Mountain Messenger (and Mexico trivia) 3/15/17

Don Russell has a lot on his plate lately, he is driving a new car, involved in investigative journalism and still has to deal with Milly, Jill, Ralph, Irma, Brutus, Scott and me. Penelope Snow is part of the mix usually but she is on sabbatical in Mexico. She was concerned she would not be able to cross the border soon, she is a little confused about whether it is okay to go to Mexico but if you are there then are you allowed to come back to the U.S. nobody at the Mess really had an answer, so she decided to take a chance and go before the Wall is built. Although she is a capable bookkeeper evidently she does not have a good feel for geography or maybe the politics of international travel. But I digress, we were talking about Don Russell and his new car. He really likes it. I haven’t been asked to enjoy a ride in it, could be because after the first time I rode to Quincy with Don driving I swore never to get in a car with him again… anyone who drives with Don will understand. I may have told you this before… it’s one of those unforgettable experiences.

Don Russell with an unknown brave young woman waiting for his new car to be delivered.

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

Easter Food Baskets 3/15/17

Dear Editor:

Easter will soon be here and the Western Sierra Food Bank, Inc volunteers are planning Easter Holiday food baskets for approximately 105 families in western Sierra County. We are needing non-perishable foods and or monies to supply the food bank shelves for Easter and after Easter. We appreciate any help the communities in western Sierra County and those outside of the area can supply.

Please contact Bette Jo or Frank Lang at (530) 289-3644 for any information. Also, if anyone wants to donate any non-perishable foods please call to co-ordinate delivery. Money donations can be sent to Western Sierra Food Bank, Inc., P.O. Box 254, Downieville, CA 95936.  We thank all who participate in this program.

Sincerely, Bette Jo Lang

No Time to Wait 3/15/17

While Our Attention is Elsewhere, Climate Change Worsens – by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

Donald Trump’s presidency has gotten so much attention that the latest threats to climate stability have received only passing notice. To be sure, Trump’s belief that climate change is a Chinese “hoax,” and his appointment of climate change deniers to head major agencies, have been widely publicized. Even so, the news of actual events—hurricanes, floods, drought, sharp temperature changes, and other distortions in weather patterns in the US and around the world—typically are being crowded out by Trump’s tantrums, fake news, and conflicts of interest.

For the strong of heart, here are some important developments affecting climate change over the past several months that you may have missed:

· Mexico City’s water table is sinking at an alarming rate, while climate change is causing flooding and drought that may cause mass emigration. Just the latest case of environmental refugees—and potential sources of new conflicts.

· The last estimate of sea-level rise before Obama left office, by the NOAA, sees a worst case of an 8-foot rise by the end of the century. The low estimate is still a1-foot rise. Parts of the US will be hit particularly hard. “An analysis of 90 U.S. cities suggested that such an increase in damaging floods could occur by 2030 in most locations under an intermediate-high sea-level rise scenario and by 2080 under a low scenario. In general, the report suggests it would take just shy of 14 inches of sea-level rise for this to happen in any given location.” A collapse of the West Antarctica is also quite possible, the report said.

· Worldwide, the nuclear industry is losing ground thanks to lower costs for wind and solar energy as well as natural gas, and the Fukushima tragedy in 2011. “Globally, wind power grew by 17%, solar by 33%, nuclear by 1.3%.” The World Nuclear Industry: Status Report 2016; It is no longer economical to invest in a nuclear power plant! As a result, the overall picture is one of cost overruns, abandoned projects, a very little new construction. About the only countries where the nuclear industry continues to thrive are France and South Korea. China’s nuclear industry, which has a high priority in the country’s energy future, has been hit by significant safety failures. Eight of China’s 36 currently operating reactors experienced these shutdowns, all caused by human error. The basic problem, openly discussed by Chinese specialists, is that there aren’t enough well-trained, well-rewarded safety inspectors. China thus is spending many times more money on renewable energy than on new nuclear power plants.

· Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is in serious danger. In 2016 it experienced its largest-ever die-off of coral.

· Deforestation in the Amazon basin, the world’s largest carbon sink, is once again on the rise. Farmers in Bolivia and Brazil are again clearing land in huge swaths for planting soy under contract to Cargill and Bunge. Those giant agribusinesses were among signers of the New York Declaration of Forests, which promises an end to deforestation in order to grow crops such as soy and palm oil. The common estimate is that one-tenth of global carbon emissions stem from clearing of land and accompanying fires in the Amazon region.

