A View From The State of Jefferson

There’s been a lot of activity around here as of late. And on the occasion of Nuke’s 200,000 milestone it looks like we’re all going to visit. So here’s an overview of the fires burning in my neck of the woods.

Video Courtesy of Shasta Lake Bulletin

Firefighters at last got some help from the air Monday, thanks to a respite from nearly a week of smoky skies.

Throughout the afternoon, the giant Martin Mars bomber dumped its 7,200-gallon tank on fires being fought on Lime Complex, while smaller air tankers and helicopters pounded fires elsewhere. Mary Loan, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said that the Martin Mars made five drops in five and a half hours, with more drops scheduled for today.

Martin Mars Video

Their efforts seemed to pay off.

On Monday, the last of the evacuations were lifted in many fire-threatened communities in Shasta and Trinity counties, including Junction City, Helena and the Big Foot Campground and Trailer Park.

Below are updates on fires burning in the north state. All information comes from the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection:

The Deerlick Complex:

The Deerlick Complex of fires west of Ono was 16,000 acres and 5 percent contained.

The Democrat and Motion fires:

The Democrat and Motion fires, which have grown together near Keswick and Shasta dams, are at 16,000 acres and 20 percent contained.

Firefighters lit backfires Saturday to divert the flames from the areas around power lines and the powerhouse at the dam. Power lines continue to be a concern. Crews are especially looking out for the community of Keswick.

Zogg Mine Fire:

This fire in the Igo-Ono area was still listed as 80 percent contained at 74 acres. No structures have been lost. On Sunday, Shasta County sheriff’s deputies initiated a “soft closure” on Zogg Mine Road and South Fork Road, leaving open the roads for residents only.

Moon Fire Complex:

The Moon Fire, northwest of Ono, burned 17,000 acres and was 5 percent contained Monday evening. Fire behavior is considered extreme.

Hard closures are still in effect in the Buell and Platina road areas, but no structures have been lost.

The Pine and Donkey fires:

The Pine and Donkey blazes, which also have merged, are at 1,230 acres and 95 percent contained.

Barley Fire:

This fire in southwest Shasta County held at 1,000 acres in the Graves Ranch area. It continued at 5 percent containment Monday.

Lower Grass Valley Fire:

The Upper Grass Valley Fire near Buckhorn Summit has merged with the Lower Grass Valley Fire, taking on its name. Firefighters gained the upper hand on the blaze Sunday, knocking it down to 375 acres with 95 percent containment.

The Stein Fire:

The Stein Fire near the Pit River arm of Lake Shasta is 90 percent contained and has burned 667 acres.

The Iron Complex:

Some 18,117 acres had burned here by Monday, and the complex was 55 percent contained. Evacuation orders were lifted Sunday for the Helena and Canyon Creek areas.

Ziegler Fire:

Fire line work also continues on the Ziegler Fire, which could threaten the community of Hawkins Bar. Periodic closures for fire debris clean-up are expected on Highway 299.

Trails are closed at the Canyon Creek Trailhead, which is in the Granite Fire area. Fire managers said they expect the Eagle Fire will continue to grow to the south, and the Ironsides and Don Juan fires will grow east and north.

The Ziegler Fire is moving slowly southward and could also spread west.

Backfires are being lit on the north side of the fire to block a spread in that direction. The Cedar Fire will continue to spread east and north.

Alps Complex:

Most of the fires in this complex continued to grow. The Alps Complex changed Monday from 15 fires to 13, with 2,650 acres burning and containment at 2 percent.

The Buckhorn fires:

The Buckhorn fires are moving north and east toward the Clem Fire and have reached a dozer line protecting the Brooks Ranch.

Trail cleaning and clearing will take place on the Granite Creek Fire in an effort to hold that blaze in Bear and Canyon creeks. That fire also is growing north and east.

Lime Complex:

Fires across 35,445 acres in eastern Trinity County were 36 percent contained. Firefighters planned to set backfires in the next several days to strengthen containment lines around the Miners and Lime fires. Twenty-two fires remain unstaffed within the Lime complex. Crews will focus on the Telephone, Noble, Lime, Iron (within the Yolla-Bolly Wilderness), other wilderness fires, Miners, Deadshot and Rainbow fires.

