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Mendocino County Today: January 8, 2014

RECOMMENDED READING: Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi. By far the clearest and most convincing book on the subject I've ever read. Bugliosi, best known as prosecutor of the Manson Family, puts his prosecutorial skills to effective use here as he lays out the event in chronological order, complete with the detailed movements of Oswald and Jack Ruby with descriptions of their behavior from an impressive number of eyewitnesses. Conclusion? Oswald and Ruby acted alone. Bugliosi also offers the clearest, and it seems to me, most irrefutable account of the wounds Kennedy and Governor Connolly suffered. The so-called 'magic bullet' is fully and plausibly explained. A friend lent me the book. I didn't open it right away, but when I did I couldn't put it down. I know I'll hear from people wed to the conspiratorial version of Kennedy's murder, but Bugliosi's case will be difficult to undermine.


ANOTHER BOOK that recently captured my feeble attentions is called Dead Run: The Murder of a Lawman and the Greatest Manhunt of the Modern American West by Dan Schultz. The cover has a Time mag quote calling the book "riveting." Not for me it wasn't. But it was interesting and the title turned out to be misleading, in that the "greatest manhunt" really turned out to be a huge clown show of competing police forces who only found two of  the three fugitives because they shot and killed themselves more or less in plain view. The third fugitive should have been found but he, too, was only uncovered by accident years later. Dead Run tells the story of three young militia-oriented guys, one influenced by an admix of Ed Abbey, who killed one cop and almost killed another in a crude plot to maybe blow up the massive Glen Canyon dam in Arizona. It's not clear what exactly they had in mind with a stolen cement truck. Apparently, they intended to pack it with explosives and blow up something big with it, but steal a big truck in broad daylight in a small town and, Whoa, Dude, your conspiracy is off to a bad start. They read a lot of the usual paranoid bullshit the fascisti put out on the internet about the "ZOG" (Zionist Occupation Government) and so on and how we've lost all our freedom here in Freedom Land, especially our "right" to own military assault rifles. The three dummies bought it all, and prepared for a showdown with ZOG by burying lots of rifles, ammo, explosives, and survivalist gear in remote areas of the Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Colorado deserts, it apparently not occurring to them that the feds, not to mention local police agencies, have bigger guns and pay people quite well to use them.


THAT WAS AN INTERESTING rain dance on the Mendocino Headlands as only a Mendocino rain dance could be. Some 30 or so persons, colorfully arrayed, reinforced by numerous dogs, hooped and hollered and shook incense sticks at the sky, haughtily turning away non-residents with, "This is for us only," us meaning residents of the village. And, "No grape growers need dance." Have to wonder if they wanted the rain to fall exclusively on them, too.


MORE EVIDENCE that a train will never again run on Mendocino County tracks — the old tracks that traverse Ukiah intersections have mostly been paved over.


HBO has recently been filming at Navarro. We understand the story is about a person who comes to Mendocino County to grow devil weed, not the most original narrative, but cable networks are doing some great stuff these days, what with Breaking Bad and Deadwood and the Sopranos, and I know there's lots I haven't seen.



Mendocino County HHSA Public Health Branch And California Department of Public Health remind you to get a flu shot.

Many California counties, and other states, are reporting patients who are critically ill with influenza, including healthy young adults. This year’s influenza vaccine protects against the strains circulating in the state, including H1N1.

The H1N1 strain appears to be the predominant strain circulating so far in California and in the rest of the United States this flu season. The H1N1 virus, which emerged during the 2009 pandemic, causes more illness in children and young adults, compared to older adults. It causes severe illness in all age groups, including those younger than 65 years of age

There are no reported deaths at this time in Mendocino County, however Mendocino County Public Health is documenting  reports of increasing hospitalizations for Influenza like illnesses; some people have been transferred to out of county hospitals for intensive care.

