- Dry Weekend
- Show Photos
- Water Cops
- Hunting Schoolchildren
- Domestics Organizing
- Buckey Walter
- Breaking Even
- Ed Notes
- MacLeod Art
- Wife Bomber
- County-Line Run
- Airbnb Wars
- Yesterday's Catch
- NATO Madness
- Chinese Connections
- Way Out
- Finding Something
- Unhappy Meal
- Poor Israel
- Divorcing Parents
- Jalopy v Billboard
- Weed Glut
- Cloud Shadow
- Ocean Protection
- Eclipse Broadcast
- Jocko's Mutt
- Future Mueller
- Police Transparency
- LA Babes
- Quake Science
- Yacht Lady
- Monk Visitation
- Brother's Keeper
- Never Again
FOG FRIDAY MORNING, clearing before noon, then partly cloudy. Sunny Saturday, warming to low 70s. Rain again Sunday with lows in the 40s. More rain Monday and into Tuesday. Highs in 60s. Slight chance of rain on Wednesday.
WINTER seems awfully reluctant to leave. There was a tropical-quality downpour in Boonville this morning that didn't let up for twenty minutes, snow flurries atop the Boonville-Ukiah Road, thunder and lightning in Yorkville and the Mendocino Coast.
VARIETY SHOW VARIETY PACK
If anyone wants to see the photos I took at the Variety Show, here's the link to my photo album. Hoping to get them up on the Variety Show FB page soon or at least get the link up there!
I added 119 photos and a video from March 27 to the album: 28th Annual Variety Show (2019).
WATER 59 A: A Visit to the Department of Water Resources in Sacramento
by Bob Dempel
With so much water this year, you probably think the state wouldn’t care about water for the coming growing season. Well, I am one of the lucky ones who got a stinging letter from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to wit: we have discovered dam sites impounding water on your property, and you are subject to a large fine and other such things such as tear down the dams, fill them in, or apply for water rights.
I built two small dams 40 years ago on my Hopland Ranch. I quickly applied to the state to get a permit and ultimately a license for the two ponds behind the dams that did impound water. I knew at some time the state would come a calling.
Well, the state came a calling with a threatening letter. I then responded by hiring a civil engineer at considerable expense and filed what is known as an application for a water permit. Of course, with lots of expenses attached. I used some local people and the application was accepted by the state. Then the unthinkable happened. My house and office burned down with all of my paper water files.
My contact at DWR was a young man. I explained my situation and he put our application on hold. After about a year he called and informed me they really needed to move the application along. This started a massive amount of dialogue that not only included him but two other people. Because we were now working with two sets of water rights, a suggestion was made by them that they may be better able to understand my application for the two dams if I came to Sacramento.
So on Monday I had an appointment in Sacramento at DWR to meet with two of the water police. Unfortunately, my initial contact person was taking the week off to go to his brother’s wedding in Tennessee. He assured me that the other two water police could handle the meeting. In addition, I made sure that the copy lady, who had been so helpful to me the previous week, would be available. There is a limit of how many copies of documents you can request at any one time. So, I made a reservation for Sunday night at a motel in Sacramento so I would be as fresh as a daisy on Monday morning for my meeting with the copy lady and the two water police.
The water police are located in the EPA building right in the center of Sacramento. Parking is across the street, so with my handicapped blue plastic tag I parked fairly close. I could not enter the closest door because that was for employees only. I had to walk clear around this grand edifice. Sure enough, security made me sign in, get a badge, and informed me I was only allowed up to the first two floors. This building has sixteen floors. You want to know where our tax dollars go? Try the California EPA building in downtown Sacramento.
I wandered up to the second floor and down the hall to the assigned room. I expected to find a meeting room with a table and chairs. Instead I found a holding cell-sized space with three computers on a shelf. A sliding window allowed me to ring a bell for the madam copy lady. Pretty soon, at the agreed time of 9am the other two water police arrived. Their title had something to do with “data,” Water right cop number three did not even have a card, which tells you how long he had been employed. Neither one was the person I needed to see to make my situation understood. Never mind that I had volunteered to come to Sacramento to help them understand about my two different water rights. They did help me get copies of much needed documents dated back to 1954, when my grandfather first filed for water rights. Madame copy lady could have done all of that, in fact, when I arrived; she gave me the one sheet she had previously found for me stating that was all she could find.
After four hours I finally helped copy lady to find eight folders weighing some five pounds. The staff I needed were either not working that day, unavailable, or unprepared to allow me to help them understand the difference between the 1954 and the later water rights application filed in 1986. (You get to pick) We never did get to my current application for new water rights which started all of this. I did however get a list of seventy water rights consultants who could be hired to help me. Mind you, these are not attorneys, just consultants. So, if you need help with water rights, I will sell you this list for a fee. Please contact me thru the AVA.
