T h e Shasta F r e e Press Editor - Chauncey Haworth Political Editor - Skylar Covich Contributor - Bernard J. Berg Published By - Eric Berg Law Office of Berg and Associates 5000 Bechelli Ln Suite B1 Redding CA 96002 phone 530-223-5100 fax 530-223-5200 Shastafreepress.com
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Editorial In Chico a candidate for city council, Mark Sorensen, has sent out a flyer. It has a photo of Cal Ling’s spirit flags and its price tag, $30,000. That is juxtaposed with a photo of a pothole in the road somewhere. According to Sorensen, the city council spends money on silly art projects where there are potholes to be fixed. Why doesn’t Sorensen come out and say that if that is indeed what he means? He clearly hopes voters will reach that conclusion themselves. He clearly avoids actually saying what these photos are meant to convey. Why? The photos are more persuasive without the spoken message. Yes. I suspect Sorensen does not want to spell out and defend his true master plan. Another message is conveyed with these photos. In Sorensen’s world, the trains and cars would run on time without potholes. Arts and culture would be abandoned as a priority of the city council, something the government should not be involved in supporting according to Sorensen. Of course, in his world in short term, business would pay less money in taxes. If voters knew his opinion of arts and culture, that he believes it is an obscenely wasteful use of government money, money that should be given back to the developers and businessmen, many would rise up against him and vote for Scott Grundle, Mary Flynn, and Mark Herera. Most citizens agree that the city --- that is all of us --- must combine our resources to make Chico (or Redding) a wonderful place to live: full of art, theater, music, concerts in the park, huge beautiful parks, community events, races, paper mache horses, farmers markets, and farms. Not: endless strip malls leading to endless suburbs where everyone drives (on well repaired roads) from home to work to Wal-Mart with tons of nameless, faceless neighbors. You Decide. ~ Eric A. Berg
Proposition 19 The marijuana tax. YES! Proposition 20 Redistricting for Congress. YES! Proposition 21 License to keep the State parks open and beautiful. YES! Proposition 22 Prohibiting the States from taking money from the counties. NO! Proposition 23 Suspending the law that would clean the air. NO! Proposition 24 Repealing the business tax wake. YES! Proposition 25 Weakening the 2/3 vote requirement on the state budget. YES! Proposition 26 Requiring a 2/3 vote on certain fees. NO! Proposition 27 Eliminating the state commission on redistricting. NO! The Shasta Free Press, Redding CA - Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at our website shastafreepress.com
Shasta Free Press Endorses Jim Reed By Skylar Covich
I have some journalistic experience, as a writer for the student newspaper at Saint Mary’s College. But the assignment to cover the North State congressional campaign here at the Shasta Free Press, has been my first time covering an entire election campaign. The process of researching, by reading the candidate websites, articles from daily newspapers and blogs, and listening to audio interviews, as well as conducting my own interviews, has been a major learning process for me. Determining what the most important issues in the campaign are, and attempting to provide commentary while mostly focusing on letting the readers decide based on the facts, has been a challenge sometimes. I have tried my best to cover the campaign fairly, discussing the strengths and weaknesses, the mistakes and the triumphs, of both candidates. In this issue, where I have written other articles discussing recent controversial parts of the campaign, I have continued to aspire to be fair. However, I, along with the other members of the Shasta Free Press editorial board, have decided that, like most newspapers in most elections, the Shasta Free Press should make a decision about which candidate to endorse. After much thought, we have decided to endorse Democrat Jim Reed. Part of the reason for this endorsement is Congressman Wally Herger’s concerning record. He has refused to advocate for federal money for the North State, particularly in recent years, votes almost entirely with his party leadership on all issues, and has refused to advocate for real solutions to important issues of our time such as financial reform, healthcare reform and foreign policy. We are also concerned about Herger’s willingness to promote political extremism, such as his apparent support for inappropriate comments by questioners at his town hall meetings. However, much of the reason for our endorsement of Reed, is our positive opinion of Reed himself as a person and as a candidate. Reed has a wellrounded education, starting with a degree in engineering from UC Berkeley, before his decision to become a lawyer. His experience with both science and the law gives him personal experience with many current issues in domestic politics today, including environmental issues, and should give him the ability to provide educated insights about appropriations for infrastructure projects, which is an often overlooked part of the job of a congressman. Additionally, Reed has spent most of his life in this congressional district, and even more importantly, has a long record of using his law practice for advocacy of community issues in his small town. While Reed was most well-known in Fall River until a few years ago, his appearances throughout the district have given Reed the opportunity to show his concerns for all people living in the district, whether in the valley or the mountains, the large towns or the rural areas. We have personally observed Reed talking to voters at his campaign events, showing empathy for their concerns and listening to their ideas. It has also come to our attention that Reed is planning to call undecided voters who have been previously called by Reed’s phone banking team and who would like to have questions answered by Reed himself. This shows his commitment to talking to as many people as possible, in order to understand a wide variety of issues from different perspectives. Reed also has issue positions that are very thoughtful. He has taken positions on so many issues that it would be unlikely for one person to agree with him 100% of the time. Yet, what is important is that Reed’s overall philosophy is likely to benefit the North State, and he will also contribute to solving serious problems in the country if elected. He has innovative positions on the environment, tax reform and financial reform, which you can read on his website. His recognition that the North State needs to get its share of federal money, while also expressing concern about the budget deficit, shows his attention to realistic problems expressed by both liberals and conservatives. He has also promised to be a moderate member of the Democratic Party, which will not only give him a position of power immediately in Congress, but will contribute towards the movement to end the sharp divide between the political parties in the United States. We also appreciate Reed’s willingness to attend every forum that he is invited to, his ceaseless advocacy of debates, and his efforts to build a professional campaign which now has a chance of victory even when many people would not have expected it. Finally, we appreciate Reed’s accessibility to the media, including his interviews on a variety of radio shows, and his willingness to be interviewed even by very new and untested newspapers such as the Shasta Free Press. Jim Reed has showed his willingness to work hard for every vote, and we believe he would continue his advocacy for all of his constituents if elected to Congress. On a personal note, as a recently graduated college student, I particularly encourage college students and other young people throughout this district to vote in this election; not only for Jim Reed, but also in the rest of this election. There are many important races and propositions which will have an impact on the future of all people, including young people. If we as young people become educated about the political process, and turn out to vote in high numbers, we will soon be able to have the respect of older generations, and a great deal of power in determining the future of our communities, state and nation. It has been a pleasure covering this election. I plan to write an article for next month’s issue discussing the election results, and continue to write for the Shasta Free Press on other topics after that. Thanks to all for Reading, Skylar Covich 2 Political Editor, Shasta Free Press
California Proposition 19, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, is a proposition on the California statewide ballot. Prop 19 would take effect the day after the election and would allow people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. It would permit local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana while also prohibiting possession of marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old while maintaining current laws against driving while impaired. On Oct 1st, 2010 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1449. As of January 1, 2011, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana will be changed from a criminal misdemeanor into a civil infraction regardless of the Prop 19 results. Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996. However, United States Attorney General Eric Holder said "We will vigorously enforce the Controlled Substances Act against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law." In the time leading to 2010, California's state government's budget deficit has grown to be the largest of all American states. The California legislature has estimated that taxing the previously untaxed domestically grown $14 billion cannabis market would produce $1.4 billion a year, Taxing cannabis, supporters say, could be a smart way to help alleviate pressure on the state budget. There would certainly be a savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising marijuana offenders. There are also unknown, but potentially major tax, fee and benefit assessment revenues to state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products. Eleven California cities have local ballot measures on their November 2nd ballot that would allow them to tax recreational marijuana if Prop 19 passes.
