MCT: Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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RAIN AND MOUNTAIN SNOW continue today in the wake of a cold front, with a slight increase in intensity expected this afternoon. Scattered showers should persist through Wednesday before dry weather returns Thursday.


FROST ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM TO 9 AM PDT WEDNESDAY

  • WHAT...Temperatures in the mid 30s will result in frost formation.
  • WHERE...Mendocino Coast, Southwestern Mendocino Interior and Southeastern Mendocino Interior Counties.
  • WHEN...From 3 AM to 9 AM PDT Wednesday.
  • IMPACTS...Frost could kill sensitive outdoor vegetation if left uncovered.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... Take steps now to protect tender plants from the cold.

(National Weather Service)

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CONFIRMED CASES, UNITED STATES (as of March 24)

nbcnews.com/health/health-news/coronavirus-u-s-map-where-virus-has-been-confirmed-across-n1124546

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MENDOCINO COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER URGES COUNTY RESIDENTS TO ADHERE TO SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDER

On March 17, 2020, the Mendocino County Public Health Officer announced a Public Health Order that states residents shall stay home except when participating in essential activity, beginning at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, effective through 11:59 p.m. on April 7, 2020. The County Health Officer will be issuing a revised Health Order, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, to align more closely with the Governor’s Executive Order and Statewide Health Order issued on March 19, 2020, requiring all Californians to shelter in their place of residence, except as necessary to maintain or access critical systems and services. We urge all residents to closely follow the requirements in both the County and State Orders.

The State and Local Health Order requires Sheltering-In-Place. The term “Shelter-In-Place” means to stay in your home and not leave unless necessary for one of the designated exceptions listed in the Order. Everyone shall stay home to slow the spread of the virus. You must limit your essential outings as much as possible. You may leave your home to get food, to fill a prescription, to see a doctor, to go to work if your work is essential as defined in the Order, to take your child(ren) to and from childcare that is authorized under the order, and to help people you care for get the things they need to live, be healthy and stay safe.

The County’s Public Health Order requires people to stay home except for essential needs:

• Everyone should stay home except to go to the grocery store, pharmacy and gas station.

• Caring for a relative or friend.

• Getting necessary health care.

• Going to an essential job. 

Things you can do: 

• It is OK to go outside for walks if you are not in a group.

• Stay at least 6 feet apart when leaving your home for essential activities.

• The Mendocino County Order is in effect through April 7, 2020. It may be extended depending on recommendations from public health officials.

• The Governor’s Order is in place until further notice.

It is important to note vulnerable populations must stay home (older adults, individuals with serious chronic medical conditions, individuals with compromised immune systems).

“This pandemic is hitting our nation with brutal force in places we never imagined it would. Today three of our healthcare systems – among the best in the world – are teetering on collapse – in Seattle, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. The only chance we have of protecting our beloved Mendocino County is by Sheltering in Place (SIP) and obeying social distancing rules. Without a vaccine or treatment for this deadly virus, SIP is our only defense. We must be prepared to continue social distancing for weeks and months. It is my duty to protect our public’s health, and the health of our rural healthcare system – the new and stricter SIP orders I release tomorrow are meant to ensure that we use the best weapon we have against COVID-19. Stay home and keep the Virus from spreading throughout our county like wildfire.

Why are we doing this?

This is a critical intervention to reduce harm from the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community. This is a mandatory order. Now is the time to do everything we can to prevent the situation from getting much worse in the upcoming days or weeks. Every hour counts. We need and appreciate the cooperation of everyone who lives and works in Mendocino County to act immediately. Please be patient and kind to one another. If we all as individuals do our part, we can help protect our community’s health. 

County Deputy Health Officer Dr. James Flaherty stated, “We still have a chance to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Mendocino County. The virus is running rampant in New York City because of the rise in community spread. The City’s healthcare system is at critical capacity on the verge of collapse. New York City’s population density and close quarters combined with a lack of social distancing has had the result that is just like what is going on in Italy and other parts of Europe. The Bay Area is not far behind New York City. Here in Mendocino County, we are in a better position, because we get to peer into what our future will look like if we do not prepare now – we can look like a smaller version of New York if we do not act right this minute. With our wide open spaces combined with a community absolutely focused on frequent hand-washing and cleaning, Sheltering-In-Place, and social distancing, we can stop community spread in Mendocino County.”

Violations of this Order are considered a threat to our county’s health, and adherence is enforceable by law. A coordinated response of all law enforcement agencies in Mendocino County has been implemented. The Health Officer will continue to evaluate this rapidly evolving situation, and may modify this Order if needed.

Official information on the coronavirus and shelter-in-place frequently asked questions can be found at www.mendocinocounty.org.

For more on COVID-19:

www.mendocinocounty.org

Call Center: (707) 234-6052 or email callcenter@mendocinocounty.org

The call center is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

(County Health Officer Press Release)

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FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, Fort Bragg, founded 1887. Bet it's the first time they're all-Facebook.

RAVENS ON FRANKLIN ST., Fort Bragg

(Photos by Chris Calder)

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ED NOTES

GOOD CALL by Sheriff Kendall on canceling the tsunami tests. Given the, ahem, tensions aroused by the virus, a sudden burst of sirens along the Mendo coast would probably set off a tsunami of heebie jeebies.

UKIAH was calm Monday morning with no signs of panic buying at Safeway where there was even a full shelf of toilet paper. But the store's hours are now 9-6. According to the sign on the automatic doors the abbreviated hours will allow more time to re-stock the shelves.

THE NORMALLY EBULLIENT Maria at Sunny's Donuts said business was way off. Just me and one other guy there while I lingered, and he was wearing surgical gloves. Traffic everywhere is down, but given that Mendo, and now Lake, have closed hotels, motels and even the rental cabin deep in the woods, only us home-growns are on the road. I can see it both ways — people anxious to wait out the plague away from the population centers, and locals who fear the extra burden visitors place on Mendo's finite resources, especially now that the mom and pop restaurants have been ordered closed, or restricted to take out. Kinda contradictory, ain't it, to close down mom and pop while mobbing up at the local supermarket?

PG&E will plead guilty to felony involuntary manslaughter charges for starting the deadly Camp Fire two years ago, The Wall Street Journal reports. That calamitous blaze took the lives of 85 people in the most destructive wildfire in state history. An indictment in Butte County charged the company with 84 counts of manslaughter and one count of unlawfully causing a fire. A grand jury concluded that one person died by suicide as the fire closed in, resulting in the 84 manslaughter counts. The grand jury’s indictment came at the end of a year-long criminal investigation led by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, who said: “PG&E acted with criminal negligence, which is a much higher standard than ordinary negligence... They acted in a way that created a high risk of death.” California fire investigators previously said the blaze started after a worn piece of metal fell from a transmission tower, releasing a power line that sparked and lit fire to the brush below.

GOVERNOR CUOMO of New York said Monday the current crisis would last 'several' months as he hoped retired nurses would return to work to fight the virus. Cuomo said the number of cases in New York City alone rose to 12,000, an increase of more than 3,000 overnight. 

TUESDAY, New York's doctors will start using the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat patients. They are also launching a trial later this week to inject seriously ill people with coronavirus anti-bodies in the hope that it will boost their immune systems. Cuomo is also taking under advisement the argument that only the most vulnerable must isolate and allow younger, healthier people, to return to work. There are now more than 20,000 cases in the state of New York, including 12,000 in the city of New York. More tests are being done in New York than in any other state in the US and testing rates have now surpassed those of South Korea, Cuomo said. In one night, 16,000 tests were done. That is why the number of positive cases is sky-rocketing.

FROM RUPERT BEALE, MD (London Review of Books, 19 March): "For all its huge genome and clever tricks, Sars-CoV-2 has significant vulnerabilities. It has a fairly feeble fatty envelope, which it needs to sneak into cells. That's destroyed by soap, and by alcohol — so washing your hands carefully or smearing them in alcohol hand gel will kill the virus. Most transmission is either by very close contact — someone coughs or sneezes in your face — or because a droplet containing the virus touches your hands, and then you touch your face; the virus gets into the body especially easily through the membranes in the eyes, nose and mouth. Expect to be bored to tears over the coming months by pious injunctions to wash your hands. It doesn't seem like much, but it's going to reduce the risk at least somewhat…"

THE WAY it seems to be working out, we're the beneficiaries of a kind of cordon sanitaire that has so far kept the plague to the south of Mendocino County. The virus is centered, as of Sunday, in the Bay Area and decreases with each county north, and even in the Bay Area it hasn't reached the terrible incidence it has in New York. And since we’re naturally socially distanced because there aren’t very many of us, one more reason to count our blessings. 

JUST IN. Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday he tells President Trump facts repeatedly. Since the interview he has been noticeably absent from the daily briefings. His absence caused concern for many Americans online, with Twitter users rushing to question where the virus expert had disappeared to. Fauci said he will “keep pushing” to correct any inaccuracies about coronavirus. His remarks are the latest in a string of public rebukes against the president. Rumors of tension between Trump and the immunologist have been circulating.

