active part of the in-County Democratic Party, complete with its tax-supported audio arm at Mendocino County Public Radio (KZYX) and a couple of liberal front groups like the local branch of the National Women’s Political Caucus and Mendocino County’s jive Green Party, invisible but dependably corporate- liberal at election time. And behind this apparat you’ve got the real heavyweights of Mendocino County lib-lab politics — all but one of the Superior Court judges, a large number of very wealthy part-time residents always good for emergency cash, and the wine industry with Congressman Thompson and now Spike Huffman.
THE COUNTY’S NWPC is a two-person organization consisting of fanatical Democrats Val Muchowski and Joe Louis Wildman. Muchowski also dominates KZYX at election time on behalf of local, state and national Democrats, and is on-air year round with the dependably wacky Women’s Voices program. (Wacky men have the weekly Environment hour.) THE NWPC supposedly exists to support female candidates. Did Muchowski’s and Wildman’s NWPC endorse the female liberal Democrat Wendy Roberts? Nope. Dan the Man got the nod, taking 57.44% of the vote.
IF LOCAL Republicans weren’t so stupid and politically lazy they’d launch a few legal grenades at all this. They get zero air time on KZYX and the station is tax-supported, meaning in theory everyone owns it.
MEAN TIME, and the times are meaner every day, all us lefties can do is grumble, and lefty is defined here as people who view Democrats and Republicans as THE political problem at all levels of government. Us pwoggies are down to a Northcoast rear guard of less than 10% of the vote.
MENDOLIB fer sure did a job on Wendy, who always seemed naively aghast that people could lie about her, and she took it all personally, for which she can’t be faulted given the abuse, much of it gratuitous, she absorbed. I hope she runs again. She was a good candidate, and now that she knows what she’s up against, might also be a wiser candidate.
HAMBURG'S TREASURER was listed as Geoffrey Baugher, a Point Arena landscaper. John Schaeffer of Hopland, founder of Real Goods, was listed as “chair” of Hamburg’s finance committee. Lauren Sinnott of Point Arena; Laura Hamburg of Ukiah; Chris Skyhawk of Albion; Gai Daley of the Mendocino area; and Doug Mosel of Boonville-Hopland seemed to function as the campaign's co-managers.
CRIME OF THE DAY, SAN FRANCISCO: At 11:20am, officers were called to the area of 28th and Geary on a report of a drunk driver. The caller had reported that the driver entered the intersection passed out with his head resting on the steering wheel and then collided with a parking meter. The caller provided 911 with a vehicle description, partial license plate and description of driver. The caller then reported that the driver was attempting to flee but was stuck on the parking meter. The suspect was eventually able to free his truck and fled south on 28th Ave towards Anza. Officers searched the area and additional calls came in about the vehicle being parked on the Great Highway with the driver passed out at the wheel and his head resting on the horn. Officers detained the male who did not remember being in an accident. When asked how much he had had to drink, the driver replied, “too much.” The 40 year old male was charged with driving under the influence and hit and run.
POT BROWNIES. JEFF COSTELLO WRITES:
If you haven't had the experience of eating as opposed to smoking pot, there is a world of difference. The effect when eaten, especially things like brownies made with concentrated oil or hashish, is way stronger and lasts a long time. The worst thing about it is there is no antidote. None. Not alcohol, not narcotics, not speed. Smoke a joint and if you don't like it, you can dilute the effect to some extent with almost any other drug, or even food. Not so when you eat it. This guy in the youtube cartoon found out the hard way after greedily consuming two whole brownies. Sheesh. And it was so bad he now has reservations about the entire legal pot trade? What he doesn't know is that some people like the experience that was a nightmare for him (and for me way back in 70s when I ate half of one cookie).
