- Demented Old Guys
- Books on Vaccination
- Bigfoot Visits Philo
- Watching Television
- Salmon in the Eel
- A Ukrainian Odyssey
- The Big Oil Dirty Dozen
BAD WEEK for demented old guys. First, we got Nevada welfare rancher Cliven Bundy saying black people were better off as slaves. (BLM sweetheart deals occur here in Mendocino County, too, as do garrulous ignoramuses.)
THEN WE HAD the ancient owner of the LA Clippers telling his girl friend, who's about 60 years younger than him, that he doesn't want her bringing her black friends to basketball games.
THE GIRL FRIEND taped the old fool and the tape went viral. The real point might be that people of all races say and do foolish things every day, but most of those people aren't prominent enough to cause anyone else to care what they say or do. The second real point is that we live in a country that remains hellish for millions of black people.
BUT DONALD STERLING is white and he owns an NBA franchise, of all things, and a white race man with the attitudes he expresses is in the wrong business, the NBA being pretty much a black enterprise.
LISTENING TO THE TAPE of Sterling and his scheming tootsie, I had to remind myself I was listening to two adults talking, one of whom is a multi-millionaire and, therefore, possessing at a minimum a sense of basic self-preservation. But here he is with a woman young enough to be his granddaughter and, from the tone of the conversation, zero affection in what is probably a cash and carry relationship.
I THOUGHT they might be drunk, then I thought, “Nope, just stone dumb, both of them, but him dumber and apparently senile.” From the persistence of the young woman's questions, and the fact that she was recording the old boy's suicidal answers to leak them to the jackals of the media, well, all-in-all, a statement of Our Times.
AS AN ON-LINE COMMENTER pointed out, though, Sterling will wriggle free of responsibility this way:
1. Public mea culpa — “I was taking cough medicine at the time/off my meds”
2. Going to rehab for a “long term emotional trauma”
3. Make girlfriend dress less provocative — wear glasses & baseball cap
4. Get on radio-talk shows to confess his errors and beg for forgiveness
5. Pay FOX a lot of money to do a “rags to riches/misunderstood” documentary
6. Have a ghost written book about his unknown humanitarian deeds
7. Designate a portion of Clipper ticket prices for charity/multiracial organization
8. Heck with glasses & cap, get another mistress!
9. Blame the liberal media
I read Steve Heilig’s column in your April 16th issue titled “Vaccinate!” and would simply like to inform your readers that there are two sides to the story.
I recently read Andrew Wakefield’s book titled “Callous disregard : autism and vaccines -- the truth behind a tragedy.”
Up until I read this book, I had heard that Wakefield’s work leading him to suspect that vaccinations could cause intestinal disorders and/or autism had been proven wrong.
When I read his book I am now of the opinion that there is a real danger, which of course all agencies are eager to deny.
I had earlier read at least one book by parents who saw their normal child become autistic after a reaction to a vaccination.
It does seem apparent that the adverse reaction is had by only some children. Lots of children are vaccinated with no adverse results. But autism is such a major medical problem, and there is no question that it is increasing in this country, that I certainly understand parents who do not want their children vaccinated.
I would urge all your readers to read Wakefield’s book, then look at all the accusations, such as the online entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wakefield, and then decide for yourself what to believe. As I remember, Wakefield wanted the UK government to not give three vaccinations at once, so there is a middle-ground solution.
Cordially, Briana Burns, Black Earth, Wisconsin
DEAR MS. BURNS:
Thanks for writing. Yes, there are "two sides" to each story, if one has no standards of scientific evidence - see evolution, climate change, chemical pollution, etc etc. I've read Wakefield's book too - reluctantly, but I felt I had to. Of course he'd strive mightily to defend himself, having had his publications withdrawn due to fraud, taken money from lawyers seeking to sue vaccine makers, lost his medical license and all credibility. To someone trained in epidemiology, his arguments were wholly self-serving and scientifically unconvincing. I'd suggest you look for more credible sources - now even Jenny McCarthy is saying she is pro-vaccine and didn't mean to say otherwise (a lie, but at least an admission of error).
Please consider that, since vaccination is such an effective and money-saving intervention, "big medicine" would actually make far more "profit" from all the severe illness that would need treating without it.
