OUR MAN IN MYANMAR: Sittwe Homeboy
by Robert ‘Captain Rainbow’ Salisbury
Today I was riding a bike around a neighborhood, or “quarter” as they call it here. I’m looking for a house to rent for just Yvonne and me.
I hear strange banjo music. I stop and peer up to a balcony on an older wooden house. One dude motions me to come on up. I do. Two guys almost my age it turns out (late 50’s), one playing this odd looking four-string banjo, the other has what looks like a mandolin only it has just six strings, unpaired. The tuning on the “Myanmando” is something I’ve never heard. They want me to try out both instruments, but before I make too much of a fool of myself a third dude shows up — the rhythm section. A wooden clacker sits in his one hand and he holds two tiny cymbals connected by a string in his other hand. They noodle around some and then break into a tune. Both stringed instruments play the melody in unison, mostly, kinda. There is no chording, it’s all fairly quick finger picking in scales totally unfamiliar to me.
The rhythm guy begins to sing, accompanying himself with occasional clacks and tinkles. He has a nice voice, the song seems sad and quite beautiful. They tell me it is traditional Rakhine music. I can’t figure out if it’s a love song or what, and it doesn’t seem to matter.
(Perhaps a sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOVTSjaB6lA )
They say they play every evening about this time and invite me back. I’ll go back with my guitar sometime soon and probably make a bigger fool of myself. If we can start on the same note I believe we can jam baby.
Another place I came upon was a kind of crumbling rambling house reminiscent of Miss Havisham’s in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
I first met the daughter on the road who eagerly dragged me in her home to be shown off like some exotic prize. We entered through a kind of ante chamber which I couldn’t figure out if it was a storefront for oddball dusty things or a storeroom for dusty oddball things.
The main room had an exposed gabled tin roof with the ever present rain drumming down making it difficult to hear. To one side was a low balcony with a stairway winding upwards to some mystery I could only imagine. I was given a chair under a balcony I had to duck under to sit on. Much of the rest of the floor was covered by a low raised dais. On this dais were bamboo mats scattered about. Around the edges, heaped up on the walls was a hodgepodge of items — clothes, bags of dried fish, boxes of more oddball dusty things, piles of books, and in the place of honor, a TV featuring an overwrought South Korean soap opera with Myanmar subtitles.
Ensconced on some musty cushions was the grand dame of the household, meh-meh, who rose to welcome me. Her hair was wrapped in a kind of twist while her face was very pale from the makeup everyone seems to wear here. It is made by mashing the wood of the Thanaka tree in a small bowl.
Most women and children wear it daily usually in two big patches on the cheeks, with a bit on the nose or forehead for good measure. Meh-meh however covers her whole face and in the dim light of the rainy day she seemed a ghostly apparition. As the tea was brewing their story unfolded. The daughter spoke fairly good English.
Aye Mya Thands father and Meh-meh’s husband U Ba Thein Maung had just passed away two months ago. I was shown his picture and ushered into another room. This room appeared to be some sort of memorial to him.
The room was full of small statues, wooden carvings, metal castings, stone carvings, along with books stacked to the ceiling. There were antique artifacts, some very old, in glass cases. While meh-meh fondled some of the carvings, her daughter told me her father was a lawyer as well as a widely known artisan who had made all of these things. She said that he had fought against the Burmese government for a free Arakan state, and in the next breath proudly showed me a photo of a Chinese jeep she said the government gave him for being such a good artist. He also was an historian and many of the books scattered about he had written. I’m not sure if I got all of that right, but I thought best not to ask for clarification, he being so recently deceased and all.
We headed back for tea and amidst the Korean soap opera, meh meh’s occasional reminisces, a few more family members who drifted in and out, and the rain drumming away, Aye Mya Thand tore into the muslims: “They are all terrorists out to murder us. The Taliban is training them, they are dirty, they just arrived from Bangladesh. They started the attacks in 2012 and for sure they are planning more.”
I am in Sittwe after all, Capitol of Rakhine State. The Muslim quarter is closed off. Most of the people have been moved to camps outside the town and whoever is left cannot leave their quarter. The mosque is closed, behind barbed wire, guarded by soldiers. Now I see only Rakhine Buddhist people. As I buy flowers outside a Buddhist temple, when they see my white face this is the story I hear over and over, “We don’t like the Muslims, they are planning on taking over Rakhine State, they have so many babies.” The unasked question is: “and white boy are you helping them?”
