California State Parks Offers Tips to Recreate Safely This Fourth of July Holiday

By California Department of Parks and Recreation  |  2018-06-21

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Fourth of July is around the corner and for many outdoor enthusiasts, it is the perfect time for camping, hiking and swimming with family and friends. California State Parks wants our visitors to recreate safely and enjoy their time by keeping their loved ones safe.

Because the hot summer weather invites many people to head into the water, whether it be in lakes, rivers or the ocean, it is important to protect loved ones from accidental drownings. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S. About 10 people die from unintentional drownings every day, but can easily be prevented by learning water safety and lifesaving techniques.

Below you will find 10 tips to stay safe during this Fourth of July holiday:

  1. Wear a Life Jacket: Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and properly-fitted. Several public and private entities make life jackets available to the public on a loan basis.View Locations
  2. Protect Your Loved Ones: Know your limits. Swimming in a lake, ocean or river is different than swimming in a pool. If someone is in distress, seek help from a lifeguard or call 9-1-1 if one is not available. Supervise children at all times by appointing a designated "water watcher," taking turns with other adults. Do not assume that someone is watching them.
  3. Do not enter the water if it is too cold: Waterways continue to rise as snow melts and can be dangerously cold and swift. Even the strongest swimmers can be stunned by cold water and become incapacitated.
  4. Ocean Rip Currents: If you get caught in one, stay calm and do not fight the current. Swim or float parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and then swim toward the shore.
  5. Avoid Alcohol: Operating your boat or an off-highway vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more is against the law. Impaired boaters will be stopped and can be arrested even with lower BAC if the conditions are not safe. Your boat can be impounded.
  6. Know the Rules/Laws: Take the time to visit the webpage of the park you plan on visiting and learn about the rules, such as parking, if dogs are allowed and closed areas. It is also important to learn the laws for recreating in boats and/or off-highway vehicles.  
  7. Prepare an Itinerary: No matter what type of recreation activity you will be participating in, leave an itinerary of your trip with a family member/friend with information such as name/age of all participants, travel destination and expected return date. This will ensure law enforcement personnel have a better understanding of your location in the event of a rescue.
  8. Natural Resources: Whether you are hiking, horseback riding or operating an off-highway vehicle, stay on designated trails. You are not only protecting natural resources, but you are also ensuring that you do not get lost.
  9. Use the buddy system: Hike or swim with a friend or family member. This is key especially if you are bit by a snake, encounter other wildlife or need medical attention. Buddies can seek help for you.
  10. Wildlife: View wildlife from a distance. Never feed or touch them. Be cautious of where you are stepping. If you see a snake, maintain a distance of 6 feet. Most bites occur when people get too close or try to touch them.

Additional safety tips and information on laws can be found online at www.parks.ca.gov/safetytips.

With over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, and 4,500 miles of trails, California State Parks contains the largest and most diverse recreational, natural, and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the nation with 280 state parks. More than 67 million people annually visit California's state park system. Invent your adventure online at www.parks.ca.gov.

Lawsuit Hearing To Remove Xavier Becerra as California Attorney General

By Katy Grimes, Investigative Journalist  |  2018-07-17

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Should the powerful be allowed to ignore or change the laws they don’t agree with? Of course not. But that issue is at the heart of a lawsuit filed in May by former Attorney General candidate Eric Early against the unelected, appointed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is running to keep his office. The case was heard Friday morning in Sacramento Superior Court.

When Becerra filed his election paperwork with the California Secretary of State, he represented that he was qualified for the position of Attorney General. However, according to Early, Becerra had been unlicensed by the California State Bar Association for 26 years when Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him, and continues to be unqualified for the elected position based on California Election Code.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s legal team however, admonished the judge in court Friday that the case is really about removing a candidate from the ballot “despite the language of the statute” at issue.

