- Railroad Courthouse
- Catch of the Day
- Youth Baseball
- Tomato Competition
- Saudi Complicity
- Sick Fish
- More Lipstick
- Are You Drinking?
- Losing Everything
- Warmaking 101
- Levi's Curse
- Corporate Science
- Unpaid Labor
- Send Craig with Tich
- Republican Caucus
A READER WRITES: So Mr. Baldwin thinks that the solution to the transportation problems associated with a courthouse several blocks away from the other court offices could include a “15-minute jitney ride.” He obviously has no idea what goes on in Mendo’s chaotic courts. Attorneys come and go, cases are rescheduled time and again, frequently at the whim of the judge, prisoners are late, files are misplaced, sequences are changed, cases get put over for an hour or two or three, witnesses get lost or show up late from some far-flung Mendo address. And don’t tell me that the new courthouse will somehow mitigate these problems with high-tech or improved internal flow. If the DAs, public defenders, witnesses, victims, cops, bailiffs, and private attorneys (whose offices are also farther away from the new courthouse) don’t move their offices, they’ll never be able to manage their constantly changing court appearances with a jitney through downtown Ukiah. In fact, a jitney would only make things worse.
MIKE GENIELLA COMMENTS: So many questions about a planned $120 million courthouse project in Ukiah. Way too few answers from public officials: city, county and state. For example, in a written response published today in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, city Councilman Phil Baldwin is quoted as saying among other things:
"As you know, I’ve agreed that for less than half cost of new courthouse, the old one could have been renovated and made safe for all working and attending there.
I also believe a fifteen minute jitney from old courthouse to new should work just fine to get DA’s, public defenders, and others interested to trials on time.”
Really? Re costs - if the old could have been rehabbed for less than half the cost of a new, why are we abandoning the downtown location of THE public building in Mendocino County, site of the county courthouse for more than 150 years, to a place down by the railroad tracks? Why are we jeopardizing the customer base of local businesses surrounding the existing courthouse? Re DA's, public defenders and "others", is the public to presume those offices will stay in the existing building? Who will own that white elephant? Who will make much needed repairs and renovations to the 1950s-era building, and at whose expense? Jitney rides? On boiling hot summer days? Windy and freezing cold rainy days? Again, at whose expense?
This project has been in the planning stages for years. But the public, including this courthouse denizen, knows so little. Why?
ON SEPTEMBER 6, we wrote: “The one or two persons paying attention to the Mendocino County Office of Education, will have noted lame duck Superintendent Tichinin's sure-to-be-granted request for out-of-state travel. Tich wants edu-dollars to fund a jaunt to Washington D.C. for the "Connected Superintendent's Summit," and to another prolonged happy hour in Nevada. MCOE maintains travel slush fund of $228,421 for the 2014-15 school year, every dollar of which comes directly out of the instruction of Mendocino County children.”
WE ALSO ASKED COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER Don Cruser whether Superintendent Paul Tichinin’s travel budget and travel requests were approved by the Board of Education, adding, “PS. As a constituent, nearly a quarter mil a year for staff travel borders on the obscene.”
TRUSTEE CRUSER REPLIED: “We voted to grant Superintendent Tichinin another trip to Washington. My first impulse was to vote against it primarily because it would make more sense to save the travel money for training the new superintendent. However, it did seem worthwhile to send Mr. Tichinin to this particular Connected Superintendents Summit for several reasons: (1) He is the chairman of the California Department of Education's Technology Advisory and Curriculum Committee. (2) Mr. Tichinin has been instrumental in bringing internet access to many school districts and communities in Mendocino County. (3) The problem of providing equal internet access to the more remote areas of our county and other rural areas is one of high priority. (4) Superintendent Tichinin has been nominated to be honored at this conference for his work in promoting equal access to the internet. He even had a letter from Jared Huffman endorsing him for the award.
