Monday, December 31, 2007
Happy New Year!
Rah. Yay. Yada, yada, yada.
Bed soon thereafter.
There's just never a damned exorcist around when you need one!
ROME - The Catholic Church has vowed to “fight the Devil head-on” by training hundreds of priests as exorcists.Father Gabriele Amorth, 82, the Exorcist in Chief, announced the initiative amid church concerns about growing worldwide interest in Satanism and the occult.
“Thanks be to God that we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on,” Father Amorth said.
“Now bishops are to be obliged to have a number of established exorcists for their diocese. Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a proper, trained exorcist.....
The Vatican is concerned that young people are being exposed to Satanism through the media, rock music and the internet.
All priests can perform exorcisms, but in reality only a select few are ever called on to do so. The rite involves gestures and prayers to invoke the power of God and stop the “demon” influencing its victim.
I don't know anything about the exorcism training of our local priests, but I think one of them is a notary public.
Photo of Linda Blair courtesy of Wikipedia.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Lots of new laws next year - good and bad
There is of course the one banning the use of cell phones while holding it in your hand. And as Durant puts it, minors will be prohibited from using any electronic devices while driving. Does this include the radio? GPS? Turning signal? Headlights?
Bicyclists will be required to wear illumination while driving on a highway. Actually, that one makes perfect sense and I'm surprised it's taken this long.
But then there's a rather idiotic if harmless law that requires us to acknowledge by signature that alcohol can impair our driving when we renew our license. Maybe they should require that we write it out a hundred times on a chalkboard.
You can't spraycoat your license plate lest Big Brother can't keep a bead on you.
There are a few others of note in the article.
One item which probably won't become law at the federal level is the Open Government Act (being pushed by Senator Patrick Leahy among others) if the President has anything to say about it. However, it may be veto proof.
Among other things, the law would restore the standard in which no information can be denied the applicant without a showing of harm should the information be released (directly responding to Ashcroft's order to deny any requests when harm is uncertain). It mandates that attorney fees to be paid to a prevailing Freedom of Information Act litigant must come from from the funding of the particular agency resisting the disclosure. It sets up a tracking system for requests. And best of all, if the request is not honored within 20 days, the agency is required to refund any fees for search or copying.
If signed or the veto overridden, it will be the first shoring up of the FOIA in over a decade. This administration is perhaps the most secretive in history - to the point of obsessiveness.
Now I'd like a stronger bill, such as suspension or dismissal for any federal employee who acts to frustrate an FOIA request without due cause. I'd also like to see the elimination of redactions with the explanation "not within the scope of the request." If the document contains any pertinent information then it should be disclosed in its entirety absent a demonstration of harm. And I'd like to see a bill which enables you to make one request where you can list all the agencies you want searched, with perhaps a special agency to conduct the searches.
But this is a good start.
Some years ago I had a terrific dinner at an old restaurant in the Marina District of San Francisco called Izzy's. Recently I'd noticed an establishment of the same name as I drove by Corte Madera on 101. Yesterday a quick Internet study revealed that it was the same business, or at least the same menu, and so we made reservations (wasn't necessary). Their specialty is steaks cooked to perfection, but they're also famous for their patented sides such as scalloped potatoes and surprisingly flavorful creamed spinach. I missed the old city feel of the SF restaurant, but the food was as I'd remembered it. It's not cheap, but not off the wall either (though I'd be just as happy with a good steak at House of B or OH's for a few bucks less and in doggy-bag proportions).
Afterwards we headed up the road to the Northgate mall for a movie at a shocking $10.25 per ticket. I let my wife choose the movie and she was gracious enough to let me choose between The Great Debaters and P.S. I Love You (I think she offered the latter as a joke). I don't have time for a complete review right now. It's not a Dreamworks movie, but it's pretty much a clone along those lines - complete with an uninspiring inspirational score, gorgeous if cookie-cutter cinematography, and big name cast no doubt "honored" to have been paid big bucks for such a worthwhile endeavor. Denzel Washington (they don't make movies without Denzel Washington anymore) played the part of a union organizing professor at Texas' Whitfield College in this "inspired by a real story" account of the first black debate team allowed to compete with white colleges including ultimately Harvard. It takes place at the height of the Depression (there are a few Hoovervilles along the rail lines to remind you every once in a while) and is complete with obligatory references to Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Dubois (who sounds more like Booker T. Washington as quoted in the film, a rich piece of irony that would be greatly appreciated by the poet Dudley Randall), figuring that maybe an eighth of the education system victims watching might recognize at least one of those names.
Okay, it was well done and all that, avoiding some of the Goodwill Hunting/Finding Forrester cliches. The young James Farmer (founder of the Congress of Racial Equality which decades later would fall victim to the hands of right wing hacks like Roy Innis) clinches his team's debate victory over Harvard the "resolved" topic being civil disobedience. Having exhausted Gandhi and Thoreau, he finishes with a poetic license "inspired by a true story" account of his team's witnessing of a lynching with "I have a right and even a duty to resist the law with violence or civil disobedience. Pray that I choose the latter." He brings to their feet all the enlightened white Bostonians so different from the southerners, because we know Boston's never had racial problems, right? It's also noteworthy that in real history they never debated Harvard, probably because Harvard was not the national champion that year. They debated the USC team, which was. They did win the debate however. There are other historical liberties taken (I don't think Farmer was actually on that team), but actually who cares?
The movie unfortunately ignores the actual basis on which debate competition is won. For some reason the Whitfield College team always got to argue positions which they felt deeply about (it would have been much more interesting to see the arguments about integration reversed when they debated white teams), which seems like an unfair advantage to me.