Imagine that your California drivers license is suspended. Do you drive a car illegally anyway? Or you are a CPA and have not completed your continuing education, and your license is suspended. Do you prepare tax returns and sign as a licensed CPA? No, because that is illegal.

The Lawsuit

Attorney Eric Early’s Petition for Writ of Mandate seeks to remove Xavier Becerra’s name from the ballot in California’s upcoming General Election because Becerra was not an admitted, licensed attorney in the State of California for five uninterrupted years prior to being appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown. This is a problem because California General Election Code 12503 says, “No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.” And that’s all the code section says. As of the November 6, 2018 general election, Becerra will have only been reactivated as a practicing attorney for a period of one year, ten months and five days, according to Early.

The lawsuit states that Becerra “does not and cannot meet the minimum eligibility requirements for the position of Attorney General.”

Xavier Becerra, a sitting member of Congress since 1993, was an “inactive” member of the California Bar for 26 years when Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him as California Attorney General.  Becerra was surprisingly appointed to the California AG’s office in January 2017 when then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Superior Court Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi, who tentatively dismissed the lawsuit Thursday prior to the Friday hearing, appeared to twist himself into a pretzel trying to read more into the statute. Judge Sueyoshi conflated “active status” in the California State Bar Association with “membership in the Bar,” which have two very different meanings; “inactive status” means the law license is suspended, voluntarily or involuntarily.

The Judge’s tentative ruling Thursday said state law “does not prohibit from serving as Attorney General a person who has voluntarily been placed on ‘inactive’ status with the State Bar at any point during the five-year period immediately preceding his or her election or appointment to the office.” This is what he was trying to “read into” the state statute.

In court Friday, Judge Sueyoshi talked of the “intent” of the statute. Plaintiff’s Attorney Brentford Ferreira argued that the statute is clear when it says, “admitted to the Supreme Court, ” and “admitted and licensed to practice law.”

“Inactive with the State Bar Association means ‘suspended,” Ferreira said. Attorney Ferreira is correct. The words in the statute are unambiguously clear when they say: admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.

While Judge Sueyoshi said, “the facts in the case were undisputed as to Mr. Becerra’s status with the State Bar,”  he added, “the facts of this case do not determine the meaning of the statute.” Sueyoshi challenged Early’s attorneys to a hypothetical situation where a Deputy Attorney General of 25 years retires, and concurrent with his retirement, goes inactive with the State Bar. “He’s retired for 3-4 days, then gets a call for the Attorney General position, and gets back on ‘active’ status.”

“The statute says ‘uninterrupted five years status,” Attorney Ferreira said, explaining that this hypothetical Deputy AG would also be ineligible. “The purpose for that isn’t as pedantic as your hypothetical. The purpose is actual familiarity with the state of law in California. The purpose is ‘admitted to practice.’”

“Mr. Becerra was not licensed to practice law for 26 years,” Ferreira added. But Judge Sueyoshi continued his challenge, conflating “active status” in the California Bar Association with generic “membership” in the Bar Association. “The point being… the intent behind the interpretation containing station with status in the Bar,” Judge Sueyoshi said.

“The question is about someone who is qualified for the job but doesn’t qualify under the statute,” Judge Sueyoshi added.

Balderdash. The statute is clear and applies even to the politically powerful. As Early’s attorney’s said, many lawyers decide to leave the daily practice of law, moving to some other type of business, and “suspend” their law licenses with the state bar. They may retain membership in the Bar Association, but are not licensed to practice.

“He could not walk into a courtroom and ‘practice law,’” attorney Ferreira said. “We all know what ‘practice’ means.”