COMMENT OF THE DAY #1: “From 2009 to 2011, the average wealth of America’s richest 7% — the eight million households with a net worth north of about $800,000 — rose nearly 30% to $3.2 million from $2.5 million, according to a Pew Research Center report that analyzed recent Census data. By contrast, the average wealth of America’s remaining 93%, some 111 million households, actually dropped by 4% to $134,000 from $140,000. Wealth is the value of what a household owns minus what it owes.” (—Wall Street Journal)
COMMENT OF THE DAY #2: “Money-making is the one aim in life of Americans. The men make money to live luxuriously and over-educate their wives and daughters who are allowed to talk too much. Their lack of real culture is betrayed by their love of jazz music. Americans are still untamed since the wild pioneer days. Hold-ups, assassinations, kidnappings, gangs, bribery, corruption and lynching of Negroes are still practiced. Graft in politics and commerce, labor and athletics is rampant. Sex relations have deteriorated with the development of motor-cars; divorce is rife. America has strong points, such as science, invention and other creative activities. While outwardly civilized, America is inwardly corrupt and decadent.” (— Japanese propaganda assessment, 1941)
COMMENT OF THE DAY #3: “The Progressive Movement we see, and in whose media and messaging we are immersed, doesn’t exist as an infrastructure to bring about change, it exists as parasitic marketing campaign, directed at those who want real change. It looks like it is a Movement, but it doesn’t function like one. It functions like any corporation. It exists primarily via marketing, PR and fundraising all in the name of public education and mobilization, but funneling all that energy and noise every two years into helping elect Democrats by bashing Republicans and promoting, if with pious and righteous reservations, Democratic candidates. … The real agenda of the Big Green groups, the Progressive Media and Progressive Think Tanks, is raising money for themselves. What they do is decided and directed by their small group of decision-makers who are funders or who play to the funders. The professional Progressive Movement I criticize and critique does not ultimately represent or serve any real progressive movement at the grassroots. It markets to them for followers and funding, and every two years votes for Democrats as the lesser of the evils.” — John Stauber
HONORED FOR WHAT? There are more fatso-watsos among County workers than there are at a Nascar race.
“Mendocino County Wellness Program Honored With National Fitness Award — The Mendocino County Working on Wellness program known as “MCWOW” has been named a Silver award winner in the Healthyroads Fit Company Awards® program. The Healthyroads Fit Company Awards® program recognizes organizations nationwide who are leaders in the areas of employee wellness and preventive health care, and who demonstrate their commitment to wellness by offering exceptional employee wellness benefits and services. The county program offers voluntary worksite wellness to employees enrolled on the County’s health plan which was implemented in 1994 and has achieved exponential growth since that date, reaching 54% participation. Chief Executive Officer, Carmel Angelo stated, “Thank you to Human Resources staff for their strong commitment to wellness and for developing MCWOW to award worthy status, to the Board for their ongoing support of MCWOW, and to our employees for their participation and the inspiration for MCWOW to thrive”. MCWOW challenges county employees to adopt healthier lifestyle habits and is currently partnering with Ukiah Valley Medical Center, Howard Memorial Hospital, and Mendocino Coast District Hospital in a Spring wellness campaign to offer a comprehensive county-wide “Biggest Loser” weight loss challenge for their employees. "The County saw a need to address the weight epidemic plaguing the nation, including Mendocino County. We are excited to share in the Biggest Loser Challenge for the health and well-being of our employees, their families and all members of the community." stated Board of Supervisors Chair Dan Hamburg. More information about the County Wellness program can be found on MCWOW’s webpage at www.co.mendocino.ca.us/hr/mcwow” (County Press Release)
CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU REACHES AGREEMENT ON WILLITS BYPASS — A settlement agreement between the California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Department of Transportation will result in improved understanding of the ecological and agricultural benefits of retaining farmland in production. CFBF and Caltrans reached an agreement to settle CFBF involvement in a legal case regarding the Willits Bypass Project on U.S. Highway 101 in Mendocino County. In July 2012, CFBF intervened in a lawsuit filed in federal court, because of concern about how the project would impact farmland in the Little Lake Valley. Specifically, Farm Bureau was concerned about the amount of farmland the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mitigation strategy required to be removed from production in order to mitigate for wetlands affected by the bypass, and with assuring the effects on farmland received the appropriate level of review required by the National Environmental Policy Act. General terms of the agreement include: CFBF and Caltrans agree to participate in further informational discussions regarding how farmland impacts are considered under NEPA. Caltrans agrees to cooperate with the University of California, Davis, and UC Cooperative Extension on a long-term study of how grazing management contributes to enhanced wetland function. The study will look at both land owned by the state—where grazing is required—and federally owned land—where grazing is prohibited—and consider how to optimize grazing productivity while achieving the desired wetlands enhancements. The research represents an opportunity to study how natural resources can be preserved and land utilized for both grazing and wetlands. Caltrans agrees to meet with farmers and ranchers adjacent to the mitigation lands to discuss concerns about how mitigation requirements may impact their ability to continue to farm and ranch in the area. “The discussions between Caltrans and farmers in the Willits area should solidify the foundation for agriculture to remain in the area for decades to come,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said, “and the study should help advance the understanding of how to achieve overlapping agricultural and ecological objectives.” As part of the agreement, CFBF will dismiss its claims against Caltrans and the Corps of Engineers. Wenger said Farm Bureau appreciated the willingness of Caltrans officials to listen to concerns about the bypass project’s potential impacts on farmland and noted that CFBF did not oppose the project itself, which will continue to move forward under the original mitigation plan.
