Wednesday January 18, 2017


Well, well, well it is raining again and looking at the Sierra Country Store webcam I think it is raisnow in Sierra City now but will be all snow in the not so distant future… like an hour maybe. In the past week we have lost homes to mudslides, roads to rockslides, land to too much water and all kinds of issues when there is too much weather all at once after a near decade of drought. I can’t really complain, our house is warm, propane tank full and plenty of food and water so we are okay, but I’ve heard stories throughout the county where power has been out for days and relying on electric heat alone  isn’t a good thing in the Sierra.I don’t know what is weirder it being 2017 or the first month is more than 1/2 way done.

Downieville School students will be out and about taking orders for Valentine Flowers, a great way to support your schools and tell someone you like/love/care for them.

Speaking of education a group of 14 students from throughout the county will be graduating from the latest EMT Class in Downieville on Saturday January 28th at 1 p.m. and we, the community, are all invited to the Downieville School Gym. Cake, coffee and punch will be served. Without our local EMT’s we would be in a world of hurt.

Friday is the Inauguration of President Trump, pretty sure it will be watched even more than The Apprentice (“sad” as someone would say).  America’s Reality Show begins, good luck to all. Pay attention, don’t be quiet and remember what American stands for, freedoms – religion, speech, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We have excellent articles this week, Board of Supervisors, Carrie’s Corner, Be Encouraged, From the Bench, Carol’s Movies, Cats, Weekly Warrior and our columnists Mel Gurton, Winslow Myers, Jack Payden-Travers, Lawrence Wittner, Dale Bryan, Wim Laven as always their columns are current and relevant and a way to understand and cope with what’s going on out there in the world beyond the canyons and mountains.  Sometimes I hold the articles for a week but I thought since everything will change beginning on Friday, we should be aware and alert and knowledgable.

The photo overlooking the Great Sierra Valley this week was taken by Mary Davey As The Yuba Flows.

John Joseph McCaffrey 1/18/17


John J. McCaffrey

John Joseph McCaffrey John was the fourth in line of the five McCaffrey boys who moved to Sierraville with their parents, Jerome L., Sr. and Lola Ree from Orange, California in 1942.

Beginning his local education in the Sierraville grammer school, John graduated from Loyalton High School. He started a logging company with an old A. C. tractor and a homemade A-frame. His equipment improved, nicely growing to a 977 Cat loader which he used for many years until he retired. He was always very particular in hiring locally and was very proud of their safety record. His number one priority was having NO serious accident in those many years.

For many years he enjoyed using his equipment around Sierraville plowing snow out of driveways and such, usually at night, never asking for money, but just being neighborly. He was an excellent athlete. Logging in the summer, he concentrated on winter sports including skiing, ice skating and snowmobiling, winning many western states awards. After retirement, he dedicated many years to looking after his elderly, widowed mother, Lola.

He leaves two brothers, Tom McCaffrey of Sparks and Jerry McCaffrey of Fernley, as well as many nieces, nephews and other “great”ones. A private burial will be held at a later date in the Sierraville Cemetery.

PSCFC Meeting Schedule 1/18/17


The next Plumas-Sierra Community Food Council meeting. The meeting will be Monday, January 23 from 3-5pm in the large conference room of the Public Health offices (270 County Hospital Road, Suite 206, Quincy). ***Please note that this is a change to the normally scheduled third Monday; rescheduled due to MLK Day.***

Below are the minutes from the December meeting and the draft of the FEAST follow up progress document. And as a reminder, PSCFC meetings are normally the third Monday of the month. We hope to see you there!

PSCFC_Agenda_01_23_17 & 2016-12-19_Minutes_PSCFC &  PSCFC FEAST follow up progress

The mission of the Plumas-Sierra Community Food Council is to increase community resiliency by fostering vibrant local agriculture and increasing access to healthy food for everyone in the Plumas-Sierra region. The Council works to improve community food security through advocacy, policy, and grassroots programs that shape the region’s food system and the health of its residents.

9th Snow/Soul Ball 1/18/17


The 9th Annual Snowball is right around the corner! This year’s ball will be held Saturday, February 25th from 7 p.m. to midnight, at the Community Hall in Downieville, and 70’s style is how it’s going down this year! This is a fundraiser for the Downieville School Sports program. Entertainment provided by Mountain Event Productions. There will be great raffle prizes ranging from overnight stays at popular casinos in Reno, with dinner and show tickets, to numerous gift certificates from local vendors and artists. And to entice those of you who are unsure of going. Hors d’oeuvres , beer and wine will be available. Tickets are $15.00 each or 2 for $25.00. For additional information, please contact Heather Foster at 530-913-4418 or Jenny Varn at 530-913-7902.