DOMESTIC WORKERS ORGANIZE FOR WAGES, BENEFITS AND DIGNITY
by Jonah Raskin
When kids are at school and their parents are hunkered down at work, a vast army that’s largely invisible and mostly under-appreciated descends on suburban, urban and rural homes right here and also all across America. In the U.S., there are about a million and a half domestic workers. About a quarter of them (300,000) are in California where their daily work—cleaning, dusting, washing, tidying and bringing order out of chaos—makes it possible for employers to pursue successful careers away from their own home.
House cleaning is a hot topic and a political issue, too. After all, house cleaners are over-worked, under-paid and often at risk when they use toxic chemicals to scrub tubs, sinks and toilets, and clean in places many don't want to go. In Sonoma County they have rallied under the banner of “The Resisterhood,” and they’re aided and abetted by the Graton Day Labor Center, which has helped improve the lot of housecleaners as well as field workers ever since it was founded more than fifteen years ago.
According to a recent survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)—based on 2,000 interviews, conducted in 14 metropolitan centers and with individuals from 71 countries—domestic work in the U.S. is never ending. There’s always another load of laundry to wash, dry and fold, a carpet to vacuum, a floor to sweep. The workday often runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., especially when domestic workers double as nannies. Children have to be put to bed and roused the next morning, then clothed, fed and sent off to school. Domestic workers are also employed as caregivers and personal assistants; sometimes they perform three jobs for the same family in the same house.
In Sonoma County, and across northern California their ranks have grown sharply as demographics have changed. With older and more affluent folks, and a soaring tourist industry the demand for domestic workers has intensified.
“Job are especially hard with rentals in private homes,” an Airbnb housecleaner says. “Guests are always going and coming which means that there’s a small window of opportunity to clean, and so everything is speeded up all the time. I recently had to ready a place for 30 guests.”
Many domestic workers earn close to minimum wage, without the basic labor protections that many take for granted. According to Christy Lubin, the Director of the Graton Day Labor Center (GDLC), domestic workers in Sonoma make between $17,000 and $25,000 a year.
“That’s nowhere near a living wage,” she says.
The Labor Center is home to ALMAS, Alianza Laboral de Mujeres Activas y Solidarias, a new, growing project that is organizing women domestic workers. The Spanish doesn’t translate well into English, but ALMAS is an alliance of women who are politically active and in solidarity with one another.
All across northern California domestic workers are women. They’re also mostly Latinas, although there are also to Fijian, Samoan and Filipino caregivers. In other parts of the U.S. domestic workers are Asians, Caribbeans, Pacific Islanders, African-Americans, Latinas and some Eastern Europeans.
While not all immigrant domestic workers are undocumented, many are. Most have homes, husbands and children of their own. Some have left children behind with family members in their home countries, and send monthly remittances to cover their expenses for food, rent and education. The women, aged 20 to 50, come from Guadalajara, Mexico City, Tijuana and other cities where domestic workers are sometimes treated like indentured servants and sometimes even like slaves. Indeed, in the introduction to the booklet titled Home Economics, Barbara Ehrenreich—the author of Nickeled and Dimed and many other books—writes that many domestic workers in the U.S. toil under “conditions indistinguishable from slavery.” Ehrenreich adds that, “affluent employers live in intimate dependency on people who are poorer than themselves.” She says that it’s “a shameful situation.” Indeed, nowhere in America are class divisions and economic inequalities more apparent than in middle and upper middle class home where domestic workers toil.
Even when they’re included in some family activities, say, a birthday or a picnic, they’re not treated as equals and not surprisingly they don’t like being treated as second-class citizens.
Over the past ten years or so, domestic workers across the nation have emerged from behind closed doors, and up from underground. They are speaking in public about their own lives and the conditions under which they labor. Legislation has helped.
In 2013, Tom Ammiano, a longtime member of the California State Assembly, championed the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Three years later, in 2016, the California Domestic Worker Coalition (CDWC) and members of ALMAS, celebrated Governor Brown’s signing of the Bill of Rights which gave permanent overtime protections to domestic workers.
Recently, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris introduced a Federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights that would embrace the rights that house cleaners already enjoy in California and in seven other states. In addition, the federal legislation would create a retirement-savings plan funded by employers. It would offer workers affordable health insurance and create training and development programs. Then, too, it would create a Commission that would police the industry and make sure that employers complied with the rules. All this is long overdue.
