Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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LODGE COMPLEX INCIDENT UPDATE [6pm, Aug 25]: 12,535 acres, 96% contained, 15 injuries, "Crews continue mopping up and looking for hot spots within the containment lines; steep terrain hampers access and control efforts. Interior portions of the fire will continue to burn and may produce smoke for an extended period of time in the Laytonville area. Fire Suppression Repair and Rehabilitation will continue throughout the fire area. Excess resources continue to be released from the fire." Estimated cost: $40.7 million.

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SODDEN THOUGHT: If major earthquakes begin to occur in Northern California with the frequency they occurred in the 19th century, most of us will be living outdoors.

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RATHER TENSE AV Ambulance fundraiser at the Boonville Fairgrounds Sunday, what with a petition circulating to recall the Health Center's board of directors as the young new doctor, Logan McGhan, was introduced as the partially purged old doctor, Mark Apfel, looked on.

WE ALWAYS FEEL apprehensive for new people stepping into unhappy situations, especially in the Mendo context of Nice People everywhere at the controls, and the Anderson Valley Health Center is definitely an unhappy situation, made more unhappier than need be by the sphinx-like silence of the Board as to Apfel's future.

OUR BOARDS OF DIRECTORS are, as we know but are loathe to admit, self-selecting and self-selected. The school combine, to name the most egregious offender, selects safe people to insert on the school board whenever there's a vacancy. When there's an actual election they beat the bushes for an "appropriate" candidate, i.e., a pliable person unlikely to do anything that upsets teachers and administration. Ditto for the Ambulance and Health Center boards, the cemetery board, the Fair board and so on. But when the pool of "appropriate" people is as small as ours in the Anderson Valley, you get the same social circle of people, pretty much, on all the boards, although the inappropriate people, formerly known as rednecks, still control the Fair board and the cemetery boards.

IF THE HEALTH CENTER BOARD continues to allow the Apfel situation to fester, they could destroy the Center. Angry people will head over the hill for the Adventist combine, and angry people will no longer donate to the Center, and that will be the end of it, at least in its present form. Maybe the end game here is to scale the Center back, but scapegoating Apfel is an awfully sleazy way of going about it. He founded the place. The trustees are (or were) his friends of many years. I'm mystified myself. I don't get it any of it. I keep thinking that there's an X Factor at work here that has the board scared, hence their silence. But if their silence is attributable to fear of personal liability then they really should resign now before they bring the whole house down and cause even more bad feeling than they've already caused.

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THERE'S A SERVICE STATION in Ukiah with a head shop attached. A Ukiah guy told us he watched a kid put a few bucks of gas in his beater truck then emerge from the head shop with a bag of whippets, the mini-canisters of nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas, designed to recharge whipping cream containers. Ukiah Guy watched as the kid wasted no time huffing one and then another one as he weaved off down State Street, definitely under the influence and clearly a motorized menace.

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THEN THERE'S the inland guy with a thriving, Mendo-legal pot garden who came home to a Sheriff's note on his gate telling him he's got one week to get his plants outta there or deputies will remove them. He calls the number on the cop note and learns that his plants are within a thousand yards of a public park and gotta go. No marijuana cultivation is allowed within a thousand yards of schools and parks. So the guy rents a fork lift and a U-Haul and moves his plants to a location where they will soon yield what he hopes is enough money to live on for a year.

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THE LATEST EFFORT to get CalTrans to play by the rules at the Willits Bypass via a restraining order against a lunatic dirt-moving plan, seems more aimed toward putting more pressure on Caltrans to give up on the planned four-lane northern interchange than dirt-moving per se. That four-lane interchange is being built to accommodate a future four-lane highway that nobody believes will ever happen.

EVEN CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN, confronted by the anti bypassers at a constituent Q&A in Ukiah last Monday, said: “I'm willing to agree with you; Phase 2 sounds like something very distant, and most likely never needed… if we ever get to this point where somebody wants to proceed with Phase 2, let's put our heads together and talk about whether it’s really needed. I find it hard to imagine that it would be.”

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 25, 2014

Ceja, Davis, Duran, Eyer, Ford, Graham
Ceja, Davis, Duran, Eyer, Ford, Graham

ALFONSO CEJA, Healdsburg. DUI, misdemeanor child endangerment.

SHANE DAVIS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

JOSE DURAN, Willits. Under the influence of a controlled substance.

ALEXANDRA EYER, Santa Rosa. Drunk in public.

GUY FORD, Ukiah. Misdemeanor domestic violence.

JOHN GRAHAM, Willits. Possession of controlled substance, resisting arrest, probation revocation.

