Wednesday August 16, 2017


CAROL SAYS: ” In your paper coming out this week please remind “the people” that the eclipse is Monday the 21st , and will reach 86% at around 10:15 AM in Downieville. Not to confuse things , but in your paper this week you would word it “this Monday” , August 21. Now I am writing this Sunday night and this Monday would be tomorrow which is not the “this Monday” that you would have in your paper . When your paper comes out on Wednesday for Liz and Thursday for Jill, you would write “this Monday” because at that point in time it would be “this Monday” . I am excited about it !”

Hey mark you calendars, the Clampers will be in town on the weekend of August 26th, surely a festive weekend, AND what you don’t want to miss is the Native Daughter’s Ice Cream Social on Clampers Weekend. It’s the 26th from noon to 2 pm, $5 per adults, $3 for kids 10 and under. Raffle prizes and cookies! 

Get your tickets for the Lost Sierra Hoedown before they are sold out, a very popular event with lots of fun, friendship and great music on September 21 through 24th.

I’m sick to my soul over this last weekend’s violence in Virginia and the many awful messages from the lips of #O.N.E. Trump. The one comment made by a “supporter” of #O.N.E. keeps playing back in my mind. It was by a Nazi, White Supremist being interviewed on camera. He  justified being armed, carrying a gun, being always ready to be violent, “I want to be violent” he said…and then….. and then he said, “it’s good to have a racist for  President… we need someone more racist… someone who didn’t give his daughter to a Jew.”  How do we have a President who is so ignorant to what a huge part of his “base” believe and wish for. There is no way to step away from Donald Trump being a dangerous man. Dangerous for our country, our families and the world.

Read Robert Koehler to understand North Korea, lest we forgot… and he writes about profit motivations, Lawrence Wittner talks about mentally unstable leaders,  Jose Orosco discusses the meaning of love, and Kary Love discusses what exactly nonviolent resistant is and why it is a good thing. Local news, the Board of Supervisors and things to do this week. Carol reminds us about the Eclipse, and the Marmots on the Sierra Buttes.

So speaking of the Buttes the photo this week was taken by David Marshall and shows the final leg of the trip to the spectacular view from the Sierra Buttes Lookout, in case you want something to strive for before the snow comes.

Court Clerk Job 8/16/17


The Superior Court of California, County of Sierra

Classification Monthly Salary Range

Court Clerk I $2501.20 – $3039.34
Court Clerk II $3001.09 – $3647.84

The Superior Court, County of Sierra is looking for persons to perform legal clerical work, legal processing, courtroom and judicial assistance activities. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. August 30, 2017. To learn more about the positions and/or apply, go to
Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.

Job Bulletin Clerk I and II

From the Lookout 8/16/17


Yellow Belly Marmot at the base of the Sierra Buttes Lookout waiting for Lookout hikers to give him/her some food. Photo by David Marshall (Click on photo to enlarge) 

Eclipse Tips 8/16/17


Courtesy of Mountain Messenger

The simplest and quickest way to safely project the Sun is with a projector made from only 2 pieces of card or paper.

You Need:

• 2 pieces of stiff white cardboard, e.g. 2 paper plates,
• alternatively, 2 sheets of plain white paper,
• a thumbtack, a sharp pin, or a needle.

What to Do:

1. To make a quick version of the pinhole projector, take a sheet of paper and make a tiny hole in the middle of it using a pin or a thumbtack. Make sure that the hole is round and smooth.

2. With your back towards the Sun, hold 1 piece of paper above your shoulder allowing the Sun to shine on the paper.

3. The 2nd sheet of paper will act as a screen. Hold it at a distance, and you will see an inverted image of the Sun projected on the paper screen through the pinhole.
4. To make the image of the Sun larger, hold the screen paper further away from the paper with the pinhole.
The concept of a pinhole projector


Mountain Messenger (Milly’s Raise) 8/16/17


Holy Moly… Don Russell never seizes to amaze us… he gave Milly a raise, the problem is it is based on her receiving at least two new subscriptions per week, so just think about it for a measly .55 cents a week you can help Milly feed her family, I understand she has a puppy, so please chip in buy a present for one of your relatives (specifically a subscription to the Mountain Messenger and they will enjoy the wit of Don and the joy of living in a “frontier county” (and official federal designation). I think it is 55 cents a week, the actual true cost is below, I’ve never been great at math especially when it involves odd numbers.

I did an online search for photos of Don Russell and this is what popped up… I’m not sure what this means…..

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…..

On the Shelf by Paul 8/16/17


Issue 2017 -9
What’s New in the Library
There are several new items in the library — and not all of them are books. The children’s section features a brand-new bookshelf built by Steve Fillo, with the assistance of Arroyo, Niles, Ramon, and Rosendo. A huge thanks to them (and especially to Steve) for this great new addition, which now houses the Young Adult collection and the Juvenile Fiction collection.
Also new is a display of books new to the library, on a bookshelf straight ahead when you come in the door. Books new to the library will be shelved there for a while, before being moved to their appropriate places in the library. The shelf contains both Fiction and Non-fiction books.
And, as has become usual, there are new books in the library. They include:

Children’s books:
The Turnip, by Jan Brett
Llama Llama and the Bully Goat, Llama Llama Holiday Drama, Llama Llama Home with Mama, & Llama Llama Time to Share, by Anna Dewdney
Favorite Children’s Stories from China and Tibet, by Lotta Carswell Hume
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Dr. Seuss, by Kathleen Kudlinski
The Rocket Book, by Peter Newell
This Is a Serious Book, by Jodie Parachini
The Caboose Who Got Loose, by Bill Peet
A Treasury of Curious George, by Margret & H.A. Rey

