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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

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UPWARDS OF TWO INCHES of rain fell on the North Coast Wednesday, less than the predicted three inches with winds generally below 20mph. Rain will continue over the next few days into next week with daily totals expected to be around an inch or more most days.

The Navarro is still expected to approach flood stage albeit a few hours later with the less than expected rainfall as storms avoid a direct hit on the north coast.

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MS. IRELAND assaulted a County CPS worker Tuesday. It was a serious enough attack that the worker had to be checked out in the emergency room.

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FATHOM FREED. Perhaps in accordance with President Barack Obama's commutation of Chelsea Manning's sentence, our very own beloved Sheriff Thomas Allman commuted Mendo legend Cap'n Fathom, aka Mr. Alan Graham, the professed bastard son of you know who (Mussolini, according to Fathom). The aging coast legend was released from jail Wednesday where he joined with the AVA’s Ukiah bureau for whisky and sea stories, his usual foghorn voice tempered by a touch of bronchitis.

(Bruce McEwen)

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “They showed me this picture of this adoptable young pit jumping around in the rain outside the animal shelter yesterday. Impressive. I remember when I could get that high, but not anymore.”

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The Women’s March is happening here this Saturday, January 21st, in Fort Bragg rain or shine, meeting at 11:00 am at Town Hall at Main and Laurel Streets.

We will march in town and then proceed to Weller House, 524 Stewart St., to have the program out of the rain in the upstairs ballroom. Weller House is close by so if you park in the Skunk parking lot, you will have easy access to both Town Hall and Weller House afterwards.

We will stand together in solidarity with the Million Women March in Washington, DC, and the other 369 Women’s Marches throughout our country, for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families. We recognize that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. If you agree, please join us.

After a march through downtown Fort Bragg, we will gather at approximately 11:45 am at the Weller House third-floor ballroom. Sherry Glaser, noted actress, performance artist, and political activist is our emcee. Performers include Ui Wesley powerful singer/activist; Holly Tannen, master storyteller, songwriter, and 'professor emeritus of disinformation technology'; and prominent Jazz Singer Sharon Garner. Local activists will address the crowd as well..

This is an INCLUSIVE march to supports equal rights. We welcome and celebrate:

  • Women
  • Men
  • Families
  • People of Color
  • Natives
  • Immigrants
  • Members of our LBGTQ community
  • People with disabilites
  • Climate change advocates
  • All religious communities
  • And anyone who wants to come out in support

Join us and the rest of the country in this massive demonstration.

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ED NOTE: All these people can fit into the Weller House? Anyway, you have to class angle current events. Trump is only an intensification of economic inevitabilities. People inside the magic circle — active Democrats of the type burdening the Northcoast, Huffman, Wood, Little Mikey, Hamburg etc. — won't be affected or effected. Most of us will see a continued slide in our standards of living, much more violence and general alienation, environmental degradation. Name your issue, Mr. and Ms. Activist, it's going to get worse.

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PS. Strange times indeed when 400 people have $2.4 trillion, while one third of American children live in poverty.

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The Mendocino County Employees Retirement Association (MCERA) decided at its January 18, 2017 Board meeting to adopt the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the Western Region for the granting of its annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to retirees. Previously, MCERA relied on the CPI-U for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Region in granting the COLA. The change was the result of a recommendation based on economic analysis conducted by James Wilbanks, Ph.D., Retirement Administrator for the Association. The analysis, available here, concludes that the CPI-U for the Western Region is a better fit for the rate of inflation experienced in Mendocino County than the CPI-U for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Area. The Western Region is comprised of thirteen states including: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

“This analysis examined a very specific question,” said MCERA Retirement Administrator James Wilbanks. “Between the Bay Area CPI-U and the Western Region CPI-U, which region better estimates the inflation rate in Mendocino County? Based on three different empirical examinations, the clear and consistent answer is that the Western Region is the better fit for our County.”

The change in region is effective immediately and will impact the COLA for retirees this year. MCERA provides a COLA April 1 to its retirees based on the rate of inflation in the reference region. “Each April we notify our retirees of the specifics of their individual COLA in writing, “, said Wilbanks. ”We want to get the information about this change to our members as soon as possible so they have time to understand the change and what it may mean for them.”

The MCERA is an independent agency that administers retirement assets and provides income security though a monthly retirement benefit payable to its clients, who are employees, retirees and beneficiaries of Mendocino County, the Mendocino County Court System and the Russian River Cemetery District.

For more information contact: James Wilbanks, (707) 463-4328

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The Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) invites the public to attend this year’s semi-final mock trial competition to be held January 28 and February 4 at the Mendocino County Courthouse in downtown Ukiah. Approximately 80 students from four local high schools will attempt to out-argue each other for the honor of winning the Hon. Ron Brown County Mock Trial trophy and a chance to represent Mendocino County at the state competition in Riverside, California on March 24-26.

According to, “Mock trials have proven to be an effective learning tool…. [Participating in mock trials] helps [students] understand the law, practice critical thinking, and gain greater confidence with public speaking by assuming the roles of attorneys and witnesses in a fictional criminal or civil trial. Participants experience first-hand the difficulties that judges, lawyers and juries face in determining which facts are relevant and what legal arguments are effective.”

Educators and members of the legal community volunteer their time to coach teams and officiate during the competition. Local participants include students from Developing Virtue Girls School, coached by Rianne Kravitz and Matthew Finnegan; Fort Bragg High School, coached by Josh Brown, Tara Larson, and Peter Kafin; Laytonville High, coached by Bruce Potter, Elizabeth Norman, and Elina Agnoli; and Ukiah High, coached by Matthew LaFever, Sergio Fuentes, Colin Morrow, Alexander Rich, and Zach Stephens. MCOE funds and coordinates the County Mock Trial program, so the program can be offered to students at no cost to them.

This year students will portray all key roles in the fictitious case People v. Awbrey, the trial of restaurant owner Cameron Awbrey, who is charged with human trafficking and the false imprisonment of Lin Stark, an immigrant from the fictitious country of Tanterra. The statewide coordinators of mock trial, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, developed the case, which involves issues related to the Fourth and Fifth Amendments: protection against illegal search and seizure and against self-incrimination.

To learn more, attend the mock trial event on January 28. The first round begins at 9:30 am, and the second round begins at 1:00 pm. Semi-final competition will continue the following Saturday, February 4 at 9:30 am, with the top two teams advancing to the final round of competition to be held in Courtroom H beginning at 1:30 pm. The final awards ceremony is scheduled to begin at approximately 3:30 pm.

For more information about the County Mock Trial program, contact Carolyn Brown at the Mendocino County Office of Education, (707) 272-8682.

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Do you know what local resources are available for your family? Learn about who they are, what they do, how you can get help, or how to get involved. Refreshments will be served. Whether you've already started a family, are planning on starting one, or want to support others, you’re not alone. We’re here for you! This event is open to everyone and sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.

Come and explore the relationship between meditation and art by creating your own hand-painted Mandala Stone. Young children will need assistance from a parent or guardian with this craft. This event is free to the public and sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.