· Disintegration of the West Antarctica ice sheet is taking place right now. The elongating crack is unstoppable, and while it reportedly will not mean rising seas for decades, it is just another sign of warming oceans and future peril. By the end of the century, melting of this ice sheet, combined with ice melting elsewhere, will cause an estimated sea rise of five to six feet. That’s an extraordinary increase compared with predictions just a few years ago.

Every climate-change model I’ve seen suggests that we are way behind the curve for combating global warming and its potentially life-altering changes for human populations and habitat. Plans for a nation-wide solution, such as a carbon tax, seem like whistling in the dark given the sorry state of Washington politics. For instance, some Republican elder statesmen, including former secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker, III, have come forward with a plan to counter climate change. Though they don’t embrace the obvious—that climate change is due mainly to human factors—they do think “the risks” are too great to be ignored. Hence, they recommend a carbon tax starting at $40 a ton at the well head or mine, the proceeds to be returned to consumers in dividend checks. Of course the producers are expected to pass on their tax to consumers.

Good luck. With Scott Pruitt at the helm, the Environmental Protection Agency is about to become the Environmental Destruction Agency. Trump has already given the order for significant cuts in the EPA’s budget. The oil and gas industry has Pruitt in its hip pocket, as just-released emails from Pruitt’s time in Oklahoma make crystal clear. As Forbes reminds us, “In six years he filed more than a dozen lawsuits against the EPA over expansion of the Clean Water Act and regulations on coal-fired power plants.” When Pruitt addressed EPA employees for the first time, he made clear that its business is business. Forbes, which ordinarily is a pro-business publication, firmly stated that Pruitt will be violating EPA’s statutory mission: “Compromise with industry is not included. The mission of the EPA is actually quite simple: ‘to protect human health and the environment—air, water and land’.”

In the US, our best hope lies at the state and city levels, especially now that cities provide the overwhelming portion of greenhouse gas emissions, and those in proximity to coasts have the greatest urgency to act. Here and there—in San Diego and other California cities, for instance, and in Des Moines and Adelaide, Australia—major reductions in those emissions are taking place or are planned. This article states that “over 10,000 initiatives are underway in cities worldwide,” which is admirable. But can these ideas possibly halt the upward curve toward planetary overheating?

James Hansen, the indefatigable former NASA official (he retired in 2013) who first brought the threat of climate change to our attention, believes that a carbon tax and a new kind of nuclear technology represent the last chance to thwart devastating climate change. The Paris Agreement’s call for limiting warming to 2 degrees C. is inadequate, he says. Without drastic political action, Hansen foresees the planet returning to conditions 120,000 years ago, when warming produced sea levels 20 to 30 feet higher than they are now. But Washington, DC is full of climate deniers, so what’s the answer? “It’s really crucial what happens in the near term. But it will take a strong leader who is willing to take on special interests. Whether that can be done without a new party that’s founded on just that principle, I’m not sure. So we’ll have to see.”

Not very encouraging—and we don’t have time to wait and see.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

Opportunity is Now 3/15/17

A Crisis of Relevance  – by Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler

And the word of the moment is . . . opportunity:

“What unites our party is a belief in opportunity, the idea that however you started out, whatever you look like, whoever you love, America is the place you can make it if you try.”

Could you be any more tepid? The words were those of the former president the other day, giving his blessing to the naming of Tom Perez as the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Perez is the safe, establishment choice to lead the party forward into the maelstrom of Trump, under a banner that seems garishly inoffensive: Tolerate our differences, give everyone a chance.

There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, and the idea of “tolerance” may even have resonated with controversy half a century ago, but today it has the hollow ring of an ad slogan.

But this is leadership for you, trying to quiet everyone down and put forth the smiley face of unity. Behind closed doors, the military-industrialists plan their agenda, but let’s not worry about that. The role of the public, or at least the liberal, Democrat-leaning sector thereof, is to be afraid of Donald Trump and cheer for the good guys. Meanwhile, the actual future will be handled by the experts and their overlords in the corporatocracy.

In point of fact, a serious segment of the Democratic base sees beyond this well-tailored lie. The movement in the streets, the “creative turbulence,” as Charles Pierce put it, the furious cries for change, are aimed as much at the Democrats as they are at the Republicans and the Trumpsters.

Perez himself, after gaining the DNC chairmanship, put the situation as succinctly as anyone I’ve heard. He quickly undid his assessment and lapsed into “positive message” blather about inclusion, opportunity and the big tent. But first he asked: “Where do we go from here? Because right now we have to face the facts. We are suffering from a crisis of confidence, a crisis of relevance.”

