DROUGHT NOTES: It is easy to forget that the only natural force over which we have any control out here is water, and that only recently. In my memory California summers were characterized by the coughing in the pipes that meant the well was dry, and California winters by all-night watches on rivers about to crest, by sandbagging, by dynamite on the levees and flooding on the first floor. Even now the place is not all that hospitable to extensive settlement. (Joan Didion, The White Album)
* * *
It is raining in California, a straight rain
Cleaning the heavy oranges on the bough,
Filling the gardens till the gardens flow,
Shining the olives, tiling the gleaming tile,
Waxing the dark camellia leaves more green,
Flooding the daylong valleys like the Nile.
— Karl Shapiro
TALMAGE COUPLE ACCUSED OF TORTURING SEVERAL CHILDREN
by Tiffany Revelle
A Talmage couple was arrested Thursday night in what authorities are calling the most atrocious case of child sexual abuse in decades, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.
Donald Earl Dunakin, 61, and his girlfriend of 30 years, Ina Selene Medina, 47, are suspected of sexually abusing several children they had in common over a 13-year period of time. The “multiple” children identified as victims were between the age of 3 and 16 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, according to the MCSO.
“In my 32 years of law enforcement, this is the most heinous case of sex crimes against children I've ever seen,” said Mendocino County Tom Allman Friday, after being briefed on the investigation.
Child Protective Services called the Sheriff's Office Wednesday, and the couple was arrested the next day, according to MCSO spokesman Capt. Greg Van Patten. The children were taken from the home.
“It's a very heartbreaking case,” Van Patten said. “This is the reason we do the job we do, to put these types of cases together and protect children.”
Dunakin was arrested at 1:30pm, Jan. 23 on suspicion of engaging in three or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with a child younger than 14, sodomy on a child younger than 14, use of force on a child, aggravated sexual assault on a child, torture and sexual penetration on a victim with a mental disorder or a developmental or physical disability.
Medina was arrested on suspicion of torture, engaging in three or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with a child younger than 14, use of force on a child, aggravated sexual assault on a child and anal or genital penetration by a foreign object with force.
According to a Friday press release from the MCSO, the two were also arrested on suspicion of lewd acts with a child, oral copulation on a child and continuous sexual abuse of a child.
The MCSO is still working to identify which of the couple's “multiple” children were victims, according to Van Patten, and is still investigating the case and preparing it for the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office to review and file charges in court.
Dunakin and Medina are each held at the Mendocino County Jail under $250,000 bail.
Anyone with information about Dunakin and Medina is urged to call the Sheriff's Office's tip line at 234-2100.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)
WILL PARRISH’S ATTORNEY, OMAR FIGUEROA of Sebastopol, made the following remarks last Thursday on the Ukiah Courthouse steps as he announced that charges against Will Parrish were reduced and a settlement reached between Parrish and the DA. Parrish had been charged with multiple misdemeanor counts associated with his protest at the Willits bypass.
Figueroa: “I wish I had the time and the courage to get out there and stop these illegal operations but I don't. Those of you who do have that courage to stand up should continue because there are other attorneys like me out there who will stand with you to avoid prosecution and punishment for doing the right thing. Initially Will was charged with three infractions. As is his right he demanded a jury trial so that the people of Mendocino County could determine whether or not he was guilty. In response to that, 16 misdemeanors were filed against him. When all is said and done under the terms of this settlement he will have two infractions. He is not on probation. No jail time is part of his deal. Restitution has been reserved and there will be a restitution hearing on April 26 at 9:30, unless it’s settled earlier. We want you to show up and show your support for Will Parrish at that time. Based on the information provided to us we anticipate that Judge Behnke will order restitution that is a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Caltrans and its corporate contractors were requesting. Keep in mind that the judges and prosecutors are elected officials. They are public servants. They work for us. So let them know how you feel about this. I do want to commend the office of the District Attorney for allowing this resolution which, although not a complete dismissal, is a couple of infractions and a few dollars in restitution and no jail time. Will and I are happy about this. The outcome of this case will not squelch future protests. I encourage you to do the right thing and stand up against the destruction of Mother Earth and to remember that many others will stand up with you. Do not be afraid. There is strength in numbers. Thank you all for coming together.