But it's well produced, well acted, and guaranteed to make white people feel good about how much progress they've made over the decades. What else can an almost-all white liberal Marin audience ask for?
And it wasn't P.S. I Love You.
I should note that my wife is rolling her eyes at my "review." She likes the film, and I'm probably being a little too cynical for a gorgeous Sunday morning.
Addendum: Here's the Wikipedia excerpt on historical incongruence.
As part of their tour, Wiley College's debate team defeated the reigning champions---not Harvard as in the movie, but the University of Southern California's team---on the USC campus in Bovard auditorium.
In addition, according to the New York Times the "film omits one reality: even though they beat the reigning champions, the Great Debaters were not allowed to call themselves victors because they were not truly considered to belong to the debate society, But blacks were not truly allowed until after World War II." The movie also explores the social milieu of the American South during the Great Depression including not only the day to day insults and slights African Americans had to endure, but also a lynching. James L. Farmer, Jr. (played by Denzel Whitaker, no relation to Forest) ), who was on Wileys' debate team at 14 years old after completing high school (and who would later go on to co-found the Congress of Racial Equality) is also depicted. According to the Houston Chronicle, another character depicted on the team, Samantha Booke, is based on the real individual Henrietta Bell, "the only female member of the 1930 debate team from Wiley College who participated in the first collegiate interracial debate in the United States." Also, according to the Marshall News Messenger, "there is no evidence that a debate with Harvard ever happened.... the debate Bell remembers was probably with Oxford University of England."
And I thought I'd share an excerpt from the SF Bay Guardian review, lest you think I'm the only one with the "cynical" review:
The film is shot through with the horrors and humiliations of the Jim Crow era, the depiction of which is genuinely moving despite the undermining influence of the stagy and often heavy-handed direction. Debate seems like a singularly ridiculous subject for melodrama, since it's bound by certain rules of logic that are designed to ward against the kind of emotional appeals that The Great Debaters is all about. In fact, Tolson spells out many of these rules in the beginning of the film, only to sit approvingly by while his team perpetrates so many logical fallacies that they'd make a great drinking game. This movie should make Washington and producer Oprah Winfrey a lot of money.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Fred Barnes: Obama is weak because he was right when he was supposed to be wrong
Fred Barnes is a conservative political commentator, formerly with the New Republic, but now a fixture at Fox. Barnes on Barack Obama:
On the October 6 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys, co-host and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes claimed that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is "not in quite as strong a position on the war in Iraq as he really thinks he is." He explained that when Obama delivered his 2002 speech against going to war with Iraq, "it was back in a time when the entire world believed Saddam Hussein in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that he would probably be willing to use them himself at some time or pass them along to terrorists who would use them. And yet, Barack Obama was against going to the war at that point." According to Barnes: "I don't think that shows that he is very strong on national security, which he needs to be."So basically, Obama's weak on security because he was one of the few national political figures who didn't buy the administration's WMD claims hook, line, and sinker. Basically, those of us who knew it was being hyped because we'd seen it all before and bothered to remember really didn't know the claims were being hyped and we were just lucky that our assumptions just happened to turn out to be correct. It certainly wasn't that we were reading international and even some domestic intelligence reports which told us that Hussein was not a threat.
Actually, what amazed me is how correct we turned out to be. I really expected them to turn up something. Way back when I interviewed David McReynolds (Socialist Party presidential candidate in 1980 and 2000) on KMUD a couple of months after the war broke out I asked him whether he expected us to find WMDs. His response: "Certainly. Just as I expect cops who shoot a suspect to death to find a gun on his person." Point is, we never even found something solid enough for the administration to hype. Yet some pro-war folk chastise those of us who were right from the beginning, I suspect to preempt an "I-told-you-so." Bottom line: we should have believed out government, and it was a lack of virtue on our part that ultimately made us right.
Meanwhile, here's a portion of Obama's speech:
That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear -- I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.But what difference does it make now, right? The "surge" has won the war. I know it's true because I saw it on television.
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.
Photo of Barnes comes from his Fox News page.
1. Is there a good poultry butcher in Humboldt? I need chicken feet. A big bag of them. I want to try to make my own dim sum meal.
2. Why did Santa promise to give the greedy magician something in his stocking? He'd just tried to kill Frosty. Would Santa have given him a gift if he'd tried to kill the girl?
3. Does it really make any noticeable difference if you don't sift the flour in your pancakes?
4. Exactly how many seas did the white dove sail before she slept in the sand? Do doves actually sleep in the sand?
5. How exactly did Wonder Woman beat Sinestro in this fight scene? (I love the guy's summary)
The photo is one of several of a "rainbow show" over at Humboldt Homestead. Some other striking local winter photos as well.
Okay, off to bed.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Death in Pakistan
Addendum: Pakistan in chaos.
Bhutto's death marked yet another grim chapter in Pakistan's bloodstained history, 28 years after her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, another ex-prime minister, was hanged by a military dictatorship in the same northern city where she was killed.Creepy.
Second addendum: Here's some history and analysis from Aziz Huq at the Nation.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Deadline for Harbor District input
Residents who want to weigh in with their comments on the pair of potential projects to expand container shipping in Humboldt Bay will have another three weeks to do so.The two proposals on the table are in essence:
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District announced Wednesday that written and oral comments on the draft Redwood Marine Terminal Feasibility Study will be accepted by the district until 4 p.m. on Jan. 15.