But more important, consider all the suffering and death that is avoided by making people more immune to those diseases.
All that said, yes, there are a relatively tiny number of bad reactions - but not autism - and altered vaccination schedules which many if not most authorities will now recommend or at least accede to, if for no other reason than to reassure parents who have been spooked by nonscientific fear-mongering. Whatever it takes to get kids vaccinated.
Steve Heilig, San Francisco
WAS BIGFOOT IN MENDOCINO?
Sounds are heard too high for ears,
From the body cells there is an answering bay;
Soon the inner streets fill with a chorus of barks.
We see the landing craft coming in,
the black car sliding to a stop,
The Puritan killer loosening his guns.
Wild dogs tear off noses and eyes
And run off with them down the street-
The body tears off its own arms and throws them into the air.
The detective draws fifty-five million people into his revolver,
Who sleep restlessly as in an air raid in London;
Their backs become curved in the sloping dark.
The filaments of the soul slowly separate;
The spirit breaks, a puff of dust floats up,
Like a house in Nebraska that suddenly explodes.
— Robert Bly
EEL RIVER RECOVERY PROJECT
2013-2014 Chinook Salmon Monitoring Report
by Patrick Higgins
The Eel River Recovery Project is releasing the final 2013-2014 Fall Chinook Salmon Monitoring Report that estimates 14,900 to 25,000 Chinook salmon spawned throughout the watershed last fall and winter. The estimate is based on lower Eel River dive counts and organized observations of migration and spawning throughout the watershed that employ photo and video documentation. The public is invited to a presentation of results by fisheries biologist Patrick Higgins at the Monday Club in Fortuna on Tuesday May 6 beginning at 6:30 PM.
Dozens of volunteer divers once again turned out for ERRP lower Eel River surveys on October 12 and 26, and November 9. The counts built from 1,854 Chinook salmon on the first dive, to 4,224 fish later in the month, and culminated in a record high of 5,954 on the final full organized dive. Rains from November 19-21 allowed fish passage upstream and Chinook began spawning in all the lower main river reaches in the basin. Chinook salmon moved in small groups with fish stopping to spawn where they found patches of suitable gravel. Due to low rainfall, only a few fish were able to enter the Middle Fork and very few Chinook spawned further upstream on the South Fork than Leggett and no spawning was documented above Goat Rock falls on the Van Duzen.
On December 5 a small dive team, including a scuba diver, was able to verify that there was a new wave of fresh Chinook in the lower Eel River in Fortuna, when high turbid flows would normally make such observations impossible in most years. These later fish moved upstream within a few weeks and spawned in the main Eel River, mostly below McCann. Spawning was continuous from November 7 to as late as January 28, or for nearly100 days. Since Chinook only live for a maximum of 24 days after spawning, this suggests there were three or four different distinct runs pulses, each in the thousands. Flow increases from the Potter Valley Project on December 1 drew fish upstream past the Van Arsdale Fish Station, but none had passed prior due to low flows. Only 168 Chinook were counted there in the whole season, which contrasts with last years record run of 3,461 fish. ERRP also used kayaks and canoes between mid-December and late January to survey more than 30 miles of main Eel River reaches, including the lower South Fork. Salmon nests where eggs are buried are called redds, from the Scottish “to make ready”. In early November one oval nest would appear in an area of clean appropriately sized gravel. Redd numbers increased and then the fish created magnificent, aggregated salmon spawning areas that sometime extended 450 yards.
The last dive reconnaissance on January 29 encountered schools of salmon in the front of the 12th Street Pool in Fortuna that included a few Chinook but were mostly coho salmon. The rains in the first week in February were perfectly timed for the holding coho, and they successfully spawned in tributaries of the South Fork and in upper tributaries of Outlet Creek near Willits. Luckily flows never exceeded levels that would scour lower river redds; therefore, it is likely that there may be a very high survival rate of 2013-2014 juvenile Chinook despite record low flows.
The 14,900 to 25,000 fall Chinook estimated by ERRP in the 2013-2014 season is down somewhat from the previous year’s estimate of 20,000 to 50,000 fish. These recent returns are comparable to those of 1955 to 1958 when the last previous basinwide surveys were conducted. The percentage of jack salmon, which are smaller male salmon that feed for only one year in the ocean, was low in 2013-2014 compared to some recent years. This indicates lower juvenile Chinook survival and suggests that the ocean and future spawner populations may also taper down.