FROM CHRIS COURSEY'S PD COL Friday: “Getting a ‘real’ newspaper job wasn’t much different; particularly the pay scale. But what reporters don’t get on their paycheck is returned in the intangibles of the job. Independence to pursue the story. Responsibility to get it right. Access to the halls of power, the mansions of the rich, the slums of the poor. Curiosity may kill the cat, but it rewards the reporter.”
THE HALLS OF WHAT? A one-on-one with Wes Chesbro, Hugh Codding's house, the documented timidity of the PD? I dunno, Chris. I think you're fooling yourself here big time.
GEORGE JONES, the peerless, hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets and peaked with the heartbreaking classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," has died. He was 81.
Jones died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, according to his publicist Kirt Webster. He was hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure, forcing him to postpone two shows.
With one of the most golden voices of any genre, a clenched, precise, profoundly expressive baritone, Jones had No. 1 songs in five separate decades, 1950s to 1990s. He was idolized not just by fellow country artists, but by Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and countless others. "If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones," Waylon Jennings once sang.
In a career that lasted more than 50 years, "Possum" evolved from young honky-tonker to elder statesman a s he recorded more than 150 albums and became the champion and symbol of traditional country music, a well-lined link to his hero, Hank Williams. Jones survived long battles with alcoholism and drug addiction, brawls, accidents and close encounters with death, including bypass surgery and a tour bus crash that he only avoided by deciding at the last moment to take a plane.
His failure to appear for concerts left him with the nickname "No Show Jones," and he later recorded a song by that name and often opened his shows by singing it. His wild life was revealed in song and in his handsome, troubled face, with its dark, deep-set eyes and dimpled chin.
In song, he was rowdy and regretful, tender and tragic. His hits included the sentimental "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," the foot-tapping "The Race is On," the foot-stomping "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," the melancholy "She Thinks I Still Care," the rockin' "White Lightning," and the barfly lament "Still Doing Tim e." Jones also recorded several duets with Tammy Wynette, his wife for six years, including "Golden Ring," ''Near You," ''Southern California" and "We're Gonna Hold On." He also sang with such peers as Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard and with Costello and other rock performers.
But his signature song was "He Stopped Loving Her Today," a weeper among weepers about a man who carries his love for a woman to his grave. The 1980 ballad, which Jones was sure would never be a hit, often appears on surveys as the most popular country song of all time.
Jones won Grammy awards in 1981 for "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and in 1999 for "Choices." He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and in 2008 was among the artists honored in Washington at the Kennedy Center.
Jones continued to make appearances and put out records, though his hit records declined.
"I don't want to completely quit because I don't know what to do with myself," he said in 2005. " I'll be out there as long as the people want me to be out there."
Jones was a purist who lamented the transformation of country music from the family feeling of the 1950s to the hit factory of the early 21st century. He was so caught up in country, old country, that when a record company executive suggested he record with James Taylor, Jones insisted he had never heard of the million selling singer-songwriter. He was equally unimpressed when told that Neil Young had come to visit backstage and declined to see him, saying he didn't know who he was. He did listen to the Rolling Stones, only because of the guitar playing of Keith Richards, a country fan who would eventually record with Jones.
Asked about what he thought about Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and other young stars, Jones said they were good but they weren't making traditional country music.