WILL PARRISH took the microphone after an introduction by Naomi Wagner: “Thanks for coming out here. I have two misdemeanors that will essentially become infractions after two years. No jail time. It's not really probation, just ordinary terms I am supposed to abide by for the misdemeanors to become infractions. I was arrested at one point for being within what the CHP claimed was 100 yards of the Willits bypass route when I was trying to cover the Bypass as a journalist in September. As part of this deal, I can congregate with anyone else in the public who is near the bypass route. So part of the settlement is not limiting my rights as a journalist to cover the bypass. The terms of the restitution are no longer the worst-case scenario. I personally think Caltrans should be required to pay restitution to us. They are the people who actually violated the laws which are supposed to protect ecosystems and Little Lake Valley. But those will be let go. The best we can do is pick our battles. I am now able to free up my energy to work on things that are bigger priorities for me than going all the way through this drawn-out and draining legal process. I have been involved in opposing the Willits bypass for over a year. In that time I have personally experienced the way that Caltrans has the roll right over anyone who might dare to stand in their way. That's similar to the process that has been playing out in different forms for over 30 years now. Caltrans lies and they manipulate and they will do anything they need to do in order to steamroll forward with this project. I understand the same dynamic happens with many other projects that Caltrans pursues — large, bloated, international corporations all over the world use this pattern. A global struggle is happening for the preservation of our global ecosystems and the Willits bypass is wreaking the greatest harm on ecosystems of any project in Mendocino County in years. There are huge amounts of CO2 just in the transportation of the fill dirt and the production of gravel and all the other industrial processes to build this unnecessary freeway. The destruction of wetlands — they are keystones to ecosystems. They are the most important element of groundwater recharge. They are essential in the health of wildlife. They are essential to the health of our watershed. And this is the largest wetlands destruction that has been permitted to go ahead in California in the last half century. To experience the nuts and bolts of this corrupt process involving some real criminal activity on the part of Caltrans has been gut-wrenching and it has been appalling — not to mention an educational process for us.
ATTORNEY FIGUEROA then explained to AVA reporter Bruce McEwen some of the details of the settlement:
“Will Parrish did not plead guilty; he entered pleas of no contest under Penal Code 555 which is trespassing upon posted lands. The significant part is that the remaining counts were all dismissed so the three counts of resisting arrest and the other 11 counts under Penal Code 555 were all dismissed. The charges that they were threatening to file against him will not be filed either. Their initial offer after they jacked up all the charges involved a long history of negotiations. He is not on probation. He has not been sentenced. He is not under any court probation. This is two years of deferred entry of judgment so he is not formally on probation. He has not been convicted. After two years if he complies with the conditions which we worked on that are acceptable to us then he will be convicted of two infractions instead of two misdemeanors. So he basically got a delay in sentence. He plead to two misdemeanors and after two years they will be reduced to infractions. Initially they wanted him to sign off on an estimated $1 million restitution — that's what Mr. Eyster said at first. Then they gave us paperwork that added up to about half a million dollars. Based on the information they provided to us we think that the restitution that will be ordered by the court will be a small fraction of the amount requested by Caltrans and its corporate contractors. There will be a restitution hearing on April 25 if we cannot come to an agreement before that. There is no stay away order. He cannot physically obstruct or delay the Willits bypass. But Will has no interest in doing that because the pen is mightier than the sword. He will be engaging in investigative journalism to expose fraud and corruption. The original stay away order was a dealbreaker for us. We would not agree to any such order. We negotiated that there would be no stay-away condition in the deferred entry of judgment. We needed for him to be able to cover the Bypass and do his job. He had been chilled from doing his job with the stay-away order that previously existed in the pendency of the case. They had a 100 yard stay-away order. That did chill his journalistic freedom and that's now been lifted.”
ALF AND MARY ROSE of Point Arena have a son named Joey. He was raised fishing off Point Arena Pier while his mother owned and operated the kitchen store at Arena Cove. Joey's dad is a fisherman and gardener. Joey has spent his life so far enjoying his favorite hobbies: fishing and hunting.
