THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, Eureka, at 2:14 this afternoon issued a severe thunderstorm warning for northwest California, particularly the eastern areas of Humboldt County and all of Trinity County. Doppler Radar “indicated a severe thunderstorm capable of producing quarter size hail. This storm was located over Humboldt County…or 26 miles south of Willow Creek…and moving northwest at 20 mph. * The severe thunderstorm will otherwise remain over mainly rural areas of the indicated county. Precautionary/preparedness actions… Instructions: This is a dangerous storm. If you are in its path…prepare immediately for damaging winds… destructive hail… and deadly cloud to ground lightning. People outside should move to a shelter… preferably inside a strong building but away from windows.”
BY 3PM THE STORM HAD MOVED ON, and so far as we can determine it was not as severe, or severe at all, but the conditions for Ma Nature to do a total flip-out were all in place.
A DOZEN major fires, some touched off by lightning storms occurring in unprecedented bunches, or serially, are burning across California wildlands. The Rim Fire west of Yosemite National Park is in its fifth day and rages out of control, prompting hundreds of residents of the Sierra foothills residents to flee their homes. The Orleans fire in Trinity County has consumed thousands of acres with no end in sight.
“The conditions we're seeing in August are what we usually see at the beginning of October,” said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “We're seeing conditions about a month to two months drier than normal.”
CALFIRE is most fearful that winds, which have so far remained seasonally mild, will pick up, and big winds combined with very dry conditions could mean major disasters.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE issued a red-flag warning for most of Northern California last weekend because of dry lightning and gusty winds. The warning is expected to remain in effect at least through Thursday morning.
LIVING IN A WICK DRAIN STITCHER, Part 2
by Will Parrish
By the end of my third day of living high in the wick drain stitcher in the northern construction area of the CalTrans Willits Bypass (Saturday, June 22nd), I felt as though in the throes of a dream I was mostly powerless to control. I'd been severely rationing the little bit of food and water I'd been able to bring with me. Meanwhile, due to the floodlights the CHP shined into my platform from four directions, I'd barely been able to sleep. (It was hard enough to sleep on a two-by-seven platform, 50 feet in the air, without a pad, to begin with.) Earlier in the afternoon, I'd run out of food entirely. I was down to about a gallon-and-a-half of water. My body already felt achy and clumsy from being undernourished, such that when I stood for very long, the muscles in my thighs began to shake and I sat back down.
My throat was beginning to parch. I looked down at the wetlands, which already had thousands of wick drain tubes inserted into them. It struck me that CalTrans, which clearly controls the policies of the CHP vis-a-vis the Bypass police operation, was intent on drying out both of us. I felt a sense of kinship with the wetlands — these kidneys of the valley, which absorb its waters and slowly release them back into the system — on a level far greater than before.
By this point, CalTrans' strategy was evident. They wanted to starve me out, to make my situation as unbearable as possible so that I would climb down voluntarily, thus saving on the resources and potential negative publicity of a police extraction. If this was to be a test of my will, I knew I needed to become as disciplined as possible. I schooled myself against expending any unnecessary energy, against any extraneous body movements, which might burn calories or cause me unneeded stress. I was putting all of my faith in the people supporting me from the ground to carry out some unknowable means of resupplying me.
Meanwhile, I had another worry teasing at the back of mind, one that I wasn't entirely willing to face at that point. Several people had been hanging out regularly in an adjacent pasture, monitoring me and keeping me company — particularly since I didn't have a cell phone.
My good friend Amanda, aka ‘The Warbler,’ was among them. She yelled up to me that it was supposed to rain lightly the next night. While I had brought a tarp with me, my intention was to use it as a privacy curtain, rather than as a roof; the damn thing had several small tears in it. If it rained in any significant way, my platform would invariably become its own miniature wetland. That, combined with my lack of food and inability to sleep, promised a level of discomfort for which I had no reference.