I usually do the generic NGO “everyone is a human being, when I see someone who needs help I help them if I can. There are Rakhine IDP camps, there are Muslim IDP camps, I don’t make a distinction.” This is not received well, I know because then they are silent. Here that means no. I have found that discussing the situation is not an option. I’m learning to clam up when they go off on the Muslims.
I don’t know how many people live in Sittwe but as far as rumors go it’s got the small town rumor mill dialed in. Walking down the street, the people wave, point and laugh as they see me. One group called me Tarazan, (I was quite flattered). On our street I got a gang of kids who follow me around, Spiderman, Banana boy, and wiggle legs. Yesterday a group of giggling girls said they knew me, I was Mr. Balloon.
It’s like that here. Wandering down the road I’ll get invited into a home. They might serve tea or “coffee mix” with some really awful packaged sweet cakey things. They are almost always friendly and curious, many younger folks want to try out their English.
These are wonderful people, generous to a fault, having a good sense of humor. The junta mentality of paranoia has given way to an openness that is new to them. People are feeling free to express themselves.
One of the expressions I hear over and over is that Muslims are bad.
This new freedom for expression allows for some bizarre excesses as well.
The ugliest of these I find is this Nazi thing they got going on. It’s almost funny. Oh yeah, guys on these little motorbikes with Nazi helmets. Bunches of guys with their Nazi t-shirts walking down the avenue. There is, I hear, even a Nazi Quarter in town. For the most part I think they’ve got no idea of what they are promoting here. I want to tell them, “Guess what guys, real Nazi’s would hate you.”
Young people are grabbing onto some odd Western “culture.” They are gifted copiers. Unfortunately what they are copying is not always the most inspired. It’s what is being marketed to them. Crappy western action movies, you know — lots of non- stop blow ‘em ups. Current pop music for the most part favors pretty schlocky covers of pretty schlocky formula pop tunes, or nasty rap, I mean nasty. That’s ok, give them some time and they will find their way. But these Rakhine folks are not even close to some kind of reconciliation with the Muslim population.
RINOS GO DODO
This weekend the California GOP is holding their biannual convention in Anaheim. The conversations seem to be mainly about how they can undo the Democrats' supermajority in both houses of the Legislature and elect more Congresspersons plus elect Republicans to statewide offices of which they now hold none. The far right continues to chase out of the party moderate Republicans (i.e., “RINOS” — Republicans In Name Only). Meanwhile their registration rolls continue to drop and the percentage of independents that will vote for them continues to decline.
To speak at their convention on how they can reverse this situation they invited the King of Buffoonery, Governor Rick Perry of Texas. At first, I thought this was some kind of a sick joke but apparently the Cal Repubs believe California should emulate Texas. A state with one of the largest number of uninsured citizens in the country, a low-wage state, a failing school system where creationism is a science, looming budget problems and a state where executions per year exceed all other states and countries except for a few repressive countries like Iran and China.
The California Republican party is going the way of the Dodo bird. In a couple of decades they will be just another minor party like the Peace and Freedom Party and the Green Party.
In peace, James G. Updegraff, Sacramento
RAILROAD DEBATE TINGES PORT COMMITTEE’S FORMATION
By Daniel Mintz
An advocacy group that supports east-west railroad development is forming a multi-agency port redevelopment partnership and the Board of Supervisors has appointed a representative to it.
But the vote to do so, taken at supervisors’ Oct. 1 meeting, wasn’t unanimous. Supervisor Mark Lovelace, a rail development skeptic, dissented. He said the proposal should be firmed up with the county’s Harbor District before it’s shopped to other agencies.
The citizen-based Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group generally supports enhanced use of the county’s port to generate new economic activity and the jobs that come along with it. Its members are also advocates of developing a railroad-port link, an idea that’s being met with a mix of support and criticism.
At last week’s supervisors meeting, Supervisor Virginia Bass acknowledged that the working group’s proposal to form a multi-agency committee in pursuit of port revitalization has advanced in a “clunky” process.