The vaccine is available now. Once vaccinated, it takes approximately two weeks before you are fully protected against the flu. An influenza vaccine is especially important for pregnant women and other people at higher risk for severe influenza. Many clinics in Mendocino County have vaccine for adults, nineteen years and older as well as vaccine for six months to eighteen years. Many pharmacies have flu vaccine. Please contact your primary health care provider or local pharmacy.

In addition to getting vaccinated, it’s necessary to practice good health habits. If you become ill, you should take actions to stop the spread of germs, including: 1) Stay home when you are sick  2) Cover your coughs and sneezes 3) Wash your hands with soap/water 4) Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. You can also protect your health by eating a nutritious diet and getting enough sleep. If you think you have influenza, contact your physician.

Visit a flu vaccine location near you to get immunized. Mendocino HHSA Public Health Branch has vaccine available for six months of age through eighteen years for children who have MediCal or have no insurance. Vaccine for nineteen years and older with a suggested donation of ten dollars is also available. Please call Karen Broderick, LVN, at 472-2681 for details regarding Public Health clinic’s schedules.



New exhibit traces John Muir's study of a planet full of plants. Reception features Muir re-enactor

by Roberta Werdinger

Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts; and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish. –John Muir

On January 25th, from 2 to 4 pm, the Grace Hudson Museum presents an opening reception for "Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy," an exhibition of digitally enhanced high-resolution images of Muir's wide-ranging plant specimens, along with pages and drawings from Muir's nature journals. At 2 pm, John Muir re-enactor Frank Helling will present his live act "A Visit with John Muir—The Scootcher of a Lifetime," followed by refreshments. The event is free with Museum admission.

John Muir (1838-1914) spent most of his life in continual communion, discovery, and defense of and with wild nature. Born in Scotland, while still a child he immigrated with his family to Wisconsin.  He traveled endlessly and extensively all over the North American continent, from Alaska to Arizona. Everywhere he went, he would stuff his pockets with wildflowers; soon, he began to collect plant samples more seriously, once walking a thousand miles from Canada to Florida for that purpose.

While collecting and cataloguing plant and animal samples can be for many a purely scientific pursuit, for Muir it was of a part with his life's work: a rapturous devotion to the presence and power of nature. The largely unspoiled natural world of 19th-century North America that Muir explored was no challenge to be mastered, but a source of continuing delight and instruction, with Muir placing himself in the role of admirer and scribe. In one letter, he describes a wilderness sojourn: "I drifted about from rock to rock, from stream to stream, from grove to grove. Where night found me, there I camped. When I discovered a new plant, I sat down beside it for a minute or a day, to make its acquaintance and hear what it had to tell."

John Muir played many roles in his remarkable life—philosopher, writer, explorer, environmentalist (he was a founding member and first president of the Sierra Club). Yet his impressive legacy as a botanist--his willingness to hear what a plant had to tell--is not as well known. That story was taken up by exhibit curator and Muir historian Bonnie Gisel, who, along with photographer Stephen Joseph, created the book "Nature's Beloved Son" (published by Heyday Books in 2008), upon which this exhibit is based. Gisel pored through Muir's articles, drawings, journals and books, making lists of the plants Muir made note of, then traveled to national parks, botanical gardens, natural museums and universities to track down the hundreds of plants collected by Muir and bring them together.

After that, photographer Stephen Joseph scanned and restored the images to their original presentation, so that they looked much as Muir would have seen them. To do this, he underwent a painstaking process, removing the glue or tape that held each plant to its sheet of paper and scanning it into a computer program for three to twenty hours per plant. Sections which remained hidden behind tape or glue were rebuilt; the contrast and color of the plants were heightened. The original notes, envelopes and labels are included. ("Before and after" images of plant samples that Joseph digitally restored are on display at the exhibit.)

MuirBleedingHeartMuir preserved the plants he collected in a plant press made of strips of hard wood nailed together using straw board and newspaper. (A replica of the press is included in the exhibit.) Not all of the specimens he collected have been preserved, but many were found in special collections and herbaria around the country. (Some were even discovered in an attic.) In this era when the medicinal qualities of plants is being rediscovered and biodiversity is at risk, the collections of John Muir and others who contribute to herbaria are more invaluable than ever.