I did check with Mr. Tichinin to make sure we had not exceeded our travel budget for the year. The budgeted amount for 2014 is $228,421 so it is easy to see why they have not exceeded this amount. I agree with you that this amount is excessive to put it more kindly. I did request an explanation from MCOE and didn't get a response. Waiting for a response, and the loss of my internet connection for two days, are the reasons I have been slow in replying.
I feel that not questioning this amount for travel and conferences is a serious oversight on my part. I recognize that I need to go through the budget line by line. I can assure you that in the future I will raise questions about the amount spent on travel and the issue of whether it can be spent in better ways.
Don Cruser (On the record)”
TICHININ'S PAID about $120,000 a year. He gets paid to drive to work every day in an edu-funded car from his home in Fort Bragg. One would think he could pay his own way to Washington.
WE GOT A CALL Monday night from an Irish woman living in Brentwood, Ca. She said she'd seen an “article” on our website that featured a man named Eugene Angelo McCann, who may or may not also be an Irish national. The caller had seen our “Catch of the Day,” and among the catch was Mr. McCann, whose address was listed as Laytonville. McCann, 50, had been arrested for marijuana cultivation and distribution for sale which, in Mendocino County, is a little more serious than jay walking but not much. The caller was a friend of McCann's family, all of whom still reside in the old country. McCann's family has not heard from their prodigal son in six years and are desperate for word of him. Maybe the news that McCann has been arrested is not the most salubrious wrapping for the great gift to his dear old mum of his current whereabouts, but he is alive and well. Sometimes the vaunted global village really is global. Eugene Angelo McCann! Call home!
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 16, 2014
ANNA GROSS, Willits. Pot cultivation/possession/sale, armed with firearm. (Photo not available.)
HOWARD HONEYCUTT, Willits. Pot cultivation/possession/sale, honey oil manufacture.
SYLVESTER JOAQUIN, Covelo. Possession of pot for sale, probation revocation.
RONALD LABERDIE, Ukiah. Domestic Violence.
LUCY LINCOLN, Covelo. Possession of pot for sale, probation revocation.
TERRY MURPHY, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth, failure to appear, probation revocation.
JAMES NORTON, Willits. Burglary, under the influence of controlled substance.
BHIMA YOUNG, Willits. Pot cultivation/possession/sale, armed with firearm.
THE FUTURE OF ANDERSON VALLEY Youth Baseball is up in the air and we would like to invite the entire community to a meeting this Thursday, September 18th to discuss our options. All current, former and future baseball parents are invited as well as any baseball loving community members who want to see our youth program continue. The meeting will be held in the Fairgrounds Dining Hall at 6pm. If you have any questions, please call Shauna at 684-9126.
DO YOU WANT TO TASTE the BEST tomato of 2014? The annual tomato taste off will take place at the Boonville Farmers Market on Saturday, September 27th from 10-12:30. Call Bill McEwen at 895-9348 for info on how to enter your own home grown tomatoes to compete with yearly regulars, including Brock Farms, The Anderson Valley Community Farm and McEwen Family Farm. Come taste this year's bounty and cast your vote! — Thank you, Kendra McEwen
US INSPECTOR: BILLIONS IN FAILED PROGRAMS WASTED IN AFGHANISTAN
…THE MOST STRIKING EXAMPLE of Washington’s willingness to protect the (Saudi) Kingdom over complicity in 9/11 is the 28 pages of the official inquiry that were censored and have yet to be published. Senator Graham is not allowed to reveal what is in the chapter that was redacted, but other sources say that they are about connections between Saudi government officials and the 9/11 attacks. Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, in their book The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11, quote a senior American official, who saw the 28 pages before they were excised, apparently on the initiative of President Bush, as saying: “If the 28 pages were to be made public, I have no question that the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia would change overnight.”