Henson, Hickman, Jackson, Laine, Natzel
Henson, Hickman, Jackson, Laine, Natzel

TYNISHA HENSON, Ukiah. Felony domestic violence.

RONALD HICKMAN, Santa Rosa. DUI with priors, suspended driver’s license, probation revoked.

ALEXANDER JACKSON, Ukiah. Under the influence of a controlled substance, parole violation.

SCOTT LAINE, Portland, Oregon. Drunk in public.

JUSTIN NATZEL, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

Nicklin, Valdez, Vaughn, Vetter, Watkins
Nicklin, Valdez, Vaughn, Vetter, Watkins

DEANNA NICKLIN, Sacramento. Theft or driving of stolen vehicle, false impersonation of another.

EDWARD VALDEZ, Sacramento. Theft or driving of stolen property, receiving stolen property.

SEQUOYAH VAUGHN, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

VINCENT VETTER, Ukiah. Possession of drug paraphernalia.

COLEMAN WATKINS, Fort Bragg. Probation revoked.

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THE NEW YEAR officially starts in January, but for me, and perhaps many of you, the internal calendar re-sets at the end of the summer, where the programming of the school year lingers on. As the torpor of August sweeps away, one senses that heavier action lies ahead. Footsteps quicken in the crisping air, the days get shorter, and a new urgency propels events. Consider, for instance, all the damage and destruction that ISIS (or ISIL or IS) has been able to pull off in summer heat that averages 110 degrees in the daytime in that part of the world. Many Americans would have trouble hoisting a jumbo shrimp out of a cocktail cup in that kind of weather, let alone scrambling around a desert with 30 pounds of firearms and extra ammo. The US has once again lulled itself into a false sense of security that it can control a battle theater with air power alone. So, here at summer’s end, we’re congratulating ourselves for “saving” the Mosul dam with drones and air strikes, but you can be sure that the next move is up to ISIS, and it will be calculated to horrify.

James Kunstler

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OUR NATION'S FUTURE returned to their studies Monday morning, taking one more step in a 12-year process that hasn't changed much since I began my “educational experience” in a different time in a totally different country. I remember the process as a matter of lining up for this or that and ticking down the minutes until recess and the final bell at 3:20 in the afternoon. High school is a priapic blur focused on girls and sports. College classes were a waste of time save for the hours I was able to read on my own, which is what I also did from the time I could read because at a fairly early age I realized adults were not reliable sources of sound information. Teachers were timid, fearful creatures who went weak in the knees whenever the principal appeared in the room. I've always thought the notion that teachers are desirable “role models” is almost completely false. The only role model-like teachers I knew either got fired or worked on the edge of unemployment. They were smart and funny and ate lunch alone. Books, even read randomly and “age-inappropriately” (as today's child experts would be likely to say), were more and more helpful as I grew older and as their information more and more coincided with what seemed to me to be the reality, often the better, more hopeful reality a child holds out for. At the high school level, history was taught as a series of American triumphs over funny-looking people who weren't Americans. College was more liberal but still pegged to a lot of assumptions since un-assumed. I remember an elderly woman in high school teaching the basics of composition that emphasized orderly outlines before we were permitted to set sail on a blank page. The instruction all seemed irrelevant to a kid who had to make his way in the world. The guys who took the shop classes learned enough of the basics of carpentry, printing, mechanics, to get themselves employed for pretty good pay. If today's schools apprenticed young people out to people who have real non-blah blah skills for at least half the school day, public ed would be much more relevant than it is. I did enough as a kid to get out with a diploma and eventually went on to college for another diploma as useless as the first one, and I had the advantage of stepping out into an economy that hired people who could make enough to rent shelter and have enough left over to have some fun. It's much harder now, and the culture is much crazier. About half the young ones I saw this morning eagerly waiting for the school bus had their mesmerized heads tilted downward at hand held electronic devices, on which played I'd rather not know. I suppose a few of them, against all the odds, will learn how to read and maybe even do simple calculations without electronic assistance. About the rest of the world they'll get a relentless pounding of prissy liberalism whose underlying message is, “Be Nice.” But it's not a nice or welcoming world the young will be stepping out into, and most of them will be wholly unprepared for it.

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WRONG DIRECTION

Dear AVHC Board of Directors,

This is an open letter to the Board and all interested community members.

Here is what I have been able to understand about the current status of the AV Health Center.

Mark Apfel and many others who have staffed the AVHC have been a major community asset for over three decades. Mark has been an incredibly open and available doctor. He has continued to be willing to help people after hours, on weekends, holidays, whenever needed. That has been a lost trait in the mainstream physician’s practice for decades. Mark’s willingness to put his patient needs first is legendary.