Doll & Teddy Bear Party On Saturday, January 21st from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. we are hosting a Doll & Teddy Bear Party. Bring along your favorite teddy bear or doll and join us for a lovely winter party with the fabulous teachers of River Oak Charter School! Play circle games, listen to stories and puppet plays, make some crafty crowns and grab a sweet treat. This free, family-friendly event is sponsored by River Oak Charter School and the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library.

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To: Byron Spooner via The AVA

Dear Mr. Spooner:

I really appreciated your article on Jean Shepherd which appeared in the January 11, 2017 edition of the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Jean Shepherd

It brought back many memories of my New York past. In the 1950s I went to high school bleary-eyed in the morning because I surreptitiously stayed up from 9:05 until 1:00am listening to Shep. I was one of the Night People who helped support John Cassavetes’ experimental film “Shadows” at Shep’s urging. Once, as an amateur radio operator, I spoke with him on one of the short wave bands, but didn’t realize who it was until I later looked up his call sign. In the 60s, I got to meet him when he spoke at my college about his undercover involvement with the military regarding foreign arms being smuggled into Lebanon.

Later, I would go to see him when he broadcast live from The Limelight in the Village. I suspect there are not many of us here on the west coast who remember him. Many thanks for the memories!!!!!

David Jackness,


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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 18, 2017

Battle, Gray, Harris

HERBERT BATTLE JR., Sacramento/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

MARY GRAY, Willits. Probation revocation.

ALONA HARRIS, Marina Del Ray/Ukiah. DUI-drugs, controlled substance, smoking-injecting device.

Henderson, Holliday, Miller

TRACY HENDERSON, Point Arena. Misdemeanor warrant.

ALAN HOLLIDAY, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

ADAM MILLER, Clearlake Oaks/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Parker, Santos, Wolfe

WILLIAM PARKER, Willits. Probation revocation.

MICHAEL SANTOS, Nice/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

JONATHAN WOLFE, Redwood Valley. Parole violation.

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by John Howard

At the heart of California’s Emerald Triangle is Humboldt County, a legendary locale in the world of weed, as prized by marijuana aficionados for its cannabis as Napa Valley is for its wine.

“Humboldt is the absolute, undisputed leader in cannabis,” said Luke Bruner, a local resident who has advised state and local officials on marijuana issues.

There are an estimated 12,000 pot growers in Humboldt County — or about one for every 11 residents — and officials want to protect the brand. They want to ensure that tax revenue is collected, a black market is throttled, violence is curbed and environmental rules are followed. They want Humboldt weed to carry a reputation and appellation like good wine.

So they have launched a pilot project — the first in California — to track medical marijuana from the young plants to the final processing and transport. A dozen local growers and others in the industry are participating, plus a handful of distributors and processors.

“The bottom line: The project is working,” said Jeff Dolf, county agricultural commissioner.

With the voter-approved legalization of recreational cannabis use on Nov. 8, Humboldt’s “track and trace” pilot project likely will be expanded to meet the 2018 landscape. At least two counties, Mendocino and Yolo, may be following suit, and others are weighing their options.

Dealing with pot production in a legal and regulatory way is a far cry from the decades of police raids on plantations at harvest time — raids that drew international attention.

A lot is at stake. The statewide market in medicinal and recreational marijuana is worth about $6.6 billion, maybe more, according to an advisory group headed by state Treasurer John Chiang.

Humboldt County sensed the cultural changes evolving across California over marijuana use. They planned their medical marijuana project long before the November vote – they wanted to be ready.

Other counties are getting ready, too. Mendocino, also in the Emerald Triangle, is planning to establish its own trace program, and voters in several counties – including Lake, Solano, Monterey, Santa Cruz and Calaveras – approved measures to track legalized cannabis. Trinity, the third member of the Triangle, is considering it.

Nearly two-thirds of California’s cannabis growers reside in the Emerald Triangle. Together, Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity are home to about 35,000 cannabis growers, out of about 55,000 scattered across the state. Not surprisingly, they also are found in the fertile Central Valley, the nation’s richest farm belt.

The Humboldt program includes a stamp of certification to verify the weed’s provenance. The stamp is registered in an official database with anti-counterfeit controls similar to the way that state stamps are used on packs of cigarettes. “People are proud to have that stamp,” Bruner said.

The company handling the Humboldt project under contract, a Switzerland-based firm called SICPA, has performed similar security functions for years for the state Board of Equalization for tobacco products, as well as for dozens of other states. The goal is to fight smuggling, protect tax revenue and discourage a black market.

Nobody is really sure how much cannabis tax money is at stake in Humboldt County, perhaps $4 million to $8 million annually for medical marijuana production, and potentially more if recreational marijuana production ends up in the mix. The basic tax is figured per square foot of growing area — $1 per square foot for outdoor grows, $2 for “mixed-light” indoor-outdoor grows and $3 per square foot for crops grown entirely in greenhouses.

Medical marijuana will be exempt from sales taxes starting in 2018, but recreational cannabis will be subject to the levy, dramatically boosting the potential state and local revenue. Statewide, the excise taxes on retail recreational marijuana under Proposition 64 will be 15 percent, generating about $1 billion a year, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. But the total tax load — including state and local taxes — may be a hefty 28 to 35 percent, which includes cultivation taxes and local sales taxes. Also, at some point, the large-acreage growers are likely to move in, displacing mom-and-pop operations.

“The landscape in relation to this industry is going to change significantly in the state,” Dolf said.

Commercial flower growers — many of whom have extensive greenhouse facilities — are watching that landscape closely.

“Not just in flower farming, but all through agriculture, people are looking at cannabis as a viable crop,” said Kasey Cronquist, the CEO of the California Cut Flower Commission. “Certainly, we have farms that those who invest in marijuana would like to have.” The nation’s premier cut-flower crop is in California’s Carpinteria Valley.

So far, he added, “there has been no sort of exodus or change in the cut-flower business.”

Statewide, taxable sales of medical marijuana in California was about $575 million during the first six months of 2016, according to the Board of Equalization. The board, which noted that the figure was likely a partial one, said some 1,023 accounts across the state paid $50.5 million in taxes during the period. However, more than two-thirds of marijuana-related businesses do not have bank accounts, according to Chiang, so tracking the money with precision is difficult.

The money is at the heart of the discussion about marijuana: It’s not about using cannabis, it’s all about banking the proceeds.

By whatever estimate, big dollars are involved – and getting bigger.

In a cash-and-carry business where banks are loathe to allow growers, processors and dispensaries to have accounts, cannabis producers are tempting targets. The inability to bank funds triggers fear — and violence.

“We put people at risk of injury and robbery as they cart around sacks of cash,” Chiang said at the first meeting of his cannabis banking advisory group.

The Board of Equalization, which collects and distributes taxes, is receiving large cash payments at offices across the state.

In a suburban Sacramento BOE office, a medical marijuana dispensary executive brought in $400,000 in two suitcases while an armed CHP officer stood guard at the door. Similar deposits are common at BOE offices, which are not equipped to handle huge amounts of cash.

People in the cannabis industry “are afraid to drive with hundreds of thousands of dollars in their vehicles,” said Khurshid Khoja, general counsel of the California Cannabis Industry association. “A million in cash is a very inviting target.”

