Wednesday June 29, 2016


This coming weekend is the 4th of July and there is nothing like a 4th in Sierra County. Parades in Downieville and Loyalton. Picnics, Vendors, and lots of fun. enjoy the BBQ and street dance on Saturday and the traditional parade and foot races and especially the famous “fireless fireworks” as the parade’s grand finale on Monday, July 4th!  Downieville is now famed for its Fireless Fireworks the length of Main Street following the Parade. If you’ve never seen it you are in for a treat your feet are the igniters. And if you are a Veteran, you are this years Grand Marshall of the Downieville Parade so make sure to get in the front with the Veterans of Sierra County.

First of all a big thanks to Tim Beals and the Sierra County road crew and Steve Folsom and Caltrans road crew for cleaning up town the last couple days.  Yesterday the Caltrans crew was sweeping and cleaning up the streets. Today the county road crew repainted all the lines on the streets and parking spaces. The merchants and I’m sure the residents appreciate the work.

During the July 4th weekend celebration, it is an opportune time to purchase your Brewfest tickets for Saturday, August 13 at 2 PM – 6 PM ! Tickets are available at Sierra Hardware, Downieville Day Spa, St. Charles Place Saloon, the Second Hand Store, 49Wines and Vintage Gal Antiques. There will also be a ticket sales table set up in town. Visit for more.

While you’re here enjoy the food at Coyoteville, La Cocina del Oro, Jada’s, Two Rivers Cafe, Smoothieville for ice cream and enjoy a cold one at the St. Charles. In Sierra City, the Country Store has the best fantastic sandwiches, Red Moose for Fish & Chips, Herrington’s Restaurant, breakfast and dinner and of course Sardine Lake Lodge and Packer Lake Lodge for scrumptious dinners.  You can find things to do  in Graeagle right here

So we have Tom Hastings, Winslow Myers, Rivera Sun and Mel Gurtov for the moments we can sit and think about life and how we can make it better for humanity, we are a very small planet. Dianne got a new computer and is back with her Pondering, The Cats, The Others, local news and happenings. Please have a fun and safe 4th and do not start any fires please.

This weeks photo is not in Sierra County but near Pahrump, NV where Janice Maddox saw a spectacular sky and shared it with us.

and if you have any Nehi grape soda please get it to Don Russell asap.

DVL Lions Meetings 6/29/16

For the first time in an almost century the Downieville Lions Club has changed their meeting date to the 3rd Monday of each month beginning on July 18th at 6 p.m. The Lions are extending an invitation to anyone in Sierra County who would like to be part of a fun group, who actively volunteer and participate in almost every event in the county. We need you and want you come to a dinner meeting as our guest to see what it is like to be a Lion. Call or email membership co-chairs Mary Ervin 862-1173 or Liz Fisher 289-3632 for location of meeting, sometimes we do Potlucks and sometimes we meet at local restaurants.

Tea Out the Window 6/29/16

Rivera Sun

Rivera Sun

The Nonviolent History of American Independence -by Rivera Sun

Independence Day is commemorated with fireworks and flag-waving, gun salutes and military parades . . . however, one of our nation’s founding fathers, John Adams, wrote, “A history of military operations . . . is not a history of the American Revolution.”

Often minimized in our history books, the tactics of nonviolent action played a powerful role in achieving American Independence from British rule. Benjamin Naimark-Rowse wrote, “the lesson we learn of a democracy forged in the crucible of revolutionary war tends to ignore how a decade of nonviolent resistance before the shot-heard-round-the-world shaped the founding of the United States, strengthened our sense of political identity, and laid the foundation of our democracy.”

One hundred-fifty years before Gandhi, the American colonists employed many of the same nonviolent actions the Indian Self-Rule Movement would later use to free themselves from the same empire – Great Britain. The boycotting of British goods (tea, cloth, and other imported items) significantly undermined British profits from the colonies. Noncooperation with unjust laws eroded British authority as the colonists refused to comply with laws that restricted assembly and speech, allowed the quartering of soldiers in colonists’ homes, and imposed curfews. Non-payment of taxes would prove to be a landmark issue for the independence movement. The development of parallel governments and legal structures strengthened the self-rule and self-reliance of the colonists and grew local political control that would ultimately prove strong enough to replace British governance of the colonies. Acts of protest and persuasion, petitions, pamphlets, rallies, marches, denouncements, legal and illegal publications of articles, and disruption of British meetings and legal proceedings were also employed.