Fourteen EMT’s Graduate 1/18/17


Sierra Frontier Medical Resources, Inc and Downieville Fire Protection District invite family, friends and the communities to the Graduation Ceremony for fourteen EMT’s who have completed the intensive total of 136 classroom hours, 24 hours in Emergency Room and 16 hours on the ambulance for a total of 176 Hours. The class ran from November 1, 2016 to January 28, 2017. Graduating are James Asher, Calpine, Leslie Baker,  Alleghany, Shaun Felton,  Pike, Michael Galan,  Downieville, , Sandra Groven, Sierra City,  Angela Haick,  Calpine,  Derrick Koch,  Loyalton, Devon Miller,  Camptonville, Adriana Petro, Calpine, David Petro,  Calpine, Candace Robbins,  Sierra City,  Patrick Shannon,  Downieville, Jenny Traverso,  Sierra City, and Diane Wharff,  Goodyears Bar

This continues the efforts to reinstate Primary, Urgent and Emergency services to western Sierra County. To date SFMR and DFPD have sponsored a Caregivers Class in 2014 and an Emergency Response Systems class in 2015 and now the Emergency Medical Technician   Class which originally had 18 students with 14 at graduation. NorCal EMS and Enloe Hospital in Chico have been an invaluable support and resource for this venture.

Weekly Warrior by Jacob Rust 1/18/17

Welcome back readers to another Weekly Warrior article. This week the kindergarten
class is reading about bugs/insects. The first graders are reading about community helpers. The second graders are reading about animals. Sounds very fun! Mrs. Galan¹s class is making thank you notes for Mr. Fillo for making alligator pencil holders! They were very neat! Ms. McDermid¹s 3rd-5th grade class is planning a field trip to San
Francisco and Monterey. They all are learning about fractions in their math. They are
really improving by the second.
On December 14th, the whole high school had a Christmas party. Secret Santa gifts were handed out, which was fun! We also had a gingerbread house decorating competition. There were snacks, drinks, and desserts at the party. I hope everyone got what they wanted for Christmas! Personally my favorite gift was a gift card. Over Christmas break the girls varsity had great practices!
On the 5th of January, the Downieville Warriors played basketball against American Christian. The boys lost with the score of 18 to 55. Hunter Davey got the player of the
game award. Hunter did well with his rebounds and persistence! The Lady Warriors also lost to American Christian, 19-64, but played hard. The Warriors will get them next time! NO GAMES this Friday, January 20. Next week we have four home games scheduled for Tues through Friday, depending on the weather. In Mr. Corcoran¹s class there is a Colombian food party planned and students will be researching the Latin American Conquistadors.

In Ms. Bolle¹s class there are finals coming up and long term projects. They always turn out to be great! We will all miss Bernie Stringer (who has retired) for doing very hard work and making everyone laugh! Thank you for your service and thank you Tom Potter for now helping the school full time! The 1st semester ends on the 20th of January. That¹s it for this edition of Weekly Warrior! Thank you for reading! Happy New Year everyone!

Mountain Messenger (never wrong) 1/18/17

He’s baaccckkk…. from visiting his Mommy and all is right in the world of Downieville. More or less, maybe… Strangely I haven’t seen him since he is home, he is avoiding me… I don’t know why… it might be because he has been appointed to the RAC for Sierra County and believes he is too good for me…  Ha …. will he be surprised. But life is back to normal upstairs, Just a side note here… at this moment in time… I think I love Don & Milly.. but that’s another story.

Meanwhile be sure to buy your subscription to the Mountain Messenger so you can read about any other information about my possible motive for smiling and singing as I left the office. Fortunately my  love  lasts  forever as Babe Lewis could attest whenever we had a fight about politics or my ethnic background.

1/18/17 This is how one can tell when Don Russell is right about most everything.

Send anything you need published to Milly, the CEO and most important person in the office, at or you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Jill, Milly’s secretary). For a subscription: send in as below or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Write to Don Russell at and tell him you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect…..

Board of Supervisors 1/18/17

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors metin regular session on January 17, 2017 in the Loyalton Social Hall, The meeting was recorded for posting on the Board of Supervisors’ website at

The Clerk of the Board may be reached at 530-289-3295 or at the following addresses: Heather Foster –

The Board of Supervisors may hold a Closed Session as the agenda schedule permits.


