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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

December, 2007



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Letters To The Editor

Board Needs To Support Papermill Center
I want to start this as an open letter of thanks to my wife, Trish Callo, for her time on the board of the Papermill Creek Children's Center for the last two years. Despite commuting to Vacaville or San Francisco every day to manage the construction of a new hospital, she has found time to support the mission of this important community institution. As a successful working mother, Trish is very aware of the need for children to have a safe, positive, engaging environment to go to every day. Papermill allows children to establish a solid social and emotional base from which to begin their transition to kindergarten and the world at large.
Trish was voted off the board on Tuesday, November 13 and that is the other reason for my letter. Papermill is an historic institution in our community and without this resource it would be difficult if not impossible, for working parents with small children to live in West Marin. The role of the board is to support this institution and it is clear the board is failing at this effort. I'm writing to urge the board to stop their personal (and petty) agendas and focus on working as a team for the good of our children. The board needs to support and become part of this community rather than tearing it apart.

Colin Hamblin, MD

Oil Spill Employees Say Cleanup Crippled by Mismanagement

Below is a copy of the letter to Assemblywoman Carole Migden from Marine Spill Response Corporation employees about oil spill mismanagement.

November 13, 2007

Dear members of the Legislature:
We are employees of the Marine Spill Response Corporation who are extremely concerned about the oil spill last week in San Francisco Bay. Right now we're doing everything we can to help with the clean up. We're putting in long hours and working hard, so we can't attend any public hearings at this time.

But we would like to share some concerns about the clean-up operation, and we want the public to know the truth behind some of the claims that have been made by both industry and public officials.

Contrary to what you've been told, there were not enough dedicated, qualified responders in the Bay Area available to help with the clean-up and recovery efforts immediately following the incident when we had the best chance of containing the spill and recovering the oil.

The failure to have enough qualified responders stationed in the Bay Area at the time of the spill means that most of the oil was already dispersed over a large area before enough trained, dedicated responders were assembled and operating equipment. Rapid response to an oil spill is especially critical in San Francisco Bay because powerful tides and strong currents make it absolutely essential to respond very quickly with sufficient staff and resources.

The truth is that industry officials have been understaffing their dedicated spill response operations in the Bay Area and elsewhere because there are no rules to prevent them from doing so. Officials defend their irresponsible staffing levels by claiming that they use a "cascading system" to shift resources when an emergency strikes. But the fact is that "cascading" resources only works beyond a certain point, to supplement sufficient resources when a disaster happens. Until now, the number of dedicated responders has been insufficient. As a result, we lost precious time during the early and most important phase of the clean up. Cascading on top of insufficient staffing means that we aren't fully operational for at least 12 and often 24 hours after a major spill - allowing the critical clean up window to close before we have enough dedicated staff to respond.

Imagine what would happen if we staffed fire departments or ambulances in the same manner. It's one thing to ask other professionals for help during a major crisis - but it's a completely different matter when you start with inadequate staffing. If we've learned anything over the past forty years about responding to oil spills, it is the need to respond quickly with highly trained professionals who can operate best equipment under adverse conditions. Providing anything less is irresponsible and misleading to the public.

Finally, we want to remind you that MSRC and similar organizations are really creatures of the oil industry and giant shipping companies. That's where most of their funding comes from, and that's who calls the shots. The oil and shipping companies have plenty of money to pay for more dedicated response staff in the Bay Area and elsewhere, and they can afford to provide better pay and benefits to reduce the turnover and increase our professionalism. Holding the oil and shipping companies accountable to the public is difficult - but it has to be done if we expect a better response when the next disaster happens. We consider ourselves professionals. We're proud of the work we do, but we need your help - and more dedicated staff - so we can do the best job of serving the public and protecting the environment.

MSRC employees.

Reader Claims Letter
I wanted to let you know that the unattributed letter in the current issue of the CP concerning the Domenico Maceri article about the Soriano family situation was written by me. I longer have the original Email and am unable to determine if I did or did not provide my name, but it was not my intention for it to be anonymous. Frankly, I'm somewhat surprised that it was published, but your open-door policy shines through once again.

On a different note, I wanted to express my hope that your current editorial situation is resolved in a manner that will permit the CP to continue. I have had a long-time awareness of and interest in the Coastal Post and believe it represents a rarity in journalism--a non-corporate, independent paper possessing an evocative editorial position and an unusual openness to different points of view and sources.

