- Thrown Game
- Bay Guardian
- Three Storms
- Boss Viewing
- Catch of the Day
- Rainbow Walker
- Airport Theft
- Question Writing
- Loose Shoes
- Raid Investigation
- War Blues
- Pro S
- DIY Windmill
- Risen's Book
- Civic Heroes
- Economic Contagion
- Whither Protest
- Con S
- Not Breathing
- Reckoning Time
- Big Oil
CARDINALS THROW AWAY THIRD GAME of National League Pennant series giving Giants 5-4 win in 10th.
THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN weekly newspaper has been closed without notice to its employees.
The paper, in its 48th year of continuous publication, was lately owned by SF Media Co. an outside-based vampire media conglomerate. Media Co. also owns the SF Weekly and the farcical San Francisco Examiner. Frisco is now over as the center of dynamic journalism it once was.
THE GUARDIAN was founded in 1966 by Bruce Brugmann and his wife, Jean Dibble, who ran it until the 2012 acquisition by San Francisco Media. One of California's first alternative weeklies, Bruggman, assisted by the able Tim Redmond, consistently revealed the rich and the powerful for the destructive forces they've often been in San Francisco. Bruggman was especially effective in revealing the sleazy machinations of the Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: "Boss," a two-season Netflick's production, stars Kelsey Grammer and is based on the life of the mayor of a Chicago-like big city. Grammer is absolutely brilliant. I don't remember seeing him in anything else, but the guy can act, as can the supporting cast. It may have been a little too dark for lots of people, but from here, it faithfully matched known contemporary realities. Only one caveat: Too many sex scenes, and every one of them goes on wayyyyy too long. On screen sex, seems to me, only has to be suggested; we mos def don't need the full monte. Heck, in this sex-drenched country of ours is there anyone over the age of T-Ball who don't know how it works?
CATCH OF THE DAY, October 14, 2014
SEBASTIAN CEJA, Ukiah. DUI.
NATHANIEL DICKEY, Ukiah. DUI.
CHARLES GIELOW, Willits. Probation revocation.
CORISA GRALAK-ALLEN, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
VERNON KNAPP SR., Willits. Begging in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
KEVIN LITZIN, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
DALE McALLISTER, Willits. Petty theft with prior.
TIFFANY MOODY, Calpella. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
ROLANDO RUIZ, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, dirk-dagger, probation revocation.
WELL-LIKED SOUTHERN HUMBOLDT MAN DISCOVERED DEAD
A popular Southern Humboldt man, Rainbow Mountain Walker, born Marion Lee Williams, was discovered dead yesterday not far from his rural home. Friends became worried something was wrong when Walker, a well-known community volunteer and former Vice President of a local chapter of Kiwanis, failed to turn up for a planned motorcycle ride Saturday. On Sunday, a friend stopped by Walker’s home and discovered Walker’s vehicle was still there as was his cell phone. The home was in disarray but Walker was gone. A search party was organized for early this morning. According to his daughter, Walker’s remains were discovered where they had been dragged from his home by a large animal possibly a bear. The cause of death is being investigated by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.
Walker is survived by his son, Justice, a student at UC Davis, and his daughter, Liberty, who lives in Eureka.
“Never a Shirker:” Walker volunteered regularly for many organizations. He worked with Tan Oak Park, a Leggett based non-profit dedicated to supporting people with AIDS. He was a member of Kiwanis for the last nine years where he served as a board member and vice president among other jobs.
He was a familiar face at Reggae, the Redwood Run and Mateel events where he was a regular volunteer. He was known for spending long hours helping raise money for local organizations. Friend and local photographer, Kim Sallaway, described Walker as “never a shirker” that was “first in, and last out” whenever there was a job to be done.
“Open-hearted:” Walker was known for his warm smile and willingness to reach a hand out to those in need. One of his earliest and most enduring passions was advocating for the homeless. For over twenty years, Walker served Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner to veterans rarely missing an event. His daughter Liberty described him as “an open-hearted, caring person who wanted to help everyone out… . He wanted to see his community do better.”
Adventurous: An avid motorcycle rider, Walker belonged to the Eureka Chapter of Old Coots on Scoots.
Memorial: Friend and fellow Kiwanis member Danielle Young explained that a memorial is in the works. The plan, she said, is to hold it at the Mateel, “tell good stories about Rainbow and wear funny hats just like he told [his daughter] he wanted.”
Thank you for your RSVP.
We look forward to seeing you at the “Coffee With Your Congressman” tomorrow, Wednesday, October 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Mendocino County Museum located at 400 East Commercial Street in Willits. Due to a large number of attendees and the time frame, we will be taking questions in writing.
See you tomorrow morning!
Roseanne Ibarra, Field Representative
Congressman Jared Huffman, Inland Mendocino
THE EARL BUTZ MEMORIAL TRIO
by Jeff Costello
As a guy who made a life (more or less) of playing guitar in various contexts including working bands, I still tend to spontaneously think of names for musical groups on a regular basis. Some, I'm keeping for myself although starting and naming a new band is unlikely at this point. My prize name but one I'll never use, is The Earl Butz Memorial Trio. Think Crosby, Stills and Nash, but rather, Loose Shoes, Tight Pussy, and a Warm Place to Shit.