He cited two examples: A dispensary testing agent who was attacked inside his premises by a hammer-wielding assailant, and a Southern California cannabis industry executive who was kidnapped, taken to the desert and tortured to disclose his cache of cash.

Casey O’Neill, a grower, agreed, saying that growers and businesses need to be able to legitimately bank their funds, like any other legal business. Currently, they are forced to “figure out how to get a bank account without telling them (the banks) what you do,” O’Neill said.

“I’m about to start my third bank account, we’ve had two shut down already,” he said. “Being a farmer nowadays, you have to wear many hats, and accounting is often not the strongest hat of the farmer.”

“Luckily, we do have a bank,” said Phil Blurton, owner of an established Sacramento dispensary. “In seven years, I’ve been kicked out of five banks…. As soon as they find out that you are a cannabis dispensary, or anything to do with the cannabis business, they kick you out.”

Banks are federally regulated, and they are nervous about handling the funds of people who are producing a product designated as illegal under federal law. The federal government has classified cannabis as an illegal, addictive Class I drug — a position that has been the same for decades.

“The clear weight of the currently available evidence supports this classification,” the DEA noted in an April 2013 official policy document on its web site. “The campaign to legitimize what is called ‘medical’ marijuana is based on two propositions: first, that science views marijuana as medicine; and second, that the DEA targets sick and dying people using the drug. Neither proposition is true.”

But officials also noted that “the focus of federal resources should not be on individuals whose actions are in compliance with existing state laws,” which appeared to leave the door open for medicinal or recreational cannabis use in those states where it is legal.

Legally, then, there still is a gray area.

Marijuana’s use in some form has been approved in California and 25 other states, as well as the District of Columbia. California had more than 758,000 users of medicinal cannabis through March 2016, according to, a group that tracks data on controversial issues. Nationally, there are about 1.2 million medicinal users.

“The machinery of the federal government has been clunking along behind the trending preferences of the American people,” Chiang said. He noted that federal representatives declined to participate in his working group’s first Capitol hearing. Those who did attend included growers, bankers, advocacy groups, law enforcement groups, local government officials and others.

In California, Proposition 64’s provisions targeting commercially sold recreational pot will be phased in through 2018, but other provisions went into effect immediately.

“The recreational aspect is in effect right now,” said Steve Wagstaffe, the district attorney of San Mateo County and the president of the California District Attorneys Association. Since Proposition 64’s passage, he added, “we have about 100 cases in which we filed felony charges for sale, and we’ve almost completed reducing those to misdemeanors.”

But the legal load remains complex.

When recreational cannabis is legally marketed and significantly taxed up to 35 percent or even more, there is a potential for a big black market and an incentive to sell large amounts under the table. In Colorado, which legalized recreational use two years ago, about 60 percent is legally sold, and the rest is peddled in a black market.

Already popular among smugglers are panga boats — small open boats powered by outboard motors that tote marijuana to isolated coastal areas late at night. In Monterey County, authorities seized an $18 million load in 2015 from a panga boat in the Mill Creek area near the San Luis Obispo County line. Last February off Santa Barbara, some 3,000 pounds of weed were confiscated from a panga boat. In San Mateo County, there have been cases of panga boat operators coming close to the coast, dumping their loads overboard to let the tide carry the pot in, then peeling away.

“We’ll find the black market and we’ll deal with it,” Wagstaffe said.


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GOVERNOR BROWN ANNOUNCES $1.6 BILLION DEFICIT, but don't count on pot tax bonanza to close it

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by Clancy Sigal

A few days ago I urged friends to grow a pair of ears sensitive to bullshit language. How about adding a new nose?

That murky “Russian hacking” story fails – so far – to pass the smell test.

So called “news items” after item have been found to be false or half true. Newspapers like the Washington Post (but not yet NYTimes) have “walked back” the fabrications. (Putin cut off Vermont’s electricity supply, Putin caught Trump in a honey trap etc etc. – O that it were true!)

So we hate Trump for all the good reasons. Check. He’s a cruel and reckless monster. Check.

He’ll make our daily lives more miserable. Check.

Here’s what we know so far which isn’t much:

Balancing the odds, and listening to perhaps contradictory advice from his secret service and tech experts, Putin decided to mess with America in Trump’s favor – in some as yet unspecified, unsourced and unproven ways.

There is NO independent verification EXCEPT secret reports from the CIA-FBI-Homeland Security apparatus.

And we know how honest unblemished unbiased unpolitical and disinterested they are in the current fevered atmosphere. Oh, please.

It’s so hard for us to face the harsh, complicated reality that Trump won due to a perfect storm of boring sociological factors like the catastrophic decline in union membership (up to now a shield against racism), “de-industrialization” of whole regions, the plague of state right to work laws, the loss of jobs through automation and anti pollution regulations and massive outsourcing – and oh yes an unpopular Democratic candidate running a dumb campaign.

Until Putin comes crawling on his hands and knees before a Congressional committee to confess his intervention sins, you best go down to the corner grocery and buy a barrel of salt to pour on this Russian-hacking story.

Haven’t we been here before with Saddam Hussein’s invisible – except to neo-cons with eyes fixed on war – chemical and nuclear weapons?

Fake, fake, fake – until we have MULTIPLY-SOURCED EVIDENCE BASED proof that smells fresh and good.

That comes from other than the “intelligence community”. Since when do we trust them on a political issue in which they have their own pot to stir?

It takes no genius to figure out that any Russian, high or low, bad or good, would prefer a blustering salesman like Trump who has money interests to protect in Russia over Hillary a high minded war hawk who, rightly, has condemned Putin’s bloody imperialist adventures in the Crimea and Ukraine.

Paging Judith Miller!

(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset. Courtesy,

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by Dave Zirin

Many political sports fans were shocked when 80-year-old football legend Jim Brown recently came out in fulsome support of Donald Trump. Now he has drawn even more ire after bashing civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis for calling Trump “illegitimate” in an appearance on CNN: "John Lewis has great history as a civil rights fighter. As a young man, he was one of the guys out there who was leading the parades during the King era. So, we all respect his history. But then I hear him crying the blues about Mr. Trump and saying he’s an illegitimate president, I take offense to that."

Sportswriter Mike Freeman, who wrote a terrific 2006 biography of Brown called Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero, tweeted, “Jim Brown just said John Lewis is ‘crying the blues.’ Who is this and what have you done with Jim Brown?”

This comes on the heels of an event last month when Trump sat down with Brown and former NFL player Ray Lewis. Brown left the meeting saying, “I fell in love with [Trump] because he really talks about helping black people.” That night, Brown was on television with right-wing Fox News talker Sean Hannity to sing Trump’s praises.

Ray Lewis, Jim Brown

It’s an ugly chapter for someone my editor once called “part of the holy trinity of athlete-activists with Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell.” It also puts Brown at odds with the fellow iconic athlete activists of his generation, like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Dr. John Carlos, and Dr. Harry Edwards who have called for active resistance to the Trump agenda.

It even puts him at stark and tragic odds with his friend, the late, great Muhammad Ali who constructed his entire funeral as a rebuke of Donald Trump’s anti-Islamic bigotry.