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SUNDAY EVENING BOONVILLE

Photos by Brian Wood

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THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS

by Anne Fashauer

The last couple of weeks have been interesting, to paraphrase the infamous Chinese “blessing.” We went from spending another week in Tahoe, at the Kirkwood resort, to coming home to pretty much isolation on the ranch.

The week at Kirkwood started great - decent snow, well groomed runs, my skiing improving so significantly that I was able to tackle a couple of easy black diamonds. As the week wore on, the news kept getting scarier and scarier. We were already being careful — not touching doorknobs and so forth and washing, washing, washing our hands and using sanitizer. We had brought all of our own food and ate all three meals in our small suite. At that point we weren’t practicing the 6-10’ social distancing we are all doing now. However, the resort mid-week was relatively empty and we rarely rode a lift with anyone else — in fact, I can only remember one such incidence.

By the end of the week things were starting to change: the resort closed the communal hot tub and was sending someone around several times per day to disinfect things. There was talk of the resort closing all together (which did happen, right after we left). 

And then there was our particular Friday the 13th experience: we started with a flat tire that put us an hour and a half behind schedule. Then, as we neared Boonville just outside of Bell Valley, we literally ran into an overturned pick up truck, barely squeaking past but damaging the side of my car significantly. That whole experience added another hour and a half to the journey as we waited on emergency personnel. 

We were lucky, no one hurt and the car still ran. The other guy, an apparent local, was drunk and he, even luckier, was unscathed. 

The past week we have been full-on social distancing. My 86 year old mother lives with us and we aren’t taking any chances with her. My husband has underlying conditions so ditto the chances there. I’ve done one shopping run to Ukiah to get enough stuff for a while. Fresh vegetables and dairy are the main things we will need to keep up on.

I, like many others, have been on a cooking spree. So much extra time and so I fill it with healthy, mainly vegetarian dishes. I purchased the Blue Zones cookbook and have been trying recipes from all over the world. We’ve also started baking again, although flour is hard to come by. We all know about the strange run on toilet paper, but flour, dried beans and vegetable starts and seeds are among the other hard to find items.

Real estate is in a bit of a limbo; I get emails about properties but I am under orders from the governor and our local multiple listing services to not do any showings. Unless people have money somewhere besides the stock market, I don’t know how much buying there will be; on the other hand, people may decide it is safer to live out in the country and that might cause an uptick. It’s too early to say.

I’ll keep doing the safe thing as long as necessary. I hope all of you will also. I’m thinking of all of you, past clients and present ones, folks who just read this (thank you!) and the world overall. This too shall pass. 

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VALLEYS OF MENDOCINO COUNTY

by Katy Tahja

About 40 years ago the Mendocino County Historical Society was producing monographs on several subject areas. In the “Stories of Mendocino County” series #14 was Ray Shultz and is “Valleys of Mendocino County.” He tried to get a personal short story for every valley he listed and while I can’t share those due to space restrictions I can introduce the reader to about 50 valleys, small and large.

I’m going to skip the BIG valleys including anyplace that had a book written about it and focus on the little unknown ones…so bye-bye to Ukiah, Redwood, Potter, Comptche, Coyote, Round and Anderson Valley. Come learn about Tick, Lost, Poor Man’s, Deep Hole and Rodeo Valley instead.

Reading about these places is one thing…actually finding them on a current map is a different matter. www.historicmapworks.com on-line has a great 1954 Metsker’s map of the county to explore and I had an older Metsker’s from the 1940’s in my collection. Most modern maps don’t go into the detail these old ones did and I can waste hours looking at places that used to be worthy of note.

Ever heard of Bull Valley on Cow Mountain east of Ukiah? Only an acre with a good spring it was a favorite hunters camp. Those men would put their bed rolls on the trail in and the place was so enclosed the horses couldn’t escape. Cold Creek Valley locals called their area Poverty Flats. It was east of the Potter Valley turn off from Highway 20 and once hosted a school and post office called Hemlock.

The area we call Ridgewood Ranch between Ukiah and Willits was Walker Valley and famous for raising race horses. Rock Tree Valley was on the road out of Willits to Hearst and south of it was Berry Valley. Dan Valley, southeast of Leggett was 20 acres. Tick Valley was off of Mill Creek Road near Talmage and Comptche has a Tick Valley too along Flynn Creek Road. From Talmage a road went to Eight Mile Valley and on to High Valley into Lake County. Lost Valley was nearby.

Bell Valley, in the book, was referred to as not much of a valley on the Boonville Road but Ornbaun Valley nearby was great sheep country. The McDowell Valley east of the Sanel Valley and Hopland on the road to Lakeport produced good medicinal mineral water. Continuing east you came to Benmore Valley where the UC Field Station is now on more than 1,000 acres.

Scotts Valley off the Hearst Road featured good cattle country. Forsythe Creek Valley at the foot of the Willits grade coming from Calpella had clover so thick it would hide a steer if it lay down but the early settlers of the Ukiah Valley claimed grain grew so tall you could tie a bow knot over a horses back. Little Lake Valley had Willits for its big town and just to the north was Wheelbarrow Valley.

Sherwood Valley was northwest of Willits and go far enough west and you’d find Little Valley north of Fort Bragg…one of the very few named valleys along the coast. I loved Eden Valley and Paradise Valley on the old road to Round Valley near the middle fork of the Eel River. Rodeo Valley was near the forks of the south and middle Eel rivers.

Sanel Valley was home to a town that wouldn’t stay put. Today’s Hopland started being called Sanel but the town picked up and moved when a toll road went up the east side of the Russian River. It was set up on the west bank, but transportation changes and when the Northwestern Pacific Railroad was routed through the old townsite the businesses moved again back across the valley to where it sits today. Echo Valley, the first little valley north of Cloverdale and Preston got its name because railroad men building the line could hear echos when they pounded rail.

Summit Valley is the northernmost in the county up against Trinity County with Hulls Valley south of it. Tyler Valley was on the headwaters of Pieta Creek on Highway 101 with Adams Valley beyond it. McDonald Valley is called Oat Valley today but its name survives in the first name of Highway 128, the “McDonald-to-the-Sea” route. Surprise Valley in Comptche got it’s name because clover needed to feed oxen pulling logs in the woods grew as high as a horse’s belly and the area’s openness surprised settlers.

The Boy Scout Camp Wente east of Willits is in the Finney Valley. Lost Valley was near Vandenberg Ridge near Cow Mountain. Poor Man’s Valley and Williams Valley were both near Covelo. Wolf Valley was close to Van Arsdale Reservoir on Mill Creek.

If you want to know more about the county’s valleys find the monograph in museums or google the valley and Mendocino County and be prepared to investigate topographic maps. It’s fun.

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CANCELLATION OF MOBILE VET SERVICES at the Anderson Valley Farm Supply

In our current climate, the health and well-being of our entire community is at the forefront of our thinking. To ensure the safety of our staff, clients and community and to stop the spread of COVID-19, Mendocino Animal Hospital will be cancelling all mobile service visits to the Anderson Valley Farm Supply until further notice. 

Shelter in place, practice social distancing and stay safe! 

Thanks,

Michelle Fetzer

Mendocino Animal Hospital

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PLANNING COMMISSION CANCELLATION NOTICE for April 2, 2020, is posted on the department website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission

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STAY WELL!

by Rex Gressett

In the city's darkest hour, Fort Bragg City Manager Tabatha Miller went into her office and shut the door. Not to everyone, just to the people of the city. In a terse one-line email Ms. Miller informed me that “I am not talking to the press.”

Wayne Allen, CEO at the MDCH Hospital, was not answering emails either until Bernie Norvell called him up. I don’t know what Bernie said to him but Mr. Allen went from zero emails a week to immediate response. Anyone who has not noticed that Bernie Norvell is in every meaningful sense the real Mayor of Fort Bragg is not paying attention.

Out in the unprotected world of social distancing and financial ruin, 190,000-plus people a week are watching the crisis play out on MendocinoSportsPlus. (The Advocate had 8,700 “engagements” during the same time period). 

Last week, just before the Chinese virus exploded, Fort Bragg had a “state of the city” meeting in which the only press invited was the Fort Bragg Advocate-News — a hedge fund owned media artifact.

The rest of the press, including MSP and the AVA were deliberately stiffed.

That didn't surprise anybody. Will Lee, the glib, policy-devoid, anti-transparency Mayor of the city, does not approve of the media generally.

He has threatened this reporter repeatedly with arrest. No bull. 

He does not want you to clap or boo at meetings, he does not think it is your business to know what the city is doing. It was only natural that he turned to the comforting media fossil of yesteryear to push his low information spin.

While Linda Ruffing was engaged in her $3 million bookkeeping mistake, the Advocate covered for her too. I would love to ask Will Lee if he sees any parallels between his highly in-transparent administration and Linda Ruffing’s highly in-transparent administration other than their mutual reliance on the Advocate to push their spin.

Unfortunately, the good Mayor won't take questions from me. Not even written questions. That’s a firm long-standing policy. When the crisis broke over our heads the irony kind of jumped out at us. Mayor Lee pans the media that ends up with 200,000 readers a week in favor of the historically sold-out Advocate that can’t break 10,000 during a world-rocking crisis. 