Some of the most powerful boycotts in nonviolent history occurred in the New England colonies against the British Crown. Though the term boycott would not emerge for another hundred years until the Irish coined it during tenant and land struggles, what the colonists called “nonimportation programs” dropped British revenue in New England by 88 percent between 1774 and 1775. In the Carolinas, colonists deprived the Crown of 98.7 percent of import revenue. Moreover, in Virginia and Maryland, the rate reached an impressive 99.6 percent participation.

Resistance to the Stamp Act of 1764 thru 1775 dropped revenues 95 percent below what was expected. The British could not even pay for the cost of enforcing the Stamp Act throughout the colonies, and it was repealed in 1766. Newspapers published without paying the Stamp Tax used noms de plume to avoid reprisal. Courts closed because lawyers and judges refused to pay the Stamp Act for the printing of court documents. Shipping permits were supposed to be stamped, and, since merchants and shippers refused to pay the tax, ports closed, and even official documents were not delivered! Merchants of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia pledged a nonimportation pact until the Stamp Act was repealed. Six months later (at a time when crossing the Atlantic by sail took at least six weeks, and sometimes as long as three months), the Crown repealed the Stamp Act under pressure from its own panicked merchants.

In a campaign that is strikingly familiar to Gandhi’s spinning campaign, the American boycott of imported British cloth held spin-ins, whereby young women gathered in large groups to spin homespun yarn for weaving cloth. Colonists even stopped wearing the traditional funeral black (which mirrored English style) in protest of Great Britain. Women played significant roles in all the nonimportation programs, especially the resistance to the notorious Tea Act. While everyone remembers the Boston Tea Party’s dumping of tea into the Boston Harbor, few Americans have heard about how Susan Boudinot. She was the nine-year-old daughter of a New Jersey patriot, who, when handed a cup of tea while visiting the governor, curtsied, raised the cup to her lips, and then tossed the tea out the window.

These are just some of the many nonviolent actions engaged in by Americans in their struggle for independence. Some scholars even go so far as to call the Revolutionary War, the “War of Reclamation,” for the revolution had already been won in the hearts, minds, homes, and practices of the people by the time the British Crown sought to reclaim the independent and self-governing colonies. This Independence Day, tell the stories of the role nonviolent action played in establishing the United States. Perhaps by next year, we will be participating in re-enactments of spin-ins, holding mock funerals for Lady Liberty, and engaging in boycotts of imported goods to commemorate how American Independence was actually won.

Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books, and the Programs Coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence.

RFP Jim Crow Bridge 6/29/16

Sierra County
Department of Transportation

Request for Proposals to Provide
Construction Management Services for
Jim Crow Road Bridge Rehabilitation Project
Federal Aid Project Number BRLO-5913 (055)

Notice is given that a Request for Proposals to provide Construction Inspection and Materials Testing for the Jim Crow Road Bridge Rehabilitation at the North Fork of the Yuba River has been issued. The County will enter into a negotiated contract with the selected consultant. The Consultant shall provide all required construction engineering and inspection services for the Jim Crow Road Bridge Rehabilitation, as outlined in the Request for Proposals, including but not limited to a Resident Engineer and project inspector(s) responsible for the inspection, materials testing, environmental monitoring, labor compliance and construction management services in conformance with all County and State standards and standard practice for federally funded projects.

The Request for Proposals, including Scope of Work and sample agreement, can be obtained at the Sierra County Department of Transportation, 101 Courthouse Square, Downieville, California 95936, Telephone 530-289-3201 or online at Proposals must be delivered (not post-marked) in sealed envelopes no later than 2:00 p.m. on Friday July 8, 2016 in a format as described in the Request for Proposals to Sierra County Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 98, 101 Courthouse Square, Downieville, CA 95936.

