MCT: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

* * *

ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS are possible over portions of Trinity County this afternoon, with seasonably hot conditions returning late this week for interior valleys while marine cloudiness persists at the coast. (NWS)

* * *

​CALIFORNIA STATEWIDE FIRE SUMMARY August 25, 2020

Overnight more favorable weather conditions continue to aid firefighters in their efforts towards containment. Currently, more than 14,000 firefighters are battling over two dozen major fires and lightning complexes across California. Weather conditions overnight were more favorable, yet there were over 200 lightning strikes across California. Firefighters continue to monitor for additional lightning strike wildfires and the potential for additional lightning today.

Since the lightning siege that started on Saturday, August 15, 2020, there have been over 13,000 lightning strikes, with 233 new strikes in the past 24 hours. During this time-period, there have been more than 650 new wildfires, which have now burned over 1.25 million acres. The significant acreage burned makes the fires collectively larger than the State of Delaware. In this siege, there have been 7 reported fatalities and more than 1,400 structures destroyed.

Overall weather conditions have improved compared to last week. While firefighters braced for another round of thunderstorms Sunday through Monday, lightning activity was relatively low. Isolated thunderstorms are still possible in the upper portion of northern California and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. A Red Flag Warning has been issued due to the possibility of lightning with little to no rain. The rest of California will experience a return to a warm and dry weather pattern.

fire.ca.gov/daily-wildfire-report/

* * *

SEVEN MORE COVID CASES ON TUESDAY

Mendo’s total now up to 652 with 16 deaths and 506 released from isolation. Anderson Valley's total is now 28, up from 20 just five days ago.

* * *

MILLER REPORT FOR THE WEEK OF AUGUST 24TH, 2020: A FEW UPDATES

by William Miller, MD – Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital

Overall, I believe the COVID situation here on the Coast has stabilized with only a gradual increase in newly identified cases. In other words, we are not seeing an appreciable surge at this time. As a result, Tabatha Miller and I have agreed that we will alternate our reports each week; I will submit this week and next week will be her turn. If there is a significant turn of events then we can always submit together.

Sherwood Oaks. The outbreak at Sherwood Oaks is definitely coming under control. There has been only one new case identified in the past two weeks. This is much improved from the 2-3 new cases we were seeing every few days at the beginning. Per our mitigation strategy, this resident has been moved to the hospital and remains without symptoms. As of today, the total number of residents affected since the outbreak began on July 3 is 25 with 16 making full recoveries. Additionally, there were 8 healthcare workers, all of whom have recovered, and no new cases in the staff in over 30 days. Plus, there was one known family member of a staff member who also became infected. So, a total of 34 cases in all attributed to the outbreak. There were 8 deaths, one in a resident who had made a recovery and then died as a result of a preexisting heart condition that might have been made worse by his recent COVID infection.

Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital. As mentioned last week, we learned a lot from our experiences taking care of the residents from the Sherwood Oaks outbreak. We are using that information to further refine our processes so that we will be even better prepared in case there are any more surges in cases. Because of the stability of the situation, we have opened our facility to visitors again. We allow one visitor at a time per patient between 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM. If a patient is at the end of life, then we will accommodate more visitors. Unfortunately, we cannot allow visitors into our COVID unit except at end of life. I wish to thank the Fort Bragg Rotary Club for the donation of two iPads to be used to help family and friends visit virtually with loved ones who might be hospitalized with COVID. 

Mendocino County. As a whole, the County is experiencing a steeper rise in new cases than we are on the Coast. I believe that this is largely due to the spread out nature of the majority of the 20,000 or so folks who live here which is having a natural dampening effect on transmission (40% live in Ft. Bragg with the remaining 60% spread out along a 40 mile stretch of coast). Having said that, testing is more readily available in the Ukiah Valley than here, which undoubtably skews things. From the County’s website, there are now some 650 cases to date with only 70 cases or 11% coming from the Coast. Further, half of the Coast cases are attributed to the Sherwood Oaks outbreak. Thus, cases in the general coastal community only represent 6% of the total cases in the County despite the Coast representing 22% of the County population. This should not give us a false sense of security, but it also should help keep things in perspective and further supports that we currently have a stable situation of gradually increasing cases and not a surge.

On the Importance of Masking. Recently, I saw a pickup truck in Ft. Bragg with a sign on the side stating that masks are as effective at containing the virus as underwear is at containing a fart. I must admit, I got a pretty good laugh at that, even though it is completely incorrect. Obviously, flatus is mostly made of methane gas, which is a very small chemical molecule. Viruses are spread through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. I don’t think you need more than a passing interest in science to understand that a droplet is massively larger than a methane molecule. Several studies are now showing that a double layer, cloth mask made from material with a high thread count is extremely effective and may even be equivalent to an N95 mask if the right material is used. I will a future Miller Report to more specific details on the subject.