As the sun was setting, I was elated to hear raucous shouts coming from my west with voices calling out “Merry Solstice, Will!” and “Thank you, Will!” I rolled over and was elated to see around 40 people — most of them familiar faces, people I had seen or worked with in Willits across the previous six months — striding gallantly toward me across the deadened wetlands. Many of them were carrying water and bags that were surely full of food. The two CHP guards got out of their squad cars and stood in the throng's path. The throng formed a stream around them and continued in my direction. The officers fell back and followed after the front line of the throng, which in turn was headed straight for the wick drain stitcher tower.
I quickly lowered my “drop line” — in this case, a jumble of some truck rope and static rope I had uncoiled and tied together with sturdy knots the previous day. As one especially determined young man reached out toward the rope and attempted to clip a bag of food onto the carabiner I had attached to a loop at the end of the line, one of the CHP officers reached out and forcefully yanked the rope away from one of my would-be food-angels. Pulling out a knife or multi-tool from his belt, the officer slashed the rope.
As the police rotated around, making threatening gestures towards anyone who might creep up toward my rope, which was now approximately seven feet shorter, most people opted to sit down to demonstrate their intention to remain non-violent, and thereby guard against any violent police outbursts. One man desperately flung a pack of granola bars toward me as hard as he could, but even that little bit of sustenance only came tantalizingly close to reaching the platform.
I heard sirens screaming down Highway 101. It had taken less than ten minutes for several law enforcement reinforcements to arrive on the scene. People began to shuffle out, most of them stopping to turn toward me with plaintive looks on their face, some of them offering words such as “We'll be back!” and “Hang in there, Will — we won't abandon you!” As everyone was leaving, the officers opted to arrest several people. Ultimately, six people were arrested in all.
One of them, Sara Grusky, was clearly singled out not because of anything she did in particular, but because the police recognize her as a leader of the Bypass demonstrations. When Sara's daughter deigned to complain a little bit to the officer who was unceremoniously dragging her mom into the squad car, the police arrested the daughter as well.
As I watched this dramatic scene play out, I felt rage flowing through me — which was itself a form of vitality. I suddenly felt energized. The CHP had just arrested six people who were merely trying to feed me and give me water, and they weren't even pretending to apply the law equally or fairly in doing so.
Then again, I already had zero faith that law and justice were governing anything related to the outcome of the Willits Bypass. I had scaled the wick drain tower because I wanted to document and report on my experience, and also because I knew there was no other choice.
As I've documented extensively in some of the 14 articles I've written on the subject, CalTrans has propelled this project forward not because it will enhance the well-being of people in Willits, or because it will enhance the planet's well-being, or because people want it, or even because it is justifiable on the grounds of reducing traffic in Willits. Rather, this project is proceeding because CalTrans is an extremely powerful institution of the state that has alternately bought off, intimidated, manipulated, cajoled, or run over anyone who has stood in their way. If this destructive and illegal project is to be stopped, it will only be because of civil disobedience.
Actions speak louder than words, though the combination of the two is more powerful still. Noticing a video camera pointing up at me, I looked directly at it and yelled slowly and deliberately, placing an emphasis on each word, “I would rather starve than let this wick drain stitcher install one more wick drain!”
As I attempted to sleep that night, my sense of outrage continued to supplant my earlier anxiety. I'd meant what I said: I was determined to stay for as long as I could. The words of one of my influences in my early-20s, a former Black Panther named Babatunde Folayemi, rang through my head: “If you've got nothing you love that you're willing to die for, you've got nothing you're really living for.”
(The third and final part of this series will appear next week. For pictures and another description of the effort to resupply me, see: http://www.savelittlelakevalley.org/2013/06/23/stitcher-sit-day-three-supporters-make-dramatic-bid-to-resupply-red-tailed-hawk/.
HEADLINE OF THE DAY, brought to us by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: “Healdsburg prepares to repair roads in poor condition.”
GUESS HEALDSBURG already fixed the ones in good condition.