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, by Joe Bageant
Sacred Teachers in Fur: Mystic Memoirs, by Adrienne Gallant
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo
Gold Rush Stories: 49 Tales of Seekers, Scoundrels, Loss, and Luck, by Gary Noy
XIT, Being a New and Original Exploration, in Art and Words, into the Life and Times of the American Cowboy, by Caleb Pirtle
Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly

Speaking from Among the Bones, by Alan Bradley
To Dwell in Darkness & The Sound of Brokenness, by Deborah Crombie (mysteries)
The Ghost Fields & The House at Sea’s End, by Emily Griffiths (mysteries)
Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
Visions of Cody, by Jack Kerouac
Widow’s Walk, by Robert Parker (mystery)
Invisible, by James Patterson

Audio books (CD):
The House of Silk, by Anthony Horowitz
A Sunless Sea, by Anne Perry

Book Share & Review Group
Some of these new books might possibly be shared at the next gathering of the Book Share & Review Group, which will happen on Tuesday, August 22, 1:00 PM. Whether it’s to share one of our new books, or some other book that you have read — or whether you just want to come and hear what others have been reading — you are invited to the gathering.

Reading with Rachel
There is only one session of this feature of the Children’s Summer Reading Program left this summer: it will happen on Thursday, August 24. The time for children aged 8 and under is 1:00 to 1:30 PM; the time for children aged 9 and over is 1:45 to 2:30 PM. All children are invited and welcome.

Amazing & Talented 8/9/17



To the Editor and the Community Members of Sierra County:

I want to express my deepest appreciation to many individuals who participated in this year’s California State Fair Sierra County Exhibit. We had an amazing and talented group of individuals who designed and built the exhibit: Greg Bostrom, Docia Bostrom, Mark Panelli, Mike Galan, Bryan Davey, Mark Helms, Tony Tucker, Sharon Dobija and Patty Hall, and Bryan and Mary Davey, who produced a beautiful video to show to all of our visitors to the exhibit. These individuals worked very hard and because of their efforts, Sierra County received a Silver Ribbon Award. The following volunteers took the time and effort to travel to Sacramento to staff our exhibit and talk to people about all of the beautiful natural resources Sierra County has to offer: Lee Adams, Stuart Lauters, Stacey Estrada, Richard Nourse, Mary Nourse, Earl Withycombe, Dave Hutchison, Ann Hutchison, Mary Jungi, Dale Teubert, Bailey Jungi, Bella Acuna, Dave Marshall, Carol Marshall, Tony Tucker, Nina Tucker, Enid Williams, Kay Gasson, Bruce Palmer, Colicia Palmer, Olivia McCaffrey, Sandi Kendall, Kaaren Smith, Greg Bostrom, Docia Bostrom, Derek Beverly, Allison Baca, Hillary Lozano, Jan Koettel, Christie Brzyscz, Larry Breed, Mike Galan and Karen Galan. Thank you to my husband, Charles and Mike and Karen Galan for staying with me very late on Sunday evening to take down and load up some of the exhibit materials. And, last, but not least, our awesome crew who showed up Monday morning to break down all of the materials and haul them out of the building: Greg Bostrom, Docia Bostrom, Tony Tucker, Bryan Davey, Mark Panelli and Bruce Palmer. I am so grateful to all of you for your help in making this year’s exhibit a huge success again. I heard very positive feedback from many of you as to how much fun you had working on this project. Thank you to all of Sierra County for all of your positive support of this important project. I thoroughly enjoyed working as your County Coordinator this year and with all of the volunteers.

Mary Ervin, Sierra City

Long, Leisurely, Merciless 8/16/17

Why Does North Korea Hate Us?  – by Robert C. Koehler

“The bombing was long, leisurely and merciless . . .”

Robert Koehler

And so we return to the Korean War, when North Korea was carpet-bombed to the edge of existence. The American media doesn’t have a memory that stretches quite so far back, at least not under present circumstances. One commentator at MSNBC recently explained, for instance, that the tiny pariah nation “has been preparing for war for 63 years!”

That would be since, uh, 1954, the year after the war ended. But the war wasn’t mentioned. It never is. Doing so would disrupt the consensus attitude that Kim Jong-Un is a nuclear-armed crazy and that North Korea’s hatred of the United States is just . . . hatred, dark and bitter, the kind of rancor you’d expect from a communist dictatorship and certified member of the Axis of Evil.

And now Donald Trump is taunting the crazy guy, disrupting the U.S.-maintained normalcy of global relations and putting this country at risk. And that’s almost always the focus: not the use of nuclear weapons per se, but the possibility that a North Korean nuke could reach the United States, as though American lives and “national security” mattered more than, or were separate from, the safety of the whole planet.

Indeed, the concept of national security justifies pretty much every action, however destructive and horrifically consequential in the long term. The concept justifies armed small-mindedness, which equals militarism. Apparently protecting national security also means forgetting the Korean War, or never facing the reality of what we did to North Korea from 1950 to 1953.

But as Trump plays war in his own special way, the time to explore this media memory void is now.

I return to my opening quote, which is from a two-year-old story in the Washington Post: “The bombing was long, leisurely and merciless, even by the assessment of America’s own leaders. ‘Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population,’ Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984. Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later secretary of state, said the United States bombed ‘everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.’ After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops.”

Specifically, “the U.S. dropped 635,000 tons of explosives on North Korea, including 32,557 tons of napalm, an incendiary liquid that can clear forested areas and cause devastating burns to human skin,” Tom O’Connor wrote recently in Newsweek. This is more bomb tonnage than the U.S. dropped in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

He quoted historian Bruce Cumings: “Most Americans are completely unaware that we destroyed more cities in the North then we did in Japan or Germany during World War II.”