The comments will be reviewed prior to the Harbor District’s Feb. 28 meeting, where the commissioners are scheduled to consider authorizing the transportation consulting firm TranSystems to proceed on the preparation of a business plan for a selected development option.
The first option in the study identifies a stand-alone multipurpose berth that would aid the port serving local barge, project cargo and bulk cargo shipments, and cruise shipping lines.The feasibility study is available here.
The second option envisions essentially the same berth integrated with long-term expansion for a new gateway for rail-serviced markets that is dependant on a revived rail line through the Eel River Canyon.
Harbor District Chief Executive Officer David Hull recommended Wednesday that comments be limited to the feasibility study as the financial information will be developed and discussed in the business plan phase of the project.
“Preferably in writing,” Hull said.
Israeli peace organizations
The photo is of a peace demonstration in Tel Aviv during the 2006 war to which I previously linked. There are more at the Gush Shalom site. You can click on the photo to enlarge.
Addendum: Not an Israeli peace group, but an American Jewish group with a very thoughtful summary of the conflict and its associated issues. And it contains a list of Palestinian peace organizations per the backhanded request in the thread.
Redway Post Office protest last Friday
Redway has no home delivery, so they are forced to have boxes. For those who can't get off work right at 5:00 these hours are a problem. Apparently the postmaster, who had previously said he would consider timed locks, has ascertained that such a solution violates postal regulations. I'm not sure why the Inverness solution is out of the question (door locks opened by post office keys). And apparently hiring somebody just to open and close violates the Homeland Security Act or something.
If the limited hours are necessary, why does Garberville's office remain open 24/7? In fact, according to the article none of the other local post offices closes for any significant period of time, except for Alderpoint which closes on Halloween because of "particular problems." (Ghosts?).
Roger Rodoni showed up. He blamed the problem on residents who put up with urination, defecation, and "other behaviors." The protesters presented a petition requesting Sheriff nighttime surveillance. But there you have it. Rodoni is now firmly anti-defecation. Give him credit for being there, but don't let him distract from the issue, which is access to mail - not crime or homelessness.
Some of the protesters attempted to steer the discussion away from the homeless and back to the issue of access to mail. One protester told the postmaster "I'm hearing a lot of yeah-butts from you. You need to be more solution oriented."
NCJ's "top 10" Humboldt stories of 2007
Only one Sohum story made it to the list this year, and it's you-know-what. The story was obviously a little dated with the sentence, "People Productions and “Reggae Rising” won all the key skirmishes." Obviously that string came to an end earlier this month, and as a consequence the parties are back at the negotiating table.
The other story which may be of significant Sohum significance is the Arcata grow controversy and the city's response to it. There are reports of similar grow houses in Garberville and Redway, and with the housing crunch and the limitations of fire department resources the controversy is bound to be raised here as well. We have no incorporated townships down here, which means we have to go to the county and it may play into the Second District race politics at some point.
Hank also summarizes the Klamath River settlement, an issue on which I've only made a few posts and have followed closely.
Lastly, the story on the housing price collapse is of significance countywide (and statewide), and I would debate whether it's economic impact is more negative than positive. Secondly, one aspect of the story that probably should be investigated is the degree to which it has impacted Sohum. We have a unique situation here where back-to-the-landers are aging and looking for comforts they'd sacrificed earlier for their lifestyle. That and the grow-house phenomenon have kept rents up. Housing prices have probably dropped, but from what realtors have told me the impact isn't quite what it's been elsewhere. Rents remain ridiculously high.
Addendum: Here is the SF Chronicle's top 20 stories for the Bay Area, the first being Gavin Newsom's affair. The oil spill comes after that.
Second addendum: David Cobb provides his own list of 2007 stories of importance to progressives.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
"Don't vote for Ron Paul"
I don't have much against Ron Paul per se. That he's keeping the Iraq debate going in the Republican primaries is laudable.
But he really ought to keep better company. Yeah, it's LGF, but that doesn't look like a photo-shop job.
During the Quilez campaign I made telephone calls to get the vote out and often found myself being prosylatized in return from die-hard Paul voters. And there are more than a few signs up around Eureka. I've recently determined that rush hour travel from 101 south of Eureka to the Courthouse is faster if you take the Herrick exit to Harris, then take I the rest of the way. You get blitzed with Paul signs along that route.
Anyway, more power to him in the Republican primaries. If by some miracle he wins (let's say all the other candidates die in a meteor fall), I won't be voting for him, unless I'm converted to the virtues of privatizing the sidewalks before next November.
Addendum: Mitt Romney's campaign is obviously less than grateful for Paul's presence in the race. Romney's Illinois campaign chair was stupid enough to be caught on camera acting like a dickhead.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Humboldt Towing offering free rides to drunks
Failing to keep Christmas simple - am I a bad parent?
As I said before however, my kid doesn't ask for much. The toy has a violent theme, but there is creativity involved as well in the toy's construction. After that, you pretty much just look at it, like any model. We'll probably play it a little differently next year.
My kids also enjoy giving gifts. They take pride in the ornaments they've made for relatives, and they are right in the recipient's lap when the presents are opened.
My son asked for the first time this year what Christmas was about, which necessarily steers you into a discussion of God. In a secular household, how do you answer a six-year-old's question, "what's God?" I did my best to explain the concept and how different people have different ideas about God, that Mommy and I don't know whether there is a God, and that he would have to make up his own mind when he experiences life and maybe some day he'll find some answers from which Mommy and I can learn from. I think he got most of it.
Questions about sex and reproduction are a breeze by comparison.
