Sierra City Harmony #164 Lodge 12/30/15

 Sierra City Harmony #164 Masonic Lodge elects new Officers for the Masonic year of 2016. Back Row: from left to right Mike Edwards-Master of Ceremonies, John Trauner- Initiating Officer, Michael Koettel-Senior Warden, Jerry Brzyscz-Master of the Lodge, Tom Krummell-Chaplin, Sam White-Junior Deacon Front Row: from left to right Past Grand Master John Cooper-Treasurer, William Miklos-Junior Warden, Frank Edwards-Senior Deacon, John Chilcote-Marshal, Karl Krummell-Junior Steward, Michael Galan-Secretary The Lodge, one of the few Moonlight Lodges, meets the Thursday after the full moon, so our meeting dates for 2016 will be Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 24, April 28, May 26, June 23, July 21, Aug. 25, Sept. 22, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, Dec. 15, meetings start at 1:00pm at the Masonic Temple in Sierra City.

Sierra City Harmony #164 Masonic Lodge elects new Officers for the Masonic year of 2016.
Back Row: from left to right Mike Edwards-Master of Ceremonies, John Trauner- Initiating Officer, Michael Koettel-Senior Warden, Jerry Brzyscz-Master of the Lodge, Tom Krummell-Chaplin, Sam White-Junior Deacon
Front Row: from left to right Past Grand Master John Cooper-Treasurer, William Miklos-Junior Warden, Frank Edwards-Senior Deacon, John Chilcote-Marshal, Karl Krummell-Junior Steward, Michael Galan-Secretary
The Lodge, one of the few Moonlight Lodges, meets the Thursday after the full moon, so our meeting dates for 2016 will be Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 24, April 28, May 26, June 23, July 21, Aug. 25, Sept. 22, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, Dec. 15, meetings start at 1:00pm at the Masonic Temple in Sierra City.

For additional information please contact Jerry Brzyscz or Michael Galan
Jerry Brzyscz W. M. 530.885.8806 – brzyscz@sbcglobal.net
Michael Galan Secretary 530-289-3595 – michael.galan@sbcglobal.net

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The last post of this year and on to 2016. I have to say in my life and in many of us here in Sierra County this past month has been the most dysfunctional month of 2015. The year has been tough, we have lost many friends and community members  who have been part of the essential structure of our community.

Let us look to the future and  not only hope for the best but work and be part of making things better for us, our community, humankind, the animals and the environment. Peace on Earth, Good Will towards All, and let it begin with us/me.

We have Carrie’s Corner, Dianne Ponders, The Cats, The Others our guest columnists Bob Koehler, Rivera Sun, Winslow Myers, Lawrence Wittner and a little local news….

The fantastic photo was taken by Downieville’s Kevin Lozano you can’t beat a snow-blind full moon over the Pass.

Mountain Messenger (Happy & Joy Prevail) 12/30/15

Well, it is almost next year and Don is tired of signing photos of himself to his new subscribers which makes me what to encourage your subscription and demanding he fulfill his promise to provide a signed photo of himself suitable for bedroom tables or the ceiling which ever you prefer. Milly mentioned today that she really loves Don he is a wonderful boss, “best ever” and she is thrilled and excited about her new position as Assistant to the Editor and CEO. She also stated she was very sorry about all the things she has said about him in the past year. However the prior years and the future are still not clear as to where he may fall in her reign of benevolence and kindness.

The rock from Randy may have something to do with Milly's joyous state of mind.

The rock from Randy may have something to do with Milly’s joyous state of mind.

mess subcrip (1)Send anything you need published to Milly, the CEO and most important person in the office, at yesdearyousuck@yahoo.com or you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Milly). For a subscription: send in as below or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Write to Don Russell at mtnmess@cwo.com and tell him you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect…..