Will Lee wants you to understand that when we elected him he became the boss. Not King exactly, but with the same kind of contempt for the press that kings invented. Will Lee is just perfecting it.

The Mayor has now decreed that responsible adults will explain the current crisis in a closed-to-the-public meeting, where the well-dressed mayor can pick and choose what he wants to say and answer the questions he wants to answer.

You are invited to send in your questions. What you won't get is a real-time dialogue with your city officials. Getting candor out of the City Council is sketchy when the room is full of people. Tuesday night they are going to tell you what they want to and answer the questions they don’t object to.

I would have a little more confidence in the meeting if they had been answering questions from the press as a matter of course, or doing interviews or making use of Channel 3 or posting — anything. 

One thing we know you won't get at the Tuesday meeting is any hardball questions. There sure won't be any back and forth with the public of the kind that a REAL interview would provide. What’s up with that? If we can’t count on them now to be marginally transparent - when will they be?

Fort Bragg’s Channel 3 is sitting there in the basement of City Hall totally empty. MSP with its 197,000-plus “engagements” is alive and kicking but specifically and explicitly out of the city information loop. God knows they are not taking questions from me.

You are on lockdown. Apparently, as far as the City Manager and the Mayor go, you are on your own. Be obedient, do what they tell you and they will let you know what they want you to know tomorrow night. But no interviews. Why do I have a strong, bad feeling we are going to have to figure it out ourselves?

If you're looking for the Mayor, good luck. Maybe he's hanging out with the City Manager under Tabatha Miller’s desk.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, March 22, 2020

Joaquin, Jones, Ricetti

DAVID JOAQUIN JR., Covelo. Parole violation.

LAMONT JONES JR., Ukiah. Domestic battery, conspiracy, probation revocation.

AMBER RICETTI, Ukiah. Conspiracy, probation revocation.

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JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR

by Larry Bensky

Berkeley, CA; Week of 3/16 — Sunday afternoon. Preternaturally quiet. Church on the corner, with its small, aged, African-American congregation, has suspended services. Nothing in the neighborhood is open but the always busy Berkeley Bowl, where lines controlling entrance have been set up. Once inside, they’ve managed to keep almost everything in stock. And almost all deli workers and checkers are there, with gloves and masks, shoppers not so much. A car goes by my usually busy street two or three times an hour. The city bus still runs.

On my daily walk (which I must do as part of long, painful rehab from an accident last May) I see maybe half a dozen people, most with dogs. People who know me, and see me, witness a thin, slow, old man, wielding a walker. In an hour I go four blocks. Me, who once thought nothing of taking off from on my bike, navigating the hills, up some or all of Mt. Diablo.

Back home I turn on the TV. In recent days it’s been the same anchors and reporters re-running days-old footage of interviews with the same people, and B-roll scenes of empty Times Square, Milan, Rome, Paris — without saying that’s what they’re doing. Crawling headlines show old statistics of cases, deaths. 

Then comes The Main Event. The confused, inarticulate, boastful, lying “Leader of the Free World” takes center stage. Guess what? There are fantastic success stories out there! We are only on Day 7 of 15 (who said it would take only 15 to do what?) and already surgical masks and ventilators are magically being made and shipped. Two large hospital ships are being overhauled and within a month one will be on each coast. But best estimates say that IF they are successfully overhauled and IF personnel can be found to staff them, they MAY be able to house a couple of thousand infected people. Estimated numbers of infected people nationwide range into the millions. Worldwide, tens of millions.

The NY Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and website Politico have been doing exemplary work under impossible conditions. The Times has a special Sunday section “Your Questions About Life under Coronavirus, Answered” (3/22/2020) They’ve taken down their pay wall so if you have internet you can read a lot. 

If you don’t have internet, of course, the closing of public libraries is crippling. Try using even a talk-only phone to speak to a friend or family member who can read what you can’t, and pass on the essential. Some utilities are saying no one will have their electricity or water cut off for not paying. Some internet providers are similarly saying phones and web connections also will not go dark (try fcc.gov for lists).

On the back page of that special NYT section is “How Do I Handle My Money?” (right after the obligatory middle class handholding about what to watch on TV and what to cook.) 

An hour into Trump babble there is still nothing emerging (reporters can’t seem to get questions through the endless success stories) about how those who have little or no income and little or no savings are going to feed themselves and pay the rent. A bill which would provide $1,200 per individual as “relief” is somehow stalled in Congress. 

A Senator (Jeff Merkely of Oregon) is on MSNBC pointing out, for the umpteenth time (one of those endlessly re-run segments) that $1,200 won’t even pay most rents. That adding a one-time $600 per child payment is also insulting; try feeding, clothing, supplying a kid on $10 a day and see how far you get. There is also the little fact that Trump’s corporate tax cut has weakened the Treasury’s ability to fund any kind of relief effort. So where’s the money going to come from? War Bonds? Those of us who remember or have studied WWII and FDR’s administrations know that Bonds – which paid little or no interest – were bought by people in abundance because relatives and neighbors of those in the armed forces wanted to show support.

We are in a time, now, however, when a significant percentage of people don’t support the government, even with the now largely symbolic gesture of voting. (Half those eligible don’t.) And they certainly don’t have an FDR to trust. Or a government they think can get anything right. The Newt Gingriches and Steve Bannons have used decades of media-enabled glide paths to promote selfishness and greed as government destinations. 

The nominal opposition has been led (if that is the right word) by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, narcissists for whom power was the destination. (Biden is a worthy successor.) Trump is equally narcissistic, of course, but because he has no administrative capability he has enshrined opportunists with power, and for them, greed is the only good. Now, no one is talking about nibbling around issues like inequality, climate destruction, and infrastructure to improve our lot on earth. 

The school where I’ve taught for 27 years is currently on-line only. Massive technical glitches seem to happen every day. The middle school where I’ve volunteered for nine years is much worse off, regular communication via internet is close to impossible, except for families on the right side of the digital divide. (Fewer than half, I would guess.) 

My own health care has become precarious. Already in-person visits to all but the ER (an unspeakable horror show in my experience) are discouraged or turned away. Brave doctors, nurses, clerks, technicians are doing all they can. But those who warned about something like this emergency were ignored.

Words like “Mitigation,” “Isolation,” “Medication” come up again and again.

No one seems to be using “triage” much yet.

They will.

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POWER IN A TIME OF CORONAVIRUS

by Norman Solomon

Every day now we’re waking up into an extreme real-life nightmare, while responses are still routinely lagging far behind what’s at stake. Urgency is reality. The horrific momentum of the coronavirus is personal, social and political. In those realms, a baseline formula is “passivity = death.” The imperative is to do vastly better.

Consistent individual actions -- such as “social distancing and extensive handwashing -- are absolutely necessary. People should stay home if at all possible. Other steps include disinfecting potentially contaminated surfaces and following the admonition to not touch your face.

Meanwhile, a huge social burden has fallen onto charities and other nonprofit organizations with resources that are tiny in relation to the scale of this catastrophe. Even in normal times they can’t do much more than slightly ameliorate the shredding of government social safety nets, the shrinking of the public sector and the profit-obsessed cruelties of corporate capitalism.

Under the weight of the coronavirus emergency, the crucial political challenges involve fighting the bastions of dominant political malfeasance, lies and plunder at the top of the U.S. government.

“In order to save lives, protect working families, and boost our economy in sustainable and healthy ways,” Oxfam concludes “we need to take actions that are swift, bold, and well beyond what Congress has thus far been willing to approve.” After partnering with Data for Progress to do national polling, Oxfam released a report that shows public opinion favors much more drastic legislation in response to the coronavirus rampage.

“Registered voters in the U.S. strongly support immediate, aggressive action in response to both the public-health and economic crises,” the March 20 report says. “Among the measures they endorse: paid sick leave for all workers, emergency funding for food supplies for those affected by the crisis, free testing for the virus, and moratoriums on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shutoffs.”

An immediate necessity is to galvanize political power from the grassroots to step up the pressure for an all-out government mobilization against this pandemic. That means continually pushing to generate maximum resources toward people who need them most -- now and for a long time to come.

Rather than being a respite from political power struggles, the coronavirus emergency is greatly intensifying them. More aid for those immersed in greed will mean less for those in desperate need. The quest by corporate profiteers to mercilessly exploit dire situations has never flagged.

Showing the vital importance of his national voice as a presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders has outlined some of the gluttonous corporate maneuvers now underway.

“Just in the last few days,” he pointed out on Sunday, “we've seen numerous examples of lobbyists and their agents fighting for special favors: the airline industry is asking for $50 billion, the private space industry is asking for $5 billion, the hotel industry wants $150 billion, the International Council of Shopping Centers wants a guarantee of up to $1 trillion, wants to sneak in a long-sought provision allowing people to use pretax money to pay for gym memberships and fitness equipment -- even when many gyms and retail stores are closed nationwide, and corporate pork producers are using the coronavirus to push Congress to expedite guest worker visas, even at a time when international travel and immigration is largely shut down.”