And yet as disturbing as Jim Brown’s stance is, it’s not actually all that surprising if you look at his political history. In the 1950s and 1960s, Jim Brown was not a fan of Dr. King’s Civil Rights Movement. In that sense, he’s been at odds with John Lewis for over fifty years.

In 1963, Brown had this to say about the Civil Rights Movement: "Dr. King is a great man because he has courage and because he has the ability to draw the masses together and move them and therefore make a tremendous contribution to the Negro restlessness but he is a preacher and a speechmaker. I for one will not march down the street and kneel and pray for my rights. That is just not my shit."

In 2014, I stayed at Brown’s house for a week to interview him for a political biography I am writing about him. While I was there, he said to me, “I didn’t think much of Dr. King. I mean, I am not trying to put him down, but if you think about the majority of the rhetoric, it’s about what’s being done to us. It doesn’t have damn near anything that says what we’re going to do for ourselves.”

This position was shared by the right-wing of the Black Power movement, which was focused far more on building small businesses and the economic base of the black community than other forms of resistance. So it was no wonder Jim Brown endorsed Richard Nixon for president in 1968. Nixon himself appealed to this wing of the movement in a speech, saying, “What most of the militants are asking is not separation, but to be included in — not as supplicants, but as owners, as entrepreneurs — to have a share of the wealth and a piece of the action.” Federal government programs, Nixon said, should “be oriented toward more Black ownership, for from this can flow the rest—Black pride, Black jobs, Black opportunity and, yes, Black Power.”

This appealed to Brown and spoke to his desire to try and work the system for economic gain as a strategy for resisting racism. His one-time fiancée Debra Clark said to me, “Jim is highly intelligent, and he knew that you have to get in bed with the devil to get stuff done. It’s not that he agreed with Nixon, but he knew you had to get dirty to get in the game.” Jim Brown has worked with people in gangs for decades and gone to neighborhoods most celebrities would never set foot in; not to organize resistance but to tutor them in how to make a living. This is his method of political engagement and he makes no apologies for that.

In other words, none of this is new. The only thing that’s changed is now people across the sports world are — finally — unafraid to criticize Jim Brown.

There are other issues at play here as well. In interviews with Jim Brown I learned that he was very hurt that President Obama never asked him for a meeting or an audience. President Obama would collect star athletes and legends from the past around him, people like Jim Brown’s best friend Bill Russell, yet there was no space for Jim Brown at Obama’s table. That is most likely due to Brown’s long history of allegations of violence against women. This history is not a problem for Donald Trump for reasons that should be self-evident.

Interestingly, next week there is going to be a panel at San Jose State featuring Dr. Harry Edwards, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and other legends. Let’s see what happens at that event, because this reckoning with Jim Brown’s politics has been 50 years in the making. The genuflecting is over and that is healthy, even if it stings.

(Dave Zirin is the sports editor at The Nation Magazine. He can be reached at

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by Ralph Nader

Dear President-Elect Donald Trump,

You’ve come a long way without my advice, but ascension to the White House invites listening to what this letter has to say.

During the primary campaign you said more than once that you had to speak and behave the way you did to get the mass media’s attention. But you also pledged that, once in the White House, you would be “so presidential you [all] will be so bored.”

Judging by your remarkably low national polls for an incoming president-elect, it is not just Meryl Streep and John Lewis who think that your transition to becoming “presidential” has not yet materialized. In the spirit of this transition, here are some pitfalls you will need to overcome in order to avoid embroiling your administration (and the nation) in a self-initiated avalanche of charges, disputes and scandals.

1. Your “Achilles heel” has thus far proven to be your easily bruised ego, which is put on display with every one of your furious, sometimes bullying tweets. When you are President, however, you have more ways to retaliate and more ways to get both yourself and our country in trouble if you do so in such a spasmodic manner. This is the Big Leagues. Adversaries abroad are keenly aware of how easily they can provoke you into impulsive missteps that play into their hands. You would benefit from reading the 2004 book by Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror—What Really Happened, on leaving his position as anti-terrorist advisor to President George W. Bush.

In it, Mr. Clarke writes, “It was as if Osama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, was engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting, ‘Invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq.’”

As for the widespread dissent by the American people, if you take this personally instead of presidentially, you’re going to give way to your worst traits and end up stereotyping whole groups in bigoted ways. There are reasons past presidents did not personalize their presidency, however, with some going to extremes and ignoring any responsibility to respond to serious letters (see my book, Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President 2001-2015).

2. Your Twitter account can get you into 24/7 disputes that are unbecoming of our nation’s highest office. Thus far, you have managed to distract media attention from other negative stories about you with personal Twitter attacks. Unlike your campaigns, as president, your customary aggressive tweets will distract focus and attention from your own agenda and turn off even your crucial Republican friends on Capitol Hill. Continuing lack of impulse control will erode your presidency quickly during the 100 day honeymoon period. Best to restrain yourself. There are other more important decisions waiting on your desk.

3. Early on you’ll have to decide the issue of wholesale delegation to your nominees at the cabinet and agency levels and to what extent you will make these significant decisions yourself. Since you are known for your aversion to details, requiring briefings and reading piles of memos, your subordinates will take advantage of your de-management style and go on their own, undoubtedly clashing with each other. In this case, the decision will end up in the White House after lots of press about chaos and tumult in your administration and low morale within the critical civil service.

The most immediate manifestation of the foregoing is the phenomenon widely known as “Killer Tuesday” during which national security advisors briefed President Obama about suspects or “signature targets” to be destroyed in faraway places like Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria by a drone operator in Virginia or Nevada with the push of a button. President Obama wanted to make many of these decisions directly as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. Do you wish to continue these violations of international laws known as extra-judicial slayings (inside sovereign nations) that have taken the lives of thousands of innocent women, children and men?

4. Your well-publicized business ownerships are to be transferred to family members. Many constitutional experts, including Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe and ethics experts, both Republican and Democratic, are not at all persuaded that this move complies with the Emolument Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8). They believe that your assets must be sold to non-family members with the proceeds, liquid or otherwise, being held in a “blind trust.”

Once again, whether to curry favor with you by patronizing your hotels and other properties, brandishing your surname here and abroad, or to subject you to an extortion attempt or provocative attacks on these properties, you should change your transfer plan. Otherwise, this could be early constitutional trouble for you, including lawsuits by contractors claiming loss of business due to others currying favor with you. A Supreme Court case gives such businesses “standing to sue.”

5. Lastly, some various suggestions. Please meet early on with a leading delegation of top scientists and engineers and their groups such as the National Academy of Sciences. They can prevent your administration from getting into lots of unsound and costly, ill-advised science/technology trouble.

Because you wish to squeeze out hundreds of billions of dollars in waste, reach out to legendary presidential, gubernatorial consultant and manager of four large public utilities (including the TVA), S. David Freeman on energy waste; to Professor Malcom Sparrow of Harvard on over $300 billion in annual billing fraud in the healthcare industry – including $60 billion rip offs of Medicare alone yearly – and Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, on soaring drug prices and other bilks and harms from the “politically protected” (your words) drug giants. These are three of numerous experts who are unlikely to be recommended to you by corporatists in your administration.

In conclusion, can you break the mold of your predecessors and at least acknowledge receipt of substantive letters sent to you, if your staff, cabinet or agencies do not substantively respond to them? Canadian Prime Ministers extend such courtesies. Being president is much more difficult than campaigning to be president. You need to rise above what is petty.