Senator Graham has long campaigned to have the 28 pages of the 9/11 inquiry and other documents released. He says, knowing their content, that there is no national security justification for keeping them a secret 13 years after 9/11. He says that some government agencies, notably the FBI, have a motive in keeping information from the public about “their actions and their competence at the time of 9/11”. In Sarasota, Florida, the FBI initially denied having any documents relating to hijackers who were based there but has now handed over 80,000 pages that might be relevant under the Freedom of Information Act, according to Tom Julin, the Miami-based attorney handling the FoI application.
Asked why the US government has been so eager since 2001 to cover up for the Saudis, Senator Graham says that one explanation is the long-term US strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia, going back to the Second World War. There is also the close personal relationship between the Bush family and the Kingdom. But what he finds more difficult to explain is why the “policy of covering up Saudi involvement [in 9/11] persisted under the Obama administration”. Though Mr Obama had pledged to the families of the 9/11 victims during the 2008 presidential election campaign to release the 28 censored pages, it has failed to do so six years later.
Senator Graham does not suggest that the Saudis are directly running Isis, but that their support for Sunni extremists in Iraq and Syria opened the door to jihadis including Isis. Similar points were made by Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, and MI6, who said in a lecture at the Royal United Services Institute in London in July that the Saudi government is “deeply attracted towards any militancy which effectively challenges Shiadom”. He said that rulers of the Kingdom tended to oppose jihadis at home as enemies of the House of Saud, but promote them abroad in the interests of Saudi foreign policy. Anti-Shi’ism has always been at the centre of the Saudi world view, and he quoted Prince Bandar, the ambassador in Washington at the time of 9/11 and later head of Saudi intelligence, as saying to him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunni have simply had enough of them.”
In allying itself with Saudi Arabia, the US automatically plugs itself into an anti-Shia agenda and limits its ability to monitor and take action against Sunni jihadis who are promoted by Riyadh. In Syria this has led to parts of a jihadi-dominated military opposition being relabelled as “moderate”. President Obama intends to support this group, who scarcely exist on the map, to fight both Isis and the Assad government.
Senator Graham maintains that there is a “dark side” to Saudi Arabia exemplified by 9/11 and its aftermath that the American public need to know about and which has hitherto been concealed. The US and other Western governments have yet to explain why their “war on terror” has so demonstrably failed with the rise of Isis, but tolerance of Saudi complicity in 9/11 will surely be part of the answer.
SCOTT FOOTT, a pathologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, discovered severe ich (ichthyophthirius multifiliis) infestations in fall run Chinook salmon taken from the Lower Klamath River.
Massive ich infestations among overcrowded fish led to a massive fish die-off in 2002, which left tens of thousands of fish dead and dying along the Klamath and Trinity Rivers.
Robert Franklin, senior hydrologist with Hoopa Tribal Fisheries, said, “The fear is that all the fish might die in the Lower Klamath like they did in 2002.”
This year, like in 2002, massive amounts of water have been diverted from the Klamath and Trinity Rivers to agricultural users hit by severe drought, leaving only a small portion of the rivers’ natural flows to sustain their ecosystems.
As more water is diverted away from local rivers, lower water flow leads to higher temperatures in the water, and diseases and parasites spread among fish crowded into the few deep pools along the river.
Franklin said only an immediate doubling of flows on the Trinity could prevent the infection from spreading rapidly. “It needs to take place immediately because the water will take several days to reach the Lower Klamath.”
Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairwoman Danielle Vigil-Masten requested this afternoon that the Bureau of Reclamation immediately double the flows released into the Trinity from Lewiston Dam.
“We expect that the Bureau of Reclamation will take the right action and release the emergency flows that are called for,” Vigil-Masten said.
DEPARTMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR
Caltrans Modernizes its Mission, Vision and Goals
SACRAMENTO - Caltrans today announced a new department-wide mission, vision and goals as part of its ongoing efforts to modernize operations and improve performance and accountability across California.
"Adopting a new mission, vision and goals is a critical step toward aligning Caltrans with state transportation planning and policy goals and better serving all Californians," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. "This key change helps focus everyone at Caltrans on improved department performance, employee accountability and communications. The next step will be to set specific performance metrics to communicate honestly and transparently about our progress in meeting our goals."