Jerry Brown’s Been Down This Road Before

Also at issue is the fact that California Gov. Jerry Brown knew Xavier Becerra was not eligible to be Attorney General when he appointed him. Jerry Brown faced a nearly identical lawsuit in 2006 when then-Contra Costa County Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and Adam C. Abrahms of the Los Angeles chapter of the California Republican Lawyers Association, Yolo County GOP Chair Mark A. Pruner, David B. Prince and Carl A. Burton, filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court claiming that under Government Code Sec. 12503, because Brown was an inactive member of the State Bar until 2003, and only held his law license actively for four years prior to running for Attorney General, he did not not meet the requirements to be attorney general. (Del Beccaro v. Brown, Sacramento Superior Court  Case No. 06AS04494) However, the Superior Court dismissed the case and the plaintiffs were unable to appeal the case because of cost.

Becerra also knew he was ineligible to be Attorney General – especially since he immediately reactivated his law license when Brown appointed him. Why would he reactivate his status with the California Bar Association if it didn’t matter?  Additionally, many members of the California Legislature openly challenged Becerra’s eligibility to hold the office of Attorney General upon Brown’s announcement of the appointment.

At the end of the hearing, and after reading the judge’s tentative ruling  dismissing the case against Becerra, it appears the case will be formally dismissed. With both sides promising to appeal, Judge Sueyoshi has likely framed his ruling well for the Court of Appeals, clearly outlining the various arguments, as specious as they may be.

Becerra’s legal team is right about one thing: It wasn’t up to Judge Sueyoshi to interpret the statute language. Nor was the judge going to make the decision to remove a candidate from the ballot. That is appeals court level legal wrangling.

However, as a learned friend remarked to me, this case could have profound impact on the Attorney General race because it documents the corruption of current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as well as former CA AG Jerry Brown, who obviously knows the requirements for the appointment of an Attorney General.

...Read More!  
  |  

The Espresso Book Machine: A Savory Vehicle for Sacramento Area Authors

Story and photo by Andrew Rose  |  2018-07-13

Watching the EBM, one is reminded of the Everlasting Gobstopper machine from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Three hundred eighty authors and counting have published their works through I Street Press at the Sacramento’s Central Public Library.  On the second floor one will find the Espresso Book Machine (EBM).  This isn’t a venue for selling lattes to local bookworms.  On the contrary, the EBM is state of the art machinery, and is budding writers’ self-contained means of making their work known.

The first EBM was unveiled at the New York Public Library in 2007.  Now more than fifty such contraptions exist in such far flung locations as Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi.  Sacramento’s unit, installed in 2011, is one of only two EBM’s in California.

The machine occupies the space of two storage freezers one might have in their garage.  But it’s a heck of a lot more interesting to watch.  Witnesses marvel as a book is molded and formed before their eyes.  This includes binding the text to a cover with hot glue.  Watching the EBM, one is reminded of the Everlasting Gobstopper machine from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  A 300-page volume takes about five minutes to print.  Like the Everlasting Gobstopper, a single, self-contained unit comes out at the end.  It’s literally hot off the press.  Wonka’s magical candy was designed to last forever.  Similarly, a new paperback is there for the ages.

On the introductory video for the I Street Press, Rivkah Sass, Director of the Sacramento Public Library, describes the appeal of the EBM.  “Most of us have a book inside us,” she proclaims.  “And I Street was really about how do we, as the library, become that center of community-based publishing for the Sacramento region.”

Through I Street Press, authors can self-publish.  Before such technology existed, a writer would traditionally send his/her work to a publisher, or possibly fifty publishers, with hopes that one of them would pick up their book.  The sole way for a writer to earn his/her stripes was through a publishing house.  A would-be author could do it alone, but hiring a bookbinder was a costly vehicle.  So-called vanity publishing had a negative implication in its very name.  But now, the ball is in the author’s court, as technology such as the EBM is allowing these individuals greater flexibility with their printed words.  It’s truly changing lives for authors of all levels. 

