THOMAS E. CROAK died on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in a car accident. Born on Nov. 29, 1955 to Johanna Gillette and Thomas E. Croak Sr., he was 57. For 20 years Mr. Croak was one of the best and most memorable public defenders in coastal Mendocino County history. He was a friend of the earth and a tireless servant of the people. Tom touched thousands of lives. We miss him dearly. Tom is survived by his mother, Johanna Gillette; brother, Bill Croak; sister, Mary Ann Presswood; niece, Elizabeth Bingham; and two beagles, Daisy and Comet. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, at 2pm at Town Hall in Fort Bragg.
UKIAH CITY COUNCILMAN Phil Baldwin said at a recent meeting of the Council that he was voting No on three (count 'em) units of low-cost housing out of deference to the memory of the late Diane Zucker who'd opposed the units for her neighborhood. Baldwin's vote neatly combined his present hypocrisy with hers posthumously. Ms. Zucker, who was also for a time my sister-in-law, and perhaps even a periodic liberal, told me she thought there are already too many undesirables in the so-called Wagenseller neighborhood, what with the lost souls at Ford Street a couple of blocks away and, more ominously, an occasional ruffy-scruffy shuffling down Joseph Street, visible from Diane's front porch! Hold on. Someone's knocking. Come in! Hey! It's Phil Ochs, the great Phil Ochs! What brings you to Mendoland, Phil? “Well, I've been reading the AVA for a long time, and you guys see the libs the way I do. And seeing as how there are so many of them up here, I thought to myself, “Is there a better place to sing it? A better place for Love Me, I'm A Liberal?”
HOW COLD WAS IT?
It was so cold the Redwood Drive-In was serving coffee on a stick!
It was so cold even the grades at the High School seemed to be improving.
It was so cold the local hitchhikers were holding up pictures of thumbs!
It was so cold, instead of yelling “Freeze!” local deputies just yelled “GO OUTSIDE”!
And (hat tip to Johnny Carson): It was so cold the politicians had their hands in their own pockets.
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Most of Mendo experienced a hard freeze going down into the low 20s Wednesday night into Thursday. Locally, there were isolated reports of animal water freezing and people doing creative things to work around it like, pouring hot water on the top of the trough, carrying buckets of water long distances, moving water fountains so the sun would shine on them, etc. We didn’t hear any reports of house plumbing freezing. Several people reported “black ice” on highways but we didn’t hear of any major accidents. People forced to live outside were suffering. Freezing temps are expected to continue for the next few days, but maybe not quite as cold. Light amounts of snow and rain perhaps on Friday depending on elevation. There’s also another possibility of (light) rain or snow next week.
CRIMES OF THE WEEK:
• An old guy confined to the depressing shitpit called Valley View Skilled Nursing Facility rightly refused to “come back inside,” emphasizing his horror at spending his last days within its hellish confines by throwing his walker at employees when they asked him to get with death's program. A Ukiah police officer was summoned to ensure that the man didn't continue resisting. (For a particularly egregious example see http://www.minfirm.com/nj-pa-attorneys-nursing-home-abuse-employees-arrested-prank)
• Someone put rat trap glue strips in the night deposit at several branches of the Savings Bank of Mendocino, undoubtedly alarming the rats that own the bank. …
• An occupant of one of the storage sheds on Ford Street cut a hole into a neighbor’s unit “and is possibly stealing items from another unit,” according to a unit owner calling from Arizona. Storage units represent the Ukiah City Council's informal low cost housing program.
GOOD OLD GRASS I can recommend. To be just without being mad, to be peaceful without being stupid, to be interested without being compulsive, to be happy without being hysterical, smoke grass. — Ken Kesey
OUR COPY of the Willits Weekly dated November 27, 2013 arrived in Boonville on Thursday, December 5. According to the postage stamp, Jennifer Poole and her Willits crew paid 66¢ for this “service.”
AVA SUBSCRIBER JIM LOWE OF ELIZAVILLE, NEW YORK, WRITES: “Me again. Poor post office. No AVA since 11/6 issue. Meanwhile the Progressive Populist out of Iowa arrives regularly on time, which tells me what you already know — the problem is on the California end. Don't worry about sending replacement copies; just wanted to let you know what's happening. Looking forward to an issue eventually,”
NELSON MANDELA, 1918-2013
Nelson Mandela, the towering figure of Africa's struggle for freedom and a hero to millions around the world, died Thursday at the age of 95.
