Downieville Bottle Show 8/5/15

The Downieville Bottle Group is gearing up for the annual show and sale on      Saturday September 12, 2015.  Western Bottle Newsshow posterbird4The 2015 show will feature a display of western blown bottles with the infamous curved R attributed to the glass works located in San Francisco. All categories of bottles will be displayed including bitters, whiskies, medicines and soda’s. If you would like to display one of your western curved R bottles please contact me before August 15th to get on the list of displayers.

We will have the traditional wine tasting and barbeque for the show dealers Friday September 11 starting around 5pm. There are still some sales tables available but are anticipating another sold out show this year. If you want a sales table you can contact Rick or Cherry at  sooner would be better than later.

Dealers can bring in their wares to the School Gym between 2:30 and 5pm on Friday afternoon See you in Downieville

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This weekend is the big event… the Downieville Classic Bike races. Welcome bikers, we love to see you and are happy you are here.  For all you need to know about what and when events are happening go here:

The Yuba Theatre will be playing Caddyshack this Friday, July 31st at 9 pm. Before the main feature enjoy the PRE-SHOW: Trail Stewards of the Lost Sierra, a fascinating documentary highlighting the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. Be sure to mark your calendar for Friday August 14, 2015  at 7:30 to see It’s A Date, the very first film shown at the Yuba Threatre on August 20, 1940.

Don’t forget, Downieville VFD is having a Kid’s Fire Camp August 13th & 14th for ages 10 to 14. You must register your child by Friday, July 31st .  This is a great experience for kids to learn about fire safety and the possibility of being a Cadet and Volunteer as they grow. Call Fire Dispatch at 289-3333 or talk to Mike Lozano at 289-1532 to register or more information.

So this week, as usual, a lot local stuff going on. Gabby hates raccoons, Fringe is on vacation but his encore from 2011 is still news and he will be happy to read the “Pain Control Control” article that I found in the NY Times. Carrie is hot, Dianne likes respect, our guest columnists Tom Hastings, Laura Finley, David Swanson and Robert Koehler give us brain food for thinking. The Cats, the Others, Mountain Messenger are all as entertaining as ever. Enjoy.

The gorgeous photo this week is overlooking Donner Lake right next door to Sierra County,  taken by my son Mark Fisher also Overlord of .

Cooter & Claire (good dogs) 7/29/15

Here's the thing, he says his computer thingy is broken. You know I am not allowed to talk to the Press, this is just between you and me, I don't know where Claire is, she definitely doesn't want to disobey him so refuses to talk... he just doesn't intimidate me anymore...but that's all I'm saying....

7/29/15 Here’s the thing, he says his computer thingy is broken. You know I am not allowed to talk to the Press, this is just between you and me, I don’t know where Claire is, she definitely doesn’t want to disobey him so refuses to talk… he just doesn’t intimidate me anymore…but that’s all I’m saying….

Sierra County Wins Big 7/29/15


DSCF0478-210x300I am delighted to announce that the Sierra County Exhibit won the following awards at the State Fair: Gold Ribbon (we received 93 out of 100 points), the Best of Division for a Community Built Exhibit, and the People’s Choice Award for the “Most Fun” Exhibit. This could not have been accomplished without all of the help and support of our community. The following individuals should be commended for spending many hours building the exhibit: Mike Gyorfi, Jessie Gyorfi, John Bryan, Bryan Davey, Derek Beverly, Sig Ostrom, Gary Grutkowski, Ed Dail, Sandy Blake and Blake George. I am very grateful to these awesome volunteers who spent a day or more in Sacramento staffing the exhibit, which is a very important part of Sierra County’s participation at the fair: Lee Kirby, Tom Hunt, Liz Fisher, Sandi Kendall, Kaaren Smith, Enid Williams, Shirley Shank, Dave Marshall, Carol Marshall, Earl Withycombe, Olivia McCaffrey, Sharon Grenier, Curt Johnson, Donna Johnson, Ann Hutchison, David Hutchison, Mary Jungi, Dale Teubert, Bailey Jungi, Isabelle Acuna, Dianne Bruns, Desert Revels, Joy Lovett, Luna Payton, Lillian Lutes, Trinity Kelley, Teri Pederson, Hannah Pederson, Jan Koettel, Christie Brzyscz, Bruce Palmer, Colicia Palmer, Annie Terrassas-Fassbender, Craig Fassbender, Julie Osburn, Mike Galan, Karen Galan, Mary Davey and Bryan Davey.