Meanwhile, I will take him to a service sometime, particularly if it's something along the lines of this one. From Shane Claiborne, a blogger at Sojourners.
A few years ago I remember a pastor friend telling me they tried something a little different for their Christmas services. Instead of the usual holiday décor and clutter of the sanctuary, they brought in a bunch of manure and hay and scattered it under the pews so the place would really smell like the stank manger where it all began. I remember laughing hysterically as he described everyone coming in, in all their best Christmas attire, only to sit in the rank smell of a barn. They even brought a donkey in during the opening of the service that dropped a special gift as it moseyed down the aisle. Folks looked awkwardly at each other, and then busted out laughing. It was one of the most memorable services they've ever had. Certainly folks came face to face with the "reason for the season" and the reality of what it must have been like for the Savior of the universe to enter the world, far from the shopping malls, as a refugee who found no room in the inn.
Further on the meaning of Christmas, here's Jim Wallis on the famous "Christmas Truce" event of World War I.
I may not make it back here until tomorrow night. In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all, even the grumpheads like Fred and CPR!
As the president of the California Police Chiefs Association, Richard Word hears lots of things from around the state.
But, Word said he's never heard of commanding officers being criminally charged for the decisions they make,
Police departments and chiefs throughout the state have taken notice, and will follow the case against Douglas and Zanotti closely, he said.
”This has really sent shock waves throughout departments in the state,” Word said. “We're shocked. The e-mails are flying.”
I'm really amazed to read that this is the first case ever in the history of the US that a commanding officer has been held criminally liable for command decisions. Weren't there command decisions brought to question during the Philadelphia corruption scandal of the 1970s? I'll have to do some research when I find the time.
We know the threat of a civil suit is always present, but if you're going to face criminal charges, that's a whole new ball game,” Word said.
Point taken, although Word's organization has advocated that officers be free of civil liability as well, and in fact in many cases they do have such immunity (such as in car chases) even if the department remains liable. As I've argued before, as much as these forces deserve our respect for the chances they take for our safety, they do hold the power of life and death over everybody else. That power has to be checked.
Chris Shean, a hostage negotiator with the Seattle Police Department, agreed with Word. He said SWAT teams sometimes have problems with lieutenants taking command of a scene, and the prospect of police chiefs, who are generally further removed from SWAT and tactical response training, doing so is even more worrisome.
”That could potentially open a real can of worms, and potentially cause a delay in a situation that needs to be acted on quickly,” Shean said, adding that his department will keep a close eye on Zanotti and Douglas case. “We will, and so will the Western States Hostage Negotiators' Association because it could determine policy.”
Certainly there can be some legislation which prohibits criminal liability of a lieutenant for failing to micromanage a situation, ie. immunity once he or she turns the reigns over to the SWAT team commander. But to eliminate all possibility of criminal conviction for command decisions would be extreme, and if officers have been operating under the impression that it could happen nowhere under no circumstances, that is something that needs clearing up by the legislature.
Dolores Huerta's realpolitik
I know she's doing what she thinks she has to do, but my father very vividly remembers Chavez during the 1960s, who when asked his views of the war in Vietnam simply answered that his supporters were just as patriotic as anyone else and supported their country in war, yada, yada, yada. He lost some support from anti-war activists who had been inviting him to their events, but he probably could have lost a great deal more if he'd said what he wanted to say.
So I guess the question here is whether Huerta's endorsement is from the heart or simply a concession to political realities.
The photo is of a much younger Huerta during the Delano Grape Strike of the 60s archived on this page.
I do have another anecdote from my father. He was very much involved in trying to "unify the workers and students." He was one of the few on the "workers" side of the equation as he and a few other union activists worked with the Vietnam Day Committee. One of his fellow carpenters was opposed to the war but not really into politics. A group was set to demonstrate outside Safeway or some equivalent to encourage the grape boycott. As the story goes, this individual showed up dutifully then asked, "is the point here to keep people from buying grapes?" With the affirmative response he walked into the store with a two-by-four, gave the grapes some whacks, came out and said: "Ain't nobody going to buy those grapes now. Let's get some beer."
I've never been able to track down a first person account of the event, but it's a great movement legend nevertheless.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Muzzlewatch (title changed per request)
The latest post covers the defeat of what appeared to be a SLAPP against somebody who described the plaintiff as "Kahanist Swine."
Anti-Arab (there’s no other way to put it) real estate agent/researcher and activist Rachel Neuwirth lost her case against liberal Tikun Olam blogger Richard Silverstein and Stanford Middle East history professor Joel Beinin. (Check out Richard’s newly revived Israel-Palestine Forum, where you can chime in on the debate.) Seattle’s Jew-ish just filed this new story on the details of the case which has wide ranging implications for free speech on the internet.The language of the blog is a bit charged, and it's clearly one-sided, and there is a little bit of irony in the fact that the blog no longer allows comments. However, it does document it's claims.
The blog has no search function. I was hoping to find a post on Michael Savage's lawsuit against CAIR for what I think is clear "fair use" of his programming. In a rich twist of irony and newspeak, liberal-turned-conservative hawk Cinnamon Stillwell is calling Savage's suit a cause for freedom of speech.
Addendum: Meanwhile, Israel is detaining Yazan Sawalha, the son of a prominent peace activist without explanation. He's been imprisoned for 40 days as of the article.
