Sunday, May 29, 2016

Making or Breaking:

Media Steps in to Declare The Winner (Before the Polls Close)

How to write about this 2016 election season? Situation changing rapidly while staying the same?

The Great Whore of Iraq
On May 26, members of the media announced that on June 6, prior to the closing of California’s polls, in fact two hours before, it planned on announcing that Hilary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for residency in the White House. This particular tactic by the media for creating election winners was tried and perfected in the selection of George W. Bush to the residency in 2,000.

California’s voters can take heart: not only has Democracy been dangled like a carrot before their noses, to be repeatedly withdrawn just as their jaws open to take a nice big bite, but up to half a million California voters may have been purged, particularly those who have changed their registration—as many Bernie voters saw fit to do.

The election train has been accelerating toward the proverbial brick wall for a long time. It reached cruising speed some time ago. It is now on that final stretch just before….

Imperator Romano Maximus Trajan
•a loud mouth demagogue stepped up to the plate, with a penchant for substituting racist video clips for actual Coliseum combats, commenting about Christians being munched to shreds by lions and the bones spit out, with cheering from the gallery (warning: may be offensive to some viewers).

•a piece of yesterday’s fish being offered as “the first female candidate” which women will find irresistible bait despite her shrill war mongering. Wars can be overlooked as an issue: America has been at war since the founding except for 21 (yes, that’s twenty-one) years of peace. Now U.S./NATO missiles are ringing Russia, potentially triggering a nuclear war, war mongering is barely a problem until the warmonger-in-chiefess takes office.

•which she is guaranteed to do by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a clutch of super duper delegates deciding  where that Democratic carrot gets dangled next (and keeps you, sucker, in the happy illusion that your vote remotely counts).

•which she is guaranteed to do by manipulation of voter purging and caging and discouragement in states like New York (more than 100,000 votes were purged just in Brooklyn alone) and Arizona

•Shortly after she launched her presidential campaign, and following the assassination of Goldman Prize winning activist, Berta Cáceres, Clinton deleted any and all references to the 2009 Honduran coup which she removed from the paperback edition of her memoir Hard Choices.

•and for comic relief, Clinton went on record promoting transparency in government by making sure reporters couldn’t hear her speech at a fund-raising event by turning up a white noise machine.

It reminded me of Cardinal Mazzarin.  For that we have to go back to the 17th Century. In France (where he was hated) a popular song excoriated him. Seeing opportunity, he had broadsides printed with the words and lyrics and sold them for good money. “If they gonna sing, they gotta pay,” he is reported to have said. He was Italian through and through.
Cardinal Mazzarin



Is Hillary Stealing the Nomination?  Will Bernie Birth a Long-Term Movement?
By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News - April 27, 2016

Why Can't The Nation & the Left Deal With Election Theft? 
By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News - April 16, 2016

Is the 2016 Election Already Being Stripped & Flipped?
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
- April 3, 2016 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Six Hundred Thousand Trees to Bite the Dust

For some time, although most residents of the East Bay Region have been unaware of it (and kept in the dark), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has initiated plans to cut 600,000 trees from the East Bay ridge;. The plan includes areas stretching from Richmond through Hayward and some portions of Contra Costa County. The stumps, 600,000 of them, are to be treated twice a year for a ten-year period with Garlon and Glyphosate, cancer-causing products manufactured by Dow Chemical and Monsanto., which will leach into run off, ground water, and eventually major bodies of water.

What constitutes tree-shaded wilderness with thousands of miles of trails are to be converted into grasslands. Actualized, the plan will result in severe erosion (it has already caused
significant damage along certain stretches of Highway 13 which coincidentally runs on top of the Hayward Fault); it will raise the regional temperature and reduce moisture in the soils; it will adversely affect animal, bird, bat, butterfly and insect habitat; and it will not reduce fire hazard, although that of course is the rationale advanced to justify such a radical plan.

And, like the national movement to disappear library books (covered in my last newsletter) this plan to strip away wilderness extends to other areas of California as well.

