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50 Years Ago

The latest petitions making the rounds are the work of INVOLVE, Independent Volunteers for Vote Extension, and their aim is to qualify for the November ballot an initiative to lower the voting age to 18.

Just about the only force opposing such a change is apathy–the famous silent majority again–and the petition drive may just be the vehicle to overcome that hangup.

⁠—Uncredited, 2/4/70

San Geronimo Valley has been waiting for years to join the television age. There are those who say that all the trouble valleyites get themselves into over hairs, school taxes and art centers would disappear if people out there could just get Channel 9. Or even channel 4, 5 and 7.

⁠—Uncredited, 2/4/70

40 Years Ago

The match flares up beneath the tin foil and the tannish golden powder begins to bubble. As it melts, running down a crease in the foil, its fumes are inhaled through a silver straw. The ritual is called “chasing the dragon.”

But for many who take part in this chase – young, middle-class upwardly mobile Americans – the dragon turns into a monkey on their backs. The powder is Persian dust, some of the purest heroin to hit this country in years. As its name implies, the drug is coming in from the Mideast – mainly Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. For now, it is primarily a California phenomenon.

Smoking the Presian represents a shift not only in the way heroin is used, but also in who is using it. Its consumers are showing up in heroin detoxification centers from Oakland to Los Angeles, and they are breaking the stereotype of the addict.

⁠—Mary Clare Blakeman, 2/1/80

30 Years Ago

Fighting in El Salvador took a particularly savage turn on November 16 with the murders of six Jesuit priests, their cook and her daughter on the campus of the National University. They are among the nearly 700 church workers allegedly killed by the military in El Salvador since the war broke out ten years ago. Several members of the Salvadoran army, including a colonel, have been charged in the incident.

The eight killings came less than a week after guerrillas launched the most intense offensive of the war so far and four days after President Alfredo Cristiani had declared a state of siege. San Rafael resident Larry Ross, 50, was in the Salvadoran capital November 16 as part of a Marin Interfaith Task Force program to help members of the Human Rights Commission of El Salvador. Armed with a camera, notebook and Pacific Sun press credential, Ross witnessed a reign of terror that many attribute to the Salvadoran military – which has been receiving U.S. aid since the war started. He reported on numerous human rights violations, including the massacre of dozens of students at the university campus. Ross returned home December 8 with 540 pounds of documents smuggled out of the country for the human rights commission of El Salvador.

⁠—Lawrence Ross (sidebar), 2/2/90

20 Years Ago

While most of us were sleeping a new mountain of industry arose in Sonoma County. Higher than the existing rolling hills and unlike Sonoma’s other industries such as ranching and wine-making, this mountain has no real relationship to the countryside. The new mountain is the telecommunications industry and it has the potential to transform Sonoma into a northern Silicon Valley. That’s good news if you value skyrocketing salaries and a glitzy lifestyle. It’s bad news for those who hate traffic jams and value Sonoma’s warm, rural lifestyle with relatively sane housing prices.

⁠—Shepherd Bliss, 2/2/00

Compiled by Alex T. Randolph
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