In coordination with the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), and on the heels of an external review that called for bold reforms and a more modern department, Caltrans crafted a new mission and vision that is fully consistent with California's planning and policy objectives. Caltrans' old mission was to "improve mobility," which did not capture state efforts to clean up the environment, improve quality of life and strengthen California's economy:
MISSION: Provide a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California's economy and livability
VISION: A performance-driven, transparent and accountable organization that values its people, resources and partners, and meets new challenges through leadership, innovation and teamwork
"Caltrans is embracing reform and transforming into a modern transportation agency, equipped to handle today's challenges and those of tomorrow," said CalSTA Secretary Brian P. Kelly in a recent letter notifying the California State Legislature of the new mission at Caltrans. "Next, we will develop new performance measures, which will objectively measure progress toward achieving our goal of transforming into the transportation department we envision for the future."
In order to achieve this mission and vision and give Californians the most efficient transportation system possible, Caltrans also laid out five new goals:
SAFETY AND HEALTH: Provide a safe transportation system for workers and users, and promote health through active transportation and reduced pollution in communities.
STEWARDSHIP AND EFFICIENCY: Money counts. Responsibly manage California's transportation-related assets.
SUSTAINABILITY, LIVABILITY AND ECONOMY: Make long-lasting, smart mobility decisions that improve the environment, support a vibrant economy, and build communities, not sprawl.
SYSTEM PERFORMANCE: Utilize leadership, collaboration and strategic partnerships to develop an integrated transportation system that provides reliable and accessible mobility for travelers.
ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE: Be a national leader in delivering quality service through excellent employee performance, public communication, and accountability.
Adopting a new mission, vision and goals for Caltrans concludes the department's implementation of four "early action" recommendations made by the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) in January, when it called for bold reform and a more modern department:
1) Develop a new mission consistent with state planning and policy goals;
2) Organize teams to develop implementation plans;
3) Work toward successful implementation of SB 743; and
4) Modernize state transportation design guidance.
Caltrans will now work with the CalSTA to develop new performance measures, which will objectively measure progress toward achieving state goals.
Here is a link to the SSTI review published in January: http://calsta.ca.gov/res/docs/pdfs/2013/SSTI_Independent%20Caltrans%20Review%201.28.14.pdf
Here is a description of the new street design guidelines to promote biking and walking: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/paffairs/news/pressrel/14pr036.htm
ARE YOU DRINKING?
washed-up, on shore, the old yellow notebook
I write from the bed
as I did last
will see the doctor,
"yes, doctor, weak legs, vertigo, head-
aches and my back
"are you drinking?" he will ask.
"are you getting your
I think that I am just ill
with life, the same stale yet
even at the track
I watch the horses run by
and it seems
I leave early after buying tickets on the
"taking off?" asks the motel
"yes, it's boring,"
I tell him.
"If you think it's boring
out there," he tells me, "you oughta be
so here I am
propped up against my pillows
just an old guy
just an old writer
with a yellow
walking across the
oh, it's just
— Charles Bukowski
ON LINE STATEMENT OF THE DAY
I've made the best of what I could be. I didn't allow myself to be unemployed, become a drug addict or an alcoholic. I chose to help my fellow man as best that I could. One of those things was to become a volunteer fireman.
I've watched as people have dug through the ashes of their former lives, after their homes have burned. I've watched as people have found Gramma's wedding ring. I've seen the tears of joy at the smallest connection to the their past lives. I've been thanked with great sincerity, even after we did a poor job of saving some peoples homes.
After being a first responder for most of "one hell of a life" I often have to remind myself that firefighters don't cry when I've watched people sift through the ashes of some of their "lost stuff".
I'm sorry, but maybe I've seen too much. I still think losing everything that you own... and all your keepsakes... is tragic. Right up there next to death.