One individual whose life was enhanced through the I Street Press is Lance Pyle.  Pyle employs the nom de plume Peter Blueberry as the author of The Agency of Obnoxious Laughter.   In the tradition of Shel Silverstein, Pyle combines humorous poetry with illustrations.  I Street Press got Pyle started, and now he has a series of more than twenty poetry books.  Pyle’s career as an architect flourished, and then his life took a dramatic turn when he was diagnosed with throat cancer.  He was forced into retirement and “didn’t have anything to do.”  That’s when Pyle started dabbling with rhymes, accompanied by drawings.  The prolific poet and artist has created his volumes without benefit of writing or art classes.  Pyle says of newfound creativity, “I didn’t know I had it until I had to go find it.”  He has now sold more than 3,000 of his books independently. 

Pyle, as all I Street Press authors, got started through an initial meeting with librarian Gerald Ward.  Ward maintains the I Street Press as a one-person operation.  While each book on the EBM is printed the same way, Ward recognizes that every author’s needs are different.  Some are accomplished writers, while others come to the I Street Press with merely an idea.  No matter where one is in the writing process, Ward is happy to encourage the writer’s endpoint of holding their very own book in his/her hands. 

The initial librarian’s consultation is free of charge.  After assessing the would-be author’s needs, Ward will point the individual in the right direction to get started on their book.  This might include hiring an outside editor or taking a writing class.  Ward states, “Whether 40 or 700 pages, there is a $6 charge per book and 3 cents per page.”  The writer may complete a proof copy as part of the package.  The fine-tuning process continues until the final copy is completed.  The end product is an actual published book, complete with ISBN, copyright, and bar code.  Additional fees for set-up and revisions are arranged between Ward and the author.  The I Street Press is a nonprofit organization.  Fees paid by authors using the EBM are contributions to the library to help maintain its services.      

Those interested in the I Street Press are encouraged to see the process first hand.  For more information, go to www.saclibrary.org/istreetpress.

...Read More!  
  |  

Big Sing California

By Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra  |  2018-07-12

You can register online for the Big Sing via the SCSO’s website sacramentochoral.com.

Making Statewide History

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - SCSO Conductor Donald Kendrick to serve as the Sacramento region conductor for a mammoth statewide singing event, Big Sing California. This thrilling event is due to set a record statewide on July 21 in California for drawing together one of the largest, free group singing performances in our history.

American superstar composer Eric Whitacre will help lead this exhilarating event which will be simulcast out of Disney Hall in Los Angeles to five California hubs: Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Riverside and San Diego.

The singers in the five California hubs will join the performance experience by viewing the concert on large screens and singing from the audience.

“Singing is just a healthy thing to do individually,” says Kendrick, “but group singing is very uplifting in that it really draws the community together and creates such a strong feeling of well- being, of belonging. We are reaching out to tons of area choirs and individual singers to share this experience with us. We would love to fill the large Sacramento Community Center Theater with 2,400 people for our Big Sing event on July 21.”

“Singers participating in the Sacramento region will have an option of attending an optional free open rehearsal on Thursday, July 19 from 7 – 9:30 PM at the Sacramento Community Center Theater,” says Kendrick. The doors will open at 6 PM for this rehearsal. Free Big Sing music books will be provided at this rehearsal and at the July 21st performance for all attendees. Singers also have the option of ordering their music book in advance for a modest fee of $3.00.

People can register online for the Big Sing via the SCSO’s website sacramentochoral.com. They can also order their music in advance there and also enjoy some outstanding tutorials on the music itself. This amazing statewide concert will be live-streamed on the Big Sing California website.

Big Sing California is open to the general public. “We want people who love singing to join us and sing as much of the music as they can. We hope that this event will inspire people to make singing, and the joy it brings, a regular part of their lives,” says SCSO Conductor Donald Kendrick. “The program is open to all ages ranging from young students to seniors.”

The songs selected for the participants range from straightforward sing-alongs such as Lean On MeThis Land Is Your Land, and Hey Jude, to choral works by Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen. The program also features an exclusive arrangement of Pentatonix’s Sing by Grammy Award-winning arranger Ben Bram created especially for Big Sing California. 