Everything We Cherish 6/29/16

Winslow Myers

Winslow Myers

Up Against the Wall  – by Winslow Myers

Everything on our small planet affects everything else. This interdependence is more a harsh reality than a New Age bromide. A diminishing few may still deny human agency in climate instability, but they can hardly pretend that diseases, or wind-driven pollution, are stoppable by national borders. Even Donald Trump would not be able to build a wall that stopped the Zika virus, or micro-particulates wafting from the coal plants in China, or the cross-Pacific drift of radioactive water from Fukushima.

It is especially urgent that we understand the bizarre interdependence that arises from the reality that nine nations possess nuclear weapons. It no longer matters how many nuclear weapons a given country has, because detonation of such weapons by any nation, even a relatively small portion of the world’s arsenals, could result in a “nuclear winter” that would have planet-wide disastrous effects.

We have reached a wall, not a physical Trump-style wall, but an absolute limit of destructive power that changes everything. The implications even reverberate back down into supposedly smaller, non-nuclear conflicts. The late Admiral Eugene Carroll, who was once in charge of all American nuclear weapons in the European theater, said it straight out: “to prevent nuclear war, we must prevent all war.” Any war involving any nuclear power, including such regional conflicts as the ongoing border dispute in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, could rapidly escalate to the nuclear level.

Apparently, this notion, understandable enough to a layperson like me, has not sunk in at the highest levels of foreign policy expertise in our own and other countries. If it had, the United States would not be committing itself to a trillion-dollar upgrade of its nuclear arsenal. Nor would Russia be spending more on such weapons, nor India, nor Pakistan.

The analogy with America’s gun obsession is inescapable. Many politicians and the lobbyists who contribute to their campaigns, defying common sense, advocate for an expansion of rights and permits to carry guns into classrooms and churches and even bars, arguing that if everyone had a gun, we would all be more secure. Would the world be safer if more countries or God forbid all countries, possessed nuclear weapons—or would we be safer if none did?

When it comes to how we think about these weapons, the concept of “enemy” itself needs to be mindfully re-examined. The weapons themselves have become everyone’s enemy, an enemy much fiercer than the evilest human adversary imaginable. Because we share the reality that my security depends upon yours and yours upon mine, the concept of an enemy that can be effectively annihilated by superior nuclear firepower has become obsolete. Meanwhile, our thousands of weapons remain poised and ready for someone to make a fatal mistake and annihilate everything we cherish.

The most implacable adversaries are precisely the parties who should be reaching out and talking to each other with the most urgency: India and Pakistan, Russia and the U.S., South and North Korea. The difficult achievement of the treaty slowing and limiting the ability of Iran to make nuclear weapons is beyond laudable, but we need to augment its strength by building webs of friendship between U.S. and Iranian citizens. Instead, the status quo of mistrust is maintained by obsolete stereotypes reinforced by elected officials and pundits.

Important as are treaties of non-proliferation and war-prevention, networks of genuine human relationship are even more crucial. As the peace activist David Hartsough has written about his recent trip to Russia: “Instead of sending military troops to the borders of Russia, let’s send lots more citizen diplomacy delegations like ours to Russia to get to know the Russian people and learn that we are all one human family. We can build peace and understanding between our peoples.” Far from the easy dismissal as naive, it is actually the best realistic way our species can get past the wall of absolute destruction that contains no way out on the level of military superiority.

Reagan and Gorbachev came very close to agreeing to abolish their two nations’ nukes in their conference in Reykjavik in 1986. It could have happened. It should have happened. We need leaders with the vision and daring to push all-out for abolition. As a citizen with no special expertise, I cannot understand how a person as smart as President Obama could go to Hiroshima and hedge his statements about the abolition of nuclear weapons with mealy phrases like “We may not realize this goal in my lifetime.” I hope Mr. Obama makes as great an ex-president as has Jimmy Carter. Set free from the political constraints of his office, perhaps he will join Mr. Carter in robust peace initiatives that use his relationships with world leaders to seek real change.

His voice will be crucial, but it is only one voice. NGOs like Rotary International, with 1.2 million members in thousands of clubs in virtually all countries, are our safest, quickest way to real security. However, for organizations like Rotary to really take on war prevention as it took on the worldwide eradication of polio, rank-and-file Rotarians, like all citizens, must awaken to the degree to which everything has changed, and reach across walls of alienation to supposed enemies. The horrific possibility of nuclear winter is in an odd way positive because it represents the self-defeating absolute limit of military force up against which the whole planet has come. We all find ourselves up against a wall of impending doom—and potential hope.