statefairMaryDavey-220x300A huge thank you to these other individuals who donated their expertise or materials for the exhibit: Greg Bostrom, who built the replica of the Ruby Mine and Billy Epps and Sara Berndt who brought the Ruby Mine down to Sacramento; Curt & Donna Johnson for designing and building the county sign, Darby Hayes for the Townsend Big Ear Bats sign, the Sierra County Historical Society for the loan of pictures, Mary Davey for her photos and production of the DVD, Dave Marshall for the design of the gold display, Will Clark for loaning the ore cart, Ed Dail for building the ore cart and the tracking and Paul (Mike Gyorfi’s friend) who made the ore cart move, Paul Roen and Bryan and Mary Davey for loaning building and roofing materials. To Jessie and Mike Gyorfi, Mike and Karen Galan, and Bryan and Mary Davey who were there until the wee hours of the morning breaking down the exhibit after the fair closing, a big thank you.

Thank you to Tim Beals and the Board of Supervisors for all of their support of Sierra County’s participation at the fair the past several years. And thank you – Sierra County community members – who were able to make it down to the fair and for voting for Sierra County for the People’s Choice Award. This year’s exhibit would not have happened without the vision of Kathy Breed, who designed the exhibit, and the dedication of Mike and Jessie Gyorfi, who carried the project through, with the assistance of Sandy Blake, until 6 am the morning of judging on July 9th. I have enjoyed working on this project with each and every one of you, and I am forever grateful to all of you who made this year’s exhibit at the fair a huge success.
Mary Ervin – Sierra City

All Schools Reunion Success 7/29/15

The Downieville/Alleghany 2015 All School Reunion was held in Downieville on July 11/12, 2015
Saturday started off with a walking tour led by Enid Costa Williams, with stops at the Downieville Cemetery  and swimming holes around the town. The Downieville Volunteer Fire Department, with FireFighter Don Epperson at the wheel of the antique Fire Truck, provided a mobile tour of town.
Pictures with hats, signs, etc., were taken at a photo booth, courtesy of Debbie and Brad Stocking .  Linda Marshall and Ginger Creviston opened the registration table, at 1 p.m., assisting 200+ attendees.
From 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., a slide show presentation at the Yuba Theater by Greg Bostrom. David Marshall and Mary Davey provided great pictures of the area, both local and historical, along with alumni photos, Even Belle Tauer enjoyed them.
The tour of the school and gym came next, led by our own mild mannered, quiet, laid-back Jack Marshall, everyone enjoyed seeing the school buildings and changes, after so many years. In between these events, people walked around town, smiling, laughing, hugging and reminiscing.
At 6 p.m. our DVFD with Chief chef Lee Brown, FireFighter Don Epperson and numerous other helpers put on a fabulous BBQ dinner, along with help from Jesse and Sierra Folsom, Kaylon Hall and Elione Bolle. Maiden Lane was closed off and filled up with tables, chairs and covered canopy’s.
The Community Hall was used for displays, filled with many pictures and school memorabilia, arranged by Darcy White and Patty Hall. The various items included the schools Drivers Ed “Student Driver” sign from back in the day, former uniforms, jackets, school letters, sweaters, graduation hats etc. After dinner a short program was held and commentary by Don Yegge began. Ed Changus, Lynn and Steve Fillo, Mary Nourse and James Berardi each addressed the group with sentimental memories. Many certificates were presented, including: the oldest class member, presented to Anna Costa Brett – class of 1937; living furthest away, Brandon Reynolds from his home, Copenhagen, Denmark; the largest class present, 1982. The most generations present were the Costa’s. Joyce White was presented with a beautiful orchid and gift card for appreciation of her many years of reunion service.(she is retiring after this one).
On Sunday classmates had brunch at the Community Hall, time for final visits and goodbyes.
A special thank you goes out to all those who helped set up and break down the seating, decorations, shopping, and the many other tasks that made this a wonderful reunion for eveyone.
Thanks to the members of the 2015 Reunion Committee: Joyce White, Jenny and Dorr Heston, Karen and Mike Galan, Debbie and Brad Stocking, Larry Fenkell, Linda and Jack Marshall, Becky Toback, Don Yegge, and Corky Henson. Everyone did a great job putting the reunion together. Please forgive us and our senior moments, if I failed to mention your name, you are appreciated.
It was sad to end the weekend, but everyone left with a smile, a full heart and memories they had either forgotten, remembered, and shared at your expense. Visit facebook to view scads of photos! Facebook Reunion Photos
Until next time, Alumni…

DeVita’s Encore Fringe 7/29/15

fringe logoThe Feds Force the Fringe to Crouch encore from October 2011

Exclusive Fringe Report to the Free and Brave

Medical Marijuana is doing well in California, and a lot of people who would be out of work otherwise are making a living because of it. So many Americans doing something is what democracy is about, and people paying taxes are certainly what a capitalist democracy is about. But, the feds are slow to get that. The success of med can has drawn the ire of the U.S. Attorneys.

