Growers Assn Meetings 3/2/16

PrintSierra Co Growers Assn Meeting                                                                         March 6th Sunday 5:00pm
Downieville @ Community Hall

March 13 – 5:00pm                                                                                           Calpine @ Sierra Valley Lodge                                                                            March 20th – Fundraiser @ Casey’s
in Alleghany– Live music: blues-rock with Hard Hattie
& The Bad Men & home cooked BBQ buffet from 2-5,                                          open 1-6 Raffle prizes & voter registration.                                                          Guest speaker Hezakiah Allen of California Growers Assn at 3pm.
ALSO we will be helping with voter registration at the chili cook-off and at our
fundraiser. If you know of any other local events we could have a table to do that please let me know! Thanks heaps!

Family Memory Essay 3/2/16

Time is a rather relentless cleaning product. As events come and go, it seems it only takes time before memories are erased from our memories, or at least leave nothing much more than smudges which we can’t make out. I have eulogized at several funerals about keeping the memory of someone alive. But the sad truth is, only two individuals have cheated death and live on; Jesus Christ and Elvis. It would seem the only defense we have against time, is record keeping, and we can’t leave that up to someone else.

It came as a harsh reality to me, that while I have a pretty good memory of the the chronology and events of my life, I can’t say the same about my parents. Or my grandparents. I knew my mother was born in Delleker in 1927 at the hospital there. I even have a photo copy of Dr. Decker’s journal noting her birth. But where did my grandparents live? What house? Never thought to ask. Does it matter? Well, kind of.

The truth is, the less facts we know, the easier it is for the memories to slip away. My grandparents, Joe and Nita Urrutia, were well known and respected members of Eastern Plumas County. Once in a while, I run across someone who remembers them, but not much about them. How sad. And shame on me! The Urrutias, and scores of other families in our community, are being cleaned away by time. Let’s do something about it.

I started with just a few paragraphs of what I’m 90% sure of. It is some sort of documentation from someone who actually knew them, loved them and hugged them. Please do the same. Then, find a photo, put it together with your essay, and get it to me at the Plumas Sierra County Fair. This year’s them is “Harvest of the Home”. It is all about what we harvest in the form of our family. I want to share this harvest with the world on a wall at the Fair, showing all the short histories and photos. I want people to learn, or better yet, remember these people; these seeds of our community. And when it’s all over, we will take these treasures and put them in a book. That book will be shared from now on in local museums and events. It will be added to and will live for as long as we think it’s important.

This is for everyone. Your family doesn’t have to be a leader in the community. Did your Grandpa work for the railroad? Was Mom a class helper? Did your uncle and aunt own the local bar in 1948? Those are the stories that make up who we are, and those are the stories we want to see. I’ve written an essay about my grandparents; please use it as a sample of what you could write. Keep it to about a page, but if all you can muster is a paragraph, we’ll take it. If you don’t have a photograph, don’t worry. Just having this information, any information, on record, will help keep the memory alive. I think that’s well worth the effort.

Visit the Fair website at http://www.plumas-sierracountyfair.net for the sample essay and how you can get your information to us. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2016.

Chill Immediately Visible 3/2/16

Laura Finley

Laura Finley

Stifling Academic Freedom, the NRA Way   by Laura Finley

That conservative forces have long sought to squash dissent and curtail rigorous academic debate on campuses is far from a secret. From the militarization of many campuses, academic repression of faculty, excessive and difficult-to-navigate bureaucracies, limitations on free speech and more, college students, staff and faculty members today face many challenges as they seek to explore, debate, and take action on critical and difficult issues. The gun lobby has seized on this environment of academic stifling, promoting firearms as the answer to an array of problems on campuses and beyond. Don’t want to get raped? Carry a gun, or it’s your own fault. The best way to prevent an active shooter situation? Everyone pack heat. The chilling effect of the campus carry laws that have been enacted has been immediately visible.