And so we start to open the wound of this war, in which possibly as many as 3 million North Koreans died, a number that would have been even higher had Gen. Douglas MacArthur gotten his way. He proposed nuclear holocaust in the name of national security, figuring he could end the war in ten days.

“Between 30 and 50 atomic bombs would have more than done the job,” he said in an interview shortly after the end of the war. “Dropped under cover of darkness, they would have destroyed the enemy’s air force on the ground, wiped out his maintenance and his airmen.”

“For the Americans, strategic bombing made perfect sense, giving advantage to American technological prowess against the enemy’s numerical superiority,” historian Charles K. Armstrong wrote for the Asia Pacific Journal. “. . . But for the North Koreans, living in fear of B-29 attacks for nearly three years, including the possibility of atomic bombs, the American air war left a deep and lasting impression. The (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) government never forgot the lesson of North Korea’s vulnerability to American air attack, and for half a century after the Armistice continued to strengthen anti-aircraft defenses, build underground installations, and eventually develop nuclear weapons to ensure that North Korea would not find itself in such a position again. The long-term psychological effect of the war on the whole of North Korean society cannot be overestimated.”

Why is this reality not part of the current news? In what way is American safety furthered by such willful ignorance?

Cumings, writing recently in The Nation, noted that he participated in a forum about North Korea in Seoul last fall with Strobe Talbott, deputy secretary of state in the Bill Clinton administration. At one point, Cumings brought up Robert McNamara’s comment in the documentary The Fog of War, regarding Vietnam, that “we never put ourselves in the shoes of the enemy and attempted to see the world as they did.” Shouldn’t this apply to our negotiations with North Korea?

“Talbott,” Cumings wrote, “then blurted, ‘It’s a grotesque regime!’ There you have it: It’s our number-one problem, but so grotesque that there’s no point trying to understand Pyongyang’s point of view (or even that it might have some valid concerns).”

And so we remain caged in military thinking and the need to win, rather than understand. But as long as we feel no need to understand North Korea, we don’t have to bother trying to understand ourselves. Or face what we have done.


Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.


Board of Supervisors 8/16/17

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in regular session on August 15, 2017 at the Loyalton Social Hall, Loyalton, CA. This meeting was recorded for posting on the Board of Supervisors’ website at Clerk of the Board may be reached at 530-289-3295 or at the following address:
Heather Foster 


  • Call to Order by Supervisor Huebner
  • Pledge of Allegiance led by Supervisor Adams
  • Roll Call – Supervisors Adams, Huebner, Roen Schlefstein, Beard present
  • Approval of Consent Agenda, Regular Agenda and Correspondence to be addressed by the Board Approved as presented

PUBLIC COMMENT OPPORTUNITY – Eilene Jensen, Loyalton asked the Loyalton Trailer Park be put on the Agenda and was upset because it wasn’t on the agenda, Supervisor Beard decided not to put it on the agenda as there was no new information.

COMMITTEE REPORTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS – Supervisor Schlefstein announced the Sierra Plumas Action Committee is having a meeting on Thursday. Supervisor Roen reported on the Groundwater Committee and Conservancy Group. RCRC Board meeting on Thursday Supervisor Adams will attend.

DEPARTMENT MANAGERS’ REPORTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS – County Counsel David Prentiss introduced new Atty in their fire. Sheriff Standley reported the drowning victim at Stampede Reservoir has still not been located. 1,000 people at the Downieville BrewFest, no arrests, no brawls, CHP portable intoxilyzer was a big hit to take free samples.

FOREST SERVICE UPDATE – District Ranger Quentin Youngblood reports on USFS activities, lot of lightning and monsoon weather on the eastside north of Loyalton and a number of small fires with the help of Supervisor Paul Roen and his equipment in fire suppression, minimal level of staffing so folks from other forests are supporting each other. 



Approval of a new position for Environmental Health Specialist Trainee. Haven’t found a qualified applicant as of yet, so trying to find a Trainee. 


Update for informational purposes on the purchase of property located at 202 Front Street, Loyalton, CA. Working on it



Status report on progress of solid waste hauling contract negotiations including solid waste disposal plan and closure/post closure plans and processes for Loyalton Landfill. One critical decision expect to purchase commercial size compactor in Loyalton which is portable, working with Plumas Co to bring waste there, and with InterMountain Disposal for transport.


Authorization to author a letter to the United States Forest Service requesting a summary of the gross and net receipts received by the Tahoe National Forest for the last two fiscal years.  Approved with Chair to sign….


  1. USFS Letter ROP.pdf



Discussion/direction with respect to creation of an Abandoned Vehicle Abatement (AVA) program. (SUPERVISOR ADAMS)  has to be adopted by 3/5th vote by Board and City Council a total of $1 per year per vehicle registration. CHP Sgt. Don Peterson from Quincy. Policy allows for removal of abandoned vehicle on public property or highway. The only way to pay to get it done is through $1 fee on registration, won’t have money in county general fund.  Approved motion to discuss with city council and intent to approve, 4/1 with Beard voting no.



Introduction and first reading of an ordinance repealing and replacing Section 3.03.031 of Sierra County Code Personnel Policies and Procedures pertaining to past employment verification and background checks. Approved 5/0


Discussion regarding complaint for validation with the California Department of Water Resources (Plaintiff) against all interested persons (Defendants) pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 860 et seq. and Government Code Section 17700.