Alfonso Cuarón’s movie, Roma, which portrays the life of a domestic worker in Mexico, and which won an Oscar for best director at the 2018 Academy Awards, has inspired housecleaners and nannies. “Roma tells our story,” says Socorro Diaz who cleans homes quickly and competently. She adds, “We’re expected to move about the houses we clean without making a sound and without being seen.”
Not long ago, Diaz explained to an employer that she was bringing her children from Mexico to the U.S., and that she couldn’t work the same number of hours that she had been working as a nanny and housecleaner. She was told, “That’s unacceptable.” In her case and in many others, there’s little if any room to negotiate with employers.
Christy Lubin says that domestic workers often work “without contracts, either written or oral, and without breaks, or overtime pay after eight hours of work. Lubin calls that “wage theft.” Industry analysts estimate that nation-wide it adds up to $105 billion.
ALMAS member Maria Colvin is older than most of the domestic workers, though she insists her age doesn’t prevent her from doing a hard days work. As a spokesperson for the Domestic Workers Coalition, Colvin calls for basic rights “so that other women won’t have to face the exploitation and abuse I experienced as a housekeeper and nanny.”
Through an interpreter Colvin adds, “I worked in hotels and restaurants in Mexico before I came to the United States. That experience helped me find a job here. When my husband died suddenly, I lost my home and didn’t have a way to support myself. I found a live-in job with a family. I spoke no English. I didn’t know I had rights. I thought that the people who hired me were doing me a favor by giving me this job. I worked five days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. I slept in the same room as the two little children I cared for. I was paid $120 a week; $2 an hour.”
ALMAS leader, Socorro Diaz, says, also through an interpreter, “we do the work that makes all other work possible, and relaxation, too, so people can come home and not have to clean and wash.” Diaz adds, “The difference between my life and the lives of the people I work for is unbelievable. I want enough; they have everything. They travel, eat in expensive restaurants, buy new cars and fancy shoes.”
Colin nods her head and says, “We live in two different worlds.”
Diaz explains that she and her husband work “around the clock,” and that she often cleans three houses a day, five days a week. She enlists the help of a friend or another ALMAS member.
I know how demanding the work can be. Twice a month, I pay a Mexican woman who speaks very little English, to clean my two-bedroom house. Sometimes she arrives alone—she has a car—sometimes with her husband or her children.
I do my own laundry, make my own bed, and wash my own dishes, but my house still gets messy. Before I hired a house cleaner I’d get down on myself just. Now that she cleans, I’m not depressed about my living space, which is also my workspace, and where I entertain friends and family. Her work serves as an anti-depressant.
For years, domestic workers here and around the country, have gone about their lives without raising their voices and without making their needs and wants known, except to the closest of friends and family members. If they were tired, they didn’t say. If they were not paid a living wage, they didn’t complain. When they were told they couldn’t take a day off, they didn't.
Now, domestic workers are organizing themselves. The leaders of the movement are the women themselves. In February, 150 or so women, attended a statewide domestic workers rights meeting in Oakland. In March, 22 ALMAS leaders, their children and allies, went to Sacramento to lobby for a “Domestic Worker Outreach and Education Program.”
On the ground, ALMAS leaders have launched the “Fair Work/Clean Homes” campaign which aims to educate housecleaners about their rights. The campaign also supports them when they have been the victims of wage theft. Another goal is to educate employers and to identify the “bad actor” who are, in some cases, other domestic workers who hire women to work with them, pay below minimum wage, and when they work more than eight hours a day don’t pay overtime.
“We’re not a union,” Lubin says. “But we’re like a union in that are goal is for housecleaners to set the wages and conditions for the work they do.”
The Graton Day Labor Center has been a member, for the past nine years, of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), which was founded in 2007, and has headquarters in New York. Socorro Diaz represents ALMAS at the National Alliance and connects regularly with members elsewhere.
Domestic workers, as well as field workers, weren’t included in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1935 which guaranteed private sector employees the right to organize into trade unions, engage in collective bargaining for better working conditions, and go on strike. Domestic workers have never had a trade union. Traditionally, they haven’t negotiated the terms of their employment and have never gone on strike. But that might yet happen. It could be a first.
“There are thousands like me,” Maria Colvin says. “We want dignity and respect and we want the community to support our profession.”
Socorro Diaz says, “I tell women, they have rights, that they shouldn’t hide, and don’t be afraid to work hard and live the life the way you want it. If you need help I will show you how to be a professional housecleaner.”
The mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters who clean houses are, indeed, professionals, and, like other professionals, ask to be treated and paid fairly.
The National Domestic Workers Alliance—and the Graton Day Labor Center— aim to organize employers as well as employees. In May, the Labor Center will hold a brunch with employers.
“We have always had a lot of success bringing them to the table,” Lubin says. “These folks hire from the Center because they support our mission and our values.”