Call to Order -by Chair Lee Adams
Pledge of Allegiance led by Supervisor Lee Adams
Roll Call Supervisors Huebner, Adams, Beard, Schlefstein present, Supervisor Roen absent
Passing of gavel to new Board Chairman Peter Huebner tells Adams he did “one hell of a job” and thanked him
Selection of Vice-Chairman – Supervisor Scott Schlefstein
Approval of Consent Agenda, Regular Agenda and Correspondence to be addressed by the Board
PUBLIC COMMENT OPPORTUNITY – Jeff Bosworth took time to thank all the workers for there hard work in flood and snow activities. Rick Featherman talked about closing Gold Lake Rd not happy when Plumas plows and we don’t. Gold detectors on big trucks, all gold goes to retirement fund, use sawdust to put on freezing pipes, still had a minute left. Tim Beals said that Plumas County does not plow the road for traffic, just to the snowmobile trailhead. The snow grooming program is coordinated between Plumas and Sierra counties.

COMMITTEE REPORTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS – Supervisor Schlefstein announces Mental Health Advisory Committee meeting. Supervisor Beard says the Loyalton Care Facility is back in operation and he thanks Senator Gaine and staff for their service. Supervisor Adams reports the Western EMS committee met regarding situation with ALS in western Sierra County.

DEPARTMENT MANAGERS’ REPORTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS-  Lea Salas with DHHS talked about inspection with the state coming up. Substance Abuse and Treatment Audit is also due and they are working on the paperwork.

FOREST SERVICE UPDATE – Sierraville District Ranger Quentin Youngblood communications with State and are updating RAC formalizing application status, and the first meeting date will be March 11th, soliciting first round of projects soon. Interesting weather conditions over the past couple of weeks and have been doing some recon on the situation, most of the areas are covered with snow which inhibits the reconnaissance. As of last week rain total better than 31″ just under 200% of average year. Under F&W grant funding for Folkie watershed. Snow grooming program going really well.


Resolution approving the annual review of Probation’s electronic monitoring program rules per Penal Code sections 1203.016 & 1203.018. Jeff Bosworth said it was a positive program and working well Approved 4/0 

Electronic Monitoring Rules.pdf

6.B 11.A. – moved to 6B
Resolution approving updated Sheriff’s Office Records Retention Schedule. (SHERIFF) Supervisor Adams does not  think getting rid of files is a good idea. Sheriff Tim Standley says most agencies use two to five years. “If we had a huge warehouse wouldn’t be a problem. Everything has to be under lock and key”. Just don’t see the need to keep them. Some files have statutory requirements. Auditor Maddox says needs to have personnel files kept for 15 years, with his history he believes not having background on personnel files could be a bad thing. Adams agrees with Maddox. Sheriff says just have to update regardless as things have changed and storing paper isn’t working. With the exception of Personnel files which must be retained. Approved 4/0 

Sheriffs Office retention.pdf

Resolution authorizing increases in the compensation for Mid-Management positions in the manner provided to represented employees. Auditor Van Maddox says this simply gives  COLA on 25th of January. Julie Osborne Sierra Co resident while thinks employees do a wonderful job, how can county pay for raises, how can we afford CalPers don’t approve of raises.  Supervisor Schlefstein says the problems with the City of Loyalton are not the same as the County. Approved 4/0 

Mid Management.pdf

Resolution ratifying a proclamation of local state of emergency issued by the Director of OES on Thursday, January 11, 2017 due to flood damages within the County. Director Beals outlined the issues that make this a necessity in recovering from the recent weather floods, snows, slides private property and public property are still climbing. Beals outlined various issues that are presently emerging. 4/0 

Flood Proclamation.pdf
Discussion/direction of impacts from vehicular use of certain remote county roads (Verdi grade and Henness Pass Road, Antelope Road, Long Valley Road) during winter periods involving incorrect GPS guidance, search and rescue efforts, resource and road damages, and expenditure of limited county resources in response. Sheriff Tim Standley told of several incidents where vehicles were trapped during bad weather, not local people are causing the issue, many calls from Washoe County regarding stranded travelers. Road Dept/Public Works and SO will meet and try to figure out ways/alternatives. “Adams suggested a sign “what’s the difference between using your GPS and the Donner Party.?” Rick Featherman says shut down the road, Julie Osborne doesn’t want road closed but charge the people we rescue.