Ralph Nader

* * *

* * *


by Thomas Cahill

Sedonia and Tom in a self-portrait in their vintage costume portrait studio in San Francisco about 1972. Since men tended to be taller than women, early photographers would have the man sit so their faces would be closer together. This explanation satisfied Sedonia who was a staunch feminist. The painting of Sedonia behind us was in pastels by her cousin, Michael. It hung for many years in my loft in the barn in which I lived almost three decades on Ten Mile Ranch near Fort Bragg, California. I passed on the painting to Sedonia's daughter before I moved to France in 2013.

Mary Sue, 32 at the time, had grown up in Kerrville, Texas, with her maternal grandparents; her mother had died when she was two. She had the look and bearing of that Better School Back East and sure enough I learned she had attended Mary Baldwin, a prep school for princesses in Va-gin-nia where she picked up that ever so slight haughtiness that excited hell out of me. I was 31, from Joisey City and had about as much sophistication as one of Boss "I am the law" Hague's ward healers in his tough Irish stronghold called The Horseshoe where I spent my formative years helping defend Seventh Street from the Sixth Streeters who I don't recall ever seeing much less being attacked by. This was WW II and it seemed everyone had to have an enemy and something to defend from someone. Her family wasn't wealthy but comfortable and refined from generations of successful professionals. My mother who was a registered nurse had the most education on both sides of my family and had ambition to be a writer. From her I got a splash of ink in my veins and my sister followed her into nursing, then a religious order where she became a medical missionary for five years until the Vatican's support of the junta there ticked her off.

Months later after my sister left her order and we were living in San Francisco, Mary Sue wrote to me about her first impressions of me. "In the flesh, you were much different than the firebrand image I had of you from 'Inferno' and the local press. Smiling or laughing even, you had a sadness, a vulnerability about you that together with your dark features reminded me so much of Montgomery Cliff. You seemed both strong and fragile at the same time, dark and brooding and exciting. Long before meeting you, you were my Sweet Sir Galahad." Fans of old late-night black & white movies might remember Monty Cliff from his fight scene in the movie "From Here To Eterenity." Monty kept getting knocked on his ass by a bigger, tougher GI but kept getting up for more. That's me! The previous October, my rapists quit when there bloody knuckles were too painful. After having tea with a French friend, Joelle, last Spring, she e-mailed me that to her and her friends, I appeared "dignified, good mannered and educated but sad."

Why wouldn't I be sad? For eighty years I've been trying to fly and I keep falling out of the nest on my head.

Not long after meeting Mary Sue, I organized a rescue mission. A friend of mine, a Catholic monk named Sam Greene ran a farm for troubled boys something like Father Flanagan's Boy's Town in Nebraska. They needed help bringing in their peanut crop before the rains. Brother Sam was a big lovable Teddy Bear who always seemed to have the best psychedelics and was most generous with them.

Four decades later, Sam was convicted of child molestation and committed suicide. And reports about "Pizzagate" indicate a number of lads from Fr. Flanagan's Boys' Town have been kidnapped into the international pedophilia trade. From my research into "Pizzagate," I think it may be less about pedophilia and more about political blackmail and "the Finders" of the CIA may know more than they are willing to share with international law enforcement.

First I recruited Tom Flower, a Marine vet turned brilliant peace activist who enjoyed getting stoned and was the one who first turned me on to pot earlier that year. Raul Rodrigues, a beautiful, old "political gadfly," as the local media disrespectfully called him, volunteered, "Mr. Rodriguez," as I always respectfully called him was assistant editor of our underground paper, "Inferno." Then there was Sam Bernstein, an elderly, lovable curmudgeon who was a proud member of the Communist Party of America.

When I worked up enough nerve, I called Mary Sue.

"Of course, I'll come, Tom. But I'll have to bring the kids and Prince Albert." she responded in that soft, sexy but genteel Texas drawl of hers.

"Hey, they'll all love it out there at Galilee," I told Mary Sue.

"Can I bring my cousin, Michael," she asked.

"Of course, I like Mike. And bring Don, too," I answered.

"Oh, he's off working somewhere," she said.

When we got to the farm, the kids and the Prince immediately took off looking for livestock to torment. There were none, so the kids picked peanuts with us. The deal for the rus was--as soon as we cleared the field, Brother Sam would have a special treat for us.

After harvesting the peanuts in record time, Sam ushered us into the chapel for mass.

"Is Sam a priest," Teresa whispered to me.

"If Sam says he's a priest, he's a priest," I answered which seemed to satisfy Teresa because she went throug all the motions of communion like she was enjoying it. Sam must have been delighted to have a real nun in his chapel.

Mr. Rodriguez slept through communion and Mr. Bernstein declined communion, grumpily complaining "Some treat!" But Teresa trustingly kneeled before Sam who placed a small wafer on her outstretched tongue. He repeated the ritual for the children for whom it was their first holy communion since they were not RCs. On the tongues of most of the rest of us, Sam placed a tab of the finest "Windowpane" LSD.

In no time we were all giggling and having a wild time including Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Bernstein and Teresa who obviously had a contact high. But our play was soon interrupted by a group of men in suits who arrived.

"Oh Lord, I forgot about the inspection ," announced Br. Sam. "Y'all will have to hide. Quick," he told us.

And we all, including the kids and Prince Albert scampered into a barn where we took turns peeking out at the inspectors. As stoned as Br. Sam was, he had pulled himself together and was conducting a tour of the living quarters at the farm. Meanwhile like a band of conspirators, we were all trying to suppress our merriment and keep the Prince quiet. Afterward we had a great feast and while Mr. Bernstein napped, Mr. Rodriguez and the rest of us continued to play about the farm.

Mary Sue and I didn't have anytime alone but I did slip her a poem I wrote that expressed my romantic feelings for her. I made it clear to her that if she ever left Don, I'd like to be a candidate for his replacement and I understood she was a package deal--her, her three li'll darlings and the live rag mop. Like I could afford to take responsibility of a family with no visible means of support. I was besotted by her.

Later that evening, when we were saying goodnight, it came as a pleasant surprise when she said, "I loved your poem. Will you write to me from San Francisco?"

"Sure," I answered. "Will you write to me?

"Yes," she said, handing me a slip of paper with the post office box number of the San Antonio Committee to Stop the War in Vietnam.

A few weeks later, Judge Archie Brown released me from parole to the custody of my sister with a warning to her.

"Now Miss Cahill, please don't let Tom get mixed up with those Hippies out there in San Francisco."

My sister the Sister, who didn't know then what a Hippie,. was but knew she disliked the judge intensely, just glared at him, nodding slightly.

* * *

Mary Sue's cousin, Michael Chreisman, was the first to move to San Francisco. He had lived there before and had told us so many exciting stories that Teresa and I followed him a few months later. And about six months after we arrived, Mary Sue and her family joined us but withouot the giant rag mop named Prince Albert.