On a sunny, recent Monday, Joey and a pal decided to do some skeet shooting near a hidden seaside property they caretake for a couple now living out of state. Joey and his parents used to live in a trailer on the property while the main house was occupied by the old owner who has since died.
The place isn't visible from Highway One, but it's a large home with a barn that can be seen only from the ocean. The new owners don't use the place or visit much, if at all, and this beautiful little place sits empty but fully furnished, growing old from the salt air and disuse.
Joey first noticed the broken window when they approached the house to check on it. He took a long look and was glad he did. He waited a long time before he took a cautious step inside. There was someone upstairs, a person who shouldn't have been there.
The house contained a man who had made it his home — a transient, a vagrant, a squatter. He may have occupied the place for as long as a week.
The intruder had been not a good tenant. In fact, he seemed unaccustomed to living indoors, and completely unacquainted with the modern amenities he'd found in the house he'd taken for himself.
Squatter Man had found the owner's shotgun and shells and had amused himself by shooting the place up as best he could until he ran out of ammo. Most of us, even if we were squatting, would have turned on the radio or satisfied ourselves by watching the sun set in the Pacific. There are people, of course, who prefer noise and destruction as a means of entertainment. There's also a small army of crazy people loose in the land. Squatter Man was one of the latter.
Meanwhile, Joey's outside looking in, where he remained when he saw through the window the shotgun laying on the floor, carelessly abandoned amid the wreckage of what had been an orderly home.
Joey called his folks and told them what he'd discovered. Alf and Mary Rose arrived just after Joey had gone ahead on inside. But Joey had heard someone moving around upstairs and quickly hustled back outside. A shotgun and overhead mystery sounds demand full caution.
There ensued a kind of one-way standoff with Alf, Mary Rose and Joey outside, Squatter Man oblivious upstairs. Alf kept his deer rifle handy for the four and one-half hours it took a deputy to arrive from Fort Bragg.
The deputy boldly went on upstairs where he found Squatter Man, the same man he'd encountered a few nights before out on Highway One where Squatter Man had started a roadside fire. This time the deputy discovered Squatter Man standing behind a bedroom door, shotgun at the ready, but out of ammo, not that the deputy could have known that. The deputy, however, seemed to proceed as if the gun was empty.
Squatter Man was clearly 5150. He seethed threats of mass mayhem in between incoherent but passionate statements. The deputy handcuffed Squatter Man, but before the deputy could place his captive in one of the spiffy new SUV's the Sheriff's Department sports on the Mendocino Coast, Squatter Man, with a Houdini-like slither, suddenly brought his cuffed hands out in front of his body, the better to make a run for it. The deputy pounced and wrestled Squatter Man into the squad car, placing him securely behind the mesh. "It wasn't easy getting him in there, Alf said. "He was pretty nutty."
Inside the violated home, Alf, Mary and Joe saw that Squatter Man had taken the abalone hammers from the kitchen drawers and hacked apart rocks on the antique furniture upstairs. He'd used bulky bath towels as toilet paper then tried to flush them down the toilet. When that didn't work, he threw soiled towels in the other toilet. The running water had been shut off by the owner, but the vagrant bathed in the hot tub, which had water in it.
Most absentee people who can afford a cozy little getaway with an ocean view would probably see to it that someone local kept an eye on it for them. The new-style transients aren't great respecters of property, public or private, and there are lots of them out there shuffling up and down Highway One, a small army of them, unhappy unto crazed.
HUMBOLDT TAKES ON METH SCOURGE
Community rallies for meth abuse awareness
by Daniel Mintz
Shocked by recent killings thought to be directly or indirectly related to methamphetamine use, throngs of residents came to a community meeting and pledged to work on reducing it.
Spurred by the Meth Abuse Awareness Project Facebook page, an overflow crowd packed the Redwood Acres Turf Club building in Eureka on Jan. 23 to talk to each other about meth addiction, its effects and how to deal with it.
They left the event with their names on e-mail contacts lists that will be used to organize efforts to help addicts, define the extent of meth addiction in the county and research programs that have been successful elsewhere.