The pro-rail Eureka City Council has already appointed representatives to the formative committee and appointment of county reps had been on supervisors’ Sept. 10 meeting agenda. It was pulled, however, and Bass cryptically said it was because “some things needed to be cleared up.”
She supports the committee’s formation and said it can be a conduit for collaboration.Representing the working group, Bayside resident Karen Brooks said the committee will unite the county, the City of Eureka, the Harbor District and the Wiyot tribe in a “collaborative decision-making process.”
She said “the ultimate goal is to create jobs by utilizing the harbor.”
Having a private sector group coordinate the process has been cause for concern since last December, when a majority of supervisors approved a resolution recommended by the working group. It calls for a marketing study on attracting national and international shippers to Humboldt’s port.
The resolution was opposed by Lovelace and then-Supervisor Clif Clendenen. At last week’s meeting, Lovelace said a multi-agency port committee’s formation should originate with the Harbor District, not a private group.
Supervisor Estelle Fennell disagreed, saying the “energy” of public-based groups is positive and should be encouraged. She made a motion to appoint Bass to the working group’s committee, with Bohn as the alternate and Headwaters Fund Coordinator Dawn Elsbree as a staff rep.
Lovelace reiterated that the Harbor District should be the lead agency, not the working group, and doing it otherwise “is not a good way to start.”
Apparently referring to the ideological split over the feasibility of rail development, Supervisor Rex Bohn said he’s “hearing more that’s not being said than being said.”
He believes the working group’s efforts are laudable. “I don’t see a downside to it, in case it’s upsetting something that other people have visions for,” said Bohn.
Though rail development wasn’t mentioned specifically, it continued to affect the conversation. “It constantly gets to me that anyone who is concerned about the process here is somehow against jobs,” Lovelace said. “The implication is there constantly.”
He added that “certain ideas that aren’t parked in data” have gained traction in some quarters and “somehow that’s more important than the stuff that’s actually supported by data.”
The Harbor District’s economic stimulation plans include enhanced support of the oyster farming industry, purchase and leasing of a dredge and redeveloping dock facilities for export of timber products. Plans to launch commercial and research-oriented aquaculture facilities and a public dock are afoot with the district’s recent acquisition of the shuttered Samoa pulp mill property.
The district also commissioned a $20,000 rail feasibility study that described railroad development as a “high cost, high risk venture.”
With Lovelace dissenting, supervisors approved the appointments to the working group’s committee. The Harbor District and the Wiyot tribe will soon be asked to appoint representatives, said Brooks.
She said the committee may be ready to hold its first meeting on Nov. 6.
In the midst of the discussion, supervisors had asked Harbor District Commissioner Richard Marks for his take on the situation.
Marks said last winter’s marketing study resolution was an issue for the district’s board and there was criticism about the way the working group moved it along. An amended version of the resolution was approved by the district’s board, he continued, but the process was “not pretty.”
He said the district generally supports the committee concept but its scope needs to be defined.
THE TUBBS case went to the jury in Ukiah on Friday. Wilson ‘Josh’ Lee Tubbs, 39, is the Fort Bragg man charged with assault on a child under the age of 8, causing death. He faces 25-to-life if convicted, which it appears he will be. On December 2nd of last year, Tubbs appeared in the emergency room at Coast Hospital with his badly injured infant foster daughter. He said the 5-month-old baby had fallen, and had somehow sustained the 49 bruises on her face and head in the fall. Tubbs subsequently told investigators that he'd shaken and “smacked” the infant when she wouldn't stop crying. He has since claimed he did not say what he had indeed been recorded saying.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE MISSING PERSONS GONE?
A look at missing persons in Humboldt and Mendocino counties
By Linda Williams/The Willits News, reprinted here courtesy of Ms. Williams
The discovery of a human skeleton in a creek bed in Standish-Hickey State Park north of Leggett this week is but the most recent skeletal find in the north county.
For years rumors have abounded in Emerald Triangle tales of marijuana workers being buried in remote areas of the triangle as a result of business disagreements or greed. Occasionally weathered remains are found, such as the recent find near Leggett, and law enforcement struggles to find an identity. Mendocino and Humboldt counties have vast areas of wild lands where few people go. Concerns over personal safety have placed large areas of these lands off limits for most hikers and hunters. The chances of stumbling across the remains of anyone buried in the back woods are slim. None-the-less, occasionally remains are discovered.