Two weeks ago, I discussed the benefit of masking as an effective strategy for controlling spread of COVID. In that article, I stated “Masks must be worn in all settings outside the home in which you might encounter others. While it is fine to go without a mask while biking along a public trail, it isn’t okay when strolling down the sidewalks in town.” I received feedback on this statement that it is not consistent with the CDC guidelines that state masks should be worn in enclosed areas and where 6 feet of distancing cannot be maintained. Thus, being outside should be okay as long as we have good separation. Also, that the CDC considers an exposure to require a minimum of 10 minutes of such close contact without a mask. I agree with that clarification and appreciate the feedback. You are not going to catch this disease by walking past someone casually on the sidewalk, unless perhaps if that person sneezes directly at or on you. The point I was trying to make is that masks are quite effective and the sight of everyone wearing masks should not instill undue fear, but instead some sense of assurance. As I mentioned above, I will dedicate a future Miller Report to the science behind masking and the research facts that support it as an effective strategy.

* * *

EVERSOLE FURNITURE & UNDERTAKING, UKIAH, 1906

* * *

IT’S COMMON KNOWLEDGE among County insiders that our un-elected CEO Carmel Angelo runs Mendo, and definitely also runs our elected Board of Supervisors, theoretically her bosses. Supervisors have been instructed not to ask County staff any question that, in Angelo’s opinion, might take more than an hour to answer per week. All questions must be routed through CEO Angelo and all answers must come back through CEO Angelo. 

CEO Angelo also controls the Board’s agenda. A few years ago, on the bogus grounds of “saving money,” the CEO absorbed the Clerk of the Board’s function so the Supervisors no longer have a clerk working directly for them, they must defer to Angelo, not just CEO but Clerk of the Board. On top of her accrual of all this authority, we have the now familiar Covid excuse. If CEO Angelo claims that a supervisor’s question somehow interferes with the County’s covid response, then that question is quashed. Even legitimate matters that can’t be kept off the agenda, are manipulated, tweaked, delayed, papered over, shoved off on the consent calendar, or otherwise managed by the CEO.

A FEW WEEKS AGO, Deputy CEO Darcie Antle made the apparent mistake of saying that the County’s covid-distorted budget numbers were “sobering” because a lot of doubt has been discovered in the fine print of the reimbursement conditions. Nobody said a word at the time, and nobody has said anything since. And Ms. Antle has kept her opinion of the budget situation to herself in subsequent meetings, we suspect on strict orders from CEO Angelo. 

But the Supervisors express no interest in these questions in public. Even if they wanted to question this or that matter, there are so many restrictions on information in their over-orchestrated Zoom meetings and self-distancing from the County admin center, that there’s very little opportunity to bring anything up.

EVEN SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS, who for the first few months of his tenure tried valiently to bring up a few ordinary issues — the lack of meaningful mental health reporting, the failed pot program, the Board’s own agenda, the lack of a Measure B expenditure plan, etc. etc. — has now apparently given up. He seldom brings those subjects up any more, and at the last Board meeting, he didn’t utter a peep about the Board’s rubberstamping of Angelo’s pet Gold Plated Four Bedroom Schraeder Memorial Crisis Residential Treatment Complex until after the rubberstamp when he bemoaned Mendo’s lack of a “CFO” (Chief Financial Officer) without whom, Williams said, the supervisors will never get any real budget info. (And of course they’ll never have a CFO and even if they did they’d have to go through the CEO to even ask for any budget info.)

LAST YEAR, the Grand Jury tried to prod the Supes into taking a bit more control of the County’s business in their interesting reported entitled “Who Runs Mendocino County?” — the obvious implication being the CEO, not the elected officials. But again that went nowhere when the CEO convinced the supervisors, timid to begin with, and seemingly terrified to arouse the wrath of the person they pay quite handsomely and allegedly supervise, that everything was fine if a bit disorganized. So the Board cobbled a few existing reports that were gathering dust together and called it a “strategic plan” and that was the end of it. The GJ’s suggestion that the Board at least take back the Board Clerk and the agenda wasn’t even addressed.

WHICH BRINGS US to Measure B, another Angelo-controlled clusterbleep. For all their posturing about needing recommendations from the Measure B Committee before making any decisions, the Board never even asked what the Committee thought about the Schraeders’ grossly overpriced Cadillac CRT facility, not that the Measure B people had anything substantial to say anyway — the CRT is being rushed through on the bogus grounds that they have to hurry up and spend $5 million Measure B dollars to qualify for the state’s $500k grant.