Road Issue.rop.pdf

Presentation of California State Fair Counties Exhibit plaque and approval of 2017 State Fair Counties Exhibit Entry Form. (SUPERVISOR ADAMS) – Appreciation to Mary Ervin and approval 4/0

State Fair Presentation.pdf
Continued discussion/action regarding letter from Steve Traverso, Sierra Buttes Snowbusters pertaining to the Tahoe National Forest Over Snow Vehicle (OSV) Proposal. (SUPERVISOR ADAMS) Director Beals informed the Board by email :The Board of Supervisors received a letter dated November 2, 2016 from the Sierra Buttes Snowbusters expressing concern over the US Forest Service Over-Snow-Vehicle (OSV) planning process and particularly as it relates to the recent decisions of the Lassen National Forest on its OSV planning process. The letter requests that the Sierra County Board of Supervisors take any steps necessary to protect the interests of the OSV users and the snow grooming program within Sierra County on the Tahoe National Forest and to a lesser extent, the Plumas National Forest. The ROP and the minutes of the Board of Supervisors meeting of November 15, 2016 are attached for your easy reference.

The Board of Supervisors discussed this letter on November 15, 2016 and this included testimony from Ranger Quentin Youngblood of the Sierraville Ranger District. Upon conclusion of the discussion, staff subsequently made contact with Lassen National Forest to obtain a status report on the Lassen Forest OSV planning process and to determine if a letter from Sierra County would be proper or be considered in the official record of the Lassen OSV planning process and formal proceeding. The draft “ROD” or Record of Decision from Lassen National Forest dated August 2016 is attached as is the official published notice from Lassen National Forest dated August 23, 2016 which signifies the final step in the approval process of the preferred alternative, OSV plan, and EIS for the process. While Sierra County prepared and submitted strong letters of comment to the US Forest Service-Tahoe and Plumas National Forests on the respective OSV planning process for the Tahoe and Plumas Forests, the County was not notified of any proceeding underway in Lassen National Forest and this was likely due to the fact that no portion of the Lassen Forest is within the boundary of Sierra County. When the November 2, 2016 letter from the Sierra Buttes Snowbusters was received by the County in November 2016, inquiries to the Lassen National Forest confirmed that the formal commenting period on the EIS and OSV plan for the Lassen National Forest had been completed months earlier and the opportunity for formal inclusion by Sierra County into the formal OSV process had long passed. The Record of Decision, the approval of the EIS and OSV Plan, and the formal legal notice (all attached for your easy reference) signifying the conclusion of the federal planning process had been completed and there was no opportunity for the Sierra County Board of Supervisors to gain any standing to appeal, litigate, or otherwise involve itself in the Lassen OSV process.

However, what has now transpired is that the Regional Forester has directed Lassen National Forest to step back and take another look at the process, beginning with the draft EIS. So the Regional Forester has set aside the Record of Decision and formal notice issued in August 2016 for the Lassen OSV process and has directed that the Lassen Forest start over beginning with the draft EIS and re-engage the public in formal comment and review. Since Lassen Forest is the first of the five national forests involved in litigation settlement to complete its OSV process, the regional forester seems determined to establish that the decision on the Lassen Forest does not become a template for policy development on the other four forests involved. So the Lassen process is on hold, there will be a re-issue of the draft EIS expected 18 months from now, and at that time Sierra County can become formally involved in the process.

So it is the staff conclusion that while the Sierra County Board of Supervisors was not formally a part of the Lassen OSV process that was underway in 2016 and had no standing to appeal if the Board of Supervisors so desired, the opportunity for Sierra County to now become formally involved will occur once the draft EIS is re-issued in eighteen months. The County has submitted formal comments to both Plumas and Tahoe National Forests which assures Sierra County of being in the record, being in a position to intervene and appeal if desired, and be effective in its representation of the concerns for Sierra County’s interests in the OSV planning process. Sierra County will now be able to engage the Lassen Forest process in the near future.

Staff is watching this closely and is in communication with the Sierra Buttes Snowbusters when topics or deadlines are in place that require some action from the County. Both the Plumas and Tahoe OSV planning processes are in progress and there is no definitive answer on when the County may expect to see draft documents for its review. Sierra County is fully engaged in these two planning processes and has now (as of January 2017) formally notified Lassen National Forest that it wishes to be formally involved when the draft EIS and plan is re-circulated in 18 months. Therefore no further action by the Board of Supervisors is necessary or desired at this point and formal notices from Lassen Forest will be forthcoming to the Clerk of the Board in approximately eighteen months.

So no action was taken at this meeting.

