LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former Nevada state lawmaker has pleaded not guilty to a gun charge dating to allegations that he threatened to harm an Assembly leader days before the 2013 legislative session began.
Prosecutor Thom Gover said a judge on Tuesday scheduled a jury trial for Steven Brooks to begin Oct. 6.
But Clark County District Court Judge Abbi Silver also set an Aug. 28 pretrial status check.
The case is one of two pending against the 42-year-old Brooks.
He spent 16 months in a California jail for a March 2013 freeway chase and fight with police that happened the day he was expelled from the state Legislature.
He’s jailed awaiting a Thursday preliminary hearing on felony and misdemeanor charges dating to a February 2013 scuffle with police investigating a domestic dispute.
There are now seven northern Nevada land actions included in The Northern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act in U.S. House, H.R. 5205. Thanks to the efforts of Congressmen Amodei and Horsford, controversial provisions in this bill were resolved at the end of July and bipartisan support has been obtained in the House. All are included in companion Senate bills that have passed out of Committee.
Each of our seven Nevada communities, Elko, Carlin, Winnemucca & Humboldt County, Fallon, Storey County, Fernley, Yerington and Lyon County, will benefit by acquiring land for community development and resolve year’s long debates on wilderness designation. Both the Pine Forest (Humboldt County) and Wovoka Wilderness (Lyon County) were developed with substantial local input, and incorporate protections for existing grazing and other public land uses. They both have broad-based, local support.
The bill(s) will also jumpstart Nevada Copper’s Pumpkin Hollow Project, a 1 billion dollar…
Twin Falls, ID to Great Basin National Park, NV – The drive back into Nevada was long and boring, just the way I sometimes like it. I spent time imagining what I would do when I finally saw the bristlecone pines, the oldest living things on the planet. It was amazing that they were in Nevada, of all places. “That’s probably why they survived,” said my friend Kelly. “Because they’re in Nevada.”
Who goes to Nevada? This woman. What would it be like to be near these old ones? It would be serene. The pines had needles that were older than I was. I was building up for an enlightening experience. It would be grounding. Some of them were over 5,000 years old. It would be an epic experience, one I would tell about with awe. It would be…
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) landed in a bit of hot water this morning as racially-insensitive jokes made at the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce. The remarks were made public by the Republican opposition research group American Rising.
Senator Reid released this statement, “My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing.” This isn’t the first time the Nevada Democrat had to apologize for remarks of this ilk. In 2010, remarks the senator made in 2008 about then Senator Barack Obama came to light in the book Game Change. The Reid said Obama was “light-skinned” and had ” no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” `
Reid isn’t the only high-ranking Democrat to have a history of racially charged remarks. Former President of The United States Bill Clinton is alleged to have said to the late Massachusetts Senator…
TRUCKEE, California (AP) – Tesla Motors Inc. is building a supercharger station in the Sierra Nevada north of Lake Tahoe where drivers of the company’s electric cars can recharge along Interstate 80, a newspaper says.
Tesla officials previously announced plans to build a station near Truckee, California, about 30 miles southwest of Reno but hasn’t confirmed an exact location or opening date.
The Sierra Sun reported Thursday that six charging bays with “Tesla” labels have been delivered to a cordoned off site in Truckee and construction equipment has been assembled behind a supermarket.
Assistant Truckee town manager Alex Terrazas confirmed Tesla had pulled required permits and paid appropriate fees for the station.
Tesla will pay the Truckee Donner Public Utility District to supply electricity to the station as part of a development agreement, said Steven Poncelet, conservation manager for the district.
However, he told the newspaper a confidentiality clause prevented…
Situated in Clark County, Nevada, Las Vegas is a bustling American city characterised by grandiose hotels, glitzy casinos and hoards of excited tourists. Home to the Las Vegas strip, the world’s most popular tourist attraction, it provides visitors with a holiday like no other.
However, behind the façade of bright lights, casinos, cabaret shows and all you can eat buffets, there’s plenty more to see and do to make for a memorable trip.
Explore alternative Vegas with our selection of less than conventional tourist hotspots – the perfect addition to any itinerary.
Camping on ‘Extraterrestrial’, one of the ‘streets’ at Burning Man 2013
The desert festival in Nevada is inspiring new ideas about temporary homes and contemporary living
The question of building instant, post-trauma communities for the 21st century is one that has racked brains from Syria to New Orleans and Dhaka, but some of the answers could be provided by an experimental festival held every year in a North American desert.
Burning Man is set in the inhospitable Black Rock desert of Nevada where, this week, 70,000 hippies, techies and adventurers will get down to some serious circus stunts, dancing and nightlong pyrotechnics. Costumes range from a human eyeball to camouflage-style queens in full regalia.
Yet, among these curious desert blooms, it is possible to find some radical, sustainable architecture.
Vinay Gupta, inventor of the Hexayurt, first tested his prototype cardboard living structure at Burning Man in 2003. He believes…
Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY WASHINGTON —The Justice Department is leading a broad review of police tactics, including the kind of deadly force that prompted recent protests in Missouri and New York, a federal law enforcement official said Tuesday.
The review is being conducted as the department weighs creating a national commission to provide new direction on such controversial issues.
In addition to deadly force, the review is expected to examine law enforcement’s increasing encounters with the mentally ill, the application of emerging technologies such as body cameras, and police agencies’ expanding role in homeland security efforts since 9/11, said the official, who is not authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity.
The review is slated to be completed early next year while authorities consider establishing a special law enforcement commission similar to a panel created by President Johnson to deal with problems then associated with rising crime.
Witness to Michael Brown shooting comes forward
Rather than violent crime, which has been in decline in much of the country, police are now grappling with persistent incidents involving use of force and their responses to an array of public safety issues, from drug overdoses to their dealings with the mentally ill and the emotionally disturbed.
The call for a broader federal policy review, while not directly tied to any specific incident, grew out of a meeting involving law enforcement advocacy groups and Justice officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, the official said.
“Nobody has looked at the profession in any holistic way in more than 50 years,” the official said.
Earlier this week, Holder announced that federal authorities were opening an inquiry into last week’s shooting death of a Missouri teenager by local police. Separately, Justice has been monitoring a local investigation in New York into a 43-year-old man’s death after being subdued by local police last month.
NYPD chokehold death ruled homicide
Both incidents have sparked volatile local reactions. The most tense are playing out in the suburbs of St. Louis, where for two nights police have clashed with demonstrators protesting the death of Michael Brown, who was fatally shot Saturday in an altercation with police.
“Aggressively pursuing investigations such as this is critical for preserving trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Holder said this week, announcing the FBI’s deployment to the Brown shooting death.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the nation’s largest group of local law enforcement officials, has long advocated for the revival of the Johnson administration commission to provide needed direction to an institution whose responsibilities have expanded markedly in the past half-century.
Report: LAPD shoots, kills unarmed black man
In 2010, then-IACP president Michael Carroll, while supporting a congressional push for such a panel, said police were “confronting a vast array of new challenges and demands that would have seemed unimaginable just a short time ago.” Among those demands, he cited increasing police involvement in immigration matters, overburdened court systems and a “continuing need to ensure the protection of (citizens’) civil rights and civil liberties.”
University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris, who has written extensively on law enforcement matters, said a new commission could offer law enforcement “empirical evidence for a better way to do business.”
“There is no reason why we can’t and shouldn’t be able to learn from those who are doing things better to create the best practices for everybody,” Harris said.
The Reno Police Department and Carson City Sheriff’s Office also say they’ve received military vehicles this year through the program, and Sparks Police Department says it is exploring the acquisition of one. All three of those agencies have armored trucks, but say most vehicles are old, nearly inoperable with limited ballistic capabilities. They described the military surplus program as a boon to local policing efforts following recession cuts.
But national and state lawmakers — along with protesters following the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Mo. — are beginning to question whether police need such high-powered war equipment, arguing it blurs the line between military and police.
“There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred,” President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House last week. “That would be contrary to our traditions.”
From high-powered assault rifles to camouflage-clad police officers perched on top of heavily armored vehicles: The violence gripping the Missouri town of Ferguson has highlighted a growing militarization of US law enforcement.
Lyon County’s armored vehicle officially entered its fleet last week and will only be used for SWAT operations, the sheriff’s office says, primarily serving as a high-powered, bullet-proof shield for law enforcement.
Such a vehicle came in handy during events like the Thursday shooting at a Motel 6 in Sparks when Luis Alberto Machado, 34, allegedly fired more than 100 rounds from three weapons; one was an assault rifle, police said.
Machado suffered minor lacerations from broken glass and was transported to Renown Regional Medical Center. No other injuries were reported.
A half-billion dollar business
The armored vehicle Sparks police used in Thursday’s shooting was obtained through a grant, Sparks Deputy Police Chief Brian Miller said, but the department is interested in getting at least one more through the military’s surplus program, also known as the 1033 program under the National Defense Authorization Act. The program dates to the 1990s as a way to help law enforcement in counter-drug activities.
Lyon County’s new armored vehicle became available last year when manufacturer BAE Systems closed its shop in Sealy, Texas after the Department of Defense started looking for different warfighting vehicles, leading to the distribution of nearly 13,000 of the mine resistant ambush protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, already paid for by taxpayers.
Last week, it become operable for SWAT missions in Lyon County — the rural Nevada area southeast of Reno with about 50,000 residents.
Lyon County sheriff’s Lt. Abel Ortiz, of the SWAT team, lists the acquisition of the MRAP as one of the highest achievements of his policing career — and why not?
Lyon County paid $8,000 in shipping with no cost for the $700,000 vehicle.
“A lot has to do with finances,” Ortiz said. “We have an obligation to the taxpayers to get the best equipment we can get at the best price.”
After four months of modification, radio installation and adding a passenger-side door handle that had been removed before delivery, Lyon County’s MRAP became operable last week, Ortiz said.
“We tried to go through grants to get a BearCat (armored vehicle), specifically for SWAT,” Ortiz said. “The MRAP came up and basically it is everything we need, but for free.”
Spare tires were not part of the deal because that exceeded minimum weight for delivery and increased the price, Ortiz said. For Lyon County, the six-wheeled armored vehicle replaces a 20-year-old hand-me-down armored truck from a Los Angeles security company.
“We get requests on a monthly basis,” said Michael Lambrecht, the state representative for the 1033 Program. “Some agencies are reasonably active; others aren’t.” Agencies usually have a designated point person watching the program’s database as items become available on a first-come, first-serve basis, Lambrecht said.