My propensity to come up with band names is course old style, since I come from the days when groups were called The Continentals, the Famous Flames, the Crickets, the Beatles. Plural words to indicate a group. Heard a band called the Skunks in the mid 60's and they really did stink. But in those days the "weird" names, all singular, came into fashion. When a band came out of San Francisco called It's a Beautiful Day, I threw my hands up in the air. Now there are such names as Toad the Wet Sprocket, which makes utterly no sense and gives no hint of a musical group. A person's name if he/she is known, is the best bet any time. Charlie Musselwhite for instance, is popular in Anderson Valley, and those who know the name know exactly what they're getting. Some names are just dishonest, like the Black Crowes or the Black Keys, all white people.
Earl Butz was Secretary of Agriculture under Nixon and Ford, and was the first national political figure to be heard - and reported - saying something so stupidly offensive, he was forced to resign in shame. Butz's utterance was in the form of a joke heard by three people: Pat Boone, Sonny Bono, and John Dean (of Watergate fame). Boone, according to the report, asked Butz how black people could be persuaded to vote republican. Seemingly earnest but clueless republicans are still asking this, with Hispanics added to the mix. Ain't gonna happen of course, unless the non-whites are rich enough, like Herman Cain, to run for president - or are sold out to such interests. The Secretary's response: "I'll tell you what the niggers want - loose shoes, tight pussy and a warm pace to shit." This tidy bit of good ole boy humor managed to be objectionable on three different levels: racist, scatological and sexist.
Butz's legacy as Agriculture secretary is not so funny. His promotion of Big Ag to the detriment of small farmers resulted in overproduction of corn, to the point where inclusion of corn in packaged foods became a legislated necessity. Hence, high fructose corn syrup replaced cane sugar in all the popular soda brands. Only now are a few beverage makers are going back to real sugar, and they have to advertise it. If you don't see "real sugar" on the label, you're getting corn syrup.
As far as the Earl Butz Memorial Trio goes... first, no one under 60 would get it, and not all those old-timers either. The other problem is, which of three musicians would be willing to take on, as his group identity, "A Warm Place to Shit?"
WHO WERE THOSE MASKED MEN ANYWAY?
by Adrian Baumann
A lawyer for a group of local growers has filed a request for public records with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office for documents connected to allegations of illegal raids and other police misbehavior. Attorney Joe Elford is seeking a huge swath of documents related to raids over the last several years by County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Taskforce and the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force. Elford has also sent copies of his request to the state Department of Justice. Allegations of several raids alleged to be abusive or illegal, have also been communicated in detail to The Willits News.
Public Record Act requests are similar to federal Freedom of Information Act requests, but on a local level. Elford is a medical marijuana lawyer in San Francisco, and formerly chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access. His Mendocino County requests are on behalf of a group of growers from across the county seeking to understand the nature of several recent raids that have left many of their victims scratching their heads.
Finding that they could not get to the bottom of these raids, and believing the tactics practiced during the raids were abusive, and in some cases unconstitutional, a group of growers contacted Elford to aid them in obtaining documentation of the raids from the sheriff's office.
Elford's request states that Mendocino County residents have complained that, “the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department (“Department”), through its County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team (“COMMET”), together with the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force (“MMCTF”), have conducted illegal raids on medical marijuana patients.“
The request includes an exhaustive list of documents from “internal and external correspondence (including email), memoranda,” to “logs and other written records or records by any other means,” in writing, disks, hard drives etc.
The action comes after a summer of what several sources allege were erratic, often abusive raids. This summer there has been much confusion about who was responsible for a number of marijuana raids, with men without obvious identification cutting down small gardens while allegedly often passing over adjacent, larger gardens. Many resulted in no arrests, leading to the rumors that private vigilante groups were raiding local pot gardens.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman did his best to dispel the vigilante rumors at a public meeting in Laytonville and a KMUD interview last month. As far as can be determined by The Willits News, the raids thought to be vigilante raids were actually carried out by either the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, the Sheriff's office, or possibly another government agency, but not by private companies. Yet, there is widespread belief the standards of conduct laid out in public by Allman are not being followed by whatever government law enforcement agency is conducting the raids.
The people behind hiring Mr. Elford, along with over 15 sources spoken to by TWN, believe the raids are resulting in a pattern of abuse and a violation of civil rights; included are allegations of police misconduct ranging from officers telling a small boy that they were going to shoot his father, to repeatedly pepper spraying and threatening to shoot peaceful dogs, refusal to present warrants, destruction of personal property under the guise of searching for marijuana, the destruction of drinking water tanks and springs, theft of money and property, and of course of cutting down county-compliant gardens.