Among the tactics being used by California’s four U.S. Attorneys to intimidate and chill the thriving medical marijuana commerce in California is a threat from Laura E. Duffy, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, who has “expansively” interpreted a law making it illegal to advertise illegal drugs (and F* the 1st Amendment). Duffy is interpreting the law to mean that the press is violating the law when it allows an advertiser to advertise an illegal drug. The penalties are four years in the jug. Medical Marijuana is legal in California, but not the United States, which creates a weird fourth dimension in the law, which the U.S. Attorneys are blind to.

Is the Sierra County Prospect at all frightened by this hard stance taken by the U.S. Attorney? Hell yes! The feds function like a massive Cyclops, generally confused by the many little ants at its feet, but terrible and unrelenting should you have the misfortune to come to their attention. The feds could shake and shatter and leave your poor Fringe Editor with jelly for bones, and the Prospect just a digital stain on the information highway. We are in the Eastern District, link is HERE, which is very busy busting “marijuana manufacturers.” Let’s hope they don’t start going after cow manufacturers next.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy Doesn’t the thought of having her invade your nightmares cause something to run down your leg?

The Prospect isn’t currently advertising for medical marijuana dispensaries; we do advertise Hanya Barth, a physician who, under medically indicated instances, does recommend cannabis to some patients, but so far the feds haven’t menaced anyone for advertising doctors.

Even so, what if a dispensary wanted to advertise in the Prospect, should we refuse, or should we take the ad? Emiliano Zapata, champion of the poor people of Mexico, is credited with saying “it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees” but your Fringe Editor is willing to live in a crouch, not exactly on my feet like in a really free country, but standing enough to be in denial of the police state we do live in.

But, what does being a crouching editor mean? The law is not clear, it isn’t even clear that the press can be charged for running such an ad. Further, there is no clear delineation of what constitutes advertising an illegal drug.

For example, take this potential ad from Harborside, which has been busted by the feds for not paying enough income tax on the drug the feds claim is illegal to sell.


The ad, which was taken without their request from their website, and which was not submitted for advertisement, and for which we received no compensation, but which we use simply as an example,

Acer Palmatum, Japanese Maple

Acer Palmatum, Japanese Maple

doesn’t really advertise the use of med can at all, it simply shows a shadowy Japanese Maple leaf. Would we be in violation of using speech not protected by the 1st Amendment? Brrrrrrr, we don’t want to find out!

There is a rumor that some Sierra County Residents get their med can from the Sacramento or Grass Valley Area. Here is a website from a dispensary which our readers might potentially use.


Likewise blah blah they didn’t ask us to use them etc. This ad would say nothing at all about medical cannabis, and indeed these folks look like they’re about to do something completely legitimate and legal, like give someone an ass whoppin’ dose of morphine IV or maybe carefully shove something up someone’s somewhere.

Finally, there’s this one, from the Florin Wellness Centerfwc_dispensary who never requested we advertise them, which of course we aren’t we’re using their publically available website in a news story. Their graphic is more graphic, clearly showing the Japanese Maple leaf drug dealers apparently use to symbolize their illegal trade. We would likely be afraid to run an ad for Florin Wellness Center, not because we are afraid of wellness, but because we are afraid of the feds.

We hope the Free and Brave will understand if we don’t want our lives destroyed for our own good. If you see your Fringe Editor crouching around the county, you’ll know he’s being as free as he dare be.

emiliano_zapata_banknoteBy the way, Zapata, at 40, was ambushed by Federales posing as supporters, and his body turned in for a reward. (Shhhhh, long live the revolution!)

Emiliano Zapata on a Ten Peso Mexican bill

Notice: The Sierra County Prospect encourages its readers to manage their health in the way determined best by themselves and their healthcare provider, and to do so at a crouch if necessary.