Over Snow Vehicle.pdf
Resolution reorganizing the Departments of Health and Human Services. Approved 4/0

Reorganizing Health and Human Services.pdf
Approval of job description for Administrative Director of Behavioral Health, Director of Health and Human Services and Clinical Director of Behavioral Health. Approved 4/0

Job Description HHS.pdf
Resolution appointing the Administrative Director of Behavioral Health. Approved 4/0

Appointment Admin Director.pdf
Resolution directing the submission of credentials to the State of California for Clinical Director of Behavioral Health.Approved 4/0

MH Direct send to State.pdf
Discussion/adoption of a resolution eliminating longevities for Department Managers and setting a single pay rate for each position. (FINANCE COMMITTEE) Approved 4/0

Department Managers Longevities.pdf
Introduction and first reading of an ordinance amending Section 3.08.050 (d) of the Sierra County Code pertaining to Longevity Pay. (FINANCE COMMITTEE) Approved 4/0

Ordnance longevities.pdf
Introduction and first reading of an ordinance amending Section 2.04.070 and rescinding Section 2.04.100 of the Sierra County Code pertaining to compensation for County Supervisors. (FINANCE COMMITTEE)  Approved 3/0 Adams voted No

Sierra County Board Salary Ordinance.pdf
Introduction and first reading of an ordinance amending Section 5.04.55 of the Sierra County Code pertaining to authorization for business meals. (FINANCE COMMITTEE) Approved 4/0

Ordnance meals.pdf
Resolution adjusting Sierra County’s Parity System to comply with new minimum wage laws. (FINANCE COMMITTEE) Approved 4/0

Minimum Wage.pdf
Resolution amending the Sierra County Travel Policy. (FINANCE COMMITTEE)      Approved 4/0

Travel Policy.pdf
Approval of appointments to commissions, boards and associations; standing committees; term appointments; and ad-hoc committees for the 2017 Calendar Year. (CLERK OF THE BOARD) see link

BOS Committees List.pdf

Closed Session pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9 (c) – initiation of litigation – 3 cases. Direction to staff

Closed Session Initiation of Litigation.pdf
Closed Session pursuant to Government Code Section 54957 – performance review regarding County Counsel. direction to Staff

Closed Session County Counsel review.pdf
Items placed on the Consent Agenda are of a routine and non-controversial nature and are approved by a blanket roll call vote. At the time the Consent Agenda is considered, items may be deleted from the Consent Agenda by any Board member or Department Manager and added to the Regular Agenda directed by the Chairman.
11.A. – moved to 6B
Resolution approving updated Sheriff’s Office Records Retention Schedule. (SHERIFF)

Sheriffs Office retention.pdf
Resolution authorizing the Auditor to make certain changes to the 2016/2017 Final Budget for Sheriff’s vehicles. (AUDITOR)

Budget Adjustment Sheriffs Vehicles.pdf
Addendum to Agreement 2016-101 with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency to extend the term of the Agreement. (SOCIAL SERVICES)

NCCD Addendum.pdf
Rescission of Agreement 2016-138 and approval of professional services agreement between Derek Clark and Sierra County Health and Human Services. (SOCIAL SERVICES)

Derek Clark Agreement.pdf
2016 Medi-Cal Privacy and Security Agreement between the California Department of Health Care Services and the County of Sierra. (SOCIAL SERVICES)

Medi-Cal Privacy and Security Agreement.pdf
Resolution allocating funding provided to the County from the State Homeland Security Grant Fiscal Year 2016 in the amount of $78,167.00. (OES)

FY 16 HSG Expenditures.pdf
Agreement for Indemnification and Reimbursement for Extraordinary Costs for Les and Jill Meskimen, Applicants and Landowners for consideration of a zone variance to allow for the construction of a new garage. The project site, identified as APN 023-080-024, is located at 395 Sierra Lane, Verdi. (PLANNING)

Meskimen packet.pdf
Agreement for Indemnification and Reimbursement for Extraordinary Costs for Elizabeth Mettler, Applicant and Landowner for consideration of a Conditional Use Permit to allow for a special event venue. The project site, identified as APN 019-130-003, is located at 2500 Fiberboard Rd. Sierraville. (PLANNING)

Mettler packet.pdf
Resolution terminating the collection of an additional one dollar ($1.00) fee for recording the first page of every instrument, paper or notice required or permitted by law to be recorded for implementation and ongoing operation of a social security truncation program (AB 1168). (CLERK-RECORDER)

Res terminating additional fee SSN Truncation Program.pdf
Resolution continuing the collection of an additional one dollar ($1.00) fee for filing every instrument, paper or notice required or permitted by law to be recorded and establishing the days of operation of the County Recorder pursuant to Government Code Section 27361.4(b). (CLERK-RECORDER)

Res continuing fee for days of operation.pdf
Minutes from the regular meeting held on December 6, 2016. (CLERK-RECORDER)

12062016 Minutes.pdf
Minutes from the regular meeting held on December 20, 2016. (CLERK-RECORDER)

12202016 Minutes.pdf

Health News 1/18/17

One Health Initiative will unite human and veterinary medicine

The One Health Initiative is a movement to forge co-equal, all inclusive collaborations between physicians, osteopathic physicians, veterinarians, dentists, nurses and other scientific-health and environmentally related disciplines, including the American Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, American Association of Public Health Physicians, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). Additionally, more than 900 prominent scientists, physicians and veterinarians worldwide have endorsed the initiative.