From Paul Encimer:
MEET THE CANDIDATES
FOR CONGRESS: CAROL WOLMAN, GREEN PARTY; MITCH CLOGG, DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY CHALLENGER;ANDY CAFFREY, INDEPENDENT VIRTUAL CANDIDATE
TOWN HALL MEETING AT THE MATEEL IN REDWAY JAN. 6TH SUNDAY AFTER- NOON 1:30 – 3:30 PM
MODERATOR – BUD ROGERS
Admission Free, Q & A format
LIVE ON KMUD TIL 3 PM phone-in
SPONSORED BY GREENFUSE
more info: 923 4488
Congress member Mike Thompson was unable to attend (due to surgery)
Christmas shopping for a better world
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The country's first completely solar powered theater
Get it? Soly?
Anyway, the theater is the venue of the Shotgun Players who are presenting The Shaker Chair. I did find a review. Apparently the play commits the crime of attempting to combine "Pinteresque unease" with a sense of hope. I guess that's it. No way I'm going to see it now!
The photo comes from the site. It's a scene in the play. Don't ask me - I haven't the faintest. The pig's name is Bratwurst.
The price of the tickets is whatever you can afford. That's pretty cool.
Latest NewsBut the link reads:
Posted: 2:13 pm
The Humboldt County District Attorney s Office filed a charge of murder against James Franklin Harrison today in the shooting death of Larry Ray Wellman on Oct. 14 in Alderpoint. [Full Story]
Thank you for visiting Eureka Times Standard. We are sorry the article that you requested is no longer available. Please search for this article in our archive search.I'm assuming it's just a glitch rather than a story recall.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Vanity Fair tears Giuliani a new one
Soon after Purdue Pharma became a client, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) declared that OxyContin might be responsible for 464 drug-related deaths in just two years. According to The New York Times’s Barry Meier, whose 2003 book, Pain Killer, recounts the OxyContin story, many of the deaths were traced to prescriptions doled out at “pain management” clinics around the country, especially in Appalachia. Purdue Frederick, the affiliate marketing the drug, knew exactly where its drug was being overprescribed: it downloaded sales data from around the country. But the company’s top executives did nothing to tighten the drug’s distribution. They didn’t want the federal government to do it, either.
Giuliani met personally with Asa Hutchinson, then head of the D.E.A., to discuss the agency’s investigation of OxyContin. According to Meier, Hutchinson repeatedly called D.E.A. officials to ask why they were continuing their OxyContin inquiry. To help quell doubts about the drug, Giuliani agreed to chair something called the Rx Action Alliance, through which pharmaceutical and health-care professionals would educate the public about prescription-drug abuse. The Rx Action Alliance was barely heard from again, aside from a few mentions in laudatory articles about Giuliani. But Giuliani’s reassurances seemed to have the desired effect. Instead of tightening distribution, the Food and Drug Administration gave the drug a pass.
The story might have ended there had it not been for a determined U.S. attorney in western Virginia named John Brownlee. A straight arrow appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001, Brownlee listened to heartbroken parents in his region recount their children’s fatal overdoses from OxyContin. He launched an investigation to determine whether Purdue had known exactly what it was doing when it downplayed OxyContin’s addictive powers. If it had, that was criminal.
“When we had meetings,” Brownlee told Meier about Giuliani, “he was the lead counsel and the lead spokesman for the company.” Despite his best efforts, Giuliani was unable to dissuade Brownlee. Purdue would have to plead guilty to “misbranding” OxyContin and pay a huge fine; its three top executives would have to plead guilty, too.
The next day, Brownlee held to the deadline. Purdue and its top three executives accepted their guilty pleas of misbranding. A week or so later, Brownlee found his name on a list compiled by Elston. On it were names of U.S. attorneys whom officials wanted to be considered for firing.
The whole story and several others in the very detailed article.
Well, I'm glad Mike Farrell is as articulate as he is
I got a couple of calls afterwards telling me that we were preaching to the choir and so none of the normal people had anything to say. The KMUD Christmas party was suggested as an explanation.
Personally, I think that if it's not about environmental issues, the war, or medical marijuana it doesn't register with many locals.
Anyway, I was a little disappointed.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Ominous Times Standard headline
The state's population growth over the past year is roughly equivalent to adding on everyone who lives in the city of Santa Barbara. For Humboldt County, it's more like adding in all the residents of Point Arena.So what's the problem?
The California Department of Finance released state population records Wednesday showing an increase of 438,000 people, or 1.17 percent in the state's population, from July 2006 to July 2007. In Humboldt, the same span showed an increase of 488 people, or 0.37 percent.
Altogether, 37.7 million people call California home, while a mere fraction of those -- 132,364 -- can claim the title of Humboldt County residents.
Hello Sustainable Transporters,
Please come to Thursday’s (Dec 20) hearing on the Circulation Element of the Humboldt County’s General Plan Update. It’s at the county courthouse in Eureka in the Supervisor’s Chamber at 6pm.
The way this plan is written has the potential to direct our county toward sprawl and automobile dependence, resulting in frustrating congestion, dangerous streets, crumbling roads, inequity, and more burdensome transportation costs for everyone.
Green Wheels written comments describe how to put the plan on the right track, and a show of public support will be critical to get the planning commission to see that planning for balanced transportation choices is a mainstream idea. Let’s come together for a better outcome than what wesee in Santa Rosa, Fresno and Orange County.
Even if you can’t make it to the hearing, you can strengthen our position in these matters when you become a member-supporter at http://green-wheels.org/join. As our membership grows, so will our influence in advocating for balanced and sustainable transportation. Also, we very much need your financial help to continue and develop our work and organization, which has been 100%-volunteer powered thus far.