The state of Texas passed a campus carry law that is set to take effect on August 1, 2016. Already, professors at the University of Houston were told that once the new law is effective, they might want to “be careful discussing sensitive topics,” “drop certain topics from your curriculum,” “’Not go there’ if you sense anger,” “limit students access off hours,” “go to appointment-only office hours,” and “only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.” Evidently, if I taught at that university my sociology classes could no longer cover well…anything. The NRA supports campus carry bills being considered in Florida, and in a memo to NRA members and friends dated November 2, 2015, NRA Past President Marion Hammer denounced educators who oppose the bill, amping up the rhetoric about how gun-free campuses are unsafe, there “murderers, rapists, terrorists, and robbers may commit crimes without fear of being harmed by their victims.” Hammer’s memo even uses quotations around the words “educators,” clearly implying that the many college administrators, professors and faculty members who do not support campus carry laws have dubious credentials.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has noted that case law is clear: faculty have primary responsibility for determining curriculum, and academic freedom is critical for teaching their courses such that they include the most essential and evolving topics in their fields. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has issued similar calls to vigorously resist efforts to undermine academic freedom by people with “ideological or commercial agendas.” It is hard to see the NRA and its cronies as anything but having both an ideological and commercial agenda.

The courts have long noted that the primary purpose of higher education is to afford a marketplace for the full exchange of ideas. It is through this exchange that students come to see the very real problems in the world and how they might be part of the solution. That is next to impossible when faculty are told to abort discussion of anything that might stimulate or even upset a student, who then might start firing indiscriminately.

While surely we must consider how to keep our campuses safe, arming campus security and students, faculty and staff like they are living in occupied zones is counter to creating any sense of peace or community. Our students deserve better. We deserve better.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Why God made lawyers 3/2/16

ACTIVISTS ARRESTED FOR ENTERING DRONE BASE WITH LOAF OF BREAD

Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell at Volk Field

Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell at Volk Field

Camp Douglas, WI — On February 23rd, two peace activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly, were arrested when they attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to drone operators at Volk Field, an Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, which trains pilots to operate Shadow Drones over other countries. Voices activists have lived alongside ordinary people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Gaza. People who can’t flee from drone surveillance and attacks have good reason to fear people from the U.S., but instead they have broken bread with Kelly and Terrell and have welcomed opportunities for deepened mutual understanding. Kelly and Terrell carried the loaf of bread to signify the worth of relying on words rather than weapons.

Before entering the base property, Kathy Kelly said: “Living alongside ordinary people who can’t escape drone surveillance in places like Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan and knowing that a drone operator could be ordered to assassinate civilians who have nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide affected my conscience. I wanted to ask drone operators in Volk Field whether they had been asked to target any people for possible assassination that day. I want to ask how the base training manual teaches people to distinguish between civilians and armed combatants. If an operator wants to quit, what does the commander of Volk Field do?”

Brian Terrell also noted: “Wisconsin is where I was born and raised and so I feel that coming to Volk Field is a responsibility that I owe in gratitude to my home state. The premise that drones will limit the parameters of war and make for fewer civilian casualties has proven false. General Stanley McChrystal, who led troops in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010, warned that the drone ‘lowers the threshold for taking operations because it feels easy, there’s a danger in that.’ And yet the evolution of drones in the militaries of many countries around the globe has been anything but cautious. Instead there is a reckless proliferation of this deadly technology.”

Terrell and Kelly were arraigned on February 24th, at the Juneau County Justice Center, 200 Oak St., in Mauston, WI. Also, on February 25th, at 9:00 a.m., Mary Beth Schlagheck, was to be tried for having crossed the line at Volk Field in August of 2015. Hers was the last of seven trials stemming from nonviolent civil resistance actions at Volk Field that were undertaken as the culmination of the “Let It Shine” walk from Madison to Volk Field. The witness of the activists who have protested at Volk Field, and who have testified so eloquently in court, inspired Brian’s and Kathy’s action.

***
February 25th, 2016 Update: Volk Field, Wisconsin, Action to Protest Drone warfare

On February 24th, two co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly, appeared before Judge Curran from the Juneau County jail via the jail’s video link. The two had been held overnight. They were served documents charging them with trespass at the “dwelling” of Volk Field. Pilots train at Volk Field to operate Shadow Drones over other countries.

Kelly told Judge Curran that she wished to plead no contest and that she would not be able, in conscience to pay a fee and that she preferred not to promise that she’d return to the court since she didn’t believe she had committed a crime in the first place. “Oh, I get what’s happening here. You have some people out there who will give you a gold star and a pat on the back for being so courageous,” said Judge Curran. He then said he would not impose a cash bond and he set a pre-trial conference date for March 23rd even though Kelly had already indicated that she wished to plead no contest and was not seeking a trial.

Terrell appeared next. He reiterated what Kelly had said, wishing to plead no contest and go directly to sentencing. “It would save the county, the court and everyone involved time and trouble if the judge would accept the no contest plea,” said Terrell, “and go right to sentencing. I don’t understand why a pre-trial conference was scheduled when we haven’t asked for a trial.”