(Ernie Branscomb, Garberville)
CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN ON WAR & PEACE
On the 13th anniversary of 9/11, our nation once again honored lives lost, gave thanks to our brave first responders and reflected on lessons learned from that terrible day. I’m proud of the unity and resolve our country demonstrated in response to 9/11 and grateful that we are better prepared to prevent terrorist attacks.
I’m also mindful of mistakes we made in seeking to address security threats in the wake of 9/11 — most notably, the disastrous Iraq war which cost us dearly in blood and treasure and did not make us safer. Today, the world is more turbulent and dangerous than at any time since the Cold War. Protecting our national interests and keeping Americans safe requires that we be smart, not just tough. We must learn from past mistakes.
I listened carefully Wednesday night as President Barack Obama outlined his strategy for confronting ISIL. I agree with the president that ISIL is a brutal terrorist group that poses a threat to the Middle East and aspires to be more than a regional menace. I share his desire to destroy this group.
However, I believe the strategy outlined by the president — bombing in Iraq and Syria, supporting Kurdish and Iraqi partners on the ground, and recruiting, vetting and arming moderate Syrian rebels — falls short in several key respects.
First, we must restore the constitutional safeguard of wars being authorized by Congress. President Obama should obtain congressional authorization — not just to recruit and train Syrian fighters but for the entirety of what has been described as an intense, multi-year military intervention: a war. Because prior congresses in the wake of 9/11 granted very broad authorizations to use military force, the president may not technically need a new one. He should seek one anyway. It’s what our constitution specifies for going to war, and it’s the right thing to do.
Without a specific authorization we cannot have confidence in assurances such as “no boots on the ground.” We already have more than 1,500 troops in Iraq. We are told they won’t engage in combat roles, but what does that mean? What happens if an American pilot has to eject over ISIL territory, an American adviser is captured or Russia sends more troops and weapons to Assad? What happens if the next president wants to escalate and broaden the war without congressional approval?
I also question some of the strategic assumptions. While I have great faith in our troops, it seems unlikely that the United States can essentially create a “moderate” partner in Syria that can do everything the strategy assumes, including defeating ISIL in Syria while battling Assad to bring about a political solution and then emerging as a moderate governing group in post-war Syria.
I’m concerned that reliance on the Free Syrian Army may become a modern-day Bay of Pigs and that our guns, armored vehicles and missiles may once again fall into the hands of extremist groups who turn them against us and our allies.
In Iraq, the strategy assumes a political reconciliation and alliance between Sunnis and the Shiite majority against ISIL. I’m encouraged that former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is gone, but the new Iraqi government’s promise to be more fair and inclusive of the Sunni minority is untested and Iran still wields a destabilizing influence.
We should be honest and realistic about the fact that non-Kurdish parts of Iraq may not provide a stable and reliable “partner on the ground.”
Further, America should know better than to commit to a new Middle East war before marshaling a broad international coalition. The countries most affected by the ISIL threat — including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey — must play meaningful, visible roles lest this be perceived as the Christian West fighting the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which would fuel ISIL recruiting. Our European NATO allies, all of whom are affected by the ISIL threat, should also carry their share of the risks and burdens.
Finally, before committing American lives and resources to this war, we must have a clearly defined objective, a realistic timeline in which to achieve it and an honest discussion of how to pay for it. Prior generations knew they had to pay for wars — so they stepped up, raised taxes and sold war bonds. Our generation has allowed wars to be financed by deficit spending which contributes to a national debt that is driving cuts in education, research, infrastructure and social services. Any congressional authorization for war should include the revenue to pay for it. We must stop pretending wars are free.
This week, Congress has an opportunity to debate this critical issue, to reassert its Constitutional authority on the subject of war and to ensure that our response to ISIL is smart and effective. Deciding to go to war is Congress’ most solemn responsibility. It should never be taken lightly and certainly never abdicated.