Arguments against Prop 19
Arguments in favor
• If Prop 19 passes supporters argue that it will create between 60,000 and 110,000 new jobs in California adding between $16 billion and $23 billion annually and generate between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion in new direct tax revenue annually • Reduce crime in California • Reduce violence in California and Mexico • Free up law enforcement resources to focus on violent crime and property crime • Reduce environmental damage to California's public lands from illegal grow operations • Reduce state expenditures by over $200 million in law enforcement costs for arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment of cannabis users • Reduce funding to drug cartels, who currently get about 70% of their revenue from illegal cannabis sales • Reduce police corruption and racial bias in police arrests. • Improve the relationship between police and the communities they serve • Reduce alcohol's cost to society by allowing adults to choose a safer alternative 3
The main themes of the arguments made against Proposition 19 by its opponents in the official California Voter Guide are: • The way Proposition 19 is written, it "will prevent bus and trucking companies from requiring their drivers to be drug-free. Companies won’t be able to take action against a 'stoned' driver until after he or she has a wreck, not before." • Enactment of Proposition 19 will endanger school children because "A school bus driver would be forbidden to smoke marijuana on school grounds or while actually behind the wheel, but could arrive for work with marijuana in his or her system." • Proposition 19 doesn't include a definition of "driving under the influence" and as a result, it is opposed by the California Police Chiefs Association because it could lead to a situation where a driver could legally drive "even if a blood test shows that they have marijuana in their system." • Employers would not be able to pre-emptively remove workers who smell of marijuana use from sensitive jobs such as operating heavy machinery or running medical lab tests but would instead have to wait to take action until after an accident occurs. Other arguments that have been made against Proposition 19 include: • Problems exist from tobacco and alcohol being legal, why add another to the mix? • It could lead to an unintended side effect of additional regulation on how many plants a medical marijuana patient may grow and the possible pricing out of smaller distributors. • Opposition to taxation of any kind on marijuana. • Would lead people to consume marijuana without the advice or guidance of a medical professional. • Allegations that the act does not do as the ballot title specifies and is misleading as written.
Federal laws and Prop 19 Marijuana is illegal under federal laws. If marijuana becomes legal in California under state law, it will still be federally illegal. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that federal agents can arrest medical marijuana users and growers even though Proposition 215 makes that behavior legal in California. Legal scholars, considering what might happen if marijuana is fully legalized in California, have said that the federal government would not be able to require California law enforcement agencies to help them enforce the federal law, but federal law enforcement officers will be able to continue to arrest and prosecute the use, sale, possession or production of marijuana in California. Normally most marijuana arrests are made by state law enforcement officers. In 2008, there were 847,000 marijuana-related arrests throughout the country. About 6,300 of these arrests were performed by federal agents (less than 1% of all marijuana arrests). At least some universities within the State have said that they would continue to prohibit marijuana on campus because the federal Drug Free Schools and Community Act (DFSCA) requires that they certify that campus policies prohibit illegal drugs. Drugs presumably would be deemed illegal based upon federal standards. Failure to comply with the DFSCA could lead to a loss of all federal funds.
12 of the 14 states require proof of residency to be considered a qualifying patient for medical marijuana use. Only Oregon and Montana have announced that they will accept out-of-state applications. Home cultivation is not allowed in New Jersey or the District of Columbia and a special license is required in New Mexico.
Regardless of the outcome of Prop 19 it appears that marijuana is on its way nation wide. Nearly three out of four Americans are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in their states according to a 2010 Pew Research Center survey. And 41% think all marijuana should be legal, up from 35 percent in 2008 and 12 percent in 1969 gallop poll. This summer Congress let the District of Columbia join more then a dozen states with medical marijuana laws on the books. ~Chauncey Haworth
What will Prop 19 Do?