Employers and employees have the opportunity to clean house together and to create environments free of toxic relationships, and without toxic cleaning supplies.
Lubin adds, “Improving the lives of workers will improve the lives of homeowners and all of society.”
LAST TUESDAY, after CEO Angelo’s staff explained how they calculated the $2.5 million deficit in the County’s cannabis permit program during its first three years, Supervisor Ted Williams asked, "When do we project break even?"
After an awkward moment, Board Chair Carre Brown broke the silence with a nervous giggle and. CEO Angelo finally said, “I'll take a try at that question. … That was like, you could hear a pin drop."
After more laughter at the preposterousness of the idea that the pot program would ever break even, CEO Angelo continued, "I don't think honestly as staff that we are looking at when we will break even. What we know is this figure does not include — and this was actually pointed out by Supervisor McCowen — I don't think this includes any additional tax that we will bring in. Our Treasurer is thinking that we still have $3 million out there. There is no provision for the minimum tax in this calculation. So if by chance we actually get $2.5 million then we would break even. But at this point I don't know — while Ms. Schapmire (Treasurer-Tax Collector) is projecting $3 million that we could bring in, we just have to wait and see. We are hoping that we can work with the staff with come up with some great ideas as to how we can create efficiencies within this program and really looking at trying to reduce staff time so I think there is a lot of work that still needs to be done and it is a new program so we don't have a time frame. We won't know until we actually get the sales tax from Ms. Schapmire and that could bring us closer to being in the black."
THE “MINIMUM TAX” Ms. Angelo is referring to is the tax pot growers are supposed to pay even if they don’t grow any pot, much less don’t sell any. The growers, obviously, don’t like the tax and have complained frequently at recent board meetings that it’s unfair and doesn’t apply to any other kind of agriculture — to no avail. Nobody knows how much of that minimum tax will actually materialize. We have no idea how Ms. Schapmire calculated that it might be worth $3 million, but we do know that a large majority of Mendo pot growers who applied for permits still don’t have one.
VICTOR GRAY and his brother Chris appeared in the Anderson Valley with their mother in the late 1970s. I think her name was Jeannie. I recall the Grays living with the late Bobby and Ada Glover near Navarro. The boys played football at the high school and otherwise integrated themselves into the community, which was then much more of a community than it is now, and also the kind of place that not only kept an eye out for young people who might need some help, but offered that help. As adults, the two boys went in different directions. Chris Gray stayed in the area after miraculously surviving a point blank bullet to his jaw one especially turbulent night in the Boonville Lodge. Last I heard he lives and works in Fort Bragg and is doing well. Victor Gray drifted down to Los Angeles and apparently got into drugs under whose influence he committed the violent crimes that have put him into state prison for many years. Over those many years I've received incoherent letters from him notable only for a nostalgic line or two recalled from the best years of his life as a kid here in the Anderson Valley. In prison, and we know that a large percentage of the incarcerated are mentally ill, Victor has been confined to units set aside to exclusively hold deranged inmates. On the basis of his letters I have assumed Victor was unlikely ever to be restored to either sanity or freedom. But I was encouraged this week to receive from him the first fully intelligible letter ever over a period of at least twenty years. He even has the apostrophe placed correctly in his brother's name:
"This is Victor Gray. Upon the move from CDC to Hospice I lost Chris's phone number and address. May I please have you call or look up his number? I need a few things and have absolutely no one to help me."
SOMEONE OUT THERE will know Chris Gray and pass along this message from his brother. Victor's present address is:
California Health Care Facility CDCR K13504
Facility 4 Bldg 3A, Cell 119
Stockton, Ca 95213
CHCF-Stockton is a 1,722-bed intermediate, medical and mental health care facility for inmate-patients of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prison system. It was designed and constructed to consolidate facilities for long-term medical inmate-patients, as well as acute and intermediate mental health inmate-patients in one central location for more efficient, safe and cost-effective delivery of services. The new, sub-acute health care facility will allow California Prison Health Care Services to provide the required constitutional level of care to inmate patients from across the state.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. is fanning the flames of the anti-vaxxer movement with a recent tweet suggesting “neurotoxins” in the HPV vaccine are making American teens mentally ill. Kennedy, an environmental attorney, author, and self-styled anti-vaxx activist asked, “What are we doing to our children? … Shouldn't we ask whether these mental health trends are associated with the neurotoxic aluminum we are giving young teens in Gardasil vaccine?" Kennedy is cited by many anti-vaxxers on this subject as if he's a reputable authority.
