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Mendocino County Today: Sat, March 22, 2014

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PENDING COMPLETION of an ongoing formal investigation, the District Attorney's Office does not contemplate commenting on any details in the shooting deaths this week on the Mendocino Coast of a sheriff's deputy or his suspected killer. A clear, concise explanation of the events surrounding the deaths will be outlined in a report at the conclusion of the investigation. District Attorney Dave Eyster said that at this point it is not a matter of days but weeks before such a report is expected to be completed and ready for public distribution. Some of you may recall the exhaustively detailed report released by DA Eyster in the wake of the Aaron Bassler case. It is anticipated a report similar in scope will be prepared in this case. Please feel free to call with any questions. We may not be able to provide the answers you seek, but we are prepared as usual to assist in whatever ways possible. We have attached for your information the most recent press statement issued by the Sheriff’s Office.

Thanks, Mike Geniella, Public Information, Mendocino County District Attorney office

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Location: 24000 block of Pine Street Cleone

Date: 03-19-2014 Time: 1151 hours

Name: Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino

Age: 48; City/State: Fort Bragg, Ca

Suspect: Ricardo Chaney

Age: 32; City/State: Eugene, Or

On 03-19-2014 at 1034 hours Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the Confusion Hill business located at 75001 North Highway 1 near Piercy, California regarding an attempted murder.

Responding Deputies were notified the suspect, described as a white male adult, shot at the business owner with a double barrel shotgun before fleeing southbound on Highway 101 in a vehicle. The vehicle was described as being a black Mazda or BMW 4-door sedan with tinted windows.

Deputies responded northbound on Highway 101 from Leggett and Willits while Deputies responded northbound on Highway 1 from Fort Bragg.

As Deputies were searching for the suspect’s vehicle a Deputy was able to interview the business owner as to the circumstances of the shooting.

It was determined the business owner witnessed the suspect urinating outside the back of the business which prompted a verbal confrontation. The suspect was told he needed to leave the property because of his actions and the business owner entered the business.

Shortly thereafter the business owner saw the suspect walking towards the business in possession of something in his hand, causing the business owner to fear for his safety.

The suspect entered the business and the business owner struck him with an expandable baton causing the suspect to discharge a double barrel shotgun, he was holding, into the floor.

The business owner fled to a nearby room as the suspect discharged the shotgun at him, causing minor injuries from broken glass, and then he fled to a black BMW sedan parked outside the business.

As the suspect was leaving, the business owner exited the business and shot one time at the suspect’s vehicle with a pistol he obtained from inside the business.

At 1135 hours Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino and Sheriff’s Lieutenant Greg Stefani, observed a black BMW sedan traveling southbound near mile post marker 72 on Highway 1.

The BMW suddenly accelerated to a high rate of speed and was observed driving in a reckless manner in an obvious attempt to flee from Lieutenant Stefani who was behind the BMW at that time. A pursuit ensued with Lieutenant Stefani losing sight of the BMW several times.

Officers from the Fort Bragg Police Department staged at mile post marker 63.5 and prepared to deploy a spike-strip to disable the BMW.

The BMW never reached this location and it was suspected the vehicle had turned off onto a surface road north of their location.

Lieutenant Stefani, Deputy Del Fiorentino and Fort Bragg Police Department Officers began an area search by vehicle and sometime thereafter were searching the Ward Avenue subdivision in Cleone located north of Fort Bragg.

At 1151 hours an “11-99” (officer needs assistance) radio transmission was made with the notification that shots had been fired.

Initial investigations suggest Deputy Del Fiorentino was searching the 24000 block of Pine Street in the subdivision when he encountered the BMW traveling or parked facing towards the front of Deputy Del Fiorentino’s patrol vehicle from a short distance.

The suspect, Ricardo Antonio Chaney, shot into the patrol vehicle multiple times striking and killing Deputy Del Fiorentino.

Fort Bragg Police Lieutenant John Naulty drove up behind Deputy Del Fiorentino’s patrol vehicle shortly after the shooting. Lieutenant Naulty engaged Chaney in a gun battle as Chaney was standing near Deputy Del Fiorentino’s patrol vehicle.