Pain Control Control 7/29/15

What I Learned at the Weed Dispensary

28Casarett-blog427THE first time you meet Robin, it’s easy to be misled by her fragile appearance. She’s in her 40s and painfully thin, and she grips her aluminum walker with hands that have been twisted by rheumatoid arthritis. But she’s both tough and resourceful, and she doesn’t give up easily.
I met Robin and many others like her at a California medical marijuana clinic where I was doing research for a book. She was one of almost a dozen patients seeking recommendation letters that would let them buy marijuana at designated dispensaries.
I asked how marijuana helped her.
“I can’t live without it,” she told me.
She said it helped her sleep, and it relieved the constant pain in her joints. But Robin was most eager to talk about how medical marijuana put her in charge. She can decide whether to use it, when to use it and how much she needs. She doesn’t have to rely on a doctor.
“I’m in control,” she said.
That simple declaration might be a rallying cry for proponents of medical marijuana, which is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. By some estimates, at least one million people in the United States are registered medical marijuana users. There are likely to be many more who obtain it without registering, and still more who obtain marijuana illegally.
In the past year I’ve talked to dozens of these patients in states where medical marijuana is legal, as well as in Colorado, Washington and Oregon, which allow recreational use. Many people with serious illnesses turn to medical marijuana because they’re not getting the careful, comprehensive treatment they need for symptoms like pain or nausea or anxiety. That was certainly true for Robin, whose physicians didn’t seem to have the time or the skills to help her.
As a palliative care physician, every day I see firsthand the suffering my patients have experienced, and the lengths to which they’ve gone to manage their symptoms and control their lives. They stockpile medications in case their pain increases. And some buy illegal drugs on the street because their physicians won’t prescribe opioids. So is it any wonder that people like Robin with serious illnesses want to take matters into their own hands?
Yet it seems that many of my physician colleagues haven’t considered the possibility that patients are turning to medical marijuana because the health care system has failed them. In general, their reaction to medical marijuana has been one of detached amusement, tinged with avuncular concern. And when they recognize the challenges that patients like Robin face, they point out that they don’t have enough time in a typical 15-minute visit to deliver the kind of personalized care that Robin needed.

Fortunately, Robin’s story offers solutions. I’ve identified at least three lessons the medical marijuana industry holds for our health care system. And none of them require doctors to spend any more time with patients.

First, we should give patients a chance to learn from one another. In marijuana clinics and dispensaries, I’ve seen as much advice and support offered by patients as I have by physicians. That’s the beauty and attraction of websites like PatientsLikeMe, which has created communities of patients who support one another. Who better to offer advice about how to get your prescriptions filled on the weekends, or how to swallow those large pills, than someone who has already figured it out?

Second, if physicians can’t spend more time with patients — and, in general, they can’t — we should give patients more time with other office staff members. Robin didn’t spend any more time with a doctor in that clinic than my patients spend with me. But she spent much more time with the marijuana clinic employees, none of whom had any formal medical training. They gave detailed answers to her questions about various marijuana strains, the unpredictable absorption of cannabinoids in edibles and even how to clean and maintain her vaporizer. That advice took time, but none of it required an extra minute with a physician.

Third, we should give patients more ability to manage their treatment. What Robin wanted was a chance to treat her symptoms in her own way, using strategies that worked for her. She wanted to try, and maybe fail, and try again. She wanted to be in charge.
Giving patients more control doesn’t mean handing over a blank prescription pad. Patients can gain more control — safely — if they understand a drug’s effects and duration, and if they have some leeway in when and how to use it. For instance, when I prescribe as-needed pain medication, I’ll give my patients permission to figure out for themselves how much to take and when.
These suggestions aren’t difficult, or expensive. Nor are they only for patients like Robin, or for physicians like me who care for seriously ill patients near the end of life. They’re changes that any clinic could start making today. The medical marijuana industry has learned these lessons well, and our more mainstream health care system needs to catch up.

David Casarett is the director of hospice and palliative care at Penn Medicine and the author of “Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana.” A version of this op-ed appears in print on July 28, 2015, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: The Weed Dispensary’s Lessons for Doctors.

Gabby’s Raccoonette 7/29/15

Death in a Furry Mask: Stop Feeding the Bambi Rat
By Gabby Fringette


This isn't Don, it is a picture of his friend, Ralphy Raccoon, Ralph is not allowed in the St Charles or Coyoteville, so many don't realize that Don has a friend.

Ralph Raccoon, enjoys lunch on someone’s porch

There are many people with the obscene misgiving that the common Raccoon is cute. Even worse, people intentionally feed Raccoons.
This is an informational Gabby intended to bring people to their sense: stop encouraging raccoons. They are not your pets, they are not children, they are vermin.

First, a little background on this masked marauder.
The Raccoon (Procyon Iotor, Greek for ‘before dog’), also spelled Racoon, and known as coon for short, is the largest of the Procyonid family. They range from a body length of 16-26 inches, weighing 8 to 20 pounds. There are 22 sub-species of this creature, all of them on the North and South American continents, except for four found on small islands in the Caribbean. However, 1,500 were imported to Japan after a hit amine series, Rascal the Raccoon. In 1945, 25 Raccoons escaped from a fur farm in Easter Germany. In 2012, is was confirmed that Germany had over a million Raccoons.