"What they need to do really, I think, is find their own title," he said.
In 1991, country star Alan J ackson dedicated his hit song "Don't Rock the Jukebox" to Jones, asking in the song that country music remain faithful to the Jones style instead of drifting toward rock 'n' roll.
Jones was born Sept. 12, 1931, in a log house near the east Texas town of Saratoga, the youngest of eight children. He sang in church and at age 11 began performing for tips on the streets of Beaumont, Texas. His first outing was such a success that listeners tossed him coins, placed a cup by his side and filled it with money. Jones estimated he made more than $24 for his two-hour performance, enough to feed his family for a week, but he used up the cash at a local arcade.
"That was my first time to earn money for singing and my first time to blow it afterward," he recalled in "I Lived to Tell it All," a painfully self-critical memoir published in 1996. "It started what almost became a lifetime trend."
The family lived in a government-subsidized housing project, and his father, a l aborer, was an alcoholic who would rouse the children from bed in the middle of the night to sing for him. His father also noted that young George liked music and bought him a Gene Autry guitar, with a horse and lariat on the front, that Jones practiced on obsessively.
He got his start on radio with husband and wife team Eddie & Pearl in the late 1940s. Hank Williams once dropped by the studio to promote a new record, and Jones was invited to back him on guitar. When it came time to play, he froze.
"Hank had 'Wedding Bells' out at the time," Jones recalled in a 2003 Associated Press interview. "He started singing it, and I never hit the first note the whole song. I just stared."
After the first of his four marriages failed, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1951 and served three years. He cut his first record when he got out, an original fittingly called "No Money in This Deal."
He had his first hit with "Why Baby Why" in 1955, and by the early '6 0s Jones was one of country music's top stars.
"I sing top songs that fit the hardworking, everyday loving person. That's what country music is about," Jones said in a 1991 AP interview. "My fans and real true country music fans know I'm not a phony. I just sing it the way it is and put feeling in it if I can and try to live the song."
Jones was married to Wynette, his third wife, from 1969 to 1975. (Wynette died in 1998.) Their relationship played out in Nashville like a country song, with hard drinking, fights and reconciliations. Jones' weary knowledge of domestic warfare was immortalized in such classics as "The Battle," set to the martial beat of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
After one argument, Jones drove off on a riding mower in search of a drink because Wynette had taken his car keys to keep him from carousing. Years earlier, married to his second wife, he had also sped off in a mower in search of a drink. Jones referred to his mowing days in t he 1996 release, "Honky Tonk Song."
His drug and alcohol abuse grew worse in the late '70s, and Jones had to file for bankruptcy in 1978. A manager had started him on cocaine, hoping to counteract his boozy, lethargic performances, and Jones was eventually arrested in Jackson, Miss., in 1983 on cocaine possession charges. He agreed to perform a benefit concert and was sentenced to six months probation.
"In the 1970s, I was drunk the majority of the time," Jones wrote in his memoir. "If you saw me sober, chances are you saw me asleep."
In 1980, a 3-minute song changed his life. His longtime producer, Billy Sherrill, recommended he record "He Stopped Loving Her Today," a ballad by Curly Putnam and Bobby Braddock. The song took more than a year to record, partly because Jones couldn't master the melody, which he confused with Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the Night," and partly because he was too drunk to recite a brief, spoken interlude ("She c ame to see him one last time/And we all wondered if she would/And it kept running through my mind/This time he's over her for good.")
"Pretty simple, eh?" Jones wrote in his memoir. "I couldn't get it. I had been able to sing while drunk all of my life. I'd fooled millions of people. But I could never speak without slurring when drunk. What we needed to complete that song was the narration, but Billy could never catch me sober enough to record four simple spoken lines."
Jones was convinced the song was too "morbid" to catch on. But "He Stopped Loving Her Today," featuring a string section that hummed, then soared, became an instant standard and virtually canonized him. His concert fee jumped from $2,500 a show to $25,000.
"There is a God," he recalled.
