Thursday, December 31, 2009

More on the Water Rights initiative proposal

This was published in the Herald on 12/30.  Letters from the proponents, which appeared the previous week, are not on line, but the comment thread is open if Ed G. or any of the other proponents want to chime in.   

Re: the proposed water rights ordinance

The people have a right to know that this proposal could affect the city's ability to provide basic services. Lawyers are expensive. One of the ways the city balanced the budget this year was to make a big cut in the amount budgeted for legal advice. But if the city were actually involved in a lawsuit, this budget limit would go out the window and something else would have to be cut. That something else could be one of the guys running snowplows, or a police officer or fireman.

Yes, it would take at least one complaint to force the city to sue. That was exactly my point. Even if the city's own testing found no water contamination; even if the city attorney said the case was not winnable; even if our elected representatives believed the complainant was a paranoid hypochondriac, one complaint could force the city to sue. Would this be enforceable? Probably not, but then the city might end up in a lawsuit over its failure to file a lawsuit. If there were a specific standard written into the proposal, such as our water being contaminated with more than 50 micrograms per liter of silver (the EPA standard) I would not be concerned. But as written, the definition of harm is entirely subjective.

Silver toxicity comes from the silver ion, not from any particular compound. It could be caused by silver nitrate in photographic chemicals, or from ingesting colloidal silver—a product sold locally that some people swear by, but which any M.D. doctor in town will tell you to avoid. Iodine toxicity is also a potential problem, but the threshold for harm would be much higher, since it is an essential micronutrient.

For a private citizen, civil disobedience is an option if existing laws are seen as unjust. But public servants take an oath to administer the laws as they are, not as they would like them to be. I'm writing this letter strictly on my own, but it does seem like the authors of the proposed ordinance expect city officials to do their civil disobedience for them by ignoring state laws to the contrary.

And there is really no credible evidence that cloud seeding 40 to 80 miles away, in a separate watershed, would deposit silver iodide here, in harmful, or even in measurable quantities. Studies in the Sierra Nevada downstream from cloud seeding operations rarely show more than 100 parts per trillion, which is more than two orders of magnitude below the toxic level. The generators would only be fired up when a storm front comes in, and the fronts all blow away from our village. This is not to say that I trust PG & E. The movie "Erin Brockovich," was based on a true story about water contaminated with hexavalent chromium, a really toxic substance, by the same PG & E Corporation. But the take home messages from that story are that if big corporations really do cause contamination, there are always lawyers who will take the case for a contingency fee, and there are existing laws to base it on. You don't need to force a cash-strapped small town to take this risk.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bottled water sales declining

Bottled Water Sales Decline 5.2% in two years.

And some people wonder why.  Well for starters, we are in a recession, and tap water, which is virtually free, is just as good, except in a very few places that have unsolvable mineral pollution problems.  In fact, one brand of bottled water, Aquafina, is tap water. 

And it takes a huge amount of oil to bottle and ship water in plastic containers.  Plus, the plastic bottles themselves are made from petrochemicals.  This hastens the day when we will really have an oil shortage.  It also puts huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air.  bottled water and energy  I have posted posted previously my objections to the proposed water rights ordinance in Mount Shasta.  But one provision that I could wholeheartedly support is the prohibition on selling water from the city springs and wells to a bottling company.  A bottling plant may seem like a good idea to a depressed community, but the long term prospects for this kind of business will not be good when gasoline and diesel prices reach the $6 to $8 dollar per barrel range.  The "obstructionists" in McCloud might seem pretty reasonable if the water business dries up in 10 years or so.  And if it is getting warmer in California, it will also get much more dry.  The water supply from our local springs is likely to be greatly diminished.  
Maybe one of the simplest things we could do to reduce our carbon footprint is to require all gas stations and fast food restaurants to provide free tap water, and tax bottled water.