Congressman Jared Huffman
THE CURSE OF LEVI'S STADIUM
by Zack Anderson
Dear Dr. Zack
Sin and shame are crippling me. I have a big problem. It wears cleats and hurts people for a living. It pretends to be as American as Manifest Destiny, but is really as American as Manifest Destiny. It’s football. And I love it. And I hate it. My dear medical professional, how can I liberate myself? I’m tired of living a lie, especially given the long hours and terrible wages. I’m willing to try anything, including sex, drugs, alcohol and state-sponsored religion. But it’ll be a year until Burning Man. Until then I’m just a Yearning Man with insides that feel like Churning Flan.
Unemployed Carpenter/Contract Grower/Trimmer/Taster
Like Democratic presidential hopefuls, football addictions possess a stubborn, cockroach-like refusal to die. The Dr. Zack™ Pigskin Self-Assessment and Pickle on Side® is the first step on the long (likely endless) road to recovery. Take the quiz, score yourself, then send $1000 for our patented 112 Step Ladder to the Stars™ Recovery System!
Star Baltimore running back Ray Rice is most famous for:
a) spitting on his fiancée
b) knocking his fiancée out with a left hook
c) his fiancée’s jaw brutally attacking his left fist with her razor-sharp glass jaw
d) the man who ultimately KO’d NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Your favorite anagram for Roger Goodell is:
a) Droll ogre ego
b) Doggrel el roo
d) Mashy lard-ass dragon cider
Hillary Clinton can best be described as:
a) an itch you can’t scratch
b) a scratch you can’t itch
c) a rash
d) Roger Goodell’s dream girl
Niner Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman should be:
c) drawn and quartered
d) forced to watch Bill Clinton eat fondue
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is proof that:
a) ISIS has overrun Turlock
b) ISIL has overrun Turlock
c) Greg Roman is Osama Bin Laden
d) Tattoos lower your IQ
The new Levi’s Stadium is:
a) a testament to greed
b) a monument to stupidity and greed
c) a soulless, lifeless ATM machine for the billionaire owners
d) proof that Santa Clara just got “West Banked”
President Obama’s favorite sport is:
a) raising money for the military-industrial machine
b) steppin’ and fetchin’ for Monsanto
c) steppin’ and fetchin’ for Goldman Sachs
watching Building Seven in free fall
The new Levi’s Stadium is conveniently located:
a) near Milpitas
b) near Sunnyvale
c) closer to Fremont than Hayward
d) ten miles from Chechnya
The 49ers leaving San Francisco is like:
a) Stalingrad leaving the Nazis
b) Mexicans leaving Phoenix
c) Guatemalans leaving Mexico
d) Honey bees leaving Earth
The Museum inside Levi’s Stadium costs:
b) $10 for veterans
c) $10 for season ticket holding corporations
b) nothing if you’re under four years old
The fact that the Museum inside Levi’s Stadium charges admission proves that the Niners:
a) are the greediest morons in a league run by greedy morons for the benefit of greedy morons
b) are the Taliban of Silicon Valley
c) share Sarah Palin’s thirst for more of everything (except queers, homos, wetbacks and darkies)
d) have nefariously enacted the Curse
It’s first and goal on the Bear six. Five minutes left in the third quarter. Niner OC Greg Roman’s decision to run three times in a row into the teeth of a stacked Chicago defense is tantamount to:
a) war crimes
b) crimes against nature
c) opening a swimming pool business in Willits
d) activating the nuclear launch codes for the Curse
Blowing a 17-0 lead on a day when the Seahawks had already lost signifies that:
a) life is a shit sandwich; the more bread you have, the less shit you have to eat
b) Santa Clara is part of the Ukraine
c) Sure, Buddha found freedom in good fortune and bad, but he’s got no damn clue about bringing offside pressure from DBs
d) the Curse has begun
When hearing talk of the Curse, you understand that:
a) while the fathers eat sour grapes, it’s the children's teeth that are set on edge
b) it’s time to sublet your utility closet in the House of Pain
c) Greg Roman is ruining Colin Kaepernick
d) the Curse has begun
In a desperate attempt to break the Curse, the Niners must:
a) hire Saudi Arabia to blow up Levi’s Stadium
b) replace Greg Roman with Chip Kelly’s Motorola headset
c) take back the pink triangle
d) move to the Cow Palace
It took an SFGate reader two hours to drive from Sacramento to Santa Clara for Sunday’s game. How long did it take the reader to go the two miles from Highway 101 to his $55 parking spot?