Chris Rasmussen
Novato

Plastic Bags, Bottles And The Viability of Ethanol

Skepticism concerning this subject, especially the assertions that it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it can provide, has come from some seemingly reliable sources--this raises real concerns. In view of this, an advisory panel of real non-political experts should be selected immediately by a congressional committee with oversight from some university environmental departments to evaluate and report on this issue, and to expose any efforts from the petroleum industry to use this as a ploy for curtailing meaningful energy measures.

Otherwise we may spend billions on a faux energy source that would be counterproductive in our efforts to curb global warming, environmental degradation, and our trade imbalances & related security concerns-- while contributing to starvation by consuming limited food supplies.

All indicators now show that conservation still will be far more productive & beneficial in achieving our energy goals than ethanol production. Wind and solar power, and development of battery technology for electric vehicles, pose none of the problems that are associated with ethanol production.

Robert Settgast
San Rafael


The War Is Bipartisan Genocide
The war in Iraq is not Bush's war or the Republican Party's war, it is a bipartisan genocide against a people that never harmed the U.S. in any way, and were never a threat to U.S. security. The impotence of the newly elected democratic majority to end the war or even change it's direction is only surprising to those whom mistakenly view the democrats as an opposition party, when in fact they are simply two factions of the same ruling elite.

Just look at the feeble opposition the democrats put up, saying impeachment is off the table. They repeatedly say, with a straight face, that withholding funding, the only way to force an end to the war, is not possible, because it would leave our troops without the proper supplies TO CONTINUE THE FIGHT!

Rarely have crimes against humanity been so blatantly acted out on the world stage, than this most recent chapter of naked U.S. war mongering in the middle east. The 'preemptive' invasion of March 2003 was not a beginning but an escalation after 12 years of devastating sanctions that further crippled a country already devastated after a near decade long war with Iran in the 1980s.

George Bush I reigned at a time of unprecedented opportunity. The Cold War had ended and with the collapse of the Soviet Union there was no longer a force strong enough to counter U.S. ambition in the Middle East. Bush I and his armies killed between 100,000 and 200,000 Iraqis in a three-week period, beginning in January 1991. Death at this magnitude is usually called genocide, but with the alliance of the corporate owned media and new 24-hour news channels such as CNN, the pundits and spinsters rewrote history as it was being made.

Two years later it was the Democrats who gained control of congress and the White House. Bill Clinton and Al Gore put Iraq on the back pages while they were busy bombing the Balkans, destroying a nation so multi-national corporations can rebuild and set up the economy to maximize profit.

Meanwhile the strangulization of Iraq continued. In fact the Democrats mercilessly bombed Iraq on a regular basis, but these bombings were not front page news, unless of course they needed to wag the dog during the Lewinsky scandal, which they did. Bill Clinton was so absent minded that upon entering the Rose Garden to announce the bombings of 'Desert Fox' he bumped into a pillar of the White House (I saw this live on TV and was surprised at the time that the commentators did not comment on it). Although the bombings did maim and kill thousands, it was the draconian sanctions that continued the destruction of a nation. Madeline Albright, the secretary of state, repeated several times that 500,000 dead Iraqi civilians due to sanctions was an acceptable number if it was the cost of containing Saddam. Most of these deaths were due to the bombed water purification systems and the inaccessibility to basic life saving medicines.

Bush II's invasion of all of Iraq based on falsified evidence and blatant lies has resulted in the continued genocide of Iraq, the theft of the world's largest oil supply, torture, shock and awe (blitzkrieg), uranium and phosphorous weapons, war profiteering and sectarian civil war. And what is the main reason now given for the argument that the U.S. must stay in Iraq? "If we leave now, things will get much worse."

Ace Thelin
Ed. Note: Town please…

Impeach Cheney First, Then Bush
This week Dennis Kucinich led a heroic effort to put the impeachment of Dick Cheney on the table by requesting a floor vote on H. Res. 333.

The country is now 9 trillion dollars in debt. Many have lost their jobs, homes, and lives. Cheney is pushing rhetoric to trap us in a war with Iran like he did with Iraq.