“It’s not necessary for you to understand the process of this court,” said Judge Curran. “That’s why God made lawyers.”

Kelly and Terrell were released after signing personal recognizance bonds. On February 25th they returned to the court to attend Mary Beth Schlagheck’s trial for a protest at Volk Field last August. Due to an emergency hospitalization of one of the state’s witnesses, her trial was postponed.

Following the hearing, District Attorney, Michael Solovey agreed to an informal conference with Kelly and Terrell. He discussed a motion Terrell had filed that morning to dismiss the criminal charge of trespassing at a dwelling. Mr. Solovey said he expected the charge to be changed to the less serious forfeiture of trespassing on land. He was ready to accept a plea of no contest when he learned, at the end of the conference that the U.S. Air Force was asking for another criminal charge of disorderly conduct alleging that Kelly and Terrell had disrupted traffic in their protest. Kelly and Terrell told him a video taken by Joy First would verify that Kelly and Terrell did not disrupt traffic.

Kelly and Terrell await word from the DA about whether he will seek an additional charge. “We’re building on earlier efforts by Wisconsin activists,” said Terrell, “and we see today’s events as part of a continuum.”  Courtesy of http://vcnv.org

Be Encouraged! by Angela M. Collier 3/2/16

images-4Returning from the Bay Area I didn’t realize I was driving slowly. Eventually I noticed the city folk zipping around my measly sixty-five miles per hour, and realized my thoughts were everywhere but on the road. I was thinking about the child I just lost. Two miscarriages in a row and this year’s loss came with an added bonus. Within five minutes of being told “the baby is no more” came the news “…and you have a huge ugly tumor…” I was still stuck on the first part “…the baby is no more”, and the tumor issue, well I could have cared less.

Now that 2016 is off to a great start, I could hear the enemy softly whispering in my ear, questioning me as to what exactly what I would be writing in the weeks to come to encourage others in the midst of my sorrow. I’m not a robot, or made of plastic that I can just keep going and going no matter what life throws at me. Or can I? Looking down at the speedometer an internal debate began on whether I would write about this loss. I decided by writing, I would sucker punch the enemy- letting him know that no amount of pain would ever stop me from saying God is a good God and His plan for our lives is a glorious one.

If this article helps one reader than it was worth it. Even if I am completely miserable, depressed, and physically ill this month or months to come, my unseen enemy will not steal my joy. Joy is eternal and mine will not be taken. I could still find reasons to be thankful in this awful time. The blue ukulele my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day had kept me company in the hospital while he took care of the kiddos. In between getting poked, blood drawn, IV’s, ultrasounds and cat scans, and in between the heaviest of tears I had learned 7 chords in that hospital bed. As I overheard patients tell the intake staff they had no religious preference, no belief system and no Savior, I was thankful to know the Lord. I don’t just have a head knowledge of Him, but I know Him. Only Christ in me could manage to pray that they would one day encounter Jesus while I was processing my own reality. My prayers for them in my pain do not reflect any sainthood on my part, but rather the simple truth, that in our weakness, He is strong. I might not have a baby anymore, but I do have Jesus and He has me.

As I exited the hospital the incoming couple carrying their newborn child felt like a slap in the face, but yet I knew how much God loved me and that love will never change. Lastly, on my drive home back to our beautiful mountains, I was thankful for the song playing on the radio that captured every part of my being, I will leave you with the chorus of “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle. If you have a moment this week- play the song on YouTube and let it encourage you as it did me.

 ‘When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.”

This week remember, no matter what life throws at you- God is still on the throne and in Christ we already have the victory! God is good!
Always!

Sierra Valley Grange 2/24/16

The Sierra Valley Grange is proud to present Dave Stamey for 3 shows March 18th & 19th. Dave has been voted 6 time Western Entertainer of the Year, 6 time Male Performer of the Year, and 5 time Songwriter of the year by the Western Music Association. He has received the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists. True West Magazine has named Dave the Best Living Western Solo Musician for 2010, 2011, & 2013. Cowboys & Indians Magazine call’s him The Charlie Russell of Western Music. Western Horseman Magazine has declared his Vaquero Song to be one of the greatest Western Songs of All Time.