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.

Mountain Messenger (epiphany) 6/29/16

I was hoping if I just started writing an epiphany would appear and suddenly the meaning and truth of Don Russell would become apparent. It didn’t work. WAIT.. THIS JUST IN FROM JILL – “Don Russell has been grumpy this week. Possibly it is the heat. Maybe it’s just civilization in general. Or, and this is what is most likely causing his even less than pleasant personality this week – his request for grape NeHi soda has gone unanswered. Man he loves that sugar-filled carbonated beverage. His poor underpaid, overworked, unappreciated office gal (she wears almost as many hats as Tim Beals does, only Beals’ hats are fancier) has been trying to appease her boss with a dang grape NeHi (bonus points!). Alas, her search has been to no avail.If anyone knows where to score some good grape, please email Jill at the Mess  the Mess. Please!”

The mystery of Don continues. So Don is prepared to have his usual wild 4th of July weekend having fun with friends and enemies in Downieville or Grass Valley/Nevada City, someone said he had a friend there, possibly named Nuke, but not a for sure thing. In case you wonder why we celebrate the 4th the Mountain Messenger prints the complete text of Declaration of Independence, it is a historical issue that you do not want to miss. If you don’t have a subscription come to town, have fun and visit a newsstand. Best to have a subscription because then you never miss a word of the Editor’s rants, he rants quite often, they are educational, pithy and humorous all at the same time depending on your perspective. Subscription information is below the photo below…..

Don Russell, a little confused as usual, is waiting for the Downieville 4th parade to begin.

6/29/16 Don Russell, a little confused as usual, is waiting for the Downieville 4th parade to begin.

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

Get a Normal Process 6/29/16

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

Get to work or wait for the voters’ verdict  -by Tom H. Hastings

Judge Merrick Garland, chief judge of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is President Obama’s nominee, as we all know, for the vacant seat on the US Supreme Court. The deadbeat Republicans in the US Senate, using their usual underhanded tricks, have refused to even consider this nominee or any other put forth by the president. How many things are wrong with this stonewalling posture?

· We see the results—all truly controversial issues of great import go undecided by the Supremes now because they are at a 4-4 tie.

· Republican leadership is virtually unanimous in being factually woefully in error that there is a rule or a custom not to make such nominations in the final year of a presidency. This is something that might be unusual but hardly rare, and presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson to Dwight Eisenhower and more have all done so, some successfully, some not, all at least were afforded a normal process.

· Republicans need to stop calling President Obama a lame duck. He is not. After the election and before inauguration is the lame duck period. He is just a sitting president currently and he did his job finding a nominee.

· By saying that a president cannot do his job—that we elected him to do twice—that logic should ridiculously extend to all elected officials because they might not get re-elected, so they presumably can’t make any decisions until we “let the American people decide the direction of the court.” Instead of an early July 4 recess to avoid thinking about banning assault weapons, just recess until next January, without your obstructionist pay.

I personally wish President Obama would have nominated someone with a stronger human rights, civil rights, and environmental protection track record. But at the very least, the Senate should do its job and hold the hearings and confirm or reject the Garland nomination. The American Bar Association gave the judge its highest rating and he was confirmed easily by a bipartisan vote to the Circuit Court.

President Obama was just handed a defeat on shielding the parents of Dreamers from deportation, a 4-4 tie by the stymied Supremes that let stand the ruling of a lower court because that’s what a tie vote does. This question—and all others that are close and controversial–cannot be dispositively decided until sometime in the distant future, after the election, after inauguration, after nomination, after hearings, after possible confirmation. Nice job, Republicans, you scofflaw dirty tricksters. I hope the American people do indeed decide the direction of the court by voting you out.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Graeagle Barn Dance 6/29/16

Kicking off the Fourth of July events this year, the Graeagle Lions Club is scheduled to host the Dance at the Barn on Friday, July 1st at the Corner Barn in Graeagle located on Highways 89 & 70. Admission is $6 per person and the event goes from 6 to 11pm. This annual event features an evening of dancing, drinks and hot rods. The music will start at 7 pm with music by Blue Haven, and there will be fabulous hot rods courtesy of the Sierra Cascade Street Rodders. Hamburgers, hotdogs, beer and wine will be for sale, so plan to kick off the Fourth with some fun! For more information on this event contact the Graeagle Lions Club at 530- 836-2200. Visit our official MVID Celebration page at for more information and an updated schedule of events.