The Iranian people aren't our enemies. Continued war and war profiteering are our enemies. Being denied constitutional rights is an enemy. Using force rather than diplomacy and understanding is an enemy. Rising gas prices, environmental pollution, nuclear waste, are all issues that we need to face, not another war.

I honestly believe that we were railroaded into a coup with the last two elections. I wonder if we will ever have an honest election again.

One thing we don't need is more war. We don't need Cheney or Bush in my opinion. They have ruined our country.

So, impeach them...first Cheney, then Bush.

Kathryn Barnes
Sherwood, Michigan

Why a MUTA flood fee election lawsuit?
Because of the Nov. 8 letter to the Marin I.J. from Rupert Russell of the Flood Mitigating League, objecting to MUTA_s lawsuit against the Ross Valley flood fee election, it is important that the public know MUTA_s reasons.

MUTA's lawsuit challenges not flood mitigation, but the illegal election that deprived many property owners of their right to vote, and completely exempted others in the affected zone from paying any fee at all.

Where parcels had joint or multiple owners, only one parcel owner received a ballot, in violation of the State Constitution, which requires that "all property owners" receive the required notices and ballots.

Furthermore, this case has major statewide implications that MUTA considered made our lawsuit mandatory. This illegal election had many flaws besides voting rights denial: two major conflicts of interest, specifications changed after BOS approval, faulty ballot design, ballot secrecy violated, and no 2/3-vote. Allowing this illegal election to stand unchallenged would provide a precedent for every tax-hungry district and county in the state to use similar unlawful elections to replenish their coffers.

MUTA therefore had no choice but to launch its lawsuit to overturn this flood fee election_-not the fee, but the unlawful election process.

Fielding Greaves
Past President, Marin United Taxpayers Association


Two Democratic States
The world is at a crucial place. There is strife wherever we look: the Far East in Myammar,Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Israel.

The Annapolis Conference is the new begining of an effort to try to begin working toward a solution for the problems of Israel and its neighbors.

It should be noted that the Palestinian Jews in 1948 accepted the UN Resolution of November 1947 diviidng Palestine into Jewish State and an Arab state. Let us hope that the leaders of the Arab world and the Palestinians , themselves,

can accept this solution first promulgated in 1929 and accepted by the pre-state leaders of the Palestinian Jewish Community as well as all subsequesnt Israel Government leaders.

Hopefully all of us can look forward to seeing two democratic states existing in peace side by side on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Jon S. Levinson
San Carlos

Oil Spill: Protest on Vet's Day
Grieve the grebes, their helpless beauty tarred, tar baby feathered, oil-killed by the rage to destroy the fine beauties of this planet.

A rage powered within us all by refusal to live a better way. A rage to destroy. The thinking, caring among us have a hurt rage also. Like crosscurrents meeting, a dual rage often moves us nowhere in a big rippled splash.

Keeping our inner boats afloat helps - but doesn't save the grebes. So, investigate the Coast Guard! Scrutinize the technology! Interrogate the pilot!

But grieve the grebes, ducks, cormorants, and pelicans. And the entire myriad feathered migrants; and the fish.

Put in booms to channel oil into Drake's Estero - hide it from the tourists. What is wilderness for, besides soaking up civilization's messes? Oh yes, for extracting more oil to kill the fine beauties of the planet.

Armistice Day, yet never a lasting peace. Now we call it Veteran's Day, for the constant stream of war-scarred survivors, wounded, all wounded.

Will the grebes have many vet survivors? A month from now, will we care?

I hope so.
Moreva Selchie,
Inverness

Amazing Stem Cell
A stem cell shocker - skin cells can be used instead of embryonic cells to duplicate organ parts - thus defusing the debate over ethical standards. Not so shocking once you realize that each cell contains a DNA replica of the whole body.

In the movie Star Wars, Luke Skywalker's adventure begins when a beam of light shoots out of the robot Artoo Detoo and projects a miniature three dimensional image of Princess Leia. The image is a hologram. A hologram is a specially constructed image which, when illuminated by a laser beam seems eerily suspended in three-dimensional space. The most incredible feature of a hologram is that any piece of it provides an image of the entire hologram. In the same way the information of the whole body and all its organs is contained in each cell.

Ron Lowe
Grass Valley

Firefighters Spying For Bush
The Bush administration and Homeland Department couldn't convince the Americans that using cable employees to spy in their homes was OK so now the White House is using firefighters as Big Brother and to snoop and to inform on Americans. Let's hope that firefighters don't harbor any prejudices.