The AV Health Center was a care facility that really cared. It has provided high quality care for those who can afford to pay, those with insurance, and most unusual for a medical care facility, to those without insurance and those who cannot pay. It has truly been a helping, caring hand to all in need.

Mark was instrumental in recent years in starting the pharmacy at the AVHC in order to provide a pharmacy service to the local community when none existed. It was convenient, low cost and even may have earned some funds for AVHC. That service was used and appreciated by many. Apparently some “compliance” regulations were not met and the AVHC shut it down until they can correct the compliance issue. Too bad, we miss it.

The Board of Directors of the AVHC is made up of some of the best, most concerned and dedicated people in the Valley. All who have served, served without pay, some for decades. It is hard to think of a better group to be a Board of Directors. However, there is new administrative leadership which seems to be taking the Center in a direction many of us question and/or oppose.

The Board and its new Administrative Staff have hired a new MD with an eye to filling Mark’s position when he needs/wants to retire, which comes eventually to all, and to stop in and help provide with the immediate medical care needs.

The issue, as I see it, is how Mark is being treated for his 30-plus years of tireless work, leadership, care and how to keep him as a valuable and needed talent to be utilized and available to our Community. From all indications, it seems Mark is being pushed to a limited role at AVHC, although he is still seeing patients and hopefully will for a long time. Not to do so would be a waste of a major resource and is just not respectful or a decent way to celebrate the incredible service he has provided us and can provide for some time to come.

Now is the time to get back on track. There have been numerous letters to the local AVA supporting Mark and the many good years of service to all of us. It is now necessary for all of us to take a stand and keep the Center we all need and the Doctor we all have appreciated together.

We built this Center and now is the time to rally once gain all together. We need Mark; he is our major asset. Let’s keep the Center and keep Mark there. Enough is enough. Let’s get it together, again.

Thanks you for all you have done and can do.

Mike Shapiro

Boonville/Ukiah

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APOLITICAL APHORISMS

If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates. —Jay Leno

The problem with political jokes is they get elected. —Henry Cate, VII

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. —Aesop

If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these State of the Union speeches, there wouldn't be any inducement to go to heaven. —Will Rogers

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. —Nikita Khrushchev

When I was a boy, I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. —Clarence Darrow

Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you. —Author unknown

Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel. —John Quinton

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. —Mark Twain

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other. —Oscar Ameringer

I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them. —Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952

A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country. — Tex Guinan

I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. —Charles de Gaulle

Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks. —Doug Larson

There ought to be one day — just one — when there is open season on senators. —Will Rogers

There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress — Mark Twain

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CORPORATIONS SPY ON NONPROFITS WITH IMPUNITY

Dow Chemical vs. Greenpeace

by Ralph Nader

Here’s a dirty little secret you won’t see in the daily papers: corporations conduct espionage against US nonprofit organizations without fear of being brought to justice.

Yes, that means using a great array of spycraft and snoopery, including planned electronic surveillance, wiretapping, information warfare, infiltration, dumpster diving and so much more.

The evidence abounds.

For example, six years ago, based on extensive documentary evidence, James Ridgeway reported in Mother Jones on a major corporate espionage scheme by Dow Chemical focused on Greenpeace and other environmental and food activists.

Greenpeace was running a potent campaign against Dow’s use of chlorine to manufacture paper and plastics. Dow grew worried and eventually desperate.

Ridgeway’s article and subsequent revelations produced jaw-dropping information about how Dow’s private investigators, from the firm Beckett Brown International (BBI), hired:

• An off duty DC police officer who gained access to Greenpeace trash dumpsters at least 55 times;

• a company called NetSafe Inc., staffed by former National Security Agency (NSA) employees expert in computer intrusion and electronic surveillance; and,

• a company called TriWest Investigations, which obtained phone records of Greenpeace employees or contractors. BBI’s notes to its clients contain verbatim quotes that they attribute to specific Greenpeace employees.

Using this information, Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against Dow Chemical, Dow’s PR firms Ketchum and Dezenhall Resources, and others, alleging trespass on Greenpeace’s property, invasion of privacy by intrusion, and theft of confidential documents.

Yesterday, the D.C. Court of Appeals dismissed Greenpeace’s lawsuit. In her decision, Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby notes that “However Greenpeace’s factual allegations may be regarded,” its “legal arguments cannot prevail as a matter of law” because “the common law torts alleged by Greenpeace are simply ill-suited as potential remedies.” At this time Greenpeace has not decided whether to appeal.

The Court’s opinion focused on technicalities, like who owned the trash containers in the office building where Greenpeace has its headquarters and whether the claim of intrusion triggers a one year or three year statute of limitations. But, whether or not the Court’s legal analyses hold water, the outcome – no legal remedies for grave abuses – is lamentable.