Presentation by Terri Hiser-Haynes regarding the Alliance for Workforce Development, Inc. operations in Sierra County. a good presentation, please listen, very enlightening .


Board of Supervisors to convene as Board of Directors for County Service Area (CSA) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 4A5A (Sierra Brooks Water) and to hold joint meetings as both the County Board of Supervisors and the CSA Board of Directors.

Conduct public hearing on setting Appropriation Limits for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year for the County Service Areas 2, 3 and 4A5A (Sierra Brooks Water).


Conduct public hearing on setting Appropriation Limits for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year for the County of Sierra.


Conduct public hearing and direction to staff on the 2017-2018 Final Budget for the County Service Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4A5A (Sierra Brooks Water and Parks).


Conduct public hearing and direction to staff on the 2017-2018 Final Budget for the County of Sierra.




Closed session pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9 (c) – initiation of litigation – 1 case.



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.

Treasurers investment report and statement of liquidity for the period April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017. (AUDITOR)


Cash audit report for quarter ended June 30, 2017. (AUDITOR)


Agreement for Indemnification and Reimbursement for Extraordinary Costs for Bruce and Debbie Roney, applicants and landowners: Consideration of a Conditional Use Permit to allow the temporary use of a travel trailer while constructing a single family residence. The project site, identified as APN 006-030-118 is located at 21 Grey Fox Lane, Pike. (PLANNING)


Resolution authorizing informal bidding and execution of a public works contract for construction of a temporary emergency road by‐pass on Brandy City Road. (PUBLIC WORKS)


Resolution authorizing informal bidding and execution of a public works contract for construction of two temporary emergency road by‐passes on Foote Road. (PUBLIC WORKS)



Resolution authorizing informal bidding and execution of a public works contract for construction of two temporary emergency road by‐passes on Mountain House Road. (PUBLIC WORKS)


Rescind Agreement No. 2017-073 and approval of modified professional services agreement between Progress House and Sierra County for Fiscal Year 2017-2018. (BEHAVIORAL HEALTH)


  1. Progress House.pdf

Approval of 2017-2018 Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (PHEP), Pandemic Influenza (Pan Flu), and Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) budgets and work plans in the amount of $279,116.00 for the time period of July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. (PUBLIC HEALTH)


Resolution approving amendment A02 for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) four year contract 15-10116 and authorizing the Director of Public Health to sign the standard agreement. (PUBLIC HEALTH)


  1. WIC A02.pdf

Modified agreement between Northern Californa EMS, Inc., Local Emergency Medical Services Agency (LEMSA) and Sierra County for Fiscal Year 2017-2018. (PUBLIC HEALTH


  1. LEMSA Modified.pdf



Email and informational flyer from Sarah Bolnik, Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) regarding an Export Trade Workshop hosted by RCRC, Go Biz and the Center for International Trade that will be held on Wednesday September 13, 2017 at the Foothills Event Center in Grass Valley, CA (Nevada County).


Email from Michael Sanchez, Plumas County Supervisor, District 1 expressing his appreciation to Sierra County for responding to the Chilcoot fire on Sunday, August 6, 2017.


Letter from Einen Grandi, Sierra Valley Groundwater Management District regarding notice of intent to become a Groundwater Sustainability Agency.


Notice of Intent to Harvest Timber submitted by Joe Nelson (the project is located approximately 1.7 miles North-Northeast from Yuba Pass).


Gabby Legal Fringette 8/16/17

Gabby’s Top Ten Stupid Laws  – by Gabby Fringette

Gabby Fringette

Nobody likes being told what to do, even if there’s a penalty. But most of you probably wouldn’t willfully break the law. But, I’ve come across a couple of really, really stupid laws, that probably nobody pays attention to anyway. I’ve done one like this before, but there are just so many, we need a refresher.

1. Let’s start where federal laws are spawned. Everyone knows Washington D.C loves to screw us, and does it in many creative ways. However, it’s illegal to get creative with screwing in D.C! All positions except for Missionary are banned in the country’s capital.

2. It is illegal country-wide for a minor to sext, even if they are the age of consent in their state. It’s counted as child pornography. So a 17-year old in my state could totally get laid, but not talk dirty over Messenger. Solid logic.

3. This one, I don’t even want to know why this is even a law, but in Minnesota, it’s illegal to have sex with a live fish. Dead ones are fine. But not live ones. Why is this even a thing?

4. In Alaska, it’s illegal to push a live moose out of a moving airplane. First off, when did this happen, why was a live moose on the plane in this first place, and DO YOU HAVE PICTURES?

5. Another one from Alaska. In Juneau, you can’t let your pet flamingo into a barbershop. Yes, you read that right. If you have a pet flamingo, it is not allowed into a barbershop. It’s illegal within city lines. Again, I wonder how this happened. Why is this freakishly specific law a thing? But the good news is, your pet flamingo is welcome in any barbershop in the state so long as it’s outside of Juneau.

6. I’m going to attack California right now. As you can guess, the list is as long as your arm. But, one town in particular caught my attention: in the city of Carmel, it is illegal for men to wear pants and a jacket that do not match, and women cannot wear high heels within city limits. For awhile it was illegal to eat ice cream while standing on the sidewalk, but this was repealed when Clint Eastwood was mayor.

7. In Chico, if you detonate a nuclear bomb you must pay a $500 dollar fine.

8. In Eureka, near where my family lived for awhile, it’s illegal for a man with a mustache to kiss a woman.

9. Sex toys are illegal in Reno Nevada.

10. One list I saw put Alabama’s 5-minute vote limit as their #1 stupid law. For Alabama I’d put their legal incestuous marriages. This isn’t English Monarchy and this isn’t Game of Thrones. Go meet people outside your family.