Teresa and I were living in the Mission and I was commuting to work at the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development on a Honda Superhawk 305 that I had painted flat black. I had to translate into plain English the academic jargon of an ambitious PhD who seemed to write badly on purpose. He was the kind who hides behind a smoke screen of gobbledygook in order to evade intellectual responsibility, pretending that they're serving the reader when they're serving only themselves. And I suspect they were trained to write badly this way in their doctoral programs, trained to make verbal mountains out of intellectual mole hills, trained to protect themselves this way from laymen and other scholars.

Much earlier, I had lumped Academe together with corporations, government and organized religion. At this time, I stopped trimming my hair and beard and kept looking around for a more honest livelihood. The corporate media had done a great hatchet job on us Hippies not so much because of the "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" but because we were living so far out of their box. Like cats we were hard to herd and manipulate. Our adage was "live simply that others might simply live" and we were very community oriented. We recycled EVERYthing, wore used clothing, furnished our homes out of thrift shops, drove battered old vehicles. We were Wall Street's worst nightmare. "Authenticity" was our byword. We could spot phony balonies from a distance and avoid them until they understood what it took for membership in our family. We were a family and the corporate media never failed to trash us for our lifestyle. All these years later I feel we hade a mission no one of us ever spoke about. We were out to help humanize humankind. It was the healthiest and happiest time of many of our lives, certainly mine.

Not only did it help me heal from my torture in jail in San Antonio, it helped me heal from my San Antonio Rose. Celina would have never adjusted to this life that I embraced so easily.

So she did us both a favor dumping me April Fools Day 1968. It was a lesson I would learn over and over that something good can come from something bad. But the opposite was also true. I was beginning to understand Buddha who many of us Hippies began tuning into.

* * *

It was about this time that Mary Sue received a telegram from Texas. The monster rag-mop named Prince Albert was on his way to California via airmail. She wasn't quite ready for him, but he was causing so much trouble in Texas, that whoever was Prince-sitting was dumping him. The dog was truly a monster. He ate anything--stereos, sofas, small automobiles. He had trashed the entire interior of Don's big Chevy when he was kept in there a bit too long. A mailman on Mary Sue's route in San Antonio had disappeared and she suspected the Prince had made a meal of him as well as his clothes and mailbag. But he could be such a charmer when it suited him. Mary Sue and the kids were so excited to see him again.

I was with them when they were expecting a call any minute from the airlines announcing the arrival of his majesty. I wasn't there long when the call came through.

"Yes, yes, I understand," said Mary Sue, in her businesslike voice. "I'm sure you did everything you could," she told the airline official. And as soon as she hung up the phone, she turned her face from the kids and I and began weeping.

"What's the matter, Mommy," asked little Annie-Laurie, tugging on her mother's shirt sleeve.

Then Brad and Gray gathered around her chorusing the same question. And in two giant steps, I was across the room trying to get through all the hands to touch my portion of my love to help share the obvious pain. And when she told us, eight eyes joined hers in raining down tears all over her lovely silk gown.

The monster rag-mop named Prince Albert had arrived at San Francisco Airport dead of unknown causes. Just recently a friend who worked for Fed-Ex told me they probably didn't pressurize or heat the baggage holds of airplanes back then.

* * *

I have an announcement to make," said Mary Sue one evening after the kids were in bed and I was trying to get her to bed.

"I've changed my name," she announced.

"Oh, that's nice," I said as I unbuttoned her blouse.

"Mike helped me choose it," she said proudly.

"Oh," I replied intensively unfastening her bra with one hand. With the other hand I gently caressed her in other places to distract her from my primary objective. We men are such animals. If I was a woman, I wouldn't have anything to do with men. I would be lesbian, feminist, separatist.

"It was the name of a beautiful famous witch in the Middle Ages," she explained.

"Hmmmm," I hmmmmed, fondling a luscious breast.

"YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO ME," she whispered loudly pushing me away and crossing her arms under her breasts.

"Heavenstomergatroy, ME not paying attention to YOU," I asked incredulously.

"Okay then, what did I say," she demanded, pushing me away and staring daggers at me while psychically donning what I was later to learn her Kali hat with all the live squiggly snakes and tiny skulls. She was fearsome and I knew I was in deep trouble.

"You were telling me, ummmm. about a middle-aged witch, ahhhhh, who gave Michael a new cane," I struggled.

I didn't get a chocolate delight that night but she didn't make me sleep alone on the couch either. We even made delicious love giggling about her new name which I kept telling her I liked, promising her I would never again call her "Mary Sue."

At five next morning as I was slipping out to put in an appearance at my own residence and to breakfast with my roomy from childhood, Sedonia reminded me how to address her henceforth.

"From now on call me 'Sedonia,'" she whispered. "Forget once and you'll be sorry the rest of your natural life and perhaps even in the next," she warned me. "For starters, you'll never see another desert in this house," she threatened knowing how to hurt this guy.

"Bye, bye, Sedonia," I said, skedaddling out the door quietly.

I never once slipped and called her 'Mary Sue'. But I never got another chocolate delight either. To go with her new name and new life, she was changing her diet and macrobiotics don't use sugar much less eat chocolate.

* * *


What Can We Do Together About It?

by Shepherd Bliss

I no longer feel as safe as I used to.

How about you? Do you think that the worlds in which you live are becoming more dangerous? What threats might you perceive? What could enhance your safety?

What do you, dear reader, do when you don’t feel safe? Reach out to friends? Or do you deny those feelings, retreat, and try to hide under the covers? What threatens your feelings of security?

Fear seems to be growing in the United States, even in our beloved Sonoma County, Northern California, where I have lived and worked on a farm in the countryside for the last 24 years.

This article intends to express some feelings and pose questions to stimulate both deep feelings and thinking. If the questions get too much, you can skip to the final section: “A BETTER WORLD IS POSSIBLE.”

What enhances feelings of safety? Internal and external factors seem to combine to create either more or less safety. Among the factors that enhance safety can be friends, family, a good job, and living with or near people whom you love and trust.

Near the end of 2016, I began to feel less safe. I became deeply concerned about what is happening here in the United States, as well as elsewhere on this Earth.

Unless one closes their eyes and tunes out information, ignoring the signs of dramatic pending change, feeling less safe is likely. What do you, realistically, expect your future and our futures to be like? Better or potentially worse? What would you suggest we do to get from here to a better world?

Selecting the best place to live and creating a network of close friends would help enhance safety. As would moving beyond denial and accepting that our early 2017 world is more unpredictable than even a couple of months ago.

This seems to be an especially unpredictable time for more vulnerable groups—the poor, dark skinned, immigrants, and those of non-Christian religions.

I migrated from a large urban setting to rural Sebastopol in l992, partly because a big city was feeling increasingly unsafe. I’ve felt pretty safe on my farm with its immediate access to food, water, good people, and meaningful work.

Now I hear more people considering moving away. Some to Canada. Others further away, especially to Latin America. Born in California I plan to stay, try to understand what is happening and how best to cope with it both personally and beyond myself.

Groups doing good work enhance my feeling of safety. Among them are the Grange, farm groups, some churches, and neighborhood groups.

Some places offer welcoming safe havens, or sanctuaries, to all. Some groups are more hostile, based on factors such as skin color, race, religion, country of origin, sexual and gender identity, politics, and other factors.