He said the most active agencies are the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.
Overall, the program has transferred more than $5 billion in military property to more 8,000 law enforcement agencies “to increase its capabilities, expand its patrol coverage, reduce response times and save American taxpayers’ investment,”according to the program’s website.
Nearly $500 million in military equipment transferred to law enforcement agencies nationwide in 2013, the website says. Since 2012, about $1 million dollars in equipment went to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, including rotor hubs for the RAVEN helicopter program, two SWAT robots and search and rescue sleds.
“The program doesn’t just save money — it saves lives,” Washoe sheriff’s spokesman Bob Harmon said. According to the sheriff’s office, the two OH-58 Kiowa and one HH-1H Huey helicopters performed nearly 3,000 calls for service since 2011, fighting 46 fires.
But lawmakers and state advisory committees are beginning to question the program, saying more oversight is needed.
“The issue is this: Whether we should allow surplus equipment the military has to go to police departments. I say, ‘Yes,'” U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said during a TV interview Tuesday with Sam Shad on “Nevada Newsmakers.” “We have police departments all over the country, including those in Nevada, who are desperate for more resources and the mere fact that you have the equipment doesn’t mean you need to use it.”
He added: “It’s not a question of equipment, it’s what they do with it. It’s obvious that there needs to be more oversight once equipment is given to somebody.”
That billion-dollar transfer business moved two high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, smaller trucks referred to by the acronym HMMWV, and one MRAP to the Carson City Sheriff’s Office in the last year.
“It’s interesting because, while your eyes see what you can construe as militarization, that is not necessarily the case,” Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said. “You must equip agencies to address issues we must address these days. Law enforcement is facing issues such as heavy-weapon fires and mass shootings.”
Furlong said his office’s anti-mine vehicle hasn’t been operated, yet, and only would for SWAT operations. Meanwhile, Carson City’s two high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles are used for search and rescue efforts, driving through mountainous terrain and large enough to act as a gurney for the injured.
While the turret remains on the MRAP, mechanisms for machine gun fire have been removed and similar modifications are performed on surplus equipment before entering law enforcement operations, Furlong said.
“It is very intimidating so local law enforcement, combined with programs every day, have to take that into consideration,” he said. “If your intention is to intimidate public, agency not doing well to begin with.”
But for some, it’s a slippery slope, and the violence in Ferguson, Mo., serves as anecdotal evidence.
“It seems the program started out to supplement police departments in equipment needs,” said Tod Story, the executive director of the ACLU in Nevada. “What it has turned into is making police departments look like a military force. When you have community policing efforts occurring that resemble U.S. military, this is the wrong way for police departments to interact with the community and the people. It gives the impression that the police department is at war with community rather than working with them to keep them safe.”
Coincidentally, a Nevada advisory committee to the U.S. Commission of Civil Rightsscheduled a meeting months ago to discuss the militarization of police in Las Vegas. That meeting, held Thursday, was attended by Las Vegas and Reno law enforcement, as well as advocates statewide.
Lonnie Feemster, the former president of Reno’s NAACP chapter, attended the meeting.
“This militarization of police has happened under the radar, but because of this civil unrest in Ferguson, now we have this at the front of the news, and they are saying, ‘Wait a minute.’ Is this America or Iraq of Afghanistan? Where in the heck is this happening?” Feemster said.
Bob Fulkerson, state director of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, have scheduled a gathering noon Monday in front of the federal court building in downtown Reno to “continue the conversation” and “state their demands.”
“Ferguson can happen anywhere in this country, including Reno,” Fulkerson said.
Law enforcement echoed Fulkerson’s concerns Ferguson could happen here.
Furlong said he wouldn’t ask deputies to drive a military-styled vehicle past a group of protesters, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want his department getting their hands on some of the equipment.
Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson said it’s a tough line to walk, and the best way to do it is through dialogue with the community.
“Community involvement and decision-making is very important to us,” Robinson said. “But on the other hand, you get all this military equipment, it creates separation. We’re aware of that. But we have found some need for some of the equipment.”
Special events often bring the need for more force, but Robinson said deploying military-styled vehicles during Hot August Nights or Street Vibrations is something they want to avoid.
The closest Reno ever got to a major crowd-control effort in the modern era was in 1998, when about 130 people were arrested during Hot August Nights. When an “estimated 200 hard-core gang members started overturning cars, pulling people out of vehicles, molesting women and starting fights, the police moved in,” the Reno Gazette-Journal wrote in an editorial.
Reno’s police chief at the time, Jerry Hoover, was quoted as saying, “I’m pretty pleased with the tactics used, and I think we were prepared. But there’s more we can do in terms of more equipment and more training.”
Force on force
While the 1998 Hot August Nights riot sparked discussion on crowd control, the shooting death of a Reno police officer in 2001 exposed police vulnerability during residential standoffs.
The Reno Police Department acquired its first armored vehicles following the death of Reno police Officer John Bohach.
Following a traffic stop and officer chase, 50-year-old Larry Peck barricaded himself in his home on Vassar Street and fired at police officers.
One round from a high-powered rifle hit the hood of a parked delivery truck Bohach used as cover while approaching the house from the backyard seconds before SWAT arrived. While officers are told to hide behind the engine block of the vehicle for protection — which Bohach did — the round hit the hood and passed just above the engine block before entering Bohach’s chest, police said.
Bohach was not wearing a protective vest, police said.
Peck, described as a survivalist, continued his standoff with police for five hours.
Reno police used a bank’s armored vehicle, along with one from the Sparks Police Department, to get close to Peck’s home. Those vehicles were rated to stop pistol, not high-powered rifle fire, police said.
Reno police Sgt. Ron Chalmers dragged Bohach to paramedics after the shooting and was awarded the department’s Police Medal of Honor. He said an armored vehicle wouldn’t have saved Bohach’s life that day because his fatal wound happened during the initial moments of the response.
But he said it would have protected police during the hours-long standoff.
Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson, who worked the scene of the Bohach shooting, said police threw body vests on top of the armored vehicles as added protection in order to move close to the home.
“That’s literally how we got Larry Peck out,” Robinson said. “We had a team in the back of the truck and threw smoke in the house — and even that was risky.
“That really became a necessity for us when Bohach died,” Robinson said. “We couldn’t get into (Peck’s) house. We couldn’t get close enough to insert gas because he shot and killed a cop and was going to continue shooting. We were faced with very few options.”
Additionally, Chalmers said the department started looking at tactics on returning fire and evacuating a casualty — both integral to military combat operations and, as Chalmers noted, to police operations in the modern era.
He referred to the Bohach shooting as Reno’s “North Hollywood” shooting, referring to the 1997 incident in Southern California when two men wearing body armor robbed a bank and fired on Los Angeles police with superior rifles.
“It was a significant wake-up call,” Chalmers said of Bohach’s death.
RPD’s military surplus
Reno recently obtained a ballistic and blast-protected carrier designed in 2004 for desert warfare. It is Reno’s first armored vehicle acquired through the military surplus program, Shaw said.
Vehicles given through the program are often “beat up” following military activation, Shaw said. It is currently getting repairs at a local shop that offerered its services to the police department at no charge, he said.
Additionally, Reno has nine assault rifles and 17 night vision binoculars, four currently issued to special units such as SWAT and the gang unit, Shaw said.
But some of the equipment, such as three Kevlar helmets and 24 sets of inoperable night-vision scopes, sit in storage “like an old computer upstairs,” Shaw said.
At least 24 large, mounted night-vision scopes take up an old jail cell at the downtown Reno police station. He wasn’t sure when the department received them, but he did say it was more than a decade ago.
Shaw said they’ve tried to return the scopes, but the Defense Department says it can’t accept them and Reno can’t dispose of them.
Lambrecht said he’s heard of this issue with other agencies concerning the scopes.
“There are small pieces of nuclear parts in them,” he said. “As a result, the Defense Department says it can’t accept them.”
The Department of Defense couldn’t be reached for comment on the scopes.
By the numbers
$700,000 is the cost of a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office got this year. Reno police and Carson City sheriff also received armored vehicles this year.
$8,000 is the price Lyon County paid for the shipping cost — nothing more.
$5 billion is the amount of money in excess military gear the federal government gave to more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States since the program was created in the 1990s.
13 years ago this week, Reno police was exposed during a shooting that forever changed the way the department conducts residential SWAT operations, police said.
$1 million is close the cost of the military gear the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office received through the program since 2012.
3 are the helicopters the sheriff’s office has in its Regional Aviation Enforcement (RAVEN) program; each acquired as military excess items from the federal government.
Editor’s Note: Nevada 150 is a yearlong series highlighting the people, places and things that make up the history of the state.
A Ford Expedition descends into the desert. The only sign of civilization is the nameless dirt road stretching a few miles back to state Route 375. Then the vehicle stops short of something unusual: pavement.
“This is the closest you guys are going to get,” says Dean Baumgartner, turning off the car and ushering a man from the Netherlands and a couple from England to get out.
They look at the paved road ahead and the hills flanking them. They study the white Ford Raptor truck perched atop a hill to the right, facing them from a hundred yards away. Silhouettes of two men can be made out, watching everything they do, there in case they step across the line.
“They knew we were coming and drove out to meet us,” said Baumgartner, pointing to the opposite hill at their left, where camera and audio-sensing equipment stand on tripods. “They’re keeping an eye on everything you do and say.”
The tour guide has brought hundreds of people here from all over the world, just for a glimpse. A few of them have threatened to test the Air Force’s no trespassing signs, most memorably a group of women who asked what the men in the truck might do.
“I said they can shoot you. Right guys?” replied Baumgartner, knowing he would be heard.
The truck’s headlights flashed, making it clear that this isn’t just any government property. It’s the one that helped put Nevada on the map, even as the federal government struggled for decades to keep it off any map. Welcome to Area 51.
UNOFFICIAL, OFFICIAL STORY
A year ago this past week, the federal government at long last acknowledged the secret facility inside the Nevada Test Site, freeing those like 77-year-old Las Vegas resident Thornton “TD” Barnes to finally tell his wife what he did for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1968 to 1975.
“Back then, aliens weren’t a thing,” Barnes said in an interview last week, recalling his work in high-speed radar tracking. It brought him to the top secret Area 51 to help in the CIA’s test program for U-2 spy planes and other Mach 3 aircraft, as revealed in the CIA reports declassified in August 2013. “If people only knew. We were out there just flying planes.”