There are heaps more. I swear I’m not making this up, these are just my top ten or so.

Clueless on the Edge 8/16/17

Terrorism for profit  – by Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler

Donald Trump stands cluelessly at the edge of history, exemplifying everything wrong with the past, oh, 10,000 years or so.

The necessity for fundamental change in humanity’s global organization is not only profound, but urgent.

Trump’s latest outburst about North Korea’s nukes — threatening that country “with fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before” — creates a comic book Armageddon scenario in the media, except, of course, his power to launch a nuclear war on impulse is real.

What this makes clear to me is that no one should have the authority — the power — to declare any war whatsoever. The fact that this is still possible, so many decades into human awareness of war’s utter insanity, reveals the paradox that civilization remains economically tied to its own destruction.

Another icon of this paradox is Erik Prince, immensely wealthy mercenary, notorious founder of the terror organization Blackwater, who had cozy ties to the Bush administration back when the 21st century’s endless wars were just getting underway and now, with another unelected Republican in the White House, has recently made a grab at the business opportunity still represented by these wars:

Let’s privatize the quagmire!

Sixteen years on, the war in Afghanistan is the longest in American history, and presently in a state of “stalemate,” according to the mainstream consensus that unquestioningly justifies this country’s ongoing militarism. For instance: “The U.S. can’t win but can’t afford to lose,” USA Today opined in a recent editorial about Afghanistan, inanely demanding that Trump “at least should decide what to do next” and setting the stage for Prince’s business plan, which is to restructure and privatize the war.

In an op-ed a few days ago in that same publication, Prince wrote: “The option to simply abandon Afghanistan is enticing but in the long run would be a foreign policy disaster. The Kabul government would collapse. Afghanistan would be a rallying cry for global jihadists.”

And suddenly there it was, the American paradox in full splendor: Oh yeah, we’re fighting terrorists. We have to keep killing people, keep pouring trillions of dollars into our wars, because bad people are out there threatening us because they hate our freedoms. And the guy reminding us of this is the founder of Blackwater, private contractor in Iraq, whose mercenaries were responsible for one of the most shocking acts of lethal aggression — a.k.a., terrorism — of the early years of that war.

Blackwater contractors were accused of “firing wildly into cars stalled in midafternoon traffic at Nisour Square on Sept. 16, 2007, pouring machine-gun bullets and grenades into crowds, including women clutching only purses and children holding their hands in the air,” as the Washington Post reminded us recently.

This act of carnage, in which 17 Iraqis were killed and 20 more injured, typifies what you might call American terrorism. It may, at some quasi-conscious level be religiously motivated. Indeed, Jeremy Scahill, reporting in 2009 for The Nation on the lawsuit filed on behalf of Iraqis harmed in the Nisour Square massacre, wrote that, according to a former Blackwater employee who testified in U.S. federal court during the trial:

“Prince ‘views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,’ and . . . Prince’s companies ‘encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.’ . . .

Furthermore, Scahill wrote,

“Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to ‘lay hajiis out on cardboard.’ Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as ‘ragheads’ or ‘hajiis.’”

This all fits quite horrifically into the definition of jihadism, or terrorism, but because it’s American, it brings something extra to the table as well. This is terrorism for profit. And it’s been going on for a long time, in a realm far bigger than that occupied by Erik Prince’s business interests. You could call it colonialism, or the domination complex. The world is ours. This is the “greatness” Trump sold to enough Americans to squeeze into the Oval Office.

Not only does he have no patience with a military stalemate in Afghanistan — “we aren’t winning, we’re losing” — but he can’t stand the fact that the shattered country’s mineral wealth isn’t in our hands.

At a recent, well-publicized meeting with his generals, Trump “lamented that China is making money off of Afghanistan’s estimated $1 trillion in rare minerals while American troops are fighting the war,” according to NBC News. “Trump expressed frustration that his advisers tasked with figuring out how the U.S. can help American businesses get rights to those minerals were moving too slowly, one official said. . . .

“The focus on the minerals was reminiscent of Trump’s comments early into his presidency when he lamented that the U.S. didn’t take Iraq’s oil when the majority of forces departed the country in 2011.”

Trump leads a political system that’s still grounded in the colonial era. His reckless arrogance is its global face. He stares at the audacity of nuclear-armed North Korea and threatens to blow it to kingdom come, imagining that there will be profit to reap in the aftermath.

Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.


Need Every Brain Cell 8/16/17

Weed     –  by Winslow Myers

Winslow Myers

Fifty years ago I was speculating with a college friend of mine about what we might do with our lives. He asserted that he wanted to spend his life bringing about the legalization of marijuana. I kidded him at the time because such an ambition seemed an absurd waste of his considerable talent and brains. He did spend a number of years working for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). And as we know the goal of comprehensive legalization may be coming within reach. More and more states have legalized marijuana, some states for recreational use, 23 others and counting for medical use. The medical benefits, including the amelioration of pain, or nausea during chemotherapy, are authentically remarkable.

Meanwhile it needs no repeating that the “war on drugs” has been an abysmal failure. We desperately need creative thinking, especially to respond appropriately to the opioid crisis in the U.S. Some enlightened police departments are leaning away from the criminalization of drug use and toward helping people obtain treatment. For adolescents, legalizing drugs may diminish their glamour as something forbidden. It has apparently worked that way in Holland.

But as a high school teacher in the U.S. for 30 years, I witnessed an almost total correlation in my students between chronic marijuana use and a falling off of the ability to come to class prepared to engage, ask questions, and grow intellectually. For the teens I worked with, marijuana was an insidious and consistent killer of ambition. After I retired, clinical studies emerged that seemed to confirm my subjective observations—heavy marijuana use has the potential to permanently damage the young adolescent brain.