During the course of the gun battle Chaney began to disappear into a bushy area beside a residence along the roadway.

As the gun battle continued Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry drove up behind Lieutenant Naulty’s patrol vehicle and provided cover as the pair began to retreat to a safer position as Chaney was armed with an assault rifle.

A perimeter was established with several different local law enforcement agencies while further resources were being obtained to conduct a thorough search of the area for Chaney and a possible second suspect seen running from the shooting scene.

Members from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team arrived sometime thereafter and deployed to the shooting scene.

During a search of the scene Chaney was located a short distance away in the side yard of the residence behind the brush line near Deputy Del Fiorentino’s patrol vehicle.

Chaney was pronounced dead from what appeared to be 2 separate gunshot wounds. It was noted that Chaney was wearing a military style ballistic vest and was in possession of 2 assault rifles. A double barreled shotgun was located inside of the BMW which had been reported stolen in Eugene, Oregon.

Information developed by investigators showed Chaney was wanted in connection with the stolen BMW and the kidnapping of 2 individuals. Chaney was also reportedly a person of interest in a recent homicide in Oregon. All cases are being investigated by the Eugene Police Department.

The possible second suspect was located hiding inside of a pump house building and was determined to be an innocent bystander who had ran from the scene for his own safety.

It was then determined Chaney was the only suspect connected to the shooting incident.

At the request of the Sheriff’s Office the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office assumed investigative control of the shooting incident per the county’s Officer Involved Fatal Incident protocol.

All future media inquires into the investigation should be directed to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office by calling 707-463-4211.

Deputy Del Fiorentino was a 26-year veteran of law enforcement spending 10-years with the Fort Bragg Police Department and 16-years with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office during his career.

A public memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday March 26, 2014 at 1000 hours at a location to be determined in Fort Bragg, California.

Updated information will be released via future press releases.

Those interested in attending the memorial service should subscribe to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office press release email notification system located at to receive those updates. (Sheriff’s Office Press Release.)

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FERMIN BAEZA, 45, of Fort Bragg was only 30 feet from Wednesday's lethal gunfire. He'd been working nearby when the shooting started and had sought shelter in a pump house. Initial police reports said “a second man,” believed to be Chaney's accomplice, had run from the scene of Chaney's fatal shooting of deputy Del Fiorentino. Baeza crouched, terrified, in the pump house for two hours, not knowing what the heck was going on all around him. When the police finally searched the pump house he experienced more terror when the guns were aimed at him. Another two hours of interrogation, and Baeza was finally free to leave.

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THE LOGISTICS of a mass memorial service for slain deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino are complicated by the absence of places to hold them in Fort Bragg. There's the small-ish Cotton Auditorium, the Fort Bragg High School gym and, outside in the weather, the high school's little jewel of a football stadium; those are the three venues that can accommodate a large crowd. The late Vern Piver's service was standing room only in the gym. Piver, like the late deputy, was enormously popular, not only in Fort Bragg, but throughout the County for his ebullient personality and his unflagging commitment to youth sports. Fort Bragg City councilman, Jere Melo, also a murder victim at the hands of a maniac, was honored with an outdoor memorial in the football arena. Del Fiorentino, also a man with a Piver-Melo quality of community respect, will draw a huge number of people. So, with rain expected for the middle of the week with the memorial scheduled for Wednesday morning, and school in session? Got to be Cotton Auditorium.

AND IT'S COTTON, this confirming press release just in confirms:

DEPUTY RICKY DEL FIORENTINO MEMORIAL SERVICE LOCATION: Cotton Auditorium (500 North Harold Street, Fort Bragg,) Date: 03-26-2014. Time: 10am.

