- Murder Bros
- Ross Murray
- Oakland Fallguys
- Little Dog
- Deal Breakers
- Reckless Pasta
- Humboldt Investigation
- Newspaper Layoffs
- Noyo Fatality
- Sleazy Leaders
- Rental Prices
- Tiny Houses
- Propane Prices
- Tiber Lilies
- Band Supporters
- Zen Bulletins
- Yesterday's Catch
- Deleveraging Liquidity
- Blood Lust
- Whale Watching
- Mendo Museum
- Immoral Minority
- America Today
- Oaxaca 1962
- Congressional Slaves
- Summer Night
- Heroes & Patriots
- Delta Tunnels
THE SEVEN SAMURAI, the magnificent seven trimmigrants accused of murder and robbery in the death of Laytonville pot pharmer Jeffery Settler, were back in court last Tuesday, at 1:30.
BACKGROUND (from the original Sheriff’s Office report of the murder):
On November 11, 2016 at 3:39 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were summoned to a report that a man had been murdered on a remote property located in the 49000 block of North Highway 101 in Laytonville. The property was a rural parcel approximately 5 miles from Highway 101, on a dirt road that traveled in a westerly direction. Deputies responded to the scene confirming there was a male adult who was obviously deceased as a result of what appeared to be a violent assault. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives were summoned to the scene, along with Investigators from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office and Criminalists from the California Department of Justice. During the investigation it was determined the deceased male adult, Jeffrey Quinn Settler, 35, of Laytonville, was operating a commercial marijuana growing operation on the property. In the early morning hours of 11-11-2016 (Thursday), multiple subjects who had been recently employed by Settler as marijuana trimmers returned to the property in the middle of the night with the intent to commit robbery of processed marijuana. The investigation has revealed the subjects knew the marijuana was stored in the same structure where Settler slept and the subjects violently assaulted him during the robbery, causing his death. The subjects were believed to have fled the property in at least two vehicles and were believed to have stolen over 100 pounds of processed marijuana. … Sheriff’s Detectives have obtained a murder/robbery felony arrest warrant for Zachary Wuester, who was identified as being one of the subjects involved in this case. Sheriff’s Detectives have also identified Frederick Gaestel, Gary Blank III, Gary Lynn Fitzgerald and Amanda Weist as being participants in the robbery/murder. … The investigation has shown no evidence or inference that the marijuana growing operation was for medical purposes and Sheriff’s Detectives believe it was solely for the purpose of commercial gain.
* * *
AMANDA WEIST was later dropped as a suspect leaving suspects: Michael Kane, Gary Blank, Zach Wuester, Gary Fitzgerald, Fred Gaestel, Jesse Wells, and Abdirahman Said (“Richie”) Mohamed charged for the murder.
They filed into the jury box and their seven lawyers all came in shortly thereafter. The lawyers had spent the morning at the Sheriff's evidence locker viewing some of the crime scene memorabilia the homicide detectives had collected.
Each lawyer had a brief — and by the looks on their faces — depressing conference with their clients. Then the court convened, Judge Jeanine Nadel presiding. The lawyers set a date for a pre-preliminary hearing for July 28th at 9:00. Nobody seemed to be in any hurry. An undisclosed courthouse source tells the AVA that Mike Kane is "the heavy," the guy who did the stabbing in what was apparently a psychotic frenzy. The others, Blank, Wuester, Fitzgerald, Gaestel, Wells, and Mohamed have all given statements to the homicide detectives to the effect, "Like, dude, it wasn't us. It was him." The reason offered for the delay was "We're still waiting on the forensics, Your Honor."
At first we thought the defense strategy would be that each defendant would point the finger at one or more of the others, then let the judge/jury figure it out. But lately we’ve heard that the defense strategy will be to 1: blame Kane, and/or 2. blame the victim Jeffrey Settler for being some kind of bad guy.
— Bruce McEwen
(Memorial Service Today (Saturday) at 11am at Evergreen Cemetery)
On June 15, 2017 Ross Murray went to join his beloved wife Joyce in the Hereafter. Born in Brooklyn, New York he overcame a broken home to make it to Temple University and later moved to Hollywood, California where he worked as a dancer, skater, and extra in many classic films. He joined the war effort in 1942 and went on to pilot B-17 and B-29 aircraft while based in Roswell, New Mexico. After the war he went to work for CBS Radio as a sound engineer. He also found time to write numerous successful radio scripts for well-known stars. A move to CBS TV brought him acclaim and awards for pioneering video tape editing. It was while doing sound for the Carol Burnett Show that he met and married the love of his life, Joyce De Young, and upon retirement they moved to the Anderson Valley, where they enjoyed a loving and active retirement for 40 years, including his regular radio show on KZYX. A member of numerous organizations including the American Legion and the Mendocino Grand Jury, he was always well-liked and a thoughtful citizen. He is survived by sons David Murray of Mariposa, California and Frederic Murray of Atascadero, California. He will be sorely missed and always remembered. A memorial service will take place on Saturday July 1st at 11:00 am at the Evergreen Cemetery off Anderson Valley Way in Boonville with a reception to follow at the Anderson Veterans Hall and Senior Center 14470 Highway 128 in Boonville.
THE GHOST SHIP FIRE
by Marilyn Davin
The embers were still warm the morning of December third of last year when phones lit up in law offices all over the Bay Area. The race was on to pin blame on somebody or something for the fire the night before at Oakland’s two-story Ghost Ship warehouse/turned artist cooperative, a 4,000-square-foot building full of hand-built spaces tailored for musicians and artists.
The fire ripped through a labyrinth of cubbies filled with paint, sculptures, rugs, furniture, candles, and other flammable materials, killing 36 people who were there for an electric dance party. Survivors described the gruesome carnage as people trapped inside scattered in all directions in their panic to get out of the former milk bottling plant as stairways and walls collapsed around them.
So who’s around to take the rap for this tragedy, one of the Bay Area’s largest fatal fires in decades? First off, there’s the building’s owner. The Ghost Ship is part of Choi Ng’s $5 million Oakland real estate portfolio. She is by all accounts a “hands off” owner (dare we say slumlord?) who showed up once a month in her white Mercedes to collect the rent check. Ng apparently delegated many details of managing her properties to her son Kai and her daughter Eva, including dealing with their tenants. She has been unsurprisingly elusive since the fire, refusing all media questions. Her son Kai, however, is quoted in an email to the tenant the year before stating that “The lack of electrical infrastructure was made very clear before your lease began.” (Really? We told you that you were leasing an unsafe space??) Kai also reportedly received an email from a subtenant just two months before the fire warning of “overexertion” on the building’s electrical system, a concern that was apparently disregarded.
One of dozens of legal analysts quoted in news reports of the fire’s aftermath said that these alleged revelations of what the Ngs might have known could both strengthen a manslaughter charge against them or even make second degree murder charges possible. The Ngs have retained legal counsel.
Next there’s the official tenant: Derick Almena, who illegally ran the day-to-day operation and took his wife and children to a local hotel the night of the fire to get away from all the noise. Almena’s name is on the lease. Then there’s the hapless Max Harris, a subtenant himself, who reportedly acted as some kind of unofficial liaison between Almena and the building owners and “greeted” partygoers on the night of the fire, whatever that means.
At the time of this writing these two men are the only ones who have been criminally charged. If convicted of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, each faces up to 39 years in prison. In announcing the charges on June 5, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said that the two men were reckless and created a risk of death, adding piously that “We continue to mourn the loss of the 36 young vibrant men and women…who should be with us today.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, doubtless breathing a sigh of relief that blame was directed away from the city, quickly jumped on the bandwagon with O’Malley in putting the blame squarely on these two guys. Their arraignment on the charges was televised. Shorn of his ear tunnel plugs and necklaces, Max Harris almost looked as if he didn’t quite understand how in the world he had landed there.
It’s as American as apple pie to go after the easy win in the blame game. Remember Fabrice Tourre? Didn’t think so. Tourre is the former Goldman Sachs trader and the ONLY one found liable for anything in the 2008 financial crisis. CEOs? Nada. Managing partners? Not a chance. The Securities and Exchange Commission had to go down, way, way down the food chain to officially assign blame to even one person – a lowly trader who unfortunately for him wrote a flamboyant email about himself.