When it comes to Area 51, there’s the unofficial, official story of a top-secret proving ground for new military technology and clandestine missions still in operation today. And then there’s the version preferred by the conspiracy crowd, the one involving shadowy projects and alien technology. Both draw tourists from all over, eager to see what they can’t see — inside.
Baumgartner’s tour, offered through Adventure Photo Tours, starts at McCarran International Airport, of all places.
An airline operates there but doesn’t sell tickets. Instead, it flies unregistered, unmarked Boeing 737s, nicknamed Janet jets, that can be identified by the red stripe running down their white fuselages. The flights transport personnel from Las Vegas to the Nevada Test Site and Area 51.
Barnes flew in the red-striped planes during his seven-year stint at Area 51, catching a ride to work every Monday and coming back Friday evening. He chuckles at all the wonderers, searching for exciting explanations, such as why the service came to be called Janet airline. That was the name of the CIA base commander’s wife back in the day, he said.
“It’s just the guy’s wife,” says Barnes with a laugh, remembering all the times he’s been asked about aliens. “I tell them we didn’t have any aliens out there. Just the best flying club in the world.”
But Barnes knows there’s no convincing some people, no matter how much he describes what did occur, like the MiG-21 fighter jet they received from a Soviet defector and later used in training to save countless lives.
As Baumgartner tells 26-year-old Floris Otten, visiting the United States for a karate tournament in Long Beach, Calif.: “When the government claims there’s nothing going on, make the lie believable. If nothing’s there, why would they guard it?”
Otten came to Las Vegas for what lies outside it. He first heard about the secret military installation from a video game, Perfect Dark, he played as a teen. He has learned what he could about the secret base ever since.
Baumgartner feeds him more tales during the drive on Interstate 15 north out of Las Vegas, splitting off onto U.S. Highway 93 a few minutes later and into the depths of the Nevada outback. For the 100 miles to Alamo, hardly a building or other paved road can be seen in the expansive valleys leading in all directions.
“No one to see what they’re doing,” says Baumgartner. “I’m going to tell you the theories. You can decide yourself.”
He talks of the rumored Area 51 tunnels — large enough for planes — connecting to California and of crystal skulls, like the ones made famous by the fourth film in the Indiana Jones franchise, and more.
“I like all the stories, but I remain skeptical,” says Otten.
Shane and Becky Cooper, the other passengers, feel similarly but have been intrigued since they saw a Janet jet taking off their last time in Las Vegas. Like many people in England, they hadn’t heard of Area 51, they said.
“My personal opinion, it’s a military base,” says 33-year-old Shane Cooper as Baumgartner turns the sport-utility vehicle onto Alamo Canyon Road, just short of Alamo the town, heading for Delamar Dry Lake. The Air Force reported using the flat and hard lake bed as an emergency landing site for the X-15. The rocket-powered aircraft set speed and altitude records in the 1960s.
Baumgartner acknowledges that most UFO sightings in the 1970s were probably the radical-looking Mach 3 planes tested at Area 51, like the SR-71 Blackbird.
“Almost every day, we were flying something,” says Barnes, at Area 51 for 2,850 training missions and 29 real-world surveillance missions, 26 over Vietnam and three over Korea. He remembers some odd planes, like the Have Blue, Lockheed’s prototype for the F-117 Nighthawk. “Weirdest thing I ever saw. You would think it an alien aircraft.”
But what is the Air Force up to now? asks Baumgartner, taking the group past Alamo to State Route 375, renamed the Extraterrestrial Highway in 1996, as marked by a sticker-covered sign.
“I want to believe,” says Otten, reading one of the stickers.
Baumgartner has shuttled all kinds of people looking for reason to believe, from an Australian bachelorette party to Europeans, Asians and Americans.
“The whole way there, they’re listening. They soak it up,” the tour-guide says. “Sometimes, they don’t speak English, which is interesting.”
While some are fanatics, knowing more conspiracy theories than Baumgartner, others are “just curious or maybe a little off, just like me,” he says.
PARANORMAL PIT STOP
Less than 40 miles down the Extraterrestrial Highway, Baumgartner makes a pit stop at the mandatory lunch spot for alien enthusiasts, Little A’Le’Inn in the small town of Rachel.
The restaurant and motel are featured in the movie “Paul” and sit across the street from a dry lake bed used in the blockbuster film, “Independence Day.”
An old tow truck is parked out front with a flying saucer dangling from the back. Near it stands a weather station also monitoring radiation. It belongs to a network of 28 other stations in “communities and ranches surrounding and downwind of the National Test Site,” according to a U.S. Department of Energy and Desert Research Institute program that monitors “man-made radioactivity.”
Nearby Area 51 lies within the Test Site, where 1,021 nuclear detonations occurred between 1951 and 1992, 100 of them above ground.
Inside the Rachel restaurant, about 5,000 pieces of paper money hang above the bar representing currencies from around the world.
Pat Travis, 71, has owned the restaurant for 26 years and embraces the Area 51 tourists, selling alien cookie jars, mugs, T-shirts, stuffed animals, shot glasses and much more. No one has found aliens, as far as she knows, but they find something else out here in the Mojave Desert, she says.
“People talk to each other here. When’s the last time you talked to someone at the table next to you?” says Travis, recalling two New York City neighbors who hadn’t a clue they lived across the street from each other. “They met here.”
After all these years, she can’t speak to the mysteries shrouding Area 51.
“There are so many unanswered questions out there because no one knows what happens in Area 51,” she says.
END OF THE ROAD
After lunch, Baumgartner heads his group back toward Las Vegas, stopping at a dirt road for the “black mailbox,” which is now white, planted in concrete and made of quarter-inch steel because of thieves and vandals. The mailbox is an alleged hot spot for UFO sightings.
Down the dirt road, Baumgartner goes for miles, taking his group to what they came to see — the spot where the warning signs stand and the pavement begins.
When they arrive, Otten watches the white truck on the hill, hesitant to approach the boundary as Baumgartner warned.
“I’m following you,” he tells his tour guide.
“You want someone to be a sucker for you, huh?” Baumgartner replies, walking up to the Air Force Installation sign a few inches from the pavement, but never over it. “See? No problem.”
The Coopers ask if it’s just dummies in the truck. Baumgartner’s tour company discovered that wasn’t the case May 28. Another tour guide, distracted by a person in the back seat, accidentally drove past the warning signs and was chased down by the white truck. Men in military garb got out, and Lincoln County police arrived to arrest them.
That should provide more fuel for the conspiracy theorists, says Barnes. But it doesn’t bother him.
“That’s part of the legacy of it. They really think that happened out there,” said the Cold War veteran who has done dozens of radio and TV interviews, including with the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, since being cleared to talk.
Callers always ask the same questions, wanting to know what they fed the aliens and how they looked. “They just flat out believe without a doubt that we had aliens out there. That’s their only concern.”
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people visit Northern Nevada to grease up their fingers during the Nugget Rib Cook-Off, rev engines while cruising during Hot August Nights and compete downtown in bowling tournaments.
Starting the third week of August and ending the first week of September, caravans of RVs, trucks, trailers and art cars also descend on city streets and Nevada highways for the annual counterculture and art event, Burning Man.
There’s something else these events bring to the region: money.
Last year, nearly 70,000 people traveled into Nevada for Burning Man. Throughout Reno and Fernley, burners could be found shopping in grocery and retail stores, frequenting restaurants and buying supplies before their weeklong stay in the Black Rock Desert.
According to the Burning Man organization, the annual event brings in tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars to Northern Nevada, with 52,000 people and an estimated $44 million in economic impact in 2012, and more than 68,000 people and an estimated $55 million in 2013.
The organization says it spends more than $5 million annually in Nevada on production and planning, law enforcement, emergency services, construction materials, toilets, labor and supplies, and on business trips throughout the year.
Burning Man also reports the organization donated more than $585,000 from ice sales to charities and organizations in Northern Nevada, including nearly $66,000 in 2012 to Pershing County charities, including Pershing General Hospital, Marzen House Museum, Lovelock Food Bank, Safe Haven Rescue Zoo and the Chamber of Commerce.
After more than two decades of hosting the event in Nevada’s desert, it would be easy to assume that Burning Man’s economic impact would have been thoroughly analyzed, mapped and reported by independent groups.
However, that is not true, and according to the Center for Regional Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, it will take quite a bit of work and data collection to obtain that information.
The Center for Regional Studies specializes in economic and fiscal research and analyses for businesses, governments and entrepreneurs. It also analyzes local economic trends and economic impacts for special events.
Brian Bonnenfant, project manager at the center, said he has been questioned throughout the years about Burning Man’s local impact and has attempted to calculate a dollar amount.
In order to calculate that, Bonnenfant said, surveys that collect visitor demographics, trip characteristics and expenditures are required.
Without the primary data from surveys, some of the ways the center has evaluated the event’s impact is through creating low, middle and high scenarios and guesstimations, he said.
“It’s complicated and difficult, and we need to do a survey to ask the right questions: what is being spent per day; how did you get here, airplane or vehicle; how many people per vehicle,” Bonnenfant said. “It would be a unique survey to take place — and it needs to be done, otherwise we continue to loosely estimate by applying assumptions.
“Without a survey, the estimates are not defendable.”
Bonnenfant said the center has taken the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor Authority figures on visitors and their spending and estimated what Burning Man participants’ spending would average.
If the RSCVA estimates a visitor spends $85 per day in food and drink, he said he would estimate Burning Man participants are spending $50 a day based on the remote desert location of the event.
He said it is unknown how many Burning Man attendees stay at commercial lodging, or for how long, after the event.
It’s these gaps in the data that make it hard to calculate what that total impact is on the region, he said.
Bonnenfant reports that one slice of usable data within the 2011 Burning Man survey is that 21 percent of attendees arrived by airplane.
He said 21 percent of 2011’s population of 53,963 would equal 11,332 visitors to the area. Multiply that by an estimated $400 spent in food and drink, and that would equal $4.5 million in impact just for that slice of burners.
There are caveats to the estimated spending because not all participants stop in Nevada to buy food or lodging. And while many are buying gas within the state, most of the return to Nevada is via gas taxes which are applied to state roads and road construction and the rest of the profits would go to corporate owners.
For those spending money at stores such as Safeway, Raley’s and Walmart, what remains locally are the wages to the employees because the profits would also go to corporate entities, he said.
Bonnenfant said that, without specific Nevada Burning Man survey results, the center can’t accurately calculate the economic impact.
“Burning Man conducts a survey every year, but the reported attributes are very limited. You can’t calculate the impact,” Bonnenfant said. “We would like to generate a survey out at the event, but until we do, we don’t have any idea on what participants are spending.”