SHF June Lightning Complex:

Crews had contained 31 of the 34 fires in the group, with about 250 acres burning. The Murphy and Rey fires were still going.

Whiskeytown Complex:

Four wildfires on Shasta Bally have charred nearly 4,000 acres and were 20 percent contained on Monday.

All ranger-guided programs were cancelled through Sunday. Oak Bottom public launch ramp, the marina, the marina boat rentals and stores will remain open to the public. Brandy Creek beach, marina, and the Whiskey Creek launch ramps are open despite smoky conditions. The Oak Bottom Tent and RV Campground, and Oak Bottom Beach areas will be closed to support a base camp for firefighters. Visit www.nps.gov/whis for updated information on the Whiskeytown fires.

Siskiyou Complex:

These fires continue to burn near Highway 96 but away from homes and property.

The fires Monday morning were at 7,725 acres and 20 percent containment.

Highway 96 along the Klamath River was opened Monday to traffic, but cars needed to follow a pilot vehicle through the smoke.

Tehama County:

The Antelope Creek Fire was contained at 3,410 acres. The Mill Fire had charred 13,580 acres and was also fully contained.

The Noble Fire burned 12,500 acres on Tehama County land. Firefighters in that county had it 80 percent contained.

Peterson Complex:

The Popcorn and Peterson fires southwest of McArthur in eastern Shasta County merged into a single 7,824-acre blaze, which was fully contained on Saturday.

A map of California Fires

There are many more fires burning that are not mapped or reported on regularly.

Greetings from loony Massachusetts!

One of the great things about living in Massachusetts is that it is impossible for me to pick up a newspaper and not find something that winds me up so much I want to blog about it. Unfortunately, I don’t always find the time to do so. So much insanity, so little time. And so, tonight I’m just going to wind up and let it fly. Here are a few things that are pissing me off right now:

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick: Don’t blame me, I voted for Kerry Healy. Unfortunately, the majority of people in this notoriously liberal state were sucked in by this fast talkin’ salesman. Where do I begin with this guy?

For starters, Governor Tailpipe is once again pushing legislation that would grant illegal immigrants the right to attend state colleges here at the substantially reduced, in-state tuition rate. He calls it a matter of “simple justice”. He really doesn’t seem to understand that the citizens of a state with one of the highest tax burdens in the country simply don’t want their tax dollars to provide free or reduced college tuition to someone who shouldn’t even be here in the first place. Of course, this should come as no surprise from a governor who also favors giving illegal immigrants drivers’ licenses.

With the exception of the Indigenous American Tribes (and even their ancestors originally came from Asia), everyone living in the United States is either an immigrant, or the descendant of immigrants. I am the descendant of immigrants. The difference is my ancestors did it legally. They got jobs, learned the English language, and became citizens. So the operative word here is not “immigrant”. The operative word is “illegal”. An illegal immigrant is, by definition, breaking the law. When you’re breaking the law you have few rights; at best you have privileges. You certainly don’t have the right to make demands.

Truth be told, I consider myself a moderate on this issue. I really don’t blame anyone for wanting to live here instead of a shit hole like Mexico. I’m all in favor of devising a system that can help foreigners become citizens, and thereby encourage others to do it the right way as well. But all that said, I don’t believe in rewarding people for breaking the law. Apparently Governor Tailpipe does.

Moving right long, the Governor is just giddy at the prospect of signing a bill that would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $2.51 per pack, making Massachusetts number two in the nation in this regard, behind only New Jersey. Cigarette taxes are like crack to the politicians on Beacon Hill. The eternal problem for politicians is how to raise taxes without getting themselves booted out of office. Raising taxes makes the voters mad, and voters can send them back to the Dreaded Private Sector quite easily if they get mad enough. Enter the tobacco tax. For your typical rapacious politician, it’s like a gift from God: they get to stick their grubby hands even deeper into someone’s pocket and still look like heroes to the soccer moms, since it’s usually not the soccer moms’ pocket that’s being picked. Really, it’s almost too good to be true if you’re a politician.