Lions and Clampers 12/30/15

The Downieville Lions Club is extremely grateful to the Clamper Devil Mt. Brigade for their generous donation of gifts that supplement the Tags for Kids Program.  Receiving the items from Brigade Quarter Master, Steve Sharp, are Patti Stringer, Lions Club President and Karen Galan, Tags for Kids coordinator.

The Downieville Lions Club is extremely grateful to the Clamper Devil Mt. Brigade for their generous donation of gifts that supplement the Tags for Kids Program. Receiving the items from Brigade Quarter Master, Steve Sharp, are Patti Stringer, Lions Club President and Karen Galan, Tags for Kids coordinator.

Teach Us About Trump 12/30/15

Rivera Sun

Rivera Sun

What the Women of Berlin’s Rosenstrasse Protest Can Teach Us About Trump – By Rivera Sun

Many United States citizens are appalled at recent remarks by Donald Trump and other bigoted politicians advocating policies against Muslims that are eerily reminiscent of Nazi policies toward the Jews. The parallels between the 1930s-40s in Germany and the United States in 2015 are frightening. It is clear to many citizens that the rise of bigotry and fascism in our nation cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged. Organized resistance is essential. In this effort, revisiting the history of resistance to the Nazis offers us some tantalizing concepts.

Those of us who choose nonviolent action as a form of making change are often challenged with the question, “But what about the Nazis?” The stories of nonviolent resistance are far more numerous than most people suspect. One of the most interesting successful stories comes from the heart of Germany itself when the women of Berlin rose up to demand the return of their Jewish husbands.

In 1943, Joseph Goebbels promised Adolf Hitler that Berlin would be Judenfrei – Jew-free – in time for Hitler’s birthday. On February 27, without warning, Jews were snatched off the streets and from workplaces and held in buildings temporarily before they were loaded onto trains to be sent to their deaths in the concentration camps. This was the fate of nearly 6,000 Jews from Berlin. Another group, the 1,800 Jews with non-Jewish German wives, were rounded up according to a separate list and held in a building on Rosenstrasse, Rose Street. The German women, upon discovering their husbands were gone, raced to the location and began an impromptu unarmed, nonviolent demonstration demanding the release of their husbands.

For a full week, as many as a thousand women protested night and day, defying orders to disperse, withstanding threats of being shot to death. The German Gestapo office sat within earshot; the women persisted despite the danger. On March 6, as thousands of other Jews were being sent to Auschwitz, the husbands of these Berlin women were released. Even the 38 Jewish husbands who had already been sent to the camps were returned to Berlin. It is said that the Rosenstrasse protest also halted the plans to round up the intermarried Jews in France, a change that likely saved thousands of lives. The German government felt that the dissent and visible signs of resistance would be detrimental to morale at that time and that releasing the men was easier than risking more uprisings.

Today, as Islamophobia and anti-refugee rhetoric are whipping the American populace into a frenzy of fear, we need not wait until the eleventh hour to see where this type of discrimination leads. Before politicians allow bigots to require Muslims to register (like the Jews in the 1940s), or wear a symbol (like the yellow star), or be deported to concentration camps, let us take a chapter out of German history – the Rosenstrasse women’s episode – and learn from it. If the threatened registry appears, let us protest it, or sign it en masse as an act of protest. If the parallel to the yellow star occurs, let us all, as citizens, resist the labels unanimously. Let us never forget the words of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—

and there was no one left to speak for me.

And if they come for any of us, let us be prepared to use nonviolent action, as the women of Berlin, to rescue not just our loved ones, but all of our human brothers and sisters, so that the tragedy of the Holocaust can never be repeated. With courage, preparation, and knowledge, we can stop the dangerous cycle of history from repeating in the context of our contemporary lives.

Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books, and the co-founder of the Love-In-Action Network.