Back when I was teaching high school, one of the most effective anti-cigarette propaganda tools was to remind students that nicotine narrows veins and therefore could hypothetically accelerate genital insensitivity in both sexes. Fearmongering or not, that was an argument they listened to! And the case is beginning to be proven by correlation between smoking and impotence in older men. Further research may yield more clarity about the deleterious effects of marijuana upon young minds, or even minds of all ages, that will be as effective in convincing teens not to overindulge.

My personal experience with weed was consistent with my experience of my students, though at 76 I rarely smoke anymore. I have missed, with little regret, the much more concentrated forms of the drug that are apparently available nowadays. But when I smoked it in my twenties, marijuana did act as advertised, as a radical relaxant. It was amusing to get high in a group and find every offhand remark unaccountably hilarious. It was fun to play music with friends and experience the illusion that everyone was a far better guitarist and singer than we judged ourselves to be when sober. But I always felt logy and out of sorts for a few days after, not like an acute hangover from too much alcohol but still, a price paid in “lowness” for having gotten high that was more than just my puritan heritage at work. Nowadays a few puffs just put me to sleep. Who needs it?

When I began a family, the issue became infinitely more personal. My son Chase learned to play a mean electric guitar at a precociously young age. I have to assume marijuana was a constant in his life not long after he bought his first instrument and spent more and more hours with his bandmates in various neighborhood garages. He was arrested once for possession, though it did nothing to make him more prudent. His academic record remained dismal all the way through high school and he graduated by the skin of his teeth. In his early twenties, he pulled himself together and began to study sound engineering at the Berklee College of Music, even making the dean’s list. The shadow temptation of drugs still loomed over him though, and he departed this life at the age of 23 from an overdose of methadone, imbibed at the house of an addict acquaintance. His mother, my wife of 30 years, died more or less of grief a year later.

My assent to the notion that marijuana can act as a gateway is not some retrograde right-wing cliché, but a haunting lifetime reminder of my inability to save either my son or my spouse. No doubt tragedy conditions my skepticism about blanket legalization. Those who are working for it would view me as an unnecessarily alarmist special case.

Still, I must insist that I’ve known not a few adults, let alone adolescents, whose chronic marijuana use has clearly done something to diminish their engagement with the healthy challenges of life and work. Any comprehensive dialogue about drugs in our country would have to include the quality of emptiness or helpless anxiety that permeates a shallow, over-monetized culture. We are paying a huge price for having defined success in narrowly materialistic terms (for proof we need look no further than the “I’m All Right Jack” culture of the White House). Is self-medication with drugs, legal or illegal, or with alcohol for that matter, a futile attempt to dull our fear of not measuring up to some inauthentic standard? When people argue that marijuana use has no consequences at all for mind or body, it makes me want to reconnect with my college friend from so long ago. I’d like to ask him if marijuana still stands up as his best answer to facing life’s “ordinary unhappiness.”

Bottom line for me: legalize it, fine, but let’s also figure out together how to educate kids 10 and up to forego marijuana for at least the decade when their brains are still developing resilience—and wouldn’t we all prefer it if it were outright prohibited for surgeons, train engineers, passenger jet pilots, air traffic controllers, and other professionals who need every brain cell to deal with the unexpected?

Winslow Myers, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” serves on the Boards of Beyond War and the War Prevention Initiative.


Chicken Nukes 8/16/17

Playing Nuclear “Chicken” With Our Lives  – by Lawrence S. Wittner

Lawrence Wittner

What kind of civilization have we developed when two mentally unstable national leaders, in an escalating confrontation with each other, threaten one another―and the world―with nuclear war?

That question arises as a potentially violent showdown emerges between Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Donald Trump of the United States. In recent years, the North Korean government has produced about 10 nuclear weapons and has been making them increasingly operational through improvements in its missile technology. The U.S. government first developed nuclear weapons in 1945, when it employed them to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and currently possesses 6,800 of them, mostly deployed on missiles, submarines, and bombers.

According to the North Korean government, its nuclear weapons are necessary to defend itself against the United States. Similarity, the U.S. government argues that its nuclear weapons are necessary to defend itself against countries like North Korea.

Although, in recent decades, we have grown accustomed to this government rhetoric about the necessity to possess nuclear weapons as a deterrent, what is particularly chilling about the current confrontation is that Kim and Trump do not appear deterred at all. Quite the contrary, they brazenly threaten nuclear war in an extremely provocative fashion. Responding on August 8 to North Korean threats, Trump publicly warned that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Later that day, North Korea’s state media announced that its government was considering a strategy of striking the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with mid- to long-range nuclear missiles―a strategy that a spokesman for the Korean People’s Army said would be “put into practice” once Kim authorized it.

This kind of reckless and potentially suicidal behavior is reminiscent of the game of “Chicken,” which achieved notoriety in the 1950s. In the film Rebel Without a Cause (1955), two rebellious, antisocial male teenagers (or juvenile delinquents, as they were known at the time) played the game before a crowd of onlookers by driving jalopies at top speed toward a cliff. Whoever jumped out of the cars first was revealed as “chicken” (a coward). A more popular variant of the game involved two teenagers driving their cars at high speed toward one another, with the first to swerve out of the way drawing the derisive label. According to some accounts, young James Dean, a star of Rebel Without a Cause, actually died much this way.