• Result in significant savings to state and local governments, potentially up to several tens of millions of dollars annually due to reduction of individuals incarcerated, on probation or on parole. According to the State of California analysis, the bill will • Cells currently being used to house cannabis offenders could be have the following effects. used for other criminals, many of whom are now being released early because of a lack of jail space. Legalization Reduction in state and local costs for enforcement of cannabis• Persons over the age of 21 may possess up to one • related offenses and the handling of related criminal cases in the court ounce of marijuana for personal consumption. system, providing the opportunity for funds to be used to enforce other • May use cannabis in a non-public place such as a existing criminal laws. The RAND Corporation has found that law residence or a public establishment licensed for on site enforcement costs for cannabis enforcement are approximately $300 marijuana consumption. million a year. • May grow marijuana at a private residence in a • Potential increase in the costs of substance abuse programs due space of up to 25 square feet for personal use. to speculated increase in usage of cannabis, possibly having the effect Local government regulation • Local government may authorize the retail sale of up of reducing spending on mandatory treatment for some criminal offenders, or result in the redirection of these funds for other offenders. to 1 ounce of marijuana per transaction, and regulate the • The measure could potentially reduce both the costs and offsethours and location of the business. ting revenues of the state's medical marijuana program as adults over 21 • Local government may authorize larger amounts of would be less likely to participate in the existing program as obtaining marijuana for personal possession and cultivation, or for cannabis would be easier, thus making use of existing medical marijuana commercial cultivation, transportation, and sale. program unnecessary. • Allows for the transportation of marijuana from a There would be a reduction in fines collected under current state licensed premises in one city or county to a licensed prem- • law but a possible increase in local civil fines authorized by existing local ises in another city or county, without regard to local laws laws. of intermediate localities to the contrary. • The cumulative effect on fines is largely unknown. Local taxes and fees • Allows the collection of taxes specifically to allow local governments to raise revenue or to offset any costs associated with marijuana regulation. Criminal and civil penalties • Maintains existing laws against selling drugs to a minor and driving under the influence. • Maintains an employer's right to address consumption of cannabis that affects an employee's job performance. • Maintain existing laws against interstate or international transportation of cannabis. • Any person who is licensed, permitted or authorized to sell cannabis, who knowingly sells or gives away cannabis to someone under the age of 21 results in them being banned from owning, operating, or being employed by a licensed cannabis establishment for one year. • Any person who is licensed, permitted or authorized to sell cannabis, who knowingly sells or gives away cannabis to someone over the age of 18 but younger than 21, shall be imprisoned in county jail for up to six months and fined up to $1,000 per offense. • Any person who is licensed, permitted or authorized to sell cannabis, who knowingly sells or gives away cannabis to someone age 14 to 17, shall be imprisoned in state prison for a period of three, four, or five years. • Any person who is licensed, permitted or authorized to sell cannabis, who knowingly sells or gives away cannabis to someone under the age of 14, shall be imprisoned in state prison for a period of three, five, or seven years According to the California Legislative Analyst's Office, the following fiscal impact would result from the bill. 5
Public Statements from supporters of Prop 19
Public statements of opposition to Prop 19
• The Orange County Register: "Legalizing marijuana use for adults is a significant step away from nanny-state policies and all the crime, corruption and violence that accompany marijuana prohibition, so some caution about such an important move is understandable. But the impact on employment polices, driving laws and the responsibilities of local government are not sufficient to justify rejection of this proposal." • The Santa Barbara News-Press: "It is time to legalize marijuana in California." • The Santa Cruz Weekly: "The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 will provide the state with significant tax revenue...It's time for this foolish prohibition to be abolished." • The Stanford Review: "As both a moral and tangible matter, the harm inflicted on innocent victims by drug gangs is far worse than the harm that drug users willingly inflict on themselves and the abstract harm that marijuana causes to society. The logical next step after this realization is to let legitimate businesses sprout up to supply Californians’ demand for marijuana, instead of continuing our policy of enforcing violent drug gangs’ monopolies on the marijuana market." • The Victoriaville Daily Press: "This is not an easy call, but it makes more sense than continuing to expend billions of tax dollars on what is increasingly becoming a futile effort to outlaw marijuana use. It has never worked, and it’s time to try a new tactic. Vote yes on 19."
• Bakersfield Californian: "Prop.19’s backers think a legalized, controlled marijuana industry could eventually be regulated and taxed to the tune of as much as $1.4 billion per year to help fund health care, job creation, infrastructure and other needs. But the initiative doesn’t offer guidance on how this might be coordinated - - in fact the taxation element isn’t even written into the proposition…" • The Herald (Monterey County): "We fear that a California-only pot industry operating under inconsistent and even contradictory rules would create serious crime problems of its own. Proposition 19 doesn't set a measurable standard for driving under the influence of marijuana, and it could make it much more difficult for employers to bar employees from using marijuana even if it might undermine their ability to work safely." • Lompoc Record: "This measure is too flawed to be taken seriously." • Long Beach Press-Telegram: "Prop. 19 is flawed, flies in the face of federal law, is opposed by major law-enforcement officials and politicians and would be abused by underage consumers. Estimates of tax revenue are wildly exaggerated." • Los Angeles Times: "Proposition 19 is poorly thought out, badly crafted and replete with loopholes and contradictions." • Los Angeles Daily News: "The real question of this initiative is whether California wants to take on the federal government and allow any and every city in the state to make up its own rules about selling, manufacturing and transporting an illegal substance. And the Daily News thinks the answer to the question is an emphatic 'no.' The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 is a poorly crafted initiative that would set the scene for a regulatory nightmare in California." • Modesto Bee: "Proposition 19 is poorly drafted and deeply flawed, filled with loopholes and ambiguities that would create a chaotic nightmare for law enforcement, local governments and businesses." • Sacramento Bee: "The measure on the Nov. 2 ballot is full of worrisome loopholes and ambiguities that would create a chaotic nightmare for law enforcement, local governments and businesses. It is so poorly drafted, in fact, that it almost makes you wonder: What were they smoking?" • San Diego Union-Tribune: "Don’t take the bait. Don’t turn California into the nation’s drug dealer." • A joint editorial in the Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and Whittier Daily News: "The best way to look at Proposition 19, which would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana for adults, is to paint a picture of the state if the measure were to pass: The guy in the cubicle next to you at work is stoned. There's an increased likelihood the driver of the car in the next lane on the freeway is under the influence of pot. Commercial entities openly selling pot in storefronts near where you shop, or perhaps in your child or grandchild's college dormitory…This is not our vision of a bright California future." • Santa Rosa Press Democrat: "Proposition 19 is so poorly worded and filled with loopholes that it’s likely to create more confusion than clarity. And, as with Proposition 215, which legalized medicinal uses of marijuana, it would still leave California law in conflict with federal law, creating more regulatory and policy gridlock at all levels of government." • San Bernardino Sun: "Our editorial board agreed unanimously that Proposition 19…is no way to legalize marijuana. It is poorly written, conflicts with too many federal laws and would pose dangers - physical 6 and financial - to the citizens of California."