Green Wheels: a project of the NEC
Addendum: The photo of last Saturday's "Rail-trailblazers" event is from the Arcata Eye with the story.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This just in! There is no Mateel/People Productions settlment. Not yet.
One specific response - nothing is being "rushed" before the Mateel Board votes are being counted; and really, Reggae politics aren't an issue this election anyway.
Let's let everybody do their jobs. The Board members are charged with protecting the interests of the Mateel. Obviously any "settlement" must be approved by the Board at a properly noticed meeting, which means there will have to be some discussion before final approval. In the meantime, keep your pants on and enjoy the holidays.
Fallout from the collapse of the TPZ process?
Court documents show that the mediation ordered by Corpus Christi, Tex. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Richard Schmidt in October was unsuccessful, and was abandoned last week. Schmidt on Tuesday granted the timber noteholders' request to hold a hearing to end Palco's period of exclusivity for submission of a restructuring plan.Whatever squeeze PL may have been feeling, it's apparently gone now. We're on our way to becoming a retirement community along the lines of Palm Springs.
That hearing is set for Friday.
Palco's reorganization plan called for culling out 22,000 acres of timberland to be divided into 160-acre ranchettes, and to sell 6,600 acres of forest considered important for the threatened marbled murrelet. That, the company said, would give it the money it needed to pay down its huge debt. The plan sparked significant controversy in Humboldt County, but also met with disbelief from the noteholders, who offered another plan. (emphasis added)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Mike Farrell on KMUD Thursday night
It will be call-in. No M.A.S.H. questions please!
The photo comes from his own website.
KC Meadows a "hate monger?!"
I haven't checked it for awhile, but it looks like my link to her blog is outdated. I'll have to find the new address later when I add this one to the links mix.
Clarifying my joke on Friday night
I just assumed that everybody there would understand the context. For those of you who might have been confused about my comment and why so many people were laughing at it, here's the context.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Confirmed: Thursday night's radio topic will be the death penalty
It'd really be something if the arranged for Mike Farrell, but it will probably be their Executive Director Lance Lindsley.
That's 7:00 p.m. on KMUD.
For Roger's benefit
1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.On the other hand, there are some more broad definitions applied by both socialists and their critics.
2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.
System of social organization in which property and the distribution of income are subject to social control rather than individual determination or market forces.So I guess by that definition the TPZ designation could be considered "socialistic," since it is in fact "social control" of property (as is any zoning). The socialist purists would argue that it public ownership is requisite for socialism (and actually, at common law all real property is owned by the sovereign, hence "eminent domain" - who knew that socialism originated with Anglo-Saxon feudalism?) But the socialism was initiated years ago when they came up with the TPZ designation. The more recent discussion is over whether TPZ standards have been upheld, socialistic or otherwise.
By the way, the Williamson Act is also "socialistic" by the same definition, but we don't see Roger railing against that.
The Fist and Rose symbol comes from the Socialist International.
A new era of enlightenment?
At one point the Warren Court had banned the death penalty nationally as an Eighth Amendment violation, but it was reinstated in 1976. Over a thousand have been executed since 1976 (over 400 of those in Texas alone).
I can actually understand why people support the death penalty, particularly where lethal crimes are committed against children. I don't know if I'd have the strength to maintain my opposition if one of my children was brutally murdered. But the system would not allow me on the murderer's jury - for good reason. In the human realm, there is too much imperfection for us to presume to be able to adjudge the value of a life. And we aren't even called upon to base the decision in rationality. Evidence which would be deemed prejudicial in the guilty phase is introduced to evoke emotional rather than rational response in the jurors. The DNA evidence late hour acquittals aren't notice of something that can be fixed, because we can never be absolutely certain. To impose the absolute penalty in the absence of absolute knowledge and wisdom is collective arrogance from my point of view - though as I said I understand why individuals support it.
I have a lot more to say on the subject. It may be the topic of this Thursday's radio show. I'll probably contact somebody from Death Penalty Focus.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The Eel River Rangers and some other blog notes
Ernie's latest post has some shots of a more recent history - the local flood which heralded the year of my birth, the earlier flood of 1955, and their impact on the town of Weott.
Ed Denson meanwhile is blogging his cruise to the Antarctic, in case you've been missing it.
Ecoshift links to an article about the which discusses carbon consumption caps as a possible substitute for emissions caps.
Meanwhile, on the emissions front at Bali, earlier in the evening a neighbor of mine told me she had read a NY Times article which contained some very lively coverage of some very negative reactions to the US delegation at Bali. She says she returned to the article today to find that it was replaced with a whitewashed version. She then looked for the cached version on Google, but everything leads to the new article. By chance I just visited Captain Future's blog and found a reference to a NY Times article on topic. I wonder which version he's referencing.
Meanwhile, in case you're in a bah humbug sort of mood, you can join Richard Marks in his anti-celebration of the worst of Christmas music. Personally, singing Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer and repeating the word at the end of the verse drives me bonkers. But I love the old movie narrated by Berle Ives. The movie was also released in my birth year of 1964, and a big storm features prominently in the plot. I always thought the movie was sort of a Currier & Ives piece on drugs.
And for more bah humbugism you can visit the Carson Park Ranger to discuss tacky lawn decorations. Within the next day or so I'll be adding my rants about Christmas shopping for that specific toy to preserve a kid's belief in Santa. Grrrrrr.
Jen's thoughtful piece on Christmas kind of puts it into perspective.