In 1983, Jones married his fourth and final wife, Nancy Sepulveda, whom he credited with stablizing his private life. He had four children, one with first wife Dorothy Bonvillion, two with second wife Sh irley Ann Corley and one with Wynette. His daughter with Wynette, Georgette Jones, became a country singer and even played her mother in the 2008 TV series "Sordid Lives." — Chris Talbott (Courtesy, The Associated Press)
54 YEARS OF STUPIDITY & COUNTING
Cuba Policy: Fruitless, Mean and Cruel
by Saul Landau & Nelson P. Valdés
In their 54-year-old effort to bring down Cuba’s revolutionary government and restore obedience in our Caribbean neighbor, U.S. officials have compiled a spectacular record of failure, overshadowed only by the determination to persist in their pursuit of wrongheaded polices, further damaging U.S. interests.
In the 1990s, Washington began to define terrorism as the new peril on the security horizon. President Clinton deemed it reasonable to make informal arrangements with other countries, even Cuba, trying to achieve anti-terrorist goals.
Indeed, Cuban intelligence agencies fed antiterrorist data to the FBI because they assumed the Bureau shared the same dread as their U.S. counterparts about the death and chaos that would result from allowing terrorists to pursue their goals. But, in September 1998, the FBI Bureau Chef in Miami perpetrated an act of security illogic. He ordered his FBI agents to arrest the Cuban intelligence agents who had supplied the Bureau with important data about terrorists operating in Florida.
Havana had sent these men to south Florida to penetrate and stop violent Cuban exile groups whose members had planted bombs in Cuban tourist hotels and clubs, killing a tourist and wounding scores of others. U.S. authorities knew of the activities the Cuban agents pursued for six years, and did not act against them because the U.S. government did not see these agents as a threat to U.S. security. They were not seeking classified or strategic U.S. documents, but rather focused on spying on rightwing Cuban terrorists in U.S. soil. Indeed, the Cuban agents pointed the Bureau in the direction of hidden arms caches in Miami and an explosive-laden boat docked on the Miami River.
In June 1998, when relations between Cuba and the U.S. had begun to improve, Havana shared with the Justice Department even more information obtained by its agents. But, Clinton also confronted Congressional investigations related to his comportment with Monica Lewinsky. This helped lead to disarray inside the Justice department. During July and August 1998, right wing Cuban American Members of Congress began pressuring Washington to arrest the known Cuban agents. The extremist exiles feared that anti-terrorist cooperation between the two countries might lead to the arrest of the exile terrorists, also their friends and colleagues, and even contribute to a normalization of relations. But Attorney General Janet Reno planned to run for high office in Florida and did not want to antagonize organized Cuban voters in Florida, so she allowed the change in policy to take place.
The right wing exiles exercised enough influence to get Héctor Pesquera appointed as the new Bureau chief in south Florida. Pesquera, a rightwing Puerto Rican with a mediocre FBI record, but close ties to violent Cuban exiles, destroyed the country-to-country cooperative effort. Within a week of his appointment, he ordered the arrest of the Cuban informants – five of the Cuban agents refused to either flee to Cuba or arrange for a plea bargain. So, the FBI allowed Miami-based exile terrorists to continue plotting violence against the island. The powerful members of the Cuban settler colony in Miami used the power of the U.S. federal police to prosecute Cuban anti-terrorist agents (punish Cuba) and in the process torpedo possible rapprochement between the neighbors; and also destroy joint anti-terrorism operations. By manipulating U.S. government institutions, the Cuban enclave’s elite superseded the larger needs of the American people by replacing anti-terrorism with their own narrow interests.
The Justice Department charged two of the Five Cuban agents with murder, or conspiracy to shoot down two Cuban exile planes (both pilots and co-pilots died) that entered Cuban air space in February 1996. At the time the pilots of the three exile planes announced publicly their intention to go into Cuban air space, making known the date and time of the flights.
The Cuban agents, however, got charged with conspiracy to spy despite the fact that the U.S. government formally and by consent received the results of their spy work on terrorism in south Florida! General James Clapper, then director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and now director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified at their trial that he saw no evidence to conclude the Cuban agents were seeking classified or strategic U.S. documents or plans. They did not conspire to commit espionage. The U.S. mass media continues to incorrectly refer to them as “convicted spies.”