Long-term economic impact
Mike Kazmierski, president of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, has only been in Reno for three years, but said with certainty that Burning Man’s economic impact on the community goes beyond the money it brings into the region each year.
It’s all about exposure, he said.
“It gives us exposure to an incredibly successful part of the business community — nationally and internationally — as they come through the Reno-Sparks community on the way to the desert,” he said. “It shows them what we have in our region, and we have found that many people coming through here for Burning Man mention us as a place for business.”
Kazmierski said the annual event also helps change the image the region has to a more culturally progressive and viable business destination.
“Our community went from, ‘What is that going on in the desert?’ to embracing the concept of being the base camp of Burning Man — where people stop, shop, eat and play — and incorporating it as part of what we are,” Kazmierski said. “It’s a fundamental change as Burning Man has more and more of an influence on our community.”
Kazmierski said people are noticing a change in Reno when they visit. He has had executives tell him they are amazed at the differences in Reno’s culture and growth. The traffic that migrates through Reno during Burning Man gives business leaders a chance to see where Reno is heading and what the city has to offer.
“The mass majority of people that come through are getting supplies, but they see what we have to offer as a region either before the event or after. These include senior executives and decision-makers,” Kazmierski said.
“As they spend time here, they understand more what we offer, such as a quality of life and businesses. The more we can help people understand that this is a business destination, the more we can impress on visitors that they can do business here and not just enjoy their visit.”
“Whenever someone in the community gives me a less than positive perspective on Burning Man, I ask them, ‘Have you been there?’ Until you’ve gone to the playa and have seen the unbelievable display of art, and how that creative class is engaged and connected and the energy and potential, you don’t realize what it really is.
“That kind of energy and creativity is what we need if we are going to go to the next level.”
It’s not just Reno that sees burner shoppers and visitors.
Fernley Mayor LeRoy Goodman said that throughout the years, Fernley has watched Burning Man grow from a few thousand to 60,000 people and with it a major economic spike in the community’s restaurants and stores two weeks before and after.
“It’s about a month that our community is benefiting economically,” he said. “My view is positive. They spend money here — Indian taco and water stands — I think people in the community look forward to it. The week after Labor Day, they look forward to seeing people. They stop in the same places, eat here and get cleaned up, and I think that’s neat.”
He said the influx of tens of thousands of burners through Reno and Fernley is not only good for the economy, it’s good exposure to what the region’s business and communities have to offer.
“When you’re coming from all over the world to Reno, you can take advantage of the eclectic businesses. Burner week is becoming like the Kentucky Derby and party for a few days in Reno — even if people aren’t going to Burning Man,” he said. “We are getting more and more traffic through here — spending the night in our hotels and shopping and participating in things — and it’s good for Fernley and all of Western Nevada.”
High demand, high cost: Desert RVs
Earlier this year, Classic Adventures RV Sales and Rentals begin to book its RVs for Burning Man.
The entire fleet of more than 40 RVs sold out in March, and manager Dane Johnson said it’s been the same story for the 10 years he’s been in business.
“I wouldn’t be in business today if it wasn’t for Burning Man,” Johnson said. “We don’t get much business outside of the event, and throughout the past seven years, business has doubled.”
He said he has about 20 percent repeat customers and offers some additional services to the rental, including daily filling and emptying of the RVs tanks and offering one flat charge that includes cleaning and maintenance after the burn.
“Burning Man has significant economic impacts for Reno businesses — from the small sector to large corporations,” he said. “It helps small businesses stay in business.”
While Johnson wouldn’t disclose his RVs rental charges, he said he estimates RV rentals bring in $20 million in profits throughout the Western region.
He said if there are 68,000 people at Burning Man and about a third of those need or want an RV, or about 15,000 people, there wouldn’t be enough RVs in the Western region to accommodate the renters. This creates a high demand for the rentals and the rental companies can charge exorbitant fees.
“I need to keep my doors open and I have to pay fees like everyone else; 3 percent goes to the BLM,” Johnson said. “I also pay employees to clean and get them ready, and there’s a lot of overtime; I can’t just hire people for a week.”
Accommodating the masses
In the week leading up to Burning Man, and the week after the event ends, tens of thousands of burners stop in Reno and frequent shops, restaurants, hotels and casinos.
Throughout the past several years, the Grand Sierra Resort has become one of the more popular burner stopovers. So much so, the resort offerspre- and post-burn packages and parties for burners.
“After they have been out in the desert for a week, they come here for a party at the pool or go to the all-night concerts,” said David Holman, executive chef of Charlie Palmer Steak. “We get a lot of fresh food, like seafood and oysters, and people come back year after year for it.”
After Burning Man concludes, Holman said both the restaurant and hotel are booked to maximum capacity and the RV center on the property is nearly full.
“We have Europeans here on their monthlong vacations and a lot of people here at the GSR who want to continue the party,” Holman said. “There are groups of 30 to 40 people in the lounge and everyone wants to link up with friends they met on playa.”
“Burning Man brings Reno to an international level. It exposes more people every year to the Reno-Tahoe area,” Holman said.
Join our Burning Man scavenger hunt
Join our Burning Man online scavenger hunt by snapping photos of 13 total items and publicly posting them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag#BurnersInReno. You could win a prize. Here are the items:
1. First burners you see at a grocery store
2. First burner vehicle
3. Fur-covered bike
4. Burner at the airport
5. Line at the ice store on Fourth Street
6. Collection of burner vehicles in a parking lot
7. Burner car from a state not connected to Nevada (the farther away, the better)
Burner Mark has shared this advice on what to do if you have an encounter with the police on the Playa. Seems pretty helpful.
We also published this guide last year, and shared these Gate Safety tips last week. 40% of Burners have never been to the event before; only 30% have been more than twice.
How to deal with cops at Burning Man
Do not consent to a search.
Black Rock Rangers
Never consent to a search. Say the phrase “I do not consent to a search.” Even if you have nothing for them to find, ALWAYS say “I do not consent to a search.” Never consent to a search of your person, a search of your car, your truck, your trailer, your RV, your camp, or of your tent. You especially never consent to the search of anyone else’s property. The cops are trained to make you flustered and…
War Machine’s flight from charges he beat down his on-again, off-again girlfriend, porn star Christy Mack, ended in a California hotel where he was found alone with some cash and pizza.
Jonathan Koppenhaver, who is also known as War Machine, was arrested by the Nevada Fugitive Investigative Strike Team, or FIST, led by U.S. marshals, with Simi Valley police, Friday afternoon after a weeklong, two state manhunt for the mixed martial artist.
Koppenhaver fled Las Vegas after the assault Aug. 8 and was found at the Extended Stay America Hotel in Simi Valley, a city northwest of Los Angeles where he used to live, authorities said.
The arrest immediately drew praise from one of Mack’s friends, prominent adult film star and native Las Vegan Jenna Jameson, who was also in a violent relationship with a mixed martial artist in the past.
“Thank god the coward “warmachine” has been caught and detained by US Marshall’s in Simi Valley! #justiceforchristy,” Jameson posted on Twitter Friday afternoon.
Officers found Koppenhaver about 1:45 p.m. He had a small amount of cash and pizza in the room with him.
“This is yet another example of how our joint agency efforts are apprehending fugitives who think they can hide,” Nevada U.S. Marshal Christopher Hoye said in a statement.
Las Vegas police said Koppenhaver attacked Mack, 23, and her friend Corey Thomas in her home near the Las Vegas National golf course about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 8. Koppenhaver burst into the home and accused Mack of cheating on her and began assaulting Thomas, according to a police report.
Koppenhaver choked and punched Thomas for nearly 10 minutes before telling him to leave and instructing Thomas not to call police, according to the report. Koppenhaver told Thomas his friends would kill him if he ended up in jail, according to the report.
Mack dialed 911 while Thomas was being attacked and then hid the phone.
After Thomas left, Koppenhaver turned his anger towards Mack, the report said.
He began punching her as they went into a bathroom before he forced her to take a shower, according to the report.
Mack ended up on the floor, where Koppenhaver groped her and threatened to rape her, she told police.
Koppenhaver began searching through her social media accounts on her phone and punched or kicked her when he came across a post that angered him, according to the report.
He then threatened Mack with a dull knife, holding it to her head before he went into the kitchen, alluding he was getting a sharper knife “to finish the job,” the report said. She used that chance to escape out the back door and alert neighbors.
Mack suffered myriad injuries from the assault. Both of her eyes were swollen shut. She suffered a “blow out fracture” of her left eye and several other broken bones in her face, two missing teeth, a lacerated liver, broken ribs and serious bruising in several places.
“I believed I was going to die,” Mack said on social media earlier this week. “He has beaten me many times before but never this badly.”
She also tweeted out photos of her injuries.
Koppenhaver posted a series of messages Aug. 9 on Mack’s Twitter account saying he was shocked at what happened.
“I love you and hope you’re okay. I cam him (sic) early to surprise you and help you set up for your convention. I can’t believe what I found and can’t believe what happened. All I wanted was to surprise you and help and do something nice now this. I’m so heart broke in all ways. I will always love you,” he said.
Late Sunday night, Koppenhaver took to Twitter for his last social media post before police arrested him.
“I’m not a bad guy, I went to surprise my gf, help her set up her show and to give her an engagement ring and ended up fighting for my life. The cops will never give me fair play, never believe me. Still deciding what to do but at the end of the day it’s all just heart breaking. I only wish that man hadn’t been there and that Christy &I would behappily(sic) engaged. I don’t know y I’m so cursed. (One) day truth will come out.”
Koppenhaver was booked into the Ventura County Jail and is awaiting extradition to Nevada.
Mack has been discharged from Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, a hospital employee said.
I have delved into the world of aerial photography via the purchase of a DJI quadcopter. Here’s the story: I went to the area where there are a lot of wild horses east of Reno Nevada. I did not know there was a dead or decaying wild horse at this location until I uploaded the content to my computer. If I would have seen the horse I would have tried to figure how it died(whether by vehicle etc.) This is the first time my cameras have been able to look out to places I haven’t been to on foot.
Nevada, being largely desert, is one of the emptier states. Many of the cities and towns actually lie on the borders with other states – taking advantage of the built-in markets for gambling, which is legal and widespread in Nevada.
But once you leave the gambling meccas of Reno, Las Vegas, and the like, most of the rest of the state looks like this:
Bare brown hills…
Bare brown mountains…
And bare beige hills and mountains. The color – or lack thereof – really stands out here, as becomes very apparent when you move on to redder areas like Arizona or Utah. Earth tones seem to permeate the atmosphere itself.