The Ghost Ship fire is following in the well-worn footsteps of that all-American tradition. If I bet, which I don’t, I’d wager that even a majority of Republicans would agree that our government plays an outsized role in our overall physical safety. That’s why there are building sprinklers, laws about how to build bridges, high rises, and a million other things. So where were all these protectors of our health and safety when an old, decrepit warehouse tapped into an inadequate electricity source from the building next door, never bothered to get a permit for events, wasn’t supposed to have any tenants in the first place, and then kept right on truckin’ for years up to the night of the fire? That’s the real question, and there are powerful forces afoot to deflect the blame, shamefully even those in the government charged with protecting us.
There’s the utility, in this case PG&E, which, according to media reports, didn’t upgrade transformers in the area. There are the occupants of the next-door building, which provided the Ghost Ship’s electricity that could very well have started the fire. There’s the Oakland Fire Department, which could have easily determined, just by looking at the building, that the place was a firetrap and in extreme disrepair. There’s the Oakland Police Department, which reportedly received more than 30 citizen complaints yet did nothing about any of them. Finally, what about Oakland’s building inspectors? As recently as mid-November, city inspectors confirmed that on two occasions they went to inspect the building but couldn’t get in.
Really? Then there’s the city’s cry-me-a-river complaints about tight budgets and cutbacks that have thinned the ranks of city inspectors. Oakland real estate prices have nearly doubled in recent years, and business is booming. It’s hard to swallow the city’s official whine that there’s not enough public money to spend on our basic safety, surely the city’s most crucial expenditure. In any event there appears to be enough cash in the budget to pay the city’s many attorneys, who are doubtless burning the midnight oil in their efforts to prove that two men, the lease holder and a penniless subtenant, are really the ones to blame for all the ways in which our government failed to protect us.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I could hear these guys chortling in the office before one of them walks out and says, "You gotta answer this questionaire, Little Dog. 100 words or less on the essays, the rest true or false. Here's a pen.”
- What's the difference between Willits and Ukiah?
- Who's the tallest person in Philo?
- How many fat guys are there at KZYX?
- Can you get from Fort Bragg to I-5 without touching pavement?
- Assuming Meg Courtney as metaphor, is she inevitable?
- Are the cats in Mendocino nicer than the cats in Fort Bragg? Why?
- Are young people dumber than they used to be?
- What's the difference between Chinese and Mexicans?
- How many more days before Trump is impeached?
- Where did the hippies go when they left Elk?
LOVE DRUG TRANSACTION
A marijuana deal gone awry in Ukiah on Monday led to the arrest of four men from out of the area, the Ukiah Police Department reported.
A caller at 11:37 p.m. reported a gun being brandished during a physical altercation in the 1800 block of Elm Street. On the way, officers were informed that some of the people involved were leaving the scene in a gray sedan.
Officers, along with a Mendocino County sheriff’s deputy, found the car near North State Street and Empire Drive and stopped it.
Four men were in the car, identified as 19-year-old Kevin Newton of San Leandro and 20-year-old Golden Venters IV, 20-year-old James Lovely Jr. and 19-year-old Jabari Dright of Oakland. There was about 16 pounds of marijuana and $1,200 cash in the car, the UPD reported.
The UPD believes the four men traveled from Oakland to Ukiah to buy the marijuana. The deal reportedly took an unexpected turn when the buyers tried to trick the seller out of money, igniting a fight in which guns were allegedly pulled. However, officers did not find any guns.
The four men were arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale.
PASTA'S NEW RECIPE
On 06-24-2017 at about 6:42 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a report of "Pasta" Carlos White, 31, of Covelo, shooting a gun in a field near the area of Concow Boulevard and Foothill Boulevard in Covelo. White was already wanted on charges from 06-18-2017 where he was reported to be shooting a rifle and handgun in a negligent manner and the same area. Deputies responded and were initially unable to locate White and started checking the area for him. At approximately 2:46 pm Deputies were checking on a vehicle parked in the area of the 23800 block of Howard Street in Covelo when they located White sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle. White who also had misdemeanor warrants for his arrest was taken into custody with out incident. White was subsequently transported to the Mendocino County Jail and booked for Ex-Felon with a firearm, Discharge a Firearm in a negligent manner and was to be held on $30,000.00 bail.
From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
This release is to inform the public that Sheriff William Honsal has started an investigation into the current and past practices, policies and procedures of the Public Administrator’s Office relating to the disposal of property under a formal or summary probate case. This investigation is being conducted due to an inquiry and a complaint that was received by the Sheriff and Lt. Ernie Stewart regarding estate property that had been sold to past and current employees of the County. The time frame of the investigation stretches from prior to the Sheriff’s office transition in 2015 until now.
Sheriff Honsal has consulted with District Attorney Maggie Fleming, and this case will be jointly investigated with the DA’s office and an outside independent investigator hired by the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Honsal recognizes that the duties of the county public administrator are vital to the fair and equitable disbursement of a decedent’s estate and to ensure that possessions are dispersed to the rightful heirs as outlined by the Probate Code and Government Code. This extremely important function requires the highest of integrity, ethics, and public trust and immediate policy changes have been made to ensure that the Public Administrator’s actions and duties adhere to those strict legal and ethical standards.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the independent report will be turned over to the District Attorney for review. The Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney will provide additional information within the next 4 weeks.
If anyone has information regarding this case they are encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251.
DFM WORKERS HIT WITH (YES, MORE) LAYOFFS
Last-minute layoffs target long-time workers, hit newsrooms hard
OAKLAND — More news workers have been laid off at Digital First Media newspapers as the company approaches its new fiscal year on July 1.
The layoffs appear to be targeting long-time newsroom employees as well as management in the newspapers’ human resources departments.
After three people in an already bare-bones newsroom were given two weeks’ notice at The Monterey Herald, five more California news workers were let go this week from the Bay Area News Group (BANG), which includes the East Bay Times (Oakland) and the Mercury News (San Jose). Four of the five were women.
The news hit BANG employees hard as they were still reeling from last month’s copy desk layoffs that followed a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.
The East Bay has also lost a human resources employee, and the Monterey Herald’s long-time human resources director was given notice Thursday.
At the Denver Post, nine people have been laid off this month, including five in management. One human resources employee who worked more than 29 years at the Post was laid off, as was a mailroom employee hired in 1972. All but one were in their 50s and 60s.
At DFM’s Detroit-area papers, the Macomb Daily and The Daily Tribune, 11 non-union employees have been laid off, plus one Guild member.
In the Philadelphia region, four employees have accepted company buyouts, including staff at the Pottstown Mercury, the Delaware County Times and the Norristown Times-Herald. A prepress employee at the Times was laid off.
The layoffs came just as 13 NewsGuild units at the DFM papers are scheduled to enter into wage negotiations in July.
DFM is the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain in terms of circulation, and is in turn owned and controlled by the New York vulture hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which has been on a buying and investment spree in recent months.
ED NOTE: DFM/Alden Global Capital owns the Ukiah Daily Journal, the Willits News, the Fort Bragg Advocate/Beacon and the Eureka Times Standard.
MENDOCINOSPORTPLUS reports that someone died in a fall from/jump off the Noyo Bridge in Fort Bragg about 2pm Friday afternoon. More to come Saturday.
FRAGMENTS from a failing mind: I'd say Trump has a couple more months before he's officially declared nuts and placed permanently behind locked gates at Golfa Largo or whatever that Liberace-like palace is called. His successor, the quiet psycho Pence, is far more dangerous simply because he seems more or less normal, at least for a Republican. Better, I say, the psycho we know than the one we don't. Of course the Democrats offer only a softer, unisex version of the Trump Gang and, personality-for-personality, are even more repulsive. I can't think of a single person in national or state government I'd trust to deliver pizzas. Who are these people? What terrible crimes have we committed to deserve them?
NOTED A 35-foot trailer for rent in Albion for $775 a month and, presumably first and last month's rent. For one person. Power? Water? Sewer/Septic? Maybe, but at $775, even without utilities, given its rustic locale, this 35-footer would be considered a good deal in the Anderson Valley. Here in Progressive Land whole families live in comparable spaces.
A BAY AREA capitalist has offered to buy a thousand tiny houses and lease them back to San Francisco and Oakland for a thousand a month to house the homeless. San Francisco was hesitant because the ingenious structures would probably be manufactured in China and, natch, SF and Oakland, with their self-advertised commitment to the working people of America, wouldn't want shelter built by virtual slave labor.
NO REASON tiny houses couldn't be manufactured here in the US, purchased by Mendocino County and/or the municipalities of the county, and rented directly to the homeless, at least that part of the homeless population that is trying.
BUT THERE IS a reason no housing for the house-less will be found in Mendocino County — that immovable blob of highly paid city managers, the county's innumerable helping professionals, oblivious elected officials, the non-profits — everyone in place who might be expected to agitate for creative solutions from their positions of strength are an ongoing obstacle to any social policy remotely regarded as "progressive." It was The Blob that defeated Sheriff Allman's proposed in-county psych center.