Jim Reed Campaign Continues to Advance as Election Approaches By Skylar Covich
Throughout this month, many election campaigns have been competing for the attention of the media and the voters in the state of California. These elections include statewide campaigns such as for US senator, governor, and less prominent positions in the state government. State ballot propositions, on important issues such as marijuana legalization and environmental protection, have also gained much attention. In the North State, local elections, such as competitive races for the city councils of Redding, Chico and other towns, have also generated much discussion. Yet, Jim Reed’s difficult campaign to defeat long-time US House member Wally Herger has become increasingly prominent. Reed has been able to use his successful fundraising, support from activists, and strong message, to educate the public about the record of Congressman Herger and advocate for himself as a good alternative choice. Reed has continued to make personal appearances several times a week, in all areas of this large congressional district. Herger’s website lists no personal appearances, although a Record Searchlight article on October 16 has indicated that Herger has been making speeches across the district; Herger is quoted in that article as saying that he fights every election as if he is 20 points behind. Both Herger and Reed have been making appearances at Tea Party events. In the last week of the campaign, Reed’s most prominent appearance will be a rally on October 29 in Redding. It will take place from 11:45 AM to 1 PM, at the corner of Cypress and Churn Creek. Because Herger is expected to win the race by all national political reports, there has been little scientific polling. However, the Reed campaign did release a surprising internal poll this month, stating that Herger was leading Reed by only 2 points. A previous internal poll had Herger leading by 14 points, which was the amount by which he won in 2008 against Democrat Jeff Morris. It should be noted that this is not a scientific poll; however, commenters at the liberal website the Swing State Project who have been phone banking for Reed, have said that they have been noticing increased levels of undecided voters and Reed voters, who are dissatisfied with Herger. Additionally, Reed has been endorsed by at least three local newspapers; the Chico News and Review, the Sacramento Valley Mirror, and this newspaper, the Shasta Free Press. Meanwhile, interest in Reed beyond this district grows; for example, Reed participated in an interview for Time Magazine in Sacramento in late September. By far the most controversial aspect of the campaign, however, remains the issue of possible debates between Reed and Herger. Around the time the last issue of this newspaper was released in early October, misunderstandings over this issue heated up more than anyone could have possibly expected. Negotiations for the debate proceeded quietly throughout September; organizations as diverse as the League of Women voters and the Shasta County Tea Party encouraged Herger to agree to debate Reed, and there were many conflicting reports about when and where the debates would be. The LWV and the Chico Enterprise Record announced that they would proceed with a candidate forum on October 6, whether or not Herger showed up. Reed immediately promised to show up, while Herger’s campaign announced on October 4 that Herger would not show up. Since there are no third party or independent candidates on the ballot for this race this year, there could not be an actual debate. Instead, Reed was able to take the stage for most of the forum, discussing the issues and answering questions, although a Herger campaign representative did make a brief statement. Meanwhile, a few days before this event, Herger did finally agree to a debate, on October 25 in Redding at the KIXE television studios. However, at around that time, a development occurred in the campaign which was important not only because it resulted in this debate being canceled, but also because it showed the voters much about the personalities of both Herger and Reed. In late September, Reed did a radio interview with Jim Swanson, a progressive blogger and radio talk show host, in which Swanson suggested that Herger may be suffering from a mental illness, possibly Alzheimer’s Disease. Reed stated that he did not know whether those rumors were true, and hoped they were not. On October 6 at the candidate forum, he also brought up the rumors, stating again that he hoped they were not true, and criticized Herger’s decision to debate on October 25, only a week before the election. Reed did agree with Swanson that rumors were going around about Herger’s condition, even in the Republican Party, and that Herger has been showing signs of odd behavior. Swanson gives three examples of Herger’s “odd behavior.” 7
1. A well-known incident in August 2009 at a town hall meeting in Redding, where a Tea Party member made a speech during which he said he was a “proud right-wing terrorist” and Herger said that this person was a great American. What many people don’t remember is that the “right-wing terrorist” comment was in the middle of a speech by this activist which lasted a few minutes. Herger’s response occurred almost exactly a minute after the “right-wing terrorist” comment. Either Herger thought the comment was justifiable, didn’t think it was an important part of the speech, or forgot about it. Either way, Herger is open to criticism, and while it does not even remotely prove any medical condition, it is certainly an example of odd behavior. 2. A recent House committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the Chinese currency, where Herger said that, while the topic of China is interesting, he would rather talk about Obama’s tax policy, and proceeded to make a 7-minute speech about this topic. Herger supporters would likely argue that Herger was forced to use this opportunity to tell Geithner his opinions about tax policy because it was the only way of getting him to listen. However, this is not appropriate procedure during a House hearing. 3. A conversation with an insurance agent in Redding in which Herger allegedly did not know what a generic drug was. This is disturbing if true, but unlike the other two incidents, there is no audio evidence easily available that this happened, and the conversation was probably never recorded at all. Reed also repeatedly tells a story about a House vote where Herger voted for something that he was supposed to vote against, and Herger’s office had to apologize to his supporters. According to the Record Searchlight, on October 11th, Herger’s campaign manager, Dave Gilliard, announced that the debate would be canceled. He demanded that Reed remove the audio of the interview and the link to Swanson’s blog from his website, and that Reed apologize for using the rumors in his campaign. Reed did apologize on October 13th, in a joint appearance with Herger at a Red Bluff Kiwanis club meeting. Herger did not accept the apology, and personally announced that he would not debate Reed. The Record Searchlight and KRCR-TV covered the controversy; the Record Searchlight’s editorial criticized both Reed and Herger for their handling of the situation, in the end stating that Herger should debate for the sake of the voters. In an October 15th Record Searchlight online poll, only 25% approved of Herger’s decision not to debate; 57% said that Herger should prove Reed wrong by debating and showing that his mental state is strong, while 18% said that Reed was completely wrong but the voters still deserved a debate. It is currently unlikely that a debate will take place. About the writer Skylar Covich
Skylar Covich is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at UC Santa Barbara. Skylar grew up in Redding, where he was involved in music, skiing, student government and Academic Challenge. He graduated with a BA in Politics in 2009 from Saint Mary’s College of California, where he was involved in a variety of political and academic activities, and received special awards from the Department of Politics and the School of Liberal Arts. Skylar is blind since birth and has received awards from several organizations of the blind.
V.A. Clarifies Rules on Medical Marijuana NOV 30th
Veterans fought for our country and our rights and now some have won a small victory in the fight for medical marijuana. According to the New York Times article by Dan Frosch, "the Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal." The policy, which is expected to take affect this week, does not allow V.A. doctors to prescribe medical marijuana. It does; however, make it okay for a patient who is legally using medical marijuana to still be able to be prescribed and use prescription pain medications. The V.A.'s current policy states that veterans can be denied pain medications if they are found to be using illegal drugs. The new written policy makes an exception for medical marijuana in the fourteen states where it is legal. These fourteen states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The department plans to widely distribute the new guidelines so that patients and doctors are fully informed. Veterans have often been at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement and are praising the department's decision. However, they have a long way to go as the veterans in the remaining 36 states, where medical marijuana is not legal, could still lose their rights to prescription pain medication if they are found to be using medical marijuana. Groups such as Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, which worked with the V.A. on the new policy, will still be needed in helping to advocate for veterans who use marijuana to "help soothe physical and psychological pain." Our veterans provided a great service to our country and it seems only right that we now offer them the right to be comfortable. The V.A.'s new policy is a big step in the right direction as the V.A. is the first federal department to make a distinction between medical marijuana and illegal drugs.