Embarrassing Day for the Forest Service

Karuk members block project   It was another embarrassing day for the US Forest Service.  The supervisor of Six Rivers National Forest, Tyrone Kelley,  has admitted that commitments made to the Karuk tribe during the planning process for a fuel reduction project were not completely followed on the ground.  Unfortunately, I saw that happen a few other times during my Forest Service career.  Sometimes it is a genuine oversight.  Other times, somebody at a low or middle level just thinks that the added restrictions are totally impractical and disregards the mitigations in the plan when drawing up the contract.  But, I did have one boss who never let that happen.  His name was Mike Hupp, the former District Ranger at McCloud and Mount Shasta.  He was an excellent hands-on manager who always brought the planning and implementation people together early in the process to make sure the plan was doable.  Then he would make sure that the contract people followed the plan and all of the mitigation measures.  Mike should have been a Forest Supervisor by now.  But he was a white male, and at a promotional disadvantage in the diversity driven staffing practices of the Forest Service, especially in California.  A couple of years ago, he was hounded into early retirement by an endless string of grievances from a paranoid and disgruntled employee.
Maybe it is unfair to print Kelley's picture.    Maybe not.  He has been the boss there for three and one half years.  If the contract was big enough, he signed it.  If not, it was signed by the District Ranger.  The ranger at Orleans now is Nathan Colegrove, a member of the Hupa tribe, whose previous experience was largely in tribal forestry and teaching.  Nathan Colegrove, Sr.  Some other members of the Colegrove family, including Agnes (Jeeps) Colegrove and Daniel (Johnsons) Colegrove, have spent much of their lives in prison.  It is encouraging to learn that part of the family has become educated, and gained a good career.  
If you read the stories in the media about this incident, you would assume that this is a case of the white management of the Forest Service ignoring the needs of Native Americans.  Well, in this case, that just isn't so. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Climate Engineering

Here is some heavy reading for those of you who are chemtrails true believers, and also for any science nerds with an interest in climate change and the potential to mitigate our greenhouse emissions by putting more aerosol particles into the atmosphere. 
Teller's Lawrence Livermore Paper
Climate Engineering Responses (many authors)

Tellers paper is 21 pages.  The other one, by the NOVIM group, is 66 pages.  Some of the equations make my eyes glaze over.  My education on this subject ended after Chemistry 1A.  But a non-nerd can skim through the material and pick up some useful background. 

As I read through it I started to wonder at first whether my profound skepticism on this subject was misplaced.  Both papers indicate that placing the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere needed to reduce the solar radiation by an amount sufficient to cancel the impact of increased greenhouse gases is feasible.  Both papers indicate that aluminum particles are most likely to be the most practical material to use, although mother nature does it with sulfur dioxide in volcanic eruptions.  Aha!  --What if they really are doing it already. 
However, both papers indicate that the knowledge of how to do it is not really there yet.  It is not determined how to keep the particles scattered so that the reflect sunlight effectively and do not agglutinate into large particles that quickly fall to earth.  Also, the elevation needed to do this effectively is 60,000 to 95,000 feet, far higher than the 30,000 feet that is the typical ceiling for most commercial and military flights. 
And footnote 31 of Teller's paper was reassuring: 
"Worth noting is the fact that the annual tonnages of either sulfur or aluminum oxides presently proposed for stratospheric deployment are tiny compared to the quantities of these materials which are either naturally lofted into the atmosphere (e.g. by dust storms) or are already injected by human activities (e.g. fossil fuel burning of all types.)"
This tends to confirm what I have always suspected, that the high levels of aluminum reported in some water samples, if not caused by contamination of samples, are most likely attributable to the hundreds of ways that we use aluminum in our civilization or to naturally high levels of aluminum in some soil types.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Letter to the District Attorney

Dear Mr. Andrus:

I am extremely disappointed in your decision to dismiss charges against Greg Nelson and Suzanne Little. Usually, a DA will go for a retrial when he gets a majority vote for conviction the first time around. Murder is absolutely the highest priority crime to prosecute. How can you possibly say that the rest of your workload is more important?

Christine Chenevert and yourself did your best on the first trial and managed to convince seven jurors that Greg was guilty, guilty, guilty! But I think there are a number of ways you could improve on a retrial.

 In jury selection, it appears from what other jurors have said that you were stuck with a couple of jurors that were hopelessly biased against conviction. I hope your intuition on this is better next time. When a defense lawyer questions a potential juror very aggressively, then reluctantly decides not to challenge, he/she may be playing a game to sneak a juror he/she really likes onto the jury. Don't get any non-practicing lawyers on the jury. Do look for people who have seen what meth does and does not do to people. Being Native American is probably a plus, except for Hoopa residents.