AT THE AUGUST 13, 2013 Board of Supervisors meeting in Fort Bragg, a woman named Heather McKee of Ukiah read the following letter to the Board of Supervisors based on her own experience with Mental Health staffers both before and after the privatization of Mental Health a few months ago:
I am a mental health client formerly under case management at Mendocino County Mental Health. I have received services through Mental Health for a decade. I have been a homeowner in this County and was formerly employed here. I am now disabled by my mental health conditions and physical handicaps, yet I still need services to function and remain alive. I am extremely worried about the privatization of adult care to the Ortner Management Group. Although the transfer of services was being phased out at the former South Dora location since the beginning of June 2013, I have received no contact information for Ortner Management Group either via a physical presence in the County or by phone to date. My therapist who has long been a contractor with County Mental Health and with other MediCal clients has no answers as to whether this new entity will be extending contracts for MediCal clients like myself. Neither does she have any way to contact Ortner Management Group. This is very stress producing in itself as we have each worked hard to develop a therapeutic rapport with each other. And because of my disorders and the disorders of, I’m sure, many Mental Health clients, it is very important to maintain this rapport for healing to occur. I have already been given a new case manager, a person from Manzanita Services which to my knowledge is the previously existing program at a church on Pine Street in Ukiah and has nothing to do with Ortner Management Group. It’s also a peer-run program. I’m aware that the client to case management ratio is 1 to 45. With the number of mentally ill people in our county we must information is easily obtainable for clients regarding where and how they can obtain services. Services for this population of traditionally underserved, handicapped people are imperative for the sake of clients, their families and the entire community.
NOT ONE BOARD MEMBERED commented or responded to Ms. McKee’s heartfelt early warning sign that Mental Health privatization is a mixed bag, at best. When a mental health client is brave enough to drive all the way from Ukiah to Fort Bragg to publicly describe her own situation and ask that some very fixable problems with the newly privatized mental health set-up be solved, the Board or public health staff should at least offer to look into such things as why Ms. McKee or her therapist received no information from Ortner and what specific procedure was used to make sure clients are properly transferred to the for-profit mental health outfits. If County staff or the Board were really on the ball — which they’re obviously not — they’d require monthly updates on the status of the controversial transition to privatized mental health services to make sure things are moving the way they were advertised. (We’re told that the Board got a last minute “matrix” on how the privatization would cover various categories of mental health services, but that “matrix” was not part of the actual privatization contracts, which itself is still being amended.) — Mark Scaramella
CALTRANS will close the Bay Bridge on Wednesday night August 28 through early Tuesday morning September 3, the day after Labor Day. Federal officials have approved a temporary fix for broken seismic safety bolts that have delayed the opening of the new, $6.4 billion eastern span. While the Bridge is closed, traffic in many areas of the Bay Area will be worse than usual and, as the more ghoulish wags point out, if the new Bridge falls into the Bay because the Gorilla Glue of a temporary fix didn’t hold, traffic will be real bad.
AFTER 17 YEARS OF WEEKLY SERVICE to their respective communities, the McKinleyville Press and Arcata Eye newspapers will publish their final editions Wednesday, Sept. 25, then cease publication. In other news, the Mad River Union, a new weekly newspaper merging the Eye and the Press, will debut with Issue 1, Volume 1 on the following Wednesday, Oct. 2.
This union of newspapers will include the best of the Arcata Eye and the best of the McKinleyville Press. It will be co-published by veteran newspapermen Kevin L. Hoover and Jack Durham.
In a sense, the Mad River Union will restore the tradition of the beloved Arcata Union, which closed after 109 years in 1995. Hoover and Durham both worked at the Union, which covered Arcata, McKinleyville and beyond.
The Mad River Union will provide readers a bigger and better-defined paper than its two antecedents, with virtually all the content now found in the Press and the Eye.
By joining forces, the papers will be able to eliminate duplication in management, distribution, production and printing, and reallocate resources to best serve readers and advertisers.
The staff will be better positioned to do old-fashioned reporting, with more consistent content management. Local communities will receive more thorough coverage of news and events. The merger will also double the readership for advertisers, who will enjoy more exposure and a significantly larger distribution area.
The Mad River Union will be headquartered in a new, larger office in the lobby of Jacoby’s Storehouse on the Arcata Plaza. It will be printed at Western Web in Fairhaven.