Economy Democratization 12/30/15

Lawrence Wittner

Lawrence Wittner

Has the Time Come for Democratization of the Economy? – By Lawrence S. Wittner

A study released at the beginning of December by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) reported that America’s 20 wealthiest individuals own more wealth than roughly half the American population combined—152 million people. The startling level of economic inequality in the United States is also highlighted by Forbes, which recently observed that the richest 400 Americans possess more wealth than 62 percent of the American public—192 million people. Furthermore, these studies apparently underestimate the concentration of wealth in the United States, for the use of offshore tax havens and legal trusts conceals trillions of dollars that the richest Americans have amassed for themselves and their families.

Ironically, the United States has long been depicted as a land of economic equality, with widespread prosperity. Writing from Monticello in 1814, Thomas Jefferson emphasized America’s difference from class-divided Europe. “The great mass of our population is of laborers; our rich . . . being few, and of moderate wealth,” he declared. “Most of the laboring classes possess property, cultivate their own lands, have families, and from the demand for their labor are enabled to exact from the rich . . . such prices as enable them to be fed abundantly, clothed above mere decency, to labor moderately and raise their families.” In the early twentieth century, Werner Sombart, a German economist and sociologist, argued that, in the United States, “socialistic Utopias . . . are sent to their doom” on “the reefs of roast beef and apple pie.” The “American Dream” of economic opportunity for all has constantly been invoked, sometimes to avoid a more equitable sharing of the wealth and, at other times, to advance it.

Nevertheless, the reality of life in the United States has often fallen short of the American Dream. Certainly, American slaves and their descendants didn’t consume much of the roast beef. And there was also substantial economic misery and class strife among other portions of the American population, who labored long hours in factories and mines, experienced high levels of industrial accidents, endured frequent layoffs and unemployment, and lived in squalid slums. What led, at times, to some degree of economic leveling was not a voluntary sharing of the wealth by the richest Americans but, rather, economic struggles by unions and public policy breakthroughs secured by progressive politicians.

But, with union strength declining and progressive politics in retreat since the 1980s, economic inequality in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds. In the 1970s, America’s wealthiest 0.1 percent—the richest one-thousandth of the population—owned 7 percent of U.S. household wealth. Today, that figure has risen to 20 percent—about as much wealth as is possessed, in total, by the bottom 90 percent of Americans.

Although the 20 richest Americans, who possess more wealth than about half the American population combined, include some founders of corporations, they are outnumbered by the heirs of families with vast fortunes. The latter individuals include Charles and David Koch (the scions of a wealthy founder of the John Birch Society, with $82 billion between them) and four members of Wal-Mart’s Walton clan (with $127.6 billion among them).

All right, you might say; but does this economic inequality really matter? Well, it certainly matters to those Americans whose economic opportunities have been stunted to facilitate this accumulation and hoarding of vast wealth. Furthermore, as the authors of the IPS study note: “Extreme inequalities of income, wealth and opportunity undermine democracy, social cohesion, economic stability, social mobility, and many other important aspects of our personal and public lives.” In addition, “extreme inequality corrodes our democratic system and public trust. It leads to a breakdown in civic cohesion and social solidarity, which in turn leads to worsened health outcomes. Inequality undercuts social mobility—and has disastrous effects on the economy.”

Economic inequality is certainly warping American politics and public policy. In recent years, the wealthy and their corporations have poured enormous financial resources into political campaigns, dwarfing all other sources of campaign funding. In the first phase of the 2016 Presidential election cycle alone, half of total campaign contributions have come from 158 wealthy donors. Not surprisingly, relatively few politicians dare to offend rich donors and their interests. Thus, wealthy rightwingers like the Koch brothers (who have promised to put nearly a billion dollars into the 2016 elections) and Sheldon Adelson (possessing wealth of $26 billion) have far greater influence over public policy than do average Americans. As numerous pollsters have observed, most Americans favor progressive public policies, including raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich, providing free college education, and establishing a single-payer healthcare system. But, when it comes to federal action, these programs remain dead in the water.

