Help Fiber Come to Your Neighborhood By Taking A Simple Survey

By Don Pelton

If you are interested in Spiral Internet’s fiber deployment and — like me — you are in the “Comcast Challenged” zone, take the following survey:

https://spiral.servicezones.net/ServiceAreaA/ComcastChallenged

In this zone, Comcast claims that residents are already well served by them, so the Calif Public Utilities Commission has made this zone off limits for Spiral’s fiber service.

However, if enough of us take the survey and explain our need for better service, it may turn the CPUC around and help us get fiber

If you are unsure whether you are in this zone, click on the above link to see the map.


Yubanet to Livestream NID Board Meeting Wed 3/21/17 9 AM

From Yubanet today:

“GRASS VALLEY, Calif. March 22, 2017 – Live streaming of the NID Board of Directors meeting starting at 9:00 am on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

“YubaNet will livestream the meeting for NID constituents who cannot attend the meeting since the Board of Directors declined to make video or live broadcast available.

“Many thanks to AJA Video Systems for their assistance with the technology.”

HERE’S THE LIVESTREAM LINK:

 

 


Doug LaMalfa Listens Politely to Nevada County

I notice that quite a few people did what we did: we watched Yubanet’s video while listening to KVMR’s audio stream, because the rough acoustics in the auditorium created a lot of distortion in Yubanet’s mic. I’m happy that Yubanet managed to do video coverage at all. This bodes well for the future. If they’d had a mic at the podium, it would have been very workable. Maybe they can now get into the NID board meetings with their video setup?

Overall, I was impressed with the degree of civility in the meeting, and I was also impressed with how well the progressive forces in our community had organized. This also bodes well for the future.

Questions and comments about Obamacare and Trumpcare seemed to be the dominant concern of the crowd. LaMalfa insists that Obamacare is “falling apart,” which is certainly not true. Such problems as it has could be solved by a single payer system, such as Medicare For All, an idea oft repeated by commenters yesterday.

LaMalfa pretty much hewed to the GOP party line. Very few surprises there. I suspect that he’s very comfortable in Washington, even though he shouldn’t be.

Speaking of which, check out Robert Reich’s latest post on the turmoil in DC (from his Facebook post):

I’ve spent much of this week in Washington – talking with friends
still in government, former colleagues, high-ranking Democrats, a few
Republican pundits, and some members of Congress from both sides of
the aisle. It was my first visit to our nation’s capital since Trump
became president.

My verdict:

Washington is more divided, angry, bewildered, and fearful – than I’ve
ever seen it.

The angry divisions aren’t just Democrats versus Republicans. Rancor
is also exploding inside the Republican Party.

Republicans (and their patrons in big business) no longer believe
Trump will give them cover to do what they want to do. They’re
becoming afraid Trump is genuinely nuts, and he’ll pull the party down
with him.

Many Republicans are also angry at Paul Ryan, whose replacement bill
for Obamacare is considered by almost everyone on Capitol Hill to be
incredibly dumb.

I didn’t talk with anyone inside the White House, but several who have
had dealings with it called it a cesspool of intrigue and fear.
Apparently everyone working there hates and distrusts everyone else.

The Washington foreign policy establishment – both Republican and
Democrat – is deeply worried about what’s happening to American
foreign policy, and the worldwide perception of America being loony
and rudderless. They think Trump is legitimizing far-right movements
around the world.

Long-time civil servants are getting ready to bail. If they’re close
to retirement they’re already halfway out the door. Many in their 30s
and 40s are in panic mode.

Republican pundits think Bannon is even more unhinged than Trump,
seeking to destroy democracy as we’ve known it.

Despite all this, no one I talked with thought a Trump impeachment
likely, at least not any time soon — unless there’s a smoking gun
showing Trump’s involvement in Russia’s intrusion into the election.

Many people asked, bewilderedly, “how did this [Trump] happen?” When Isuggest it had a lot to do with the 35-year-long decline of incomes of
the bottom 60 percent; the growing sense, ever since the Wall Street
bailout, that the game is rigged; and the utter failure of both
Republicans and Democrats to reverse these trends – they gave me blank
stares.


Making America Mediocre Again

As conditions in the U.S. deteriorate, the world will continue to suffer the consequences of U.S. military force — but without the mitigating influences of U.S. foreign aid and diplomacy.
 

The first signs of decline are physical. Citizens don’t grow as tall. They don’t live as long. They start killing each other in large numbers.

Sounds like the post-mortem for a society that disappeared long ago, a conclusion that archaeologists deliver after sifting through bone fragments and pottery shards. Why, the puzzled scholars ask, did such a vibrant society, which produced beautiful art and remarkable scientific advances, fall apart so rapidly and leave so little behind in the unforgiving rainforest?

This time, however, the diagnosis is being provided in real time. And the society in decline is the most powerful country in the world.

According to the most recent global health surveys, the United States is witnessing a decline in life expectancy for the first time in nearly a quarter century. America is also the first high-income country to see its adults, on average, no longer growing taller. Writes Lenny Bernstein in The Washington Post:

The reasons for the United States’ lag are well known. It has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any of the countries in the study, and the highest obesity rate. It is the only one without universal health insurance coverage and has the “largest share of unmet health-care needs due to financial costs,” the researchers wrote.

