George Boardman: Blue Marble Jubilee ‘conspiracy’ isn’t the only one around here |

George Boardman: Blue Marble Jubilee ‘conspiracy’ isn’t the only one around here

George Boardman
George Boardman
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

Observations from the center stripe: Spend locally edition

WHY IS Brian Dahle running his state senate campaign out of Hilmar, a good distance from the district he wants to represent? … CARE TO make a wager on how long it takes for an unredacted version of the Mueller report to get leaked to the media? I put the over/under at six months … A SCHOOL district backed away from limiting students to jelly sandwiches until parents paid their lunch bills. That would not have bothered me and a lot of kids I knew … A NEW study claims beards have more bacteria than the average dog …

Conspiracy theories have been with us since ancient times, and while most of us tend to dismiss them as the fevered thinking of troubled people, they can have serious consequences when they break into the mainstream.

In the Dark Ages, witch hunts were based on the belief that young women gathered in the woods to conspire with the devil, and many primitive societies still accuse enemy tribes of sorcery to harm or control them.

In more “civilized” societies such as ours, we’ve been treated to bizarre conspiracies like Pizzagate, QAnon, and Alex Jones ranting that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged. Then there’s the anti-vaxxers, who see a conspiracy among officials and drug companies to inject poison into our children.

Fact-free conspiracy theories can impact the lives of people who would otherwise laugh them off, as Grass Valley Charter School showed recently when it canceled its annual Blue Marble Jubilee because some conspiracy theorists conjured up a terrorist threat that nobody outside that community found credible.

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The incident attracted the kind of national and international news coverage a tourist-dependent area like ours can do without. While the conspiracy didn’t originate here and we were the victims, those details will be lost on people who get their news from headlines and then move on to the next story.

But we are hardly innocent bystanders when it comes to conspiracy theories and bad information. Nevada County is among the leaders in resisting childhood vaccinations because of a fervent embrace of junk science and a belief among many that drug companies have bought off public officials and medical professionals in an effort to increase their profits.

Just last week, some brave souls braved the elements, and two cell towers near Brunswick Road, to protest the implementation of 5G wireless technology, apparently part of a world-wide protest on International Luddite Day. (International Luddite Day? That’s a joke folks.) Much of their protest was centered on shaky, unproven “science.”

Local officials feel their concerns. Grass Valley has enacted an urgency ordinance to regulate the technology while Nevada City continues its battle against corporate behemoths and people who want to profit by ruining our health through modern communications technology.

The latest front in the war is an effort to severely restrict the deployment of 5G wireless technology. The NC council directed city staff to draw up either an urgency ordinance regulating 5G networks or a moratorium on such facilities until an ordinance could be prepared and adopted.

A ban could lead to an expensive lawsuit, city staff informed the council, but there are still ways of thwarting the advance of technology in the Queen of the Northern Mines. Nevada City can regulate the aesthetic concerns raised by this equipment. “The (amended wireless) ordinance we’re working on will resolve these concerns,” said consulting attorney Scott Porter. Care to make a wager on how difficult it’s going to be to install 5G technology downtown?

City leaders became emboldened when Verizon Wireless abandoned a 3.5-year effort to install eight cellular towers in the downtown area to improve 4G communications. During the drawn out process that caused the company to give up, we were told several times that huge telecommunications companies are conspiring with federal regulators to impose their will on us.

Then there are the health concerns, a favorite bogeyman of Vice Mayor Reinette Senum, who has spoken in the past about a “justifiable public outcry over health risks.” In Senum’s accounting, there are at least 11 serious health risks associated with the new 5G technology now coming online.

That sentiment was echoed at the recent council meeting on the moratorium by resident John Lumiere-Wins, who claimed Wi-Fi affects the brain negatively, interfering with its pathways and causing irreversible damage. “This stuff is dangerous. It’s hurting people,” said Lumiere-Wins, who describes himself as a somatic therapist whose services include Brain State Technology.

When a measure was before the state Legislature in 2017 to permit the placement of small cells on utility poles and other fixtures, Senum described the effort as “nothing short of the telecommunications industry (and state) basically hijacking and staging a hostile takeover of our local governments — cities and counties.”

This fits right in with a story line currently being peddled by RT America, a cable news network you may not know, but which has the attention of government authorities. RT, which can be found on Dish Network and DIRECTV along with some smaller cable operators, is bankrolled by the Russian government and has been forced by the U.S. Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence described the network in 2017 as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet” and a leading meddler in the 2016 presidential election. “RT successfully feeds the conspiracy-oriented ecosystem,” said John Kelly, CEO of Graphika, a network analytics firm. “This effort is having a real impact.”

RT’s latest crusade is against 5G technology, portraying it as a menace to public health. A recent feature report, “A Dangerous Experiment on Humanity,” covers what a guest expert called 5G’s dire health threat: Brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors and Alzheimer’s disease — claims that lack scientific support. Other segments in the series include “How to Survive the Dangers of 5G,” “5G Tech is a crime under international law,” and “Totally insane: Telecommunications industry is hiding 5G danger.”

Observers view this effort as part of a Russian campaign to slow down implementation of new technology that will give innovators a competitive edge for much of this century. The Kremlin “would really enjoy seeing democratic governments tied up in fights over 5G’s environmental and health hazards,” said Molly McKew of Fianna Strategies, a consulting firm that counters Russian misinformation.

Maybe RT America should consider a segment on a plucky little community in the California foothills that’s waging a lonely fight against this threat to humanity. As the Blue Marble Jubilee conspiracy showed, crazier things have happened around here.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at

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