Doesn't the 4th Amendment prohibit the illegal and unlawful and unwarranted searchers of residences?

Ron Lowe
Grass Valley

Since When Are Oil Spill Cleanup Volunteers Terrorists?

It would seem that bird watchers, Greenpeace, et al are officially designated terrorists. And so are other ordinary do-good citizens like you and me: http://www.rightsmatter.org/multimedia/

And now, according to KPFA Radio, that same "terrorist" definition would appear to extend to volunteers cleaning up the San Francisco Bay Area oil spill.

A man who volunteered his back yard as a dump site for oil glops to be stored when cleaning up a West Marin beach, was handcuffed and tasered. Not tasered on his shoulder as was Andrew Meir: This time, it was his head that was tasered.

Why was the police summoned to an oil spill clean-up scene in the first place? This is the Patriot Act at work, folks: http://www.gunowners.org/patriotii.htm; www.aclu.org, www.eff.org, www.ccr.org which allows the police and FBI-at their own unilateral whim and without judicial review-to arrest ordinary Americans without probable cause or connection to criminal activity.

To let the public know that it really is only "terrorists" do-good citizen groups who are being thus targeted, I want to ask readers to see this actual declassified FBI "International Terrorism Matters" investigation document, as posted to the ACLU's website: www.aclu.org/safefree/spyfiles/28000res20060314.html

Please contact Congress members and demand that they overturn the Patriot Act, sum total.

Demand the name of the officer involved in this case, demand his arrest and job termination, then sue him.

If we don't show the stuff we are made of now, things will only get worse until such scenarios, and even worse ones, become the norm in America, the Land of the Free.

Drina Brooke
Novato

Clear And Precise Explanation of Single Payer Healthcare

Your November 1st editorial, "What is Single Payer?" should be widely distributed as the clearest exposition of this most important issue.

Single Payer Medical Insurance (SPMI) exists now in the form of Medicare (ME). Single Payer Systems are "not-for-profit medical care" in the precise words of Dennis Kucinich. All other candidates are using the imprecise term "Universal Health Care" (UHC). Hillary Clinton made progress towards not for profit medical care (the third rail of politics in 1993) when she brought forth her plan after locking herself up for 3 months in Jackson Hole with 300 insurance executives, resulting in a plan so bad that she kept secret the minutes of the meetings for years. UHC plans mandate citizens' money be shoveled into the pockets of the insurance executives, who then use 20% to 30% of your dollars for their overhead. This overhead includes obscene $67 million payouts to CEO's, as was the case with Oxford Insurance last year. Compare this to the 3% overhead of Medicare (ME). Blue Cross of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania administers New Jersey's ME for this 3% fee.

Opponents of ME call it socialized medicine, but doctors under ME are private practitioners in private offices, and their patients are private patients, free to choose their doctors and hospitals. Doctors negotiate in Washington with ME administrators, who are civil servants, and Congress oversees the process. This is preferable to dealing with over 100 private insurers, whose modus operandi is to corner large segments of the population into their plans, and then boss doctors and hospitals around. Ridiculously low fees result, for example, $860 (Aetna's payment) for a surgeon to perform major surgery, such as colon resection for cancer, including pre and postoperative care.

HMO's act like Wal-Mart, which asks for suppliers' lowest price and then works for 20% below that, often resulting in HMO's forcing their patients into other than their usual hospitals and doctors. Most HMO's now pay doctors less than ME fees and co pays have risen too much greater sums than ME's co-pay of 20% for doctor visits.

Mr. Kucinich's plan is estimated to cost taxpayers a 2.5% tax rise, much lower than the $12,000 to $15,000 cost for commercial for-profit insurance.

Polls in England and Canada, whose medical care is attacked by right wing USA propagandists, show that 97% of the people prefer to stay with their single payer systems. Media control in the USA is so pervasive that I haven't even seen such a poll of ME enrollees, but my tally so far shows 100% of ME patients prefer not to be devilled by the rapidly rising costs of commercial insurance companies' policies.

Also hidden by the US corporate press is that the internists' American College of Physicians (ACP), The American College of Surgeons, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology all came out in 1991 for SPMI, and Al Gore's pre-Hillary plan speech to the ACP in 1993 in Washington, D.C. espoused SPMI.