The public memorial service for fallen Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino will be held on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 beginning at 10am at the Cotton Auditorium located at 500 North Harold Street in Fort Bragg, California. A reception will immediately follow the memorial service at the Fort Bragg Middle School located adjacent to the Cotton Auditorium. Law Enforcement agencies wishing to participate in a marked patrol vehicle procession are asked to arrive at the Redwood Empire Fair & Event Center (1055 North State Street Ukiah) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 at 6am. The procession will depart at 7am and will travel approximately 60 miles along the routes of Highway 101, Highway 20 and Highway 1 before reaching the Georgia Pacific Mill Site (100 West Cypress Street) in Fort Bragg. This procession will utilize the Nalemars radio frequency for communications. A secondary Law Enforcement procession will depart the Georgia Pacific Mill Site to travel to the Cotton Auditorium after the first procession arrives at the mill site. The Georgia Pacific Mill Site has been established as the main parking area for the memorial service and buses will be at the location to shuttle attendees to/from the Cotton Auditorium. Parking near the Cotton Auditorium will be reserved for family, law enforcement and special guests. Carpooling to the memorial service is highly recommended. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office will be attempting to establish a video broadcast of the memorial service accessible via the internet for those who are unable to attend.

Anyone wishing to make monetary donations to the Ricky Del Fiorentino Memorial Fund can do so by contacting or visiting any of the Savings Bank of Mendocino County locations or by mail to PO Box 3600, Ukiah, CA 95482 (707-462-6613).

Deputy Del Fiorentino is survived by his wife, children (ages 21, 19, 18, 6), stepson (age 29), grandson (age 5 months), step-grandchildren (ages 6, 3), parents and siblings.

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A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER named Jonathan Hayes of Sacramento has filed a $100k-plus claim against Mendocino County for the injuries his client, Gregory Bergman, suffered after being shot by former Mendocino Deputy District Attorney Damon Gardner. According to the claim, “Mendocino County District Attorney Damon Gardner was under the influence when he shot Gregory Bergman with a concealed weapon. He was in Sacramento attending a legal seminar believed to be done as part of his job as a District Attorney.” … “Injury: Gunshot wound to the abdomen.” Amount Claimed: “In excess of $100,000.” The incident occurred last October 17, 2013 at 15th and L Streets in Sacramento. There is no further information available about Mr. Bergman. How Mendocino has any liability stemming from having permitted Mr. Gardner to go to a training seminar (other than the obvious fact that Mendo probably has more money than Mr. Gardner) is unclear.

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HERE COME MORE LAWYERS! The City of Ukiah employs a a lawyer but the City will hire a second one to beat back the suit filed by Ukiah Citizens for Safety First that says the Costco proposed for the town's row of big box stores “will create dangerous traffic conditions on Highway 101.” Which it undoubtedly will, given present traffic configurations in that area. Traffic already is often bolloxed as shoppers stream to Walmart and the many other mega-stores, fast food emporiums, the existing service station complex, and the several motels confined to within about a half mile of each other south of Ukiah. Plunk down a Costco and traffic is certain to mestastasize.

THE CITY'S LEGAL EAGLE, David Rapport, will be reinforced by Costco's attorneys, but apparently Ukiah doesn't think they've lawyered up enough. The City has hired a third attorney to “protect” its interests. This person is allegedly skilled at defending environmental impact reports or, in this case, flawed environmental impact reports. She has apparently agreed not to soak the City more than $30,000.

THE CITIZEN'S GROUP will probably be beaten into submission by Ukiah's trio of attorneys simply because they won't have the money to resist them in the local courts.

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Michael Kisslinger question to Fourth District Supervisor Dan Gjerde, KZYX's “Give & Take” Show, Thursday, March 20, 2014: “OK, maintaining the roads is important, but, I guess my question is, Why is it important? And by that I mean — you were talking about taking the long term view — I also think it's important to take the bigger view and especially when you're in a government situation or like the Board of Supervisors — when I worked with non-profit boards they often used an example of if you have a line item for gasoline and it suddenly spikes, I don't think it's right for the board of directors of that organization to be arguing about whether or not they're buying their gas at 76 or Arco. Instead they should be asking, Why are we using gasoline? You know, should we be switching to bicycles? Or whatever fits our mission? So I guess what I'm saying is, fixing the roads is important, but then what? You know, what is that — once we have the roads that are up and running, what are we going to do with them? I mean, besides live on them?”