 “We know that singing releases endorphins, causes a sense of joy and euphoria and creates a bonding with our Community members, says Kendrick. “To be able do this on the scale of Big Sing California in Sacramento is nothing short of thrilling.”

TICKET INFORMATION:
Participants who want to attend Big Sing California should register individually through the website. People can register at the last moment and even score their free ticket vouchers and music books the day of the concert beginning at 1 PM on Saturday, July 21st at the Sacramento Community Center Box Office.

Ticket vouchers to all locations will be distributed via email 10 days prior to the event. Music books will also be distributed for free at the venues on the day of the concert and at the Thursday, July 19th rehearsal at 7 PM at the Community Center Theater.

“Come and be part of California history in Sacramento by joining us at Big Sing California, on July 21st in downtown Sacramento” says Kendrick. “We promise to make it a memorable experience as we work together to make Sacramento a world-class city.”

...Read More!  
  |  

Capital Airshow to Feature the World-Famous USAF Thunderbirds

Capital Airshow Release  |  2018-07-12

The California Capital Airshow is set to feature the world-famous USAF Thunderbirds on September 21, 22 and 23.

Help Us Celebrate a Century of Aviation Adventure as Mather Airport Turns 100!

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - We look forward to welcoming some of the best military and civilian pilots in the world this September 21, 22 and 23, but as we prepare for the 13th annual California Capital Airshow we are also looking back at 100 years of aviation history at Mather Airport. The next chapter of Mather’s magnificent history leads us through the Cold War and ends with the unfortunate closure of Mather Air Force Base…

Historical Overview III – The Cold War – 1946-1993

Following the 1945 Allied victory of World War II, demobilization and a return to a peacetime military were the orders of the day. However, enjoying the peace was short-lived as the United States and the free world were confronted with an aggressive new adversary—the Soviet Union and the threat of global communism that was rapidly devouring Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War II. A U.S.-directed strategy of ‘containment’ and a buildup of strategic forces capable of deterring an aggressive communist menace drove the expansion of dispersed bomber assets and new basing which put Mather Air Force Base (Mather AFB) back into the spotlight.

Once Again a Vital Training Base

In 1946, Mather was transferred to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Air Training Command and once again became a vital training base producing pilots, navigators and observers to crew a growing air arm of the nation’s military might.  With the 1964 closing of James Connally Air Force Base in Texas, all navigator training for the Department of Defense was consolidated at Mather AFB. In 1976, Interservice Undergraduate Navigator Training was established bringing Navy, Marine and Coast Guard students to Mather AFB along with other students from numerous foreign countries, including the first women navigators. By the time Mather closed in 1993, over 32,000 USAF navigators, 3,100 USN naval flight officers, 280 Marine navigators and 3,500 navigators from 88 Allied nations had completed training at Mather AFB. This diverse mix of services and international families contributed significantly to the growth of what would become the City of Rancho Cordova, an All American City with a rich cultural background.

B-52 & KC-135 Arrive

The aircrews that were trained at Mather formed the backbone of strategic forces that stood watch over America and her Allies ensuring the legacy of Freedom, hard won during World War II would endure. The 4134th Strategic Wing was assigned to Mather AFB bringing B-52 and KC-135 aircraft to the base along with the mission of nuclear deterrence. This wing became the 320th Bombardment Wing and was further augmented by the 940th Air Refueling Group (AFRES) later bringing additional KC-135 aircraft to the base.

Closure Leads to Civilian Development

The efforts of maintaining peace through strong military capability resulted in a victory at the end of the Cold War. With this victory, downsizing of the American military became inevitable and Mather AFB became one of the bases identified for closure. Units were inactivated, the navigator-training mission was transferred to Randolph AFB in Texas and the base was officially closed in September 1993, opening the door for a community effort to develop Mather into an economic hub of commerce that would continue to benefit the Sacramento region. The Sacramento County Department of Airports and the City Rancho Cordova have been invaluable partners ensuring this important development continues.