MENDOCINO COUNTY is, natch, home to enough anti-vaxxers to represent a public health threat to not only their own children but everyone else's children. How many un-vaccinated children are attending public schools in the county? Not many, it seems, but no precise numbers are available. County Superintendent Michelle Hutchins pointed me to MCOE's helpful website where school admission standards are described:
A parent or guardian must submit a written statement from a licensed physician (MD or DO) which states:
That the physical condition or medical circumstances of the child are such that the required immunization(s) is not indicated;
Which vaccines are being exempted;
Whether the medical exemption is permanent or temporary;
The expiration date, if the exemption is temporary.
STARTLING STORY by Renee Hanson out of the South Coast's redoubtable weekly, the ICO, describes the absenteeism suffered by the Point Arena schools. The startling part is the statistic that of 156 students enrolled at Point Arena High School, 66 are chronically among the missing, 96 of 325 often don't show up for classes at Point Arena Elementary, 26 young scholars of the 86 on the rolls at the charter school fail to show up, and at the high school's continuation program 11 of the 13 students enrolled don't regularly appear. PA High School is offering "letterman's jackets" as awards for regular attendance while the elementary school is promising missing children ice cream socials if they can get to school on a regular basis.
PA'S Superintendent, Warren Galletti. is quoted in the absentee story as saying, "Some people also don't know the value of education as much as they probably should," a statement one might plausibly apply to Americans generally these days, our culture managing new lows practically on a daily basis. A kid raised by a tv set and Fruit Loops in a fragged home, and there's millions of them, isn't likely to manage regular school attendance. The social consequences are already apparent everywhere.
MEANWHILE, in edu-committed Anderson Valley, school attendance remains high, higher than most school districts in the county. According to our interim superintendent, Michael Warych, AV's annual attendance runs about 94 percent, which is way above the statewide attendance stat. "We're pretty aggressive about it," Warych said Thursday, pointing out that "we have an outreach person on each of the two campuses and an automated telephone system. If a student at the high school, for instance, doesn't show up for first period, his home is notified that he isn't present."
TWO ART SHOWS
The large, lively and colorful paintings of Nancy MacLeod are up for viewing at Mama's Medicinals, 328 N. State Street, Ukiah, from April 5 through the end of the month.
First Friday opening is April 5, 5-8pm, with live music: Piano by Michael Wilson, guitar by John Kibrick, and Himalayan bells and bowls by Bill Allen.
The smaller, lively and colorful works of Nancy MacLeod are up at Mosswood Market in Boonville for the month of April.
PIPE BOMBER JAILED
UKIAH, Thursday - A defendant who planted a pipe bomb under the kitchen sink in an attempt to inflict injury on his wife in August 2018 was committed to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Wednesday by the Mendocino County Superior Court.
Gerald Richard Orth, age 63, formerly of Ukiah, was sentenced to 7 years in state prison, a sentence from his January conviction by plea of attempting to explode a destructive device with intent to wrongfully injure another person, a felony.
Because the defendant also admitted a prior felony conviction for a forcible rape that occurred in 1982 in Lake County, a “strike” under the current version of the Three Strikes law, the defendant's sentence was doubled to 14 years.
A strike conviction also limits the good time/work time credits an inmate may be able to earn in state prison to no more than 20% (versus the default 50%) of the overall sentence.
The prosecutor who has been directing the prosecution of this defendant is Deputy District Attorney Scott McMenomey. The investigating law enforcement agencies that gathered the necessary evidence to convict were the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Bomb Squad, and the Fresno Police Department.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke imposed the state prison sentence after considering the Adult Probation Department's sentencing recommendation and listening to sentencing arguments presented by the attorneys.
Mendocino County District Attorney Press Release
LOOKING FOR A MENDO COUNTER-ATTACK Regarding AirBnB
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 28, 2019
JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
ANN CARLSMITH, Orick/Fort Bragg. DUI.
RUDOLPH ESQUIVEL JR., Willits. Suspended license (for DUI), unlawful registration, parole violation.
DANIEL FOX, Ukiah. Burglary, grand theft, probation revocation.
PEGGY HERNANDEZ, Covelo. Suspended license, probation revocation.
JUSTIN HIETELA, Oakland. Failure to appear.
AARON KULES, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
ALEXANDRA LONG, Talmage. Burglary, grand theft, probation revocation.
JORDAN MAGDALENO, Ukiah. Disobeying court order.
RICHARD MCCORMICK JR., Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, tear gas, probation revocation.
JARRETT NELSON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, probation revocation.
JASON PICKETT, Willits. Disobeying court order.
CHARLIE STASER, Covelo. Vandalism, concealed dirk-dagger.
CARROLL BORLAND as Luna, Count Mora's daughter, in the 1935 film MARK OF THE VAMPIRE. (Count Mora was, of course, played by Bela Lugosi.)