GJERDE'S REPLY: “If you can't do the fundamentals, how can you take on the important projects?”

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Dear Friends of the Kent State Truth Tribunal,

I am pleased to enclose links for the Kent State Truth Tribunal news coverage and related UN responses from our recent campaign at the UN Human Rights Committee:

3/7/14 Decades Later, No Justice for Kent State | ACLU Blog of Rights ~

3/7/14 Soldiers Are Cutting Us Down: Uncensoring Kent State | Common Dreams ~

The Kent State Truth Tribunal was interviewed on BBC World Service, from 3/12/14 Newshour ~

The Kent State Truth Tribunal address to the UN Human Rights Committee from 3/13/14 ~

Response notes from the UN Human Rights Committee and US at the US 4th Periodic Review held in Geneva, March 13/14, 2014.

Laurel Krause, 707-357-2855


UN Human Rights Committee Responses to Kent State 3/13/14

UN Human Rights Commission member Mr. Kaelin comments re Kent State:

Fatal shootings by police. We have reports of certain police departments being particularly bad in this regard. For example, Chicago. What does the law say and what are the practices of investigating every case of the use of deadly force by a police officer. This investigation is required by the Covenant in every case. What about the Kent State killings, where new evidence became available years later. Are these cases re-opened?

UN Human Rights Commission member Mr. Shany comments:

Accountability. Failure to prosecute any commanders, even in the case of suspected homicides. The particular framework and training appears to be inadequate. The doctrine of command responsibility. The reliance on aiding & abetting against commanders is not good enough, and will not protect victims (re Kent State).

US response 3/14/14

Roy Austin, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

• I will address Mr. Kaelin’s questions,

• “Life matters and life is sacred.” When a police officer uses deadly force, it has a big impact on that person’s family. It also has a big impact on that officer himself.

• We are a country of more than 20,000 police departments, ½ million police officers. Many Americans have contact with police officers, and the vast majority of those cases there is no problem with discrimination. We are not a perfect system, though, so there are problems. We try hard to improve every police department. We train our officers. We clean up policies. We have organizations designed to improve our police departments. We have advocates in our communities that help. When these policies/training do not work, we do not hesitate to hold our officers accountable. Multi-tiered process: internal review, then to state governments, then to the federal government. 246 officers federally convicted of police misconduct.

• On the civil side, we work through our pattern and practice cases. We have opened a record number of cases challenging discrimination/abuse of our constitution. Sometimes, we experience resistance from local governments. We challenge them where necessary.

• On Chicago: We are aware of the problems in Chicago. But that is just one small part of the country.

• We were asked about Kent State: 4 students were murdered. 9 were injured. There is nothing we can do now between double jeopardy and the statute of limitations. The new evidence does not make an unprosecutable case prosecutable.

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While Marx got plenty of things wrong (especially the whole ‘rule of the proletariat’ thingy (aka meet the new boss, same as the old boss), he was spot on identifying that capitalism was only a stage in history, one amongst many others that have come and gone. The question for the ages has been, When would this period of rule actually come to an end? Well, it appears Karl got that one correct as well; specifically, when the goodies ran out that were used to bribe a certain %age of the population in order to support the status quo. Goodies came in two basic flavors: (a) pump the Ponzi so that anyone who bought in (ie took on debt to purchase capital goods = houses) @ the bottom would experience nominal gains as new players were added to the mix in order to create demand for scarce goods; and (b) keep pushing exploitation out to further outposts of empire so that the previously exploited could comfortably enjoy their brief moment in the sun. Where the model breaks down is two-fold: a region cannot absorb enough new population necessary to generate equity for those who took on loans to build equity; and/or, we run out of areas to outsource the brutal requirements of industrial manufacturing. Additional population increases can only be supported by industrial scale agriculture, which is 100% dependent on fossil fuels. Finding new regions to outsource production is proving more difficult each passing day. The “establishment” is well aware of these fundamentals, and if nothing else, are students of history, economics, politics & governance. In other words, anyone with 1/2 a clue knew the existing system would someday come to a close. The real issue then becomes: what is going to replace it? And this is where things begin to become interesting, because there are all kinds of options available. The US is a particularly hard case, because the dollar’s reserve currency status has really left us weak & enfeebled. The gap between what we currently enjoy and what we could as a nation actually earn/generate absent this privilege is going to drive social unrest. How this plays out is anyone’s guess, but the interesting part is that it’s becoming apparent that the initial stages of the end of the middle game are now being mapped out across the board.