Here’s a little list of infectious reasons NOT to feed Raccoons:
Many Raccoons carry Rabies. In 2006, almost 40% of rabies cases in animals were in Raccoons.
There’s more than just Rabies: they carry tetanus, also known as lockjaw. They also carry leptospirosis (which can lead to bleeding of the lungs and meningitis), listeriosis (also a cause of meningitis, as well as brain abscesses), plague, salmonella, hepatitis, E.coli, and tularemia, all transmitted by their poop, but also by bite, or blood.
As well as bacterial infections, many also have roundworms. The eggs of the roundworms is contained in the feces of coons, and the eggs can be inhaled with poop dust if you don’t wear proper breathing protection while cleaning up the coon crap after it ate that food you left out for it.
Can anyone say dormant parasite? However, all of these can be prevented with common sense. DON’T FEED THE MASKED THIEF. Let Common Sense prevent the Common Coon.

They eat almost everything. Frogs (including the Yellow Legged Frog everyone was trying to save) birds and bird eggs (including songbirds, of course). They are better climbers than cats, and they’ll also eat cats (that’s why Fluffy never came home.) Oh, yes, and chickens.
They also eat plants, and are very omnivorous. They’re actually much smarter than foxes and dogs. However, this higher intelligence leads them to kill just for the fun of it. Smarter dogs do it, humans do it, and Coons do it.
They’re smart enough to get into a chicken coop, and kill all the chickens in one night, and just leave them there.
They commonly remove the head of the chicken, as well as the wings, most feathers, and many of the organs. In humans this term is ‘psychopath’.
I have also seen a cat as a suspected coon victim. It is very similar, with large patches of fur missing, as well as massive injury to the neck, and almost complete evisceration of the tail.
If you have a cat, or chickens, or if your neighbor has cats or chickens, do them a favor; DO NOT FEET THE VERMIN.

I simply do not understand why people feed Raccoons. Even people I know, even people who are actually good. I think part of the problem is the media: Disney, and other mainly urban institutions paint Coons as cute, leading to the total Bambi-fication of Raccoons. This animal is not a pet. It is a wild animal. DO NOT FEED THE BAMBI RAT.

Now, suppose you have been feeding them, but now you stop. They won’t simply stop coming, they’ll persist, rummage through your trash and make a huge mess, eat your cat, so what do you do? Poison is illegal.
If you catch one in a coon trap, you have only one real option. You have to kill it, as relocation is illegal, and the coon would die a much slower and more painful death after you relocate it. While I despise these foul vermin, I am not heartless.
A quick way is best.
Drowning is excessively cruel, and illegal. Next best is shooting it. But don’t shoot it in the head, as the brain and spine is where Rabies resides. If you get brain or spinal fluid in your eyes or mouth, you will get Rabies, if the coon carried it.
Shooting it in the chest, the lungs and heart, is better. Keep in mind, it may be illegal to shoot within a town’s limits. Check your zoning laws. There may also be specific hunting seasons. You want to do this legally.
You could set a lethal grip trap, like the fur trappers, but this is difficult, and dangerous. A pet or a person could easily wander into it. Lethal grip traps are not recommended.
The best, by far, is the euthanasia chamber. Professionals and vets have access to them, though it’s expensive. When you kill a coon, you are not allowed to take the fur. You’re only allowed to kill it if it’s being nuisance.

Many people aren’t going to like this, and they aren’t going to change. I’m just hoping a few of you are intelligent enough to know to stop feeding the coons. They are vermin.
Read more here:

Lyme and Baby Chicks 7/29/15

David Swanson

David Swanson

NBC Dares Mention Climate in Spread of Lyme Disease, But Not Who Created Lyme Disease

By David Swanson

Climate change is apparently encouraging the spread of Lyme disease, and a report by NBC News dares to say so. This may seem like a fresh breath of honest sanity in a media context in which even the weather reports usually avoid the topic of human global destruction.

However, another topic is clearly still off limits: the topic of who created Lyme disease.

Who created it is not in any real doubt. The facts have been well reported and never refuted.

The relevance of the disease’s creators to this and numerous other news reports about Lyme disease is indisputable. If you’re going to report on what’s facilitating the disease’s spread, you should report on what started it, and how it was intentionally created to spread and why.

That NBC News knows the information is easily shown. In 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory. He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on MSNBC and on NBC’s Today Show (where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection). Lab 257 hit the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list soon after its publication.

And what did that book say?