In this time of “unprecedented crisis,” Sanders said, “we need an unprecedented legislative response that focuses on the emergency health care needs of the American people and that puts working families and the poor ahead of CEOs and huge corporations.”

With this pandemic, fueled by the intentional neglect and greedy stupidity of Trump and Company, we have profuse reasons to heed words from legendary labor organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones: “Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

To fight like hell for the living -- to protect people from the ravages of the coronavirus and a harsh economic system -- will require unrelenting work from progressive movements willing and able to organize effectively in every political arena. 

(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”)

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

People are just mostly waiting for it to all return to “normal”. Except that some are panicking and it’s hard to know what they will be after. The TP, masks, wipes and hand sanitizers I figured they’d be after. But freezers? I just moved into a new (to me) house and wanted to buy a freezer. Forget it. They are gone nationally and out here there are insane numbers waiting on them all as they are backlogged. I had no idea this would be such a hot item but evidently people want to be able to buy frozen meals, pizza etc. and stash them away. Me, I was looking for a way to freeze the garden produce. Guess I’ll be canning and drying……

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ANOTHER ROUND OF APPLAUSE

by Manuel Vicent

Translated by Louis S. Bedrock

Photo by Sebastien, Bozon (AFP) — We will need to use this Spring of 2020, which has just begun, as a weapon.

Confined to our houses, with the anxiety that comes from being imprisoned, each one of us can purify his mind and recuperate morale by imagining the miracle that will occur right in front of us, in the middle of nature. The blooming of the flowers will coincide with the peak of the pandemic. The pollen, transported by the wind and insects, will cross paths with the tragic corona virus in space. Against any catastrophe to which this plague may lead us, the pollen and the seeds sown this spring will ultimately win the battle, as they always do. The wheat field, which at this moment is undulating above the hillside, will be tomorrow's bread; in the furrows, the vegetables will open their hearts of snow; all kinds of fruit will fill the street markets in the summer and the grapes of the vineyards will produce, in autumn, the wine we will need to offer a toast to the bad memories of the tragedy. The sparrows have returned to their former nests; the birds screech and chase each other around frantically in order to copulate on the roofs. It's possible that, ultimately, a bit of sunlight in the window and the geranium that flowers on the balcony—from which we cheer our heroic health workers—will save us from this humanitarian catastrophe. Right now, when we wake up each morning, the nightmare begins, forcing us to live as an anguished reality that fiction from stories of medieval plagues, of besieged cities, of shipwrecks, that we used to read during the long summers of our adolescence, lying in a hammock and never imagining that one day we would be the valiant or cowardly protagonists in a similar adventure.

On the ship from Treasure Island, the crew member who uttered a discouraging word in the midst of the storm was thrown overboard into the sea. If optimism is a weapon, the spring also deserves a round of applause. 

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* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2

Things are mostly still fairly routine out west here. I’m now on a work from home schedule that allows me the freedom to come into the office as I see fit for my more arduous tasks, a freedom I’m taking advantage of this morning. Best of both worlds so far for me. The grocery store mobs have thinned out again and the gas pumps still work too. Not to mention the bank cards. Local hospital seems to be doing just fine too. And that’s pretty much the limit to my day to day human interactions, even in the best of times, so I can’t find much to complain about just yet.

Some general observations I’m noticing already that have me scratching my head a little bit:

The continued rolling out of celebrities to advise us that they or someone they know has the dreaded CV, but they’re doing just fine, thanks for asking. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson reported this morning that they are recovering just fine, but that we should all be taking this VERY seriously. Likewise, Big Ben Rothlesberger – resplendent in his mountain man birds nest beard and Dumb and Dumberer scraggly haircut – felt free to share similar sentiments, coming shortly on the heels of last weeks announcement by Sean Payton that he too had the virus, but of course was much too tough to be seriously laid low by it. There seems to be a trend emerging there. I’ve seen no reported cases yet where celebrities were seriously inconvenienced by CV at all. But perhaps they’re just special in that area too.

Likewise, I’ve seen no tragic personal interest stories out there at all yet about individuals and/or families and even communities devastated by the virus. I know it’s still early yet, but where is our normally hyperactive press in reporting all this. Even assuming this is all a giant psyop to take the markets down and crash the economy and/or the dollar, wouldn’t stories like that greatly increase the public’s already overblown fears and aid the cause? That one seems a bit queer to me. But perhaps the press is just all in lockdown too.

And finally, all of this hysteria remains somewhat oddly out of step with observed conditions on the ground here in the Land of Enchantment. Yes, we’re just a poor western state who’s normally weeks or even months out of step with national trends, but everything remains just fine here so far. Even so, the rather large local concern I work for has well above normal foreign and domestic travel levels among a rather large employee base (~10K) made up of contractors, regular employees, vendors, etc. If anyone in our fair state should have seen a major CV outbreak by now, it would be us. Not happenin’ so far. But perhaps it’s coming.

On the other hand, financial hysteria abounds, and I’ll take it on faith that the ongoing market meltdown we’re seeing is indeed real, or as least as real as such things can be in the minds of the “wealth holders,” anyway. That too seems oddly out of step with the actual toll the virus may or may not be actually taking.

But anyway, I’m old now, stubborn and bitchy as hell, and not inclined to believe much of anything I’m told by anyone anymore, so there’s that too. What are you gonna do? Probably die within the next 10 years or so, in my case. Maybe even sooner. Certainly won’t be a tragedy, no matter what the cause.

* * *

NAOMI KLEIN ON CORONAVIRUS CAPITALISM

I’ve spent two decades studying the transformations that take place under the cover of disaster. I’ve learned that one thing we can count on is this: During moments of cataclysmic change, the previously unthinkable suddenly becomes reality. In recent decades, that change has mainly been for the worst — but this has not always been the case. And it need not continue to be in the future. This video is about the ways the still-unfolding Covid-19 crisis is already remaking our sense of the possible. The Trump administration and other governments around the world are busily exploiting the crisis to push for no-strings-attached corporate bailouts and regulatory rollbacks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is moving to repeal financial regulations that were introduced after the last major financial meltdown, as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. China, for its part, is indicating that it will relax environmental standards to stimulate its economy, which would wipe out the one major benefit the crisis has produced so far: a marked drop in that country’s lethal air pollution.

But this is not the whole story. In the United States, we have also seen organizing at the city and state levels win important victories to suspend evictions during the pandemic. Ireland has announced six weeks of emergency unemployment payments for all workers who suddenly find themselves out of work, including self-employed workers. And despite U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden’s claims during the recent debate that the pandemic has nothing to do with Medicare for All, many Americans are suddenly realizing that the absence of a functioning safety net exacerbates vulnerabilities to the virus on many fronts.

This crisis — like earlier ones — could well be the catalyst to shower aid on the wealthiest interests in society, including those most responsible for our current vulnerabilities, while offering next to nothing to the most workers, wiping out small family savings and shuttering small businesses. But as this video shows, many are already pushing back — and that story hasn’t been written yet.

— Naomi Klein (The Intercept)

https://www.youtube.com/embed/niwNTI9Nqd8

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* * *

FREAKY-DEAKY

by James Kunstler

I never subscribed to the nostrums of Marxism, but old Karl sure had a point when he said, “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” Is that exactly where we’re at, or what?

The hologram of capital that was not really there dissolves before our eyes. That capital, you understand, was our notion of how wealthy we used to be, like, five minutes ago. And now the capital, the money, the mojo of modern life is going-going-gone. The hologram was projected by a fantastically hypercomplex hologram machine jerry-rigged with frauds, swindles, and false promises to pay tomorrow for that proverbial hamburger today. The people running it left the robots in charge and went off to frolic with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, speaking of the profane. Then, the hologram machine broke and the iridescent image just plumb flickered out.

Now, under the shadow of the corona virus, everybody has been sent home to wait and see what happens next, hostages to the flat-screen, where the cable networks show little besides a non-stop real-time horror movie called The End of Your Future. It’s hard to keep morale up when you realize that all the usual conveyer belts of stuff you need to keep going are breaking down. It’s not hard to imagine fights, sure to come, over that dwindling stuff, which we will struggle heroically to allocate because we are really not all bad. Goodness abides, even in that America we managed to so deeply profane. Let’s hope there’s enough of it.

When these convulsions are over, we’ll have to reorganize those real conditions of life very differently in North America. There will still be considerable capital, but not the hocus-pocus Wall Street kind. There will be a lot of places with good-enough soil left — or at least soil that can be nursed back to health – to grow food. There are plenty of well-watered places. We have a marvelous system of navigable rivers, all outfitted with canals connecting them. (The Erie and Champlain Canals that connect the Hudson River estuary to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence have been kept in immaculate condition, by some miracle of forethought.) Our ancestors moved most of their stuff that way, and so can we.