“Perilous optimism” is a concept that I read about in Santa Rosa author Richard Heinberg’s book The Party’s Over. What in our current historical moment gives you less optimism for our futures?

“The Times They Are A-Changing” musician and poet Bob Dylan wrote, decades ago. The pace of those evolving and pending changes seems to be quickening.

What threatens you? Members of your family? Governments—local, national, or foreign? Who do you turn to when you feel unsafe or threatened? Who or what would you avoid? How are you preparing for potential changes?

“My experience is that most of my growth takes place when I am uncomfortable and shaken out of my illusions of safety and forced to confront the challenging parts of myself, of life,” my friend Scott DuRoff commented after reading a draft of this article.

“When I think of safety in general, one of the first things that pops up for me is the desire to keep my freedoms safe,” a close woman friend responded. “Our worldly freedoms are definitely being compromised.”

"A sense of innocence infuses U.S. culture, like a Happy Face running away from the nation’s transgressions” commented author and psychologist Chellis Glendinning,” who moved to Bolivia a number of years ago. “But that does not represent the world we’re living in--particularly as downturns in the economic, ecological, social, psychological, and spiritual realms become so entangled we don’t know which will do us in first.”

A Better World Is Possible

After expressing my feelings in the rough draft of this article, receiving feedback from friends, and listening to the good news of protests around the U.S. and the world, my feelings changed drastically. As one friend responded to my draft, “We need to understand our fears in order overcome them.”

By expressing and thus discharging them, I became excited about the apparent start of a mass movement to improve our safety and deal with the sources of our fears. The last time I had such an elated feeling was nearly half a century ago—during the civil rights and peace movement of the 60s.

After the last two months of feeling down and scared, I went to a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday commemoration and later heard him on the radio. I heard him in person when I was a young officer in the U.S. Army headed for the American Wars on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. I decided to resign my commission and join those mass movements, willing to suffer the consequences, which included a limited time in jail.

In l968, a group of us drove from Chicago to Dr. King’s funeral in Atlanta and then joined 42,000 marchers in Memphis to honor him. Given our out-of-state license plates, we were targeted and literally stoned. Much was accomplished by our direct actions during those years. Mass non-violent movements drew us together and seem to once again be growing into a millions-strong response. That makes me feel safer and thus willing to take risks in the company of others.

When one feels down, engaging in action with others can break down the isolation. This has been happening at Standing Rock by Native Americans and their allies and at protests around the U.S. Join them.

Stand Up! Fight Back! A better world IS possible!

(Shepherd Bliss {} is a retired college teacher who has contributed to 24 books.)

* * *

* * *


The idea that people should just pay their own way for health care is superficially attractive but completely unworkable in practice. Nobody knows when they’re going to need health care; that’s what insurance is for. If you pay private insurance premiums, you’re paying for other people’s health care all the same. What’s more, unlike consumer items (even a house is a consumer item), there is no limit to potential demand — keeping in mind that demand is not only what people would like to have, but what they are ready and willing to pay for. I’m sure there is no limit to what I would pay not to die, or for someone I loved not to die. Put privatized insurance together with unlimited demand and you have the U.S. health care system: bloated, riddled with perverse incentives, exacting exorbitant premiums, and yet dedicated to denying as much care as possible at the exact moment it’s needed.

The thing is, unlike (say) auto or home insurance, which doesn’t apply to everyone, it is the case that everyone gets sick, everyone gets hurt, everyone gets old, everyone dies. Therefore the most sensible insurance pool is a single pool that includes everyone. That insurance pool can then keep a lid on costs and direct resources where they will do the most good. Hence single-payer: clear, proven, effective. As for paying for “other people’s health care”: how else does any form of insurance work, ever? Duh! At least under a single-payer system everyone gets covered, without perverse incentives and rampant profiteering, cream-skimming and extraction, waste, fraud and abuse.

* * *


by Dan Bacher

On January 12, California Assemblymembers Autumn R. Burke, Jim Cooper, Evan Low, and Blanca Rubio introduced legislation, AB 151, to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program beyond 2020.

The sponsors of Assembly Bill 151 said the legislation affirms the State’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 “in the most technologically feasible and cost effective way by using a market based mechanism: cap-and-trade.”

“Cap-and-trade is an important tool to help disadvantaged communities participate in efforts to improve air quality,” said Assemblymember Cooper. “AB 151 will help ensure California continues to invest cap-and-trade revenues in areas of the state with the greatest need."

But Gary Graham Hughes, Senior California Advocacy Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said “thorough academic review of the market-based compliance mechanism,” as implemented in California so far, shows that Cap-and-Trade does not work for the lower-income communities and communities of color that disproportionately live closest to polluting facilities.

Many environmental justice and indigenous organizations oppose cap-and-trade, calling it “carbon trading” or “pollution trading,” because of the tremendous adverse impacts the program has on indigenous communities and the environment throughout the world.

“Cap-and-Trade is a pollution trading scheme in which so-called greenhouse gas emissions ‘reductions’ rely extensively on scientifically dubious out-of-state ‘offset’ projects, while real emissions at many of the state’s largest industrial facilities continue to rise,” Hughes said.

As Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said at a protest against Governor Jerry Brown’s environmental policies, including carbon trading and REDD, in October 2013:

“Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred.” (

In response to fossil fuel industry support of legislation providing an extension of the Cap-and-Trade Program, Hughes said, “Proposing legislation to extend the Cap-and-Trade Program ignores climate science as well as the needs of affected communities throughout California for climate policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the source. Pollution trading is a false solution to the global climate crisis.”

Hughes noted that the press release from California Assembly Democrats claiming the bill “answers the call to extend cap-and-trade” fails to include an important fact: the “call” that Assembly Democrats and Governor Brown are answering “is the one made by the fossil fuel industry to use cap-and-trade to continue their business-as-usual carbon pollution. In this age of climate science denial, Californians need climate change mitigation policy rooted in science and that provides environmental justice for the communities most affected by industrial pollution.”

Hughes’ contention that “the call” the Assembly Democrats and Jerry Brown are answering is the one made by Big Oil to use cap-and-trade to continue “business as usual” is illustrated by the statement issued on January 10, 2017 by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA).

In her statement, Reheis-Boyd makes it clear that the oil industry that she represents supports the continuation of California's cap-and-trade-program, as proposed by Governor Jerry Brown in his 2017-2018 budget, providing that it “protects” the economy and “California families, consumers and businesses.”

Reheis Boyd says a "well-designed cap-and-trade program is the prudent approach to meeting the state’s climate change targets." Reheis-Boyd states:

“WSPA and its member companies believe focusing on a market mechanism to achieve California's climate goals is the prudent approach. In 2016, California adopted one of the most stringent GHG reduction targets in the world. Achieving this target will be difficult and costly. Achieving the reductions through a well-designed cap-and-trade program will minimize those costs. Where today's proposal falls short is that it simply layers the cap-and-trade program on top of costly and counter-productive command-and-control measures, disregarding the increasingly important role of cost containment.

WSPA looks forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature on a climate program that works towards achieving California's climate goals while protecting the economy and California families, consumers and businesses."

In his state budget released on January 10, Jerry Brown proposed the introduction of two-thirds urgency legislation in the State Legislature to continue the cap-and-trade program. AB 151 is the response to Brown’s request.