And yes, I am anti-war and anti-commercial, but I'm buying my kid something called a "bionicle," specifically Toa Inika Nuparu 8729. It's a Leggo based toy robot warrior or something. There are dozens of models, and all the stores currently stock only the "8900 series." I had to order the thing special over the Internet (the shipping is more expensive than the toy). But my kid really doesn't ask for much, and he's wanted this more than anything for months.
I didn't hear about it until now, but Greg and Carol visited Sohum last weekend, probably while I was in Nohum. Otherwise, next time I hope they let me know they're coming!
Does law enforcement require deterrence?
Nielsen said he fears a conviction will have a negative backlash on police officers across the county and possibly the nation.When I read this quote yesterday I nearly jumped out of my shoes. I've expressed a similar fear as to the impact of these indictments on crisis decision making and I remain uncertain as to their merits; but really, law enforcement possesses the power of life and death over citizens. They should be concerned about possible indictments for their actions. Always. If not, by definition we're living under martial law.
“I don’t want them to ever have to second-guess the decisions they make because in the back of their mind they are concerned about the possibility that they may be indicted for their actions,” he said.
Do political conservatives here agree with Chief Nielsen? Have you revised your theory of human nature such that you believe individuals should wield great power with only their consciences to regulate their behavior?
Addendum: Meanwhile, you can weigh in on the ER's "question of the week" as to whether you support the indictments, but I agree with the poster below that it's kind of a silly question until the evidence and basis for the indictments have been made public.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Apples and oranges - why I'm supporting Clif Clendenen
Dennis Huber spoke first. As of this last election there were about 16 thousand registered voters in the Second District. 11 thousand reside Scotia north, the other 5 to the south. This means that assuming uniform turnout throughout the district and an 80 percent voting for the progressive candidate in the south, you would need just over 35 percent of the vote in the north to pull even. 40 percent gives you the win. Dennis emphasized that a candidate must have a significant constituency in Fortuna. There's no getting around it.
Virginia Graziani then introduced the candidate. It was her report to the much reported ad hoc group of Sohum activists some months ago that sold me on Clendenen. He has a firm grasp on Fortuna politics - the hurdles, the opportunities, and the issues. The ad hoc group has been looking for a candidate to support since last spring actually. We explored several possibilities. Eventually we heard from Estelle, but many of us were urging Clif to run before the group heard from her. Rodoni has made mincemeat of the Sohum based candidates in the past. We don't want to make the same mistakes.
The first few moments of Clif's speech had me wincing. It was a speech. He was reading from notes. He spoke in a formal manner, and I thought "man, he's going to have to loosen up," particularly against a folksy quick witted veteran like Rodoni. But it wasn't long before I recognized that his formality is the genuine expression of his persona. His sport coat with collar shirt sans tie was probably his way of dressing down for Sohum. There's an earnest quality about him and his glasses and straight demeanor sort of evoke a Clark Kent image with a conventionality reminiscent of the bow-tie presentation of Paul Simon (the late Senator, not the singer). It's who he is. And it'll provide an interesting contrast in the debates, once Clif has prepared.
Which brings about another issue. Clif is not political. He doesn't speak political language. He isn't up on all of the issues of concerns to every constituency in this unusually diverse rural district. I haven't had the opportunity to discuss his history with him, but I suspect that the mega-box proposal which he has been fighting induced a political awakening in the third-generation Humboldt farmer. Following the event we met at a Christmas party and he described to me a chance meeting at the SF Airport with Baykeepers attorney Fred Evenson in which he was introduced to a book about big box economic issues. He is a home-grown progressive, but his political knowledge and views are far from refined. One theme that was consistent throughout his talk was a desire to learn. He wants to hear from activists down here on all sorts of issues. He won't promise to agree with them, but he promises to hear them.
You can gather from the comments in the threads below that his status as political rookie was both a source of endearment and consternation. This was a group of activists. They don't understand how someone as thoughtful and educated as Clif could have stood on the sidelines of certain issues for so long. One prominent activist asked with a combination of humor and frustration:
"Where have you been?"
His response was quick and to the point: "I've been planting apple trees."
And this is the point. Activists are constantly wondering how to engage the "normal people," the people who don't know who Noam Chomsky is, and don't read Nation Magazine on a weekly basis - who have lives and families who can suffer if they spend too much time fighting windmills. We've been wondering how to make inroads in a quasi-exclusive culture which permeates Fortuna. We've been less than successful, despite the changing demographics.
Now there is a fight within that seemingly monolithic culture, one in which we all have a stake. And somebody from that culture is approaching us for once. He wants to hear what we have to say and he has a few things to offer, including the removal of an entrenched incumbent who pretty much pretends we don't exist, excepting a few rhetorical bones he can toss to the single-issue marijuana voting bloc. He brings to the table some influence in Fortuna largely due to leadership he has provided for the community in realms other than expressly political. The question is how we'll receive him. Will we reject him if we can't force him through a tofu grinder of political conformity? Or will we recognize the potential of a leader who can bridge a culture gap which has resulted in our being shut out in the Second District, election after election?
An issue which came up was the fact that he does spray his apples with pesticide. Approach him with the question and he will explain what he does and why he does it. He has already invested considerable thought into green considerations in farming and organic standards are not the only issue.
And while he may be a political novice, he's obviously moved up a steep learning curve. I asked him how he would exercise leadership on the Fortuna big-box issue from a county position as the county obviously does not have jurisdiction to override a municipal decision in Fortuna. I even attempted to soft-ball the question with the suggestion that we could avoid stepping on toes in Fortuna. His response was again quick and to the point. "We're going to have to step on some toes." He talked about the ability of the county to be involved in processes such as the EIR where the county is actually invited to submit comments. He then moved into some chilling details of the proposal and its potential impact on Fortuna as well as the rest of the county.