"Nature's Beloved Son" is on display until March 16, 2014. Several special events are planned in conjunction with this exhibit, including a tour with Museum Curator Marvin Schenck on February 4, a papermaking workshop by Lost Coast Culture Machine on February 7, a Family Fun at the Museum workshop on Feb. 22, and an illustrated lecture by author and naturalist Kate Marianchild on March 16.

"Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy" is a traveling exhibition from Exhibit Envoy. It is supported by the Skirball Foundation, Heyday Books, Michael McCone, Michael Boone, Martha Kropf, Robert Marx, Mary Louise Myers, and the Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. Local funding is provided by The Neel Foundation and the Sun House Guild.

The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is a part of the City of Ukiah's Community Services Department. General admission to the Museum is $4, $10 per family, $3 for students and seniors, and free to members or on the first Friday of the month. For more information please go to or call 467-2836.



by Dan Bacher

So many people showed up to attend the first public comment hearing held by the Department of Conservation on draft fracking regulations in Sacramento on January 6 that state officials had to move to a larger room in the EPA building to accomodate the huge crowd.

Over 80 percent of the people that attended, including representatives of the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations, supported a moratorium or ban on the controversial oil extraction process. Representatives of the Western States Petroleum Association and other oil industry organizations praised the regulations for being the "strongest" and "strictest" fracking regulations in the nation.

Below is an updated version of my testimony before Department of Conservation officials.

* * *

The proposed regulations for fracking and acidizing developed under Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4 are a dangerous handout to the oil industry, the largest corporate lobby in California, and greatly threaten already imperiled fish populations.

If adopted by the California Department of Conservation, they will greenlight a massive expansion of fracking for oil in California at a time when Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta fish and Central Valley salmon populations are in severe crisis as California suffers from a record drought.

What we need now is not regulations for fracking, but a total ban on fracking in the state including California's ocean and bay waters, so that fish populations already hammered by record water exports aren't threatened further.

A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (

The enormous power of the oil industry in Sacramento is the reason why no bills calling for a moratorium on fracking were allowed to pass through the legislature - and why the oil industry was able to amend an already bad bill, Senate Bill 4, to make it even worse.

You can be sure that these draft regulations won't protect the land, water, fish, wildlife and people of California from the expansion of fracking when oil industry representatives praise them.

For example, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California, said she was "pleased" that the Department of Conservation and the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources have been able to "promptly release" draft hydraulic fracturing regulations.

In her blog on the WSPA website, she further praised the legislation (’s-energy-realities)

“This September, California adopted the nation’s strictest regulations for the oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing," said Reheis-Boyd. "The landmark bill, SB 4, was authored by one of our state’s preeminent environmental leaders, Senator Fran Pavley, and signed by Jerry Brown, one of the nation’s greenest governors."

Unlike oil industry representatives who laud what they claim are the "nation's strictest regulations" for fracking, I support a complete ban on fracking on California's ocean waters and land, especially as we face unprecedented drought conditions in the state.

2013 was California's driest year in recorded history. But rather than conserve the water as they should have, the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources virtually emptied Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs to divert the water to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies.

With abysmally low conditions in Central Valley reservoirs and throughout the state, now is not the time to allow a huge expansion of water-intensive fracking, which threatens to contaminate our groundwater supplies and streams.

The water will have to come from somewhere – and much of the water to be used for fracking in Kern County and elsewhere will come from the Central Valley and State Water Projects – and through the massive twin tunnels proposed under Governor Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Ken Broder in reported on the recent acknowledgement by Bay Delta Conservation Plan officials that tunnel water could be used for fracking. "Water interests want more water and—in case it wasn’t clear before, the BDCP makes it clear now—that includes oil and gas drillers using hydraulic fracturing," said Broder. (

This plan to expand fracking takes place as Delta fish populations and Central Valley salmon are facing unprecedented disaster, due to increased water exports out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in recent years. We can't allow one drop of water to be used to expand fracking when California's fisheries are in severe crisis.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) this month released the results of the 2013 Fall Midwater Trawl (FMWT), a document reconfirming the continuing biological collapse that is occurring in the Bay-Delta Estuary.