South Africa's first black president died in the company of his family at home in Johannesburg after years of declining health that had caused him to withdraw from public life.
The news was announced to the nation by the current president, Jacob Zuma, who in a somber televised address said Mandela had “departed” around 8.50pm local time and was at peace.
“This is the moment of our deepest sorrow,” Zuma said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son … What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
“Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell.”
Zuma announced that Mandela would receive a state funeral and ordered that flags fly at half-mast.
Mandela was hospitalized in June with a recurring lung infection and slipped into a critical condition, but returned home in September where his bedroom was converted into an intensive care unit.
The death of Mandela will send South Africa deep into mourning and self-reflection nearly 20 years after he led the country from racial apartheid to inclusive democracy.
But his passing will also be keenly felt by people around the world who revered Mandela as one of history's last great statesmen, and a moral paragon comparable with Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
It was a transcendent act of forgiveness after spending 27 years in prison, 18 of them sentenced to hard labor on Robben Island, that will assure his place in history. With South Africa facing possible civil war, Mandela sought reconciliation with the white minority to build a new democracy.
He led the African National Congress (ANC) to victory in the country's first multiracial election in 1994. Unlike other African liberation leaders who cling to power, such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, he then voluntarily stepped down after one term.
Mandela, often affectionately known by his clan name, Madiba‚, was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1993.
At his inauguration a year later, the new president said: “Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another ... the sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom reign. God bless Africa!”
Born Rolihlahla Dalibhunga in a small village in the Eastern Cape on July 18, 1918, Mandela was given his English name, Nelson, by a teacher at his school.
Mandela joined the ANC in 1943 and became a co-founder of its youth league. In 1952, he started South Africa's first black law firm with his partner, Oliver Tambo. Mandela was a charming, charismatic figure with a passion for boxing — and an eye for women. He once said: “I can't help it if the ladies take note of me. I am not going to protest.”
He married his first wife, Evelyn Mase, in 1944. They were divorced in 1957 after having three children. In 1958, he married Winnie Madikizela, who later campaigned to free her husband from jail and became a key figure in the struggle.
When the ANC was banned in 1960, Mandela went underground. After the Sharpeville massacre, in which 69 black protesters were shot dead by police, he took the difficult decision to launch an armed struggle.
Mandela was arrested* and eventually charged with sabotage and attempting to violently overthrow the government.
Conducting his own defense in the Rivonia Trial in 1964, he said: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
He escaped the death penalty but was sentenced to life in prison, a huge blow to the ANC that had to regroup to continue the struggle. But unrest grew in townships and international pressure on the apartheid regime slowly tightened.
Finally, in 1990, then president F.W. deKlerk lifted the ban on the ANC and Mandela was released from prison amid scenes of jubilation witnessed around the world.
In 1992, Mandela divorced Winnie after she was convicted on charges of kidnapping and accessory to assault.
His presidency rode a wave of tremendous global goodwill but was not without its difficulties. After leaving frontline politics in 1999, he admitted he should have moved sooner against the spread of HIV/Aids.
His son died from an Aids-related illness. On his 80th birthday, Mandela married Graca Machel, the widow of the former president of Mozambique. It was his third marriage. In total, he had six children, of whom three daughters survive: Pumla Makaziwe (Maki), Zenani and Zindziswa (Zindzi). He had 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 and retired from public life, aged 85, to be with his family and enjoy some “quiet reflection.” But he remained a beloved and venerated figure with countless buildings, streets and squares named after him. His every move was scrutinized and his health was a constant source of media speculation.
Mandela continued to make occasional appearances at ANC events and attended the inauguration of the current president, Jacob Zuma. His 91st birthday was marked by the first annual “Mandela Day” in his honor.
He was last seen in public at the final of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg, a tournament he had helped bring to South Africa for the first time. Early in 2011, he was taken to hospital in a health scare but he recovered and was visited by Michelle Obama and her daughters a few months later.
In January 2012, he was notably missing from the ANC's centenary celebrations due to his frail condition. With other giants of the movement such as Tambo and Walter Sisulu having gone before Mandela, the defining chapter of Africa's oldest liberation movement is now closed.