Don’t miss the California Capital Airshow’s tribute to Mather Airport’s fascinating century of history this September as it brings this era back to life with the aircraft, artifacts and unsung heroes that have passed through Mather’s gates.

Ticket prices are going UP Tuesday, July 31st, at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Please remember a single General Admission Ticket gives you ONE ADULT admission, plus up to 4 Youth (age 15 and Under) Admissions for FREE. That’s a $70+ Value for the whole family!

Source: Capital Airhsow

...Read More!  
  |  

Sactown to Welcome America’s Navy During Navy Week

By Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach  |  2018-07-12

Sacramento native, Rear Adm. Scott Jones.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - California’s capital is scheduled to host members of the U.S. Navy during Sacramento Navy Week, July 16-22, coinciding with the California State Fair.

Sacramento Navy Week will bring sailors from different units across the United States to conduct focused outreach events with members of the community. The Navy week will bring sailors from USS Constitution, Navy Band Northwest, USS La Jolla, U.S. Navy Ceremonial Drill Team, Explosive Ordnance Group One, U.S. Naval Academy and Navy Operational Support Center Sacramento.

Rear Admiral Scott Jones, Deputy Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, and Sacramento native, will be the Navy week’s flag host who will participate in various ceremonies and meet with local business, civic and educations leaders during the week.

"I am quite excited to take part in Navy Week in Sacramento,” said Jones. “As a native of Sacramento, it will be a unique privilege to represent my military service, the U.S. Navy, in the same town where I was born and raised.”

Historically, Navy Week events draw thousands of attendees to participate and create a dialogue between sailors and local residents. The events are designed to raise awareness about the Navy the nation needs in areas that do not have a large naval presence.

“The excitement is building now as we near this awesome Navy outreach event,” said Gary Ross, lead planner for the Navy Week.  “It’s going to be great to see Sailors engage the citizens of Sacramento and tell America’s Navy story.”

A variety of Navy band ensembles will perform during the week, including performances at the California State Fair, Powerhouse Science Center and the Veterans Home of California Yountville.

“Navy Band Northwest contributes to Navy Week Sacramento through multiple community outreach and public relations performances with several of our top-notch groups such as our Jazz Combo, High-Energy Funk Band and versatile brass groups,” said Musician 1st Class Garrett Stephan. “Throughout the week, band members will perform for thousands in the greater Sacramento area at baseball games, soccer matches, farmers markets, and more.”

Multiple assets will participate in a Navy STEM Day at the Powerhouse Science Center on Tuesday, July 17 where attendees can interact with sailors with hands-on activities throughout the day.

Sailors from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 49, the Scorpions, will land a MH-60R helicopter at the California State Fair on Thursday for Military Appreciation Day. Attendees will be able to tour the helicopter as well as interact with sailors from multiple commands. Navy Band Northwest will play several concerts throughout the day at the fair.

Navy Operational Support Command Sacramento sailors will volunteer for local organizations throughout the week including the Sacramento Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and the Greater Sacramento Boys & Girls Club.

The week will wrap up with displays at the California Aerospace Museum on Friday, July 20. Sailors will also volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House on Friday, cooking dinner for the families, offering engaging static displays, and a musical performance from Navy Band Northwest.

Sacramento Navy Week is the seventh of 14 Navy weeks in 2018 that focus a variety of assets, equipment and personnel on a single city for a week-long series of engagements designed to bring America’s Navy closer to the people it protects.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit http://outreach.navy.mil/Navy-Weeks/Sacramento.

Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/navyoutreach and www.twitter.com/navyoutreach.

#NavyWeek

...Read More!  
  |  

Students from countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Russia, and the United States will study writing together with award-winning writers in Iowa.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - From July 14-28, Sofia Schumaker, student at St. Francis High School, will take part in Between the Lines (BTL)­, a prestigious creative writing and cultural exchange program for participants aged 15-18, hosted by the International Writing Program (IWP) in collaboration with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department, held in Iowa City, Iowa, a UNESCO City of Literature.