Funding for this project was made possible by the Patagonia World Trout Fund, the Salmon Restoration Association, Pacific Watershed Associates, Mercer Fraser, and citizens contributing to the ERRP “Penny for a Salmon” project. Go the www.eelriverrecovery.org to obtain a copy of the report and/or to support this annual project. The Monday Club is at 621 11th Street in Fortuna. Doors will open at 6 PM, refreshments will be served, and there is no charge for admission.
OMENS: A UKRAINIAN ODYSSEY
by Bill Fait
(July 1995) Ever since the USSR disintegrated I had wanted to visit the land whose bellicose leader had said: “We will bury you.” This past June I had that opportunity when I taught Bible in Mariupol, Ukraine.
I flew 1st Class to Cincinnati and Business Class to Frankfort. From Frankfort I flew to Kiev via Ukrainian Airlines and arrived within 30 minutes of my compatriots! Naturally my one checked suitcase was somewhere in limbo (I was able to retrieve it four days before my return) and I had to spend half an hour giving a detailed description of the bag to the attractive Ukrainian customs official.
The trip from Kiev to Donetsk requires the better part of 20 hours by train, at an average speed of something less than 50mph. Most of us slept all night to the rolling clattering of the aged train.
In the morning we arrived in one of the two or three largest cities in Ukraine (I believe its name started with an “N”). The written schedule on the train said there would be a 20-minute stop in this town. A friend and I decided to walk to the nearby city square, but on returning in 15 minutes we found our train gone! Probably the fact that he had left his passport and visa on the train contributed to my friend's panic, along with the fact that he had never traveled out of Texas before. I assured him that everything would be fine. Ever the adventurer, I took stock of our assets: I knew the first name of the missionary in Donetsk and there were supposed to be nine (or was it seven) Churches of Christ in the city. Heck, in a city of 3.5 million it should be easy to make connections. Unfortunately things were complicated by the fact that virtually everyone around us spoke Russian (or Ukrainian, or whatever it was that they were speaking.)
(Note: My linguistic situation was complicated by the fact that I relied on some information supplied by my wife's boss who had been in Slovakia. It was suggested that Ukraine might have eschewed the use of the Russian language like many other former vassal states of the USSR. It made sense and though I had been merrily studying Russian I switched and began to desperately study the Ukrainian language, all the while trying to forget the miniscule amount of Russian I had learned.)
So here, under pressure, in a big city I sought that most crucial of all information: fortunately “toilet” in English is close enough to the Ukrainian, Russian or whatever they were speaking. The men's room was a little different in that there was a woman in there collecting a fee; but the facilities were serviceable enough.
My friend and I were not exactly trying to travel incognito, but keeping a low profile seemed advisable; he in his casual Texas garb and me in my burgundy t-shirt emblazoned with the logo: CHOOSE LIFE. Shucks, we would have been nearly invisible until one of us had to speak. Actually the shirt proved helpful. On seeing it a tall young man asked: “Christian?” His English was sufficient to carry the conversation and he arranged the changing of some of our US currency into Ukrainian. Next he secured two train tickets to Donetsk on the next train (some four hours later). We thanked him, got his address and he hurried off to work in a nearby office building. Still, having never been outside Texas my friend was not a “happy camper” and at his insistence (and expense) we bargained for a cab ride to Donetsk. Unfortunately the Cyrillic word for “sucker” must have been imprinted on our foreheads, because two cabbies, using the old “Ukrainian Cabbie Switch” tried to gouge us for an extra $50, after initially agreeing to $100. After walking away for five or ten minutes and trying (without success) to buy a bottle of water with what looked like monopoly money, I returned to the cab to find that the price was again $100. We started off in the Russian-made Lada which I knew from my time in Nicaragua had poor shocks and steering. Through several interesting episodes, searches for gas trucks and past many police observation points we wended our way to Donetsk arriving half an hour before the train that had abandoned us. We were subjected to more than the usual good natured kidding by our compatriots; but were assured, nevertheless, that we would be “missionary legends.”