 A couple of jurors thought that Greg was the salt of the earth. This should not have happened. He is almost certainly a pusher as well as a meth user. Find some people in rehab who will testify that Greg sold them meth. Sylvia Jenkins was not very credible, but if you use her, ask her if Greg supplied her with meth when she was a minor. Find some gyppo loggers who fired Greg because he showed up loaded and couldn't do the job. Did he pay income taxes? Probably not. Get his IRS records. Did he make enough to live without dealing meth? Probably not. Make sure the jury knows he is a scumbag.

 Don't leave Steve Marshall for the defense to take apart. Prep him as well as you can and put him on. Make sure that you discuss any inconsistencies in his testimony during direct, and give him a chance to reconcile differences between his recollections and the confession. In "Outrage," Bugliosi said that if only the DA had gotten Fuhrman to say that yes, to his great regret he had used the term nigger on a few occasions, OJ would have been convicted.

 Research any precedents saying that minor participants in a kidnapping are equally guilty. Make sure the judge and jury hear that and try to get it in the instructions. Work harder on the ransom note issue. Things unfortunately do get lost in 33 years.

 Maybe you need an expert on what meth does and does not do to a person. Meth addicts I have known were clever liars, skilled at manipulating people. It would be totally out of character for a meth addict to give a false confession. Bugliosi handled this issue pretty well when the defense objected to Linda Kasabian's testimony on the grounds that she was an acid head with a blown mind.

 Keep digging for witnesses to the disposal of the body.

 Could the red honda still be in a junkyard somewhere? Are there records that Albert Carpenter or someone else did own this car? Really work on anything that might result in physical evidence.

 If Greg can be convicted on a drug charge and in jail during a retrial for murder, so much the better.

 Work harder on motive. Did Bill Cook have anything to do with the accusation that Antone murdered Herb Cook? Did he testify in Antone's trial? Did Antone and Suzanne get a huge bill they couldn't pay after the trial? If so, make sure the jury knows this.

Confession + seven guilty votes = Murder Case Dismissed!

Faced with a budget crisis and a powerful bay area defense attorney, DA Kirk Andrus moved to dismiss kidnapping charges against Suzanne Little, and Murder/kidnap charges against Greg Nelson of Hoopa, for the death 33 years ago of six-year old Willie Cook of Happy Camp.  Nelson's first trial ended with the jury deadlocked 7 to 5 for conviction on murder, and 6 to 6 on the kidnapping charge.  Redding Searchlight
Nelson's retrial and Little's trial had been scheduled to begin Jan 11.  Family and friends of the victim felt betrayed and appalled by the decision.  Andrus will undoubtedly be second-guessed for spending a reported $60,000 in drug forfeiture money for a special prosecutor in Nelson's first trial instead of prosecuting it himself.  Many courtroom observers thought that Nelson's first trial should have been a slam dunk, since the prosecution had a confession and an eyewitness.  But public defender Lael Kayfetz managed to sow enough doubt to get a mistrial. 

The state can still refile charges against both defendants if they get more evidence and/or more money. 
As the days have gone on since the mistrial was announced on November 12, I have become more convinced of Nelson and Little's guilt.  Several former jurors have commented extensively on the case in the Eureka Times-Standard forum.  Topix forum   The bottom line is that Nelson did confess.  The confession was wrung out of him over a two day period, but it was ruled admissible.  Nelson clearly and consistently denied molesting Cook, whose body was found nude.  But his statements on whether he suffocated or strangled Willie were equivocal in the beginning, until he finally did confess, although he claimed he hadn't really meant to kill him.  And he admitted early on that he was the driver when Willie was kidnapped in Happy Camp and brought to Hoopa.  Nelson later claimed that he made the confession because he was really messed up on meth, and had consumed 1/8 ounce of it that the arresting officers missed, when they stopped for a bathroom break.  Nelson may not be too bright, but he already knew about Miranda rights, having two previous convictions.  And the meth addicts that I have known would definitely lie, but they all seemed to be clever liars skilled at manipulating people to get money or whatever they needed to get more speed.  The idea that this powerful mental stimulant would make someone confess to something they didn't do is fundamentally at odds with the reality I have seen over the last 40 years.  I would say that any juror relying on his own common sense would have to put the idea of false confessions in the same loopy category as the idea of "recovered memories," a concept advocated by a few psychologists years ago. 