Regional Park Meeting

Last  Tuesday, May 17, the Board of Directors of the East Bay Regional Parks held a meeting at their headquarters.  Public Comments were restricted to 3 minutes per speaker. I share my 3-minutes worth of comments below:

I am here today because it’s the 10th anniversary of  Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” According to NASA’s report last week, the planet’s air has gone beyond the tipping point of 350 PPM and now stands at 400 PPM.  No humans have ever existed before in this kind of atmosphere.
Atmosphere is a fancy word for the air you breathe, the Board members of the EBRPD breathes, and all the people in this Board Room room breathe. It is the air all living organisms on Earth breathe: marine animals, plants, and, including the soil bacteria and the bees which allow us and all other living things to eat.

There is no separate air conditioning for members of regional governments, city governments, and national governments. There is no separate air for the CEOs of Monsanto and Dow Chemical. The one thing left on Earth that remains democratic is air—the air everyone breathes.

We need full disclosure. What dollar amounts does the budget show for the Dow and Monsanto contracts negotiated by the EBRPD for this project? What does the budget show of the profits from the sale of wood chips and lumber to markets in China and Japan from this project?

The trees are the common property of all the citizens of the East Bay. They are our wilderness. As its owners, we have the right to determine the disposition of our property. We need to know who benefits from the destruction mandated by the FEMA clearcutting program affecting Richmond all the way to and including
Hayward and Contra Costa. We will use every means at our disposal to find out.

This planet is not the home of unlimited growth; it must not become the home of unlimited destruction.  This is not the moment to pollute our already polluted soils, watershed, and larger bodies of water with Dow and Monsanto cancer-causing chemicals.  We’ve been there, done that.

Which is why—if all living things are to avoid death by choking—we need to plant MORE trees. Trees are the lungs by which this home we live in breathes. This is not the place to cut 400,000 trees, not including the 200,000 more trees the UC has under its jurisdiction. Maybe on another planet. But not this one.

 More Information: 


Overviews and Resources

The Science:

History and Toxicology:

The Lawsuit and More History:

Art Action and More Science:

Forest Photos and More Resources:

Fire Hazards: conservation biologist David Theodoropoulos, retired firefighter Dave Maloney,

High Burning Fuel (includes pictorial evidence):

August 2015 Hills Conservation Network protest against Sierra Club's FEMA-supporting lawsuit: 



Oakland-specific petition (almost 65,000 signatures already):

Hills Conservation Network-specific petition:

Million Trees, SF Forest Alliance - Sierra Club-specific petititon:




Sunday, May 15, 2016


What the heck was I doing attending yet another cluster-fuck Berkeley Library Trustees Meeting last week? Taking notes, that’s what. Happily, back out in the street (free at last, free at last!) someone in the loop let me in on what’s really going on. Without my informant’s input, my article (see below) wouldn’t have had a spine. What the article doesn’t let you know, however, is that the City of Berkeley has launched an expensive investigation of any and all library whistle blowers, without whom, Berkeley would never have discovered the destruction by the former library director, Greg Scott, of 39,000 books, books paid for by the citizens of Berkeley, and therefore a theft of our commons.

What the article omits adding is that this theft of our history is happening in libraries nationwide.

Public and Library Employees Ignored by Berkeley Board of Library Trustees

In the home stretch of researching my latest book, I found myself consulting a 1969 issue of an anthropology publication archived in the Main Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, discovering what the people I had been writing about, the Juwasi (or San) of the Kalahari Desert really looked like. Before leaving the library, I browsed the reference room. I came upon an atlas of women travelers of the 19th Century. Whoopee, I thought. Research done, proofs corrected, I’ll come back to have a serious look. A mere five months later, I found the reference room was stripped. The shelves were nearly as bereft as a mediaeval monk’s tonsure. What was going on?

I discovered 39,000 books had walked out the back door of the Berkeley Main Branch of the Public Library to be pulped. Rumor had it the pulp found its way into the manufacture of mattresses. I was given access to the database of the 19,000 last copies that had met their fate in the teeth of the shredders. I found a disproportion of titles about women and the women’s movement; about Blackness and the history of Black folk, and volumes on economy and politics. Did the library trustees have an agenda?