Laurie York wrote (on MCNlistserve):
Hi Propane Users,
I just called Kemgas and got their current propane rates. I hope this is helpful to you.
$1.70/gal. introductory (new customer) rate if you’re renting the tank from Kemgas. “Everyday Rate” is $2.43/gal. when introductory (new customer) rate expires; $1.55/gal. property owned tank. Note: Kemgas has a $12.95 delivery fee with no hazmat or fuel recovery fee.
* * *
Kemgas Current Propane Price Rate
Current wholesale cost for this region is $.67/gallon as listed on a California website that covers all regions in California. Supplier's costs include freight, office rent, utilities, staff, insurance, delivery vehicles and more. Before there is a up-swelling of outrage, to my way of thinking, $1.00 profit per gallon may not even cover all the costs of doing business. I have absolutely no connection with any supplier of energy, propane or otherwise. I just know what it costs to run a business, provide jobs, and pay a minimal rate of return to investors in the business.
BIG SHOUT OUT AND THANX FROM BOB AYRES AND SWINGIN' BOONVILLE BIG BAND
First and foremost, a great big thanx to our audience. Your persistence in attending our performances has kept us performing year after year, decade after decade. Thanx to the venues that tolerate us. These include Lauren's Cafe, our flagship venue, The Mendocino Art Center, where we play tomorrow from 1 - 4PM, The Mendocino Hotel, Eagle's Hall, Anderson Valley Grange, and countless others in the last 4 decades. Thanx to the various outfits that present us. Tomorrow the Mendocino Coast Jazz Society and the Mendocino Art Center are doing the great deal of work that is involved in putting on a performance. Thanx to our sponsors! Money makes the world go round and our sponsors pay the bills thereby creating an economic space where we can exist.
Thanx to: Rossi Building Materials; Little River Inn; Fort Bragg Piano Services; Mendocino Community Network; Mendocino Coast Waterworks; Mendocino Art Center's Mendocino Open Paint Out and Summer Arts & Crafts fair; Mendocino Coast Jazz Society; Redwood Roofers; Corners of the Mouth; Lauren's; Mendocino Village Pharmacy; Patterson's Pub; Harvest at Mendosa's; Dr. Walt McKeown; and the MacCallum House. Many, many thanx. See you all Saturday @ our free concert @ the Mendocino Art Center from 1-4!
TODAY'S ZEN BULLETIN from the Boonville school district:
Report out from closed session Board Meeting on June 29, 2017
Richard Browning reported out of closed session:
The Board Approved a Settlement Agreement in regards to a Special Education Expulsion Case.
* * *
ZEN BULLETIN DOS from the Boonville school district:
June 26 and June 29, 2017 Board Meeting Continued
NOTICE OF ADJOURNMENT of the Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Anderson Valley Unified School District
Pursuant to Government Code section 54955, the Board of Trustees adjourned the regular meeting on June 26, 2017, and June 29, 2017, to the date, time, and place set forth below:
July 13, 2017, at 6:30 p.m., Anderson Valley High School Cafeteria, 18200 Mountain View Road, Boonville, California.
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 30, 2017
BRIAN BECHTOL, Ukiah. False imprisonment and an unspecified offense.
JEANNIE BIOLETTO, Ukiah. Controlled substance, under influence, probation revocation.
KEITH BODJACK, Ukiah. Vandalism.
JESSE FERRER, Arcata/Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
BRADFORD HAITH JR., San Rafael/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER KOSKINEN, Willits. DUI-causing injury.
BRANDON LANGENDERFER, Laytonville. Controlled substance, evasion, resisting, probation revocation.
DAVID LOCK JR., Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
HEATHER MARSH-HAAS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JAMES MARTIN, Redwood Valley. DUI, suspended license, evasion, resisting, probation revocation.
VIOLET MCALISTER, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JONATHAN RODRIGUEZ, Ukiah. DUI with injuries.
RUSSELL VILLALPANDO, Fort Bragg. Disturbing the peace, paraphernalia.
DANIEL YEOMANS, Fort Bragg. Indecent exposure, resisting, probation revocation.
WHEN THE DEAL GOES DOWN
by James Kunstler
Who needs Russia when the Tweety-Bird-in-Chief is hacking his own presidency into a global joke? Or at least it might be a joke if the USA weren’t such a menace to international order, and to itself, by the way. Interestingly, the 25th amendment allows for the removal of a president from office on account of incompetence or disability, but not for being an embarrassment to the nation.
They may come after him anyway with the 25th, especially as the financial system unravels later this year, because this time, unlike 2008-9, central bank interventions will not avail to rescue the faltering money system from nine years of previous central bank interventions. All it takes is for the “liquidity” flows to seize up and before you know it, there’s no food in the supermarkets because everything in our just-in-time economy is exquisitely calibrated to the sure expectation of getting paid, and when that goes, it all goes.
Then the question arises: well, can’t you just re-start the liquidity flows? Not when the process requires another abracadabra magic act of summoning X-trillions of dollars out of absolutely nothing when the previous X-trillions created out of absolutely nothing are rushing at warp speed into the black hole of deleveraging because it has been discovered that the “loans” they were based on can never be paid back, not in this universe or any number of universes like it. In a word, they’re worthless.
Deleveraging is the polite term economists give to your net worth rapidly evaporating. Liquidity is the polite term for cash money and things denominated in them that can readily be converted into cash money. The problem with the kind of liquidity-creation solution to deleveraging is that it rapidly leads to money itself becoming worthless.
The preview of coming attractions is currently playing out in Illinois — soon to be joined by Connecticut, California, Kentucky, and many other bankrupt states. Illinois is dead broke. It can’t pay the contractors who fix things like roads and storm drains, and supply food to its prisons. It’s over $200-billion deep in pension obligations that will never be honored. Its Medicaid system is a shambles. It doesn’t even have the cash-on-hand to pay lottery winners (what happened to all the cash paid into the lottery by the suckers who didn’t win, which is supposed to pay off the winners?). The state legislature hasn’t passed a budget in three years.
The governor and the mayor of Chicago and everybody else nominally in charge have no idea what they’re going to do about it. Think the federal government is going to just step in and save the day there? They’d have to bail out every other foundering state and that’s just not going to happen, especially with that same federal government about to run out of cash money itself, with no resolution of the debt ceiling controversy that might allow it to even pretend to borrow more money by issuing treasury bonds that are instantly bought by the Federal Reserve — which, of course, is not an official government agency but a private banking consortium contracted to manage the nation’s money.
Do you begin to see the outlines of the clusterfuck rising like a bad moon over the harvest season of 2017? The American people, by and large, have no more idea how false and fragile the financial arrangements of the nation are than the average eight-year-old has about why the re-po squad is towing away Daddy’s Ford-F150. We’re just doing what we always do: gittin’ our summer on. Breaking out the potato salad and the Bud Lites — at least those who have enough mojo left in their MasterCards to charge the party supplies.
An awful lot of Americans must be maxed out, though, people who actually used to work at things and get paid for it. Each one of them is a walking Illinois now, facing each dawning day with a bigger load of problems, more things they can’t pay for, and moving closer to the dreadful day when everything is gone, every chattel, every knickknack, the very roof over their head, and most particularly the belief that they live in a fair and decent society.
So, I wonder what we’re going to do with a Tweety-Bird-in-Chief in the White House when this deal goes down. Stresses and tensions are out there a’buildin’ and the time for being a nation of feckless idiots is drawing to a close. The sad thing is: it wasn’t even fun while it lasted.
(Support Kunstler’s writing at his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
THE CASE OF SYRIA & THE BLEEDING WOMEN
by Jeffrey St. Clair
Like Martin Luther, Donald Trump gets his maddest epiphanies in the early morning hours while he is on the throne, straining at stool. Trump is driven, as was Luther, by two consuming obsessions, both entwined in the sunken strata of his psyche: money and bodily excresences. (See Young Man Luther by Erik Erikson.) On Thursday morning, Trump clutched his Android and discharged a crude torrent of bile at Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the betrothed morning duo on MSDNC. It was Trump at his most debauched:
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!