Dr. Michael Fratkin of St. Joseph Hospital is a key player in organizing the event. He dedicated the get-together to Suzie Seemann and Father Eric Freed, whose murders are believed to be meth-related, and to a recovered addict he became friends with when she was in the hospital’s intensive care ward.
Attendees included social services workers, police officials, city and county elected officials, substance abuse counselors, doctors, educators and youth program organizers. Fratkin said the outcome of the meeting will be determined by its participants.
“Our goal today is to translate a social media community catharsis into a flesh and blood structure for ongoing community action,” he continued. “Whatever happens from this point forward is because you do it.”
Members of the audience were asked to discuss meth issues with each other and during a brief commentary session, they said they’re concerned about family members, fear for their safety and have noticed apparently meth-influenced problems in schools and on the streets.
The essence of the event was its encouragement of community organizing, however, and people chose various meth-related issues to group around.
During the group session report-outs, more inpatient addiction treatment was called for along with more early intervention efforts, particularly in schools. Some group representatives said that outlying areas of the county need to be connected to the kind of services and programs clustered in Eureka.
A representative of a group on meth-addicted mothers and their children said a “focus on Southern Humboldt” is needed, along with encouragement of responsible parenting and birth control.
A public awareness group’s members vouched for use of media as well as a “speakers bureau” and a “Humboldt travelling education group” to go from school to school to talk about drug issues. A prevention group also encouraged more school-based programs and identification of risk and support factors.
The importance of mental health services was highlighted and applause resounded when a youth services educator from the Eureka-based RAVEN Project said use of hard drugs is often an after-effect of trauma and sexual abuse.
Karen “Fox” Olsen, Director of the Arcata House transitional housing program, represented a group that dealt with housing and said its members agree that there isn’t enough of it in Humboldt County. She added that her personal opinion is that “until this community identifies marijuana as a huge driving force that fuels the methamphetamine thing,” progress will be limited.
A legislation group’s report out was given by John Driscoll, Congressman Jared Huffman’s northern region rep, who said that for lobbying to be effective, “You need to quantify the problem and be able to ask for exactly what you want.”
Reporting for a law enforcement-oriented group, Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills said police are merely a “stop-gap measure” in dealing with meth abuse. He said his group’s members talked about data-gathering -- including through surveys of addicts -- identifying meth-dealing locations and changing jail booking procedures.
Mills also said law enforcement officials met with local pastors earlier that day and a panel to examine jail booking policies will be formed, an effort that County Sheriff Mike Downey supports.
The report-outs also included recommendations to involve spiritual leaders in the anti-meth efforts.
At the conclusion of the event, Fratkin said a Humboldt Area Foundation grant will likely pay for a transition out of Facebook to a dedicated website. He hypothetically responded to those who may think there’s nothing that can be done about a pervasive problem like meth abuse.
“We’ve demonstrated something very different,” said Fratkin. “There’s a hell of a lot you can do, so thank you -- you all have blown me away, so let’s do it.”
The event’s audience was expanded through a live Internet audio stream by KHUM FM radio and The Lost Coast Outpost news blog.
INSTANT COMA. From Saturday's Santa Rosa Press Democrat, this headline: “Fudge Gets Huffman Endorsement.”
Or, “Humpty Loves Dumpty.”
A READER WRITES: "The item re: strangles seems partially incorrect: The high school rodeo in question, where the infected horse may have infected other horses, was in Ferndale, NOT in Willits. I forwarded your item from Angie Herman to Maureen Moore, who’s got horsey connections. And after asking around, and forwarding your item to our Willits Weekly horse doctor columnist, Sherri Cronin, this is what Maureen found: Looks like Angie picked up the January 23 post by Cronin (Cronin is “Mobile Equine Veterinary Services”) on Facebook about the confirmed case in Mendocino County, which mentions a high school rodeo, but no name in the main post. Angie apparently assumed it was Willits? Sherri didn’t report the town the high school rodeo was at until somebody asked in comments, and it was Ferndale, not Willits".