We have plenty of human capital: strong backs and agile minds. They just have to be reconditioned off their addictions to canned entertainments, drugs, and the Faustian raptures of techno-narcissism – in other words, we need to get real. Real means recognizing that we’ve crossed over into a new chapter of the human project and that it requires different behavior (the relations with our kind old Karl Marx spoke of). Mostly that means readjusting our attention back to the people and the place around us, while expecting a whole lot less from distant institutions far away. Gawd knows there is enough to do, if we can get our minds right.

I doubt that the federal government as we know it can survive its own desperate measures to re-ignite the hologram of rehypothecated promises to pay back all the debt gone bad. Its adjunct, the Federal Reserve, is desperately trying to do just that this morning by promising to buy everything and anything that the markets are puking up before the open. If that seems to do the trick, the ecstatic rush may not last very long. I can say no more about that for the moment because I discovered about five minutes ago that the Internet is down here and I’m going to have to go looking for it now somewhere else nearby to put this blog up.

When I realized the web was down, and the phone wasn’t working, I turned on the TV to see if that was out too. It was. The real-time horror movie I mentioned above (the cable news) wasn’t even available, which rather darkened my outlook instantly. Did something blow up out there? I confess, I’ve had intimations lately that I am suddenly living in the prequel to my own World Made by Hand novels, which, for those unacquainted with them, are about the collapse of our economy and modern life with it. Believe me, it’s not especially comforting or satisfying, even to me, who anticipated the now-unfolding situation in great detail. As it happened, the cell phone was working, at least. I made some calls and learned that the world was still up-and-running. In the immortal words of Leon Spinks, the morning has been a bit “freaky-deaky.”

UPDATE: By late afternoon, a middling crumble in the equities. Gold and silver are zooming back up. The congressional Democrats are trying to jam one deal-killer after another into the “relief” bill on purpose to make sure the picture gets worse so as to deep-six Mr. Trump. The net effect is more uncertainty and a greater loss of trust in our government’s competence per se. Chuck and Nancy just look like they’re trying out a new, subtler form of sedition. Tomorrow will no doubt bring on more congressional Chinese fire drills. I suppose everyone in the money world thought if there was going to be a rally, it would start today. Wrong, alas…. The beat goes on and the beat-down with it.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

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WHEN IS A LOGGING ROAD ‘NOT A ROAD’

by Mike Garrity

How does the Forest Service justify bulldozing new roads where they are not supposed to be? Only by saying, “this feature is not a road.”

war is peace

freedom is slavery

ignorance is strength

These are the official slogans of the Party as inscribed at the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. The Party is able to get individuals to accept anything it decrees even if it is totally illogical. Now, although it’s 2020, it might as well be 1984. When shown the picture of a road (see above) that was not authorized by the Forest Service’s Record of Decision for the Ten Mile-South Helena clearcutting project, The Trump administration’s Department of Justice lawyers responded: “This feature is not a road.”

Two years ago the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to overturn the Trump administration’s decision to proceed with the massive, landscape-scale Ten Mile-South Helena project that will clearcut thousands of acres, including roadless lands, on the Continental Divide.

The pictures above were filed by other plaintiffs in a Motion to the federal district court to graphically show the Court that there was a road where no roads were authorized or approved. Trump, who has lied over 16,000 times as President, now has such total control of federal government agencies headed by his industry lobbyist appointees that agency attorneys feel comfortable saying an obvious road bulldozed into the forest is not a road. In Trump’s world where ignorance is strength and logging roads are not roads, Helena-Lewis and Clark Forest Supervisor Bill Avey’s decision authorizes logging on 11,650 acres, clearcutting 2,239 acres, and bulldozing 15 miles of new roads into Inventoried Roadless Areas that are supposed to be protected by President Bill Clinton’s Roadless Rule.

The Helena National Forest’s decision to clearcut Helena, Montana’s watershed – and much, much more — is part of the Forest Service’s endless war against the environment. One of the primary reasons President Teddy Roosevelt created the Forest Service in 1905 was to protect municipal watersheds from massive clearcuting and road-building by unregulated and out-of-control timber companies.

Scientists tell us that to protect watersheds for fisheries, wildlife, municipalities and commerce, we need to limit logging and road-building to provide clean drinking water. Too many roads lead to too many clearcuts. Too many clearcuts and roads lead to too much sediment flowing into creeks and too many weeds, which are more flammable than native grasses and lead to too many fires.

How does the Forest Service justify bulldozing new roads where they are not supposed to be? Only by saying, “this feature is not a road.” To deny that new roads harm watersheds and destroy habitat for threatened species like grizzly bears and lynx, the Forest Service now thinks it can simply state that a logging road is not a road — and therefore cannot threaten endangered species habitat.

Roads are bad for wildlife, especially grizzly bears. Because most grizzly bears are killed by poachers near roads, the Forest Service’s own rules – pursuant to Endangered Species Act requirements to restore threatened and endangered species — limit the number of roads that can be built-in occupied grizzly bear habitat. But since loggers need roads to haul trees out of the forest, Trump’s Forest Service is trying to say the rule doesn’t apply here because it is not occupied grizzly bear habitat. Undercutting their argument is the fact that the Forest Service’s own documents show that it is occupied grizzly habitat. Under Trump, the Ministry of Truth says occupied is not occupied. In Trump’s world, bulldozing and clearcutting forests improves, not degrades, watersheds — and roads are not roads.

But it’s 2020, not 1984 – and Alliance for the Wild Rockies is once again challenging the Forest Service’s destruction of our national forests, the streams they feed, and the wildlife for which they provide critical habitat. The Forest Service can try its best to convince a federal judge that a road is not a road – but rest assured, the Alliance will be there to fight this latest Orwellian attack on America’s natural heritage.

Please join us in fighting for truth, justice, and the environment. 

(Mike Garrity is the executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org.)

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* * *

 ‘WE’LL ALL GET THROUGH THIS, TOGETHER’: 

Joint Statement On Food Supplies From California Grocers Association And California Farm Bureau Federation 

From the farm to the grocery store, every segment of California’s food distribution system is working conscientiously to fill any gaps and make sure consumers have reliable supplies of safe, affordable food and farm products. 

As all of us come to terms with the impact of COVID-19 and the steps we must take to slow its spread, we have seen surging demand for a number of grocery items. That sudden, unexpected demand meant stores became depleted of some products. But we expect the system to correct itself as we adjust to the demands and ramp up supplies. 

Assuring continued plentiful supplies of food and grocery products will require work, cooperation and patience from everyone along the supply line, including shoppers. 

Farmers and ranchers continue to harvest and ship foods to market as usual. They have adjusted daily activities to keep themselves, their employees and their products safe. 

People on farms and ranches, in packinghouses, processing plants, trucking firms and grocery stores, have been working diligently to harvest, pack, process, ship and stock the food and grocery products we all need. It’s a 24-hour-a-day job, and by working around the clock, we’re catching up with demand. 

Food is plentiful and safe. The supply chain will replenish itself. There’s no need to buy more than you can use. We’ll all get through this, together. 

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SIGN OF THE TIMES, MENDOCINO COAST

To our followers,

As of Thursday, 3/19, The Beachcomber Motel can only provide lodging to those travelling for essential need. Like many other counties in our state, Mendocino County has ordered its residents to shelter-in-place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This order extends to all travel up to April 7th but may be extended upon review by the County. 

During this time, we MUST refuse accommodations to anyone looking to make reservations for leisure based stays. Public health officials have determined self-isolation and social distancing to be the most effective means of preventing the spread of the virus. These measures are vitally important in protecting the welfare of our county and communities. 

To our community,

We are here to support you during this difficult time. Since the order was issued, we have been working tirelessly to adapt our operations to comply with all County mandates. This has meant turning away nearly all of our reservations as required by the order and carefully qualifying those remaining guests who are permitted to stay. Before gaining access to a room, each and every guest is verified and must provide physical documentation declaring he, she, or they require lodging based on essential need.

We have not been, and will not be, accepting any reservations that are leisure-based, or do not meet the criteria established in the order. Unfortunately, there are voices from our community members who are insisting that we are taking room requests illegally or are choosing to allow anyone to stay without question. These statements are false and alarmingly misinformed. 

It saddens us to have received targeted messages of hate and harassment to our business and employees. We are not against you in this effort to protect this community that we love. We are your friends and neighbors. We have wives, husbands, children, parents, and senior members of our families that we love and want to protect just as much as you. And we want safety and protection for you too. 

Since the shelter-in-place order was released on Thursday, 3/19, we have closed down our Surf & Sand Lodge and Beach House Inn properties and have discontinued all Spa services. We have temporarily said goodbye to 90% of our workforce and have absolutely hated to do it. Any remaining guests that are staying of essential nature are being serviced by our greatly reduced staff. These amazing staff members have been dedicating themselves to learning how to be the best force of protection against this threat to our property and our community. Any occupied spaces of the hotel now undergo full deep cleaning and disinfecting between uses. These new, stricter efforts by our staff take more time, but are imperative in achieving our goal of providing safety, security, and comfort. 

Until that time when normalcy resumes and we can welcome back the remaining members of our team, we ask that you please think of how your words affect your fellow community members. Please consider the facts and avoid exacerbating an already scary and uncertain time in all our lives. And please choose kindness.