I’d like to pin this one on Donald Trump. But U.S. decline has been ongoing for some time.

For instance, the United States ranked 16th in the 2014 Social Progress Index developed by Michael Porter at the Harvard Business School. Two years later, the United States slipped to 19th place, with particularly mediocre scores in environmental quality (#36), nutrition and basic medical care (#37), and access to basic knowledge (#40).

Let’s compare that to Canada, which sat near the top of the rankings at number two in the SPI. Canada was a little better on environmental quality (#32), quite a bit better on basic medical care (#26), and a whole lot better on access to basic knowledge (#2).

Even though Trump can’t be blamed for these mediocre social indicators, his party’s steadfast opposition to spending on social welfare and the environment certainly contributed to the problem. And Trump’s promise to “replace” Obamacare, cut social spending even further, and roll back regulatory oversight — all while boosting the Pentagon budget by an extraordinary 10 percent — will send the United States into free fall. The violent crime rate, which dropped nearly in half over the last 20 years despite what Trump claims, may well start to edge up as our pro-gun president makes firearms even more widely available and the economy takes a turn for the worse.

After what Donald Trump does to the United States, Americans won’t be able to stand tall and proud. That’s because we’ll either be short, sick, or dead.

What Goes Up…

Predictions of the eclipse of American power have been around since Donald Trump was a 30-something playboy.

It’s not just the overall health of the population and the toxicity of the environment. The United States has been hobbled by an enormous federal debt, an overextended global military presence, our failing infrastructure, and a paralyzed political system. It’s no wonder that so many Americans were sufficiently fed up in November to vote for anyone who promised to shake up the status quo.

Many Trump supporters are already having second thoughts after witnessing their leader’s first weeks in office. The new administration has given every indication that it’s exchanging the status quo for something incomparably worse.

Much of the problem lies with Trump himself. He has been erratic, often incoherent, and so disconnected from reality that he might be the first president to tweet himself out of office (if the investigation into his campaign’s connections to Moscow doesn’t get him first).

Say what you will about the early Roman emperors, they at least knew something about governance. Then, in the 1st century AD, the imperial stock started to run thin and the empire ran into serious trouble under the deranged progeny of Augustus. Donald Trump is the Caligula of our times: lascivious, incurious, and power-drunk. At what point will our American Caligula, running out of willing and even marginally suitable candidates, try to appoint a horse to his cabinet?

It’s bad enough from a domestic standpoint to have a laughing-stock for a president. The international implications are even worse. As Patrick Cockburn writes in The Independent, “It will be difficult for the U.S. to remain a super-power under a leader who is an international figure of fun and is often visibly detached from reality. His battle cry of ‘Fake News’ simply means an inability to cope with criticism or accept facts or views that contradict his own. World leaders who have met him say they are astonished by his ignorance of events at home and abroad.”

It’s no surprise that other countries are rushing to take advantage of the Trump administration’s early missteps. “It’s not just that Trump seems to have abandoned the larger geopolitical playing field to America’s principal rivals,” writes analyst Michael Klare. “He appears to be doing everything in his power to facilitate their advance at the expense of the United States. In just the first few weeks of his presidency, he has already taken numerous steps that have put the wind in both China’s and Russia’s sails, while leaving the U.S. adrift.”

China sees an enormous opportunity to cast itself as the responsible global leader on trade and climate change. Russia is angling for more influence in its near abroad, the eastern parts of Europe, and the Middle East. Germany and the European Union more generally have sought to replace the United States as a moral leader on diplomacy, human rights, and intercultural engagement.

It’s as if the empire has already fallen apart and the rivals are carving up the corpse. Except that it’s not territory that they’re grabbing, but chunks of America’s political and economic capital.

Those who believe that the United States has had only a malign influence on the world will cheer this downgrade in status. But so far only America’s soft power has taken a hit. The Pentagon remains on the ascendant. The world will continue to suffer the consequences of U.S. military force but without the mitigating influences of U.S. foreign aid and diplomacy.

What about the Stock Market?

So, if everything is doom and gloom, why is the stock market so bullish right now?

The S & P 500 rose to record highs this week. So did the Dow Jones industrial average, establishing the longest stretch of gains in 30 years. Naturally, Trump has claimed credit for all this even as he has complained of inheriting “a mess” from Barack Obama. Kellyanne Conway rushed to judgment as well, attributing the market expansion to “the Trump effect.”

The stock market responds to short-term trends and signals, and it’s focused largely on the health of the business sector. Trump has promised tax cuts, a helping hand to military contractors and energy companies, and a big infrastructure development plan. What’s not to like if you’re a CEO or a large corporation?

But beware irrational exuberance. Much of what Trump is doing is setting up Wall Street for a very unpleasant fall. The administration’s trade policies, particularly with Mexico, will hit producers hard. The infrastructure bill may not come until 2018. The impact of simultaneously adding $54 billion to the Pentagon budget and cutting taxes will throw the economy seriously out of whack.