Less than two miles off the east end of Long Island sits Plum Island, where the U.S. government makes biological weapons, including weapons consisting of diseased insects that can be dropped from airplanes on a (presumably foreign) population. One such insect is the deer tick, pursued as a germ weapon by the Nazis, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the Americans.

Deer frequently swim between Long Island and Plum Island; there’s not any dispute about that fact.

Birds fly to Plum Island. The island lies in the middle of the Atlantic migration route for numerous species. “Ticks,” Carroll writes, “find baby chicks irresistible.”

In July of 1975 a brand new disease appeared in Old Lyme, Connecticut, just north of Plum Island. It wasn’t a disease that gradually grew and finally attracted attention. It was 12 cases of a disease that, as far as anyone knows, had never been seen before. Scientists’ efforts to find it in the past haven’t gotten any further than the 1940s in the areas right around Plum Island.

And what was on Plum Island? A germ warfare lab to which the U.S. government had brought former Nazi germ warfare scientists in the 1940s to work on the same evil work for a different employer. These included the head of the Nazi germ warfare program who had worked directly for Heinrich Himmler. On Plum Island was a germ warfare lab that frequently conducted its experiments out of doors. After all, it was on an island. What could go wrong? Documents record outdoor experiments with diseased ticks in the 1950s. Even the indoors, where participants admit to experiments with ticks, was not sealed tight. And test animals mingled with wild deer, test birds with wild birds.

By the 1990s, the eastern end of Long Island had by far the greatest concentration of Lyme disease. If you drew a circle around the area of the world heavily impacted by Lyme disease, which happened to be in the Northeast United States, the center of that circle was Plum Island.

Plum Island experimented with the Lone Star tick, whose habitat at the time was confined to Texas. Yet it showed up in New York and Connecticut, infecting people with Lyme disease — and killing them. The Lone Star tick is now endemic in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

So, by all means blame ExxonMobil and all the other climate liars, and their servants in government, for the spread of Lyme disease, among other horrors. But save a little blame for the military industrial complex. Either it murdered the victims of Lyme disease, or — if you believe in the nobility of its mission — then perhaps we’d better say they are collateral damage.

David Swanson writes for PeaceVoice, and is director of

Them and Us 7/29/15

Armed insecurity

By Robert C. Koehler

Robert  Koehler

Robert Koehler

“… no real security, just powers of retaliation.”

This was Norman Mailer, four-plus decades ago, writing in “Miami and the Siege of Chicago” about the obsessive security measures – “helicopters riding overhead like roller coasters, state troopers with magnums on their hip and crash helmets, squad cars, motorcycles” – at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, which … uh, didn’t actually provide security, but sure allowed us to get even afterwards.

This is still the unnoticed insanity haunting the American news cycle, whether the story being reported is domestic or international. As a society, we’re armed and dangerous – and always at war, both collectively and individually. We’re endlessly declaring bad guys (officially and unofficially) and endlessly protecting ourselves from them, in the process guaranteeing that the violence continues. And the parallels between “them” and “us” are unnerving.

Mohammad Abdulazeez opened fire at a naval reserve training facility in Chattanooga and killed five people. He was suffering from depression and possibly radicalized by ISIS. Fox News headlined the story: “Tennessee gunman was armed to the teeth and ready for war with America.” The story pointed out that he was a naturalized American citizen born in Kuwait.

A few days later, a gun shop owner in Florida posted a video on YouTube declaring, with the Confederate flag in the background as he spoke – summoning the spirit of Dylann Roof’s murder last month of nine African-Americans in Charleston, S.C. – that his store, Florida Gun Supply in Inverness, was now a “Muslim-free zone.”

“I will not arm and train those who wish to harm my fellow patriots,” he said, paradoxically espousing a weird, racist form of gun control.

He also said: “We are in battle, patriots, but not only with Islamic extremism. We’re also in battle against extreme political correctness that threatens our lives because if we can’t call evil ‘evil’ for fear of offending people, then we can’t really defeat our enemies.”

Ray Mabus, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, spoke of the shootings with less clarity about the nature of the enemy: “While we expect our sailors and Marines to go into harm’s way, and they do so without hesitation, an attack at home, in our community, is insidious and unfathomable.”

Yet a few days later at least 10 Afghan soldiers – American allies – died “at home, in their community” when the checkpoint they were manning in eastern Afghanistan was taken out in a U.S. helicopter strike, which the Afghan regional commander described as “a very big mistake.” He pointed out to the Washington Post that the strikers should have known they weren’t attacking the enemy because it happened in daylight and “the Afghanistan flag was waving on our post, when we came under attack.”