Because of fear of reprisals, all people who were interviewed wished to remain anonymous. The incidents relayed to The Willits News are not isolated, and there are far more accounts by people who wished not to go on the record, even anonymously, for fear of the police.
The incidents described fall into four rough categories: Allman's contradictory public statements about what constitutes compliance, violations of fourth amendment rights, abusive police tactics, and possible corruption, including threats to use police force for private purposes and theft.
Behind all of this is a sense of a population that no longer trusts law enforcement to look out for their best interests, and include growers who have gone out of their way to abide by the county rules only to have their plants cut down and homes ransacked, or that timber companies have taken to hiring private security contractors to patrol their lands who are operating illegally.
The sheriff was out of town and unavailable for comment, but the department has indicated that they would respond promptly.
Sheriff Allman has claimed that his officers always wear badges and will promptly identify themselves. During the KMUD interview he stated, “The California penal code clearly says that if a citizen asks a law enforcement officer for a name and badge number that the peace officer should give him that information. My guys were emphatic--they wear green uniforms with bullet proof vests and either an embroidered or metal badge and on both shoulders it says police or sheriff and on the back it says police or sheriff.”
However, at the Laytonville meeting Wallace Small, of Potter Valley, recounted to the sheriff a case of men without badges and in different uniforms raiding the property of a friend who was compliant.
Another Willits area man claimed to be cultivating a 25-plant garden, next to his house. The garden was fenced off with posted scripts. He was raided several weeks ago by men affiliated with the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force (MMCTF).
The MMCTF is a hybrid organization whose commander, Richard Russell, is an employee of the California Attorney General's Office. However, the task force pulls other officers from the various law enforcement agencies in the county, including sheriff's deputies and officers from city police agencies. Operations of the task force, in theory, are overseen by local law enforcement. Mendocino County has one of the few major task forces remaining following their statewide shutdown in 2011. When local law enforcement agencies decided to continue the Mendocino County Task Force, Allman said, the MMCTF would focus in two main areas, “street crime and gang investigations.”
A Willits area man told TWN he was working in his garden when he heard his dog barking, then yelping. “At that point I laid down on the ground in my garden and was at that point just weighing my options as to what was actually happening inside the house,” he said. He was then approached by a man with an assault rifle. “He was not wearing a sheriff's uniform, he did not have a badge, he was dressed in desert camo with a turtle neck type shirt pulled up to his mouth,” said the Willits man. Four men armed with assault rifles eventually confronted him. “I was specifically looking to see if it was law enforcement; I was looking for badges on every single person I saw; they had absolutely zero markings that they were police.”
This lack of identification was repeated by other sources regarding other raids, and is likely the origin of many of the vigilante rumors. Though the Willits man was lying on the ground the officer dropped his knee to the man's back, and then, “The guy was working his knee up my back and I, at that point, I turned my head and I saw that one of the guys in full desert camo with no police badge or identification--and had not identified himself as a cop--had his pistol to the back of my head with his finger on the trigger.”
Another commonly cited contradiction between county theory and practice has been the idea that Mendocino County allows for 25 plants per parcel with scripts. A Potter Valley man, was growing 25 plants each on neighboring parcels. The Willits News consulted a map and visited the site. It appears that the gardens were indeed on separate parcels. This man said he heard a helicopter and went out to his garden to see what was happening when he was charged by a man pointing a pistol at him. He got on the ground and was briefly detained. Eventually another man who identified himself as Commander Richard Russell of the MMCTF appeared. Russell, the man said, told him, “In the end it's all medicine and we cut it all down.” I told him it was compliant under the regulations set forth by Allman, and he told me he didn't care what Tom Allman said. And I asked him specifically what would make it medicine where you wouldn't cut it down and he told me I'm not going tell you. He continued, “The only thing he said about Allman was that he didn't care what Allman said. What the rules were, anything like that.”
The Potter Valley man continued to question Russell. “And I asked him who is paying for this operation, and he told me the pot growers.”
The Willits area man relayed a similar story, “I didn't say anything to the police aside from if I could see a warrant, and I also mentioned that I had heard Sheriff Tom Allman on KMUD saying that they would not cut down any 25 plant gardens. I presented that information to them and I was told to go f--- myself, verbatim.” No warrant was ever presented.
Another Little Lake Valley resident, who requested anonymity, claimed the task force raided his neighbor's garden who had plants and zip ties and then raided his house without a warrant because they shared a water line. The task force found no marijuana but ransacked his house, dumping all the contents of drawers onto the floor, breaking plates, and generally causing havoc for several hours. Said the man, “He flipped the couch over, flipped the coffee table, everything out of the cupboards , they spent 30 minutes looking for marijuana on the property and 4 hours ripping the house and the outbuildings apart.”
In addition they threatened to take his children into custody. However, they could find no marijuana in his house, even after allegedly doing substantial damage to his property and eventually had to leave. The man believed that he had been raided for personal reasons, and expressed extreme concern about having the entirety of his story published because of the possibility of reprisal.