There’s only one problem with this gutless, cynical bullshit: it doesn’t work. Politicians breathlessly tell us “It’s for the children”. But the money doesn’t go towards education, at least not in Massachusetts. It just goes into the general fund to balance the budget. But it sure makes the soccer moms happy to believe that “it’s for the children”.

They tell us that the goal is to raise revenue, and to encourage people to quit smoking. Sadly, the liberal lemmings in this state actually buy this argument. What seems to elude them is the simple fact you can’t raise revenue AND reduce smoking. It’s one or the other. You can’t have both.

And in fact, it’s probably going to be neither. People aren’t going to quit, nor will the state raise the revenue it’s hoping to, since people are just going to buy cigarettes in New Hampshire or over the Internet. God forbid they should raise the tax on booze a few cents, but they won’t: that would actually take some guts.

The sheer hypocrisy of all this lies in the fact that a few months ago, Governor Tailpipe, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Sal DiMasi held a joint press conference to announce that there would be no new broad based taxes in Massachusetts this year. Of course, they were careful to mention that the cigarette tax is not broad based. Apparently they’re not aware that in this country there are still over 150 millions smokers. Sounds pretty broad based to me.

Further bear in mind that most (although by no means all) cigarette smokers come from the lower end of the economic spectrum. I find it supremely ironic that while the Democratic Party in this state loves to trumpet itself as the liberal, compassionate hero of the poor and working class, compassion for the poor evidently goes out the window when they smell a fast buck.

Next, we come to James Fagan, the Democratic State Rep. from Taunton. Having evidently decided that lawyers and politicians aren’t despised enough, Rep. Fagan apparently decided to fix all that. In a bizarre speech delivered from the State House floor, Fagan argued against a mandatory 20 year sentence for the rape of a child under twelve. I’m not even going to try to paraphrase what this nitwit said. Click here and listen for yourself.

Now, in fairness to Rep. Fagan, the video that is circulating around the internet does rather conveniently cut in at just the right point to make him look as bad as possible. What the clip doesn’t show is Fagan setting up his remarks by stating that he is talking about a hypothetical defense attorney, not necessarily himself (although I rather suspect that Fagan, a defense attorney, would not shrink from those tactics).

But even if we allow for that, he still showed remarkably poor judgment in the way he presented his argument. Beyond that, there are still some rather disturbing issues here. First and foremost, Rep. Fagan feels that a twenty year sentence for raping a child under 12 is “draconian”. All sarcasm aside for a moment, when I first read this story, my first reaction was, “only 20 years for child rape? That’s pretty lenient.” Now perhaps this was just Fagan’s defense attorney instincts kicking in, but that leads me to the inescapable conclusion that Fagan is really just another lawyer/legislator, bending the rules to suit his trade simply because he can.

As tempting as it is to think otherwise, even a child molester in entitled to a fair trial. More importantly, the rights of those falsely accused must be protected. But the other issue is, what do we do with an eight year old victim/witness? Should she even be on the stand at all? While there is certainly room for debate here, I think most people would agree that a child who has already been violently traumatized once should be spared the further trauma of what would await her if her attacker ever had James Fagan for a defense attorney. This was, in fact Fagan’s point. But the fear of further traumatizing a child is a compelling argument for changing the way that child would give evidence, not for giving a child molester a cushy plea bargain to avoid a trial

Ironically, Fagan was the solon who proposed legislation to lower the blood alcohol limit from .08 to .02, which could put drivers who have even one beer or glass of wine during dinner over the limit. Luckily, this bit of nonsense never made it off the ground. I guess in the world of James Fagan, having a beer after work is off limits, but throwing a child rapist in jail for twenty years? Draconian!

Well, that’s all for now, but rest assured, in Massachusetts, there’s always more where this came from.

-Smith

“taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood”–Dr. John H. Watson

Please visit my blog at murderofravens.org

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