Beachcomber Motel and Spa

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COYOTE ON THE STREETS of San Francisco during the coronavirus shelter in place order...

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THE OLYMPICS TEETER ON THE BRINK

by Dave Zirin and Jules Boykoff

On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers at long last acknowledged that they are pondering alternative scenarios for the Olympics. After previously claiming that its Executive Board was not even considering “postponement,” the IOC acknowledged in an official statement that it “needs to take the next step in its scenario-planning.” The group bought itself four weeks to make a decision. To be clear, it also showed that its first priority was at some point to stage the Games, no matter what. As communicated on its website,

The IOC EB [Executive Board] emphasised that a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda.

Within hours of their announcement, the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committee issued a statement saying that it would not be sending its athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if they were held this summer. This was a bold move—a de facto boycott—and shortly afterward, the Australian Olympic Committee followed suit, telling its athletes to prepare for a 12-month postponement.

This sharp U-turn did not happen because the IOC had finally seen the light. It emerged only in reaction to a groundswell of anger as well as dissatisfaction from Olympic athletes, coaches, and administrators from around the world. USA Track and Field joined USA Swimming to call for postponement, uniting the two sports that haul in the medals for Team USA. US Olympic track legends Dick Fosbury and Ashton Eaton took to Twitter to advocate postponing. So did US swimmers Nathan Adrian and Jacob Pebley. In one survey of US athletes, 70 percent supported postponing the Tokyo Games.

It is not only US athletes. Internationally, Olympic competitors and officials have been sounding the alarm: Kaori Yamaguchi of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Spain Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco, Irish Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan, India badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, four-time Olympian and CEO of Sport Ireland John Treacy, Norway’s National Olympic & Paralympic Committee, Brazil’s Olympic Committee, the Slovenian Olympic Committee… the list goes on and on. Thomas Bach and the IOC were being hit from all sides, and this tidal wave of criticism finally prompted a statement.

But anyone waiting for the IOC to do the right thing needs to understand that the committee still lives in a Lausanne fantasy land. The IOC’s assessment asserted:

On the one hand, there are significant improvements in Japan where the people are warmly welcoming the Olympic flame. This could strengthen the IOC’s confidence in the Japanese hosts that the IOC could, with certain safety restrictions, organise Olympic Games in the country whilst respecting its principle of safeguarding the health of everyone involved.”

Meanwhile, back in reality, epidemiologists—and anyone who cares about the transmission of coronavirus—looked on in horror at the Olympic flame’s warm welcome in Japan this weekend. In a ceremony staged in Ishinomaki, around 200 miles north of Tokyo, hundreds of spectators bumped and jostled to get a glimpse at the flame, ignoring the social distancing measures that health officials are urging across the world. Moreover, NHK in Japan reports that coronavirus infections in Japan continue to escalate.

Under such conditions, even the pretension of pushing ahead with the Olympic Games is willfully reprehensible and dangerous. And yet, in an interview last week with The New York Times, IOC President Thomas Bach wouldn’t budge, stating time and again that the IOC would not engage in “speculation” about the future of the Tokyo Games. Bach’s talking-point tactics were reminiscent of the way climate change deniers have long framed their status quo stance, using the uncertainty inherent to science as political shield for inaction. “What makes this crisis so unique and so difficult to overcome is the uncertainty,” Bach stated. He continued:

“Nobody today can tell you what the developments are tomorrow, what they are in one month, not to mention in more than four months. Therefore it would not be responsible in any way to set a date or take a decision right now, which would be based on the speculation about the future developments.”

Of course, this is pure balderdash. Epidemiologists have been clear that when it comes to the coronavirus, we’re in the fight for the long haul. The US Department of Health and Human Services has indicated that the outbreak could go on for 18 months. Another peer-review scientific study found that the coronavirus’s peak in parts of the Northern Hemisphere may not arrive until winter 2020–21. The IOC often trumpets its relationship with the United Nations. It should consider the “precautionary principle” advocated by the UN, which dictates that

“where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

With the coronavirus pandemic, the precautionary principle is apt, and should point the IOC toward canceling, or at the very least postponing, the Tokyo Olympics.

Han Xiao, United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council chair and former member of the US National Table Tennis Team, told us, “Having a date to look to for more information and a decision is a step in the right direction. Previously, the IOC would not commit to any date for making a decision, so we are certainly in a better position today than we were yesterday. Many of our athletes are still facing tremendous anxiety and uncertainty and would like an earlier decision, but we also have some athletes who would like the IOC only to make their decision when they are ready. Ultimately, we are looking for more information and more transparency in the next four weeks as the IOC evaluates all possible alternatives.”

Xiao’s attention to the “tremendous anxiety” faced by aspiring Olympians is vital. The IOC, through its tone-deaf, glacial response to the coronavirus pandemic, has only increased the mental stress and strain on athletes. By telling athletes to continue training and to stay ready in the face of Covid-19, the IOC is making life harder. After all, many training facilities are closed down, including the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid and numerous US universities where aspiring Olympians train. For all the IOC’s claims of putting athletes first, too often it seems that athletes are told to go to the back of the Olympic bus.

The IOC had better evaluate “all possible alternatives.” If they don’t, you can guarantee that the athletes will “evaluate” it for them. It will be either “reevaluated” from above or from below. That’s up to Thomas Bach. Either way, these Olympics should not and cannot take place this July.

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* * *

FAILURE TO QUARANTINE THE SICK AND INFECTED, HAS LED TO THE QUARANTINE OF MILLIONS OF THE HEALTHY

Quarantine of the sick and their contacts has been a corner stone of infectious disease Public Health Policy for centuries. Due to some forty years of funding cuts, while corporations and the rich were allowed to pay less tax to the government, the US Public Health System is now a skeleton, unable to protect the population.

Here is the time line for the US Government’s criminal negligence and catastrophic failure to prepare.

December 2019 -- First caseof the deadly Covid-19 was in China. By January it had jumped to the US.

January 20, 2020 the first case was in Washington State , a 30 year old man returning from Wuhan, China. He was not placed in quarantine nor were his contacts tested.

January 30, 2020, WHO (WorldHealth Organization) declare global health emergency but fails to announce a developing pandemic. The US Government rejects internationally used test kits until mid march 2020

February 27, 2020, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman and other senators were aware that this was a developing pandemic, they made no public declarations, instead proceeded to profit by selling their own stocks.

February 28, 2020 President Trump states that the Corona virus is a hoax, and says it will soon go away. No preparations are needed. No one was quarantined.

February 29, 2020, patients died in Washington State. No one was quarantined.

March 11, 2020, after the Covid-19 had spread to multiple countries and thousands were dead, WHO declares a pandemic. Death and disease from Covid-19 begin to mount in the US and fear spreads. People began to self quarantine and take precautions.

March 15, 2020 President Trump tells the nation, “Relax” because “it all will pass”.

March 20, 2020 California governor orders most people to stay home, not go to work and limit contact with people.

Driven by fear, millions are now imprisoned for months in their own homes; alone- cut off from the closeness of their families, without work, and robbed of their daily activities and joys of life. This massive suffering could have been prevented by quarantining the few sick and infected three months ago. The US government’s criminal negligence and failure to act to protect the public health has now created a catastrophe of fear and desperation for millions.

Dr. Nayvin Gordon

Oakland

Dr. Gordon writes about health and politics and may be reached at

gordonnayvin@yahoo.com

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* * *

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] This morning I went to my local Wal-Mart here in central Illinois. I think I saw a people in transition; not yet hysterical but aware something very bad was happening. Food riots soon would not surprise me.

Days earlier there had been some bare shelf space here and there. Now the toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex were all gone. Milk 80% gone, mostly skim and 1% left. The only eggs left were a few cartons of small brown free range chicken eggs selling at 4 times the price of normal eggs. Cold medicines 90% gone. Bottled water all gone, some soda left. Meats and canned goods were about half gone. Noticeable empty space in the freezers. Only fresh produce mostly in good supply.

I heard people complaining about not finding baby formula or diapers anywhere in town. (My mother in 1955 washed diapers by hand. This no doubt motivated her to implement an early and strict Germanic regimen of toilet training which has left me psychologically scarred to this day. But I digress.)

Welcome to dystopia world. Come for the epidemic; stay for the financial breakdown. When the banks can no longer finance trade, and the trucks stop rolling, and no one restocks the shelves, will we disappear like Ozymandias with the sands of time, – unwiped and unmourned?

[2] BIDEN? This is the same tired bullshit list that gets trotted out every election cycle to keep us in line with the centrist, republican lite corporatist fuckhead that the DNC chooses for us to vote for. Looking at Biden’s voting record doesn’t give me the slightest bit of assurance that many of these items won’t go the opposite way anyways. He voted for war. He voted for reductions/cuts to “entitlements” i.e., shit we pay for — he is not a Democrat. He lies as much as Trump does. Difference is he smiles more so we feel all warm and fuzzy inside while our liberties get stripped away and our tax dollars get wasted on complete horseshit. Sorry, but not sorry. Your candidate wants my vote? Come and earn it. Otherwise, kick rocks. If the DNC insists on this modus operandi they will lose again. This time worse than 2016. Wake up and stop falling in line with this piece of shit Democratic Party. It’s wholly owned by the donor class. For them a loss in 2020 is a win. They still get your money and you still get jack shit.