In September 2005, Michael William Desmet and Joseph Clarence Wilma Jr. were reported missing to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. The duo was thought to have disappeared in the Covelo area. In April 2007, a hiker found a human jaw northwest of Covelo. The hiker picked up the bone and left the area, which was in the midst of a large marijuana garden. Officers returned to the area and found a human leg bone and eventually Wilma's vehicle. The two bones were subsequently confirmed as Wilma's. Desmet is still missing. Authorities have classified Wilma's death as a homicide and they believe Desmet is also a homicide victim. Despite and extensive search of the area, Desmet's remains have never been found.
In October 2012, human remains were found buried in a shallow grave along the Eel River near Piercy. Detectives have not been able to identify the victim. The victim, dubbed John Doe, is between 25 and 45 years old and between 5 feet 11 inches and 6 feet 5 inches tall. He is believed to be a victim of a homicide. The remains are believed to be several years old.
In May, a hiker discovered charred human bone fragments and teeth in a burn pile on a secluded area along Highway 162. No further details on the victim's identity are available.
Many families of missing persons in the Emerald Triangle can only wait and hope. Chris Giauque has been missing since August 2003. His father, Bob Giauque believes his son was the victim of murder and robbery in the Spy Rock Road area of Mendocino County. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is treating the case as a possible homicide. No remains have been found.
Since 1996 between 31,000 and 41,000 missing adult reports were filed in California each year, according to the California Department of Justice. During this period about 6.9 percent of those reported missing were never accounted for on an official basis.
Of the reports filed in California for 2012, about 51 percent of those reported missing either did not consider themselves missing or returned on their own. Another 34 percent were located by law enforcement. About 9 percent of missing persons reports were cancelled or withdrawn. Last year 412 persons listed as missing (about 1 percent) were found to be deceased. The percentage of unsolved cases for missing adults was 4.6 percent, the lowest rate since at least 1996.
During the past 8 years Mendocino County has had slightly better success compared with the state average in closing missing persons reports filed with local law enforcement with a 6.1 percent unsolved rate. This still amounts to 74 adults unaccounted for, according to statistics filed with the California Department of Justice.
Humboldt County has substantially higher percentage of unsolved missing adults cases with a 17.1 percent unsolved rate, totaling 196 adults over the past 8 years.
It is unlikely all of the missing persons were the victims of foul play, but the cases of those whose remains were found years after they were reported missing confirm the difficulty in locating human remains in the woodlands of Mendocino and Humboldt counties. Even when law enforcement has a targeted search area, after a few years finding any identifiable remains is a challenge.
These figures also do not include any persons reported missing in other counties or other states or other countries who may have come to Mendocino or Humboldt counties and disappeared.
MENDOCINO COUNTY, THE DARK SIDE.
The following roster of missing persons has been compiled by Linda Williams of the Willits News. We have provided information to those cases we have specific knowledge of.
November 1999: Tony Joseph Griffani, 38, left a Ukiah residence to go to Gualala and was never seen again. His car was found in January 2000 near Willits. In 2003, a human skull was located near where the pickup was found. His disappearance is considered suspicious.
December 2003: Michael Ray Larsen, 49, of Fort Bragg, was reported missing. In July 2009, a skeleton was found on South Harbor Drive by people clearing brush on the hillside. The remains were identified as Larsen within a few weeks. There was no evidence of foul play.
May 2004: Chad Richard Kirkendall, 23, of Caspar, was reported missing following a crash.
December 2004: Kathryn Rebecca Lamadrid, 40, was last seen walking across the old Noyo River Bridge.
May 2005: Donald Cavanaugh, 63, of Illinois, was reported missing. His vehicle was subsequently found in Westport. James Denoyer remains the only suspect in his uncle's disappearance. Denoyer is presently a resident of Lake County.