Trump seems to exhibit a paraphilia for female blood, a kind of sexual obsession that psychologists call “Hematolagnia.” Hematolagnia might loosely be translated as “blood lust.” Recall Trump’s freakish denunciation of Megyn Kelly to CNN’s Don Lemon last year: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”
With their crass antics on “Morning Joe,” Scarborough and Brzezinski often come off being almost as juvenile as Trump, though the president’s Tweets exhibit a clinical pathology that Joe and Mika can only aspire to. Trump’s boorish reference to Brzezinski’s facelift confirms, from his very own micro-digits, the stories that have been floating around for years that Trump has routinely spied on celebrity and political guests at his properties, collecting damaging information that he could later weaponize against them through disparaging Tweets or leaks to his pals at the National Enquirer.
It only took an hour or so for Trump’s Tweets to detonate paroxysms of mock outrage in official Washington, with the Republican congressional leadership (the same group of moral exemplars that wants to pitch 22 million people off their meager health care plans) scrambling for the microphones to denounce the president for sullying the “dignity” of the Oval Office. (Bill Clinton must have chuckled at that one.)
Dignity? In the White House??
Contrast the almost universal indignation over Trump’s warped Tweets with the complete lack of attention paid to the 500 civilians US airstrikes in Syria have killed in the last month, real bloodshed that is treated as merely being part of the presidential job description. Despite Trump’s own warning a mere two years ago that “we should stay out of Syria,” he now finds himself hip-deep in Syrian blood with no apparent aversion to his predicament. I’m not sure about the percentage of bleeding women amid the daily carnage in Syria, though it seems to be enough to whet Trump’s appetite for destruction.
To the extent that Trump can be decoded, I suggest that people have dangerously misunderstood his foreign policy and his position on NATO, in particular. The confusion is pardonable to an extent, because it’s not at all clear that Trump himself understands the details or even the vague outlines of his geopolitical strategy. He’s left all that to the generals (and the homunculus of the White House Stephen Miller). The Trump administration isn’t pursuing a reduced US commitment to the provocation of Russia in eastern Europe (or in Syria for that matter), but a demand for an increase in military spending by European countries, as evidenced in the recent capitulation to his demands by Canada and other EU countries.
It’s much easier to interpret the real aims of Trump foreign policy by reading Nikki Haley’s Tweets rather than Donald’s inspired musings. Haley is Samantha Power on steroids, except we know that Haley (the book-keeper turned war minister) isn’t coming up with these belligerent communiqués on her own. The script is being written by the likes of Mike Pompeo and HR McMaster.
In a bizarre episode on Monday evening, the White House announced that it was putting the Assad regime on notice about chemical weapons use. White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that “the United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. If Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
In drawing this sharp red line, Spicer refused to identify the source of the intelligence or comment any plans the Trump administration might have to counter the attacks. For his part, Trump preferred to Tweet smack at Obama for his failure to stop the Russians from meddling in the 2016 elections. Heh, heh…
That left it up to Nikki Haley, who seized the opportunity for dramatic escalation. In her testimony before Congress on Tuesday morning, Haley pushed the doomsday clock forward a few precious minutes when she pointed her pious finger at both Russia and Iran. “The goal is at this point not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message,” Haley said. “That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. My hope is that the president’s warning will certainly get Iran and Russia to take a second look, and I hope that it will caution Assad.”
Haley’s bellicose bluster prompted the Russians to respond in kind. The Kremlin warned that if the US launched a preemptive strike against Assad, its forces in the region would respond in kind–a case where tit-for-tat posturing could escalate to Armageddon.
However, by the next afternoon, this entire mysterious interlude had been quietly swept under the rug by Gen. Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis himself, who told reporters on a flight to the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels that “It appears that the Syrians took the warning seriously said. They didn’t do it.” The Syrians claimed they never had any intention of launching a chemical attack and US intelligence officials speaking anonymously to Reuters backed them up.
So what was this bizarre burst of prime-time war-mongering all about? Was it a distraction from the unraveling of the Senate’s calamitous version of TrumpCare? Was it an aborted power-play by the anti-Iran hardliners in the West Wing looking to cook up a pretext for the next war?
I think the answer is much simpler and dumber. The White House issued its impromptu warning about a planned Syrian chemical weapon attack at about the same time an explosive story by renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh went live on the site of the German newspaper Die Welt. Hersh’s story details how the Trump White House swallowed a false narrative about sarin gas being used to kill civilians in an ISIS-held town called Khan Sheikhoun and then using this as a pretext to launch a cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base, flouting the warnings of his own military and intelligence advisors. Hersh’s rigorously-sourced story is a devastating account of how a reckless and deranged inner circle in the Trump White House nearly brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
Hersh’s exposé is a must-read, a landmark piece of investigative reporting. And you can easily understand why the Team Trump would have been desperate to see the story buried in a whirlwind of manufactured hysteria about a new chemical weapons attack. But they needn’t have bothered. Few people were going to be aware of Hersh’s piece in any event. That’s because Sy Hersh, the man who exposed My Lai, domestic spying by the CIA and the abuses at Abu Ghraib, has been effectively blacklisted in the US and now even Great Britain. Hersh’s piece on Syria had been commissioned by the London Review of Books, which has a dedicated if minor global readership. But at the last minute the LRB shamefully lost its nerve and rejected the story. The LRB’s editor Mary-Kay Wilmers claimed in an email sent to CounterPunch that “the piece was fact-checked and didn’t stand up.”
This is a disgraceful swipe at one of the world’s best journalists and is evidence of just how degraded the LRB’s once glittering reputation has become. Recall that Hersh’s first book, even before his My Lai reporting, was America’s Hidden Arsenal, a ground-breaking trip into the US’s biological and chemical weapons program. He has been covering this story his entire professional career.
My friend Chase Madar, the very smart lawyer and writer, told me this week that he believed there was always a greater risk of Trump initiating a conflict with Russia than Clinton. I think he’s right. With Clinton the risk was calculable and predictable. You pretty much knew exactly where the fault lines and pressure points were. But Trump is the man without inhibitions, who will not be impeded by any societal norms. He is impetuous, vain and stupid and could easily be bullied by his generals or political opponents into starting a war against almost anyone: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Oregon–maybe all five at once. That’s why for the sake of world peace I hope Putin does have that smut dossier on Trump. Sex Tape Deterrence. You didn’t read about that survival strategy in Herman Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War.
I used to believe, naively it turns out, that rightwing militarism would be countered by a liberated and reanimated anti-war movement, a movement that had disgracefully refused to confront wars launched by liberal politicians from JFK to Obama.
But where is it now? Where are the mass protests against Trump’s expanding wars in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the re-surge in Afghanistan? Where are the protests against the rising slaughter of civilians? The swelling threat of nuclear confrontation?
The liberal antiwar movement (if there ever was such an entity) has shriveled into an anti-Russia claque, aligning itself fatally with some of the most bloodthirsty hawks on the Hill and in doing so is abetting every drone strike, cruise missile and MOAB bomb Trump drops. This blood–of woman, man and child–won’t wash away, no matter how furiously they scrub themselves with pumice stones lathered in Dr. Bonner’s.
+ One pocket trumpet against the Void…
+ Hot off the No Shit Newswire: Lt. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee (real name), who supervised Army logistical operations during the 2007 surge in Iraq, told a forum hosted by the Association of the US Army that Pentagon wasn’t “necessarily concerned” about limiting civilian casualties in Iraq. Rarely has a top general spoken with such casual candor about American war crimes.
+ Brian T. Encinia, the Texas State Trooper, who arrested and tortured Sandra Bland and then lied about it, three days before she was found hanging dead in her jail cell, had perjury charges against him dismissed by a Texas judge. These cops may not be able to spell IMPUNITY but they enjoy it nevertheless…
+ Pinko commie Putinista Warren Buffet makes case for Single-Payer–press snoozes, Democrats cringe…
+ If the ruler of your country isn’t attacking its press as the Enemy of the People (i.e., his people) does the press actually exist? (Stop whining CNN be glad you’re getting any attention at all.)
+ “Nostrovia, Bibi! We not tell Donald, yes?” The Jerusalem Post gushes that relations between Russia and Israel are now the “warmest in history.” Waiting on Congress to now issue sanctions against Netanyahu’s regime for consorting with the Putin menace…
+ The economy of Sicily has deteriorated to the point where members of Cosa Nostra are leaving the island to look for work in Germany, probably as enforcers for Merkel’s austerity programs.
+ Bracing yourself for “Killing Games,” the devastating film produced by Project Coyote that exposes the depraved sport of wildlife killing contests:
+ In the latest countdown to climate Armageddon, a group of scientists warns that we have about three years to save “humanity” from the consequences (see the Melting of Phoenix) of runaway global warming. Not to worry, once Jared Kushner brokers that Middle East peace deal, bitchslaps China for dumping steel and totally reinvents the Internet, he’ll get right on this…
+ This week heat index in the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr (population 110,000) hit 165 degrees, the second highest temperature ever recorded. Extreme climate change appears to be the leading edge of Trump’s regime change strategy…
+ Speaking of Darling Nikki Haley, the new queen of mean, has publicly pledged to block the appointment of any Palestinian to a top UN post because she doesn’t recognize that they exist. Who knew Nikki was a phenonmenologist?
