Mendocino County Today: June 5, 2013

AS OF 3PM Tuesday afternoon, firefighters were having a heckuva time knocking back a grasslands fire in the area of milemarker 39, Yorkville. Breaking: The fire was knocked down shortly before 5pm before it spread. A great job by the Anderson Valley Fire Department, supplemented later by CalFire.

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CALTRANS is at last being subjected to a hard look. State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) recently described Big Orange's operations as “a continued pattern of abuse, theft and mismanagement.” A report from the independent state auditor’s office found that Caltrans employees had systematically falsified Bay Bridge safety reports, thereby jeopardizing people’s lives. And Governor Brown has announced an independent, system-wide review of the California Department of Transportation.

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Patient
Patient

MANBEATER OF THE WEEK: Michelle Patient, 35, and a man identified only as “her boyfriend of 8 months,” were having difficulties with their relationship last Saturday, apparently having become violently impatient with lover man.  A Fort Bragg 911 call said "a woman in a long trench coat was throwing pieces of wood at a man." When the Fort Bragg Police arrived, Ms. Patient and her boyfriend said everything between them was absolutely harmonious. But a witness told police that Ms. Patient had smacked her love interest several times, pushed him over a guardrail, and had pelted him with pieces of wood. Officers determined that Ms. Patient was the primary aggressor and took her into custody.

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JESSICA CEJA is a junior at Anderson Valley High School where the school's Junior Prom was held last Saturday night.  Jessica, a gregarious girl popular with her classmates, had previously bought a single ticket to the dance for $15, but when she arrived at the door of the gym where the Prom was held, Andrew Settlemire, a teacher at the school told Jessica she couldn't come in because she was not dressed "appropriately." It is true that some kids were togged out in tuxes and formal dresses, but it is also true that some weren't. Boonville is Boonville, not the Marin Town and Country Club. Jessica was dressed as she always dresses, in a baggy sweatshirt and trousers. Formal dress is expensive, and Jessica wears what she can afford. Barred by the resolute Settlemire, Jessica asked for her money back which, after some back and forth with Settlemire, was finally returned to Jessica by Superintendent JR Collins. It wasn't the money so much as it was the humiliation. To be turned away at the door of a Junior Prom isn't an easy rejection for a teenager, but that's what happened to Jessica Ceja.

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ON JUNE 3 at approximately 3pm Deputy Sheriffs from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were detailed to investigate a trespassing case near mile marker 13 on Branscomb Road in Laytonville, California.  Deputies arrived and contacted private security officers (LEAR Asset Management) employed by a local timber company.  These officers had two men detained (Richard Geiger and Martin Scott) both being residents of the Laytonville area.  Deputies learned the security officers were investigating an illegal marijuana grow on the timber company property when they encountered the two men walking along a trail from the grow site.  One of the men, identified as Geiger, was armed with a loaded semiautomatic handgun in a shoulder style holster.  The men were detained by the security officers and Deputies were summoned to the area. A search of each person and a backpack in the suspect’s possession revealed approximately 26 grams of methamphetamine.  Deputies also located ammunition for a .38 caliber firearm on Scott’s person.  Scott is a convicted felon and on probation not to possess firearms or ammunition.  A search of the ground where Geiger and Scott had been originally detained by security officers revealed the presence of a loaded .38 caliber revolver.  Deputies learned Geiger and Scott had driven to the location in a vehicle which was parked along Branscomb Road.   A search of the vehicle revealed a billy club, an illegal weapon.  Geiger was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine for sales, possession of a dangerous weapon, and armed in the commission of a felony.  Scott was arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of methamphetamine for sales, and armed in the commission of a felony.  Both subjects were booked into the Mendocino County Jail and were to be held on $30,000.00 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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KENT STATE TRUTH TRIBUNAL'S statement addressed to the United States on May 30, 2013 in KSTT's first consult related to our submission to the United Nations, Human Rights Committee http://bit.ly/10xZebQ, culminating in UN HQ Geneva, Switzerland in October 2013.  “Good afternoon, I am Laurel Krause for the Kent State Truth Tribunal and my sister Allison Krause was shot dead by U.S. military bullets at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 as she protested the announcement of the Cambodian Invasion in the Vietnam War long ago in America.   With regard to Allison’s death, and the three other American students killed on May 4, 1970, there has never been a credible, impartial, independent investigation into the May 4th Kent State Massacre. In 1979 at the end of our courtroom quest for Allison’s justice we received $15,000 and a statement of regret from the United States government.  40 years later in 2010, new audio evidence was discovered in a tape recording, analyzed by internationally-respected forensic evidence expert Stuart Allen. It is now three years later and the U.S. federal government continues to refuse to acknowledge or examine the new evidence yet over these past three years we have demanded that the Kent State Strubbe tape be examined … to no avail.  While Kent State human rights issues are not explicitly mentioned in the list of issues, they are covered by a number of general questions raised by the Committee, especially under Right to Life, Obligation to Conduct Independent, Thorough and Credible Investigations into Excessive Use of Force and Firearms by Police/Military, and Right to Effective Remedy. The Human Rights Committee is likely to bring up the human rights related to Kent State as an example of the United States’ failure to meet ICCPR obligations during the U.S. review in October. If any U.S. government personnel or group wishes to learn more about the Kent State Massacre and the new evidence, including and since in 2010, I am happy to provide that to you. I will also be submitting a shadow report to the Committee. Thank you.”