[3] That’s the way it is in a capitalist system. No business because of the virus? Fire staff and send them home to shelter in place. So the working class is without money, without a way to pay basic expenses. That is a failure showing the inhumane face of capitalism.

That is not the way it is in a social democratic country like Denmark. The president of Denmark said to the employer, yes send them home because of the virus, but you cannot fire them, and the government will pay 75% of their salary. A more humane way to treat people, because people in Denmark are not just cogs in a capitalist market, not widgets. They are recognized as human beings and are treated with dignity and they are supported economically by their Social Democratic government. Denmark is one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. The Danish welfare model ensures a healthy work-life balance as well as free education and healthcare for all. That is possible in a market economy where the Government redistributes wealth equally instead of allowing for a huge gap of wealth inequality.

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HAWAII SHUTS DOWN (MARCH 23, 2020)

 Beginning in a few days, only essential businesses and services will be open in the State of Hawaii, and then on a restricted basis. Incoming individuals will be quarantined for 14 days at wherever they live or are booked into. The beaches are closed. Bars are closed. Restaurants are open for take out only. Residents are encouraged to remain at home and only go outside for exercise and to obtain essentials. Senior citizens are encouraged to remain even more isolated, and be indoors as much as is feasible, setting the example for "social distancing". The Hawaiian governor Ige and the Honolulu mayor Caldwell emphasize that everyone practice "ohana" and "aloha" and comply. 

Here at The Plumeria Hostel Alternative, work is slowing down as peak tourist season is ending. In addition to that, my present food stamp benefits are running out for this month, the bank account has $30 in it, and social security will eventually reimburse me for their extensive errors (which they have apologized to me for), but there is no indication of when. I may "defer payment" for the room here if necessary, and thus remain safely housed for the immediate future. I do NOT have the coronavirus. Am actually feeling great due to decades of spiritual cultivation. That's probably politically incorrect at the moment, but who cares? And of course, I am always welcome to leave Hawaii. 

Whereas I have previously stated that I will no longer announce that I am available on planet earth for frontline peace & justice and radical environmental organizing, activism, etcetera because I have already stated that at least 100 times, and also I said that I will no longer ask others what they would do in this world if they knew that they could not fail, because I have asked that crucial question about 500 times over the past 40 years in America, I therefore don't know what else to say. 

Craig Louis Stehr

Email: craiglouisstehr@gmail.com

Snail mail: P.O. Box 235670, Honolulu, HI 96823

Blog: http://craiglstehr.blogspot.com

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COUGHING, AN EXCHANGE

How long virus lasts on various surfaces

”Liz” (on Coast Listserve): Sanitarian friend sez: Coughing/sneezing into elbow or shoulder helps broadcast virus. There's no way to get a tight fit over faces, so droplets & aerosol particles are efficiently blasted all around us. Usually immediate hot water laundering won't happen. Better to cup hands tightly over face, then wash immediately/thoroughly.


Marco McClean: 

Your sanitarian friend is wrong about this one. I've watched Schlieren imaging (shows heat and airflow) of coughing in free air, then through a cheap carpenter's dust mask, through a medical mask, into a sleeved elbow and into the hands, and the medical effectiveness goes in this order, from worst to best: 

5. Into the hands. Very bad. Breath and particles go everywhere, in all directions, and you're washing your hands or soaking them in alcohol every time you cough, like 400 times a day. There is actually an ecosystem of healthy bacteria on your hands that you *want* to re-establish itself. 

4. Coughing in free air. Very bad. Breath and particles mainly straight ahead, like burst from a hair dryer. 

3. Carpenter's mask. Almost as bad. Hot air and particles go right through. A carpenter's mask is only good against sawdust and to keep caulk and paint off your nose and mustache. 

2. Medical mask. Pretty good. Air comes out but doesn't go far. (Medical masks should go first to doctors, nurses and exposed service providers. Remember, the purpose of a mask is not only to protect you but to protect others from you. In fact it's *mainly* to protect others from you.) 

1. Into sleeve at inside of elbow. Best of all. Better than a mask. Better than anything but a hazmat hood. And the contagion you emit is localized in a place on your sleeve that you don't touch anything with. And if you're worried about your face being contaminated, it's already contaminated --it's your face-- and don't go around licking on people. 

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BERNIE'S NEXT MOVE

18 Responses to "MCT: Tuesday, March 24, 2020"

  1. Eric Sunswheat   March 24, 2020 at 5:10 am

    RE: Mille Lacs County attorney, wife self-quarantine with possible COVID-19 infection. (Minnesota)
    T.A. LaBrun Union-Times Contributing Editor Mar 23, 2020

    We start taking high-dose Vitamin C after reading a current trial occurring in China (we are not medical professionals and not telling you what to do). It seems to help take away the burning sensation.

    ———>
    March 8-13: Brooke and I have matching very minor colds that mimicked seasonal allergies. We had minor drainage in the back of our throats, very slight throat irritation. There was almost no coughing. We had intermittent chills, but no fever. It felt like we were fighting off something minor.

    March 14-15: Brooke gets a low-grade fever below 100 and feels flu-ish. We quarantined for the entire weekend. Brooke rests.

    March 16: Brooke feels better and believes she is over it. I feel fine and go to work. Near the end of the day, I start getting chills again. I come home and have a fever under 100. I feel like I just want to lay in bed and do nothing. That’s what I did. I start to have some mild nausea. We start to think this may really be COVID-19. I did a telemedicine appointment through OnCare to seek a test. We were informed that they were no longer testing young, healthy people, but that we should assume we have COVID-19 and self-isolate for 14 days.

    March 17: The low-grade fever continued for both of us. I did not feel well but did some work from home. We are suspicious of whether we really have COVID-19 due to the low-grade fever, lack of coughing, and minor symptoms, but we don’t feel well. The mild nausea continues.

    March 18: Overnight, we start to feel chest tightness. I felt some pangs of pain in my upper lungs. The low-grade fever continues. Brooke’s is more consistent. My fever peaked at 100. Brooke’s was always below that. I worked from home a good part of the day. As the day goes on, we continue to feel some greater chest tightness. The real problem that starts on Tuesday is the body aches. They are real, and all over. We do not want to move around or do anything. So we don’t.

    March 19: This is the day that I become convinced that I have COVID-19. It feels like there are hands gripping my lungs, or a medium-sized dog is sitting on my chest. Brooke tells me that this is what it’s like breathing while super pregnant and laying on your back. We can walk up and down the stairs, but we feel out of breath when we have to do so. The body aches continued.

    March 20: We slept very poorly overnight. We had a lot of lung discomfort. I had some moderate nausea during the night. The body aches have subsided somewhat by this point. I felt like my lungs were on fire or perhaps just partially filled with glass. We start taking high-dose Vitamin C after reading a current trial occurring in China (we are not medical professionals and not telling you what to do). It seems to help take away the burning sensation.

    March 21: Much better night of sleeping. We continue to make small improvements. I feel like I can take a deep breath again and start doing some normal activities. Brooke continues to have a burning sensation in her lungs that dissipates throughout the day.

    March 22: We will be quarantined until AT LEAST seven days after all symptoms stop. That hasn’t happened yet. The kids were almost entirely unaffected…

    Mille Lacs County Administrator Pat Oman said that no one in the county attorney’s office has indicated that they are suffering with symptoms of COVID-19; however, the employees in that department have chosen to work remotely as the courthouse doors are closed to the public.

    “The courthouse is being cleaned on a daily basis,” Oman added. “Everything touched by a human hand is being cleaned throughout the day. Employees are having their temperature taken when they come in, and if there is an elevated temperature, they are sent home.

    Oman said that Mille Lacs County has about 50 people working from home now and is attempting to be “very accommodating” to its employees. “If someone doesn’t feel good, they go home and stay home for 14 days,” he added.
    https://www.hometownsource.com/union_times/free/mille-lacs-county-attorney-wife-self-quarantine-with-possible-covid/article_8c9d74be-6d3f-11ea-8ec7-0bb414b91ae0.html

    Reply
  2. Kathy Janes   March 24, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for the piece by Larry Bensky. Please print more of his journal or other writings. Anything he writes is worth reading.
    Larry has been our neighbor in Berkeley for 40 years. Reading his description of our neighborhood was like a little visit back home. I’m sure one of the dog walkers he encounters is our son.