Dianne Ponders Generosity 6/29/16

Dianne Severance

Dianne Severance

Between massacres and Donald Trump, my outlook on life had taken a downhill turn until last Saturday, when an act of generosity brightened my day (if not month).

I have been without a reliable computer for a few weeks now and was unable to write even a few lines for the Sierra Prospect. Frankly, I was not in a position to buy another computer. Then on Saturday, my doorbell rang and there was my neighbor with what looked like a computer box for a desktop and a big smile.

“What’s this!” I exclaimed, as James walked into my apartment with his booty.

He replied, “I told you I was working on something to get you a better computer, and here it is!”

He then proceeded to disconnect my old clunker (which had Windows XP and the slowest response time since the building of the Ark). Two hours later, after much hard work and a few groans along the way, my new (used) computer was working and I was able to let Liz Fisher know that I would write a column for this week.

I could write reams of copy against Donald Trump, I thought, but the idea made me stomach sick. As for my position on gun control, I believe we need to keep the assault rifle off the public market. I am sure the country’s founders did not imagine the rampant gun mentality — or madness — that rages through our country now. From Columbine on, we’ve been assailed by almost weekly or monthly tales of mass slaughters to the point we are almost numb to them.

I chose to write about generosity because James’ story is one of pride and bigness of heart.

He has served in the military, and had several good jobs as a computer expert with such companies as IBM. When he became ill with a rare form of leukemia he was forced to take on a job as an apartment building superintendent. Now, he is disabled and on a fixed income, like the rest of us in my apartment building. His medical bills are monumental, and he lives in constant pain from tumors throughout his body.

Yet, he finds ways to be of service to many of us and to give us joy and pride and even an every-other-month treat of Dunkin’ Donuts.. I asked James what I owed him for the computer, and he replied evasively … nothing. I finally persuaded him to let me buy him lunch, and I called in the order on my charge card.

After the computer was installed, James ate his lunch (by then almost supper). I again asked him what else I could do to pay him back and he refused once again to discuss it.

So, this column is a tribute to a friend and his generosity, and to his courage and example of living a brave life. He has made my life richer.


Myths VS Reality 6/29/16

Stephanie Van Hook

Stephanie Van Hook

The Time for Silence is Over: Grasping the Reality of Nonviolence

by Stephanie Van Hook

The Background: With a rainbow pin on his lapel, signifying–on that day at least–the most recent gun massacre in the United States, Congressman John Lewis made an impassioned cri de coeur before members of Congress and the people of this country: the time for silence is over. “Sometimes,” he said, “you have to do something out of the ordinary.” And that’s just what they did: he and other members of his party put their bodies in the way of the daily operations of the Congress, by using a nonviolent tactic known as a sit-in–when you occupy a space in order to dramatize an unmet need; in this case, the need to do something for gun control on behalf of the American people who put them in office to strengthen their common security. While the Speaker of the House had the C-Span cameras turned off, in an effort to censor what was taking place–knowing the power of the media–others whipped out their phones, sent a live-feed to Periscope, and C-Span picked it up anyway. It was “out of the ordinary,” indeed. It was the first time an event of this scale had taken place in the U.S. Congress. Lewis himself, of course, is a legendary Civil Rights-era nonviolent activist. After 26 hours, the congresspeople end the sit-in, and Congressman Lewis claims it as a victory.

Enter the media. What just happened? And this is the problem. Our media–most of them, at least–can give us the sordid, often insignificant details of a violent event, to the point of having us live and re-live the trauma. But our media does not tell us how to stop such events from happening. In other words, when it comes to understanding nonviolence, its principles and strategic dynamics, our media is sorely lacking. The way that the mass-media, and even progressives on social media, represent what took place can give us insight into some myths held about nonviolence, and offer a teaching moment to go deeper. Because if nonviolence were better understood, we’d quickly grasp that it makes us safer than guns any day. As father of the Catholic Worker Movement, Peter Maurin said, “we need to build a society where it is easier for people to be good.” Nonviolence, properly understood, even just slightly so, can do just that.