With news of the game spreading, Bertrand Russell, the great mathematician and philosopher, suggested in 1959 that the two sides in the Cold War were engaged in an even crazier version: nuclear “Chicken.” He wrote: “As played by irresponsible boys, this game is considered decadent and immoral, though only the lives of the players are risked.” But the game became “incredibly dangerous” and “absurd” when it was played by government officials “who risk not only their own lives but those of many hundreds of millions of human beings.” Russell warned that “the moment will come when neither side can face the derisive cry of `Chicken!’ from the other side.” When that moment arrived, “the statesmen of both sides will plunge the world into destruction.”

It was a fair enough warning, and only several years later, during the Cuban missile crisis, the game of nuclear “Chicken” played by Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy could have resulted in a disastrous nuclear war. However, at the last minute, both men backed off―or, perhaps we should say, swerved to avoid a head-on collision―and the crisis was resolved peacefully through a secret compromise agreement.

In the current situation, there’s plenty of room for compromise between the U.S. and North Korean governments. The Pyongyang regime has offered to negotiate and has shown particular interest in a peace treaty ending the Korean War of the 1950s and U.S. military exercises near its borders. Above all, it seems anxious to avoid regime change by the United States. The U.S. government, in turn, has long been anxious to halt the North Korean nuclear program and to defend South Korea against attack from the north. Reasonable governments should be able to settle this dispute short of nuclear war.

But are the two governments headed by reasonable men? Both Kim and Trump appear psychologically disturbed, erratic, and startlingly immature―much like the juvenile delinquents once associated with the game of “Chicken.” Let us hope, though, that with enough public resistance and some residual sanity, they will back away from the brink and begin to resolve their differences peacefully. That’s certainly possible.

Even if the current confrontation eases, though, we are left with a world in which some 15,000 nuclear weapons exist and with numerous people who, in the future, might not scruple about using them. And so the fundamental problem continues: As long as nuclear weapons exist, we teeter on the edge of catastrophe

Fortunately, this past July, in an historic development, the vast majority of the world’s nations voted at a UN conference to approve a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Nations will begin the process of signing onto the treaty this September. Although, sadly, all of the nuclear powers (including the United States and North Korea) oppose the treaty, it’s long past time for nuclear weapons to be prohibited and eliminated. Until they are, government officials will remain free to play nuclear “Chicken” with their lives . . . and with ours.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. He is the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press).


Mock Potemkin Trial 8/16/17

The fourth branch  – by Kary Love

Kary Love

I am a lawyer. My pro bono clients are often those who offer nonviolent resistance to wrongs committed by our own government.

I read that, this week past, some nonviolent resisters entered a nuclear weapons storage facility in Germany.

Damn if it is not a list of many of my clients. These people are incorrigible. Next time at sentencing I will argue jail is a waste of time and public money for those sorts; you just cannot deter some people from a life of “crime.”

What a world, in which those acting peaceably for peace are criminals while those in power ordering the killing of people “for their own good” are not.

I still subscribe to law professor Francis Boyle’s view; nuclear weapons and related materiel are not property–property rights attach to legitimate things, not to criminal instrumentalia that have no use but criminal annihilation.

I’ve argued all this a few times with success and many other times not. As to the juries in cases of nonviolent resistance to injustice or in defense of higher laws, I trust them if they are allowed to hear all germane facts.

In one case in which I argued that the nonviolent defendants—who had used hand tools to dismantle a portion of a US nuclear Navy command facility—did not interfere with the defense of the USA because technical experts—whose published work the defendants had read—those defendants were innocent of sabotage charges.

We won this case in great part because of Captain James Bush’s (Ret.) testimony; the members of that jury were fully informed. Bush told the jury of 12 that as he commanded a United States nuclear submarine loaded with ‘city-busting’ weapons that he was also earning a graduate degree in International Relations and that he came to understand that he was in violation of the law every day. Hearing that from a retired commander made quite an impression. The jury rose to the occasion and acquitted, even with a hostile judge.

But it’s degenerating. The recent Espionage Act prosecutions have prevented defendants such Kiriakou et al. from even saying the word “whistleblower.” Reality Winner will be so shackled in her defense.

I have experienced this abuse of the law in nuke protest cases in US federal court–to the point I conclude such trials are Soviet Mock Potemkin Trials (back in the US, back in the US, back in the USSR).

In my judgment the jury is the 4th branch of government. The Founders knew power corrupts, and that sooner or later, the Congress, the President and the judges would abandon the Constitution for power and that only fully informed juries could stem the tide of corruption.

The Federal judges who issue orders in limine so jurors do not hear all the evidence (as to both the law and the facts) are complicit in destroying the check and balance the jury must be–as all others involved, i.e., Congress, President, judges, are beholden to the system.

In the case to which I referred above, the State Court Judge had some residual fidelity to the Constitution and we kind of boxed him in to allowing Bush to testify as he did–though I expect the Judge did not think a “military man” would have such a complicated mind, capable of rational thought and a moral code superior to his willingness to “just follow orders.”

Kinda tricky of me, I guess. But my oath is to the Constitution, not Congress, White House, or Judge–all of whom are creatures of the Constitution deserving of no respect nor obedience when they violate same (as is the ordinary course of all branches these days.)

Despite many disappointments, I still have faith in juries of ordinary people when fully informed to make “just” decisions even if necessitating deviation from the law. Thus, government fears the people so long as there is trial by jury.

This is as it should be. A government making unjust laws as ours does ought to fear its ability to convict when justice is not served by conviction. The three branches have become unmoored from being “bound down in the chains of the Constitution”–with the result it is a lawless beast.

Ultimately it will be up to the people: a nation of law, or a nation of beasts? Our “leaders” have no interest in curbing their own abuse of power. As victims of such abuse, the people are responsible, for the sake of their progeny and the future of liberty.