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(Draft of Letter to be considered by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

March 25, 2014

The President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

RE: Invitation to Visit Mendocino County and the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands

Dear Mr. President,

On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, you signed into law the designation of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as part of the California Coastal National Monument. The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and other County officials were extremely pleased to hear this and we thank you for your leadership on this issue, along with Congressmen Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson. During your signing ceremony in the Oval Office, we heard you proclaim your desire to visit this precious piece of California coastline. Please consider this letter an official invitation to you and your family to see what natural splendor Mendocino County has to offer.

The Mendocino County coastline, and specifically the Point-Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, was ranked in an annual New York Times feature called the “52 Places to Go in 2014,” as the No. 3 destination in January of this year. The beauty doesn’t end at the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, though. Between whale watching, old-growth redwood forests, world-class boutique wineries a rugged wind-swept coastline extending more than 100 miles, Mendocino County is a place for the soul to reinvigorate itself. We are expanding beyond being a quiet weekend retreat for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs – indeed we are now becoming known as an international destination. With that in mind, there is no better guest we could host than our President who has helped preserve the beauty of Mendocino County, the place we are fortunate to call home.

Mr. President, as a way of saying thank you for this designation, please allow our experts – long-time county residents – to show you the beauty and natural splendor of this land. We are offering up the time and knowledge of our residents to help you experience the rich bounty that this land has to offer. Thank you again for adding the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands into the California Coastal National Monument. We firmly believe this action will be an endearing part of your legacy for generations to come, and we hope to see you soon!


John Pinches, Chair, Board of Supervisors

CC: Jared Huffman, MC; Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States

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David Perlman

California experts reported Friday that Crescent City has become the first port on the West Coast to become resistant to tsunamis after a $54 million rebuilding project.

The improvements followed the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan that set off a tsunami that sunk or destroyed at least 17 boats in the Del Norte County town and damaged moorings and docks.

Next week will mark the 50th anniversary of the great Good Friday earthquake in Alaska that struck with a magnitude of 9.2, caused a tsunami that killed 11 people in Crescent City and wiped out 29 of the small city's blocks.

The specialists from the state's Geological Survey and Office of Emergency Services said during a Sacramento news conference that their teams are now completing maps of all the West Coast's harbors to analyze danger spots where strengthened docks and pilings could prevent severe damage from the next quake-triggered tsunami. Improvements will follow, they said.

Those events - long mistakenly termed “tidal waves” - are caused when powerful quakes thrust up under segments of the Earth's crust along a coast and send immense surges of ocean water pushing into coastal inlets wherever they occur.

Kevin Miller, tsunami specialist at the California Office of Emergency Services, said the Crescent City project made the harbor the “first resilient port on the West Coast, if not the planet.”

He and Rick I. Wilson of the California Geological Survey are part of a state-federal team preparing a scenario estimating tsunami damage caused by a distant hypothetical magnitude 9 quake.

Estimates indicate that without safety improvements at least one-third of all boats in coastal harbors and ports could experience damage or sink, and that total damage costs to coastal harbors and buildings could reach $8 billion statewide, they said.

“Evacuation planning and maritime planning are crucial,” Miller said.

The planning effort now under way involves mapping the potentially disastrous currents in every harbor that might be caused by tsunamis, as well as details on vulnerable port areas that need strengthening. Maps have been completed for five specific areas, he and Wilson said.