Docs on Pharmaceutical Payrolls Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials by Charles Ornstein , Tracy Weber, Dan Nguyen, Lisa Schwartz and Nicholas Kusnetz
The Ohio medical board concluded that pain physician William D. Leak had performed “unnecessary” nerve tests on 20 patients and subjected some to “an excessive number of invasive procedures,” including injections of agents that destroy nerve tissue. Yet the finding, posted on the board’s public website, didn’t prevent Eli Lilly and Co. from using him as a promotional speaker and adviser. The company has paid him $85,450 since 2009. In 2001, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered Pennsylvania doctor James I. McMillen to stop “false or misleading” promotions of the painkiller Celebrex, saying he minimized risks and touted it for unapproved uses. Still, three other leading drug makers paid the rheumatologist $224,163 over 18 months to deliver talks to other physicians about their drugs. And in Georgia, a state appeals court in 2004 upheld a hospital’s decision to kick Dr. Donald Ray Taylor off its staff. The anesthesiologist had admitted giving young female patients rectal and vaginal exams without documenting why. He’d also been accused of exposing women’s breasts during medical procedures. When confronted by a hospital official, Taylor said, “Maybe I am a pervert, I honestly don’t know,” according to the appellate court ruling. Last year, Taylor was Cephalon's third-highest-paid speaker out of more than 900. He received $142,050 in 2009 and another $52,400 through June. Leak, McMillen and Taylor are part of the pharmaceutical industry’s white-coat sales force, doctors paid to promote brand-name drugs to their peers — and if they’re convincing enough, get more physicians to prescribe them. Drug companies say they hire the most-respected doctors in their fields for the critical task of teaching about the benefits and risks of their drugs. But an investigation uncovered hundreds of doctors on company payrolls who had been accused of professional misconduct, were disciplined by state boards or lacked credentials as researchers or specialists. The implications are great for patients, who in the past have been exposed to such heavily marketed drugs as the painkiller Bextra and the diabetes drug Avandia — billion-dollar blockbusters until dangerous side effects emerged. "Without question the public should care," said Dr. Joseph Ross, an assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine who has written about the industry’s influence on physicians. "You would never want your kid learning from a bad teacher. Why would you want your doctor learning from a bad doctor, someone who hasn’t displayed good judgment in the past?" A review of physician licensing records in the 15 most-populous states and three others found sanctions against more than 250 speakers, including some of the highest paid. Their misconduct included inappropriately prescribing drugs, providing poor care or having sex with patients. Some of the doctors had even lost their licenses. More than 40 have received FDA warnings for research misconduct, lost hospital privileges or been convicted of crimes. And at least 20 more have had two or more malpractice judgments or settlements. This accounting is by no means complete; many state regulators don’t post these actions on their web sites. In interviews and written statements, five of the seven companies acknowledged that they don’t routinely check state board websites for discipline against doctors. Instead, they rely on self-reporting and checks of federal databases. Only Johnson & Johnson and Cephalon said they review the state sites. 88 Lilly speakers were found who have been sanctioned and four more who had received FDA warnings. Reporters asked Lilly about several of those, including Leak and McMillen. A spokesman said the company was unaware of the cases and is now investigating them. “They are representatives of the company,” said Dr. Jack Harris, vice president of Lilly’s U.S. medical division. “It would be very concerning that one of our speakers was someone who had these other things going on.” Leak, the pain doctor, and his attorney did not respond to multiple messages. The Ohio medical board voted to revoke Leak’s license in 2008. It remains active as he appeals in court, arguing that the evidence against him was old, the witnesses unreliable and the sentence too harsh. In an interview, McMillen denied nearly all of the allegations in the FDA letter and blamed his troubles on a rival firm whose drug he had criticized in his presentations. “I’m more cautious now than I ever was,” said McMillen, who said he also does research. “That’s why I think a lot of the companies use me. I’m not taking any risks.” Taylor said that the allegations against him were “old news” from the 1990s and that regulators had not sanctioned him. “It had nothing to do with my skills as a physician,” said Taylor, noting that he speaks every other week around the country and sometimes abroad. “Even my biggest detractors in that situation lauded my skills as a physician. That’s what’s most important.”
Disclosures are just the start
Payments to doctors for promotional work are not illegal and can be beneficial. Strong relationships between pharmaceutical companies and physicians are critical to developing new and better treatments. There is much debate, however, about whether paying doctors to market drugs can inappropriately influence what they prescribe. Studies have shown that even small gifts and payments affect physician attitudes. Such issues have become flashpoints in recent years both in courtrooms and in Congress. All told, 384 of the approximately 17,700 individuals in the database earned more than $100,000 for their promotional and consulting work on behalf of one or more of the seven companies in 2009 and 2010. Nearly all were physicians, but a handful of pharmacists, nurse practitioners and dietitians also made the list. Forty-three physicians made more than $200,000 — including two who topped $300,000. Physicians also received money from some of the 70-plus drug companies that have not disclosed their payments. Some of those interviewed could not recall all the companies that paid them, and certainly not how much they made. By 2013, the health care reform law requires all drug companies to report this information to the federal government, which will post it on the Web. The busiest — and best compensated — doctors gave dozens of speeches a year, according to the data and interviews. The work can mean a significant 10
salary boost — enough for the kids’ college tuition, a nicer home, a better vacation. Among the top-paid speakers, some had impressive resumes, clearly demonstrating their expertise as researchers or specialists. But others did not –contrary to the standards the companies say they follow. Forty five who earned in excess of $100,000 did not have board certification in any specialty, suggesting they had not completed advanced training and passed a comprehensive exam. Some of those doctors and others also lacked published research, academic appointments or leadership roles in professional societies. Experts say the fact that some companies are disclosing their payments is merely a start. The disclosures do not fully explain what the doctors do for the money — and what the companies get in return. In a raft of federal whistleblower lawsuits, former employees and the government contend that the firms have used fees as rewards for high-prescribing physicians. The companies have each paid hundreds of millions or more to settle the suits. The disclosures also leave unanswered what impact these payments have on patients or the health care system as a whole. Are dinner talks prompting doctors to prescribe risky drugs when there are safer alternatives? Or are effective generics overlooked in favor of pricey brand-name drugs? "The pressure is enormous. The investment in these drugs is massive,” said Dr. David A. Kessler, who formerly served as both FDA commissioner and dean of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. “Are any of us surprised they’re trying to maximize their markets in almost any way they can?”