May 2006: David Neily was reported missing although he had not been heard from since April. Police located his vehicles in Westport in July 2006. Mr. Neily was a long time resident of Albion. His disappearance is also linked to Denoyer. Both Cavenaugh and Neily worked for Denoyer at his "ranch" near Westport. Both their vehicles were found on Denoyer's property. Denoyer was tried on animal cruelty charges when ill-cared for horses were found on his Westport property. The prosecution was botched by Mendocino County and Denoyer was acquitted.
November 2005: Thomas Thurston, 19, was last seen in Ukiah on November 5 when he left to go on a camping trip on north Cow Mountain.
March 2007: George Cameron Hettrick, 57, of Philo. Human remains was found in a ranch in Philo in January 2008 and his remains were identified in February 2008. Hettrick, suffering from dementia, wandered away from his care home at the Holmes Ranch, Philo. He died from a combination of exposure and AIDS.
October 2010: Eric Christopher Grant was last seen working for Mendocino Redwood Company on October 27 near Navarro Ridge Road. His company vehicle was found at the overlook off Highway One. Neither he nor his remains have been found.
October 2012: The skeletal remains of an unidentified man, 25 to 45 years old, and between 5 ft. 11 and 6 ft. 5 inches tall was located on the shore of the Eel River north of Leggett.
April 2013: Genevieve Kathryn Alexander, 30, was reported missing in the Fort Bragg area. A pair of pants identified as Alexander's was found at the beach.
May 2013: Erik Lamberg, 51, of Redondo Beach, was last seen in Laytonville on May 28. His car was found stuck in a ditch on June 1 on the Sherwood-Fort Bragg Road.
Sept. 2013: Skeletal remains were found along the Eel River near the Standish-Hickey State Park.
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Linda Williams notes: The list was primarily an on-line search through area media, and only includes missing people where law enforcement notified Humboldt or Mendocino county media about a missing person which did not result in either the person or their remains being located within a short time of going missing. It also includes cases where remains were found and never identified or which were identified months or years after the missing report was filed. The list does not include missing person's reports filed in other jurisdictions where the last known location was in Mendocino or Humboldt counties.
If there are any other missing adults who were not included on this list, email details to email@example.com.
TOM WOODHOUSE makes three persons who have announced for 3rd District supervisor. Holly Madrigal and Clay Romero have previously signed up to represent the North County on the Board of Supervisors. Woodhouses' press release identifies him as real estate broker and 40- year Mendocino County resident who has served on the site councils of the Willits schools "and leads local service projects including creek cleanups, graffiti removal, and community service days." Of retiring supervisor Pinches, Woodhouse says, "We are losing an experienced representative in John Pinches and I have the business acumen and financial knowledge to carry on his legacy of fiscal responsibility," adding, " With a healthy reserve and well-managed budget, the county could more effectively upgrade and maintain county roads as well as better support the hard-working law enforcement, first responders, and residents that travel them. A married family man, Woodhouse says he "will advocate for expanded vocational training, mentoring programs, and job creation." He is available at 707-367-6334.
GOVERNOR BROWN has signed a bill that prohibits local law enforcement agencies from detaining people for deportation if they are arrested for a minor crime and otherwise eligible to be released from custody. AB4 (Ammiano) was one of eight immigration-related measures Brown signed on Saturday. The governor also approved a bill allowing lawyers to be admitted to the California bar even if they are living in the US illegally.
DURAND EVAN has several beefs with his landlord, which happens to be the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. He's sent out the following complaints about Fort Bragg's River Garden Apartments. He says, I think, that somehow some of the following images have been declared obscene — “lewd” they say — by the government. Take it away, Durand!
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I asked the RCHDC Regional Property Manager serving River Garden Apartments if RCHDC had a "dress code" for regulating the appearance of clothing appeal, as same may be displayed (worn) by residents and or by resident visitors or guests at River Garden Apartments.
I was informed by the Regional Manager (Jeniffer Philips) that there was no dress code to be complied to.
Consequences of MOLD allergic reactions from being long term exposed to mold contaminated housing accommodations and associated refused timely maintenance services.
The following photo depicts my mold reactive body and glowing mold in the apartment as seen under UV lighting to reveal mold and fungal contamination. Are these photos "lewd images”?
The following images taken of the River Garden Apartments inner wall Section and the contamination of mold-fungus and of other health damaging bacterial agents which has for several years resulted in my repeated hospitalization for allergic respiratory distress, and other developed biological and brain function injury. Are these lawfully "lewd images”?