Gandhi coined a term for nonviolent struggle: satyagraha. It means “grasping to reality.” Imagine if our media could help us to that. In this spirit, then, let’s ever so briefly glance at what the media has gotten wrong about this event so we can better understand it and in the process elevate another story about who we are and what makes us safe:

Myth One: You can’t be angry and be nonviolent.

Reality: When we listen to Lewis’s speech, it confronts a very basic assumption that has to be overcome about the source of nonviolent power: Anger. He’s angry, no doubt about it, but he knows a secret about that anger: how to use it: to transform and channel it toward constructive action. As Martin Luther King famously said, “We did not cause outbursts of anger; we harnessed anger under discipline for maximum effect.” Remember this the next time you feel angry at injustice: make it work for–not against–you. It’s good fuel when coupled with discernment and discipline.

Myth Two: You have to dislike/hate/disassociate from your opponents.

Reality: Corporate media, and progressive media for that matter, have both made statements to the effect of Lewis breaking his friendship with House Speaker Ryan, with whom he even walked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to honor the famous 1965 march in Selma. One article that circulated in several corporate outlets offered a sad (and sadly incorrect) analysis that Lewis used to be on Ryan’s side but now with this sit-in, it seems that those days are over. Not true. In nonviolence, we can oppose people, even our friends and colleagues, and not feel separate from them. We don’t have to hate someone to oppose what they are doing. Secondly, the media is setting up that infamous dualism that pervades every story, every movie, every news plot about anything from sports to political rivals to terrorism: good guys vs. bad guys. There are not good and bad people. There are people who make choices based on information and constraints that they have, both personally and politically. Nonviolence can help cut through all of it and get to the heart of the matter. Never are we against persons, we are against what people do. There’s a critical difference.

Myth Three: If you don’t get what you want, your nonviolence didn’t work.

Reality: It’s interesting that no one yet has really analyzed the strangeness of Congressman Lewis’s declaration of victory. How could they “win” if they didn’t get what they wanted? They were not granted a vote, after all, so what happened? Michael Nagler’s concept of “work” vs. work sheds light on this one: sometimes in nonviolence, you get what you want, and it works; and sometimes you don’t get what you want, and it still works. Whenever we use nonviolence, we inject positive, humanizing energy into a situation of escalating dehumanization, and every ounce of that nonviolent energy does constructive work. It is not lost. Ever. One of Gandhi’s biographers, the late B.R. Nanda, put it this way, “nonviolence is the kind of thing where you can lose all of the battles and still go on to win the war.” Not to mention, it’s entirely good strategy to claim real victories, however small, as they take place, and even more strategic to do so without humiliating those whose actions you are opposing.

Myth Four: Nonviolence does not have any logic. It’s signing petitions and sit-ins. Nothing else.

Reality: Again, not true. Congressman Lewis demonstrated that there is a natural escalation to nonviolent action. This is described in Nagler’s Search for a Nonviolent Future with a nonviolent conflict escalation curve. In Phase One of a conflict when the dehumanizing is still low, you reach for the basic, and well-known tools of conflict resolution. This is the time for petitions, for meetings, for letter writing, mediation. And this is necessary. You start here, assuming your opponents are listening to you — and you are listening to them. You’re all prepared to work on a solution, however hard it might be. But when it is signaled that your opponent is not listening to you, when dehumanization escalates, nonviolence has to do the same. This is Phase Two: satyagraha, creative nonviolent action that puts ourselves in the way of the operation of society as normal.

Myth Five: Either you’re nonviolent or you are not. And if you’re not, you’ll never get there, so don’t even try.

Reality: Even though Congressman Lewis has an admirable track record for nonviolent action, being literally an icon of the most famous nonviolent movement in the United States, from going on the Freedom Rides to acting as a key leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a lifetime champion of civil rights in general, he was surrounded by colleagues–and a public–whose lives have been very different. But nonviolence is not reserved for a Congressman Lewis alone. It’s an invitation to all of us. No matter where we’ve been on issues in the past, we can change. In fact, if we do not allow each other to change, or humiliate people until they do, we have to ask ourselves if we are making a strategically sound choice that will create a tipping point or if it will only harden people’s stance? Allowing each other our full humanity means giving all of us, no matter what we’ve done in the past, no matter what choices we’ve made, a chance to live up to something else. No one heard a word of humiliation from Lewis. We can learn something from him on this point. It’s intentional and strategic, not merely a moral choice, because nonviolence at the end of the day is not a moral issue; it’s not black and white: it’s the art of justice with dignity, a science of belonging, of the untapped human capacity for mercy.