Another common complaint was a lack of warrants. The question of warrants in marijuana eradication cases can get tricky because of something called the “open-fields doctrine,” a legal concept which allows police to search gardens without a warrant if they are not next to a house but out in an open field. This is in itself a sticky legal issue, but largely accepted in California.
However, there is corollary legal concept called 'curtilage' which essentially describes a backyard, an outdoor area, generally fenced off, and next to one's house where one has an expectation of privacy. Curtilage falls under the fourth amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
The Willits-area man described what happened when he asked an officer of the MMCTF about a warrant, “He verbatim said, 'We don't need a warrant.' And every time I asked him afterwards he just did not reply.” “ He continued, “And then he again asked me if I wanted to make a statement and I told him that I heard Tom Allman on the radio earlier in the week. I had heard Allman earlier in the week saying that any Mendocino law enforcement organization will not cut your 25 plants down and I basically just asked him not to cut down my 25 plants and he said, 'F--- you.'“
The Willits-area man allowed The Willits News to take a picture of the property receipt he was left; the section of the receipt for warrant number and the name of the judge was left blank. And the two boxes, one for open-field and one for consent to search were left unchecked.
This same man described watching his dog be repeatedly pepper sprayed up to 10 times while he asked to be allowed to lock the dog in another room; he says the officers also threatened to shoot his dog. They then left him in the room where they had pepper sprayed the animal. “I felt unbelievably violated. Physically I couldn't breathe. I was coughing, and I couldn't breathe and I was yelling to them through the door that I couldn't breathe and that I couldn't be in that room.” He was finally freed by a deputy in a normal sheriff's uniform.
Later, when he was being sent to jail, an officer asked what should be done about the dog, and the man asked that the dog be left in the room and that a friend would come to get it. The officer reportedly replied, “Yeah we're dog people.” The dog was not left in the room but instead sent to the pound.
The Potter Valley man also stated that his drinking water tank was drained, his water lines running to his trailer, where his small son lives, were cut, and that the lines leading to his spring were trampled in an attempt to break them.
While several people described thefts of money, only the Willits-area man volunteered a specific story. “They repeatedly asked, 'Where's the money? Where's the guns?' They repeatedly asked that for maybe about a half hour.” Eventually, he alleges, they found a jewelry safe and blew it open with blasting caps. “After they blew the safe open the pulled the boxes out and basically just pulled handfuls of jewelry and just threw it.” He claims that some expensive, heirloom diamond jewelry was missing from a pouch when he later went to clean up the mess.
Allman has noted that 25 plant grows are subject to raids if they are what he calls “commercial grows,” though he and District Attorney David Eyster disagree on just what constitutes a commercial grow. However, in both the Potter Valley and Willits cases the growers claimed to be growing directly for patients or dispensaries and to have scripts posted to that effect.
Everyone interviewed expressed appreciation and respect for law enforcement in most capacities. The Potter Valley man said he told the raiders, “I mean I told him, I respect 90% of what the police do but this is chickenshit. I'm not a threat to them or to anybody in this community.”
The Willits man described a conversation he had with the uniformed deputy while being driven to jail. “His exact words were, 'I can't even believe we waste our time at houses like yours.' And then I just asked him what his opinion was of what the Sheriffs department should be doing, and he said, 'We should be going after real criminals.”
(Courtesy, the Willits News)
‘TALKIN' WORLD WAR III BLUES’
Some time ago a crazy dream came to me
I dreamt I was walkin' into World War Three
I went to the doctor the very next day
To see what kinda words he could say
He said it was a bad dream
I wouldn't worry 'bout it none, though
They're dreams and they're only in your head.
I said, "Hold it, Doc, a World War passed through my brain".
He said, "Nurse, get your pad, this boy's insane".
He grabbed my arm, I said "Ouch".
As I landed on the psychiatric couch
He said, "Tell me about it".
Well, the whole thing started at 3 o'clock fast
It was all over by quarter past
I was down in the sewer with some little lover
When I peeked out from a manhole cover
Wondering who turned the lights on.
Well, I got up and walked around
And up and down the lonesome town
I stood a-wondering which way to go
I lit a cigarette on a parking meter
And walked on down the road
It was a normal day.
Well, I rung the fallout shelter bell
And leaned my head and I gave a yell
"Give me a string bean I'm a hungry man"
A shortgun fired and away I ran
I don't blame them too much though
They didn't know me.
Down at the corner by a hot-dog stand
I seen a man I said "Howdy friend,
I guess there's just us two"
He screamed a bit and away he flew
Thought it was a Communist.
Well, I spied me a girl and before she could leave
"Let's go and play Adam and Eve"
I took her by the hand and my heart it was thumpin'
When she said, "Hey man, you crazy or sumpin'
You see what happened last time they started".
Well, I seen a Cadillac window uptown
And there was nobody aroun'
I got into the driver's seat
And I drove down to 42nd Street
In my Cadillac
Good car to drive after a war.