In Mariupol, the night before we were to begin teaching I was uneasy as I watched the evening lecture in the rented auditorium of the Young Pioneers Building. The audience appeared “stone faced.” Humor, especially self-deprecating humor, is a tool I use in teaching and selling and it appeared that it would not be effective in Mariupol. Fortunately, my excellent, young interpreter was able to convey my humor to the Ukrainian students who responded warmly with their own brand of humor.
Two of my students were illustrative of the reason I wanted to visit in the former USSR: Alexander was probably in his mid-40s. He said he had come to hear English spoken, though he seemed quite interested in the discussion of the Bible. At the end of the class he gave me a book he had authored and also a wrapped copy of the book addressed to the US Library of Congress (which I mailed for him upon my return.) Victor was a 70-year-old man who had been a worker all his life. He had had heart attacks at the ages of 40 and 50 and was having diabetic difficulties, but the youthfulness of his mind was astounding. As I recall, I asked if he believed in God. He and Olga, my interpreter, talked back and forth for two or three minutes as I waited for the answer. At last she said, “He says no.” I replied incredulously, “All that for 'No'?” Her reply was, “Ukrainians are philosophers.” Victor came to class the next day (and throughout the week of classes) and I told him that the American Indians often named a person for their prominent characteristic and that I would always think of him as “The Man of the Long No.”
I went to Ukraine because I knew the people had a heritage of suffering. They had suffered as serfs under the czars, as puppets and “cannon fodder” under the Bolshevik dictatorship, and now as hard-working men and women trying desperately to support themselves in the headlong rush toward a free-market economy. Frankly, I was tired of the Anderson Valley and the US, where people are so sated by material riches and the media that their brains have “turned to squash.” In the US we are so terribly blind, naked, hungry and insensitive to our true needs! The Ukrainians I met had not lost their sensitivity to (and awareness of) their true needs. They are truly a nation of philosophers.
As I was showing my Ukrainian photos to a dear friend recently, she remarked ironically, “So this is the enemy?”
THE BIG OIL DIRTY DOZEN
by Dan Bacher
California is a state where many powerful corporate interests are based, ranging from corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley to the computer and technology industry in the Silicon Valley, but none are more influential in state politics than the oil industry.
Stop Fooling California recently released a chart revealing that the oil industry, including the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron, BP and other oil companies, spent over $56.63 million on lobbying at the State Capitol in the five years from 2009 through 2013.
This money is enough to spend $471,000 on each California Senator and Assemblymember, according to the organization (http://www.stopfoolingca.org), "an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians.
The money spent by Big Oil on lobbying has been a very good investment, since the industry was able to make sure that the only fracking legislation passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor last year was Senator Fran Pavley’s “green light for fracking bill,” a ominous piece of legislation that will result in the expansion of hydraulic fracturing in Kern County, coastal areas and offshore waters.
After my article about this chart was written (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/03/31/18753347.php), Stop Fooling California emailed me the data on the money spent by individual oil companies and organizations each year during this time period.
So who were the top 12 spenders on lobbying, "The Big Oil Dirty Dozen"?
It is no surprise that Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, placed first in "The Big Oil Dirty Dozen” with $23,987,896 spent on lobbying in Sacramento from 2009 through 2013.
The organization spent $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013.
The 4,670,010 spent by WSPA while lobbying state government in 2013 was more than any other interest group, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office.
According to the WSPA website, “Founded in 1907, WSPA is the oldest petroleum trade association in the United States. Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is a non-profit trade association that represents companies that account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in the five western states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.” (http://www.wspa.org/)
WSPA's headquarters are located in Sacramento, California. Additional WSPA locations include offices in Torrance; Bay Area; Santa Barbara; Bakersfield; Scottsdale, Arizona and Olympia, Washington.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, led the successful campaign last year by the oil industry to defeat all but one bill to ban or regulate the environmentally destructive method of oil extraction known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." The oil industry added last minute amendments to Senator Fran Pavley's already weak legislation to regulate fracking in California, Senate Bill 4, last September, making an already terrible bill even worse.
The organization’s power was also demonstrated when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 appointed Reheis-Boyd as Chair of Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California.
She and her fellow task force members oversaw the creation of "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts other than sustainable fishing and gathering - all while the oil industry was fracking for oil in the Santa Barbara Channel!