Gandhi’s own cri de coeur resounds now through the decades since his great experiments: “Nonviolence is not the inanity it has been taken for throughout the ages.” It’s a science; it’s a skill–and it’s time that we learned everything we can about it, because nothing else is going to make this country secure. For those of us who want the world that Congressman Lewis and his colleagues sat down for, let’s seize this opportunity to end the silence, too, and tell the real story behind his words and actions on the floor of Congress last week.

–Stephanie Van Hook is the Executive Director of the Metta Center.

Not The End 6/29/16

Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

Is Brexit the end of the world?   -by Mel Gurtov

To judge from a New York Times front-page article that appeared two days after the British vote to withdraw from the EU, the entire post-World War II global financial and political structure that the United States led into existence is now imperiled. Western democracy, financial institutions, liberal trade and immigration policies, and alliances are all under challenge now. Right-wing populism is pushing forces opposed to all these arrangements, especially when they are presided over by a supranational structure such as the European Union (EU) that may impinge on national interests. In short, the article contends, Brexit will not only dramatically reduce Great Britain’s influence, economic growth, and even size (if Scotland gains independence); it will turn the world as we know it upside down. I think it is much too early to sound the alarm bell.

To be sure, the impact on the United Kingdom is bound to be severe and long-term. It will now be “on the other side of the negotiating table” from the EU, as one observer said. That means prolonged and potentially painful new trade, travel, and work arrangements that will end up costing British consumers and firms dearly. Both the Conservative and Labour parties will be in turmoil for some time, their leaders blamed for failure at the polls and new leaders struggling to find a way out of a huge mess. Social conflict may escalate, particularly anti-immigrant violence.

But will Britain’s pain extend to others? The EU may well be weakened as it loses a major international player, particularly when it comes to dealing with Russia over Ukraine and Syria, China over human rights and trade, and large-scale economic assistance to troubled economies such as Greece’s. Even more fundamentally, Brexit may be imitated, as nationalist parties in France, Netherlands, and Sweden gain followings for closing their doors to refugees and pulling out of the EU. In the worst case, we might see the renewal of autarky and the emergence of dominant right-wing, neo-fascist parties (look at the recent vote in Austria and Marine Le Pen’s rising popularity in France)—echoes of prewar Europe.

It is far too early, however, to indulge in worst-case thinking. At the least, it remains to be seen whether Britain and other countries embrace trade protectionism or liberalization. It remains to be seen whether the UK becomes “Little Britain,” a bit player on international political and economic issues, or continues to be a strong voice in NATO, the World Bank, and other multilateral organizations. It remains to be seen whether Britain’s economy shrinks badly or, as the chancellor of the exchequer maintains, has in place the tools to weather the coming storm and sustain a strong economy. It remains to be seen if the EU can close ranks, demonstrate the value of integration, and continue to be a prominent international voice on climate change and human rights. It remains to be seen whether the imitation effect of Brexit actually comes about elsewhere in Europe, not to mention in the UK itself. Le Pen may appear to have a clear road to the prime ministership in France, for instance, but she, like Trump, may face strong reactions against the National Front’s thinly disguised racism, France-first sloganeering, and promises to overturn the ideals of multiculturalism and community.

And if you want to think about worst cases, consider the possibility—slight now, but perhaps much greater in coming months—that Brexit causes so much pain for the British people that populism turns against it. According to the Washington Post, three million Brits (and climbing steadily) want another referendum on leaving the EU. That’s very unlikely at the moment, but if negotiations with the EU result in a further dramatic fall of the pound, sliding middle-class income, high unemployment, and other developments that put the British economy in the tank, might not the next British PM have to call for new elections and another referendum?