Kary Love is a Michigan attorney.


Love Means 8/16/18

What Did Dr. King Mean by Love?  – by Jose-Antonio Orosco

Jose-Antonio Orozco

As someone who regularly teaches about the political philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I often spend time discussing with students the ways in which King’s ideas are taken out of context and turned into sound bites in order to support positions he would not himself have taken. The most obvious example is how his most memorable line from the “I Have a Dream” speech about not judging people based on the color of their skin but the content of their character is used to justify attacks on affirmative action—a policy he definitely endorsed—or cited in a way to claim that the best path forward for racial justice is to somehow ignore race and become colorblind. The white supremacist violence in Charlottesville is proof that we cannot simply try to ignore the problems of racism now.

All across the country, marches and vigils are scheduled to honor the victims of racist violence and to stand against the surge of white nationalist groups in the United States. People are seeking guidance about how to think about the public and proud resurgence of this form of bigotry. Inevitably, the words and ideas of Dr. King are being invoked, especially his thoughts on the power of love in times of hate. One of his quotes, often bandied about, is this: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

But the hard question is what does it mean to love and not hate in the aftermath of Charlottesville? Does it mean it’s somehow wrong to feel angry or violated about people proudly brandishing neo-Nazi symbols on their weapons and shields? Does it mean the best response is to forgive the purveyors of violence like the young man who ran down protestors, killing Heather Heyer, in Charlottesville?

In the speeches in which King talked about love, he often spent time explaining what he meant; love has several meanings. In saying that supporters of racial justice had to have love in their hearts, he didn’t mean that they had to be continually positive and upbeat, or that they had to approach racists in friendship. That’s the kind of love we share with intimates or friends. King said the love that we ought to have in the struggle for justice is the kind that acknowledges all people, even the white supremacists, as human beings. And human beings are capable of making their own moral choices and being held responsible for their actions. We aren’t called upon to like or be friendly to those who are racist. It means we ought not to dehumanize or kill them as part of our fight for justice.

Someone asked me recently if, out of love, King wouldn’t have asked to sit down with a white supremacist and try to listen to their concerns and understand where they were coming from, in hopes of some kind of reconciliation and dialogue. I thought about this and realized that the answer was probably no. King never asked, for instance, to meet with Bull Connor, the rabidly racist police chief in Birmingham, Alabama who sent police dogs to attack protestors. He never called for public meetings with ordinary Black and white citizens to dialogue. Instead, he called for marches, boycotts, and urged legislation that would halt business as usual in that city, deplete the pocketbooks of segregationist business owners, and criminalize racist attacks and intimidation. He wrote in 1963: “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is important also.”

This is not to say that fellowship and dialogue are not important, especially when friends approach one another to talk about their fears, hopes, and biases. But in thinking about responses to white supremacy in the country today, we ought to be clear that King’s emphasis on love did not mean only sticking to individual efforts and trying to change the implicit racism of our friends and relatives.

Toward the end of his life, he called for a revolution of values that would utterly transform the United States and its commitment to materialism, racism, and militarism at institutional levels. The fight against white supremacy must be tied to issues of poverty, jobs, reducing our military and nuclear weapons, curbing police brutality, and providing decent health care and education for everyone. These were all issues of concern for King; this is what he meant by love.

José-Antonio Orosco, Ph.D, writes for PeaceVoice and is Associate Professor of Philosophy: School of History, Philosophy, and Religion Director, Oregon State University Peace Studies Program. He is the author of Toppling the Melting Pot: Immigration and Multiculturalism in American Pragmatism (2016) and other scholarly works.

Fire Camp OES 8/16/17

Building A Fire Camp Overnight: “People Are amazed At How Fast We Can Mobilize”
Despite being one of the largest counties in California, Modoc County has less than 9,000 residents. Hotels are few and far between in this rural county, so when over 2,000 fire personnel were assigned to battle the Modoc July Complex Fire, housing and logistics were an immediate challenge.

Almost overnight, the California Interagency Incident Management Team 4, along with officials from the US Forest Service, Cal Fire, Cal OES and other cooperators came together to build an incident command post which eventually became home to the thousands of men and women assigned to the fire.

“This (camp) will go up from the time on scene to within 24 hours or less and you’ll have a fully functioning camp,” said Patrick Titus, Operations Section Chief. “You’ve got to go for life support first,” Titus continued. “What I mean by that, you’ve got to get the crews fed, you’ve got to get them showered and they’ve got to be able to sleep. Those three things are key. All this other stuff comes together over time.”

“People are amazed at how fast we can mobilize,” said Logistics Chief Ross Peckinpah. “This particular agency put together a camp layout with actual photos of locations of where to set things up,” said Peckinpah. Despite the advance preparations, setting up an incident command post close enough to the fire was not an easy task.

“On the Modoc (National Forest), there’s not a lot of usable grounds for camping because of the amount of volcanic rock,” Peckinpah explained. “It’s difficult to walk on and, as far as putting down tents or anything, you have to rake it.”

Finding usable grounds for tents isn’t the only hurdle. The incident command post also includes meeting rooms in the form of trailers and yurts, air and ground logistics, a weather monitoring station and a fully staffed and stocked kitchen capable of feeding the over 2,000 fire personnel three meals a day.

“We provide a large amount of calories for each of the meals. These firefighters can burn up to 7,000 calories per day, so we require so many ounces of muscle meat for each meal. We rotate a diet for these folks, high in calories,” said Peckinpah.

You can watch our story on the Modoc July Complex Fire incident command post on our Cal OES YouTube page here.

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