LAUREL KRAUSE WRITES: “Just now while watching Oliver Stone's 05/04/13 magnificent Kent State speech, I was hoping you'd like share Oliver Stone on Kent State with AVA readership. WATCH Oliver Stone on May 4, 2013 at Kent State University on the May 4th Kent State Massacre, starts at 23 http://bit.ly/1441nQG

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THE SEX PISTOLS: In early 1978 a day or so before they played SF in what was their last show ever (“ever get the feeling you've been cheated?") the Sex Pistols did a radio interview at KTIM in Marin. A van went to pick them up at their hotel, Johnny Rotten was a no-show, Sid Vicious was out scoring (and then OD'ing on) heroin; revived at the ER he went out to score again) so only the drummer and guitarist got in the van. They assumed it was a local station and thus a short ride across town so were chugging as many beers as they could for the trip.  It took about an hour to get to San Rafael so they were pretty drunk when they got there.  During the interview the DJ asked them what things in particular they liked about the US-of-A, how they found American girls, things like that. One said they liked American girls and the other chimed in, their Cockney accents “Yah, they all gowt big tits.” The DJ opened the phone lines to callers and you heard, “Here's Susie from Mill Valley with a question.” The band member at the mike says, “Hi Susie,” and Susie starts in something with like, “Do you think the punk rock movement in Britain is a reaction to Margaret Thatcher's right wing Conservative Party politics blah, blah, blah…”  In the background you hear the other voice go, “A've ya gowt big tits?”

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THE MANNING TRIAL: DAY ONE

Defense: Manning Following His Humanist Beliefs; Prosecution: Manning a Tool of Wikileaks

By Nathan Fuller

More than eleven hundred days after he was arrested, Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court martial finally began in earnest at Ft. Meade, MD, where defense and government lawyers gave opening statements on the intentions behind Bradley’s release of hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to the website WikiLeaks.

Defense: Bradley was following his humanist beliefs

Defense lawyer David Coombs recounted a poignant turning point during Bradley’s time in Iraq. On Christmas Eve, 2009, an Army vehicle narrowly avoided injury after an explosive detonated. But in evading the explosive, the U.S. vehicle drove into a civilian car, carrying five Iraqis, including three children. His fellow soldiers celebrated into the night, cheering the U.S. soldiers’ survival, but twenty-two-year-old Bradley couldn’t forget about the injured Iraqis, who were immediately hospitalized.

“From then on,” Coombs said, “[Bradley] struggled.” Not your typical soldier, Bradley wore customized dog tags that read “humanist.” He strove to help his unit, wanting everyone to come home safely every day, but he wanted the local nationals to go home safely every day too.