(Courtesy, the Guardian of London)
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*EX-OFFICIAL: CIA HELPED JAIL MANDELA
By Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel
Chicago Tribune, June 10, 1990
WASHINGTON — For nearly 28 years the US government has harbored an increasingly embarrassing secret: A CIA tip to South African intelligence agents led to the arrest that put black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela in prison for most of his adult life. A former US official has revealed that he has known of the CIA role since Mandela was seized by agents of the South African police special branch on Aug. 5, 1962. The former official, now retired, said that within hours after Mandela`s arrest Paul Eckel, then a senior CIA operative, walked into his office and said approximately these words: “We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be. They have picked him up. It is one of our greatest coups.” With Mandela out of prison, the retired official decided there is no longer a valid reason for secrecy. He called the American role in the affair “one of the most shameful, utterly horrid” byproducts of the Cold War struggle between Moscow and Washington for influence in the Third World. Asked about the tip to South African authorities, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said: “Our policy is not to comment on such allegations.” Reports that American intelligence tipped off the South African officials who arrested Mandela have circulated for years. Newsweek reported in February that the agency was believed to have been involved. In 1962 the CIA’s covert branch saw the African National Congress as a threat to the stability of a friendly South African government. At the time, that government not only had just signed a military cooperation agreement with the United States but also served as an important source of uranium. The CIA knew of Mandela’s whereabouts because it had put an undercover agent into the inner circle of the African National Congress group in Durban, according to Gerard Ludi, a retired South African intelligence official. Mandela was being sought as a fugitive for his anti-apartheid activities. The morning after a secret dinner party with other congress members in Durban, Mandela, dressed as a chauffeur, ran into a roadblock. He was immediately recognized by authorities and arrested.
I thought about this more than one time.
But I’m in jail currently for possessing a pair of scissors that have been classified as a deadly weapon. Now I don’t know why parole put that special condition upon me, but I could not earn any money or make a living.
And the bottom line is I could kill someone without a pair of “deadly” scissors.
What the hell?
— Robert Campbell, County Jail, Ukiah
UNDER THE GLOBAL SHADOW OF BIG BROTHER, JOURNALISM MUST LIGHT UP THE POLITICAL SKY
By Norman Solomon
Every new revelation about the global reach of the National Security Agency underscores that the extremism of the surveillance state has reached gargantuan proportions. The Washington Post just reported that the NSA “is gathering nearly five billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” Documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden have forced top officials in Washington to admit the indefensible while defending it. One of the main obstacles to further expansion of their Orwellian empire is real journalism.
Real journalism is “subversive” of deception that can’t stand the light of day. This is a huge problem for the Obama administration and the many surveillance-state flunkies of both parties in Congress. What they want is fake journalism, deferring to government storylines and respectful of authority even when it is illegitimate.
In motion now, on both sides of the Atlantic, are top-down efforts to quash real journalism when and how it matters most. In the two English-speaking countries that have done the most preaching to the world about “Western values” like freedom of the press, the governments led by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron are overseeing assaults on real journalism.
They’re striving to further normalize fake journalism — largely confined to stenographic services for corporate power, war industries and surveillance agencies. A parallel goal is to harass, intimidate and destroy real journalism. The quest is to maximize the uninformed consent of the governed.
In direct contrast, those willing to fight for truly independent journalism — including whistleblowers, political activists and journalists themselves — are struggling to provide our world with vital light, fueled by comprehension that real journalism must be willing to challenge entrenched power.
From incessant war and arming the world, to climate change and coddling fossil fuel industries, to anti-democratic governance and enabling vast NSA surveillance, the U.S. power structure — with epicenters along Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue — continues to dominate. That power structure is a clear, present and horrendous threat to human survival, the natural world of this planet and the possibilities for authentic democracy.
Against such dire, highly institutionalized assaults on the present and the future, we desperately need a wide range of nonviolent, principled and unrelenting insurgencies. In that context, government efforts to crush real journalism can be understood as methodical counterinsurgency.
Smashing Guardian hard drives and hauling the newspaper’s editor in front of an inquisitional parliamentary committee are aspects of the British government’s counterinsurgency program against real journalism. In the United States, the counterinsurgency includes numerous prosecutions of whistleblowers and wide-ranging surveillance of journalists’ workaday communications. These assaults aren’t episodic. They’ve become routine.
Journalism is at a momentous crossroads. The alternative to unrelenting independence is sheepism, and that’s not journalism; it’s a professionalized baseline of bowing to government and corporate pressure even before it has been overtly exerted.