At the end of his keynote address at the World Climate Summit in Paris on December 8, 2015, Indigenous leaders from the Indigenous Environmental Network, Idle No More, SF Bay Area, and other organizations heckled Governor Jerry Brown, challenging him on his support of controversial carbon trading polices that they say represent “a new form of colonialism” that could potentially cause genocide. (

Brown is the Governor of a state that the mainstream media often portrays as a “green leader,” but is in fact the third biggest oil producer in the nation. In a classic example of how Big Oil has captured the regulatory apparatus in California, WSPA President Reheis-Boyd chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.

These “marine protected areas” fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering. While Reheis-Boyd served on these panels, her industry was fracking the same ocean waters that she and her “marine guardian” colleagues were tasked to “protect.”

WSPA is the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in the West and Sacramento — and has spent more than other lobbying organization in Sacramento in recent years to exert control over the Governor’s Office, regulatory agencies and State Legislature.

From January 1, 2009 to November 8, 2016, the oil industry spent $112,371,214 on lobbying expenses in California, according to a new report, “The Chevron Way: Polluting California and Degrading Democracy.” The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Sydney Office produced the report, in collaboration with a coalition of conservation, consumer and environmental justice groups.

The Western States Petroleum Association led the oil industry lobbying expenses with $49,491,104 during this period, followed by Chevron with $24,035,901 and Phillips 66 with $4,821,144. For more information, go to:

* * *

* * *


Warning to California Residents

Just visited the Berkeley tax preparer and also Mechanics Bank, to complain that the State of California has sent about the sixth notice asking me to pay $51 for 2014 back taxes. The problem is that I already paid this, have a receipt on file, and a letter from Sacramento stating that I have no further tax liability for 2014. The tax preparer has telephoned Sacramento repeatedly, and cannot get the computers to zero out my account. Today, I explained that the reason is that the "error" is deliberate! That's right, you heard me correctly...DELIBERATE! The State of California system is obviously hoping that a percentage of citizens will "double pay", probably to avoid further inconvenience, or are easily intimidated, or perhaps senile, or are just too mentally lazy to care less and so they send in the money twice, which is idiotic. Regardless, I have advised both my tax preparer and Mechanics Bank that if I receive yet another mailing attempting to get me to "double pay", that I am demanding that both the tax preparer and the bank initiate a law suit against the State of California on my behalf (for which I will NOT pay any of the expense). Otherwise, I will take my complaint to the FBI. You have been warned by Craig Louis Stehr about a possible negligent, if not criminal, situation which could affect you and yours. Do not be a traditional Berkeley-type-of-person and "accept the situation" in a relaxed, balanced, politically correct, peaceful yogic manner. Hammer-jack em!!! Okay? You will still be spiritually successful in your life, perhaps even more successful for having been genuine. Peaceout.

Craig Louis Stehr



  1. james marmon January 19, 2017

    RE: CPS attack.

    The Social Worker probably lied, committed perjury to legally kidnap the mother’s children. They do that at in that office to offset incompetence and draw down federal and state dollars. Children are Mendocino County’s number one natural resource and are harvested routinely.

    James Marmon MSW
    Former Mendocino County CPS Social Worker.

    • Bruce Anderson January 19, 2017

      In fact, the attacker is a free range tweeker.

      • james marmon January 19, 2017

        I kidnapped my daughter and granddaughter from Del Norte CPS and placed them both in a treatment facility for a year, TOGETHER. Seven years clean now and dong great.

        Mendocino County does not adhere to placing mothers and children TOGETHER, I fought them over this philosophy while I was there. Sonoma County does it, but not Mendocino or Del Norte.

        “they need time to work on themselves without their children.”

        BULLSHIT the County doesn’t draw any money down unless the children are removed from their parent’s care.

        Addicts and Drunks do love their children, am I wrong?

        • Harvey Reading January 19, 2017

          Depends on the personalities. A woman speed freak I knew in the 90s got both her early teens kids hooked on speed. Offered it to them at home according to the daughter. The older one, a boy finally committed suicide. The daughter cleaned up her own act, married, had kids, good job. But, you talk to mama, still hooked after a long arrest record (the possession charges, after the first two felony convictions with probation, always get knocked down to misdemeanors to keep her, basically ‘harmless’, out of prison), and multiple treatment centers, and she’ll go on and on about how she, “… loves(d) those kids.” Maybe you’d call that tough love? I call it not love.

          • james marmon January 19, 2017

            Oh, we should just stop trying because of the woman speed freak you knew? Blame the client not the program, throw the baby out with the bathwater, if you will? One would think we might have evolved since the 90’s.

            Maybe Wyoming should adopt the Mendocino County Plan, contract the substance abuse and mental health programs to a foster care and adoption agency, what could possibly go wrong?

            • Harvey Reading January 20, 2017

              You asked a question. I gave my answer in the first sentence of my response. That was followed by an example from my experience. What you read into that answer, and the experience, is your business. However, your analysis of it is in my opinion shaky and very reactionary. I am really glad that you cannot prescribe drugs, or has that changed, too, in California?

  2. Jim Updegraff January 19, 2017

    comment of the day: In the U.s 15% of the GDP goes to health cost. In Europe 7-5 % of GDP is spent on health care and everyone is insured. The best plans were based on building off of an existing system. In the U. S. we have Social Security in which almost all participate. It would provide the base for a single payment plan. It should be noted that currently the U. S infant mortality rate approaches third world ratios plus we have a critical obesity problem which presents serious health issues. Unfortunately the approach of the GOP is throw 18 million people under the bus.

  3. chuck dunbar January 19, 2017

    Regarding the CPS social worker who was recently attacked by a mother:

    A couple of thoughts: I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often. The circumstances around the detention of children were often disturbing, even horrifying and detentions were very upsetting for all involved. When I supervised social workers in the Fort Bragg office (for 15 years), we were certainly yelled at and cursed at, as well as threatened, by parents whose children were being detained. We always tried to do this hard duty with compassion for the parents (and of course for the children) as we had a real sense of how horrible it was for them. We also worked very hard to present honest and credible factual evidence to the Juvenile Court of serious endangerment (that the child was at imminent risk, if left in the care of parents,of serious physical harm). If I had ever observed that a social worker was lying about such evidence, or misleading the Court in any way, I would have intervened and corrected these issues without hesitation. The social worker would have been reprimanded and disciplined.

    Financial issues, at least during my 18 years at CPS, were never once raised to me by any management personnel. While I had serious problems with managers about many, many ill-conceived or poorly thought-out suggestions/decisions,the issue of gaining funding by detaining children was never one of them. (Had this ever come up, I would have been absolutely furious and would have refused to comply.)

    We did, when we could, place children, especially younger children, with their parents in in-patient drug treatment when it was possible. There were many variables to consider in these situation, and we were never told by management that we could not do so.

  4. zeke Krahlin February 20, 2017

    Tom Cahill: I very much relished reading part 2 of the Hippy Queen. Your love for Selenia, and hers for you, shines through like the ray from a super nova. You do her great honor, as you do for all the wonderful true characters in this piece. Including Prince Albert. RIP to all those good people who are not with you any more.

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