THE FUKUSHIMA SECRECY SYNDROME
From Japan to America
by Ralph Nader
Last month, the ruling Japanese coalition parties quickly rammed through Parliament a state secrets law. We Americans better take notice.
Under its provisions the government alone decides what are state secrets and any civil servants who divulge any “secrets” can be jailed for up to 10 years. Journalists caught in the web of this vaguely defined law can be jailed for up to 5 years.
Government officials have been upset at the constant disclosures of their laxity by regulatory officials before and after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in 2011, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
Week after week, reports appear in the press revealing the seriousness of the contaminated water flow, the inaccessible radioactive material deep inside these reactors and the need to stop these leaking sites from further poisoning the land, food and ocean. Officials now estimate that it could take up to 40 years to clean up and decommission the reactors.
Other factors are also feeding this sure sign of a democratic setback. Militarism is raising its democracy-menacing head, prompted by friction with China over the South China Sea. Dismayingly, U.S. militarists are pushing for a larger Japanese military budget. China is the latest national security justification for our “pivot to East Asia” provoked in part by our military-industrial complex.
Draconian secrecy in government and fast-tracking bills through legislative bodies are bad omens for freedom of the Japanese press and freedom to dissent by the Japanese people. Freedom of information and robust debate (the latter cut off sharply by Japan’s parliament in December 5, 2013) are the currencies of democracy.
There is good reason why the New York Times continues to cover the deteriorating conditions in the desolate, evacuated Fukushima area. Our country has licensed many reactors here with the same designs and many of the same inadequate safety and inspection standards. Some reactors here are near earthquake faults with surrounding populations which cannot be safely evacuated in case of serious damage to the electric plant. The two Indian Point reactors that are 30 miles north of New York City are a case in point.
The less we are able to know about the past and present conditions of Fukushima, the less we will learn about atomic reactors in our own country.
Fortunately many of Japan’s most famous scientists, including Nobel laureates, Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa, have led the opposition against this new state secrecy legislation with 3,000 academics signing a public letter of protest. These scientists and academics declared the government’s secrecy law a threat to “the pacifist principles and fundamental human rights established by the constitution and should be rejected immediately.”
Following this statement, the Japan Scientists’ Association, Japan’s mass media companies, citizens associations, lawyers’ organizations and some regional legislatures opposed the legislation. Polls show the public also opposes this attack on democracy. The present ruling parties remain adamant. They cite as reasons for state secrecy “national security and fighting terrorism.” Sound familiar?
History is always present in the minds of many Japanese people. They know what happened in Japan when the unchallenged slide toward militarization of Japanese society led to the intimidating tyranny that drove the invasion of China, Korea and Southeast Asia before and after Pearl Harbor. By 1945, Japan was in ruins, ending with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The American people have to be alert to our government’s needless military and political provocations of China, which is worried about encirclement by surrounding U.S.-allied nations and U.S. air and sea power. Washington might better turn immediate attention to U.S. trade policies that have facilitated U.S. companies shipping American jobs and whole industries to China.
The Obama administration must become more alert to authoritarian trends in Japan that its policies have been either encouraging or knowingly ignoring – often behind the curtains of our own chronic secrecy.
The lessons of history beckon.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.)
“CALL FOR ARTISTS” for the 2014-2015 Sculpture Trail, a year-round outdoor exhibit of sculptures in the Northern Sonoma County communities of Cloverdale and Geyserville. The sponsors of the exhibit, Cloverdale Arts Alliance and the Geyserville Community Foundation are seeking sculptors for the exhibit beginning May 8, 2014 through May 7, 2015. Other activities and tours are in the planning stages to promote this exhibit, along with an exhibit brochure and selected sculptor information online. The goal of this successful outdoor exhibit is to continue to increase awareness of public art and the part sculptures play in bringing art to citizens and visitors through the placement of sculptures in publicly assessable spaces, such as the streets of Cloverdale and Geyserville. There is no entry fee. Additional information and an entry form with guidelines are available at http://cloverdaleartsalliance.org or call the Cloverdale Arts Alliance at 707-894-4410. Selection for both communities will be made from the entries received. Deadline for entries is February 28, 2014.