Well, you know, collateral damage and all. These things happen. But somehow the deaths of these soldiers didn’t cause the same stir the Chattanooga killings did, though the victims’ lives were equally precious and were cut short in an attack that probably seemed, to them, equally unfathomable.

But, whereas the Chattanooga shootings were a “horrific attack,” the friendly fire killings were an “incident” – just like all the other bomb and missile killings, accidental, intentional or whatever, of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere over the last decade and a half. The Wall Street Journal added that the incident “threatens to strain relations” between the U.S. and its allies in the war that has no prospect of ending, but added that “the airstrike is under investigation,” which is the epitaph of choice for news stories about to be buried for eternity.

All of which leads me back to the Norman Mailer quote, that we have no real security, just a massive power to retaliate. This is the nature of armed self-defense. In order to feel like they have some control over an unfathomably complex world, many, many people – inspired by the governments they either revere or despise – categorize large swaths of the human race as bad guys, who therefore need not be regarded, or treated, as fully human.

As I wrote several years ago, speaking of the “moral injury” that so many vets bring home from their war service: “Killing is not a simple matter. It’s not a joke. The argument can be made that on occasion it’s necessary, but military killing is not about self-defense. Soldiers are trained to kill on command, and this is done not simply through physical preparedness exercises but through dehumanization of the enemy: a cult of dehumanization, you might say. Turns out we can’t dehumanize someone else without dehumanizing ourselves.”

And the more that people lose touch with their own humanity, the more, I fear, they will feel the need to be armed – desperately imagining it’s the same thing as being secure. And the news cycle will continue, endlessly bringing us more of the same.

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

Not In The Pay 7/29/15

Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights

Laura Finley, Ph.D.

Laura Finley

Laura Finley

The worker’s rights movement has exploded in the last few years, with fast food, agricultural and other workers staging strikes and other nonviolent actions to demand increased wages, benefits, and better working conditions. One group of workers that has received far too little attention is adjunct college professors.

According to data collected by the Chronicle of Higher Education, adjuncts at one college and two universities near my home in Southeast Florida earn between $1,380 and $3,000 to teach a fifteen week, three credit course. My own university’s published rates range from $1,500 to $3,000. A national survey found the average pay for a three credit course to be $2,700. Given that the typical equation for calculating preparation and grading time for a three credit course is three hours for every one hour of class time, it’s safe to assume that adjuncts put in a good 135 hours during a semester. That works out to just over $10 an hour for someone making the lowest rate and about $22 an hour for the higher rate based on the rates listed above. This is appalling, and it puts many adjuncts in the same camp as 42 percent of workers in the U.S who earn less than $15 an hour, according to Forbes. The American Association of University Professors has noted that of the more than 30,000 adjunct professors who would like to obtain a full-time academic position, more than 60 percent hold one or more other jobs.

These wages are not nearly ample to afford the basic necessities of life in the U.S. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) estimates that in New England, an adjunct professor would have to teach 17 to 24 classes a year to be able to afford a home and pay for utilities. Teaching four classes per year would cover only the grocery bill for a family of four. The work is also unstable, as classes can be cancelled at the last minute if enrollment is not adequate. One adjunct even described her class being canceled the morning it was to start.

According to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, a living wage in Miami is $11.45 per hour for a single adult.

In addition to these low wages, adjuncts do not receive any kind of benefits. Many times, they are not even allotted a space on campus to meet with students, or if they are, it might be one without a computer or phone. A report from the University of California at Berkeley found that nearly a quarter of all adjunct professors receive some form of public assistance, like food stamps or Medicaid. Many must, as grown adults, live with their families, and struggle to afford basic food requirements. One adjunct professor reported, “I lived off of fried potatoes and onions for the semester. I actually lived better as a grad student than I do now.”

To make ends meet, many adjuncts become “gypsies,” jetting from one campus to another to teach as many classes as possible. I did this some time ago, at one time teaching seven classes at three different universities, just so that my family of three could afford a cheap apartment. The hours spent on the road, of course, are not calculated in the pay.

Adjunct faculty are rarely integrated into school or departmental activities. One study of 105 research universities found that faculty senates at approximately two-thirds of the sample excluded adjuncts from participation. Another study conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Adjunct Project found that more than half of the respondents had no say at all in faculty governance. My own experience is that the adjuncts are physically separated in that, when office space is allotted, it is nowhere near the other faculty. I was never invited to nor was I welcomed to departmental activities. Indeed, most faculty members had no idea who I was.