Mission Statement
Recognizing that human health (including mental health via the human-animal bond phenomenon), animal health, and ecosystem health are inextricably linked, One Health seeks to promote, improve, and defend the health and well-being of all species by enhancing cooperation and collaboration between physicians, veterinarians, other scientific health and environmental professionals and by promoting strengths in leadership and management to achieve these goals.

Fake News Now 1/18/17

Mel Gurtov

Donald Trump’s Fake News Conference – by Mel Gurtov

The media waited with bated breath for Donald Trump’s first news conference in 167 days. But I’m sure many journalists knew what was coming: a show, orchestrated by The Apprentice executive director so as to reveal precisely nothing but used instead to revile his critics. Vladimir Putin couldn’t have done better.

Trump was true to form, and character: He spent very little time answering (actually avoiding) questions, he brought along a small crowd of flatterers to applaud his lines, he had three people (his communications spokesman, his vice president-elect, and his tax lawyer) stand in to defend him, and he bragged about how many jobs he will create and how he had turned down a $2 billion business opportunity with Dubai.

Probably sometime early in his youth, Trump learned that the best defense is to attack. He denounced two media outlets (BuzzFeed and CNN) for daring to publish a report about a questionable Russian dossier on him—the work of an ex-British spy—that other media had decided not to publish. Trump refused to allow the CNN representative to ask a question, angrily saying “you are fake news.” But that remains to be determined, for in fact the intelligence people who briefed him and Obama think the dossier might contain reliable information. Trump is compromised enough by his kissy-kissy relationship with Putin—and if there’s a shred of truth in the dossier, Trump will be in jeopardy.

Trump attacked on other fronts as well. He once again insisted Mexico will pay for a wall—“not a fence”—in one way or another. He allowed that the Russians probably were responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee; but once more he veered away from acknowledging the intelligence finding that Putin himself had ordered the hacking and that Putin’s aim was to help his campaign and hurt Hillary Clinton’s. And his statement that he had “nothing to do with Russia” is patently false. As the Washington Post points out, Trump’s Russian connections go back 30 years, mainly related to his pursuit of real estate opportunities. Still to be determined is whether or not Trump’s associates met with Russian counterparts during and after the campaign, as the dossier alleges.

Trump also tried to preempt further discussion of his financial conflicts of interest by putting the Trump Organization in the hands of his two sons. As various ethics specialists in and out of government have pointed out, that decision is no solution. As one of them said, Trump will be in violation of the Constitution on the day he takes office. He actually had the audacity to say that he has every right to run both his organization and the presidency—implying that we should be grateful for his choice not to do so, as though we don’t already know that he has every intention to remain in charge of his empire. He again refused to release his tax returns, saying that only the press wants him to do so. Trump’s attitude is clear: I’m the president and I’ll do what I want; try to stop me.

In short, what did we learn from the press conference?

First, that Trump will be the same blustering, haughty president that he was on the campaign trail.

Second, that access to him will be extremely limited and produce very little news.

Third, that any news he dislikes will be labeled fake, and the messenger will pay a price.

Fourth, that Trump will completely disregard ethical guidelines at home just as he disregards them abroad.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University and blogs at In the Human Interest.

Light of the World 1/18/17

Winslow Myers

The Light of the World – by Winslow Myers

There are two things that too many of us seem to be reluctant to take in about present conditions on our planet—the first is the threat of mass death, either suddenly by nuclear war, or gradually by changes in climate. The second is the possibility of reconciliation among enemies on the basis of common goals. Our brains are not particularly well wired by evolution to see either of these both as an immediate threat and as an equally immediate, available opportunity. Perhaps for the first time in history, we are gradually becoming aware that the two shed significant light on each other. In fact, in our historical moment they have become an inseparable duality. As the poet W.S. Auden wrote, “We must love one another or die.”

In a world where nuclear weapons are so destructive that it would only take the detonation of a few hundred of them to fatally affect agricultural production around the globe, perhaps we can now begin to see the absurdity of our hatreds in a new light—almost as if we were growing a new kind of mind more evolutionarily suited to the realities that loom around us. The destructiveness of our weapons is so enormous in scale, that even the most intractable loathing and fear we may feel weighs like a feather measured against a ton of lead. It is really the same, in only a slightly less urgent way, for global climate instability: the imperative has become a level of cooperation on the basis of a shared desire to survive that our evolution has not prepared us for as well as it might, but which is nonetheless essential.