They are Santa Cruz, Crescent City, Ventura and northern San Diego Bay, as well as the small boat marinas inside the combined ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Mapping of evacuation routes toward high ground has also been completed for many low-lying coastal communities, they said, and more are under way up and down the coast.

During the 50th anniversary week of Alaska's Good Friday quake, Miller said his agency is promoting many “tsunami awareness events.”

The website for those events is at

(Courtesy, the San Francisco Chronicle.)

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Launching the Iraq war was one of the worst political decisions in American history, and today, while our troops have all come home, the law that authorized that disastrous war remains on the books.

This week marks the 11th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Our friend, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, has introduced a bill (H.R. 3852) to repeal the Iraq war authorization, taking the use of force off of the table for good.

That's why I started my own campaign on, which allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to the United States Congress, says the following:

Authorizing the Iraq war was one of the worst mistakes Congress ever made. It’s time for Congress to finally turn the last page on that disastrous war by repealing the 2002 Iraq war authorization.

Tell Congress: It's time to repeal the authorization of the Iraq war.

The Iraq war started after Congress gave George W. Bush the authorization to unleash America’s military might by passing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, a law that remains in place.

Unfortunately, the past 11 years have demonstrated that times have changed. From a seemingly ever-expanding drone war to the recent revelations of massive surveillance of Americans, the danger of relying on the good faith of our leaders is self-evident.

Today, Iraq -- which has been devastated by years of conflict coming on top of a brutal dictatorship -- remains a violent, unstable nation and a living, dying testament to the failed military adventures of the Bush years. There are even some in Washington who are calling for America to send our military back into Iraq today to deal with the continuing violence.

Unfortunately, even with the last U.S. combat troops having left Iraq over two years ago, there are some who want to keep this law on the books. That’s why we need your voice to put pressure on Congress to unauthorize the Iraq war.

Now is the time for Congress to finally right one of its worst wrongs by repealing the Iraq war authorization. Repealing the authorization will serve as a good reminder that all wars must end.

Will you join me and add your name to my petition to Congress to demand it repeal the authorization of the Iraq war now?

Thank you for your support.

Susan Shaer

Sign the petition:

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(Here's a quote from Jim Hightower's excellent recent article in The Nation. — Tom Wodetski)

 “We need not fear talking to the people about even our strongest progressive proposals, for they’re already with us — or ahead of us. Citizens United? Eighty% want it repealed, including 76% of Republicans! Hike the minimum wage? Hell, yes — again including a majority of Republicans and even 42% of Tea Partiers. Equal pay for women, no more NAFTAs, Medicare for all, big spending to restore our infrastructure, a “moon shot” to convert the country to green energy, a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculators, a stop to the NSA’s domestic spying and even gay marriage — thumbs up to all!

“So we don’t have to generate public support for a populist politics, for it’s already in the hearts, minds and guts of the majority, though most don’t know the name for it. Rather, we have to bring this natural constituency to the realization that (1) they are populists; (2) they are not alone; (3) they have much more in common than they’ve been told; and (4) they can forge a new, noncorporatized people’s politics that can achieve all of the above — and far more. As Jesse Jackson puts it: “We might not all have come over in the same boat, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“Our first job is to reach them with a message of unity and progressive possibilities.”

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by Ezra Pound, from the Chinese of Li Po

WHILE my hair was still cut straight across my forehead

I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.

You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse;

You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.

And we went on living in the village of Chokan:

Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.


At fourteen I married My Lord you.

I never laughed, being bashful.

Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.

Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.


At fifteen I stopped scowling,

I desired my dust to be mingled with yours

Forever and forever, and forever.

Why should I climb the look-out?


At sixteen you departed,

You went into far Ku-to-Yen, by the river of swirling eddies,

And you have been gone five months.

The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.


You dragged your feet when you went out.

By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,

Too deep to clear them away!

The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.

The paired butterflies are already yellow with August

Over the grass in the west garden—

They hurt me. I grow older.