Dave Stamey has been a cowboy, a mule packer, a dude wrangler, and now is one of the most popular Western Entertainers working today. He has delighted audiences in 23 states and says he prefers it to being stomped on by angry horses. Dave has released 10 CD’s and will be preforming over 63 shows in 2016 alone. Tickets for Dave Stamey, Larry Maurice, & Gary Allgretto are expected to sell out. For ticket information contact Pam Oliveri or Rich Moore at svgcbpoetry@yahoo.com or call 831-345-9840 then check out the web site http://sierravalleygrange.org

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This Saturday is the Annual SnowBall with a Wild West theme, this is one of the funnest events in Downieville so don’t miss out. Music, dancing, raffles, laughter and a chance to dress up or down, whatever version the wild west you prefer.

The Downieville Seniors are preparing an Enchilada dinner for SnowBall goers at the Lunchroom in the Gymnasium at 5:30 pm  and of course Hwy 49 Eatery will be serving their very scrumptious specialties opening at 5 p.m 289-3389 for reservation or menu items.

We have very interesting guest columns this week from Rob Okun, Laura Finley and Mel Gurtov. It normally doesn’t seem right when a human speaks for G-d, but I have to say Rob’s ghostwritten message to Donald seems appropriately appropriate. And of course there is The Cats, Others, Carries Corner, District Attorney Cases, Sheriff’s Public Log, Dianne is shoveling snow and Gabby must be studying.

Come and visit us look up what you can do in the Sierra Sierra Nevada GeoTourism The photo is by Mary Davey As The Yuba Flows on Facebook, a walk out Wild Plum in Sierra City.

Dines Addresses DVL Lions 2/24/16

Downieville Lions Club (DLC) met on February 22 and Tommy Dines gave a presentation on his Senior Project at Downieville High School to the gathering. Tommy  will be holding a Basketball Camp for Sierra County basketball player in April. The DLC voted to donate to the Downieville Boosters Club to help offset expenses for the Camp. David Marshall, retired Undersheriff and former DHS Coach will be a Mentor for the project.

Lion Doug Wight of the Nevada City Lions spoke to the DLC regarding his candidacy for the District 4-C5 2nd Vice District Governor. Wight has been a frequent visitor to the DLC and is appreciated for his commitment to our District 4-C5. There was a unanimous vote to endorse Doug Wight for the position by DLC members.

The very good scrumptious dinner was catered by the Hwy 49 Eatery. Be sure to mark your calendars for March 5th when Matthew Lozano will compete in the next level of the International Lions Club Speech Contest. Call Karen Galan for more information at 289-3595

The Cats 2/24/16

Yes, I'm working... I am always working.. watching what Dylan and David are doing is my job. Laura doesn't need watching, Aidan is going to be a Star watcher, so don't question me again.... Patrick Fisher

2/24/16 Yes, I’m working… I am always working.. watching what Dylan and David are doing is my full time job. Laura doesn’t need watching, and Aidan is going to be a Star Watcher, so don’t question me again…. Patrick Fisher

NSJ Easter Week 2/24/16

EASTER WEEK AT NORTH SAN JUAN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH                  by Pastor Patty Inis

We are happy to offer an exciting and meaningful Easter week for our communities.

3/20 PALM SUNDAY SERVICEn@ 9 AM “What’s with the Garden?”

3/24 THURSDAY EVENING SERVICE OF SHADOWS @ 6 PM Dramatic Presentation of Jesus last days on earth.

3/27 EASTER MORNING CELEBRATION AND BRUNCH @9 AM “Hide and Seek”Please join us for all of these activities. We are relaxed, relevant and friendly.EVERYONE IS WELCOME! PLEASE COME CHECK US OUT! 10121 Flume St. pastorpattynsjumc@gmail.com 916-500-8361

Barbie is Watching 2/24/16

Dark Spots, Light Spots, and Apple’s Protest   by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

How’s this for bad choices? A recent study by a Harvard group contended with the position of US intelligence agencies that tracking possible terrorists was becoming more difficult because there are too many “dark spots”—places where data can be encrypted to prevent tracking. Harvard “reassured” the FBI, CIA, and others that new technologies embedded in common objects will provide (or already provide) plenty of additional tracking opportunities. What are these? How about toothbrushes, toys (yes, Barbie dolls), television, and light bulbs, just for starters? These are the “Internet of things,” in the cute phrase of one law professor quoted in the article above. But let’s just call them light spots.

I suppose we are intended to feel comforted by the thought that we’re safe on both ends of the surveillance machine—the intelligence community’s and the corporations’. Obviously, those of us who are still worrying about how Facebook, Google, and Amazon—the Big Three of Social Monitoring—keep us (and the authorities) in their sights are not thinking ahead. We have already surrendered our privacy to them by signing up every day for their services, and by standing by while they willy-nilly transfer data to government agencies.