Even worse, while often being hired sight-unseen, adjunct professors can be undermined when administrators determine they need to excessively control the curriculum. At one university where I was hired based only on my curriculum vitae (no personal interaction, not even a phone interview) to teach an introductory course, I received an email three weeks into the semester detailing my syllabus, lecture notes, and exams. Given that I had obviously already provided my students with a syllabus and the course was well underway, I chose to ignore this email from the department chair (whom I never met) and carry on as I had planned. Not surprisingly, there was no follow up to that email and, despite ignoring these requests, I was asked (but could not) teach again for that university.

In essence, while they are among the the workhorses of higher education, adjuncts are decidedly second-class citizens. In February, the SEIU recommended that adjuncts earn $15,000 per course. They admit this might be reaching for the sky, but argue that a national conversation about adjunct wages is desperately needed. If we truly believe that education is the pathway not only to financial success but also to personal satisfaction, it is completely deplorable that we compensate a significant portion of the people who provide it so poorly. In particular, at universities that pledge to value social justice and human rights, it is an atrocity that employees who perform such a valuable service are not afforded a living wage.

TNF Road Closures 7/29/15

NEVADA CITY, Calif. – Forest Supervisor Tom Quinn signed an emergency
closure order for selected National Forest System lands, roads and trails
on the Tahoe National Forest related to the Lowell Fire, effective today,
July 27, 2015. This order provides for fire suppression and support
personnel safety, as well as public safety and resource protection.

The closure is on the south side of the Yuba River Ranger District and
generally includes Tahoe National Forest lands, roads, and trails between
Highway 20 and Interstate 80.

The forest closure does not apply to: any Federal, State or local
officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the
performance of an official duty; persons with a permit from the Forest
Service specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission;
and owners or lessees of land in the area and residents in the area,
unless the area is subject to a County Sheriff’s mandatory evacuation

“Safety is always the number one priority for the Forest Service,” said
Karen Hayden, District Ranger for the Yuba River Ranger District. “We
appreciate everyone’s support in respecting the closure and our effort to
keep the public and our fire fighters safe.”

A detailed map of the closure area and more information, including the
closure order, can be obtained at Tahoe National Forest offices, as well
as online at

 Lowell Fire information is also available by calling the Tahoe National
Forest fire information line at (530) 478-6101 or the Cal Fire information
line at (530) 823-4083.

Defend Democracy 7/29/15

Defending democracy

by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

In our wonderful land of America we have ongoing debates, discussions, and principled differences. To the extent those are happening by citizens focused on the issues and not on character assassination or violent threat, those robust modes of discourse are the heart of a healthy democracy.

Our democracy is increasingly unhealthy. And we are degrading the image and desirability of democracy around the world as a result. This is a reversal of a century-long trend around the world of more democracy that peaked in the 1990s. Autocrats are not only making a comeback, they are doing so with more populist support. From the racist frontrunner candidacy of Donald Trump to the atavistic emergence of a caliphate in the Middle East, we see a rollback of engaged, respectful, vigorous citizen participants in politics. Where there is a resurgence of focus on civil society participation, however, we see signs of hope, such as pockets of social activism in West Africa that focus on the lessons from Martin Luther King and the US civil rights movement, or a consortium of Palestinians struggling to transform their liberation struggle to democracy-friendly nonviolence.

Rightwing politicos declaim on American exceptionalism; they name the USA as the one nation that offers the best hope for humankind. Sadly, they then practice the “might makes right” model of imposed democracy—an oxymoronic enterprise indeed. Democracy cannot be installed at gunpoint any more than love can, or empathy, or altruism—all of which drive more and better democracy, while guns and bombs—Francis Scott Key notwithstanding—erode it. Metrics of democracy—citizen participation, inclusion, minority rights, transparency, nonviolent transition of power—are all best promoted and practiced without death threats.

Citizen engagement is at the heart of the free press—the very paper you hold or are reading online is the pulse of a democracy worthy of the name. When you engage—read it, write a letter, share it with others—and do so in a way that maintains healthy respect alongside healthy debate, you are bolstering our democracy and showing the rest of the world a better model that they will emulate. The true “arsenal of democracy” is not a nuclear navy nor a Hellfire missile rain of death from the sky. It is you, seeking information, sharing your thoughts, caring for the hearts and minds of your neighbors, even the ones with whom you disagree—especially the ones who anger you with an opinion you find objectionable.

I teach several courses that revolve around these concepts and I love watching students evolve from apathy and fatalism to outrage and violent ideation to care, capacity, and human agency. True, some never move off the cynical dime, some get stuck on pugnacity and demonization, but those who pass into the stages of engagement and rational, careful analysis and discourse are the ones I am confident will do the most good for democracy in our land, and, by extension of this evolving American experiment, the rest of the world.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

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