He was asked questions on a gamut of issues from the Railroad (he would like to see a railroad, but doesn't see it as feasible based on the existing information), to global warming, sustainable forestry, and even the Iraq war (he opposes it and remarked that funds spent there in a short time could restore numerous rivers such as the Eel). As I said, he was quite honest when asked about an issue he had not studied up on, he responded that he simply didn't know and would like to be educated. This is in contrast to other political candidates who would just B.S. the issue and steer into some agenda item of dubious relationship to the question. It's refreshing. It will be used against him, but he is a man of depth his ideas and campaign will evolve even as some Sohum folk recognize that a candidate is not simply a collection of policy positions, but in this case an individual of integrity with a vision of a process and the bridging of a huge divide right here in the Second District at a moment where the incumbent is particularly vulnerable. And make no mistake, he is extremely savvy on the immediate issues of concern to those in his own neck of the woods.
In short, Clif represents an opportunity for Sohum to be represented in County policy discussions. Imagine the possibilities.
The only photo I can find online comes from his article for the Humboldt Farm Bureau.
Lots of intrigue in the Town Dandy
And the ad hoc rail/trail cleanup is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:00, but there may be a snag. Bracut owner Rick Hess actually owns part of the line. As there hasn't been a train over the tracks for years, his attorneys believe that the easement has reverted back to him. He's all for trails, but he'd like to discuss the matter with the trail people before they show up. Hopefully they contacted him.
And Steve Harris, rep for Operating Engineers Local No. 3, will not be entering the Second District race for supervisor as previously speculated. He's been transferred to San Jose. He endorses Estelle whom he believes will do well by labor.
Lastly, Hank elaborates a bit on the Vagina Monologues/Arkley Center issue. The Arkley Center representatives say that it's not the subject matter which was objectionable, but what they say amounted to the negotiation antics of the play's director, Helena Class. The controversy has been the subject of a long and contentious thread over at Heraldo's.
Meanwhile elsewhere in this week's NCJ some whippersnapper named William S. Kowinski wrote a positive review for the new Dr. Who series. But Dr. Who hasn't been good since...., well...., since Saturday Night Live was good.
When did I become such a curmudgeon?
Friday, December 14, 2007
600 percent increase in government paper shredding contracts over the past 7 years
Check out this Think Progress post. From just under half a million in 2000 to almost 3 million in 2006. I'm not sure how much of the 2007 year is covered in the graph.
Probably not in real dollars, but I don't think inflation has been that bad.
Now, I would like to see some more of the Clinton years in the mix, particularly if there was a decline from the impeachment years. But I still think an explanation is in order. This ought to be a mainstream story.
Update: Tom Seaborn (not sure if I've been spelling that name right) reported the story on KGOE as I was driving home this evening.
Times Standard blogomania
Lots of good stuff.
Clif Clendenen in Garberville tonight
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Missoula Children's Theatre this Saturday
Public performance of Missoula Children’s Theatre’s local cast production of The Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
Doors- 7:30pm/ Curtain- 8pm
Desserts & refreshments available before the show.
Sliding scale donation to benefit the annual MCT program.
200,000 visitors as of this moment
Addendum: Okay, somebody here at my office says that a "visitor" is somebody who comes and does something besides read the front page, either going to the comments or hitting a link. A page view is every time somebody reads any page here, meaning the main page or a comment thread. Apparently I've had over a hundred thousand (obviously not a hundred thousand different people) who just come here to read my posts, but don't bother with the threads. Interesting.
Gallegos will prosecute the EPD case
”It's going to be a very, very tough case,” Gallegos said Wednesday in his first public comments on the case since convening the criminal grand jury last month. “It's very divisive, and it would be unfair in my eyes to put it off on someone else. I figure those sort-of-miserable cases should flow to me. That's the way it should be.”The article contains a very interesting statement from Ron Cottingham who is president of the Police Officers Research Association of California:
For his part, Gallegos said he doesn't foresee a problem with his office's ability to work with EPD in the future.
”We work with everyone, and that's the way it is,” Gallegos said. “Absolutely our job is to be independent. It's also to monitor law enforcement activities. ... It's a mystery to me that people think there's this relationship that we don't ever look at what (officers) do, and say, 'You've done something wrong.' That's not our legal system -- that's antithetical to our legal system. That would put individuals and an organization above the law.”
”If anything adverse happens from this, everyone will probably have to reevaluate their tactical processes,” Cottingham said. “It's another situation where the decisions officers have to make on the street at the time of conflict -- when there's just a myriad of things going on -- are fuel for everyone who is going to sit back and second guess everything that was done.”Certainly an issue in this case will be the degree to which standard protocols were followed. I would think that if they were followed, the officers will defense the case whether a judge or jury ultimately believes they are adequate. You certainly can't hold an officer criminally liable for doing what officers all over the country would do. Civilly liable perhaps, because that's how standards get changed.
Obviously we need to know to what degree the officers attempted to negotiate with Moore and whether the standard of practice is to bring in mental health professionals, perhaps even a physician, when the individual is requesting medication or otherwise indicates mental health issues. Of course, the timing and proximity of danger to the officers or public, or the officers' reasonable belief about it, will factor in as well.
Rose has a very interesting post containing police blog responses to this case. Apparently it's going to be watched closely from well beyond the borders of this community.