Europe’s national regulators, as distinct from the European Commission, suspect that the latest US-EU “Privacy Shield” agreement on personal data transfer does not adequately safeguard privacy. All 28 EU member-states must sign off on the agreement for it to take effect. They want assurances that Europeans’ private information will not find its way into the hands of US intelligence services. I doubt the Big Three will provide them. And if they do, who would believe them?

Like most Europeans, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, believes that some dark spots deserve protection. Reminding us that we the consumer are “the product” and not really the customer when it comes to tracking of our likes and dislikes by Facebook et al., Cook has emerged as a stout defender of privacy against the demands of the FBI in the San Bernardino terrorism case. He so far has rejected the US government’s demand, backed by a court decision, to unlock Apple smart phones in order to access one terrorist’s data. Correctly, Cook sees surrendering to this request as having the potential to open the floodgates, allowing either the government or criminals to gain backdoor entry to people’s private information. Cynics might say that he really wants to protect Apple’s proprietary encryption software, which evidently is much stronger than Google’s and the other giants’. And clearly, Cook is concerned about the integrity of the Apple brand. But motives aside, Cook’s action is laudable.

Interestingly, Cook’s impassioned defense of privacy has detractors and fence-sitters in the high-tech community. Everyone among them want to protect their security systems. But those companies which, like the Big Three, rely on Internet advertising and personal data entries to monitor tastes and movements will be loath to support Cook’s tough stand—all the more so if they have contracts with police departments and federal agencies, such as Amazon’s with the CIA and Microsoft’s with the Department of Defense. But those which, like Apple, mainly sell hardware are likely to support him.

In the end, Apple may have to concede at least to providing the specific data the FBI is demanding. But let’s not lose sight of the core issue. We’re all in a bitter struggle to preserve our freedom of thought and movement against the rising tide of security-firsters who will forever contend that sacrificing our privacy is necessary if we are to erase the dark spots. By their logic, 1984 is finally here, and embedding security (i.e., surveillance) chips in toothbrushes, children’s toys, and everywhere else The Enemy might lurk is both necessary and proper. You’d better consider flossing regularly and having your kids play with sticks and stones. Barbie is watching, and even Tim Cook can’t stop her.

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

Dearest Donald 2/24/16

God Responds to Donald Trump  by  Rob Okun

Donald, my son,

Rob Okun

Rob Okun

I have been troubled for some time knowing you don’t feel a need to ask Me for forgiveness when you’ve done something wrong. And now, with your strong remarks to one of my staff, Pope Francis, I felt even more urgency to write.

“I love God and I love my church,” you said last July. That’s good. Yet, in practically the same breath you said you don’t ask Me for forgiveness for any of your transgressions. You told a CNN reporter, “If I do something wrong… I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture; I don’t.”

Don’t bring Me into the picture? Really? And then you said—talking about Communion—that “When I drink my little wine (which is about the only wine I drink) and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed.”

“Drink your little wine. Have your little cracker?” That’s how you “feel cleansed?”

Why do you need to ask Me for forgiveness? Pope Francis told a reporter that, “A person who thinks only about building walls—wherever they may be—and not building bridges is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.” Donald, that was an opportunity to stop, to think, to pray—to take some time in deep contemplation. At the very least, it was an opportunity to request an audience with the Pope. Instead, you said, “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful… When the Vatican is attacked by ISIS—which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy—I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President…”

The Pope pray for you, Donald?

Inciting people’s fallen angels is not the road to a principled life. Calling for a ban on Muslims entering your country? Advocating spying on mosques? Considering establishing a database of all Muslims living in the U.S.? That’s your idea of how to “Make America Great Again”?
You want people of faith to support you, yet you keep making divisive, mean-spirited remarks. A couple of my senior people— archangels Michael and Gabriel—think I’m being too soft on you. I disagree; I believe you understand where I’m coming from without My having to lash out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; with great terror and with signs and wonders.

Sexist comments about women? Racist remarks about people of color? Humiliating and denigrating Muslims, immigrants, and minorities? Saying, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters?” Oy.

Donald, one of my angels showed up for a staff meeting on Friday sporting a T-shirt with the words, “Love” and “Fear” printed chest high, and spaced far apart. The arrows beneath each of the words pointed to the same phrase: “You Choose.” A real WWJD moment, don’t you think?