Well, I remember seein' some ad
So I turned on my Conelrad
But I didn't pay my Con Ed bill
So the radio didn't work so well
Turned on my record player
It was Rock-A-Day Johnny singin'
"Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa
Our Loves Are Gonna Grow Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah".
I was feelin' kinda lonesome and blue
I needed somebody to talk to
So I called up the operator of time
Just to hear a voice of some kind
"When you hear the beep
It will be three o'clock"
She said that for over an hour
And I hung up.
Well the doctor interrupted me just about then
Sayin' "Hey I've been havin' the same old dreams
But mine was a little different you see
I dreamt that the only person left after the war was me
I didn't see you around".
Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody's having them dreams
Everybody sees themselves walkin' around with no one else
Half of the people can be part right all of the time
Some of the people can be all right part of the time
But all of the people can't be all right all of the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that
"I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours"
I said that.
— Bob Dylan
MEASURE S: DON'T TREAD ON US!
I'm delighted to be able vote this Nov. 4 for Measure S, a Community Bill of Rights stating, and giving legal force to, a real Declaration of Interdependence: we, the citizens of Mendocino County, have the inherent right to protect ourselves, and the natural environment has the right to "exist and flourish within Mendocino County without harm resulting from the unconventional extraction of hydrocarbons." As explained by Mendocino County counsel's "impartial analysis," a yes on S vote will "authorize the ban of unconventional extraction of Hydrocarbons," including the environmental and economic catastrophe known as "fracking," and would "supercede International, Federal or State laws that would violate the measure." My heartfelt thanks to friends and neighbors who organized, debated, drafted, and collected signatures for Measure S, the Community Bill of Rights. Every vote for Measure S is a message to the fracking powers-that-think-they-be: don't tread on us, or on our sovereign ecosystem!
John Lewallen, Philo
$200 SOLAR POWER?
RISEN’S NEW BOOK EXPOSES THE “WAR ON TERROR”
by Norman Solomon
No single review or interview can do justice to “Pay Any Price” -- the new book by James Risen that is the antithesis of what routinely passes for journalism about the “war on terror.” Instead of evasive tunnel vision, the book offers big-picture acuity: focusing on realities that are pervasive and vastly destructive.
Published this week, “Pay Any Price” throws down an urgent gauntlet. We should pick it up. After 13 years of militarized zealotry and fear-mongering in the name of fighting terrorism, the book -- subtitled “Greed, Power, and Endless War” -- zeros in on immense horrors being perpetrated in the name of national security.
As an investigative reporter for the New York Times, Risen has been battling dominant power structures for a long time. His new book is an instant landmark in the best of post-9/11 journalism. It’s also a wise response to repressive moves against him by the Bush and Obama administrations.
For more than six years -- under threat of jail -- Risen has refused to comply with subpoenas demanding that he identify sources for his reporting on a stupid and dangerous CIA operation. (For details, see “The Government War Against Reporter James Risen, which I co-wrote with Marcy Wheeler for The Nation.)
A brief afterword in his new book summarizes Risen’s struggles with the Bush and Obama Justice Departments. He also provides a blunt account of his long-running conflicts with the Times hierarchy, which delayed some of his reporting for years -- or spiked it outright -- under intense White House pressure.
Self-censorship and internalization of official worldviews continue to plague the Washington press corps. In sharp contrast, Risen’s stubborn independence enables “Pay Any Price” to combine rigorous reporting with rare candor.
Here are a few quotes from the book:
* “Obama performed a neat political trick: he took the national security state that had grown to such enormous size under Bush and made it his own. In the process, Obama normalized the post-9/11 measures that Bush had implemented on a haphazard, emergency basis. Obama’s great achievement -- or great sin -- was to make the national security state permanent.”
* “In fact, as trillions of dollars have poured into the nation’s new homeland security-industrial complex, the corporate leaders at its vanguard can rightly be considered the true winners of the war on terror.”
* “There is an entire class of wealthy company owners, corporate executives, and investors who have gotten rich by enabling the American government to turn to the dark side. But they have done so quietly… The new quiet oligarchs just keep making money… They are the beneficiaries of one of the largest transfers of wealth from public to private hands in American history.”
* “The United States is now relearning an ancient lesson, dating back to the Roman Empire. Brutalizing an enemy only serves to brutalize the army ordered to do it. Torture corrodes the mind of the torturer.”
* “Of all the abuses America has suffered at the hands of the government in its endless war on terror, possibly the worst has been the war on truth. On the one hand, the executive branch has vastly expanded what it wants to know: something of a vast gathering of previously private truths. On the other hand, it has ruined lives to stop the public from gaining any insight into its dark arts, waging a war on truth. It all began at the NSA.”
Fittingly, the book closes with a powerful chapter about the government’s extreme actions against whistleblowers. After all, whistleblowing and independent journalism are dire threats to the secrecy and deception that fuel the “war on terror.”
Now, James Risen is in the national spotlight at a time when the U.S. government is launching yet another spiral of carnage for perpetual war. As a profound book, “Pay Any Price” has arrived with enormous potential to serve as a catalyst for deeper understanding and stronger opposition to abhorrent policies.