PELOSI AND MCCONNELL: CRANKING UP BIPARTISAN MADNESS FOR NATO
When anyone challenges the continued expansion of NATO in the United States, innuendos or outright smears are likely
by Norman Solomon
When Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell teamed up to invite NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to address a joint session of Congress, they had every reason to expect the April 3 speech to be a big hit with U.S. media and political elites. The establishment is eager to affirm the sanctity of support for the transatlantic military alliance.
Huge reverence for NATO is matched by how dangerous NATO has become. NATO’s continual expansion—all the way to Russia’s borders—has significantly increased the chances that the world’s two nuclear superpowers will get into direct military conflict.
But in the United States, when anyone challenges the continued expansion of NATO, innuendos or outright smears are likely.
Two years ago, when the Senate debated whether to approve bringing Montenegro into NATO, the mud flew at Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky after he showed up to object. An infuriated Sen. John McCain declared on the Senate floor: “I have no idea why anyone would object to this, except that I will say—if they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin, and I do not say that lightly.”
Moments later, when Paul said “I object,” McCain proclaimed: “The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”
With those words, McCain conveyed the common madness of reverence for NATO—and the common intolerance for anything that might approach a rational debate on whether it’s a good idea to keep expanding an American-led military alliance to, in effect, push Russia into a corner. Doing so is understandably viewed from Russia as a dire threat. (Imagine a Russian-led military alliance expanding to Canada and Mexico, complete with some of the latest missile systems on the planet.)
Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall—and the quickly broken promises by the U.S. government in 1990 that NATO would move “not one inch eastward”—NATO has been closing in on Russia’s borders while bringing one nation after another into full military membership. During the last three decades, NATO has added 13 countries—and it’s not done yet.
NATO members “have clearly stated that Georgia will become a member of NATO,” Stoltenberg asserted days ago while visiting the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. He added: “We will continue working together to prepare for Georgia’s NATO membership.” For good measure, Stoltenberg tweeted on March 25 that he was “delighted to observe the joint NATO-Georgia exercise” and “honored to meet veterans & serving soldiers,” adding that “Georgia is a unique partner for #NATO & we are stepping up our cooperation.”
Very few members of Congress can be heard raising any concerns about such reckless expansion. The Senate is key, because adding a country to full NATO membership requires Senate approval.
My colleagues at RootsAction.org have just launched a constituent email campaign on this issue. In every state, people are contacting their senators with individual emails urging them to oppose NATO expansion. Such constituent pressure needs to escalate.
But lobbying is only part of what’s needed. As NATO marks its 70th anniversary next week with a range of activities—including a White House welcome for Stoltenberg on Tuesday, his speech to Congress the next day and an official “celebration” on April 4—counter-actions including forums and protests as part of a “No to NATO” week will be happening in Washington.
A statement from the campaign says that “NATO and a just, peaceful and sustainable world are incompatible…. It is an unjust, undemocratic, violent and aggressive alliance trying to shape the world for the benefit of a few.” Such evaluations of NATO in the real world are a far cry from the adulation that will be coming from mass media next week.
Trump’s decision to roll out the White House red carpet for NATO’s secretary general is consistent with the administration’s actions during the last two years. Media narratives that fixate on occasional warm rhetoric from Trump about Russian President Vladimir Putin have fueled illusions that Trump isn’t pursuing aggressive anti-Russian policies.
While many Democratic politicians and U.S. media outlets have portrayed Trump as soft on Russia and uncommitted to Western militarism, such claims don’t hold up to facts. Trump and his top deputies have repeatedly affirmed a commitment to NATO, while his overall policies (if not always his rhetoric) have been dangerously bellicose toward Russia.
In an email message to the D.C. area encouraging participation in “No to NATO” events next week, RootsAction pointed out: “Trump has evicted Russian diplomats, sanctioned Russian officials, put missiles practically on Russia’s border, sent weapons into Ukraine, lobbied European nations to drop Russian energy deals, left the Iran agreement, torn up the INF Treaty, rejected Russia’s offers on banning weapons in space and banning cyberwar, expanded NATO eastward, added a NATO partner in Colombia, proposed adding Brazil, demanded and successfully moved most NATO members to buy significantly more weapons, splurged on more nukes, bombed Russians in Syria, overseen the largest war rehearsals in Europe in half a century, condemned all proposals for a European military and insisted that Europe stick with NATO.”
When NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg gives his speech to the assembled members of Congress next Wednesday, you can count on the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader to be right behind him. The bipartisan enthusiasm will be obvious—in tribute to a militarized political culture that is vastly profitable for a few, while vastly destructive in countless ways. Only public education, activism, protests and a wide range of political organizing have the potential to disrupt and end the reflexive support for NATO in Washington.