Coombs reviewed how this overarching humanism inspired him to release each set of documents. He couldn’t read Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs without thinking of that first injured family in December ’09. He read them “with a burden.” He wanted to make a difference, and he believed this information should be public.

He watched the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, documenting the U.S. Apache killing of innocent Iraqis and Reuters journalists. He thought this video conveyed how the U.S. valued (or, didn’t value) human life, and since the Pentagon failed to follow through on its vow to make it public, he felt had to do so.

When he was given access the State Department cables, he was told to peruse the classified network to understand U.S. diplomacy. He knew the cables were accessed by more than a million people, that they couldn’t contain Top Secret information, and that they wouldn’t reveal sources – he also knew they showed how the U.S. deals with and values human life around the world, and we don’t always do the right thing.

Government suggests WikiLeaks guided Manning’s releases

By contrast, government prosecutor Captain Morrow painted Bradley’s releases as the systemic harvesting of information at WikiLeaks’ behest. He opened his statement with Bradley’s own words: “If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?”

This commenced an effort to characterize Bradley as almost singularly focused on gathering information that WikiLeaks wanted to release. Capt. Morrow said the releases are “what happens when arrogance meets access to classified information,” and that Bradley used his military training to “gain the notoriety he craved,” despite also saying that he worked to conceal his downloading of classified documents.

Capt. Morrow also reviewed each set of files, with two chief contentions: that Bradley indiscriminately harvested and leaked information, and that he was taking orders, directly via chat logs or indirectly by looking at their ‘Most-Wanted List,’ from WikiLeaks.

Press and public struggle for trial access

Just before those opening statements, Judge Denise Lind asked the prosecution to review the procedures in place to provide access to the press and public to Bradley’s trial, presumably in response to a motion filedby Reader Supported News. I say presumably because I watched the proceedings on a video feed in the theater next door to the courtroom (I gave my press pass for today to the Freedom of the Press foundation’s stenographers) – and the feed cut out frequently. We were in the theater because we were told that both the courtroom and the spillover trailer, whose video feed never cut out, were full. But those we talked to from the trailer said it was half-full at most.

Nevertheless, prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein assured Judge Lind that no member of the public has ever been excluded from viewing Bradley’s proceedings. He didn’t happen to mention a last-minute restriction imposed on attendees: though they’ve been allowed for more than a year of pretrial proceedings, ‘Truth’ t-shirts were banned from the courtroom today, as were “Bradley Manning shirts or any other propoganda,” according to one gun-toting soldier. Pressed about the new limitation, one soldier told the Support Network’s Emma Cape that the decision was made from someone “very high up” and that he figured it was related to increased media access.

Maj. Fein also said that every effort has been made to provide full access to journalists, despite the legion of journalists decrying Ft. Meade’s restrictions on the media.

He said that only five journalists had been denied press credentials to Bradley’s trial. This number was laughable, considering the Military District of Washington has claimed, “More than 350 requests for credentials were received for 70 seats in the media operations center and 10 seats in the courtroom.” We know for certain that the Freedom of Press’s stenographers were denied and that several others were as well.

First witnesses called, forensics underway

Finally, after lunch, the government called its first witnesses, to prove it was Bradley Manning who actually released the documents. Special Agents Thomas Smith and Toni Graham testified about arriving at Bradley’s base to photograph his housing and work stations and to interview his fellow soldiers. Specialist Eric Baker, Bradley’s roommate at F.O.B. Hammer in Baghdad, testified briefly about Bradley’s computer habits and collection of CDs and a hard drive. The defense didn’t have extensive cross-examination questions for either: in light of Bradley’s February guilty plea to providing information to WikiLeaks, his lawyers largely didn’t contest the fact that the computers in question were Bradley’s.

Tomorrow, the government will call Army Criminal Investigation Command Special Agent David Shaver, who’s expected to testify at much greater length. ¥¥

(Nathan Fuller is a writer for the Bradley Manning Support Network, where this dispatch also appeared. He can be reached at Nathan@bradleymanning.org.)

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