+ Barack Obama took a break from paragliding to denounce TrumpCare as a “massive transfer of wealth” from the poor to the rich. He would know. ObamaCareless was a massive transfer of wealth from poor people to insurance cartels.
+ A peevish Obama lashed out at the Sandernistas this week, blaming them for undermining ObamaCare. Perhaps it’s time for the former president to try that solo assault on Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen he’s always dreamed about…
+ A statistical analysis by the Princeton University’s Gerrymandering Project found the extreme Republican advantages in some states are the product of cravenly manufactured districts, designed to insure GOP wins. For example, the Republican advantage in Michigan’s state House districts had a 1-in-16,000 probability of occurring by chance; in Wisconsin’s Assembly districts, there was a only 1-in-60,000 chance of it happening randomly. Now, that’s power politics at work.
+ Why hack the vote, when you can simply block it? In Florida, one-in-four black residents were barred from voting in the 2016 elections.
+ An FBI agent has been indicted for lying about the circumstances behind the shooting of Levoy Finicum, one of the Bundyites who led the armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Good. But you never hear of FBI agents or their informants getting indicted for making false statements in entrapment cases against environmentalists, Native Americans, anti-war activists, civil rights organizers or Muslims…
+ The only film I’ve seen this year that’s more frightening than “Get Out”….
I’d love to see an AIM or Black Panther version of this NRA ad…Come back, Russell Means! Lock and load, Huey Newton!!
+ Our Daddy was a Sperm Donor: One of these men is Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, the other is Ted Cruz, spawn of Satan. Where’s Bono?
+ Jason Chaffitz, the Utah Republican, is begging for members of Congress to be paid an additional $27,000 a year as a housing stipend, on top of their $174,000 annual salary. “Stipend” for them, “welfare handout” for others…
+ As Vijay Prashad noted: “Nothing can beat the glory of the layout editor for the print edition of a newspaper…”
+ According to a new Pew poll of public attitudes in 37 countries, the USA is now viewed favorably by less than 50 percent of the global population for the first time. Committing genocide against the indigenous inhabitants of America, enslaving millions of people, nuking two cities, killing three million people in Vietnam, overthrowing regimes around the world, polluting the global atmosphere and engaging in the most heinous forms of torture didn’t do it. Nope. It took Trump.
+ Iran’s military budget: $14 billion.
US military budget: $600 billion (and rising).
+ Goodbye Lenin, Hello St. Nick! Millions of Russians are lining up see a rib bone said to be a relict of St. Nicholas, who is revered by adherents of the Orthodox Church as a “miracle worker.” The mass veneration of this mythical fixer is a sure indication of growing economic misery in Russia, which is beginning to resemble one big rust belt. A true Socialist like Kevin Alexander Gray would put that magical rib in the smoker at the local Top Notch BBQ shack in Columbia, South Carolina and give the famished people some nourishment…
What I’m reading this week…
The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
Imagining Extinctions: the Cultural Meaning of Endangered Species by Ursula K. Heise
Class by Francesco Pacifico
What I’m listening to this week…
The Late Trane by Denys Baptiste
Tug of War by Gina Sicilia
Strip It Down by Casey James
Layers of the City by Ben Allison
The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Beauty and Sorrow
Oscar Wilde: “The only people I would care to be with now are artists and people who have suffered: those who know what beauty is, and those who know what sorrow is: nobody else interests me.”
(Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: email@example.com or on Twitter @JSCCounterPunch. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
GUIDELINES FOR WATCHING WHALES
Many of you are probably aware of the recent report of a small boat striking a humpback whale in San Francisco Bay. The links below offer boaters some guidelines on how to be "whale wise." Please feel free to include the link and/or information in your news reports.
Jim Milbury, Public Affairs Officer, NOAA Fisheries
“Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.” —unknown
MENDO HISTORY, THE CHASTE VERSION
Celebrate Summer and Discover Local History!
Mendocino County Museum Offers a Free Day the First Wednesday of Every Month!
Looking for fun and affordable activities for summer? Visit the Mendocino County Museum, located in the heart of Willits! Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 4:30 pm, the Museum shares and celebrates the stories, lives, people and places of our region.
From a 10,000 year-old Clovis Point to storefronts of historic businesses, the Frolic shipwreck to Seabiscuit’s legacy, 19th century stagecoaches to a ‘new settler’ hippie van, the Museum offers many opportunities to explore local history.
Peer into the windows of Dr. Withrow’s Dental Office, J.F. McNamee’s General Store, Emery’s Millinery Shop and the beloved ice cream and soda fountain known as the Willits Creamery. View earlier forms of mass transit with stagecoaches, horse-powered wagons and buggies, including a surrey with the fringe on top!
In Woven Worlds: Native Peoples of Mendocino County, follow an incredible time line from Coyote to casinos, first contact to self-determination. Watch videos of dancing, basket-making and harvesting hops. Play clapsticks, practice basket weaving and compete in the stick gambling game at interactive kiosks.
The exhibit: Veterans’ History: Personal, highlights the stories of the 22 servicemen from Mendocino County who died in the Vietnam War. The Mendocino County Fallen Vietnam War Veterans granite memorial located just outside the Museum commemorates and honors their sacrifice.
Take a stroll through Main Street: Then & Now, a re-creation of Willits Main Street circa 1914, featuring over 200 photos of ‘then and now’ downtown Willits, accompanied by stories highlighting town history from the late 1800s to the present.
The Museum Gift Shop features local handcrafts, gourmet foods, vintage toys, unique giftware, and nature-inspired jewelry. Diverse book selections showcase Native American literature, local history, western pioneers, trains, logging heritage, and many wonderful children’s books.
Third District Supervisor Georgeanne Croskey stated, “The Mendocino County Museum is an opportunity for everyone, from visitors to longtime residents, to learn more about the people and places that make up the fascinating history of Mendocino County. I take my family to visit it every year over the 4th and look forward to another memorable visit.”
The Mendocino County Museum and Gift Shop are open Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am to 4:30 pm. Admission is $4 for adults; $1 for students up to 18 and children 6 and under are free. Admission is FREE the first Wednesday of every month! The Museum is located at 400 East Commercial Street in Willits, across from Recreation Grove Park. For more information call 707-459-2736.
John McCowen, Chair, Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Actually, the past dozen years have been kind to me and I have been enjoying my retirement. The Bush tax cuts increased my net spendable income but did little or nothing for the millions of Americans who voted for their religious prejudices and against their economic best interests. The old mill towns of Ohio are now more famous for opioid addiction than for their steel production. Remember when the words Armco Steel Middletown, Ohio were stamped on just about every drinking fountain around?
AGOSTO 16 (LUNES) 1962
To Oaxaca. On the way to the International Poetry Festival, I join the poets’ tour of the Aztec temple ruins found under the Zócalo. In the mud below the torn-up paving stones, the poor indio workers are digging, with spade and wheelbarrow. The guide tells me they get three dollars a day for eight hours. Down in the ruins of one temple ruin, an old campesino is heating his tortilla on an electrical hot-plate… . They are brushing the ancient stones with ammonia, the acrid aroma hitting the nose like the exhalation of a hundred Aztec corpses with wet bloodred burning crotches.
In the temple ruins discovered in 1978 in another part of the Zócalo they have uncovered a huge goddess, three yards wide, with head and breasts cut off, buried in the Hill of Serpents. At another place in the ruins, the omnivorous obsidian head of a huge serpent has been uncovered. His mouth is half-open and between the widely spaced blunt teeth a tongue can be seen, about to flick out, petrified in time. His obsidian eyes glare up at the Anglo women tourists. A low hissing may be heard under the sound of noonday traffic and the tolling of great bells in the tower of the cathedral. It is as if some great underground labyrinthine beast were trying to open its jaws to swallow us all in one gulp. They are digging to free its jaw so that we will be all consumed.