If you are coming down through the narrows of the river,

Please let me know beforehand,

And I will come out to meet you,

As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

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From Jill Stein's Green Shadow Cabinet

Barack Obama has outlined a nuclear weapon expansion plan that beats Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' debacle in both dollars and dangers.

The anti-nuclear movement spent much of the eighties resisting Ronald Reagan’s new Cold War, and his new nuclear weapons of all shapes and sizes. We pushed back against his giant ‘defense’ budgets and countered his harrowing rhetoric. We knew Star Wars was a scam, and the MX missile a danger. We grimaced at his appointments to key policy making positions, and scoffed at his insincere arms control efforts.

In the end, the tireless work of professional activists, plowshares heroes, and a handful of stalwart others who stayed in the anti-nuclear weapons movement trenches deserve some credit for preventing planetary incineration that seemed frighteningly close at the time (Gorbachev deserves some too). Although nukes were not abolished with the end of the Cold War, most of the rest of us nonetheless moved on to fight other evils, and to work on one or more better world construction projects.

Two recent events should serve to re-awaken this movement and return to this struggle. First is the situation in the Ukraine, where old Cold War Hawks have been re-animated to again advise nuclear armed leaders, East and West, to show 'strength' and beat their chests at one another.

The second call to action has received much less attention. President Obama released his FY 2015 budget on Tuesday, March 4. It asks for considerably more money (in constant dollars) for nuclear weapons maintenance, design and production than Reagan spent in 1985, the historical peak of spending on nukes: $8.608 billion dollars, not counting administrative costs (see graph below). The Los Alamos Study Group crunched the numbers for us.

Next year’s request tops this year’s by 7%. Should the President’s new Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative (OGSI) be approved, yet $504 million more would be available for warhead spending. The OGSI is $56 billion over and above the spending agreed to in the December 2013 two-year budget (unlikely to pass given that it’s an election year, would be paid for by increased taxes on the retirement funds of the rich, and reduced spending in politically dicey areas like crop insurance).

The US currently deploys some 4650 nuclear weapons. That these are mere dangerous remnants of the Cold War, and of no use to counter contemporary security threats, was confirmed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment which said not a word about Russian nuclear weapons but instead focused on cyber threats, mass atrocities, and the extreme weather events attendant to climate change. (Yeah, Clapper is the guy who lied with impunity to Congress about NSA bulk data gathering on Americans; he’s probably not lying this time).

The Congressional Budget Office reports that current nuclear complex spending plans total $335 billion through FY2023. Then, believe it or not, the Pentagon and Department of Energy plan to begin replacing current weapons systems by new ones. There’s $100 billion to design and construct twelve new missile submarines, $81 billion for new strategic bombers, tens of billions for a new long-range cruise missile, a new ICBM, and revamped command and control infrastructure. Add to this the National Nuclear Security Administration’s plans for at least $60 billion to “extend the life” of current weapons, and more than $11 billion for the Uranium Processing Facility. None of these CBO figures factored in the usual cost overruns.

For the Administration to find record funds to invest in nuclear weapons in budget under so much political and fiscal pressure reveals how far Obama’s rhetoric has drifted from his actions.

Obama's Nuclear Contradiction

Increased lucre for the nuclear weapons complex maintains Obama’s inconsistency on the Bomb. He wrote his senior thesis at Columbia on the arms race and the nuclear freeze campaign. Two months after his first inauguration, he uttered these words in Prague: “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

The Pentagon’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review promised to avoid “new military missions or... new military capabilities” for nuclear weapons (don’t laugh, you’d be surprised how imaginative those guys can be). 2011 was even better: Obama signed the New START Treaty. It limits the number of operationally deployed nuclear warheads to 1550, a 30% decrease from the previous START Treaty, signed in 2002. New START also lowered limits on the number of launch platforms — ICBMs, ballistic missile launching subs, and nuke-equipped bombers.

At the same time, his State Department refuses—under first Hillary Clinton and now John Kerry—to present the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification out of timidity over expected resistance (never mind that the U.S. has essentially figured out ways to circumvent the Treaty’s spirit if not letter; the CTB was once the ‘holy grail’ for arms control and disarmament advocates).