Not only did Reheis-Boyd chair this panel, but she served on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the North Coast, North Coast and Central Coast and on a federal marine protected areas panel. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/28/big-oil-lobbyist-serves-on-federal-marine-protected-areas-panel/)
But the state and federal "marine protected area" panels are not the only government body that she has "served" on. Reheis-Boyd was appointed by the Governor as a California petroleum industry representative on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
She is also a member of the California Chamber of Commerce Natural Resources and Policy Committee. She has chaired the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce Air Quality Committee, and was past president of the Sacramento chapter of the Air & Waste Management Association. She has also served as past president of the Kern County Chapter of the American Lung Association, and is a past recipient of the Bureau of Land Management's State Director's Oil and Gas Award for "Special Achievement." (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)
While Reheis-Boyd's organization leads "The Big Oil Dirty Dozen," the Chevron Corporation placed second in the “The Big Dirty Dozen” competition with $13,457,771 spent on lobbying in the five year period.
The San Ramon-based corporation spent $1,532,359 in 2009, $2,314,599 in 2010, $2,964,238 in 2011, $2,696,296 in 2012 and $3,950,280 in 2013.
Environmental justice and indigenous groups accuse the San Ramon based-Chevron of environmental racism, ranging from the adverse health impacts of the pollution caused by the operation of its refinery in Richmond, California to its dumping of toxic waste in indigenous communities in the the Amazon River Basin in Ecuador.
The other members of “The Big Oil Dirty Dozen” during the five-year period include:
3. BP Global: $3,251,060
4. AERA Energy (jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil): $2,513,993
5. Conoco Phillips: $2,344,510
6. Occidental: $2,256,230
7. Shell: $2,127,881
8. Exxon: $2,105,419
9. CIPA (California Independent Petroleum Association): $1,616,756
10. Phillips66: $1,275,199
11. Fueling California, a Big Oil "Astroturf" group pretending to represent fuel consumers: $646,799
12. CIOMA (California Independent Oil Manufacturers Association): $447,528.
The final two oil industry spenders were Tesoro at $313,999 and Valero at $288,459.
If you think that $56,633,498 is a lot of money, it is mere chump change compared to the profits that oil companies are making as gas prices soar at the pumps. Big Oil's estimated profits in 2014 to date are over $29,000,000,000 and are increasing by the minute.
The 2013 profit totals for the big five oil companies combined —BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell - were $93 billion, or $177,000 per minute. (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2014/02/10/83879/with-only-93-billion-in-profits-the-big-five-oil-companies-demand-to-keep-tax-breaks/)
According to Stop Fooling California, "Chevron and oil lobbyists like the Western States Petroleum Association use their influence to roll back California’s popular clean air and energy laws.”
In addition to the data provided by Stop Fooling California, the ACCE Institute and Common Cause released a ground breaking report on April 1, 2014 revealing that Big Oil spent $123.6 million to lobby elected officials in California over the past 15 years. This was an increase of over 400 percent since the 1999-2000 legislative session, when the industry spent $4.8 million.
The report also examines historical campaign contributions by the largest firms in the oil and gas industry. Over the last fifteen years, Big Oil has spent $143.3 million on political candidates and campaigns – nearly $10 million per year and more than any other corporate lobby. Chevron topped these campaign contributions with a stunning $71.2 million
The report also exposes how the oil and gas lobby has spent nearly $15 million to influence Sacramento lawmakers halfway through the 2014-15 legislative session. The record is $25.5 million, set in 2011-12.
For more information about this report, read my article, “How Big Oil Bought Sacramento” at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/14/how-big-oil-bought-sacramento/
Take Action Now!
As the oil industry plans the expansion of fracking under Senate Bill 4 and gas prices soar at the pumps to boost oil industry profits, Governor Jerry Brown is fast tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels. The proposed tunnels would divert Sacramento River water for use by corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies expanding fracking and steam injection operations.
The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The tunnels would not create one single drop of new water - and would do nothing to alleviate the current drought if they were in place right now.
On March 4, Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch revealed that much of the area that the oil industry could frack for oil and natural gas in California is located in and near toxic, drainage-impaired land farmed by corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/03/05/18751984.php)
To sign a petition urging Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking in California, go to the Food and Water Watch action alert:https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=193