A. Crisis. Of. Relevance.

The words cut like a wound across the chest. The last time the Democratic mainstream publicly acknowledged awareness of this crisis — as opposed to simply participating in its ongoing creation — was in 1972, when George McGovern seized the Democratic presidential nomination and ran for the presidency on a blatantly antiwar platform.

“I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan,” he said.

“And as one whose heart has ached for the past ten years over the agony of Vietnam, I will halt a senseless bombing of Indochina on Inaugural Day.”

He delivered these words during the Democratic National Convention that year, then went on to run a wide-open campaign that was no match for Richard Nixon and CREEP (the Committee to Re-Elect the President), despite the Watergate break-in. And in the 45 years since, America’s wars have been off the table in every presidential election, and today — surprise, surprise! — we find ourselves mired in permanent war, with the Middle East and, indeed, the whole planet bleeding from the consequences.

McGovern also said: “The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plane.”

I call this participatory vs. spectator democracy, and I think this is what’s happening today in the nation’s streets and airports and in its town hall meetings: creative turbulence the likes of which we have not seen since the Vietnam War era. But what’s crucial is that this progressive uprising not limit itself to economic and domestic issues, as though U.S. militarism were a separate matter. The Democrats’ crisis of relevance is grounded in the party’s absolute acquiescence during the Obama years to the war on terror, and the only way for the party to reclaim power and credibility is to stand up to its own moral shortcomings, not just those of George Bush and Donald Trump.

Andrew Bacevich, describing the quasi-religious nature of American exceptionalism and the quest for global dominance, wrote last week: “Members of the Church of America the Redeemer, Democrats and Republicans alike, are demonstrably incapable of rendering an honest accounting of what their missionary efforts have yielded.”

He then offers “a brief inventory” of the consequences of our recent wars:

“thousands of Americans needlessly killed; tens of thousands grievously wounded in body or spirit; trillions of dollars wasted; millions of Iraqis dead, injured, or displaced; this nation’s moral standing compromised by its resort to torture, kidnapping, assassination, and other perversions; a region thrown into chaos and threatened by radical terrorist entities like the Islamic State that U.S. military actions helped foster. And now, if only as an oblique second-order bonus, we have Donald Trump’s elevation to the presidency to boot.”

Let us lift the silence! If the new DNC chairman is able to concede that his party is in the midst of — and being destroyed by — a crisis of relevance, then perhaps he can defy the establishment that backed him and stand up to the State of War, as McGovern did 45 years ago.

What we need is a public plan for peace. The opportunity is ripe.

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

Cowboy Poetry at SV Grange 3/15/17

The Sierra Valley Grange presents
Brenn Hill – Andy Nelson – Carol Schley

March 17,18 -2017
Sierra Valley Grange Hall
92202 Hwy 70, Vinton, California
Friday Evening Show at 7:30 PM
Saturday — Matinee Show at 2:00 PM – Evening Show at 7:30 PM
Dinner Fri 5 to 7 PM /Dinner Sat 4:30 to 7:00 PM
Reserved seating…
Show tickets: $23 for Adults
$8 for Children 12 and under

Dinners: $12 for Adults and $8 for Children 12 and under

On March 17, 18 – 2017, The Sierra Valley Grange will present Brenn Hill, Andy Nelson and Carol Schley. Fri Dinner Corn Beef and Cabbage / Sat Roast Beef

Singer Songwriter Brenn Hill: Brenn from Hooper, Utah does not just sing about the west, he reveals its heart to anyone that takes time to listen. The cowboys trials and tribulations are his raw material. Brenn’s career spans two decades and twelve albums of mostly self penned music. Brenn is an artist who gives great insight into the West that he calls heaven.

Cowboy Poet & Humorist Andy Nelson: A second generation farrier from Pinedale , WYwas raised the cowboy way. Shoeing horses with his father in the Great basin until he went to college. He worked as a ranch hand caring for cattle and the haying operations in Idaho. Lots of personal experiences to draw from that are part of his story telling of humor and misery. He was named WMA “Poet of the Year “ many times in his career. www.

Singer Carol Schley: Local singer that has performed at our show in the past originally from Minnesota now lives in Reno. Self taught guitarist along with getting bucked off every horse she rode as a kid. Music and horses stuck together as she grew up and started performing in early 20’s and continues today along with horse care, training and lessons., teaching folks young and old how to improve their horsemanship.