For journalists, and for the rest of us, silence is not neutrality; it ends up as acceptance of autocratic rule, a present festooned with pretty-sounding names like “anti-terrorism” and “national security.”
As the most powerful institutions run amuck, their main functionaries are “leaders” who keep leading us farther and farther away from a world we could possibly be proud of leaving for the next generations. Pushing back against the ominous momentum will require fighting for real journalism. No one can plausibly say that reversing course will be easy or probable — only imperative.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.
ELLEN HODGSON BROWN, acclaimed author and president of the Public Banking Institute, will speak in Mendocino December 15, 7:00 pm at Crown Hall. Brown’s two most recent books are “The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free,” and “The Public Bank Solution: From Austerity to Prosperity.” Her talk is part of the Mendocino County Public Banking Coalition's educational campaign, leading up to the June 2014 election when voters will have a chance to make Mendocino California’s 15th Charter County. California law requires that counties have a charter in order to have a public bank and manage their own money. Why do governments store their money in private, for-profit banks? In 2008 it became obvious that private banks do not necessarily serve the best interests of their depositors. On the other hand, a public bank has only one depositor—the government—and the returns on its investments are used to benefit the citizens of the state or county instead of private shareholders. A public bank can increase liquidity by partnering with community banks and credit unions, and can reduce county debt service by underwriting public infrastructure projects. Although 40% of the banks in the world are public banks, the Bank of North Dakota is currently the only public bank in the USA. It remained strong and solvent while the rest of the country was falling into recession. In her talk, Ellen Brown will explain why and how we can start our own publicly owned bank. She will also answer questions from the audience after her presentation. This is a free event but donations are appreciated to cover expenses.
— Agnes Woolsey, Mendocino, and Mary Zellachild, Willits.
OVER 3500 PEOPLE ATTEND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ANNUAL SUNRISE GATHERING
by Dan Bacher
Tendrils of smoke from the fire drifted up into the air in the pre- dawn darkness as tribal drums beat and Yaqui Indians conducted the Deer Dance while thousands gathered for the ceremony on the island near the abandoned buildings of the former military prison and federal penitentiary.
Over 3500 people attended the Indigenous Peoples Annual Sunrise Gathering at Alcatraz Island sponsored by the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) on November 28, 2013. This was the 44th year that the event was held to commemorate the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz from 1969 to 1971, according to Morning Star Gali, one of the event organizers and the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Pit River Tribe.
In addition to the Yaqui Deer Dancers, the event featured the Round Valley Reservation Pomo Dancers and Aztec Dancers. Speakers included LaNada War Jack, one of the original Alcatraz occupiers, Ann Marie Sayers from the Ohlone Indian Tribe, Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Two Kettle Lakota and one of the original members of the American Indian Movement, and Radley Davis and Mickey Gimmel of the Pit River Tribe.
“I've been attending the Alcatraz Sunrise gathering since I was a child,” said Gali. “For the past 5 years I have helped with the organizing.”
“It's a beautiful gathering to bring people together to stand in prayer, and to be reminded of the struggles that took place for us to be here today. Alcatraz is known as the catalyst of the indigenous occupations, The spark that lit the fire as LaNada says,” she explained.
Gali noted that the huge turn out for the gathering was evidenced by the large lines of people waiting in the pre-dawn darkness for the boats transporting people from Fisherman's Wharf to the island. She said that one reason for the big turn out could have been the cancellation of the October Indigenous People's Day Gathering at the island this year, due to the federal shutdown of Alcatraz, now a National Park.
Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of the International Treaty Council, explained the real history of the day.
“As we gather today to celebrate, we do not celebrate the re-write of history that has become Thanksgiving,” said Carmen. “We celebrate our survival as indigenous people. In reality, on this day so long ago, 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Nation were slaughtered during their sacred Green Corn ceremonies by Pilgrims they had saved during the winter months with their own food.”
“I want to thank the many heroes and young people — who are now parents and grandparents — who had the courage to occupy this island. We honor you. That action you participated in took us all the way to the United Nations where we finally got the recognition of our rights and treaties. I want our young children to realize what a great part of history you are now participating in. We are here to dedicate our lives to this traditional Native way of life,” she said.
“I come here this year for all those original occupiers who cannot get here,” stated Madonna Thunder Hawk, Two Kettle Lakota and one of the original members of the American Indian Movement. “Many have passed on to the spirit world, or are elders and cannot make it.”