Ultimately, however, the health of Wall Street is not the issue — it’s the health of Main Street that matters most. When the Obama dividend runs out and economic indicators start to turn south, when the coal mines and steel plants fail to magically return to their glory days of the 1950s, when farmers and blue-collar workers see how much their livelihoods depend on good relations with the world beyond U.S. borders, Trump will have a full-blown revolt on his hands. Then we’ll finally understand the real reason for the boost in Pentagon spending.

Martial law, anyone?


John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus and the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands.


The Massive Clearcutting Above Lake Oroville Can’t Help

By Don Pelton

After sending a few friends a link to a good SacBee article today about the stressed reservoirs in the Feather River watershed above Lake Oroville, one of my friends called my attention to the extensive clearcutting in lands surrounding some of Lake Oroville’s feeder streams up to the southeast of Lake Oroville, all visible in Google Earth (see snapshot below).

Here’s the very informative SacBee article:

Reservoirs feeding Lake Oroville are filled to brim as more rain rolls in

And here’s a snapshot I took a few minutes ago, using Google Earth, showing some of these same areas of the watershed to the east of Lake Oroville, including feeder streams into the Lake.

Clearcutting prevents sequestration of the rainwater and accelerates the runoff, carrying precious soil with it. All of which adds to the already considerable burden on Lake Oroville.

In this snapshot, the light-colored speckled patches upstream from Lake Oroville (clearcut areas) are conspicuous:

Massive_Clearcutting_Above_Lake_Oroville

 


State Was Warned in 2005 About Inadequacy of Emergency Spillway

Oroville_Dam_SpillwayFrom the OrovilleMR:

“More than a decade ago, federal and state officials and some of California’s largest water agencies rejected concerns that Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway — at risk of collapse Sunday night and prompting the evacuation of 130,000 people — could erode during heavy winter rains and cause a catastrophe.

“Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

“The groups filed the motion with FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They said that the dam, built and owned by the state of California, and finished in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards because in the event of extreme rain and flooding, fast-rising water would overwhelm the main concrete spillway, then flow down the emergency spillway, and that could cause heavy erosion that would create flooding for communities downstream, but also could cause a failure, known as “loss of crest control.”

Read the full article here.


Steve Bannon Boasts He is a “Leninist” Who Wants to Destroy Government

I was frightened enough when — like a lot of people — I realized that Steve Bannon is actually the President.
Finding out that he also proudly calls himself a “Leninist” doesn’t help at all. Here’s a report by Ronald Radosh of TheDailyBeast:

“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.

Shocked, I asked him what he meant.

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.

Read the full article here:


Hope In Dark Times

“Causes and effects assume history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension. Sometimes one person inspires a movement, or her words do decades later; sometimes a few passionate people change the world; sometimes they start a mass movement and millions do; sometimes those millions are stirred by the same outrage or the same ideal and change comes upon us like a change of weather. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope. To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty are better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.”

From Rebecca Solnit’s “Hope In The Dark

Hope_In_The_Dark


A Moment of Genuine Sweetness


The Sometimes Huge Power Of Small Acts of Resistance

small_actsWe were not among the millions of people who took to the streets of the world yesterday, in the most inspiring outburst of protest in my long lifetime … against everything vile that Donald Trump stands for.

If you were among the demonstrators, I’m inclined to ask you: Did you feel like a small part of a great movement, or a great part of a great movement?

Did it feel — from the inside — as powerful as it looked from the outside?

If you are in doubt — as I have sometimes been about my own activism — about the effectiveness of your small action, consider this beautiful bit of history by Rebecca Solnit, the best writer on hope at work in the world today, in her collection of essays, “Hope In The Dark“:

Twenty-one years ago this June, a million people gathered in Central Park to demand a nuclear freeze. They didn’t get it. The movement was full of people who believed they’d realize their goal in a few years and then go home. Many went home disappointed or burned out. But in less than a decade, major nuclear arms reductions were negotiated, helped along by European antinuclear movements and the impetus they gave Gorbachev. Since then, the issue has fallen off the map and we have lost much of what was gained. The US never ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the Bush administration is planning to resume the full-fledged nuclear testing halted in 1991, to resume manufacture, to expand the arsenal, and perhaps even to use it in once-proscribed ways.

It’s always too soon to go home. And it’s always too soon to calculate effect. I once read an anecdote by someone in Women Strike for Peace, the first great antinuclear movement in the United States in 1963, the one that did contribute to a major victory: the end of aboveground nuclear testing with its radioactive fallout that was showing up in mother’s milk and baby teeth. She told of how foolish and futile she felt standing in the rain one morning protesting at the Kennedy White House. Years later she heard Dr. Benjamin Spock — one of the most high-profile activists on the issue then — say that the turning point for him was seeing a small group of women standing in the rain, protesting at the White House. If they were so passionately committed, he thought, he should give the issue more consideration himself.

Never question your commitment, or the value of even your smallest acts and gestures in the service of your beliefs.

 


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