Thank you for your past and future support. The SIERRA VALLEY GRANGE is a non-profit organization. Proceeds from this event will benefit our Building Fund.
Rich Moore / Pam Olivieri – VINTON COWBOY POETRY and MUSIC SHOW
PO Box 15, Vinton, CA 96135 email:  PH. 831-345-9840
Web site:

Show tickets are $23 for adults and $8 for kids. Dinner tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for kids. Order early to request special seating for the show.

Youth Suffer Historical Amnesia 3/15/17

America’s youth suffer from a ‘historical amnesia’ – by David Bruce Smith
Author, publisher and co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize

David Bruce Smith

The lack of knowledge about the history of our country among students in middle school, high school and even in colleges and universities has been well established and alarming. Why? Because-someday, they will become the voters responsible for electing the next generation of leadership in America. And, they will not be prepared to carry it out without a firm grasp of history.

Knowing who, how and why our country was founded determines who we are now, and what our country will look like in the future. It is the basis for an informed electorate. Our children and grandchildren need to know these things if they are to mature into engaged citizens. Yet, there are numerous studies, polls and quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that back up the notion that they suffer from “historical amnesia,” as Dr. Bruce Cole, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, described it.

It is up to us–their guardians–and their teachers to encourage our youngsters to cultivate an interest in history. And, it is the one and only reason we established the Grateful American Book Prize. Dr. Cole partnered with me in creating the Prize to inspire new and established authors–and their publishers– to produce more works of historically accurate fiction and nonfiction that can help arouse an interest in history among America’s students.

Ask history teachers why their pupils can’t learn the subject, and you’ll get a variety of answers. Some would say it is because American schools have been deemphasizing it in favor of so-called practical schooling in the sciences and technology. That may be so, but as education consultant Robert Pondiscio put it: “many Americans have forgotten we have public schools so students can become educated citizens capable of self-government.” And that is pretty important, as well.

Meanwhile, many teachers would readily acknowledge that history class can be boring; to counter that, they have discovered ways to make the subject more interesting, such as supplementing textbooks with good reads that excite young learners, and arouse curiosity about what really happened in the past.

“I believe that good historical fiction exercises a child’s imagination through a vicarious experience. It leads children to use themselves and their own lives as comparisons to the characters that lived long ago and often, far away, to reflect on their own experience, to ask their families questions. It awakens awareness, perks up perception, sparks conversations,” according to author and lecturer Valerie Tripp. And, that is why the Grateful American Book Prize exists.

The fact is, the Prize has, indeed, renewed renewed interest in historical books for young people among authors and publishers. But, the recognition and financial incentive it provides are only part of the reason for its success. The hundreds of authors who have submitted their works for consideration over the past few years seem to unanimously agree that the most important consequence of it is-an opportunity to stir up interest-again– in the study of American history.

Kids and Field Guides 3/15/17

Nature journaling for Mountain Kids
Well-known field guide artist and wildlife biologist leads workshop with students and teachers at Plumas Unified Schools, Loyalton, and Downieville.

During the week of February 27-March 3, John Muir Laws, artist and creator of the widely used Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, toured Upper Feather River Watershed public schools (and Downieville in the Yuba) leading classroom workshops and assemblies for the region’s students and teachers. Laws taught principles of field journaling—a way to engage with the natural world and delve deeper into “mountain kid” studies. Nature journaling is an exercise to “externalize thinking” giving student the opportunities to draw plants and animals, ask questions, pose theories, and document observations without a right or wrong answer.

Over the past four years, Feather River Land Trust’s Learning Landscapes program has collaborated with John Muir Laws to inspire local teachers to improve their science instruction and expand their use of Learning Landscapes sites. Field journaling is a powerful and popular tool with teachers and students alike.  During this most recent visit to the Lost Sierra region John Muir Laws provided twenty one different classroom activities and eight assemblies at local elementary schools along with four staff trainings. It was inspiring!
Why do these workshops matter? FRLT’s Learning Landscapes coordinator Rob Wade emphasizes that field journaling has been an exciting accelerator for Learning Landscapes as it has provided a powerful and relevant activity that is effective at every grade level. It supports teachers to teach outside more frequently. The fact that it integrates science, language arts, art, and math allows teachers to use it across the curriculum as they explore phenomenon, pose questions and solve problems they encounter on their campus and adjacent Learning Landscapes outdoor classrooms.
Field Journaling workshops were made possible through a unique partnership with Feather River Land Trust, local public schools, generous individual donors, and the U.S. Forest Service.

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