Oaxaca: Five p.m. and I’m sitting in the Oaxaca Zócalo, on the plaza, al centro, drinking a cerveza on the café terrace. Wanderer! How many times wandered into a plaza, sack over shoulder, looking for a cheap hotel, how many times the pigeons on the paving stones and the iron bell tolling in its stone tower, France or Italy or Spain or Mexico. A character out of Nicanor Parra comes by—dark glasses, a cane, a paper bag, gray beard. “Speak English? Spanish?” He tries to sell me a single piece of sandpaper! It is a new piece of sandpaper. There is a fly walking around on his old necktie, as in the poem by Parra… . Since I can’t bring myself to buy the sandpaper, he passes on to the next table and a young couple, perhaps Anglo, where he sits down. He is talking to them, very serious. I wish I could hear what he is saying. Perhaps it is a meditation on sandpaper in Oaxaca. A meditation on mescal would be better. There is a worm at the bottom of the bottle, un gusano demagüey. After two drinks the worm turns into a butterfly and flutters away to dry in yellow sun… .
6 p.m. The late sun powders the plaza… . Loneliness is still a curse. Still the people that singly wanted to come on this trip with me must understand: I have to be alone on a trip like this. Or else they are not trips like this.
A break in the weather of loneliness. The clouds part and in the open spaces I glimpse bodies floating by, each like a boat of flesh. They borrow each other’s bodies for the night. In the morning they cast off the moorings and drift away again, each to his own unknown unfathomable end. All night long the heavy bell clangs in the cathedral next door to the hotel I’m in. Every quarter hour all night long. It is as if some demented Quasimodo is in the tower, venting his frustration with existence. The plaza at three a.m. is absolutely deserted, the white trunks of the huge tule trees stand about in the total silence like De Chirico ghosts.
Somewhere close by someone starts playing a lonely lovely ecstatic trumpet, freeform slow jazz, improvised out of light in the night. It is as if it were a lantern playing on a dark wall in the night. Rising and falling, it blows on the wind, fading away in the dawn… .
Second Day in Oaxaca: One gets very jaded sitting around café terraces by oneself, overhearing polyglot conversations. Everything one hears seeming to be a cliché. I have been there before—an “old Mexican hand” at the next table knows all about exchange rates, los turistas, casas de huéspedes, and who killed Trotsky and even which hotel Trotsky stayed in the night before his murder (Hotel Montejo, Paseo de la Reforma, DF)—many times have I passed alone through Mexico like this. I have passed through San Miguel de Allende, bullfights at Carretera (the most critical aficionados in Mexico), Pátzcuaro, Morelia, San Blas, Vaca Cuerna, Mexico City, Oaxaca; stood in endless buslines in broken down stations waiting for third-class tickets and broken-down buses, drunk mescal in dark dusty cantinas in mountain villages, imagining I was the Consul in Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano; I have become the Consul, staggering hallucinating down blind alleys… . as if one had to live out the literary myths, from Hemingway to Kerouac… (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
SENATOR FEINSTEIN, one of the richest members of Congress, doesn't pay her interns. Senator Harris has "pledged to pay beginning in the Fall." In the Huffington Post: Congress Called Out For Not Paying Interns:
The extent of the problem the report outlines is startling. In the U.S. Senate, 51 percent of Republicans pay their interns, while only 31 percent of Democrats offer paid internships. The rates in the House of Representatives are even worse, with 8 percent of Republican representatives and 3.6 percent of Democratic representatives paying their interns.
Interesting---and surprising---to learn that the Repugs are better overall about paying their interns than the Democrats. Good---and not surprising---to see that Bernie Sanders pays his interns. (Rob Anderson)
FOR SAN JUAN
by Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
Swimming nude in the sea on the Night of San Juan, roasting sardines on the beach, lighting festive bonfires, and remembering when, as a child, your jumped over the flames, sending a wish to the stars and expecting that the immediate voluptuous response dissolves in the liquor of the drink you are having with some friends, hearing laughter and singing in the darkness that takes you back to your childhood, knowing that many couples are making love in the water, lying in the sand and contemplating the universe and losing your memory, not wanting anything, not expecting anything, but feeling good—these are rituals that many people will have practiced on this night—The Night of San Juan.
You have the right to a moment of happiness even though in that very Mediterranean in which you are swimming float the cadavers of thousand of drowning victims; and that those cheerful bonfires with the aroma of roasting sardines which honor the ancient gods are also raging fires which this very moment are consuming the forests; and the moans of pleasure produced by young people in love will not impede the continued flow of a river of blood.
Behind the beauty of the constellations, whose Pythagorean harmony subdues you with its algebra, exists a black hole like the one that threatens to devour you on those dark days. But although it’s for just one night, we have permitted ourselves the pleasure of imagining ourselves purified worshippers of the Pagan gods, inundated under dark waves, which in the future will always be blue and sunny.
We could dream that on this night we had found a four leafed clover; a country that is not politically corrupt; a world without crocodiles in the financial world, free from the plague of terror and the fever of the internet.
Celebrations of summer: the commotion of adolescent hormones that defy the fury of the surf breaking upon the rocks, the hope of grabbing by the tail the last comet that rushes past, old people who dream of past loves underneath their straw hats.
(San Juan is a festival celebrated on June 23. It is the official welcome to the arrival of summer.)
Paper lanterns in the celebration of the Night of San Juan on the beach of Riazor in La Coruña. (Photo: Óscar Corral)
HEROES AND PATRIOTS <firstname.lastname@example.org>
New Podcast of Heroes and Patriots, KMEC Radio, 105.1 FM, Mendocino Environmental Center, Mondays @ 1p.m. PST
THE LINKS BETWEEN THE DELTA TUNNELS AND FAUX MARINE PROTECTION ARE DEEP AND ALARMING
If you haven't read this article already, I urge you to do so. It is one of the most important pieces on water, the Delta and coastal protection that you will ever read. Everybody who cares about stopping the Delta Tunnels and restoring our salmon and other fish populations MUST read this article and share it with others. You will rarely find deep investigative journalism like this in the mainstream media or most "alternative" media.
The deep relationship between the MLPA Initiative and Delta Tunnels is undeniable. In many ways, the neoliberal MLPA Initiative process, completed in December 2012, has served a template for the Governor's campaign to build the tunnels.
In spite of some superficial differences, the two processes have been united by their (1) leadership, (2) funding, (3) conflicts of interest, (4) greenwashing goals, (5) racism and denial of tribal rights and (6) junk science. When people educate themselves on the undeniable links between the two processes, I believe they can more effectively wage a successful campaign against the Delta Tunnels and to restore our imperiled salmon and San Francisco Bay-Delta fisheries.
In spite of massive opposition to the MLPA Initiative by Tribal leaders, fishermen, grassroots environmentalists, the fake "marine protected areas" overseen by a Big Oil lobbyist and other political hacks went into effect anyway. I fear the same thing will happen in the Delta Tunnels struggle.
Over the past week, we have seen two decisions, the Delta Stewardship Council's approval of the Delta Plan amendments and the NOAA Fisheries no jeopardy biological opinion released Monday, that advance the California WaterFix proposal.
It's like back in 2011 when after a couple of favorable court rulings, successful direct action protests and growing opposition to the MLPA Initiative, things went bad. The fishing groups lost a major lawsuit, the Fish and Game Commission backed down on their commitment to protect tribal gathering rights, and in spite of the Co-Chair of the North Coast MLPA Science Advisory going to prison for embezzlement of federal money from the Yurok Tribe, the faux "marine protected areas" went into effect anyway. Here’s the article:
Greenwashing Extinction, 2017: the deep links between California WaterFix & MLPA Initiative
by Dan Bacher
One of the least discussed issues in California environmental politics – and one of the most crucial to understanding Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels Plan - is the clear connection between the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative and the California WaterFix, formerly called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
During a year when local, national and international mainstream media have focused on the Oroville Dam crisis, it’s important for reporters to dig deeper and understand the context that the emergency, which spurred the evacuation of over 188,000 people in Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties, occurs within.
It’s crucial to understand that these two neo-liberal processes, the MLPA Initiative and the California Water Fix, are the environmental “legacy” that two Governors, Arnold Schwarznegger and Jerry Brown, have devoted their energy, staff and money to, rather than doing the mundane but necessary process of maintaining and repairing the state’s water infrastructure, including Oroville Dam.
The privately-funded MLPA Initiative and the California WaterFix at first may appear to be entirely different processes.
The MLPA Initiative, a process begun in 2004 under the Schwarzenegger administration, purported to create a network of "marine protected areas" along the California coast. The network was supposedly completed on December 19, 2012 with the imposition of contested "marine protected areas" along the North Coast under the Jerry Brown administration.
On the other hand, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan process began under the Bush and Schwarzenegger administrations to achieve the so-called "co-equal goals" of water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration. In 2015, the state and federal governments divided the BDCP into two projects, the California WaterFix, the conveyance component and the California EcoRestore, the habitat “restoration” component.