The Arcata Eye had been scheduled to close on Feb. 14, 2014, ending an independent community newspaper tradition in Arcata that began in the mid-1800s. That gloomy scenario has been averted.
“We only started talking about this a few weeks ago, but right away we saw that it made major sense on multiple levels,” said Eye editor Kevin Hoover. “We’ve been able to start with a blank sheet of newsprint and re-imagine the entire operation to make the most of our assets and better serve readers. It’s been quite exhilarating.”
“I always wanted to provide the people of McKinleyville and Trinidad with a larger paper with more comprehensive news coverage, but the Press just didn’t have the resources,” said Press editor Jack Durham. “Joining forces will make it possible to provide the communities with the news coverage they deserve.”
Like the Eye and Press, the Mad River Union will be an independent, non-partisan community newspaper that reflects the character and diversity of the communities it covers. The Union strives to provide readers with a newspaper that is fair, accurate, relevant, smart, engaging, adventurous and open to all without fear or favor.
Readers who liked the previous papers will find even more to enjoy with the Union, which will grow to two sections that feature expanded news, opinion and community coverage. The popular Police Log that began with the Union, then continued with the Humboldt Beacon and Arcata Eye, will continue in the Mad River Union.
“Many readers have lamented the imminent loss of a weekly hyperlocal newspaper, and now, that doesn’t have to happen,” Hoover said. “Making this possible is the diverse talents of our staff and the loyal support and encouragement of our readers. With the new paper, none of that ability and enthusiasm has to go to waste.”
Durham will serve as the paper’s editor, Hoover as an Arcata-based reporter. The Eye’s Lauraine Leblanc will be the Scene Editor and handle production tasks. Ad Manager Jada Brotman will connect the newspaper with area businesses. Reporter Bryn Robertson will also provide local coverage, as will the other reporters and columnists you’re used to reading in the Eye and Press.
“Although readers weren’t aware of it, there were times in the past when the Press teetered on insolvency. The Press endured some tough times and faced an uncertain future,” Durham said. “This merger will help ensure that the communities of Northern Humboldt County get real newspaper coverage for years to come.”
“Reapportioning our resources, particularly the time and skills of our resourceful staff, gives us the strength we need in this challenging time for newspapers,” Hoover said. “It will be exciting to see what we can all accomplish under this much more rational structure.”
(Press release from the Arcata Eye/McKinleyville Press. Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)
DEMAND INTERNATIONAL FUKUSHIMA SOLUTION
On February 22, 2013 the Tokyo Electric Company revealed that contaminated water from Fukushima was leaking into the Pacific Ocean. Fukushima is in crisis two years after the earthquake and tsunami hit.
Japan’s government estimates 300,000 tons of radioactively contaminated water are being released into the ocean daily. It’s the worst nuclear accident in history – an international issue affecting everyone and all life on Earth.
Millions of lives depend on stopping Fukushima’s Building
Four from melting down. Helen Caldicott said the Fukushima accident was two to three times more powerful than Chernobyl. In the 25 years since Chernobyl, one million people have died and more deaths will follow.
The Japanese government isn’t disclosing Fukushima’s effects on human health. It’s time for an international task force of nuclear power experts to converge on Japan and collaborate to stop Fukushima from melting down completely.
Please call and write Senators Boxer (202-224-3553) and Feinstein (202-224-3841) and our new Congressperson, Jared Huffman (202-225-3311). Tell them you want the US government to demand full disclosure of the Fukushima disaster. Tell them you want our country to demand an international team be dispatched to Fukushima immediately.
It’s time to shut down every nuclear power plant in the world. There’s no permanent storage for all the nuclear waste that has been created since the first use of this deadly inefficient technology. Nuclear waste will have to be stored securely for millions of years before it decays to a safe level.
Ed Oberweiser, Fort Bragg
'SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO PAY A HEAVY PRICE TO LIVE IN A FREE SOCIETY'
(Statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday following the announcement of his 35-year prison sentence by a military court):
The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.
Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.
Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy — the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps — to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.
As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal. (Courtesy, CommonDreams.org)