Key figures in the “leave” EU campaign are already walking back some advertised promises, such as that the approximately £350 million a week that Britain sends to the EU would be used to fund the national health system, or that immigration to Britain would actually go down. An intriguing comment in the Guardian under the name “Teebs” raises another possibility: that David Cameron, having resigned without giving official notice of British withdrawal under Article 50 of the EU treaty, has left his successor with the option of treating the Brexit vote as a nonbinding referendum which Parliament, dominated by “remain” members, can ignore. Well, who knows? Even Boris Johnson, a vociferous Brexit supporter and likely Cameron successor, has said there’s no need to hurry about invoking Article 50. Maybe he wants to see if his optimism about Brexit during the leave-or-remain campaign was actually warranted!

What about the impact of Brexit on the US? Yes, there will be an impact: the Trans-Pacific Partnership may be dead whoever wins the presidential election, since Hillary Clinton had long since promised to renegotiate it and now must contend with Bernie Sanders’ pressure to abandon the TPP altogether. US exports are likely to suffer some (though Britain is not among the top US markets), the US trade deficit will widen some, and Tea Party-ers may feel a surge of energy. But most observers I’ve read do not see a major threat to the US economy from Brexit; and people who believe that Donald Trump’s “America First” message will get a great boost from Brexit are going to be sorely disappointed, since virtually every day he says something that reminds us of just how un-American his message is.

We also ought to consider Brexit’s potential silver linings for the US, at least “silver” from a human-interest point of view. One is that Britain will probably substantially reduce its concrete support of US policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Such a shift, though disputed by some leaders of the “leave” campaign, would be desirable, since it might prod the next US president to reassess commitments to endless war in the Middle East. On the US domestic side, ditching TPP and reassessing the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would be welcome news for US workers, unions, and many workers abroad, as well as for the environment. A refocusing of the globalization debate on social and economic justice in the US is sorely needed. Thanks to Brexit, not to mention Bernie Sanders and many progressive nongovernmental organizations, that debate may finally get somewhere.

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

Ruth Mary Wurzburger 1932 – 2015

mary wRuth Mary Wurzburger APRIL 7, 1932 – NOVEMBER 28, 2015

Ruth was born in Minneapolis to Bryson Gerard and Helen Wood and spent much of her childhood with her Great-Grandparents Charles and Caroline Wilkinson of Edina, Minnesota.

She is survived by her five children, Tom Barnum, Dan Barnum, Russell Barnum, Tina Floyd and Mary Rosellen; grandchildren Trisha, Melissa, Candice, Joshua, Cassie, Jason, Aaron, Nicholas, Andrew, Taylor, Chase, Charlotte and Lizzie; great-grandchildren Logan, Tristan, Landon, Eli, Brandon, Caidyn, Ember, Rohan, Micah, Ethan and Rylan.

Ruth graduated from Glendale High School in June, 1950, married and moved to the Sacramento area. Then it was on to Kings Beach where she managed a lake resort. She eventually moved to Sierra County where she spent the remainder of her years. She was primarily a stay at home “Super Mom” but was also employed as a kindergarten teacher who was adored by all her students. She later worked as a Deputy Assistant Treasurer/Tax Collector and a part time postal clerk.

Ruth’s many passions included family, gardening, landscaping, baking and animals. No one could build a rock wall like mom. She was a great cook, known by the community for her homemade pies. Her compassion and kindness was received by many as she often spent her time sharing food for the less fortunate. Her love for all living things was expressed even in the care and nurturing of wild animals, especially raccoons. She loved her life.

Ruth loved Sierra County and its history. She shared many stories with family, passing on memories not to be lost nor forgotten. She enjoyed jeeping in the backwoods and exploring old mining towns and sites. Her picnic lunches hold strong in all our memories. She and her late husband of 45 years, Steve Wurzburger, also loved the Arizona desert. They often camped at the Big Sandy. They now remain together forever and are both deeply missed.

OBit logoThank you to everyone for your kind words and condolences and a special thanks to Chris Gregory for the kindness you showed our mother. We cannot begin to express our gratitude and appreciation.

Writing this obituary for my mother has been very difficult. Sorry, mom that it has taken me such a long time, but to place this in the newspaper seems to make it final and I wasn’t ready to lose you yet. I love you mom. Your loving daughter, Tina

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