It’s as if a malign alien presence had landed on the earth and all the parties to international and civil conflict, Sunnis and Shia, Arab and Jew, the U.S. and the Taliban, suddenly realized that we had so much more in common with each other as members of the human species than with the aliens, that it would become obvious that we needed to cooperate against the common threat. But we do face a common threat: war itself, with the potential of any war anywhere going nuclear by accident, misunderstanding or passive drift. The “alien” we ought to fear and unite to overcome is found in two places, one physically real, the other psychologically real: the weapons themselves, and the way we have been programmed by evolution to think about the “other,” the different, the fearsome stranger, the enemy.

Our collective fears, hates and desires for security have led us to unlock the secrets of the atom and evolve out of those secrets a bizarre system: deterrence by mutually assured destruction. If we again imagined aliens coming to our planet, this time benign ones, how amazed they would be by the utter ridiculousness of the trap we have willingly set for ourselves. Would they be able to distinguish between the hapless terrorism of the suicide bomber and the strategic deliberation of the nuclear “balance of terror”? Are these two so completely different? Certainly not either in their threat to the innocent or in their futility.

The trap in full is not just deterrence, but the way we think about the usefulness of any kind of violence, on any level, to solve problems—the assumptions humans make that flying a plane into a building or setting off a bomb in a marketplace will make a positive difference. The extraordinary freedom of the human condition includes the tragic built-in freedom to kill. This freedom is so very easy to indulge even within the web of a quasi-organized civil society, as we see in the president of the Philippines’ murderous extra-judicial war against drugs.

Many of us are distressed that one duly elected, but apparently very thin-skinned, leader will soon be given the authority to cause mass death on a planetary level. We pray that his obsession with business success will preoccupy him with making deals rather than making wars. At least we can be somewhat consoled by the fact that the international markets he seeks to dominate will not benefit from nuclear annihilation.

But our apparent programming, our collective thin skin, is not biologically inevitable. History confirms the absurdity of enemy-imaging by recording how arbitrary our animosities are as seen over time—Americans who once incinerated Japanese soldiers with flame throwers or Viet Cong with napalm are now welcome in Japan or Vietnam as tourists or business people.

There is only one way out of our self-devised trap, and that is relationship. The opportunity for relationship is immediate, instant, all around us at every moment, even if we seem to be wired instinctively to hide within our skin, be it thin or thick. I recently entered my first board meeting of a non-profit and made a casually insensitive comment about Mr. Trump’s press conference circus. Next to me sat a woman who unapologetically made it clear that she had voted for the man—but kept her genuine welcoming smile in place.

I felt so grateful that her friendliness and willingness to work with me did not diminish in spite of my off-hand sarcasm, and so we were able to begin a fruitful dialogue—the topic of which became—surprise!—the need for more fruitful dialogue.

Her sort of friendliness may be the light of the world. It is a ton of gold weighed against the feather of our momentary and potentially superficial political opposition to each other. Sometimes initiating and maintaining a culture of connection may not come easy, but it is constantly there as a possibility. The hoary cliché has never been more relevant and important: a stranger is just a friend we haven’t met yet. And if that is true, why isn’t it just as true that an enemy is just someone we haven’t tried hard enough to be friends with yet?

Winslow Myers, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide.” He also serves on the Advisory Board of the War Preventive Initiative.

My Brother Died 1/18/17

Wim Laven

Healthcare is a basic human right not a political football – by Wim Laven

On May 4th 2013 I delivered the eulogy for my 33-year-old brother. I’m not sure that our political representatives understand what this feels like when they make decisions to take healthcare away from people.

When innocent civilians are killed for political reasons we usually consider it an act of terrorism or a crime against humanity, but, inexplicably, when political leaders make decisions that only happen to cause those deaths why is it so easy to look away? This week the process of killing countless Americans is beginning, and it is happening because humanity and political gain are not always in concert. Nothing is literally life and death more than healthcare.

My brother went to the hospital so many times we lost count of the number of times we had lost count. Was it because idiopathic conditions are hard to treat? Was it because the insurance guarantor declined to do the tests that could have helped doctors establish an effective treatment? Was it just bad luck?

One of the worst nights I sat with him in a waiting room. I can’t tell you what was wrong with him—nobody could—but I can’t forget the symptoms. He would eat something, and sometimes “it didn’t agree with him” and he would vomit and it wouldn’t stop. Maybe like contractions while giving birth the cramping of the muscles would lead to severe abdominal pain, but the wrenching pain was just pain. Sometimes there was blood. Sometimes he had ulcers, other times he’d get tears in his esophagus. We waited because it wasn’t life threatening.