The Cuban Five (now four since René Gónzalez was freed on parole, but must remain in the United States until the end of his probation period), located in different US prisons for almost 15 years, became victims of vengeance, inspired by Miami-based right wing Cuban exiles, combined with a strong dash of meanness and cruelty, which continues long after the Cuban men survived long months of solitary confinement. The Justice Department has systematically denied these men basic privileges enjoyed by other inmates.
The most recent example of heartlessness occurred on April 7, when activist-actor Danny Glover traveled from his home in San Francisco by air and then rented a car to Victorville, California, where Gerardo Hernandez survives in the Federal Maximum Security Prison. After visiting Gerardo nine times, Danny assumed he would undergo the usual passage – fill out the form, go through x-ray machine, get patted-down, and then get escorted into the Visitor Room. But the desk guard at the prison said Danny’s visit had not been authorized (after nine previous visits) and he could not see Gerardo. A supervisor affirmed the desk guard’s statement. Meanness and malice!
For 14 plus years the U.S. government had also refused to grant a visa to Gerardo’s wife (“a threat to U.S. security”). During that time she has not been able to visit him. It’s not just the anti-Castro lobby that pushes this petty, vengeful policy. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder run the federal prisons.
What’s wrong with the basic sense of humanity of those who make such decisions? Imagine if Cuba responded with equal cruelty to Alan Gross, the man convicted in Cuba for carrying out U.S. subversion for USAID. U.S. government officials would scream as would the media. But Cuba did not respond to this inhumanity by carrying out inhumane acts. Gross, confined in a Cuban military hospital cell, receives adequate medical care and frequent visits. He has access to the telephone and communicates with his family who also visit him. Gross promoted a policy of “regime change” in Cuba while Gerardo’s findings promoted U.S. security.
Washington has forced 52 plus years of broken relations on Cuba, combined with a tough embargo to punish Cuba’s people. Indeed, U.S. presidents have tried to dislodge Cuba’s government in every way short of direct military invasion. Fruitless, stupid, mean and cruel policies simply do not work in our national interest!
(Saul Landau’s ‘Fidel’ and ‘Will The Real Terrorist Please Stand Up’ are available on DVD from cinemlibrestore.com. Nelson Valdés is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.)
ON SATURDAY, May 4, from 11-2pm Mendocino National Forest Supervisor Sherry Tune will speak at the CalFire Howard Forest Training Center on a new program called "Fire Escape." The event is open ot the public and hosted by the Mendocino Fire Safe Council. Upcoming grant opportunities with the California Fire Safe Council will also be discussed. If you have an idea or pressing concern, the FSC will help you try to address it to make Mendocino a safer place to live and work, but we need your help to make it happen. Light lunch provided. For more information: De-Anne Hooper, Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, 462-3662, firstname.lastname@example.org. www.firesafemendocino.org
ROBERT A. SCAGLIONE has been appointed Mendocino County Air Pollution Control Officer for the County’s Air Quality Management District, replacing Chris Brown who “resigned” last month. Mr. Scaglione brings over 35 years of experience to his new role, including public and private sector work handling a variety of environmental, health and safety compliance functions. He has been employed with Mendocino County for over 12 years serving as a Senior Air Quality Specialist since 2008, and was the 2008 recipient of the California Air Pollution Controls Officers Association (CAPCOA) Outstanding Inspector Award. Regarding his new appointment Mr. Scaglione said, “It is an honor and privilege to continue the District's goal of maintaining healthy ambient air quality in Mendocino County in my new capacity. We as a District look forward to working closely with our permit holders and the public, as well as county and state agencies, to provide the assistance and open communications necessary to meet air quality requirements and maintain the quality of life that our community has come to expect.” Prior to his employment with Mendocino County, Mr. Scaglione was employed by Advanced Manufacturing & Development, Inc. as an Environmental, Health & Safety Officer and worked 19 years for the Masonite Corporation. Mr. Scaglione attended the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee School of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering Studies) and the Milwaukee Technical College. “The Board of Supervisors is pleased to appoint Robert A. Scaglione, who has been serving in the capacity of the County’s Acting Air Pollution Control Officer. Mr. Scaglione has a long history of working successfully with government agencies, businesses and individuals to preserve the excellent air quality that we enjoy in Mendocino County.” stated Board Chair Dan Hamburg. (County Press Release)