a) 120 minutes
b) two hours
c) 180 minutes minus an hour
d) Boonville to Philo on foot
The new Levi’s Stadium makes sense because:
a) Levi Corp. began during the 1849 Gold Rush when an industrious clerk started selling pants made from tent canvas to the hordes of aspiring NFL owners descending on the Sierras and the new Whole Foods on Haight Street
b) Because billionaire owners need tax breaks in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace
c) Beelzebub, like homosexuals and Democratic fundraisers Shrimp Boy and Osama Bin Laden, are always recruiting
d) the Curse has begun
The answer for every question is D (though occasionally C or B). If you scored 0-17, congratulations. You’re doomed too!
FOOD SCIENCE: WHAT'S THE HARM?
GMOs & Searching for the Crashless Car
by Ralph Nader
Corporate CEOs are always strategizing in their quest for greater revenues and profits. Often these strategies — and their resulting, insidious successes — have shaped our elections, our government, our education system, our media, our publicly funded research and development, our tax and credit systems, our trade agreements and so on. The world has never seen such an ingenious, power-concentrating machine as the modern, global corporation.
Even science, which ideally should carry the banner for rigid standards, openness and integrity, has suffered the undue influence and control of autocratic, commercially-driven multinational corporations. In many disturbing cases, independent science has been increasingly displaced by the far more devious “corporate science” which places profits over people, above safety, and above revealed scientific method and peer-reviewed accountability.
The food we eat is increasingly engineered by such corporate science. Biotech companies like Monsanto and DuPont have moved towards monopolizing the seed market — an antitrust investigation of Monsanto by the Department of Justice was quietly ended in 2012, and no steps have been taken by regulators since.
Monsanto, with its massive, relentless marketing and harassing litigation campaigns, has repeatedly claimed that its genetically-modified patented seeds (GMOs) are superior to traditional seeds — claiming that genetically modified foods are safe, cheaper, higher yielding, more nutritious, requiring lower chemical inputs, and resistant to drought and blight. Yet Monsanto has refused to meet its burden of proof about these claims with evidence. Moreover, it intimidates independent scientists from testing its proprietary products!
Corporate science is, above all else, secretive. The flimsy excuse of “trade secrets” is used to prevent independent or academic scientists from evaluating exaggerated corporate claims. Scientists who wish to replicate or test the biotech industry’s claims about their products find a paucity of available grants, obstructed access to the products, and a litigiously backed up refusal to disclose. Research on the migration of genetically-modified pollen from farms to non-GMO-farms; the level of developing bacterial, viral, and insect resistance to GMO-linked herbicides; and longer-run studies of the consequences of GMO seeds and crops on the environment is grossly underfunded, whether by government agencies or foundations. The cover-up continues.
One Monsanto claim is that GMO seeds provide higher yields than traditional seeds. A report released earlier this year by the USDA’s Economic Research Service showed that those claims are untrue. The report states:
“Over the first 15 years of commercial use, GE [genetically-engineered] seeds have not been shown to increase yield potentials of the varieties. In fact, the yields of herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistant seeds may be occasionally lower than the yields of conventional varieties.”
Lester Brown, founder of WorldWatch and President of the Earth Policy Institute, puts it more bluntly: “…no genetically modified crops have led to dramatically higher yields… Nor do they seem likely to do so, simply because conventional plant-breeding techniques have already tapped most of the potential for raising crop yields.”