From drug reps to doc reps
For years, drug companies bombarded doctors with pens, rulers, sticky notes, even stuffed animals emblazoned with the names of the latest remedies for acid reflux, hypertension or erectile dysfunction. They wooed physicians with fancy dinners, resort vacations and personalized stethoscopes. Concerns that this pharma-funded bounty amounted to bribery led the industry to ban most gifts voluntarily. Some hospitals and physicians also banned the gift-givers: the legions of drug sales reps who once freely roamed their halls. So the industry has relied more heavily on the people trusted most by doctors — their peers. Today, tens of thousands of U.S. physicians are paid to spread the word about pharma’s favored pills and to advise the companies about research and marketing. Recruited and trained by the drug companies, the physicians — accompanied by drug reps — give talks to doctors over small dinners, lecture during hospital teaching sessions and chat over the Internet. They typically must adhere to company slides and talking points.
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These presentations fill an educational gap, especially for geographically isolated primary care doctors charged with treating everything from lung conditions to migraines. For these doctors, poring over a stack of journal articles on the latest treatments may be unrealistic. A pharma-sponsored dinner may be their only exposure to new drugs that are safer and more effective. Oklahoma pulmonologist James Seebass, for example, earned $218,800 from Glaxo in 2009 and 2010 for lecturing about respiratory diseases “in the boonies,” he said. On a recent trip, he said, he drove to “a little bar 40 miles from Odessa,” Texas, where physicians and nurse practitioners had come 50 to 60 miles to hear him. Seebass, the former chair of internal medicine at Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, said such talks are “a calling,” and he is booking them for 2011. The fees paid to speakers are fair compensation for their time away from their practices, and for travel and preparation as well as lecturing, the companies say. Dr. Samuel Dagogo-Jack has a resume that would burnish any company’s sales force: He is chief of the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Dagogo-Jack conducts research funded by the National Institutes of Health, has edited medical journals and continues to see patients. While most people are going home to dinner with their families, he said, he is leaving to hop on a plane to bring news of fresh diabetes treatments to nonspecialist physicians “in the trenches” who see the vast majority of cases. Since 2009, Dagogo-Jack has been paid at least $257,000 by Glaxo, Lilly and Merck. “If you actually prorate that by the hours put in, it is barely more than minimum wage,” he said. (A person earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 would have to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week for more than four years to earn Dagogo-Jack’s fees.) For the pharmaceutical companies, one effective speaker may not only teach dozens of physicians how to better recognize a condition, but sell them on a drug to treat it. The success of one drug can mean hundreds of millions in profits, or more. Last year, prescription drugs sales in the United States topped $300 billion, according to IMS Health, a healthcare information and consulting company.
Glaxo’s drug to treat enlarged prostates, Avodart — locked in a battle with a more popular competitor — is the topic of more lectures than any of the firm’s other drugs, a company spokeswoman said. Glaxo’s promotional push has helped quadruple Avodart’s revenue to $559 million in five years and double its market share, according to IMS. Favored speakers like St. Louis pain doctor Anthony Guarino earn $1,500 to $2,000 for a local dinner talk to a group of physicians. Guarino, who made $243,457 from Cephalon, Lilly and Johnson & Johnson since 2009, considers himself a valued communicator. A big part of his job, he said, is educating the generalists, family practitioners and internists about diseases like fibromyalgia, which causes chronic, widespread pain — and to let them know that Lilly has a drug to treat it. “Somebody like myself may be able to give a better understanding of how to recognize it,” Guarino said. Then, he offers them a solution: “And by the way, there is a product that has an on-label indication for treating it.’’ Guarino said he is worth the fees pharma pays him on top of his salary as director of a pain clinic affiliated with Washington University. Guarino likened his standing in the pharma industry to that of St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, named baseball player of the decade last year by Sports Illustrated. Both earn what the market will bear, he said: “I know I get paid really well.” Is anyone checking out there? Simple searches of government websites turned up disciplinary actions against many pharma speakers. The Medical Board of California filed a public accusation against psychiatrist Karin Hastik in 2008 and placed her on five years’ probation in May for gross negligence in her care of a patient. A monitor must observe her practice. Kentucky’s medical board placed Dr. Van Breeding on probation from 2005 to 2008. In a stipulation filed with the board, Breeding admits unethical and unprofessional conduct. Reviewing 23 patient records, a consultant found Breeding often that gave addictive pain killers without clear justification. He also voluntarily relinquished his Florida license. New York’s medical board put Dr. Tulio Ortega on two years’ probation in 2008 after he pleaded no contest to falsifying records to show he had treated four patients when he had not. Louisiana’s medical board, acting on the New York discipline, also put him on probation this year. Yet during 2009 and 2010, Hastik made $168,658 from Lilly, Glaxo and AstraZeneca. Ortega was paid $110,928 from Lilly and AstraZeneca. Breeding took in $37,497 from four of the firms. Hastik declined to comment, and Breeding and Ortega did not respond to messages. Their disciplinary records raise questions about the companies’ vigilance. “Did they not do background checks on these people? Why did they pick them?” said Lisa Bero, a pharmacy professor at University of California, San Francisco who has extensively studied conflicts of interest in medicine and research. Disciplinary actions, Bero said, reflect on a physician’s credibility and willingness to cross ethical boundaries. "If they did things in their background that are questionable, what about the information they’re giving me now?” she said. Sanctions were found ranging from relatively minor misdeeds such as failing to complete medical education courses to the negligent treatment of multiple patients. Some happened long ago; some are ongoing. The sanctioned doctors were paid anywhere from $100 to more than $140,000. Several doctors were disciplined for misconduct involving drugs made by the companies that paid them to speak. In 2009, Michigan regulators accused one rheumatologist of forging a colleague’s name to get prescriptions for Viagra and Cialis. Last year, the doctor was paid $17,721 as a speaker for Pfizer, Viagra’s maker. A California doctor who was paid $950 this year to speak for AstraZeneca was placed on five years’ probation by regulators in 2009 after having a breakdown, threatening suicide and spending time in a psychiatric hospital after police used a Taser on him. He said he’d been self-treating with samples of AstraZeneca’s anti-psychotic drug Seroquel, medical board records show. Other paid speakers had been disciplined by their employers or warned by the federal government. At least 15 doctors lost staff privileges at various hospitals, including one New Jersey doctor who had been suspended twice for patient care lapses and inappropriate behavior. Other doctors received FDA warning letters for research misconduct such as failing to get informed consent from patients. Pharma companies say they rely primarily on a federal database listing those whose behavior in some way disqualifies them from participating in Medicare. This database, however, is notoriously incomplete. The industry’s primary trade group says its voluntary code of conduct is silent about what, if any, behavior should disqualify physician speakers. “We look at it from the affirmative — things that would qualify physicians,” said Diane Bieri, general counsel and executive vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Some physicians with disciplinary records say their past misdeeds do not reflect on their ability to educate their peers. Family medicine physician Jeffrey Unger was put on probation by California’s medical board in 1999 after he misdiagnosed a woman’s breast cancer for 2½ years. She received treatment too