Will Americans stand up and insist upon sharing their nation’s wealth more equitably? There are signs, such as the popularity of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, that many of them are becoming fed up with economic inequality. Of course, they might be distracted by xenophobia and fear-mongering, which have been promoted assiduously in recent months by pro-corporate politicians. Even so, there are growing indications that Americans favor democracy not only in their politics, but in their economy.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?

Broken Souls 12/30/15

Robert Koehler

Robert Koehler

Adding Up the Broken Souls

By Robert C. Koehler

“The question now is how to change our institutions so that they promote human values rather than destroy them.”

Philip Zimbardo, who posed this question in the wake of the famous — or infamous — Stanford Prison Experiment 44 years ago, might have added: If we fail to do so, we guarantee our own social collapse.

The collapse is underway, one broken soul at a time.

“But the basic story the men told was the same: (Leonard) Strickland was pushed down a flight of stairs, and then beaten nearly to death by a large group of guards.”

This is from a recent New York Times investigative piece about inmate abuse at Clinton Correctional Facility, in upstate New York — a particularly boiling caldron of racism in America’s prison-industrial complex. Almost all of the nearly 1,000 guards who work at the rural prison are white; the inmates, mostly from New York City, are black. Not surprisingly, the prisoners say “they face a constant barrage of racial slurs.”

And racial slurs have a way of escalating, especially under conditions in which one group of people has enormous, unchecked power over another group. Zimbardo called it the Lucifer Effect: the transformation of ordinary, decent people into monsters. His 1971 study, in which two dozen college-student volunteers were randomly designated either guards or prisoners in a makeshift “penitentiary” in the basement of Stanford’s psych department, was meant to last two weeks but was called off after six days because the situation had gotten out of control.

Zimbardo said that he came to his senses after an outside observer, who was brought in to conduct interviews, reacted with utter shock “when she saw our prisoners being marched on a toilet run, bags over their heads, legs chained together, hands on each other’s shoulders. Filled with outrage, she said, ‘It’s terrible what you are doing to these boys!’”

Compare this to the Times story about Clinton Correctional Facility. Though all the guards were officially cleared of wrongdoing in the 2010 death of Leonard Strickland, who was diagnosed mentally ill but had no history of violent behavior, six prisoners who had witnessed the event, interviewed separately at various facilities, told essentially the same story: that he was called a racial slur, pushed down a flight of stairs and beaten and repeatedly kicked by a group of guards at the bottom of the stairs.

As Strickland fell down the stairs, one prisoner told the Times, “his skull hit the concrete steps several times. At the bottom, he pulled himself into a tight fetal position, as about 10 officers took turns kicking him in the head and the ribs … They ‘beat this kid to zero,’ he said.”

Ah, Lucifer!

The broken souls add up. We live in a world where the prevailing belief is that control and dominance are necessary … because of all the terrorism, y’know, and the crime and what have you. In so many American cities, armed police officers (white and otherwise), wield unchecked power in impoverished, minority communities. Not surprisingly, the Lucifer Effect continually makes the news.

Last month, the Associated Press released the results of a yearlong investigation of sexual misconduct by police, discovering records of about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for various sex crimes, including rape. The figure is “unquestionably an undercount,” the AP story noted because many departments don’t maintain such records.

“‘It’s happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country,’ said Chief Bernadette DiPino of the Sarasota Police Department in Florida, who helped study the problem for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. ‘It’s so underreported, and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them.’”

What this otherwise excellent story fails to do is put the crimes into a larger context, dismissing the perps simply as “bad officers.” When they can’t resign quietly and disappear, they are turned into scapegoats: exceptions to the rule in otherwise good, solid institutions that serve the public. This is how it is in every institution that commands enormous power over a particular group of people, including the scandal-rocked U.S. military and the Catholic Church.