(Norman Solomon, a journalist with ExposeFacts.org, is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”)
Empires self-destruct when they go too far,
with divide and conquer.
When they lose the trust of their subjects,
when too many people have suffered
at the hands of their oppressors.
Where great leaders were once honored,
we awaken to see that they have been replaced,
by dirty old men,
bumbling, fumbling with their rusty zippers,
And their shiny new toys – drones, robots, missiles.
while they drone on about America’s might,
forgetting the plight,
of the average citizen.
At least the Roman Senators
wore white togas and robes,
wherein they could conceal their daggers.
Yet, while they feasted and farted,
their empire departed.
— Tara Sufiana
WE HONOR WHAT WE VALUE
Improving Our Culture
by Ralph Nader
The 25th anniversary of the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, presented annually by my sister, Dr. Claire Nader, is an occasion for thinking about our culture’s choices for heroic achievements. In most societies, the heroic designation is given to people who rescue others in serious peril such as a fire, flood, accident or military battle. Taking selfless physical risks to save others prompts admiring recognition in all societies and cultures.
Physical courage, however, is defined differently in the ranking of its awards. For example, what is arguably considered the nation’s most prominent award is the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is given to members of the armed forces for bravery beyond the call of duty. Today, even though much of our warfare is asymmetric, most of the recipients, oblivious to their own safety, valiantly saved their buddies who were under attack.
In other realms, acknowledging achievements demonstrating skills, determination and values, a society reveals what the power structures value. A philosopher once said, “We honor what we value.” Well, there are many major awards honoring athletes, actresses, actors, musicians and artists. Many of these awards are covered by the mass media of sports and entertainment to many millions of viewers. Think of the Heisman Trophy, the Stanley Cup, the Academy Awards and the Emmys. These recognitions mesh with the twin values of entertainment and profit that are prized by establishment interests.
Then there is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, considered our nation’s highest civilian honor and presented personally by the president at a public White House ceremony. These choices sometimes can have a distinctly political preference, depending on who occupies the White House.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom has been given to more than 500 persons since it was established fifty years ago by President John. F. Kennedy. The official criterion for the award is that the recipients have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Many of the awardees met one or more of the criteria. These, during the President Obama administration, have included Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey, Sally Ride, Bayard Rustin, Ben Bradlee, retired Justice John Paul Stevens, Dolores Huerta, John Glenn, Bob Dylan, Maya Angelou, Warren Buffett, Congressman John Lewis, Yo Yo Ma, Bill Russell, John J. Sweeney, Stephen Hawking, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Others had careers that transgressed the above-noted standards. For example, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair are all past awardees. They were war-mongers in office — the last two of which should be tried for the illegal invasion and wanton destruction of Iraq and the enormous loss of civilian Iraqi lives that ensued. This invasion constituted a war crime.
Even without the Medal of Freedom, however, these recipients would still be widely recognized and therefore could still be satisfied with their many other honors and awards from previous years.
The aforementioned prizes and other similar highly visible commendations ignore many men and women who have demonstrated great moral courage at personal risk and taken on abuses by entrenched power. Remember, “We honor what we value.” Whistleblowers, who are the silent patriots of our land, have too often historically been devalued, slandered, fired and persecuted by the government agencies or corporate behemoths they accurately exposed. These people, who brought their conscience to work, find themselves ostracized and are often unable to find work in their area of expertise. As a result, they and their families suffer. The fact that clarion calls have been vital and ultimately substantiated provides little protection.
To recognize some of the unsung American heroes who speak the truth of the harmful manifestations of institutional power, there is the annual Ridenhour Prizes that is given before a lively luncheon of civic leaders and reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. This year, Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr. received the Ridenhour Courage Prize and Edward Snowden (in absentia) received the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. Mr. Schwarz started his career in the mid-1970s strengthening the rule of law as Chief Counsel to the Church Committee in the Senate, where he managed the investigations of the rampant violations of the intelligence agencies and the subsequent enactment of reforms by Congress.
The Callaway Award for Civic Courage is one of the awards that come from a small endowment provided by Joe A. Callaway who had a long career in the theatre, as a solo performer (“The American Dream in Politics, Poetry and Humor”) and as a professor at many universities. This award for “civic courage, for integrity in publically advancing truth and justice, at some personal risk,” is awarded to people of unique conviction overcoming overwhelming odds.
This week, Marcy Benstock was recognized for her “decades long battle against powerful interests that support plans to degrade the Hudson River’s ecosystems, increase air and water pollution and divert taxpayer funds from essential public needs.” Her stamina, strategic brilliance and coalition-building carried the day again and again.
The other Callaway awardee was Dinesh Thakur for his “commitment to drug safety globally, at considerable professional and personal peril to challenge fraudulent pharmaceutical industry practices, beginning with his former employer,” and his continuing work in maintaining and advancing best practice standards.