As of this date still not cleaned or replaced by the owner / maintenance department of RCHDC and still contaminating the apartment’s environments.
Mold keeps coming back, no paint on wall from being scrubbed so often, was finally painted over in 2013 by maintenance after years of refused maintenance neglect and refused service.
Black mold for disabled and children to play and sit on and then carry Black Mold spoors to the local school and into their residency.
Some visitors are permitted / allowed to park by property management; others must and do obey the posted No Parking Rule notice.
Disabled Elder resident of apartment 45 was refused services and harassed by management. This ended in the elder resident of apartment 45 committing overdose suicide after receiving the last unreasonable apartment inspection notice.
Disabled elder resident going to the public buss stop to go grocery shopping. Mold in her apartment as well
I herewith request your office opinion view and a written response regarding the health and safety of low income housing accommodations as owned and or managed by RCHDC.
Sincerely, She Bel Na Tribal Elder Durand Evan River Garden Apartment #48 resident. 421 South Street Historical Mendocino Indian Reservation Kulanapan Territories Noyo, Fort Bragg California USA. 95437+5516
WE THE PEOPLE LISTEN CAMPAIGN
Move to Amend (MTA) has initiated a creative and exciting campaign called “We the People Listen”. This campaign brings information and educates our local neighborhood communities about Move To Amend and at the same time elicits from our neighbors what they see as pressing issues in our country to be passed on to MTA national by asking them a number of survey questions.
A kick off meeting providing more information and training about the campaign has been scheduled in Ukiah on October 22nd at the Mendocino Environmental Center (MEC), 106 W. Stanley Street in Ukiah also from 6 to 8 pm.
More information about the “We the People Listen” campaign is available on the MTA web site, movetoamend.org. Questions and RSVP Judy Morgan at 245-5884. firstname.lastname@example.org
MENDOCINO STORIES & MUSIC SERIES
• Friday October 25 — Hold on to your seats as Teresa Tudury promises to take you on a musical journey of wild, powerful songs and stories from the depths of her incredibly rich and inspiring repertoire. This Mendocino Stories and Music Series event starts at 7:30PM, on Friday October 25 at the Mendocino Hotel. "Leonard Cohen meets Bessie Smith" was overheard at a one of Teresa’s concerts. With a deep, sultry voice that magnetizes audiences, and a scathing comedic wit to match, Teresa is a consummate performer who pours out her original songs with power, verve, passion, and disarming humor. Teresa's voice has been described as a cross between Bette Midler and Bonnie Raitt (LA Weekly). Her vocal stylings are perfectly complemented by her bluesy guitar playing. Visit her website and listen to her music at http://www.teresatudury.net/ http://www.reverbnation.com/teresatudury Doors open at 6:30 PM with a bistro menu and full bar. Reserved table seating $20, $15 general admission at the door. Call Pattie at 937-1732 or www.mendocinostories.com/events_info.html
• Saturday, October 26 — The Mendocino Stories and Music Series will feature returning vocal groups The Acafellas and In the Mix on Saturday, October 26, for an exciting evening of a cappella music, all vocals without instrumental accompaniment. The Acafellas men’s sextet and In the Mix women’s sextet are based in Fort Bragg. Music starts at 7:30PM at the Mendocino Hotel. In the Mix was formed in January 2009 as an off-shoot of the Gloriana Carolers. Some of the carolers had so much fun singing together, they didn't want to stop. Members are founder Nancy Severy, high alto; Cathy Boxell and Darcie Mahoney, low altos, and sopranos Terry Anne, Kathy O'Shea, and Carolyn Steinbuck. The Acafellas - in their fourth appearance for the Series - are Jim Ehlers, Eric Hillesland, Jim Jackson, Jason Kirkman, Joe Rosenthal and Sam Waldman. They have appeared regularly at local fundraisers, private parties and the occasional barnburner. More information and audio samples are available at www.acafellasmendocino.com All Ages Welcome. Bistro menu and drinks are available as soon as the doors open at 6:30PM. Reserved table seating $20, $15 general admission at the door. For more info call Pattie at 707-937-1732 or www.mendocinostories.com/events_info.html