On this night we were told to wait, no idea how long it would be, and no idea where we were on the list. The hours pass and the pain got worse. Two or three times I went to the counter and asked questions like “is there anything that can be done for the pain? He is afraid he is going to pass out, what then?” After about six hours, I started calling other ERs and found one that did not have a wait. I called the ambulance and discovered they couldn’t deliver a patient from one hospital to another. With help I was able to get my brother into the car and to some treatment… Watching someone you love suffer is one of the worst things that can ever happen to you.

Years earlier my brother had a great job; he was working for a small family business. When he went to urgent care for his bad cough, they took an x-ray and discovered he had a collapsed lung, and he was hospitalized. He didn’t want to miss any work, or to let anyone down, because he was so happy to be working. He had toughed his way through something much more serious than a cold. His lung collapsed because he’d gotten Valley Fever, it isn’t an illness that sounds like its name. It is a spore that you inhale, which usually lies dormant, but sometimes (like in my brother’s case) it grows. The fungal infection in his lung caused a hole and the collapse. Anything that disturbs the soil (like the local agriculture or strong winds) can put the coccidioides spore in the air, and if you breathe it you could end up sick.

He was hospitalized more than a month. He was released but ended up readmitted because he got a staph infection in his chest cavity (likely from the chest tube). In total he was in the hospital about three months. He never returned to work.

When I’d take him to the emergency room or make hospital visits with him I couldn’t help but ask questions or speculate. He did it, the whole family did it, aided, in part, by the knowledge of our father, who was a medical doctor and our mother, who was a registered nurse. Any improvement was cause for celebration and each return to the ER was demoralizing.

A few weeks later, after hanging out with friends, he fell asleep. He didn’t wake up.

I’ve left details out of the story, but I hope at least two things are clear: 1. It wasn’t his fault he got sick—it could happen to anyone—it does happen to anyone. And 2. It was an extremely painful process. My challenge is this: I will never know what could have been. I teach political science, the day after my brother died I walked into my classroom and told them something like this:

Politics is real, and it is life and death. I took trip to the emergency room with my brother, and I watched him suffer, but I’ll never get to know if things could have turned out differently. I’ll never get to know if the Republican foot dragging on the Affordable Care Act made my brother’s care worse. I can speculate that it could have worked better …

At the time he died there had been 57 votes to repeal Obamacare. The Congressman from my hometown has openly admitted that the Republican Congress went out of their way to make all Obama’s policies fail. Better care might have made all the difference, but all we can do is speculate, because political vengeance was more important than saving lives.

One of my dreams would be recognizing the role of healthcare in peace and social justice. I can’t tell you what I would do, or give up, to have my healthy brother back. Don’t get me wrong, I know he had it better than most of planet, he got medical treatment, and asking “could the treatment have been better?” is worlds better than “could a doctor have made a difference?” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says this:

Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

It is a dream for peace and justice around the world, and I wonder if the U.S. couldn’t aim for goals like these for its own citizens if not the whole world?

Republicans have the football and are driving for the political victory; fully prepared to gut the legislation responsible for bringing healthcare and medical protections to millions of American families. This is what predatory politics does, and no alternative has been prepared. How many of those millions are getting a de facto death sentence?

Please believe me; it’s the most painful thing you can ever watch.

Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.

Exactly One Year 1/18/17

Dale Bryan

“Where Do We Go from Here?” – by Dale Bryan

That question was a touchstone for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the last year of his life. He preached on it. He delivered speeches on it. He wrote a book on it. The answers he put forward may be what got him killed.

His persistent morality and unrelenting mobilization of constructive power summoned the nation to take serious the need for a nonviolent revolution against “our system of economic injustice and military destructiveness.”

On April 4, 1967, he came out against the U.S. war in Vietnam. He claimed “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered” without “a revolution of values.” He called into question “the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.” He claimed our political economy, “an edifice which produces beggars” must be restructured.

From that day forward, he was dangerous to owning classes of people in all nations.

From that day forward, he challenged governments to remove the protections that buffered private wealth and control over the economy so that economic democracy, not just political democracy, might be achieved and shared by all.

From that day forward, he had exactly one year to live.

There is little doubt he was murdered because he was threatening to the status quo, not because he was hopeful for the future of a promised land.

Which is not to suggest we today should abandon hope for America to keep its promises. It does suggest that we should participate in local observances of MLK Day wherever they are held.

And most important, we should not only ask ‘where do we go from here?’ but we should heed Martin’s summons and join the nonviolence movements of this time to keep constructing answers that create peace, justice and well-being for all.

Dale Bryan is Assistant Director, Peace & Justice Studies, Tufts University.

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