And even the greens of the sagebrush and other plants appear muted, almost blending into the desert floor.
They have their panties in a wad because those damned unruly Americans are fed up with the bullshit.
A leaked document from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis predicts increased “anti-government violence over the next year.” The document says the inspiration for violence is Cliven Bundy’s Bunkerville standoff with the Bureau of Land Management from earlier in the year.
DHS’s seven-page report entitled Domestic Violent Extremists Pose a Threat to Government Officials and Law Enforcement points to the recent murders of two Las Vegas law enforcement officers as evidence that there is a “growing trend of anti-government violence compared to the previous four years and inspired by perceived government overreach and oppression” and the “perceived victory at Bunkervile” will “likely prompt more violence.”
#AceBreakingNews – UNITED STATES (Washington) – August 16 – Technology and civil liberties groups are pushing back on a California “kill switch” bill that they warn could be used to silence protests like the ones seen this week in Ferguson, Missouri.
Critics say a California bill passed on Monday contains a dangerous carve-out that could give law enforcement the power to shut down cellphones during emergency situations, possibly including public demonstrations.
The California bill is aimed at curbing cellphone theft by requiring all smartphones sold in the state — home to 37 million people — to come equipped with a feature that allows users to remotely wipe their personal data and make the devices inoperable.
“During the war, Israeli bombardment leveled whole urban neighbourhoods, leaving more than 10,000 houses destroyed and 30,000 damaged and killing 1,300 civilians, according to U.N. data. Israeli forces also struck six schools providing shelter to refugees under U.N. protection, killing at least 47 refugees and wounding more than 340.”
Mayhem. Obama’s Free Sh*t Army loots. Outside agitators arrive to encourage ‘revolution’. Militarized Gestapo Arrives in force. Reporters arrested. Cops sight in heavy weapons from MRAPs on crowd of unarmed protesters.
This is America?
Is this the spark that sets the nation off to civil war?
We are on the verge of the kinds of horrors we have seen and are seeing in the third world. Obama has divided the nation to the brink. His regime and his ideological sycophants in his party and Praetorian Media have polarized the nation. American Conservatives and Christians have been demonized while debauchery and wickedness have been celebrated.
The entitlement mentality has been indoctrinated into millions of the dependent class, and they are told that to demand more, making everything an issue over race and suggesting that Whites and other Americans need to pay reparations and have their wealth and property redistributed.
Mayor, you ask for the people to write to you and the board of supervisors about our concerns, questions, suggestions, etc. Then you and the BOS never respond and now we have to come to you BOS meetings with big signs and protest and then take over the public comment sections of the open meetings only to be harassed by the corrupt Sheriff. WTF?
How many roads must a man walk down Before you call him a man? Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand? Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly Before they’re forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind
How many years can a mountain exist Before it’s washed to the sea? Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist Before they’re allowed to be free? Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head Pretending he just doesn’t see? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind
How many times must a man look up Before he can see the sky? Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have Before he can hear people cry? Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows That too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind
A true story of a young athlete Louie Zamperini who faced death and struggle, but with God’s help and miracles he survived his long lasting struggles. Watch this incredible and unforgettable story of Louie Zamperini.
LOS ANGELES — Louis Zamperini, an Olympic distance runner and World War II veteran who survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years in Japanese prison camps, has died. He was 97.
Zamperini’s death was confirmed by Universal Pictures studio spokesman Michael Moses. A family statement released early Thursday said Zamperini had been suffering from pneumonia.
“After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives,” the family statement said. “His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days.”
Zamperini is the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” which is being made into a movie directed by Angelina Jolie and is scheduled for a December release by Universal.
“It is a loss impossible to describe,” Jolie said in a statement. “We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly.”
A high school and University of Southern California track star, Zamperini — known as the “Torrance Tornado” — competed in the 5,000-meter run at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He finished eighth but gained notoriety by running the final lap in 56 seconds.
Zamperini enlisted in the Army before Pearl Harbor and was a bombardier on a U.S. Army Air Forces bomber in World War II. He and his crew were searching for a downed B-24 when their plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean, killing eight of the 11 men.
He and one of the other surviving crew members drifted for 47 days on a raft in shark-infested waters before being captured by Japanese forces. He spent more than two years as a prisoner of war, surviving torture.
Random HouseThe best-selling book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” is based on Louis Zamperini’s life and will be released as a movie in December.
At age 81, Zamperini — a five-time Olympic torch-bearer — ran a leg in the torch relay for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Nagano. During his visit, he attempted to meet with his most brutal wartime tormentor, Mutsuhiro Watanabe. But Watanabe, who escaped prosecution as a war criminal, refused to see him.
In speeches all over the world, Zamperini never failed to mention his alma mater, said former USC track and field coach Ron Alice.
“He was the greatest ambassador the university ever had. At every appearance, at every speech, he always wore his USC hat,” Alice said. “He was the most gracious, humble, inspiring person you’d ever hope to meet. Just very, very special. And that’s why there’s going to be a movie of his life.”
In May, Zamperini was named grand marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, which next New Year’s Day will feature the theme “Inspiring Stories.”
In accepting the honor, Zamperini — wearing the ever-present USC cap — recalled that Hillenbrand, while researching the book, asked to interview his friends from college and the Army.
“And now after the book was finished all of my college buddies are dead, all of my war buddies are dead. It’s sad to realize that you’ve lost all your friends,” he said. “But I think I made up for it. I made a new friend — Angelina Jolie. And the gal really loves me, she hugs me and kisses me, so I can’t complain.”
He was a guest of Jolie last year when she was presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hillenbrand called him “the grandest, most buoyant, most generous soul I ever knew.”
“In a life of almost unimaginable drama, he experienced supreme triumphs, but also brutal hardship, incomprehensible suffering, and the cruelty of his fellow man,” she said in a statement. “But Louie greeted every challenge of his long journey with singular resilience, determination and ingenuity, with a ferocious will to survive and prevail, and with hope that knew no master.”
Zamperini was born Jan. 26, 1917, in the western New York city of Olean. A group in Olean is raising funds to place a granite marker in Zamperini’s honor in War Veterans Park in August.
He was just 2 years old when his parents moved the family to Southern California, where he lived for the rest of his life. Zamperini Field, a city-owned public airport in Torrance, is named in his honor. A stadium at Torrance High School and the entrance plaza at USC’s track and field stadium both bear his name.
His wife, Cynthia Applewhite, whom he married in 1946, died in 2001. His survivors include daughter Cynthia, son Luke and grandchildren.
Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty is the main spokesman for Question One on the November general-election ballot.
If passed by voters, it would establish an appeals court in Nevada. It would ease the overwhelming pressure on the state Supreme Court, which now is the only appeals court in the state.
Nevada is just one of 10 states that doesn’t have an intermediate appeals court. Because of that, the Nevada Supreme Court’s backlog on undecided cases has mushroomed from 1,515 five years ago to more than 2,200 today.
It can take up to four years, in some cases, to get an appeal decided in Nevada. No wonder the theme of the campaign for Question One is: Justice delayed is justice denied.
Not only does the current system take its toll on justice, it also takes its toll on the justices who decide the cases.
“There is a considerable personal toll,” Hardesty said. “You’re exhausted.
“As you may know, I read until midnight, 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning four nights a week,” Hardesty said. “When you do that, day in and day out, it takes quite a toll. And yet, quite frankly, you see these cases languishing in the system and you’re doing everything you possibly can to get them decided as soon as you can.
“Personally, it is very frustrating not to be able to resolve more cases more quickly because you know people’s lives are put on hold and it directly impacts them and their emotional state,” Hardesty said
Sounds like Nevada’s justices are overworked. And that is a terrible situation for anyone who is seeking a fair ruling from the state’s Supreme Court.
Child custody cases can take up to four years to resolve, Hardesty said. Lengthy time frames also apply to death-row appeals and criminal cases. Kids could be almost grown – and their childhoods ruined — by the time the Supreme Court renders its decision.
Perhaps the justices have made decisions on very important matters while they are mentally fatigued, which is good for no one.
Despite the potential for mental fatigue, the current overwhelming case load can also cause sleepless nights for the justices.
Journalist Jon Ralston, on his Ralston Reports TV show, asked Hardesty if he ever woke up worrying if the court didn’t spend enough time on any particular case.
Hardesty softly replied “yes,” then elaborated:
“It leaves you with sleepless nights,” Hardesty said. “And everyone of us probably has some real misgivings about whether we have given adequate time to some of the serious questions that are in front of us.”
THIS ISSUE WITH THE NEVADA Supreme Court is nothing new. Voters have rejected the establishment of an intermediate or appeals court four times since the late 1970s. The latest rejection came in 2010.
Then, the issue was tied to an initiative where judges would first be appointed by the governor instead of being elected. They would retain their jobs if they could then garner 55 percent of the vote in an election.
The initiative passed in Clark County but ultimately was defeated, since it lost in Nevada’s 16 other counties. Hardesty noted that the 2014 campaign for an appeals court doesn’t have to carry that “appointment” baggage into the election.
But really, it kinda does.
First, the court of appeals would consist of three judges. The governor would appoint them after nominations from the Commission on Judicial Selection. The three initial judges would be appointed to two-year terms. Then they would face election for a six-year term.
Could the governor stack the appeals court with his cronies?
Then, once appointed, they would have the power of incumbency heading into their elections. And a six-year term? That’s a long as a U.S. senator.
STATE SEN. GREG BROWER, R-Reno, is heading a political action committee (along with Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas) to raise money for an “educational campaign” to inform the voters about the need for an appeals court.
Some expected Brower to run for attorney general this year. But he didn’t. Instead, the GOP candidate for that office is Adam Laxalt, the grandson of former U.S. Sen. and Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt.
Brower has yet to endorse Laxalt, even though they belong to the same party.
“I just really have not been focused on that or involved in that,” Brower said of the AG’s race. “I’m working very hard on getting our (state) senate candidates elected. As you know, we are one seat shy of a majority (in the state senate). We have three very tough races in Southern Nevada that will determine the balance of power in the senate, so we are working very hard on that. And that is where my focus is.”
Brower noted that his name was tied to the AG’s race as the presumed Republican candidate long before Laxalt came into the picture.
“I just really was not interested in running,” he said. “I know there was scuttlebutt, but there’s scuttlebutt about a lot of things. But I am committed to the work I am doing in the (state) senate and I have a very busy law practice and I was just not interested in doing that (running for AG).”