    Reply
  3. James Marmon   March 24, 2020 at 8:38 am

    “Nervous Nancy” Pelosi and Democrat leaders held Coronavirus relief hostage for:

    Audits of election results
    Airline emissions offsets
    Corporate diversity requirements
    Collective bargaining for Federal workers
    $25M for Congressional “salaries & expenses”
    Expanded wind/solar credits

    James

    Reply
    • chuck dunbar   March 24, 2020 at 10:07 am

      Democrats are pushing for major worker-related help:

      Strengthened worker protections
      Restrictions on executive pay and companies’ ability to lay off workers and enrich themselves with government funds
      More funds for individual states to pay for fighting the outbreak
      Extending workers’ jobless benefits

      Reply
      • James Marmon   March 24, 2020 at 11:13 am

        Bullshit Chuck! This isn’t the time for collective bargaining. Trump wants to support the worker by getting them back to work as soon as possible. That kinda makes your above rhetoric a moot point. No State except for New York are claiming that they’re not getting enough support from the Federal Government, financially or otherwise. Individual States need to take Individual Responsibility for not being more prepared for something like this. Our local Public Health departments (Lake and Mendocino) are pathetic and basically useless at the present time other than for writing news releases.

        I’m not pointing any fingers, but

        James

        P.S. Right now, Gavin Newsom is doing one heck of a job.

        Reply
  4. Kathy   March 24, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Board of Supervisors meeting at 9am today (3/24/20). Live broadcast (And recorded if you need to watch it later): https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/board-of-supervisors/agendas-and-minutes

    Reply
  5. James Marmon   March 24, 2020 at 9:07 am

    Marco McClean, the CDC is telling everyone to act as though they have already been infected by the virus. Anything that stops or slows the spread is a good thing. Homemade cotton masks are helpful, the medical community used cotton masks for years until disposable masks were invented.

    “Remember, the purpose of a mask is not only to protect you but to protect others from you. In fact it’s mainly to protect others from you.”


    How to Sew a Face Mask to Overcome the Shortage During Coronavirus Pandemic

    “The purpose of the mask is to provide droplet protection. It’s all about the size of the particle you’re trying to block. Protection for COVID-19 requires standard droplet protection, so, if you use fabric that isn’t permeable to droplets, a homemade mask would work. It does not need to be airtight, it just needs to provide the barrier.”

    https://parade.com/1012729/jessicasager/how-to-sew-a-face-mask-to-overcome-the-shortage-during-coronavirus-pandemic/


    I know a local public health nurse who is posting warnings about homemade masks, saying they won’t protect you from the virus. They will if the other person is wearing them. Jesus Christ.

    Reply
    • Marco McClean   March 24, 2020 at 10:54 pm

      James, even if you sign your name Jesus Christ, cough into the elbow of your sleeve. Trying to hold it in with your hands just makes it worse. Anything less that a medical grade mask is almost as bad as no mask at all; your coughs and the particles they carry go everywhere. Medical grade masks, being limited in availability, should all go to medical people and other imperiled service workers. A crappy mask is not protecting others from your coughs /nor/ you from others who cough near the crappy mask you’ve got tied against your mouth and nose.

      “Note that in (a) the jet of air produced by the cough plume is directed downwards at roughly a 30° angle, whereas in (b) the expelled air of the cough plume is split into upward and downward components as it exits from the top and bottom edges of the mask. There is also leakage around the side edges of the mask out of the plane of the page, which is shown in the next figure. In (c), /the tighter seal of the N95 mask against the face forces more of the expelled cough through the mask. A low-velocity expelled turbulent air mass can be seen just in front of the mask, /which does not cross the distance to the other volunteer/.” (emphasis mine)
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2843945/

      Reply
      • James Marmon   March 25, 2020 at 8:06 am

        McClean, the Covid-19 is predominantly spread through droplets and not as an aerosol. Your study from 2009 is about aerosol transmissions. Aerosol transmission of covid-19 is possible in the case of protracted exposure to elevated aerosol concentrations in closed spaces.

        Stop spreading non-sense, people are dying from this virus. What’s your trip man?

        James Marmon (aka Jesus Christ)

        Reply
  6. John   March 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Okay time to chime in here because the absolute overwhelming stupidity has reached critical levels.

    COUGH OR SNEEZE INTO YOUR SHIRT! Duh….

    Everyone wears one. Pull it up over your nose-tilt your head towards your chest and cough freely.

    Rex, keep the pressure on. Dare the moron to bring suit.

    Craig, please disappear. No one needs another self centered beggar in their ear(or eye).

    Reply
    • Craig Stehr   March 24, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      Okay John, I’ll “dematerialize”. Adios.

      Reply
  7. Malcolm Macdonald   March 24, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Regarding the “state of the city” press gathering. The Fort Bragg Advocate-News was represented. Joe Regelski of KOZT radio was there and so was I. Mr. Gressett would do better by actually verifying facts rather than simply declaring things to be that simply are not. Sadly, this is not the first time that Mr. Gressett has misrepresented clearly verifiable information. It is not the second or third time…Everyone makes mistakes, but Mr. Gressett makes them far too often to retain credibility in the world of gathering news. What he writes, unfortunately, bottoms out at nothing more than speculation, conjecture that is far too often based on gross errors.

    Reply
    • Judy   March 24, 2020 at 7:47 pm

      Malcolm, the reasons you stated are in all probability the very reason people turn down his requests for interviews.

      Reply
  8. William Lee   March 24, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    From Mayor Will Lee~

    While I hardly ever respond to Mr. Gressett’s fictional, sensational stories, I must respond to this story since our City, County, State and Country are in a State of Emergency and his reckless behavior endangers the safety of our community. The State of the City interview was conducted by myself, the Vice Mayor, City Manager and the Chief of Police. The press invited and attended were Joe Regelski of KOZT; Malcolm MacDonald of the AVA (with Bruce’s approval) and Robin Espey of the Advocate News. We discussed our accomplishments in 2019 and laid out our goals and challenges for 2020. Then the press asked us questions and it was a good dialogue. As I have stated before, I refuse to be bullied, threatened with bodily harm and called all sorts of names by Mr Gressett just for him to have a “scoop” of a story. I invited Mr. MacDonald because he truly looks for facts and asks good questions and is a true journalist.
    Since this crisis began a week or so ago, the City Of Fort Bragg has issued 19 press releases, four Public Service Announcements(2 English and 2 Spanish) and we are sending bilingual messages too all utility customers today. Plus large signs on the three public bulletin boards. We’ve posted many Facebook posts and now Twitter. We have a dedicated COVID 19 website with links and information. I sent out a message from the Mayor to the People Of Fort Bragg yesterday; did an interview with KC of Skunk FM on Friday and the City Manager , Police Chief and I are doing an interview on KOZT at 8:45 am tomorrow (Tuesday).
    Tabatha Miller And Dr. William Miller (not related) will issue a joint statement weekly from the Hospital and City.
    I am also on the Hospital Incident Command so I am working hard to manage our response and prepare our staff and medical staff for the increase in patient admissions to the hospital in the next 6 weeks. Our main focus is caring for our patients, our nursing staff, our medical staff and our employees.
    We have all been preparing for this Emergency for several weeks and we don’t always get information out as fast as we would like due to information changing almost hourly. The City Manager and I are in constant contact during this emergency and we want the people of Fort Bragg to know that the City is in good hands with a very capable City Manager and an involved City Council working diligently keeping our community safe.

    At the City and in the hospital, we are on the front lines of this pandemic. We are humans with emotions, anxiety and grave concern for what faces us. We are prepared and will take care of the people that need us. Thanks to all those that have showed compassion and love to us. This means everything right now.

    PS- Here’s his ever so nice request for an interview…

    Well here you go Will this is the consequence of a public offical charged with the chief repsonsiblity for our city being butt hurt and petty. We have 70,000 people on line wanting to know what is going on. and you are too aggrieved by my very moderate t criticism to reach out to those people as THE mayor . Here is your big chance to grow the fuck up. talk to Tabatha and ask her to release basic information .Do an interview with me on channel 3 we can get it out before the special meeting. 70,000 people want to know BEFORE THE MEETING SO THAT THEY KNOW WHAT TO ASK. big question . are there any cases in the county or the city ???? are you willing to do an interview ???? Will you talk to the city manager. ???

    Reply
  9. Kathy   March 24, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for the correction Mayor Lee. I am sorry you had to take time out from your work at the hospital and at City Hall on behalf of the community, to correct the idiotic ramblings of a local, misguided and misinformed wannabe-reporter. By his own words, Rex would rather smear a person’s name and reputation than present factual information to his readers – a true disservice to our community.

    Reply
  10. Julie Generic   March 27, 2020 at 9:21 am

    Not one article or individual has addressed the homeless. I’m Mendocino born and raised and have been back to get my driver license so I can get off the streets and on with my life. The SIP was announced on my birthday. I turned 51.
    As a single woman currently experiencing a serious injury to my right leg, SIP is a must but home doesn’t exist. I can barely walk and I definitely can’t carry my gear. I have nowhere to go and the police are issuing citations to anyone on the street. I’m trying so hard to stay on track with taking care of myself but I’ve already had to deal with street men trying to take advantage of me due to my injury placing me in a vulnerable situation above and beyond this virus. I do not feel safe at the shelter. I do not feel safe, period.
    So if y’all are done with your big boy poo throwing, can we discuss OUR (homeless, handicapped, at-risk on many levels) vulnerabilities?
    Rex will know who I am and especially why I shun the shelter…he interviewed me several years ago at Fort Bragg town hall.

    Reply

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