late to save her life. In 2000, the Nevada medical board revoked Unger’s license for not disclosing California’s action. As a result, Unger said, he decided to slow down and start listening to his patients. Since then, he said, he has written more than 130 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on diabetes, mental illness and pain management. “I think I’ve more than accomplished what I’ve needed to make this all right,” he said. During 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, Lilly paid Unger $87,830. He said he also is a paid speaker for Novo Nordisk and Roche, two companies that have not disclosed payments. The drug firms, Unger said, “apparently looked beyond the record.” Companies make their own experts Last summer, as drug giant Glaxo battled efforts to yank its blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia from the market, Nashville cardiologist Hal Roseman worked the front lines. At an FDA hearing, he borrowed David Letterman’s shtick to deliver a “Top Five” list of reasons to keep the drug on the market despite evidence it caused heart problems. He faced off against a renowned Yale cardiologist and Avandia critic on the PBS NewsHour, arguing that the drug’s risks had been overblown. “I still feel very convinced in the drug,” Roseman said with relaxed confidence. The FDA severely restricted access to the drug last month citing its risks. Roseman is not a researcher with published peer-reviewed studies to his name. Nor is he on the staff of a top academic medical center or in a leadership role among his colleagues. Roseman’s public profile comes from his work as one of Glaxo’s highest-paid speakers. In 2009 and 2010, he earned $223,250 from the firm — in addition to payouts from other companies. Pharma companies often say their physician salesmen are chosen for their expertise. Glaxo, for example, said it selects “highly qualified experts in their field, well-respected by their peers and, in the case of speakers, good presenters.” Some top speakers are experts mainly because the companies have deemed them such. Several acknowledge that they are regularly called upon because they are willing to speak when, where and how the companies need them to. “It’s sort of like American Idol,” said sociologist Susan Chimonas, who studies doctor-pharma relationships at the Institute on Medicine as a Profession in New York City. “Nobody will have necessarily heard of you before — but after you’ve been around the country speaking 100 times a year, people will begin to know your name and think, ‘This guy is important.’ It creates an opinion leader who wasn’t necessarily an expert before.” To check the qualifications of top-paid doctors, reporters searched for medical research, academic appointments and professional society involvement. They also interviewed national leaders in the physicians’ specialties. In numerous cases, little information turned up. Las Vegas endocrinologist Firhaad Ismail, for example, is the top earner in the database, making $303,558, yet only his schooling and mostly 20-year-old research articles could be found. An online brochure for a presentation he gave earlier this month listed him as chief of endocrinology at a local hospital, but an official there said he hasn’t held that title since 2008. And several leading pain experts said they’d never heard of Santa Monica pain doctor Gerald Sacks, who was paid $249,822 since 2009. Neither physician returned multiple calls and letters. A recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit against Novartis, the nation’s sixthlargest drug maker by sales, alleges that many speakers were chosen “on their prescription potential rather than their true credentials.” Speakers were used and paid as long as they kept their prescription levels up, even though “several speakers had difficulty with English,” according to the amended complaint filed this year in federal court in Philadelphia. Some physicians were paid for speaking to one another, the lawsuit alleged. Several family practice doctors in Peoria, Ill., “had two programs every week at the same restaurant with the same group of physicians as the audience attendees.” In September, Novartis agreed to pay the government $422.5 million to resolve civil and criminal allegations in this case and others. The company has said it fixed its practices and now complies with government rules. Roseman, who has been a pharma speaker for about a decade, acknowledged that his expertise comes by way of the training provided by the companies that pay him. But he says that makes him the best prepared to speak about their
products, which he prescribes for his own patients. Asked about Roseman’s credentials, a Glaxo spokeswoman said he is an “appropriate” speaker. Getting paid to speak “doesn’t mean that your views have necessarily been tainted,” he said. Plus pharma needs talent, Roseman said. Top-tier universities such as Harvard have begun banning their staffs from accepting pharma money for speaking, he said. “It irritates me that the debate over bias comes down to a litmus test of money,” Roseman said. “The amount of knowledge that I have is in some regards to be valued.”
Answers to Cryptogram and Sudoku bottom of next page
10 Trivial Facts about John F. Kennedy 1 - JFK was our 35th President 2 - John F Kennedy’s newborn son (Patrick Bouvier Kennedy 1963) died while he served in the White House 3 - He was an author before being elected President, he wrote the book 'Profiles in Courage' for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. 4 - The first president born in the 20th century 5 - He was the first Catholic President 6 – Kennedy started the Peace Corp 7 – His supposed sexual encounters are so plentiful, there are just too many to mention. Some of his more famous affairs were with Angie Dickinson, Kim Novak, and the most famous of all, Marilyn Monroe. 8 - Though Kennedy was never religious, he attended confessions regularly. But he was constantly worried that some priest may recognize his voice and reveal to the world the things he confessed. He used to go to church with a group of Catholic Secret Service Men, so that he would not be recognized. 9 - Kennedy never carried cash with him and he used to constantly borrow money from his friends to pay cab fares, restaurant checks, etc. Though Kennedy was wealthy he never made it a point to pay his friends back, leaving them irritated. 10 - Kennedy was highly rated as President after the failure of Bay of Pigs, with 82% of the Americans rallying in support of their President. He was the most amazed and was heard saying, 'My God, it's as bad as Eisenhower. The worse I do the more popular I get.' 14
Ruling Questions Constitutionality of Ban on Same Sex Marriage Why are same-sex couples, who are legally married in their state, not afforded the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples? A federal judge in Massachusetts recently addressed this issue in his rulings on two cases. In the first case, he ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional as it infringes on a state's right to regulate marriage. In the second case, he ruled that the current federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman violates the equal-protection provision of the Constitution. While it is likely that Judge Tauro's rulings will be appealed, they have sparked more fires in the debate over gay marriage rights. Currently, five states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. However, under federal law, these same-sex married couples are denied all federal benefits such as Social Security survivor's payments and the ability to file joint tax returns. Judge Tauror's rulings demonstrate that he believes there is no basis for the reasoning behind not allowing these couples the same rights. The legal world, as well as the political world, is split on his rulings and the rational behind them. Some lawyers do not feel that he has a legitimate argument in saying that the marriage act exceeds Congressâ€™s powers and that marriage should be a state issue. On the political front, advocacy organizations felt this ruling was a states' rights victory in saying that it is "unconstitutional for the federal government to pass laws that supersede state authority". In the second case, the judge's argument is viewed as more legally sound as he argues that the federal definition of marriage violates the equal-protection provision of the constitution by discriminating against same-sex couples. Regardless of which stance you take on the judge's rulings, they are an essential move in keeping the gay marriage debate a legal debate based on legal reasoning, rather than an emotional, moral debate.