That same State Department refrains—under both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry—from getting tough with Pakistan over its years-long obstruction of United Nations-sponsored negotiations over a global ban on the stuff needed to make bombs. (Pakistan is the country building them faster than any other; how about: ‘we’ll ground the killer drones in exchange for a fissile material cut-off?’). And Obama now wants to outspend Reagan on nuclear weapons maintenance, design and production.

Winding down nuclear weapons spending, and eventually abolishing the things (for which no negotiations are underway) has been the right thing to do since the first bomb exploded in the New Mexico desert in 1945. State Department support for the coup in Ukraine and the resultant saber rattling make it as urgent as ever.

~ Steve Breyman serves as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Ecology Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet

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Radical, Reasonable, Intransigent

by Clancy Sigal

Veterans of the 1964 Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, California, an event that electrified young men and women world over, will return to campus for the fiftieth anniversary reunion this October. (If interested e-mail FSM’s most famous leader, Mario Savio, won’t be there because he died in 1996.

I’m intensely interested in the personal lives of famous people once they “fade from the limelight.” You have this thrilling moment that defines you in popular culture…a speech, an 80-yard kickoff return…an Olympic gold medal…and then? For Savio the moment came when he gave his immortal speech on the steps of Sproul Hall:

“We’re human beings! There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

Savio’s speech became an antiwar rallying cry during Vietnam. Before Jane Fonda, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan he was the face of protest. And then? It’s said that the ancient Spartan mothers told their sons just before a battle, “Either with your shield or on it.” Or as the Australian swimming gold-medalist Shane Gould reflected on her life after the Olympics: “It was like being taken up to the highest mountain peak to see the view, and then being brought down, never to be there again.” Sandy Koufax would know all about that.

It’s quite common for world-class athletes to fall into depression and illness after they’ve given their all to achieve perfection for one brief moment. Same is true of movie actors once their time in the sun is over. Stars become waitresses or drunks or overdose or suicide – that is, those who don’t take the precaution of marrying rich which some happily do.

Adrenalin gets us up the mountain but when the rush is gone normal life can seem unbearably gray and unexciting.

You bring your baggage with you up to Everest, and it can be a killer coming down, especially if like Savio you’re a decent person unwilling to exploit your temporary fame. Raised Catholic the son of a steelworker, he might have become a priest but instead joined Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker movement and the Mississippi civil rights fight before convulsing the UC Berkeley campus whose chancellor Clark Kerr was trapped between protesting students and Neanderthal regents.

Savio held fast to the end: radical, reasonable, intransigent. He married and had children, had a nervous breakdown, went back to school, taught math and philosophy and had an early heart attack. Personally, I see his “afterlife” at least as heroic as his big moment on campus. Normal life ain’t that easy for any of us especially if you’ve been lightning-struck by media attention and peer popularity.

Idealistic, high-maintenance activists tend to burn out and some never do come back. It’s hard to step away once you’ve seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. I wonder if that’s why certain once-famous once-beautiful actresses retire to serene Carmel to talk to mainly animals. I can think of very few really famous people who stepped, or were forced, down and did good with their fame. President Jimmy Carter with his Habitat for Humanity is an exception. (No, not Al Gore, let’s not go there; and certainly not Bill Clinton with his $100 million income and extortionate speaking fees.)

A second stage of heroism just might mean living normally under the radar, with or without kids with or without mortgage. Problem is, aside from novels and songs there’s no way to celebrate a hero who returns with but not on his shield.

(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.)


  1. David Gurney March 22, 2014

    One wonders if the crazed killer hadn’t watched the recently released, and locally produced, “Need for Speed” movie, that glorifies the kind of insanity he engaged in???

    • chewsome March 22, 2014

      Gurney, you are right on target.

  2. Rick Weddle March 22, 2014

    Didn’t have the pleasure of being there for Savio’s activity on campus, but he was a fine bartender, later. He was congenial, funny, vigilant, and more important to us winos, quick and efficient at the taps. Cheers, Mario!

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