And there is the issue of farmers who enter into one-sided adhesion contracts with GMO seed suppliers and find themselves ensnared in a tight web of control. Under these contracts, farmers are forbidden from saving seeds (forcing them to buy new seed every season), are subject to intrusive inspection provisions, and much more. (See faircontracts.org)
Other claims, such as the long-term effects of consuming genetically-modified food remain inconclusive, largely for lack of consumer-oriented testing.
Basic openness has been pushed aside in the realm of commercialized global agriculture. Take for instance the fact that consumers overwhelmingly want the right to know what is in their food by mandating the labeling of genetically engineered food. A poll in The New York Times last year showed that 93 percent of Americans support labeling of food containing GMO’s.
Public sentiment shows that Monsanto is in trouble. While the seed production conglomerate has fought off several attempts by states to require GMO labeling, ballot initiatives to require labeling in Oregon and Colorado this November are promising developments in the food safety movement. GMO labeling has already passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine, although only Vermont has put the law into effect. Over 60 countries, including the members of the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Russia and China have also required labeling of GMO’s. The new book, The GMO Deception: What You Need to Know about the Food, Corporations, and Government Agencies Putting Our Families and Our Environment at Risk is a comprehensive, definitive collection of essays by leading experts on the subject of genetically-modified food. Edited by Sheldon Krimsky, arguably the nation’s leading advocate of ethics in science, and lawyer Jeremy Gruber, this book is essential reading for those interested in the ongoing debate about the future of our food. (I wrote the introduction.) Sheldon Krimsky puts it best in his summary conclusion of the anthology:
“The real and potentially adverse effects of GMOs have been understated or negated by many in the scientific community who accept uncritically a corporate-crafted message. A fair-minded and unbiased individual looking at all the evidence must reach the conclusion that there is a great deal we do not know and what we do know impels us to be both cautious and concerned, skeptical of an early manufactured consensus, and critical of a framing that fails to recognize the diversity of public objections to GMOs.”
The history of corporate marketing has long used secretive corporate science and engineering to promote products. This has been the case with polluting products, pharmaceuticals, nuclear power and industrial materials and chemicals. GMOs follow these practices in the more ominous process of changing the nature of nature.
Together with resisting farmers, challenging scientists, and liberated civil servants, an aroused public will recognize that its own interests and those of posterity must be preeminent over these corporate monopolists and their short-range, narrow commercial pursuits.
For more information and to acquire a copy of The GMO Deception: What You Need to Know about the Food, Corporations, and Government Agencies Putting Our Families and Our Environment at Risk see The Council for Responsible Genetics.
(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)
IT COULD HAPPEN HERE
Castro Valley winery fined $115,000 for using volunteers
CATCHING UP WITH CRAIG — Exceptional Sivananda Online Quotation for Monday September 15th. Hello everybody, I am ready to go to Washington D.C. for spiritual direct action. What else can I say, as this world melts down amidst the chaos of war and social postmodern confusion? Are you with me? Is there a place to congregate in the D.C. region? I am giving my mind the mahamantram to repeat continuously, and am consequently not obstructing the higher spiritual flow of energy to carry out actions in the name of peace and justice and radical environmentalism. Feel free to call what I am doing "yoga". P.S. Hey, yoga is not only about stretching hamstrings in a sauna-like environment on a sticky mat dressed in zebra patterned yogawear. P.P.S. I am staying on a bunk bed at the Berkeley MASC men's shelter at this time. I've made several trips to Ocean Beach, spent this afternoon at City Lights bookstore, and have been chanting a lot at the Krishna temple late afternoons, with only the pujari and the murtis for company. I am rested after nine months in New Orleans helping out Bork as her in-house assistant. I am presently eager to leave California and return to the frontlines in Washington D.C. with gusto. Email to me... Craig Louis Stehr Email: CraigStehr@inbox.com
REPUBLICANS TO MEET IN FORT BRAGG
The Mendocino County Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, September 27, 2014, 10:00 AM - 12:00 Noon at the Moura Senior Housing, 400 South Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437. For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.