THE MOTHER OF ALL FREEWAYS
“Central planning” is often considered bad government in the context of communism or socialism. But it took central planning by the U.S. government to bring about our interstate highway system.
On Saturday, Italy signed on as a participant to China’s global “Belt and Road” initiative. The leader of China went to Italy for the signing ceremony. Italy was defying advice of many allies and faced outright ire on the part of the U.S. Many other countries have been participants for years.
The Belt and Road initiative is a truly global infrastructure program plan led by China with Chinese interests at its heart. It will create faster, better, cheaper interconnected trade routes to and from China from anywhere on the globe.
It has an integrated companion, the “Digital Silk Road” program, to assure instantaneous communication infrastructure not only along the Belt and Road but globally as well.
President Donald Trump has mentioned an interest in a trillion-dollar U.S. infrastructure plan. He says our aging roads and bridges need repair. He intends to initiate our planning soon. I hope he does.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
There’s an old saying that by the time a guy is thirty, he should have spent one night in a monastery, one night in a whorehouse and one night in jail.
But if you can achieve some take on reality not available through other means, ie some degree of knowledge or enlightenment, more power to you. Many tried, most failed, most just get bored trying and wander off. Finding something on the road to Damascus is a rare thing. You’ll know you’ve found it when you realize you’ve been previously looking at the world as though through a glass darkly.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY II
Israel is surrounded by hostile nations that want to destroy it. Do you not know that? Let’s say your next door neighbor hated you for some reason and threatened to kill you and your family. You go to the authorities, but they say you aren’t a nice person and won’t do anything. Every couple of months your neighbor randomly fires guns at your house and you always have to try to avoid being hit. Your daughters are beat up on the bus just because they’re your children.
One day a bullet penetrates your home and kills one of your kids, but of course the law does nothing.
Maybe you lived elsewhere once but moved back to the home your great-great-great grandparents owned. When you first decided to move back, you found your neighbors had moved into the house, and made a big stink about letting you back. They moved next door, but never let go of moving back to your home.
So, tell me your feelings about how you would relate to your neighbors? Would you let it all go and be nice to them? Or what?
I know both the Israelis and the Muslims both feel anger toward each other. Each side is not innocent. Why go against one side and not the other?
I happen to be a Jew; obviously I’ve already picked one side.
AUTO VS. BILLBOARD, Wilshire & Mansfield, 1942. Photo Los Angeles Daily News Negatives
ACCORDING TO A RECENT STATEWIDE HARVEST PROJECTION, the fundamental challenge facing California’s fledgling legal cannabis market is that the state is simply growing way too much weed. With more than 1,142 acres of cannabis farmland permitted statewide, licensed growers are capable of producing up to 9 million pounds of cannabis each year, the Sacramento Bee reported last week. That’s more than quadruple the amount the market can reasonably support (estimated at 1.8 to 2.2 million pounds annually).
FEDERAL ATTACK ON U.S. COASTLINES
NOAA proposes CZMA changes to improve offshore leasing process
WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 11
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that it is proposing possible changes in the Coastal Zone Management Act aimed at making the federal consistency process more efficient across all stages of US Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas projects from leasing through development. NOAA, a part of the US Department of Commerce, also is considering changes to how it might reduce processing time for appeals and make outcomes more predictable, it said in a 3/11/19/ announcement. Comments will be accepted through Apr. 25, NOAA noted.
You may submit comments on this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), identified by NOAA-NOS-2018-0107 by either of the following methods: Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal - www.regulations.gov.
To submit Start Printed Page 8629comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the “Submit a Comment” icon, then enter NOAA-NOS-2018-0107 in the keyword search.
Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the “Submit a comment” icon on the right of that line.
Mail: Submit written comments to Mr. Kerry Kehoe, Federal Consistency Specialist, Office for Coastal Management, NOAA, 1305 East-West Highway, 10th Floor, N/OCM6, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Attention: CZMA Federal Consistency ANPR Comments.
Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NOAA.
Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change.
All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NOAA will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
Ed Oberweiser (Chair Ocean Protection Coalition - ocean protection.org)
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
The Mueller Investigation report has finally been released and it affirms that there is insignificant criminal evidence to convict President Trump of collusion and obstruction of justice.
After being beaten about the head and shoulders for over two years, Trump is now free to trample the Constitution and advance his Great America agenda.
The anal liberal wolfpack has no intention of backing off, though. Its attacks on Trump, Inc. will continue at a greater pace with more investigations, congressional hearings, lawsuits, media attacks and impeachment bluster as major issues get short shrift.
Trump will become more isolated and angry — a short-fuse powder keg — surviving on junk food and television, adding to his 240+ pound girth which has ballooned to obese proportions.