Greenpeace’s lawsuit “will endure in the historical record to educate the public about the extent to which big business will go to stifle First Amendment protected activities,” wrote lawyer Heidi Boghosian, author of Spying on Democracy. “It is crucially important that organizations and individuals continue to challenge such practices in court while also bringing notice of them to the media and to the public at large.”

This is hardly the only case of corporate espionage against nonprofits. Last year, my colleagues produced a report titled Spooky Business, which documented 27 sets of stories involving corporate espionage against nonprofits, activists and whistleblowers. Most of the stories occurred in the US, but some occurred in the UK, France and Ecuador. None of the US-based cases has resulted in a verdict or settlement or even any meaningful public accountability. In contrast, in France there was a judgment against Electricite de France for spying on Greenpeace, and in the UK there is an ongoing effort regarding News Corp/News of the World and phone hacking.

Spooky Business found that “Many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON – have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers.”

Three examples:

• In 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, its law firm Hunton & Williams, and technology and intelligence firms such as Palantir and Berico were exposed in an apparent scheme to conduct espionage against the Chamber’s nonprofit and union critics.

• Burger King was caught conducting espionage against nonprofits and activists trying to help low-wage tomato pickers in Florida.

• The Wall Street Journal reported on Walmart’s surveillance tactics against anti-Walmart groups, including the use of eavesdropping via wireless microphones.

Here’s why you should care.

This is a serious matter of civil liberties.

The citizen’s right to privacy and free speech should not be violated by personal spying merely because a citizen disagrees with the actions or ideas of a giant multinational corporation.

Our democracy can’t function properly if corporations may spy and snoop on nonprofits with impunity. This espionage is a despicable means of degrading the effectiveness of nonprofit watchdogs and activists. Many of the espionage tactics employed appear illegal and are certainly immoral.

Powerful corporations spy on each other as well, sometimes with the help of former NSA and FBI employees.

How much? We’ll never begin to know the extent of corporate espionage without an investigation by Congress and/or the Department of Justice.

While there is a congressional effort to hold the NSA accountable for its privacy invasions, there is no such effort to hold powerful corporations accountable for theirs. 
Nearly 50 years ago, when General Motors hired private investigators to spy on me, it was held to account by the U.S. Senate. GM President James Roche was publicly humiliated by having to apologize to me at a Senate hearing chaired by Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT). It was a memorable, but rare act of public shaming on Capitol Hill. GM also paid substantially to settle my suit for compensation in a court of law (Nader v. General Motors Corp., 307 N.Y.S.2d 647).

A public apology and monetary settlement would have been a fair outcome in the Greenpeace case too.

But in the intervening half-century our Congress has been overwhelmed by lethargy and corporate lobbyists. Today, Congress is more lapdog than watchdog.

Think of the Greenpeace case from the perspective of executives at Fortune 500 companies.

They know that Dow Chemical was not punished for its espionage against Greenpeace, nor were other US corporations held to account in similar cases.

In the future, three words may well spring to their minds when contemplating whether to go after nonprofits with espionage: Go for it. Unless the buying public votes with its pocketbook to diminish the sales of these offending companies.

(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)

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LOCAL CANDIDATE FORUMS

Editor,

The League of Women Voters of Mendocino County is holding 3 candidate forums this fall:

  • Friday, September 26, Fort Bragg City Council candidates, at Town Hall, Fort Bragg, 6 - 7:30 PM
  • Friday, October 10, District 2 State Assembly candidates, at Town Hall, Fort Bragg, 6 - 7:30 PM
  • Friday, October 17, District 2 State Senate candidates, at CV Starr Center, Fort Bragg, 6 - 7:30 PM

The League neither supports nor opposes candidates or parties for any public office, but one of our missions is voter education, hence our sponsorship of candidate forums. These events will be open to the public and a League member will moderate.

Each candidate is given up to 5 minutes for an opening statement. League members will gather written questions from the audience during the entire question period and give them to the moderator. The moderator then reads the question, and each candidate has 2 minutes to respond. The questions are not vetted, though some will be combined if there are several questions addressing the same subject. At the end of the questions, each candidate has 5 minutes for a closing statement.

Due to budget constraints, the forums will not be recorded, so we encourage everyone to attend, and hope that the AVA will send a reporter. Questions may be sent ahead of time to LWVMC, P.O. Box 1128, Fort Bragg, CA 95437; or emailed to carolczadek@gmail.com.

Remember - the last day to register to vote in this election is October 20, 2014.

Additional information about the November 4, 2014 election can be found at www.smartvoter.org.