Puzzle answers from previous page
Presidential Quotation Cryptogram "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. " - John F. Kennedy
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Redding Artist Dave Bariteau
Woodworking is so old that it could be considered so many things. A craft, a profession, an art, a necessity and more. Do you consider yourself to be more of an artist or a craftsmen and what do you feel is the difference? A little of both. A craftsman requires the skill to make a piece look correct by the way the pieces fit, and are raised or lowered etc. As an artist it takes a vision to see the final result. What is it that inspires you to create particular subject? I like to look for the beauty in the wood. By using various kinds of wood I can visualize what a particular item might look like after contouring, fitting, shaping and finishing an object. Who has influenced you most as a craftsmen/artist and how? My father, he could make anything out of wood. How has living in the Northstate affected your art? It gives me a wide array of items to make due to the rich selection of wildlife, scenery, and interests.
Tell us about your first attempts to be creative? I started by taking a stained glass classes thirty years ago. I then used that as a starting point for doing projects using a variety of hard woods and exotics woods. You travel around the Northstate a lot. Do you find influence in your travels? Everywhere I go Throughout your experience as an artist, what is the most important lesson that you have learned? Why do you find it so important? And how do you apply it now in your art? You have to take your time and have fun creating a piece. If it becomes work instead of fun you lose the enjoyment. I visualize a finished piece and think about the customerâ€™s enjoyment when he or she receives the finished item. 16
How is creating in Redding different then Creating from back home? Back home (St.Petersburg, Fla.) the majority of items were sea life from fist to pelicans… and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well. I would imagine there are a lot of dangers in wood working. Any close calls? Thankfully nothing serious. Just a lot of cuts splinters and sanded fingers. As an artist myself I know this might be the most difficult question of all... How would you define your art? My art is called “intarsia” it is a mosaic of wood fitted, glued, contoured and finished into a wooden support that became popular in the 15th century Italy for decoration. All my works are made using a variety of hardwood and exotic woods using the natural colors of the woods and grain patterns. I do not use any stains on my pieces and each piece is unique, never duplicates.
Contact Dave Bariteau for custom art and woodworking (530)238-9980 firstname.lastname@example.org
Heroes Who Throw Babies Into The Fire My nephew Eric has invited me to "write something" for The Shasta Free Press. Eric and I go way back. I used to baby-sit him when he and his parents lived in Indiana, Pa.. I would make like Boris Karloff in "Frankenstein" and lurch toward him, saying "I won't hurt you, Eric." He would cry. So I would delight in doing it again. Then, before I knew it, he cast a large shadow at the door of our apartment in Easton, Pa., when he came to visit us, fresh off the Appalachian Trail. "Fresh" may not be the most apt word, but there was nothing about his Appalachian odor that a good shower and plenty of Dial soap couldn't improve. Eric stood in the doorway, about 6' 7" tall. I felt like I was standing in a hole. I didn't try to scare him by playing "monster" anymore. The years passed by very quickly. The world is very different now, as JFK noted in his inaugural address. He hadn't seen anything yet. Despite the Gulf of Tonkin incident (which never happened) to justify the "War Powers" Act (not in the Constitution) and the long bloody Vietnam lesson which taught us nothing, we are now into our tenth year of an illegal, immoral, war crime known as the war on terror. And the role of our so-called "liberal news media" has been to pretend that it's the "summer of '42", and all our military, dead or alive, are heroes. I would like to take off on that last point and discuss "heroes" in the context of the Vietnam lesson we didn't learn. A couple of years ago a local newspaper (The Morning Call, Allentown) did a feature story about a local Vietnam Vet, Paul Fichter, from Emmaus, Pa.. When he got home from 'Nam, his neighbors greeted him with slaps on the back, "Well done, son", "We're proud of what you did..." etc.. Paul's feelings were quoted: "What I had done was the most abominable thing I ever did, or ever hoped to do." He joined Vietnam Veterans Against The War and participated in one of the more dramatic protests of that war-occupying the Statue of Liberty and hanging the U. S. flag from it, upside down (the international distress signal). Vietnam Vets led the resistance and protests of that war almost from the start: Winter Soldier investigation, Port Huron statement, throwing their medals on the White House lawn, refusing to go on patrol in forward areas(see the book Flower of the Dragon written back when reporters were reporters, not Pentagon stenographers). Meanwhile, the civilian response was epitomized by Vietnam War supporter Francis Cardinal Spellman, quoting Steven Decatur: "My country right or wrong, but my country." (see following eulogy) Then came May 17, 1968 and the Catonsville Nine. Led by the brothers Berrigan, nine Catholic religious walked into the draft board in Catonsville, Md., scooped up armloads of draft cards, took them outside to the parking lot and dumped them in a wire wastebasket. They then poured homemade napalm on them, lit a match, and stood around the blaze, singing hymns, praying, and waiting for arrest. Some did years in the federal slammer for their action. One of their court statements read: â€œWe apologize dear friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel houses. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise..." At the funeral for Tom Lewis, one of the Nine, in 2008, the eulogist, Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, had this to say: "And what Truth of God did their illegal napalming of paper rather than the legal napalming of children bring into Christian consciences that were supportive of or indifferent to the mass murders taking place in Vietnam? It was an unwanted...but a self-evident truth...THERE IS NO MORAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THROWING A THOUSAND CHILDREN INTO A FIRE AND THROWING FIRE FROM AN AIRPLANE ON A THOUSAND CHILDREN... Today the same fighter pilots, who dropped napalm on children, women and the elderly are presented to the people of the U. S. by the government and its media outlets as war heroes. But there is no such thing as heroism in the execution of evil...a mafia hit man taking great risk in order to kill the children of an opposing godfather is not a hero. Evil does not become a scintilla less evil because a person put his or her life in jeopardy to do it and is subsequently designated a hero. Murder decorated with a ribbon is still murder... I never in my life had the urge to jot down anything I heard from 74 years of listening to homilys, until I read the above. I let the readers draw their conclusions about the relevance of the Catonsville Nine today. I welcome their response. Bernard J. Berg
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