But in spite of some superficial differences, the two processes are united by their leadership, funding, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, junk science and numerous conflicts of interest. When people educate themselves on the links between the two processes, I believe they can more effectively wage a successful campaign against the Delta Tunnels and to restore our imperiled salmon and San Francisco Bay-Delta fisheries.
Mike Carpenter, a sea urchin diver and organizer of a fundraiser for the California Fisheries Coalition in Albion on the Mendocino coast, made the vital connection between the MLPA Initiative and Schwarzenegger's campaign to build a peripheral canal back in 2009 when the battle against the creation of questionable "marine protected areas" on the North Coast was amping up.
Carpenter emphasized that the MLPA Initiative was just a "cover-up" for the Governor's plans to build a peripheral canal or tunnel, potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, through the Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process. Carpenter's words have proven very prophetic, considering what has happened since that time.
How are the Delta Tunnels plan and MLPA process linked by leadership, funding, conflicts of interest, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, and junk science?
Leadership: Phil Isenberg, a former Sacramento Mayor and Assemblyman, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create faux "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast from 2004 to 2007. Isenberg then went on to Chair the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force that advocated building a peripheral canal or tunnel.
After that process was finished, he went on to chair the Delta Stewardship Council created under the water policy/water bond legislative package of 2009. He recently retired from the Council.
Under his leadership, the Council released a Delta Plan that creates a clear path to the construction of the Delta Tunnels. The deeply-flawed plan has been contested by 7 lawsuits from a diverse array of water contractors, agribusiness interests, urban water agencies, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and fishing groups.
Likewise, John Laird, former State Senator and the current Natural Resources Secretary, is the Brown administration’s key cheerleader for both the MLPA Initiative and the Delta Tunnels. He oversaw the completion of the faux "marine protected areas" for both the South Coast in January 2012 and the North Coast in December 2012, in spite of overwhelming opposition by fishermen, Tribal leaders and grassroots environmentalists.
Laird also promotes the construction of the tunnels at virtually every conference and media event he participates in, along with writing frequent op-eds in mainstream media portraying the WaterFix as the “solution” to water supply and ecosystem problems. (www.sacbee.com/...)
Funding: The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and David and Lucille Packard Foundation both funded the MLPA Initiative, along with giving millions of dollars to the "environmental" NGOs that supported both the MLPA and BDCP processes. (www.californiaprogressreport.com/...)
For example, five non-profits, including the Packard and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundations, donated a total of $20 million for hearings for the creation of "marine protected areas" under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. The Packard Foundation, the biggest contributor to the hearings process, contributed $8.2 million to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to fund MLPA hearings.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation also contributed a total of $18,086,716, through the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, to the MLPA Initiative in California from 2004 to 2012. The foundation gave the first grant of $2,714,946 to fund the MLPA process in 2004. The foundation then contributed $3,305,628 for Phase 2 of the MLPA Initiative Phase in May 2007, $7,066,142 for Phase 3 in July 2008, and $5,000,000 for Phase 4 in February 2012. (http://www.moore.org/grants/list/GBMF589)
The Packard Foundation and Resources Legacy Fund also helped fund, along with the Stephen Bechtel Foundation, several Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reports advocating the construction of the Delta Tunnels as the "solution" to California's water problems and ecosystem restoration.
For example, the PPIC in 2011 published a 500 page book, "Managing California's Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation," designed to greenwash the construction of a Peripheral Canal or Tunnels. The book was funded by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pisces Foundation (funded by the Fisher family that owns the Gap, Mendocino Redwood Company and Humboldt Redwood Company), the Resources Legacy Fund, and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority. (www.indybay.org/...)
Conflicts of Interest: The Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create “marine protected areas” under the MLPA Initiative were filled with individuals with numerous conflicts of interest, including a big oil lobbyist, a marina corporation executive and a coastal real estate developer.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, fracking, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, chaired the South Coast MLPA Blue Ribbon Task that developed the MPAs that went into effect in Southern California waters on January 1, 2012. She also served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast. (www.dfg.ca.gov/...)
While Reheis-Boyd served on the task forces to "protect" the ocean, the same oil industry that the "marine guardian" represents was conducting environmentally destructive hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations off the Southern California coast. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and truthout.org in 2013 reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian.”
In yet another conflict of interest, Reheis-Boyd’s husband, James D. Boyd, first appointed by Governor Davis, sat on on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012, including serving as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2/2007 to 1/2012. His service on the commission coincided with Reheis-Boyd’s terms as a “marine guardian.”
In the case of the BDCP/California WaterFix, the proverbial fox was also in charge of the hen house. Governor Jerry Brown appointed Laura King Moon of Woodland, a lobbyist for the state’s water exporters, as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). (www.indybay.org/...)
Moon had been a project manager for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan since 2011 while “on loan” from the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project. Moon passed away from cancer last year.
DWR also hired Susan Ramos, Deputy General Manager of the Westlands Water District, "on loan" from the district to serve as "a liaison between all relevant parties" surrounding the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) and provide "technical and strategic assistance" to DWR.
Documents obtained by this reporter under the California Public Records Act revealed that Ramos was hired in an "inter-jurisdictional personal exchange agreement" between the DWR and Westlands from November 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010. The contract was extended to run through December 31, 2011 and again to continue through December 31, 2012. (www.indybay.org/...)
Greenwashing Goals: Desperately needed actions to restore our ocean, bay and Delta waters have been substituted under the MLPA Initiative with the imposition of more fishing closures on some of the most heavily regulated ocean waters on the planet to further the "green" facades of Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown.
The alleged "marine reserves" created under the MLPA scam fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean than fishing and gathering - at a time when the ocean is under assault by the oil industry, corporate polluters and ocean industrialists.
The greenwashing that occurred under this process become crystal clear during the Refugio Oil Spill of May 2015 when a badly corroded pipeline operated by the Plains All American Pipeline Company burst, fouling more than 9 miles of pristine coastline. (www.dailykos.com/...)
Not mentioned in the superficial coverage of the spill by the mainstream media and most of the “alternative media” is the alarming fact that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the head of the same oil industry trade association that lobbies for the Plains All American Pipeline corporation, whose pipeline rupture caused the massive oil spill, is the very same person who chaired the panel that created the so-called "marine protected areas" that were fouled by the spill.
"Plains All American, the owner of the pipeline, is a member of the Western States Petroleum Association," proclaimed Reheis-Boyd in her blogpost responding to the spill in 2015. (www.wspa.org/...)
In the case of the Delta Vision and BDCP/California Water Fix processes, the dire need to restore the Delta by decreasing water exports and retiring drainage impaired land on the San Joaquin Valley's west side has been substituted with plans to build twin tunnels and increase water exports to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies while taking Delta family farms out of production under the guise of “habitat restoration.”
Meanwhile, populations of Delta smelt, longfin smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon, and other fish species continue on their path to extinction, due to massive water exports from the Delta by the state and water projects, along with mismanagement of Trinity, Shasta, Oroville, Folsom and other Central Valley dams by the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources.
The Delta smelt index, a relative measure of abundance, in the latest survey was 8, the second lowest in history. Seven Delta smelt were collected in November – and none were collected in September, October, or December, according to a memo from James White, environmental scientist for the CDFW’s Bay Delta Region, to Scott Wilson, Regional Manager of the Bay Delta Region. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/data/fmwt/bibliography.asp )
The small 2 to 3 inch fish, found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is an indicator species that demonstrates the relative health of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. The species is listed under both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts. When the numbers of Delta smelt are so low, it reveals that the estuary, as we know it, is just as close to extinction as the fish themselves.
In 2015, the Delta smelt index was only 7. That was the lowest number recorded since the survey began in 1967, after the State Water Project began exporting water south of the Delta. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/data/fmwt/indices.asp)
Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Allliance (CSPA) pointed out the ecological disaster that would unfold if State Water Resources Board if the State Water Resources Control Board approves the petitions by the Department of Water Resources and Bureau of Reclamation to change their points of diversion in order to proceed with the construction of the Delta Tunnels.
“This plan will deprive the Delta smelt of their habitat by exporting vast quantities of water from the Sacramento River,” said Jennings. “If the State Board approves the petition, it will only exacerbate things enormously for the Delta smelt and other fish species.”
The Delta smelt collapse is part of an overall ecosystem decline, including dramatic reductions in winter, spring and fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead populations, driven by water diversions by the federal and state water projects. From 1967 through 2015, populations of striped bass, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, American shad, splittail and threadfin shad declined by 99.7, 98.3, 99.9, 97.7, 98.5 and 93.7 percent, respectively, according to Jennings.