Leaving medical payments in the for-profit sphere has led to medical problems being the main cause of bankruptcy in the USA. This is unknown under Medicare. Industry should strongly support SPMI, since HMO policies cost them dearly and inhibit our country's competitiveness with more enlightened countries, where huge political contributions are known as "bribes."

Supporters of SPMI can call any House or Senate member at (202) 224-3121 or (800) 828-0498 to let their opinions be known. Let them know your support for House bill H.R. 1200.

M.E. Kostelnik, M.D.
Newton, New Jersey
Dr. Kostelnik practices Gastroenterology in Succasunna, New Jersey. He wrote this article while visiting his son Leo Kostelnik and daughter-in-law, Megan Matson, of Bolinas


Critical Right To Habeas Corpus
My father, Fielding Greaves, correctly notes the 1950 Johnson v. Eisentrager U.S. Supreme Court ruling has significance with regard to alleged "enemy aliens" and their failed attempt to gain court access from outside U.S. turf.

However, I believe he misses a couple of essential, larger points which put into doubt the long-term standing of the 1950 case and the more recent court ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in 2006, which found its rationale in the egregious Military Commissions Act of 2006, an act by which Congress has reversed over 200 years of tradition with regard to the sacred and most fundamental import of habeas corpus.

Rather than trying to do the issue justice, I would turn your readers to the excellent consideration of the issue by What Would a Patriot Do? Author Glenn Greenwald, whose careful analysis is found online at Error! Bookmark not defined..

It is a tragic irony that the Cheney-Bush royalists in the misnamed Federalist Society operate under the delusion that they hold the Founding Fathers' original intents sacred, since the MCA tears to shreds habeas corpus's ultimate meaning by denying it to every non-U.S. citizen, and even putting U.S. citizens at jeopardy at the whim of a president with, thanks to a derelict Congress, more powers than most kings.

As Greenwald said, "Not only did the Founders repeatedly emphasize that the right of habeas corpus is the most critical safeguard against tyranny from the Executive branch (and never drew any distinction between citizens and non-citizens), but the stature granting habeas jurisdiction to federal courts (sec. 2241) was the very first statute ever enacted by the U.S. (in 1789) which bestowed jurisdiction to the federal courts. That is how paramount a right the Founders believed habeas petitions to be."

Greenwald further elucidates this point by referring to Justice Stevens' decisive wording in the recent (2004) U.S. Supreme Court ruling Rasul v. Bush, in which the high court ruled Guantanamo detainees do indeed have the right of habeas corpus. This gives the matter of what rights so-called "enemy aliens" -- labeled as such by the Executive with no publicly accountable means of verifying, much less requiring, any formal accusation of a crime -- more power than even King George III of England had, which fomented our Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War -- quite a different picture than what my father seemed to be implying about our tradition:

"Congress has granted federal district courts, "within their respective jurisdictions," the authority to hear applications for habeas corpus by any person who claims to be held "in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." Error! Bookmark not defined.(a), (c)(3). The statute traces its ancestry to the first grant of federal court jurisdiction: Section 14 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 authorized federal courts to issue the writ of habeas corpus to prisoners "in custody, under or by colour of the authority of the United States, or committed for trial before some court of the same." Act of Sept. 24, 1789, ch. 20, §14, 1 Stat. 82.

In 1867, Congress extended the protections of the writ to "all cases where any person may be restrained of his or her liberty in violation of the constitution, or of any treaty or law of the United States." Act of Feb. 5, 1867, ch. 28, 14 Stat. 385. See Felker v. Turpin, Error! Bookmark not defined., 659-660 (1996)...As it has evolved over the past two centuries, the habeas statute clearly has expanded habeas corpus "beyond the limits that obtained during the 17th and 18th centuries." Swain v. Pressley, Error! Bookmark not defined., 380, n. 13 (1977)."

Another point worth noting that Greenwald goes into is that the judge who issued the Hamdan ruling did NOT say the MCA suspends habeas for non-citizens under the Suspension Clause of Article I, Sec. 9. Rather, the MCA simply stripped federal courts of jurisdiction in cases involving "alien detainees." Please go to Greenwald for the full discussion of this most urgent issue.

Steve Greaves
Pre-school teacher






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