“At the time I was asked to come to Alcatraz, we were occupying Mt. Rushmore. A year after the original occupation of Alcatraz, only 150 were left on the island, and they needed others to come and help. It was the first time I really understood the word ‘freedom.’ We had to take care of ourselves completely, with no outside help at all. I have been in the struggle ever since,” she explained.
Lenny Foster, of the Diné Nation and the Director of the Navajo Nation Corrections Project, urged the thousands gathered to support the release of political prisoner Leonard Peltier from federal prison in Florida.
“The birds are happy today, they are happy, and I ask you all to pray for Leonard Peltier, so he can be released and enjoy his many relatives that love him and miss him,” said “We have been and are mounting a vigorous campaign for his release, and ask you all for your prayers and continuing support.”
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DAVE SEVERN of Philo represented Mendocino County at the ceremony he has attended for years.
PHILOSOPHICALLY SPEAKING: THROWING AWAY OUR VOTES, DEMOCRACY
Besides the dubious distinction of having the dirtiest air in the country, the Inland Empire can now claim a fact that apparently makes us unique in national history: The 2012 race for the 31st Congressional District was the first time in the entire history of U.S. government-printed ballots where the party with the most registered voters had no candidate in the election.
Is it any surprise that 23.1 percent of voters that year left their ballot blank for Congress?
Electoral democracy seems to be dying in this country. Could our local race for Congress be one of the reasons?
Although there were four Democratic candidates in the primary that year, thanks to our former governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (the governor who just keeps on giving), and his electoral “reform” in which only the top-two vote-getters advanced to the fall, those four Democrats divided the vote and were bumped in the primary, leaving two Republicans.
Many dedicated Democrats, feeling like they now had a choice between bad and bad, were undoubtedly among the 23.1 percent who asked: what’s the point?
And if I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat, then what’s the point, because I know my candidate will not have a chance? If I vote for the candidate I want, won’t I just be throwing away my vote, or, worse yet, helping to elect someone I really don’t like if I vote for someone I do?
We should never have to ask these questions if we want true democracy.
Fortunately, there is a solution, and many places throughout the world are already using it, including the United States.
It goes by various names, including ranked-choice, instant run-off, and preferential voting, but the results are the same. Voters get to list their choices in the order of their preference so they always feel they can vote for their favorite candidate first because, if he or she doesn’t win, their support drops down to their other choices in order until a winner is determined.
For instance, in 2000 those who believed that Ralph Nader was one of the finest men ever to run for president and wanted to vote accordingly, but feared helping George W. Bush if they did, could have placed Al Gore as their second choice, thereby allowing them to, as we say in the Green Party, “vote their hopes instead of their fears,” since their support would drop down to Gore. Problem solved.
Besides the many democratic countries that are already employing it, ranked-choice voting is now being used in a number of cities, including San Francisco, Oakland and Minneapolis, which just used it in the election for mayor earlier this month.
As reported by the co-chairmen of the Minnesota Public Research Group, the election “was a major success. Nearly 88 percent of voters ranked their second-choice candidates, and about 77 percent ranked a third choice.”
I first heard about the election when I was cruising some news on the Internet and ran across a comment column, which included a rave for the election by one of its participants. Thirty-five people ran for mayor, and according to this voter it was “one of the most positive campaigns I’ve ever seen. The comment was made by more than one candidate that they were not running against each other, but, instead, they were running for the city.”
And since they didn’t want to alienate voters who might vote for them as their second or third choice, this voter noted that the candidates engaged them with actual “ideas and policies,” instead of “running negative ads against each other.”
What a concept, especially when you consider that the two Republicans running for Congress in our November 2012 election ended up breaking one of Ronald Reagan’s cardinal rules of politics: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican,” particularly the candidate who is now our congressman.
Instant run-off voting should also appeal to those who are fiscally conservative, because it eliminates primaries and the millions of dollars it costs to hold them — elections that have low turn-outs anyway.
Finally, though, preferential voting eliminates the absurdity of having an election with only candidates from one party to vote for.
That should never have happened, and it wouldn’t happen again if we adopted instant run-off voting.
— Phill Courtney, Redlands (Mr. Courtney has run twice for Congress with the Green Party, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about instant run-off voting, check out the organizations Fairvote, and Californians for Electoral Reform on the Internet.)