The results reveal that populations of Delta smelt, striped bass and American shad declined from the disastrous levels of last year while longfin smelt and threadfin shad showed little improvement from last year’s lows, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

The survey documented the second lowest population levels of Delta smelt and American shad on record, as well as the third lowest striped bass index, the eighth lowest longfin smelt index and the fifth lowest threadfin shad indices.

"The surveys, initiated in 1967, the same year the State Water Project began exporting water from the Delta, show that population indices of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad have declined 95.6%, 99.6%, 99.8%, 97.8%, 90.9%, respectively, between 1967 and 2013," said Jennings. "Inexplicably, the 2013 indices for splittail were not released but results from 2012 reveal that splittail indices have dropped 98.5% from 1967 levels."

Jennings emphasized that 2013 was also a bad year for salmon. As many as half of this year’s up-migrating winter-run Chinook salmon were stranded in the Yolo Bypass and Colusa Basin in April-June and Sacramento River temperature requirements to protect spawning winter-run were relaxed in June.

In November, abrupt reductions in Sacramento River flow exposed spawning redds, killed up to 40% of Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon eggs and stranded newly emerged fry. "And low reservoir levels will likely lead to inadequate flows for young salmon out-migration this coming spring," said Jennings.

While the exact amount of water used in fracking in California is not currently known, since disclosure of the amount of water used for fracking is voluntary - one thing is for certain - oil companies use big quantities in their current oil drilling operations in Kern County. Much of this water this comes through the State Water Project's California Aqueduct and the Central Valley Water Project's Delta-Mendota Canal, spurring increasing conflicts between local farmers and oil companies over available water.

Jeremy Miller, in his 2011 investigative piece, "The Colonization of Kern County," in Orion Magazine, said it is "resoundingly clear, however, that it takes more water than ever just to sustain Kern County's ebbing oil production," (

Miller's investigation has yielded some alarming data on how much water has been used by the oil industry in Kern County and statewide since the 1960s.

"In the time since steamflooding was pioneered here in the fields of Kern County in the 1960s, oil companies statewide have pumped roughly 2.8 trillion gallons of fresh water—or, in the parlance of agriculture, nearly 9 million acre-feet—underground in pursuit of the region's tarry oil," said Miller. "Essentially, enough water has been injected into the oil fields here over the last forty years to create a lake one foot deep covering more than thirteen thousand square miles—nearly twice the surface area of Lake Ontario."

As California fisheries suffer from drought and state and federal water mismanagement, the toxic chemicals used in fracking and acidizing will only further pollute groundwater supplies, rivers and ocean waters. In every state where fracking is taking place, it is contaminating water, creating dangerous air pollution, generating huge quantities of toxic wastewater and industrializing communities. However, oil companies have refused to disclose the chemicals used in fracking operations, since they are considered a "trade secret."

"In at least four states that have nurtured the nation's energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen," reported Kevin Begos of the Associated Press on January 6. (

"The Associated Press requested data on drilling-related complaints in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas and found major differences in how the states report such problems," Begos said. "Texas provided the most detail, while the other states provided only general outlines. And while the confirmed problems represent only a tiny portion of the thousands of oil and gas wells drilled each year in the U.S., the lack of detail in some state reports could help fuel public confusion and mistrust."

The only way to protect California groundwater supplies, rivers and ocean waters and imperiled Delta fish and Central Valley salmon populations from fracking is to ban the environmentally destructive practice entirely. It is essential that Governor Jerry Brown join the majority of the residents of the state and support a ban on fracking.

Tell Governor Brown: Scrap your dangerous fracking regulations and ban fracking now. Click here to submit a public comment:

One Comment

  1. Avid Reader January 8, 2014

    Dan Bacher,
    I think I love you.
    ~Avid Reader

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