“Between the Lines invites talented young writers from all over the world to study, make friendships, and engage in artistic discovery in one of the world’s literary capitals: Iowa City. This place was my home when I was a young poet and the connections I made in Iowa continue to sustain me, not only in my writing practice, but in my life,” says Kiki Petrosino, BTL Faculty.

Following a competitive application process, Between the Lines will welcome 36 students from 11 countries and territories in the Middle East and North Africa, 10 cities across the Russian Federation, and 10 U.S. states. During the two-week program, students will participate in global literature seminars and intensive creative writing workshops, and have an opportunity to give a public reading of their own work.

Students will study with prize-winning authors Ameena Hussein (Sri Lanka), co-founder of Perera Hussein Publishing House, and alumnus of the IWP’s Fall Residency; Armen Ohanyan (Armenia) President of PEN Armenia, and alumnus of the IWP’s Fall Residency; and Kiki Petrosino (United States), professor and Director of The Creative Writing Program at the University of Louisville, and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

During their two weeks in Iowa City BTL students will, in the words of Armen of Armenia, have the chance, “to come across the most important things: new cultures, new environments, new relationships, and a chance to see [themselves] in a new light. We welcome students to the homecoming party far away from home!"

Since 1967, the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa has hosted more than 1,400 writers from more than 140 countries, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, publishing books and journals, pursuing cultural diplomacy, and organizing tours, conferences, and other literary and intercultural events around the world. Between the Lines (BTL) is a part of IWP’s programming, and is sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department.

...Read More!  
  |  

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The video game industry is rarely labeled as “original,” and this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) illustrated exactly why. Video games’ largest publishers showcased Metro: Exodus, Dying Light 2, Days Gone, The Last of Us Part 2, Rage 2, Gears 5 and Fallout 76. Their common thread? Every one of these flagship, multi-million dollar titles is a post-apocalyptic action game, usually with some sort of zombie or zombie-like enemy. 2018’s store shelves will be utterly saturated with games in the vein of Mad Max and 28 Days Later, and yet despite the saturation, every one of them will likely sell exceptionally well.

Video games have an utter obsession with the post-apocalypse going back decades, to an extent not reflected in any other popular media. The two seem to be a match made in heaven; a primary allure of video games is the ability to escape one's own life and do anything they desire. When a developer is tasked with contextualizing utter freedom in terms of a logically coherent, immersive game world, where better to turn than an anarchic wasteland? Without the binding ties of society and rule of law, the player can believably do whatever they want without the logical necessity of some in-game police coming down on their heads. Even linear, cinematic experiences with little real player freedom benefit from the narrative shortcuts a post-apocalypse allows. Why are we killing thousands and thousands of zombies/people? Easy, this world is kill or be killed in a battle for survival, so further moral justification for Mass violence seems, from the writer's perspective, otherwise unnecessary.

Such justification feeds into why the trend is stronger now than it's ever been. Developers leveraged the computing power of the new generation of consoles not to create photorealism, but to create massive, living worlds in which players can roam free. Open worlds became “stylish” as franchises that were once linear began to expand with huge environments to explore. And as video games began to lean more and more into their most unique artistic asset, the ability to create a sense of player freedom, the need for justifications for such complete freedom spiked upwards. As a result, we have E3 2018, where game after game resorts to the post-apocalypse as its narrative shortcut.

This is hardly a criticism; because video games aren't primarily a narrative medium, narrative shortcuts are easily excused if they accommodate exciting gameplay and interesting worlds, both of which post-apocalypse games often excel at. And even then, video games have occasionally used post-apocalyptic settings not as writing crutches but as tools to explore the complex moral questions of survival and freedom; 2013’s The Last of Us did exactly that, and is widely considered the best-written game ever made (though its incredible-looking sequel may be looking to snatch that title from its predecessor). There's a reason why, despite the saturation, the industry is showing few signs of fatigue. The post-apocalypse both literally and figuratively, remains extensively unexplored, and video games are uniquely positioned to trek into the lawless wilderness.