THIS WEDNESDAY, for example, the Measure B committee has posted their usual pointless agenda larded up with vague “discussion and possible action” items — meaning the usual two-hour meandering, aimless gabfest that they’re so good at. Nothing about a PHF, nothing about a crisis van, nothing much at all. Except for one extremely odd item. Item 3f: “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding BHRTC Ad Hoc Approval of Fixed Asset Over $5000 Purchase: Gun Locker for BHRTC.”

THAT’S RIGHT. A gun locker for the BHRTC. Oh! You don’t know who or what the BHRTC is? Why, it’s the Behavioral Health Regional Training Center, aka the newly purchased and remodeled (with Measure B money) old Jehovah’s Witness Church in Redwood Valley, aka the Sheriff’s new training room/substation, hence, we assume, the need for a gun locker. And what is that “BHRTC Ad Hoc”? We’re pretty sure it’s former Sheriff Allman and CEO Angelo, although it could be Sheriff Allman and some other somebodies. Whatever it is they don’t meet in public.

MEASURE B, local voters were told, would get the mentally ill and the drug addled off the streets and into treatment. Gun safes are not ordinarily considered to be useful in the treatment of mental illness.

THE SHERIFF may need a $5,000k or more gun locker at the substation. But this is a perfect example of how the CEO controls these agendas: Bury a dubious, highly debatable request in bureaucratic gobblydegook in an obscure agenda at the last minute that nobody reads and then get the Measure B Committee and the Supes to sign off on it without the slightest discussion.

YOU’VE GOTTA HAND IT to the CEO. She has this down to a science.


PS. Also on the Measure B Agenda is an item to change the Measure B minutes from “summary” to “action” minutes, meaning no mention of what was said or discussed, just a minimal list of motions and votes. Apparently despite the recent hiring of an assistant or two and a construction manager and a consultant, the poor, overworked “hard working” Measure B project manager just doesn’t have time to distill the Measure B gibberish down to anything remotely readable. So she’s now proposing to just skip it (like the Supes do with their minimal and long-delayed minutes). PPS. Early in the Measure B committee meetings they actually took pretty good minutes — the write up of the crisis van discussion was quite good — but now even that will stop.

(Mark Scaramella)

* * *

* * *

FROM KATARZYNA ROLZINSKI: 

"Just called Kristina Bartolomei, Mendocino County Clerk-Recorder to get the facts.

Phone # –– 234-6819 –– this # is posted on their door; if you call them you will be let into the building, but they only allow three people at a time. 

Two of their employees have tested positive for Covid, and one died just this past Friday.

Also, if you call, they will send you the Voter Registration forms, and then after completed you can send them back.

Forms can also be obtained at the U.S Post Office, DMV, the Library, and online.

In order to get the ballots on the first mail-out, they need the Registration forms back by: October 19, 2020.

But, people can even register on the day of the election, but try not to do that, especially this year, to make sure to get counted!"

* * *

FIRE IN UKIAH, 1917

* * *

IN THE TIME OF THE COVID

All of us in masks
Acting like we feel gimpy
Or is it just me. 

— Jim Luther

* * *

UPDATE: The Fish and Game Commission unanimously “Granted for consideration of regulation change” culling of purple and red urchins at Tanker's Reef in Monterey. Caspar Cove got 3 more months and 3 more years. Yay! 

Kathy Wylie

* * *

KNIFE-WIELDING DEFENDANT FOUND GUILTY.

UKIAH, Tues., August 25. – A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations late Tuesday morning with a guilty verdict against the trial defendant.

Defendant Joseph Phillip Hart, age 43, most recently of the Laytonville area, was found guilty by jury verdict of assault with a deadly weapon, a felony. 

Hart

After the jurors were excused, the defendant additionally admitted the truth of a bifurcated sentencing enhancement that alleged he had previously suffered an out-of-state Strike offense, to wit, a robbery.

As a result of the prior Strike conviction, the defendant is ineligible for a grant of probation and will be sentenced to state prison. Also, any early release good time/work time credits that the defendant may attempt to earn while in the state prison system are limited by law to no more than twenty (20) percent of his overall sentence.

The presumptive sentence for this offense and sentencing enhancement is 6 years. If the court finds overall that the case is aggravated, the sentence is 8 years. If the court finds overall that the case is mitigated, the sentence is 4 years.

Given the guilty verdict, the prosecutor moved to have the defendant's custody status converted to no bail. That motion was granted.

The defendant's matter was referred to the Adult Probation Department for a background study and sentencing recommendation. Formal sentencing will take place on September 18th at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department H of the Ukiah courthouse.