Unfortunately, prior authentic heroes who were recipients of the Callaway Award has received very little media attention and many of these authentic heroes continue to suffer for their remarkable contribution to the well-being and freedom of millions of people who do not know their name.
Again, our culture honors what we value. We need to improve our culture so that the fundamental civic values advanced by courageous whistleblowers are properly and publically appreciated.
(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)
THERE’S CERTAINLY BLOOD all over the overburdened back roads of the Bakken play all of a sudden, where $88-a-barrel shale oil doesn’t even allow you to pretend that you’ve got a profitable venture going. The shale oil fairy tale has been at the center of a matrix of lies America has been telling itself about its economic meth buzz. Saudi America and all that malarkey, all in the service of America’s master wish of all wishes: please Lord, let us keep driving to Wal Mart forever.
The ebola melodrama has all the mojo to set the global economy’s hair on fire. And it comes along at a very strange time: just as central bank hoodoo approaches the brink of its own epic fail – as in, accounting fraud, check-kiting, and public relations can only work as a place-holder for authentic economic relations for so long before the ominous shadow of reality sweeps in on black swan wings. The markets were already well into the puking stage of their own hemorrhagic contagion last week. Maybe the S & P starts bleeding from its eyes and ears this week.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ANTI-WAR (AND ANTI-NUKE) MOVEMENT(S)?
I have to wonder what’s up when only about 100 people show up to meet and greet the President of The United States. The turnout for this “protest” was more disappointing than the anniversary of Occupy a few weeks ago. Where were Code Pink, AROC, the BDS Movement, Critical Resistance, the Green Party, MoveOn, No Nukes Action Committee, Occupy, Popular Resistance, War Resistors League, World Can’t Wait and their hundreds of members, and the plethora of environmental and workers rights organizations? War is first and foremost an environmental issue. Money being spent on wars should go instead towards a guaranteed living wage and universal healthcare and education for all Americans. Marches and protests are apparently ineffective. If the same number of people who showed up at the beginning of the Gaza conflict "occupied" Feinstein and Pelosi’s offices, things would change overnight. Quanah Brightman told me that various Native American tribes get together once a month for a “Bear” meeting. I believe this is an idea that could be adopted by all the various and seemingly competing NGO’s. In unity, there is strength. Right now, The Powers That Be have us divided and conquered.
Joseph Thomas, Santa Rosa
MEASURE S NOT THE ANSWER
To the Editor:
What has happened to Tommy Wayne Kramer? After reading last Sunday's article on Measure S, did I laugh derisively at yet another amusing yet insane rant against progressive thinking? Or weep and wail with righteous indignation at a slander of the politically correct? No, instead I found myself thinking, "Dang, the man may have a point here — a good point."
You see, I oppose fracking, and I also oppose Measure S.
TWK lets frackers off way too easy. They suck up enormous quantities of our water, and then contaminate it with a host of toxins. Instead of cleaning it up properly, as every other industrial water user is required to do, they dump it outside the natural water cycle by injection in deep wells, where it's no good to anybody except as a potential source of pollution.
But Measure S does not address any of these problems. It does absolutely nothing to reform present fracking law or regulation, now or in the future. All it does is promise to keep these awful things outside our precious county borders.
This kind of activism of and for the privileged became famous years ago in the wealthy communities of Marin County as NIMBY. Can Mendocino County do no better than this?
Instead of actually dealing with fracking, Proposition S addresses other unrelated issues of political sovereignty that I am not qualified to comment on, being neither a lawyer nor a constitutional scholar. As near as I can tell, they are intended to defy state and federal authority, and amend the California State and US Constitution by local ordinance.
If you really do question fracking and want to reform it, you might want to vote No on S.
Bill Baker, Fort Bragg
NOT IN NEED OF OXYGEN
I have the habit of yellow hi-lighting, or jotting down on scraps of paper, or my bed-side pad, things that flit through my brain, or catch my eye. Such was the case when I read in the AVA that they found Scott Joseph Smith dead in his cell. I have a bulging computer file -- now 1,400 pages long -- into which I transcribe these bits. Among the ones I just transcribed was the following which involves a clipping you published in the AVA awhile back:
I read in the Anderson Valley Advertiser the following: “Deputies found 65-year-old Scott Joseph Smith’s unconscious and not breathing…” I wondered how the editor, Bruce Anderson, could not have jumped on this one: if the deputies found him conscious and not breathing, that would’ve been somewhat of an unusual jail event, and the headlines in the AVA would have read, “Prisoner Scott Joseph Smith no longer has need of oxygen.
Miguel Lanigan, Clearlake Oaks
Time to add up the karmic bill,
set the account straight,
see who owes who, and who is owed,
pay the bill,
balance the scales, burn the files of lies,
and open the book of Truth.
Turn the light on any page
where bird’s wings catch the light,
and golden fruits reflect
the garden in human hearts.
Illumination reveals all beauty,
the joy of an eternal flame that brings life
into the bleakest moments,
into what seems to be dying,
the spirit that defies time,
rekindles the mind,
and carries the body into dance.