...Read More!  
  |  

Korea and World War III - Almost

By Jerald Drobesh, US AIR FORCE  |  2018-07-05

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Recently there has been high tension and talks of a possible confrontation and even a nuclear war with North Korea.  But this is not the first time we have been in this position with them. 

In the early 1970s, as a Captain in the US Air Force, I was assigned to Kunsan Air Force Base on the west coast of South Korea. This was an old US Air Force Base from the Korean War days, in the 1950s. At that time, I was the Air Force Chief of Aircraft Maintenance at the base, and part of my job was to prepare our assigned F-4 Fighter/Bombers for emergency launch with nuclear weapons, if the situation required it.

The F-4 twin jet Fighter/ Bomber was, at the time, was one of the fastest and best aircraft ever built.  My job required that I have a Top Secret Security Clearance, because I was required to brief the Wing Commander on the status of all our assigned aircraft, and sit in on all Top Secret briefings about the status of the North Korean armed forces and their preparations for War.  I remember well, as if it was yesterday. It was one of the most important briefings I had ever attended.  It was the early 1970s, and by the time the briefing was over, I knew that we could be at war at any minute.  

The North Korean forces, according to the briefing, were moving their fighters, bombers, tanks, military equipment, and soldiers up close to the border between North and South Korea. This would put them just minutes flying time from our aircraft at Kunsan AFB. This had never happened before and I remember thinking, at the time, that our base may not exist after the next few days, or sooner. 

That night I walked down to the flight line where our F-4 Fighter/Bombers were stationed and ready for war. My job was to check with the airmen assigned to repair and prepare the aircraft, and to have them all ready for launch if the orders were given by Headquarters. We were an inch away from World War III and I could feel it in the air. 

That night, I talked to my maintenance airmen assigned to the aircraft. They didn’t know, at the time, how close we were to war and I couldn’t tell them.  There wasn’t a need at that time for them to know, but they were ready. All the F-4 aircraft that were flyable were loaded with bombs and ready for immediate takeoff to their assigned targets.  I remember thinking that night on the flightline that this could be it.   

I enjoyed my job and all the assigned men were great to work with.  Being that I once flew jets myself in the Air Force, I knew how the pilots must have felt - that they may never see their families again - if we went to war.  This was the real world and possibly the end of our beautiful planet as we knew it.  I had a difficult time sleeping that night.  It’s hard to tell someone who hasn’t been stationed on the front lines with nuclear weapons involved what it feels like.  But that’s what we were trained for - and we all knew what was at stake.  

Fortunately, we all survived or I wouldn’t be writing this article.  For some reason the North Koreans began to remove their jets, tanks, equipment, and troops back from the border, and I never heard why.  At that time, Chinese and Russian troops were supporting the North Korean communist troops and maybe their leaders realized that once a nuclear war started in Korea that it could speed to their countries and it wouldn’t stop until everything was gone.    

We may never know what happened, but events in today’s news are a reminder to me of that time when I was there, and I saw how close we came. I believe that cooler heads in China, Russia, and North Korea prevailed.  They knew we had a very large number of nuclear weapons and would use them if threatened, but China and Russia had them as well.  

I believe the fact that we did have nuclear weapons and advanced aircraft to deliver them was possibly the reason why we didn’t go to war.  What’s interesting to me is that at that time, and even now, the world didn’t know how close we came to World War III, but I was there!        

May GOD continue to bless this beautiful planet and let’s do everything we can to keep it special and alive!                         

Former Captain Jerald Drobesh US AIR FORCE stationed at Mather Air Force Base in the 1970s before retirement. Now living in Rancho Cordova, CA.

...Read More!  
  |