A few months ago I wrote to Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who was refusing to issue marriage licenses. I told her the essence of all I do can be boiled down to two words: “Love wins.” Today, thinking about you, Donald, I’m adding two more: “Forgiveness counts.”

If you want to feel cleansed, it’s going to take more than having a little wine…and a little cracker. It’s going to take actually asking for forgiveness.
Be in touch, Don, when you’re ready.
G

Rob Okun is a psychotherapist practicing in Amherst, Massachusetts and the editor of Voice Male, a national magazine chronicling the transformation of masculinity. He writes for PeaceVoice.

Get A New Car 2/24/16

It’s Time to Stop Tinkering  by Laura Finley, Ph.D.

Laura Finley

Laura Finley

Most off us have that person in our life—maybe we even are that person—who hates to throw anything away and thus, despite multiple problems over a length of time, will tinker with something in an attempt to patch it up enough that it remains functioning, at least in part. My dad would do this with cars, borrowing parts from other cars, painting over scratches, and attempting to jimmy-rig whatever he could to get a few more drives out of the old Caprice Classic. At some point, though, he realized that it’s just not a good plan to have to jumpstart the car every time before you drive it. Having such a broken vehicle is cumbersome, inefficient, and prone to other bigger problems, like leaving the drivers stranded somewhere dangerous. A desperately broken car can even be deadly. The time comes, sometimes, to just get a new car.

This is how I feel about many vexing social issues in the U.S. Take the death penalty. It has been decades since the Supreme Court ruled in Furman v. Georgia (1972) that the processes used by states to impose death sentences were far too arbitrary and issued a moratorium that lasted four years. Since that time, many states have elected to abolish the death penalty, but others carry on, despite continued requirements to make an array of adjustments, including ensuring only judges issue death sentences, prohibitions on executing the mentally ill and juvenile offenders, and more. Justice Harry A. Blackmun renounced such “tinkering with the machinery of death” in February 1994. Repeated cases before the Court could have been “the one,” the time when they finally decided enough already.

But no. The Court has not yet had the courage to do more than monkey around with the desperately broken systems of capital punishment. For example, the Court’s decision in Hurst v. Florida this year has prompted my current home state of Florida to Macgyver their system once again, rather than stop tinkering and abolish the death penalty altogether. The time has come to get a new car, people. Stop tweaking this fatally flawed system.

Then there is the issue of gun laws. Hotly debated and politically charged, the conversation is almost always focused on tinkering with our laws—adding here, removing there—a brutal catfight that has resulted in a total hodgepodge, all revolving around the interpretation of a one-sentence Amendment adopted 225 years ago. This despite the fact that a recent study found more Americans have died from gun violence since 1989 than from all combat since the Revolutionary War. Stop tinkering, people. Abolish the Second Amendment and make all guns illegal. There, I said it.

Another unrelated issue on which tinkering can no longer be our answer: Football. Not only do numerous studies show the physical damage to players, with high rates of concussions and data showing that professional football players have life expectancies some 20 years less than both white and black males, but new research is also linking football games to increased rates of sexual assault on campuses. A report by Shankar Vedantam on NPR on February 17, 2016 noted that on home game days, there was a 41 percent increase in rape reports among 96 Division I universities with football teams. Enough, already. No amount of tinkering can change the fact that football is inherently violent. Let’s end this violent sport and allow gifted athletes to pursue other less dangerous (individually and socially) athletics.

I doubt this perspective will be popular. That’s fine. I am not out to win a popularity contest. Rather, I wish only that the U.S. would be brave enough, strong enough, creative enough…all those qualities on which we pride ourselves, which are viewed as quintessentially American…to stop messing around with deeply broken systems and to pursue radical transformations that will make the U.S. a better country.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Spring Wildflower Walks 2/24/16

2016 WILDFLOWER WALKS BEGIN MARCH 6
AT BRIDGEPORT ALONG THE SOUTH YUBA RIVER

State Park Docents will lead guided Wildflower Walks every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. beginning on Sunday March 6 and continuing through at least Mother’s Day, May 8. Depending on how the flowers are doing, we may go to mid-May.

Guided hikes last about two hours along the Buttermilk Bend trail, an easy 2.5 mile round trip hike. Meet at the trail head in the north parking lot, just past the concrete bridge which crosses the South Yuba River on Pleasant Valley Road. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended along with a hat, sunscreen, and remember to bring water. A $3.00 donation is requested and appreciated.

For more information throughout our short season, call the park at (530) 432-2546, or go to http://www.southyubariverstatepark.org. (Rain will cancel walks)

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