It’s time for the media, which usually goes along with the “bad apple” explanation, to expand its consciousness. Lucifer haunts the corridors of power. Ordinary, decent people can turn into monsters — rapists, murderers — when given unlimited power over others. It happens with eerie frequency, especially when, in the era of the cellphone video, such crimes are not so easily covered up.

In Chicago, a police officer shot a teenager walking in the middle of the street 16 times, almost as though the gun took control of the officer’s consciousness. Barbara Ransby, a professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, interviewed recently by Democracy Now, pointed out that, because of budget cuts, only about 20 Chicago police officers have received crisis intervention training.

My God, budget cuts! In a country that’s waging perpetual war and raking in billions from the global sale of weapons. Yeah, the boy had been acting erratically. But real public safety for the city of Chicago would have included safety for Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old killed by police officer Jason Van Dyke.

I fear we’re reversing the evolutionary process. We’ve surrendered to simplistic, impulsive, fear-based “safety” and we’re reaping the consequences, one broken soul at a time.

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

Illusory Mis-identity 12/30/15

Winslow Myers

Winslow Myers

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘Between the World and Me’ – Review by Winslow Myers

Toni Morrison calls this book required reading, and it is. Even if it first germinated before the many police murders of unarmed African American boys and men over the last year, it could not have entered the cultural scene at a more fateful moment.

The book takes the form of a letter from Coates to his son, overflowing with mingled anger, despair, and love, about the experience of growing up in a country where our foundational heritage is the ongoing freedom of whites to kill blacks with impunity. This injury is complemented by the insult of hundreds of years of rank economic injustices extending back to the origins of our “exceptional” political experiment, conceived, with due respect for their good intentions, by slaveholding white men.

To define whiteness, Coates uses the provocative phrase “people who believe they are white,” by which I take him to mean that there is a negative part of some of us that needs to feel superior to, and therefore also fearful of, some “lower” order. No peak without a valley. The pain caused by this illusory mis-identity is unfathomable.

After the latest mass shooting in San Bernardino, the African-American president of the United States spoke from the Oval Office trying to calm the fears of citizens anxious about the random terror of ISIS. He appealed to our best tendencies: “We were founded upon a belief in human dignity that no matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law.” While acknowledging the reality of terrorism, he cautioned against separating Muslims and non-Muslims into a stereotypical “us and them.” Because “us and them” sadly forms a big chunk of our only partly acknowledged heritage, Obama was immediately attacked by presidential candidates of the opposing party with the fear-mongering version of our national identity.

The violence of ongoing exceptionalism, built upon so much insufficiently processed history, continues to assume grotesque forms. Sadly, the Senate cannot even pass a bill forbidding people on terrorist watch lists from buying weapons because the National Rifle Association has such a powerful lobby. What are the roots, if not raw fear of the “other,” of this white obsession with the Second Amendment?

At my Ivy League college 50 years ago, the hundred or so young white men with whom I shared meals were served by a group of young black men in white coats. Did we speak a friendly word to them? Did we see them as people with the same potentialities as ourselves? We did not.

Now I have become part of a family where I have four mixed-race adoptive grandchildren. My love for them is just as fierce and fearful as Ta-Nehisi Coates’s for his son. Suddenly it is of more than the academic interest that the oldest of my four is approaching the adolescent moment when he will start to look dangerous to the police.

The knotted heritage of our nation cannot be loosed by the descendants of slaves who endured it and endure it still. Instead, the knot must be newly owned by those who have too long disowned it; can we who think we are white emerge from the dreamy pretension of our effortlessly assumed privilege? Can we admit that our perverted form of exceptionalism has cut a swath of destruction not only through our national history but also through such diverse haunts of otherness as Vietnam and Iraq?

Those who think they are white came to wherever they are now by free migration not by slave ships, out of the common pool of all humans from the savannas of Africa. In that shared origin story may reside some hope of post-racial—or post-religious for that matter—interrelationship among equals. Meanwhile, we have Coates’s authentic cry of the heart from which to learn and grow.

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

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