By SEAN WHALEY LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL CAPITAL BUREAU
CARSON CITY — For Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Gibbons, the waiting was the hardest part of serving as a juror in a capital city criminal case.
His many years of serving as a Clark County district judge and then as a member of the Supreme Court gave him a pretty good idea of what was going on in the courtroom while jurors cooled their heels in a waiting room, but that didn’t make it any easier.
But Gibbons, who along with his other jurors reached verdicts quickly in the case involving a man who brandished a gun at an Olive Garden restaurant on July 21, 2013, said he will never forget his opportunity to see the process from a completely different perspective.
“It’s a great experience,” he said. “It’s very different.”
Gibbons might be the first ever Supreme Court justice to serve on a jury. A court search found no evidence of a member of the court ever serving on a jury, although some justices have received notices to appear.
Gibbons had to wait like all the other jurors when they were told to report at 9 a.m. Thursday. Jurors did not actually enter the courtroom for another two hours.
“Everybody was wondering what’s taking so long,” he said.
Judge James E. Wilson Jr. Carson City corruption
Gibbons said he figured the delay was due to either the defendant, Douglas County resident David Paul Lane, entering a guilty plea or the defense opting against presenting a defense, which then required the attorneys and corrupt District Judge James Wilson (known for back dating court filings) to settle on the jury instructions. The second option turned out to be the right one.
Lane’s public defenders did not present a defense. Lane did not testify.
“But I couldn’t share my thoughts with the jurors at all,” Gibbons said. “I kept that to myself when they were concerned about the delay.”
In his court questionnaire, Gibbons said his only comment was to work on managing court time to minimize delays for jurors.
“I did tell Judge Wilson that I agreed with every single one of his rulings on objections during the trial,” he said.
Gibbons said he would have pre-empted anyone with formal legal training from serving on the jury if he was defending Lane.
“They are totally qualified, but I think it is better to have 12 people who don’t have any previous bias in those areas,” he said.
It was tough at times remembering that he was a juror, Gibbons said.
“At one point in the trial, the judge sustained an objection and the witness kept speaking and I started to (reach out) and say ‘stop’ and I said ‘Wait, I’m on the jury, I can’t do that’ and I pulled my hand back. It was just a natural reaction.”
Not surprisingly, Gibbons was made foreman of the jury, but he told his fellow jurors that he would not comment until everyone else had a chance to offer their thoughts on the case.
Ultimately the jury found Lane guilty of one charge of assault with a deadly weapon along with the single count of carrying a concealed weapon. He was found not guilty on two other assault charges, and the jury deadlocked on the fourth assault count.
Gibbons showed up for the jury selection on Monday, doing his civic duty like everyone else. But he was shocked when, later that day, he was seated as a juror.
Gibbons said he will donate his meager jury duty pay back to the state.
A lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of a juvenile inmate alleges he suffered permanent injuries from the combination of a physical attack and use of force by correctional officers while housed at the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko.
The complaint was filed in Clark County District Court by Al Lasso, a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas. The plaintiff, Daniel Vargas, who was transferred to the Northern Nevada facility in October, lost eyesight after he alleges officers attacked him and hogtied him in November, securing his limbs together behind his back.
“We don’t want any other child to go through what Daniel and other children up there have had to go through,” Lasso said, who added his client was not doing interviews.
Last month, Family Court Judge William Voy ordered 12 Clark County youth to be returned to his jurisdiction after reports that youth were being “hobbled” at the Elko facility. The lawsuit claims Vargas was one of those inmates.
Hobbling is defined as using a 2-foot-chain to connect the wrist restraint to the ankle restraint, preventing the person from standing upright, according to state officials.
The complaint alleges that at the end of November, Vargas woke up in accordance with facility policy and went to the bathroom to wash his hands and brush his teeth.
But because Vargas desperately needed to use the restroom and proceeded to the stall before brushing his teeth, officers attacked him and “proceeded to hogtie” him, the lawsuit alleges.
“(Vargas) was bleeding profusely at this point and these defendants continued to punch him, elbow him, and finger jab him in the ribs,” the lawsuit reads. “(Vargas) was without any means for protecting himself or shielding himself from the blows as he was completely restrained.”
Vargas, who was restrained, was left in the same location unattended by staff for about 2.5 hours, according to the lawsuit. At that point, a nurse examined him, but neither the nurse nor other staff treated the juvenile.
At some point in the attack, Vargas tried to push officers back, according to the lawsuit. Three hours after the attack, he was transported to the Elko County Juvenile Detention Center and charged with battery.
“At this time, (Vargas’) eyeballs were bloody and his face was black and blue from visible contusions,” the lawsuit reads. He still didn’t receive medical care.
Vargas was transferred to Red Rock Academy in Clark County in December. It wasn’t until then that he was sent to an emergency department to be treated for his injuries from the November attack, according to the lawsuit.
Vargas has 10 percent vision in his left eye, a condition his physician has determined is permanent and irreversible, according to the complaint.
The complaint names a long list of defendants, including Romaine Gilliland, director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Mike Willden, former director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, and Amber Howell, administrator for the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services, which oversees the state’s juvenile correctional facilities, among other state officials, officers and a nurse.
The Washoe County Department of Social Services and the state’s Division of Child and Family Services conducted investigations into reports of abuse and neglect at the Elko facility, but determined that each use of mechanical restraint was necessary.
The restraint method hasn’t been used at the Elko facility since December.
The lawsuit, which alleges violation of civil rights, failure to train and supervise staff and negligence of defendants, seeks general damages in excess of $10,000, special damages in excess of $10,000 and compensation for loss of earnings and earnings capacity in excess of $10,000.
jeffrey blanck attorney reno and NAACP lawyer at the Reno protest
RENO, NEV. — About 40 people gathered outside the federal courthouse in Reno to peacefully protest the death of a black Missouri teenager shot by a white police officer.
Many of the Reno protesters carried signs in support of the NAACP, and several passing motorists honked in support late Thursday afternoon.
Hundreds of people marched through the streets of Ferguson, Missouri and similar rallies were held across the country.
The Missouri Highway Patrol took over security in the St. Louis suburb earlier Thursday amid criticisms of the police response in the wake of Saturday’s shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said in a statement the public deserves full disclosure of the facts surrounding the shooting and events that followed. He said, “every community in America deserves equal justice and equal protection under the law.”
California has hit its third year of record-breaking drought conditions, and as a result they are beefing up their law enforcement to crack down on so-called water “abusers” who use “too much water”. Los Angeles has hired four full-time “water-cops” that patrol the streets looking for violators which are a clear indication of the escalating problems in the West.
CARSON CITY, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — According The Nevada Department of Corrections just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12, an inmate by the name of Brian Kakowski was observed outside the perimeter fence at the Warm Springs Correctional Center.
NDOC reports that immediate efforts to apprehend the inmate were enacted. The tower officer kept the inmate in sight at all times and radioed to the chase officers the inmate’s location. Inmate Kakowski was captured by NDOC officers and in custody by 6:07 p.m. without incident less than a mile and west of the institution. While he was outside the perimiter of the facility, Kakowski did not come into contact with anyone of the public.
Inmate Kakowski has been transferred to Northern Nevada Correctional Center.
Kakowski was admitted to the Nevada Department of Corrections on June 2, 2014 and was serving 13 to 60 months for failure to stop upon signal of peace officer.
CARSON CITY, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — According to Carson City Dispatch, traffic is being rerouted at 5th Street and Saliman Road in Carson City after shots were reportedly fired from an unknown source during a prison break from a facility on 5th Street.
The incident began at around 6 p.m. when the Warm Springs Corrections Facility reported a prisoner broke free in the Lompa Ranch area. The prisoner escaped on foot and was possibly met by a white van picking him up. The van was then intercepted.
State prison officials report they detained the prisoner with the help of the Carson City Sheriff’s Office.
According to Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong, there were no reports of injuries.
LAS VEGAS — A former corrections officer is among seven people accused of helping smuggle cellphones into prison for Las Vegas Strip shooting suspect Ammar Harris.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced charges Thursday, after phones and other contraband were found in Harris’ cell in High Desert State Prison in May.
Corrections officer Derland Blake is accused of taking hundreds of dollars in exchange for bringing food, methamphetamines, vodka and a cellphone to an inmate. He didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on Thursday.
Five other people, including Harris, were also accused in a complex effort to get the goods behind bars.
Harris is accused of a fatal shooting and crash on the Las Vegas Strip that killed an aspiring rapper, a cab driver and taxi passenger in 2013.
U.S. Marine Corps reservist Andrew Paul Tahmooressi (left) is being held in a Mexican prison. He has been there for 3 months on weapons charges. According to his new attorney, had there not been “missed opportunities” made by his first legal counsel, he would have been released within days of detention. Fernando Benitez, the new attorney for Sgt. Tahmooressi, said his client’s case was allowed to “simmer”.
Recently, the sergeant fired his original counsel.
“For anybody being involved in a criminal case in Mexico…those first 96 hours are crucial,” Benitez said, “A lot can be done, and releases can and are obtained regularly, but you have to aggressively address a defensive strategy.”
Benitez says because of these incompetent missteps, the American is now at the mercy of the Mexican judicial system and there is no timetable.
Sgt. Tahmooressi has maintained his innocence and said that he took a wrong turn…
RENO, NEV. — Nevada state employees must pay a significantly larger share of their health insurance premiums than their counterparts in other states, a report released Tuesday said.
Nevada is one of 11 states where employees covered at least one-fourth of the cost of their premium last year — 26 percent by a Nevada worker and 74 percent by the state.
The average among all states is 16 percent for an employee, according to the report by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Hawaii requires state employees to cover 42 percent of premium costs. Workers in North Carolina must pay 38 percent and Louisiana 33 percent, the study said.
At the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota and Ohio cover all premiums for individual employees. Alaska and Iowa pay 97 percent, and nine other states cover at least 90 percent — Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.
Maria Schiff, director of the trust’s State Health Care Spending Project, said she found the wide disparity in state contributions to be the most surprising element in the research.
“There’s a 3-to-1 difference between the highest and lowest per-employee premiums,” Schiff said.
State officials raised some questions about the figures for Nevada but said they needed to do further review before commenting.
“Having just received the data today, we are reviewing the Nevada specific calculations in the report as some of them are inconsistent with our internal numbers,” said Jim Wells, executive officer of the Nevada Public Employee Benefits Board.