An AVA letter writer, Holly J. Pierce of Santa Rosa (3/14/18) has a creative solution to de-fuse the situation: "What Trump needs is an emotional support animal — a clean, quiet friend who would offer unquestioned obedience and steadfast love, who would be there for him in the dark hours of the night to settle his restless and tormented soul."
Trump's emotional support animal should be a miniature Mexican short-haired Chihuahua that he keeps in his suit pocket.
As a caddy at a gangster-owned golf course north of Kansas City, Missouri, during my middle school years in the mid/late 50's, I interacted with a character named Jocko Messina who had a pet Chihuahua that accompanied him on his golf rounds. Jocko was half-blind and wore aviator goggles with coke bottle lenses which gave him a sinister look.
Jocko's mutt, Foo Foo, was allowed on course as a "special favor" and returned the favor by shagging golf balls and marking territory on golfers' legs.
Needless to say, Foo Foo had all the charm of a sewer rat and nearly caused some interfamily shoot-outs.
Trump's support mutt, "Doo Doo," can be similarly trained to shag golf balls and piss on people's legs. How would Putin and Kim Dung Heap react?
In these dire times we need some comic relief in the White House. As nimble fingers Garrison Keillor said, "To avoid insanity we should play it for laughs."
I look back fondly on my days as a caddy when I learned more about the real world than I ever did in school. Bill Murray's hilarious movie "Caddy Shack" isn't fiction, it's a documentary.
Cheers, Don Morris
NEW CALIFORNIA POLICE TRANSPARENCY LAW may have the unintended consequence of law enforcement agencies not investigating misconduct by officers…
Los Angeles in the 60s
(Photo by John Lewallen)
BIG ONE ON THE WAY?
Something new offshore from 1906 — An unstudied part of the San Andreas Fault is now revealing stuff. It might help explain the next big one locally, along with all the activity near Petrolia for the past few years.
BUDDHIST MONKS VISITING FORT BRAGG THIS SUNDAY
At 9:30 this Sunday morning 3/31, the members of Abhayagiri Monastery in Redwood Valley will mark the end of their winter retreat with a visit to Three Jewels Hall in Fort Bragg to share conversation, their daily meal, and likely an oceanside walk. There will be no formal meditation or teaching, so this will be a special opportunity to share time and companionship as well as food with the monks. Please bring a dish, being aware that since the monks eat from single bowls, soupy items are awkward for them. There are no restrictions on their diet, so anything else is fine. On April 15, monks will resume visits every third Monday evening to Three Jewels for meditation, teaching, and discussion. These monthly visits will continue for the rest of the year until the next winter retreat, from January through March 2020. Monday 4/1, as on all Monday evenings, mindfulness meditation will be the focus of the gathering from 7:00 to 8:30 at Three Jewels. All are welcome to attend when they can to enjoy mindful practices together. Mindfulness meditation techniques beneficial to beginners as well as longtime meditators are taught and practiced. Also at Three Jewels every Sunday morning (except this week) from 9:30-11:00, Buddhist teachings are explored through guided meditation and reflections on well-known texts. These reflections provide tools useful in everyday life. All are welcome to all events at Three Jewels, regardless of their beliefs and experience. There is no charge, though donations to support the hall are welcome.
For directions and more information, please visit the Three Jewels website: threejewelsfortbragg.org
I MOST PROBABLY WON'T EXPERIENCE THESE THINGS ANYMORE, THE FROTH
Making love. Wild River. Driving. Going to Paris. A cruise. Grilled oysters at the Peg House. Having a brother. Playing the clarinet. Riding a bike. Flying anywhere. Pitching. Going on a date. Walking without the geezer shuffle. Soon enough, likely walking at all. This is almost too easy. It might go on for pages. It is nothing to make this list. This is my life. Your life. What has brought us here.
Writing. Microwaving meals. In my underwear, usually, unless expecting visitors. Taking a walk. Buying a walking stick. Shuffling. At all. The Wild River Radio Show. Drumming so hard on the desk to the Rolling Stones that it made the CD player skip. Going to my first concert. Going to an auto show. With my dad when I was a kid. Going to my last concert. Santana. The loud music cure. Leonard Cohen. Halejulia.
Paying the rent. My first date. My last date. Riding on a Harley. Wanting a Harley. Watching my parents play poker. Playing canasta. Shuffling cards. Snorting coke. Inhaling. Catching a salmon. A sunset bringing tears. The Pacific. The Atlantic. Pictures of Rio. A friend who has lived there. Trying to speak French. Seeing my sister. Touching my dad. Touching you. Enjoy. Smile. Breathe. Inhale. Watch the clock, ticking. Say thank you. Rest. It all goes so fast. Eh?