Since then I have regularly attended monthly meetings where the public is “invited” to interface with the Board of Library Trustees. My participation in these events was prompted by a lifetime of activism and a sense that with so much public indignation at the theft of our Berkeley commons, the Board of Library Trustees might be persuaded to shift their policies. Through the exertion of public pressure, Jeff Scott, the Library Director, whose trashing tenure lasted a bare 11 months (so much mayhem in so little time), was summarily dismissed. Surely things were bound to improve. And yet, nine months later, the same policies remain in force, notably both weeding and collections acquisitions remain in the hands of only two librarians answerable to the Manager of Collections; whereas formerly, librarian specialists had this responsibility each in their particular areas of expertise.

Last Wednesday’s meeting marks a water shed in the breakdown of relations between the trustees , the public and the library employees. Public commentary was restricted to one minute. Following the comment period, two representatives from Local 1021 shared a union notification of no confidence in the current Collections Manager; followed by two representatives from Local 1 who spoke in opposition.

It turns out at issue is a serious labor dispute which finds employee morale at an all time low. Yet throughout the proceedings I marveled at the trustees’ expressions of satisfaction and complacency. Could it be this state of affairs is exactly what they intend? The absence of many librarians for fear of retaliation was duly noted by many speakers. Could it be the trustees agenda is to make working conditions so unpleasant as to encourage older, better paid employees to quit? Recent union negotiations revolving around pay cuts across the board would seem to suggest that is exactly what is going on.

The same trustees who appear indifferent to employee intimidation, display similar indifference to the public. The most recent meeting suffered from lack of any sound amplification. Often speakers comments and directions by the Board secretary could not be heard. Most tellingly, the Board continues to stage these meetings at the Pittman branch, recently visited by the fire department which determined only 34 seats could be accommodated. All were occupied Wednesday, with another 34 people left standing for the nearly two hour long meeting duration—some of them senior citizens. 

Repeatedly, when the public has posed a question to this Board in good faith, it has been met with the assertion that the Board cannot answer questions. If in fact the Board is gagged, it follows that public is gagged as well, yet many questions continue to be asked of this board in what appears to be an ongoing and futile exercise by a public making comments that run off  the trustees like water off a duck’s back. If the trustees of the Berkeley Public Library are responsible neither to the employees nor the public, to whom are they responsible?

(Note: the Board answers to the Berkeley City Council. The concluding question is merely rhetorical.)

 What you can do to help stop Berkeley LibraryGate:

Here are resources you can use to get more involved in saving our books!

Rally highlights discrepancy in number of books weeded from Berkeley Public Library

Berkeley Public Library Trustees Website

Phone for Beth Pollard, Interim Director of Library Services, BOLT Secretary 510-981-6195

Contacting the Berkeley Public Library Trustees link

Save the Berkeley Public Library Books Website

Sunday, May 1, 2016

TRUMPTON in 2016

“Pineda’s singular books perform dazzling literary feats of technique, history, and political responsibility. They display a range of technical sophistication that is hard to compare. To read Pineda is to touch on the miracle of humanity.”

                                                                                                —Marcus Embry

I’ll be talking about two books, Love Queen of the Amazon, and Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World on Saturday, May 7 at 3:00 PM at Oakland’s Main Library, 125 14th Street at Lakeshore Drive in Oakland.
What kinds of books get written in happy times and why can't we have those happy books when we move into less happy times? Your opinions are as good as mine!


Either way, whether you’re allowed to vote for Trumpton or Tonoftrump, you will get the same old same old, only this time even worse: endless war; charity for the .0001%, and destitution for the other 99%, not just in the US but world over. UNLESS YOU WRITE IN BERNIE SANDERS. It may not do your country any good, but you will have asserted your own dignity, your own manumission, and your community’s manumission.