Carol Czadek, President, LWVMC

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HUMCO TO HUFFMAN: Don’t Close Eureka Postal Center

by Daniel Mintz

Throngs of residents aired their concerns about the U.S. Postal Service’s imminent closing of the county’s mail processing center at a forum called by Congressman Jared Huffman.

The plan to shutter the Eureka-based processing center and consolidate it into a facility in Medford, Oregon came under fire at an August 22 forum at Eureka’s Wharfinger Building. Members of a capacity audience said they doubt the Postal Service’s plan would result in cost savings and would jeopardize timely delivery of medicine, election ballots and goods.

First proposed in 2011, the consolidation plan drew immediate local criticism and was postponed as the Postal Service proceeded with other closures. The plan’s re-emergence has again stirred disappointment and opposition.

Huffman said that he’d invited postal officials to the forum “well in advance” but they turned the offer down. Summarizing the Postal Service’s deficit problem, he said mail volumes are down due to Internet growth and competition from private companies.

But he added that Congress has uniquely required the Postal Service to pre-fund pension payments 75 years in advance, which he described as “the root of the problem.” Huffman said cuts could be avoided if the advance pension funding requirement is struck.

“The Postal Service cannot solve its financial problems, in my opinion, simply by cutting and cutting the facilities and the level of service,” he continued. “I think that actually could make things much worse for the business of the United States Postal Service and certainly will have a lot of very negative impacts for communities like this North Coast community.”

Huffman said 21 local jobs will be lost with the Eureka center’s closure and delivery of mail that’s diverted to Medford or to San Francisco for processing will be slowed. “You’re going to see a declining level of service, almost certainly, as a result of this change,” he continued, adding that first class mail will “take at least a day or two more to deliver.”

Seniors and veterans will be particularly impacted, Huffman said, because they rely on timely delivery of prescriptions and benefit checks. He said he’s co-sponsoring various bills to “help solve the bigger problem that’s driving of all this.”

The anticipated effects of the local center’s closure were described by audience members. County Clerk-Recorder Carolyn Crnich said vote-by-mail ballots accounted more than 62 percent of the vote in last June’s primary election and mail ballots are the only option for residents of rural areas that don’t have polling precincts.

If the ballots are delivered late, they’re not counted. “Disenfranchising voters is going to be the result of their ballots not being counted,” Crnich said, adding, “When voters become disenfranchised, they become litigious.”

Manila resident Jennifer Savage said her son is diabetic and deliveries of locally-unavailable medical supplies are crucial. “The thought of having those things delayed – it sounds a bit dramatic but it really comes close to a life or death issue for our family,” she continued.

Former local postmasters and Post Office employees picked apart the consolidation plan’s logic, citing the rugged conditions of routes between Medford and Eureka and questioning whether cost savings will be realized.

Arcata Mayor Mark Wheetley said the center’s closure ‘is not a Eureka issue – it’s a 955 issue and we’re here to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other jurisdictions on this.”

But in asking what the net effect of the “great gripe session” will be, one man suggested that the effort to stop the consolidation is futile.

Huffman doesn’t think so. “Believe it or not, just by being here and by bringing your voice to this issue, you are making a difference because we’re going to make a record of this and the Postal Service is going to hear from us on it,” he said.

He added, “There is some precedent for turning these decisions around – nothing’s over until it’s over and I don’t think anyone should be feeling that this is inevitable.”

The forum included panel discussion and Mike Evans, the president of the state’s postal worker union, said a “disproportionate amount” of closures are in California. He said that if the Postal Service “can’t run a meeting, they just don’t show up” and he’d “insist” that they host a local meeting.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Rex Bohn and Eureka Mayor Frank Jager were also on the panel. Jager said that one way or another, Postal Service officials should hear the community’s concerns firsthand.

“If they won’t come to us, we’ll make the time to come to them,” Jager continued. “I think they need to hear this eyeball to eyeball, rather than in a letter.”

3 Responses to "Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, August 26, 2014"

  1. Harvey Reading   August 26, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    “SODDEN THOUGHT: If major earthquakes begin to occur in Northern California with the frequency they occurred in the 19th century, most of us will be living outdoors.”

    At least you’ll be warm and dry …

    Reply
  2. Harvey Reading   August 26, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Mr. Kunstler: how about just leaving the Middle East alone, to sort out its problems, or at least problems according to the West? By the way, leaving them alone means cutting off all aid to any of them, including the Zionists. Let’s see how much murder and bombing they can accomplish without resupply from the U.S.

    Reply
  3. Lazarus   August 26, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Earthquakes are seeming related to droughts…?

    Reply

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