The Delta Tunnels plan will not only hasten the extinction of Delta smelt, but it will also drive longfin smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and other fish species closer and closer to extinction, according to Delta advocates and scientific experts. The WaterFix will also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers, since water from the Trinity, the largest tributary of the Klamath, is diverted to the Sacramento River watershed through a tunnel in the Trinity Mountains from Trinity Lake to Whiskeytown Reservoir.
Racism and denial of tribal rights: Tribal and environmental justice communities in both processes have been excluded in a classic example of environmental racism.
The institutional racism of the MLPA process was demonstrated when the Yurok Tribe was banned from harvesting abalone, mussels and seaweed off their traditional areas off the False Klamath and Reading Rock as they have done for thousands of years under the "marine protected areas" that went into effect off the coast in December 2012. (yubanet.com/...)
And in spite of direct action protests and outrage by Tribal members, fishermen and grassroots environmentalists over the flawed Initiative, the MLPA Initiative failed to recognize tribal gathering rights in no take "State Marine Reserves," allowing tribal gathering only in "State Marine Conservation Areas" where some fishing and gathering is already allowed.
Likewise, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan/California WaterFix has been developed without the required consent from California Tribes including the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, as required under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. In fact, the first formal informational meeting for California Tribes on the BDCP was held on December 10, 2013, in Sacramento - the day after the EIR/EIS for the tunnel plan was released!
That is hardly "government-to-government" consultation, as required under state, federal and international law.
“There is no precedent for the killing of an estuary of this size, so how could any study be trusted to protect the Delta for salmon and other fish?" asked Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. "How can they even know what the effects will be? The end of salmon would also mean the end of Winnemem, so the BDCP is a threat to our very existence as indigenous people.”
This environmental injustice extends to non-English speakers in California impacted by the Delta Tunnels Plan. Restore the Delta (RTD) and environmental justice advocates charged the Brown Administration with violation of the civil rights of more than 600,000 non-English speakers in the Delta by its agencies' failure to provide for “meaningful access to and participation” in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) public comment period.
"More than 600,000 Delta residents alone don't speak English, and are being shut out of the public comment process on this massive project that would affect them deeply," said Esperanza Vielma, executive director of Café Coop & Environmental Justice Representative, San Joaquin County/San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Board. "The Brown Administration is violating the civil rights of Limited English speaking Californians in its rush to build tunnels to serve the top 1% of industrial agriculture."
Junk Science: Both the MLPA Initiative and BDCP/California Water Fix fiasco have relied on false assumptions and flawed data with little or no basis in natural science to advance their goals and objectives.
In the case of the MLPA Initiative, the Yurok Tribe said it attempted on numerous occasions to address the scientific inadequacies with the MLPA science developed under the Schwarzenegger administration by adding "more robust protocols" into the equation, but was denied every time.
The Northern California Tribal Chairman's Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, documented in a letter how the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger's Science Advisory Team is "incomplete and terminally flawed."
Frankie Joe Myers, Yurok Tribal member and Coastal Justice Coalition activist, exposed the refusal to incorporate Tribal science that underlies the "science" of the MLPA process on the day of the historic direct action protest by a coalition of over 50 Tribes and their allies in Fort Bragg in July 2010.
“The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism," said Myers. "It doesn't recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists." (klamathjustice.blogspot.com/...)
To make things even worse, a federal judge in May 2014 sentenced Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to a 10 month federal prison sentence for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle over $852,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe!
LeValley pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization (18U.S.C §§ 371 and 1163) in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond. According to court documents, LeValley submitted more than 75 false invoices between 2007 and 2010 in payment for “work” on northern spotted owl surveys that was never performed. The link to the indictment is available at: noyonews.net/...
For many of the Yurok Tribe's documents regarding the MLPA Initiative, go to: www.yuroktribe.org/...
The BDCP/California WaterFix “science” is also a sham. For example, on July 18, 2013 scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service exposed the hollowness of claims by Secretary John Laird and other state officials that the BDCP is based on "science." This was done after the federal agencies had already made "red flag" comments stating that the completion of the tunnel plan could hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species.
The federal scientists provided the California Department of Water Resources and the environmental consultants with 44 pages of comments highly critical of the Consultant Second Administrative Draft EIR/EISDraft, released on May 10, 2013. The agencies found, among other things, that the draft environmental documents were “biased,” “insufficient," "confusing," and "very subjective." (baydeltaconservationplan.com/...)
Then in August 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a scathing 43-page comment letter slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).
The EPA diagnosis revealed that operating the proposed conveyance facilities “would contribute to increased and persistent violations of water quality standards in the Delta, set under the Clean Water Act,” and that the tunnels “would not protect beneficial uses for aquatic life, thereby violating the Clean Water Act." (www.dailykos.com/...)
Bob Wright, the lawyer for Friends of the River, summed up the complete lack of science that the BDCP/California Water Fix is based upon when he said, "The plan is to grab the water and in the process take it away from designated critical habitat for several already endangered and threatened species of fish including Sacramento River Winter-Run and Central Valley Spring-Run Chinook Salmon and drive them into extinction. That is against the law because federal agencies are prohibited from doing that by the Endangered Species Act."
Unjust Implementation of MLPA Initiative Continues
The MLPA Initiative's unjust implementation continues to forge ahead, in spite of opposition by anglers, conservationists and public trust advocates. The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, adopted the controversial Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas in California that delays regional reviews of MPAs, as originally promised, from every five years to every ten years.
After a very short discussion and hearing public comment, the Commission by a 4-0 vote approved text related to traditional ecological knowledge and then adopted the proposed final Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas and the Marine Life Protection Program pursuant to the Marine Life Protection Act (Pursuant to Section 2850, et seq., Fish and Game Code)."
The three members of the commission at the time – President Eric Sklar, Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, and Member Anthony C. Williams – postponed the vote for approval to the June meeting. Since the April meeting, Governor Jerry Brown appointed two new Commissioners, Russell Burns of Napa, and Peter Silva of Chula Vista.
It's no surprise that both of the new Commissioners who voted for the MLPA Master Plan have worked for organizations backing the Delta Tunnels. Burns is the business manager at Operating Engineers Local Union 3, a strong supporter of the California Water Fix, since 2006. Silva served as senior policy advisor at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, one of the key organizations pushing the Governor’s Delta Tunnels Plan, from 2005 to 2009.
The Master Plan breaks the original promise given to anglers by officials that regional reviews of the alleged "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative would be conducted every five years. The new plan changes the regional reviews to once every ten years, a move that anglers and public trust advocates strongly oppose because it results in less frequent scientific monitoring of the MPAs.
Here’s what the MLPA Initiative South Coast News, the official publication of the Initiative, actually said on October 16, 2009, contradicting claims by Commissioners that this promise to conduct five year reviews was never made:
“Q: If an area is closed as an MPA will it always be closed?
A: Not necessarily. The MLPA specifically requires monitoring, research and evaluation at selected sites to facilitate adaptive management of MPAs and ensure the system meets its goals and objectives. Within the MLPA master plan, it is recommended that the MPA network be evaluated approximately every five years. As MPAs are re-assessed for effectiveness, changes may be necessary, either to individual MPAs or the network as a whole. This may mean changing boundaries and/or allowances for extractive activities depending on how well MPAs are meeting goals. Just because an area is closed to one type of use or another does not mean that it will always be that way.”
For more information, read: www.dailykos.com/…
We must learn from successes and failures of opposition to both processes
We can see that MLPA and BDCP/California WaterFix processes have much in common in terms of their leadership, funding, conflicts of interest, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, and junk science. I believe that people can more effectively oppose the Governor's Delta Tunnels Plan and other threats to our rivers, lakes, bays and ocean water by understanding the dark links between the MLPA Initiative and Delta Tunnels project.
The unjust implementation of questionable "marine protected areas" under the MLPA Initiative also provides a cautionary tale for activists fighting the California Water Fix - the fact that science, state, federal and international laws and the majority of people are on your side doesn't necessarily mean that you will prevail. The state and federal governments have a long history of implementing projects that don't make any scientific, legal or economic sense because powerful corporate interests effectively bought off and manipulated agency and elected officials to produce a pre-determined outcome.
It is vital that people fighting against the California WaterFix and for the restoration of salmon and other fish populations in California learn from both the successes and mistakes of MLPA Initiative opponents so they can more effectively wage a successful campaign to stop the construction of Governor Jerry Brown's Twin Tunnels.