US voting looks more and more like a rat laboratory: stand in line for hours, lucky if you get to push the food pellet lever when you get to those pearly (and hacked) gates, and a piece of paper which says I VOTED TODAY (that’s the pellet).

Trumptonism (Trump + Clinton= Trumpton) is not a option. It is a symptom, the symptom of a collapsing civilization, the hollowing out of a society by centuries of imperialism, centuries of war, centuries of beggaring a population, many without food, clothing or housing—and above all without means of coping with a post-industrial, soon to be post-technical world because of ignorance brought on by mis-education where “classrooms” are propaganda tanks for the dissemination of national myths.

As a primarily right brain person, I resort to images for much of my thinking. I try to pay attention to where I see us today (and by us I mean homo saps). Before my eyes I hold the ruins of Chernobyl. For me it represents the image of decay, the faltering of planetary systems, the faltering of the imperial state, the faltering of my own cohort to the indifferent scything of old age itself.

I see the State as hollowed out.  Its high court: corrupt; it education system: corrupt;
its legislative branch: corrupt; the executive: corrupt. Sandra Day O’Connor went on the record musing that maybe in retrospect she should not have cast her vote selecting George Bush in the selection theater of 2000. At the age of 86 she is rectifying that oversight by inventing video games—to teach kids civic responsibility, according to the March 28, 2016 crusty New York Times. As they say in the scrivening biz, you can’t make this stuff up.

Recently I heard Micah White speak. Micah White of Adbusters fame, of Zuccotti Park-Occupy fame. His view is that NO ACTION CAN BE EFFECTIVE UNLESS IT DECLARES SOVEREIGNTY. His formula asks the question: are marches effective? Are petitions effective? Are demonstrations effective? Vigils? And if not, why not? Because empire is tone deaf to petitioning.

I  happen to agree with Micah White. EMPIRES ARE NOT CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS. But marches, demonstrations, vigils, protests IF THEY ARE WIDELY PUBLICIZED EDUCATE a segment of the population that does not walk by with blinders over their eyes, that may notice (out of their peripheral vision to be sure) that some folks are discontent. And of those few, even fewer may begin to wonder why. Moving a population as numb and dumbed down as this one takes a very very long time and lots and lots of sticktoitiveness. But it is NOT ENOUGH.

What would be effective? In my view, to counter the neocon agenda, the LANGUAGE OF RESISTANCE MUST BE REVERSED. If we cannot entertain DEMANDS, what then? We can have expectations OF OURSELVES. Intensions, Goals. Ambitions. But if we talk of self-determination, we remain mired in the cult of the self. Of individualism.
What then? Here are some nouns: people; popular. mass; massive; common; communal; group; collective.

Here are some indirect objects: determination; manumission; articulation; integration.

We can combine these nouns and indirect objects, but to do so we need verbs, and no verbs are possible without ACTION. What are these verbs? We can DECLARE; we can OCCUPY. We can BUILD alternatives.

Now we need direct objects: streets, cities, banks, corporations, farms; factories; workers collectives; cooperative groceries, cooperative transportation sharing; cooperative energy sharing. We can shift our energies to creating new realities in microquantities. We can begin coloring in the coloring book of our time and place. Much of it is colored in already. We need to expand the areas, intensify the colors.

So far the ground work has been laid:
The occupy movement articulated the concept of economic disparity, and gave it a name: the 1 percent; the 99 percent.
The blacklivesmatter movement extending to the brownlivesmatter movement has articulated a position exposing the extension of the antebellum plantation in the form of police street lynchings; mass incarceration, and mass deportation.
The Bernie Sanders campaign has become a spokespeople, articulating popular aspirations. It must continue, regardless of Act Three of the 2016 Election Theater.

We must make demands of OURSELVES: Fearlessness: willingness to face police terror, sound canons, microwave canons, live rounds. Willingness to speak truth, remind OURSELVES who we are, what we stand for. Willingness to educate sufficient numbers so that no number of arrests (over 1,000 in DC recently) and no amount of carnage can possibly deter us.

When Trumpton is elected, we don’t have to move to Canada. We can BE Canada.