This joy has no room for disbelievers, for infidels.
Those weary, podgy men counting money in stuffy rooms
are missing the beat,
the rhythm of life.
Take off your wrinkled suits, your wrinkled minds,
its reckoning time.
Come dance in your polka dots.
--Tara Sufiana (Title and last line inspired by Leonard Cohen’s song called Closing Time)
MASSIVE DUMPING OF WASTEWATER INTO AQUIFERS SHOWS BIG OIL'S POWER IN CALIFORNIA
Oil industry illegally injected nearly 3 billion gallons of wastewater
by Dan Bacher
As the oil industry spent record amounts on lobbying in Sacramento and made record profits, documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity reveal that almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater were illegally dumped into Central California aquifers that supply drinking water and irrigation water for farms.
The Center said the wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) fluids and other pollutants. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/california_fracking/pdfs/20140915_State_Board_UIC_well_list_Category_1a.pdf)
The documents also reveal that Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board testing found high levels of arsenic, thallium and nitrates, contaminants sometimes found in oil industry wastewater, in water-supply wells near these waste-disposal operations.
The illegal dumping took place in a state where Big Oil is the most powerful corporate lobby and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is the most powerful corporate lobbying organization, alarming facts that the majority of the public and even many environmental activists are not aware of.
An analysis of reports filed with the California Secretary of State shows that the oil industry collectively spent over $63 million lobbying California policymakers between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), led by President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, topped the oil industry lobby spending with $26,969,861.
The enormous influence that the oil lobby exerts over legislators, agency leaders, the Governor's Office and state and federal regulatory officials is the reason why Big Oil has been able to contaminate groundwater aquifers, rivers and ocean waters in California for decades with impunity. The contamination of aquifers becomes even more alarming when one considers that California is now reeling from a record drought where people, farms, fish and wildlife are suffering from extremely low conditions in reservoirs, rivers and streams.
Hollin Kretzmann, a Center attorney, criticized state regulators for failing to do their job of protecting precious water supplies from oil industry pollution - and urged Governor Jerry Brown to take action to halt the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/fracking-10-06-2014.html)
"Clean water is one of California’s most crucial resources, and these documents make it clear that state regulators have utterly failed to protect our water from oil industry pollution," said Kretzmann. "Much more testing is needed to gauge the full extent of water pollution and the threat to public health. But Governor Brown should move quickly to halt fracking to ward off a surge in oil industry wastewater that California simply isn’t prepared to dispose of safely.”
Kretzmann said the State Water Resources Control Board "confirmed beyond doubt" that at least nine wastewater disposal wells have been injecting waste into aquifers that contain high-quality water that is supposed to be protected under federal and state law. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/california_fracking/pdfs/20140915_Bishop_letter_to_Blumenfeld_Responding_to_July_17_2014_UIC_Letter.pdf)
"Thallium is an extremely toxic chemical commonly used in rat poison," according to a statement from the Center. "Arsenic is a toxic chemical that can cause cancer. Some studies show that even low-level exposure to arsenic in drinking water can compromise the immune system’s ability to fight illness."
“Arsenic and thallium are extremely dangerous chemicals,” said Timothy Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands. “The fact that high concentrations are showing up in multiple water wells close to wastewater injection sites raises major concerns about the health and safety of nearby residents.”
The Center obtained a letter from the State Water Resources Control Board to the federal Environmental Protection Agency stating that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board has confirmed that injection wells have been dumping oil industry waste into aquifers that are legally protected under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The State Water Board also concedes that another 19 wells may also have contaminated protected aquifers, and dozens more have been injecting waste into aquifers of unknown quality.
"The Central Valley Water Board tested eight water-supply wells out of more than 100 in the vicinity of these injection wells," according to the Center. "Arsenic, nitrate and thallium exceeded the maximum contaminant level in half the water samples."
The Vote No on Prop. 1 (Water Bond) Campaign responded to the Center's release of the documents by pointing out the irony of the fact that the same Legislature that nearly unanimously voted to put the water bond on the November ballot also rejected a fracking moratorium in California
"Prop 1 folks tout how it will provide funding to clean up groundwater in the SJ Valley," according to a statement from the campaign. "This is something we want to see too. But if fracking is unregulated and fracking wells are already leaking, shouldn't we work on the fracking moratorium first? Or at least simultaneously. And the legislators who passed Prop 1 voted against the fracking moratorium."
It is no surprise that the State Senators who voted no on the fracking moratorium bill on May 29, 2014, received 14 times more money in campaign contributions from the oil industry than those who voted no on the measure. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/06/07/18757051.php)
Restore the Delta responded to the report also: "At RTD, we have always known that water needs to be shared from the Delta- we argue that it must be at levels that are sustainable for the estuary. When we see items like this, however, it's hard to maintain that reasonable stance. We predicted a year ago that SJ Valley fracking sites would contaminate groundwater, making the region more dependent on water exports."