Overall expenditures on Nevada’s state health plan have fallen about 10 percent from $250 million in 2011 to $225 million in 2013, the report said. During the same period, state health plan spending nationally increased 2 percent to a total of $30.7 billion in 2013.
Average total monthly health insurance premiums for Nevada state employees and their dependents last year totaled $939 — slightly less than the average in all states of $963, the report said.
Workers with Individual coverage pay 19 percent of the premium compared to the national average of 13 percent. Those insuring dependents cover 28 percent of the premium cost, compared to 20 percent nationally.
Nevada’s state workers have good coverage based on “plan richness,” a phrase that reflects the relative cost-sharing between an employer and employees when taking into account required deductibles, copayments and coinsurance, the report states.
Nevada scored 91 percent in the category of average actuarial value, right at the national average of 92 percent. By comparison, the report said the plans available as part of national health care reform scored about 70 percent. Most private employer plans are generally in the 80 percent range.
About half the states — including Nevada — offer insurance plans with no deductible along with plans that carry at least a $1,500 deductible.
It’s no secret Nevada schools are doing poorly, “remaining at the bottom of all those lists,” but that’s not the entire picture, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga on Wednesday.
The truth is even worse than the statistics would have you believe, he added.
Student scores on state proficiency tests for 2013 show elementary schools average more than 70 percent of fourth-graders reading at grade level. About the same percentage test as proficient in math.
However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress tells a much bleaker story, reporting that only a third of Nevada fourth-graders are adequate in math. Only 27 percent of state fourth-graders are reading as they should, according to the annual exams commonly called the Nation’s Report Card.
The nationally administered test — also given in eighth grade — is a truer indicator of whether students are on track for college and career, said Erquiaga, in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s editorial Board.
“We’re not being honest in our historic reporting of where we are, and we’re certainly not being prepared or ready for where we’re going,” he said.
The impact can be seen among college-bound students. According to state education officials, a third of in-state college students need remedial courses to be ready for college-level courses, such as English. For these courses, students still pay but earn no college credit, merely preparing them for college-level English.
“They have to retake what we (high schools) were supposed to teach them,” Erquiaga said.
Again, the reality is starker. The state tracks its college remediation rate only by the number of in-state students who enroll in college courses.
However, many students take college placement tests but end up not pursuing a degree. If they are factored in, about 50 percent of in-state college freshmen are placed in remedial courses, according to Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
“Half of the graduates from Nevada have to, sort of, start over when they arrive at an institution of higher learning,” Erquiaga said. “They now have to pay for what we, the taxpayers, have already paid for.”
That spells disaster for Nevada’s workforce, he said. Research suggests that in five years, 65 percent of Nevada jobs will require a postsecondary certificate or college degree, he said. Only 30 percent of Nevada’s current workforce has obtained any kind of degree or certification after high school.
“That’s where we find ourselves, where we are,” said Erquiaga, who is ending his first year as chief of Nevada public schools with a massive effort on his hands.
The Nevada Department of Education is replacing current state tests and academic standards, morphing itself from a “filing cabinet” in Carson City to an entity that will hold schools accountable for their failures, he said. “Currently, there is no accountability. All we do is hold up a report card (for each school).”
Changes will start in the 2014-15 school year, “re-setting every expectation,” said Erquiaga, describing how Nevada schools are implementing new standards for what students are expected to know and replacing state tests to reflect those standards.
But without consequences for falling short of these standards and tests, they’re no different than the report card, “just a list,” he said.
Any spending proposal that Erquiaga presents to the state in the next few months for the 2015 Legislature has to come with repercussions for schools that spend and don’t show success.
“What will happen if the (performance) numbers don’t change? Do they lose the money? What has to change?” Erquiaga said.
But accountability is coming by way of a federally mandated evaluation system for teachers and school administrators that Nevada has decided will rely on student performance statistics for 40 percent of their job evaluations.
“We want to champion the champions,” said Elaine Wynn, president of the State Board of Education, “but get rid of the ones who’ve been failing our kids for decades.”
The evaluations have proven more difficult than planned because two-thirds of teachers either don’t teach material or students tested by state exams, causing officials to stall implementation another year.
“This is not easy work. This isn’t for the fainthearted,” said Wynn, noting that 35,000 high school seniors annually leave the Nevada public school system. “We lose generations of kids as we fuss around with it.”
But it needs to be done right and fairly, or it will be just another long-winded effort “for naught,” she said.
(Nevada, KXNT)- Nevada remains one of the worst states in the nation with high foreclosure numbers.
A new report out by RealtyTrac shows Nevada foreclosure activity in July increased 15 percent from a year ago and was up 36 percent on a month-over-month basis, boosting the state’s foreclosure rate to third highest nationally after ranking sixth highest in June. One in every 639 Nevada housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month. This follows nine consecutive months of annual decreases.
Nationally, foreclosure filings were reported on 109,434 U.S. properties in July, an increase of 2 percent from the previous month but still down 16 percent from a year ago. The report also shows one in every 1,203 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.
“The number of state and local markets with persistent foreclosure problems is becoming fewer and farther between,” noted Daren Blomquist, vice president at…
A startling new political science study concludes that corporate interests and mega wealthy individuals control U.S. policy to such a degree that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
The startling study, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Perspectives on Politics and was authored by Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Professor Benjamin Page. An early draft can be found here.
Noted American University Historian Allan J. Lichtman, who highlighted the piece in a Tuesday article published in The Hill, calls Gilens and Page’s research “shattering” and says their scholarship “should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans who are bypassed by their government.” The statistical research looked at public attitudes on nearly 1,800 policy issues…
I have been deeply moved over the tragic passing of Robin Williams and the outpouring of love that has ensued. The beauty of this wonderful man and how profoundly he affected so many is almost overwhelming and has brought many to tears, including myself. What his life represented is being mirrored in the souls of others and is so very heartening to witness, even in these tragic circumstances.
I read through yesterday?s tabloid Daily Mail article with its moving tributes, pictures and video clips and it?s wonderful to see how his loving and generous spirit surpassed even his genius. Seeing these ?star? strewn reactions that are so sincere and loving coming out of the cesspit of the entertainment industry is heartening. Moreover, with the vibrational change coming on so strongly I can?t help but feel this again is an opportunity for the awakening of the human…
“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke Protest music often emphasizes the words over the music. This track shows that if you have an achingly beautiful musical backdrop it can create something that’s even more memorable. Rich Reese, “Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst”
Sadly released posthumously. An almost battle-weary vocal by Sam Cooke belies a quietly powerful song which epitomized the ongoing civil rights movement. Dr. Jeff, “The Big Bang!”
“Ballad of Accounting” by Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger Written in the early ’60s, Kirsty MacColl’s dad and step-mom deliver a scathing attack on the class system. “Were you the maker or the tool?” English bands like the Kinks and the Subhumans have continued to take on this subject of cradle to the grave existence and opportunity under the ruling class. “Did they teach you how to question when you were at the school? / Did the factory help you, were you the maker or the tool? / Did the place where you were living enrich your life and then / Did you reach some understanding of all your fellow men, / all your fellow men, all your fellow men?” bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“Bid ‘Em In” by Oscar Brown, Jr. In auction tone and style, Oscar Brown, Jr. puts the slave trade in your face with the selling of people like machines and livestock. On this track from 1960 he focuses on how women were sold, their attributes as sex slaves, breeders for more slaves, as well as field and house work. bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“Clampdown” by the Clash Oppression can takes many forms, and governments do not hold a monopoly on tyranny. Ideas crush people, breaking their wills as easily as truncheon-wielding thugs break bones, none more odious than the idea that things have to be this way, that we’re powerless to change them, or worse, that nothing needs to changed. Apathy is the enemy. No one ever kicked the status quo so squarely in the balls as the Clash, or looked cooler doing it. Keith Dudding, “Down Yonder”
“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival Unlike protest songs such as “Ohio,” “Fortunate Son” can be applied directly to today’s situation. The song asks: Is it children of privilege or the disenfranchised that fight these wars? Rich Reese, “Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst”
“Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley and the Wailers The sentiment of this song is universal. It’s about taking action to avoid oppression. Protestors around the world have found solidarity in its simplicity both musically and lyrically. It was also the last song Marley ever performed. Mr. Roots, “The Night Shift”
“Hallelujah! I’m A Bum” by Harry “Haywire Mac” McClintock Best known today for his excellent “Big Rock Candy Mountain” after it’s appearance in the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” Wobbly singer Utah Phillips says this one is his all-time favorite song. A celebration of drop-out/alternative culture that rejects capitalism as neither logical, fair, sane nor just. This recording is from 1928 (look for an also out-of-print Rounder Records LP by the same name containing 16 of his recordings). It was first published in the IWW Bulletin of April 4, 1908, and many claim it dates from around eight to 13 years prior to that. He wrote the lyrics, but the tune is from the Salvation Army’s “Revive Us Again,” a pattern many of the tramp and Wobbly songs followed in the early 20th century, turning those pious songs on their heads. (Bonus: An awesome version by Svend Asmussen.) bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“I Ain’t Marchin Anymore” by Phil Ochs Open the Phil Ochs songbook to any page, and chances are you’ll have your finger on a protest song of passion and power. In this one, perhaps his most famous, Ochs walks us through our nation’s bloody history from the Battle of New Orleans to the bombing of Nagasaki. Never one to obscure his message under poetry lest his point should be missed, Ochs puts it right there in the refrain so it will be repeated, and everyone can sing along. Keith Dudding, “Down Yonder”
“Inner City Blues” by Marvin Gaye The entire “What’s Going On” album is a protest masterpiece, and possibly the greatest album of all time. War, drugs, poverty: Think about it…a song about the mental state of people in inner city America with Detroit as the basis and written over 40 years ago. It’s still chilling.Doug McKay, “The Juke Joint”