Where did the prosecution go wrong on this case?  See above  post.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cars in US use a lot more fuel than the same models in Europe

My daughter in Europe just leased a Toyota Auris.  This car appears to be almost identical to the Toyota Matrix sold in the US.  However, the Matrix, with a standard 1.8 liter engine and five speed manual transmission, gets mileage of 26-32.  The Auris has a 1.3 liter motor with a 6 speed manual, and gets 33-48 mpg.  The Auris also comes in diesel, which gets 45-62 if I have the conversions right.  Well the diesel can't pass our smog regulations, but the 1.3 liter/six speed combo ought to be saleable in the US.  It looks like the manufacturers still think we are so addicted to power that we would not buy an engine that gets 50% better highway mileage.   They may be right.  Gasoline pices in the United States  now are about a third of what Europeans pay.  For most of us, it isn't painful enough yet to fill up. 
The Toyota Yaris has an identical nameplate in Europe and the US, but the smallest engine in the US is a 1.5 liter that gets 29 city, 36 highway.  The European version comes with a three cylinder, one liter engine that gets 40 city, 54 highway. 

Of course, Toyota also makes two smaller models, the Aygo and the iQ, which get even better mileage but couldn't meet US safety standards.  Crash test standards are probably a sacred cow, but we really need to give buyers some flexibility to buy a fuel efficient car at a reasonable price.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Conspiracy Theories

What is it about Mount Shasta that makes conspiracy theories sprout and grow so vigorously?  From just a couple of recent conversations with friends, I have learned that:
  • The government is engaging in a secret but very active program of mixing aluminum and borate particles into jet engine exhaust to combat global warming. 
  • Global warming has been proven to be a complete hoax.  (This from the same person who two years ago might have said Exxon is conspiring to suppress knowledge of global warming. 
  • Technology exists to solve our energy problems by running cars on water and hydrogen, but the government and the oil companies are suppressing it. 
  • Flu shots are a conspiracy to kill people. 
  • President Obama was born in Kenya.
  • Bill Clinton's birth father was Winthrop Rockefeller, former governor of Arkansas. 
  • War with Russia is going to happen within three years. 
  • Al Gore is the scion of an oil family. 
  • Evolution has never been proven
  • Academia is suppressing knowledge of advanced ancient civilizations 30,000 years older than the Sumerians. 
  • The lemurians beneath the mountain are real. 
I haven't heard anything about 9-11 for a while, or I could add that one to the list.  Well, to be fair, there are a few that I believe in myself:
  • The weapons of mass destruction myth was created largely by people who value the interests of Israel more than those of the United States.
  • The alleged attacks on US Navy ships the Maddox and Turner Joy were exaggerated or totally fabricated by military interests who wanted to expand the Vietnam War. 
  • Bill Clinton's birth father probably was not Willam Jefferson Blythe. 
  • Fox News deliberately lies to advance the interests of the military-industrial complex. 
The air isn't really that rarefied here.  But we are a community that has long been a destination for seekers with  a will to believe.   We have a popular bumper sticker that read, "Mount Shasta.  We're all here because we're not all there."  And in the short to mid term, truth is hardly necessary.  Most women will react much more positively to a fervently believed scenario than to a stodgy atheism.  Whether global warming is real or a conspiracy has only a small impact on our lives, at least for the next few years.  And people who know that the Food and Drug Administration is controlled by evil people usually have at least a good basic intuition on what to eat.  Of course, my friend Dave who sometimes wears a respirator on the street to counter the impact of chemtrails isn't helping his social life any.  And the older woman who is sure that chemtrails are tearing her lungs out must have some serious psychosomatic symptoms, or maybe some real symptoms for which she really needs a doctor.  This post is rambling.  I should just publish it.