“Kill the Poor” by Dead Kennedys By using sarcastic language the DKs made it clear what the neutron bomb was about: the ability to wipe out our enemies without destroying valuable property and resources and the potential that this could be used on your own people. “No sense in war, but perfect sense at home.” Most people got the message, but a few thought they really believed in killing the poor. bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“Legalise It” by Peter Tosh Tosh opened up the world’s eyes and ears in a meditation towards the benefits of marijuana use, while contradicting those members of society who are staunch opponents in front of the camera, while off camera they are the same ones smoking a joint. Ital-K, “Ital Rhythms”
“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” by Bob Dylan In the course of the 5 minutes and 45 seconds of this song, I feel sad helplessness, righteous rage and deep despair for the woman who did nothing except her job and got murdered in the process. I wish this song wasn’t still relevant, and I grieve for every innocent life offered up to the altar of wealth, power and corruption to this day. Cat Pick,“Emotional Rescue”
“Louder Than a Bomb” by Public Enemy The rhythm is the rebel. Another album to get your resistance on to. “A bit of the song so you can never be wrong/Just a bit of advice, ’cause we be payin’ the price/’Cause every brother mans life/Is like swingin’ the dice, right?” bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“March to the Witch’s Castle” by Funkadelic Depicts the return home from Vietnam that many soldiers faced after combat. While there were specifics to that situation, it certainly applies to current veterans as well as those throughout history. And all with heavy, dark, slow bluesy guitar, George Clinton must have met some soldiers coming out of or going into a dark place: “They know not who or what they were fighting for.” bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“The Marines Have Landed on the Shores of Santo Domingo” by Phil Ochs This song paints an amazing picture of what it looks like when soldiers arrive. It’s one of my favorite Phil Ochs’ songs: “A bullet cracks the sound, the army hit the ground/The sniper is callin’/So they open their guns, a thousand to one/no sense in stalling/He clutches at his head and totters on the edge/Look how he’s falling.”bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“Mississippi Goddamn” by Nina Simone The live version starts as a jaunty “show tune,” but then, dead seriously, Simone says, “and I mean every word of it.” Her phrasing makes you listen very carefully to the lyrics about the treatment of blacks in the South, and she makes a great statement by shooting down the refrain of “go slow” with her piano playing that speeds up throughout the song.Andrea, “Radio Rio”
“My Uncle” by the Flying Burrito Brothers There are a million war protest songs, but this tune by Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons was personal, first heard as I sat in my college dorm awaiting the draft lottery. One of many great, catchy songs by the way too short-lived, classic Hillman and Parsons Burrito Brothers. Ed Becker, “Songwriters Showcase”
“My Youngest Son Came Home Today” by Billy Bragg Another sad and beautiful song which conveys the agony of war. From 1990’s “The Internationale.” Rich Reese, “Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst”
“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young This song is seared into the memories of all who witnessed the outrage of the Kent State shootings. Protest music very often can be applied to similar circumstances, but this one is locked in to the early ’70s. Rich Reese, “Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst”
“Persons Unknown” by Poison Girls A split 7″ release along with Crass’ “Bloody Revolutions,” a great little protest package, that helped fund the Autonomy Center in London. The song makes a list of all the “Persons Unknown”: “Hey there Mr. Average, you don’t exist you never did/Hiding in shadows, Persons unknown/Habits of hiding soon will be the death of us/Dying in secret from poisons unknown.” There was a trial in 1979 charging Iris Mills, Ronan Bennett, Vince Stevenson, Trevor Dawton, Dafydd Ladd and Stewart Carr for conspiring with “persons unknown” to cause explosions. They were acquitted. The song takes these persons unknown as a starting point for listing who it/we could be, from housewives to truants, rastas to bikers, astronauts to DJs. bobEE Sweet,“Uncontrollable Urge”
“Power to the People” by John Lennon Most of John Lennon’s politically charged protest music funneled creativity away from the music and redirected it to the lyrics. This one manages to retain a pulsating beat and catchy saxophone hook. Rich Reese, “Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst”
“Rappaport’s Testament: I Never Gave Up” by Chumbawamba The band’s fourth full-length studio album “Slap!” took it further away from the anarcho/peace-punk sound of the early ’80s and is full of terrific pop songs from personal perspectives: stories about Ulrike Meinhof (Baader-Meinhof gang), author Zora Neale Hurston’s explanation for running a red light (the green light is for whites, so the red light must be for me), Tiananmen Square, and the toppling of Stalin’s Statue. “Rappaport’s Testament” turns the true story of Leon Rappaport (from Primo Levy’s book “Moments of Reprieve,” about the people he met in the Auschwitz concentration camp) into a song of resistance. A man who refused to let Hitler “get the better of him” despite his living conditions and certain fate. Ted Leo often covers this song in concert. (Bonus: Chumbawamba has so many great socially conscious songs, I could have made a list dedicated solely to that band. “Jacob’s Ladder” is another classic.) bobEE Sweet,“Uncontrollable Urge”
“Redemption Song” by Bob Marley and the Wailers This song was released as Marley’s last single before his death, and it sums up his life and what he stood for in his songs: freedom and redemption. One of Marley’s most beautiful songs, it gave hope to the downtrodden around the world. It’s a powerful piece of both music and poetry. Mr. Roots, “The Night Shift”
“Revolution” by the Beatles John Lennon wasn’t calling for a revolt — unless it was with flowers — but the song was still very polarizing when it came out in 1968. Check out Nina Simone’s version for a very different, more direct take. But, man, the song rocks. Rich Reese, “Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst”
Revolution” by Dennis Brown The opening verse asks a pivotal question of mankind: “Do you know what it means to have a revolution? What it takes to make a solution? Fighting against oppression (ooh yeah), battering down repression.” It’s something to think about as Brown harmonizes away. Ital-K,“Ital Rhythms”
“Shame on You” by the Indigo Girls Amy Ray was inspired to write this song (originally released on 1997’s “Shaming of the Sun”) by David Zeiger’s documentary “Displaced in the New South,” examining the life of Vietnamese and Mexican immigrants in Atlanta. The revelatory tone of the music sharply contrasts the themes of xenophobia and racial profiling in the lyrics. Caron House, “Wax Lyrical”
“Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band This tune was easy for me to understand; it got to the point. As a 12-year-old kid at the time, I especially liked this part: “And the sign said, ‘Long-haired freaky people need not apply’/So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why/He said, ‘You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do’/So I took off my hat, I said, ‘Imagine that. Huh! Me workin’ for you!'” Power to the counter culture! Carlos, “Latin Hemispheres”
“The Sins of a Family” by P.F. Sloan The prolific P.F. Sloan is best known for writing Barry McGuire’s mega-hit protest song “Eve Of Destruction.” I really like this tune he wrote about child abuse and judging people because of where they come from. The duet version with the addition of Lucinda Williams’ road-weary vocals is especially chilling. Ed Becker, “Songwriters Showcase”
“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone Both versions are amazingly powerful because they really make you listen to the lyrics. My mom listened to a lot of the great jazz vocalists when I was young and I used to try and learn all the words and sing along. I clearly remember realizing that “Strange Fruit” was not necessarily a “sing-along” song because of the graphic and powerful lyrics about lynching. Andrea, “Radio Rio”
Written by Lewis Allen (aka Abel Meeropol). Billie Holiday’s label, Columbia, wouldn’t release her recording of “Strange Fruit” due to the content of the song, lynching, so she took it to Commodore. The powerful song became her closing number during performances. I suppose you could have this on as background and think it’s a torch song, but that would be hard to do; while full of metaphor it’s also pretty straightforward. bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones This track caught the essence of the growing anti-war sentiment developing at the time of the song’s release, the summer of 1968, as reflected by the opening verse which set the revolutionary: “Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy / ‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy.” Dr. Jeff, “The Big Bang!”
“This Ain’t No Picnic” by Minutemen More poetic and stripped down than many anti-work songs, “This Ain’t No Picnic” punctuates the lyrics as the band does so well by punching up the music, in a great, three-piece, bouncing, frantic, time-shifting way: “I should go pitch a tent but our land isn’t free/So I’ll work my youth away in the place of a machine/I refuse to be a slave.” bobEE Sweet,“Uncontrollable Urge”
“This Is Not a song, It’s an Outburst, or the Establishment Blues” by Rodriguez This one is kind of personal. Being from South Africa, the recent rockumentary “Searching for Sugar Man” shed a lot of light on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and how Rodriguez inspired many of the indigenous artists I grew up with, and influenced their music in such a way, that it is unconceivable I missed the link. The only problem was, I had no idea that few people in America knew about Rodriguez. The man taught South Africans that it is OK to question their government and voice their unhappiness about inequalities. I grew up with his records, and frankly, I did not know that I knew people that did not know him. Amy Caby, “Velvet Punch”
“Trouble Every Day” by Frank Zappa This song was originally released on “Freak Out” in 1966. A much more audience friendly version can be found on the 1974 release “Roxy and Elsewhere.” “Trouble Every Day,” written while watching the news reports of the Watts riots, offers gripping social commentary on the state of America during the height of racial and socioeconomic unrest in the ’60s, and it’s a damn fine tune to boot. Dan Kinney, “The Smoking Lounge”
“Vietnam” by Jimmy Cliff This is one of my favorite and most powerful protest songs of all time. Bob Dylan called it “the best protest song I’ve ever heard.” What more needs to be said? Professor Skank, “Positive Vibrations”
“War” by Bob Marley and the Wailers Actual words taken from Haile Selassie’s 1936 speech to the United Nations addressing human rights. Issues we’re still confronted with today. Ital-K, “Ital Rhythms”
“War” by Edwin Starr Classic. The ultimate anti-war song. Says it all: “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” Plus you can groove to it. Covered by D.O.A. and Bruce Springsteen among others. bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“We Can’t Make It Here Anymore” by James McMurtry Like many of the greatest protest songs, McMurtry’s jeremiad challenges not just the powerful but the listener, you and me. The song draws connections — between violence, class, war and poverty — and in a flood of imagery, demands that we not look away.Roy Kasten, “Feel Like Going Home”
“What the World Needs Now Is Love (Remix)” by Jackie DeShannon and Tom Clay A DJ in Detroit named Tom Clay made a remix of the 1965 hit “What the World Needs Now Is Love” in 1971 with added commentary and sound bites. It had a major impact for me. I memorized it and would recite it, letting folks know that we still need love! Carlos, “Latin Hemispheres”
“Where Next Columbus?” by Crass Another band whose entire canon could be in such a list. In 1981, Crass did its feminist album (if you get this on CD, get 2010’s remastered “Crassical Collection” version) with Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre singing all the songs. This one has a great bass line, and questions at least a major part of the totality of modern life and oppression brought about by leaders and followers, the other and the self: “Who’s your leader, which is your flock, who do you watch?” bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”
“Whitey on the Moon” by Gil Scott-Heron “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is probably Scott-Heron’s greatest protest song, but this one’s fun too. He wanted to give credit where due, so since he was inspired by whitey on the moon, he named the song after it. His argument is people are suffering from poverty, disease and war, and whitey (aka the powers that be) is up there playing around on the moon: “A rat done bit my sister Nell / And whitey’s on the moon.” bobEE Sweet, “Uncontrollable Urge”