The investigating law enforcement agencies were the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, the California Highway Patrol, the Cahto Tribal Police Department, and the District Attorney's investigators.

The prosecutor who presented the evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Scott McMenomey.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan presided over the 7-day trial.

* * *

WIDENING STATE STREET, UKIAH, 1950

* * *

STORIES FROM THE FRONT LINES --Nurses who have been caring for patients with COVID, are sharing their stories and asking the community to do their part so we can stop the spread. 

Windy Brown has been with our team for five years and has been caring for patients in our COVID unit. She says that while everyone looks at them as heroes, she doesn’t see herself as one. “I don’t necessarily think of myself as a hero. I’ve been in healthcare for a long time, this is my calling.”

Instead, Windy says, she sees herself as a soldier, similar to when she served in Iraq for a year as part of the US Navy. “I feel that I served my country then and now I serve my community. This is what I’m meant to do. I’m a nurse, my community needs me. Just like when my unit was deployed in Iraq, I can’t say 'I’m scared, I can’t go'. That’s not an option.”

Windy says she sees this as being in battle and she must do her part. “This is definitely a battle that we’re trying to win, but we can only do it if we all do our part. It requires teamwork, not just from us healthcare workers but also the community.” 

Windy says the biggest challenge is the isolation for patients. "We've become their families, but unlike before, it’s challenging to make connections without being able to share a smile and make them feel better. “We are coming in all gowned up. They can’t see our smile. I recognized one of my patients since I took care of him before. He couldn’t recognize me because he can’t see my face. We realize how important a smile is, because that’s your initial connection, it instantly makes someone feel better.”

Sierra Gelhorn who has been with the hospital for five years, and now caring for COVID patients says they understand the need for the PPE but the challenges remain. “It is hard to make that connection. We have our little eye creases and we try to smile. You learn to communicate with your eyes.”

The other challenge is also having to wear masks for their 12-hour shift. “It hurts after a while. I started breaking out all over my nose, there were some blisters. The lines on my face will stay for 24 hours. But I have been using face prep on my nose and that’s been helping.”

But she says she will keep wearing them for her patients’ safety and for her team and she’s grateful to have the tools she needs to stay safe and continue caring for patients.

The other challenge has been the isolation and the worry of bringing the virus to their families. Sierra says she has not seen her 72-year old mother, who lives in Ukiah that much. And on the rare occasions that she does, she wears a mask and makes sure to socially-distance. “I want to be careful as I am working with COVID patients. Even when COVID first came out I felt that this was the hardest part of my job, not being able to see family. I knew immediately after the first shelter in place order that it was not going to be the same. We are close so that has been challenging. That is definitely the hardest part of working with COVID patients.”

Sierra says taking precautions at work and off-work is important and she asks the community to do the same. “It is important to consider other people and you don’t want to pass anything along to someone else. It seems like an easy thing we can do to prevent the spread.”

“I would ask our community to do their part by being serious about the virus and wearing a mask. Protect themselves and protect others. If you can’t wear it for a couple for hours, think of all the health care workers who wear it for 12 hours."

Thank you, Windy and Sierra and to all our teams on the front lines for your dedication to our community. We so appreciate you all! 

— Adventist Health Mendocino Coast (nee Coast Hospital) presser

* * *

XMAS DINNER AT UKIAH RESTAURANT, 1920

* * *

ED NOTES

SOCIALISM. The Republicans are brandishing the term like everyday Americans should be afraid of social security and ought to be absolutely terrified of single-payer health insurance. As if the Democrats intend to bring US a few federal amenities to take some of the sting out of life, particularly life now, as crises multiply and intensify for most people. I wonder if “socialism” scares anyone other than millionaires and billionaires, and even the savvier plutocrats among them understand that if they don’t give off a few bucks for life’s necessities for the rest of us, their heads could wind up on pikes, their perfect teeth grinning from their severed heads. 

THE TRUMPS of the Roosevelt era also brandished socialism as a boogeyman that Americans should fear, that if Roosevelt, a plutocrat himself, guaranteed a few of the basics for his fellow Americans and taxed the rich 90 percent to pay for them, we’d be finished as a country. We got jobs and social security and hope, and the only people who complained were the very rich compelled to pay their fair share to support the country that made them rich.

IT ANNOYS me no end to hear the Trumpian yobbos scream “socialism” without the slightest notion of what they’re screaming about. And it’s simply sad to watch working people support Trump, a man who would do a George Floyd on them without a second thought if it were in his interests to do it. 

SO, CLASS, if you’re going to talk socialism, and you have even a grain of integrity, you’d study up at least enough to have some idea what you’re talking about. A simple guide to the isms is Edmund Wilson’s “To the Finland Station.” There’s also even simpler texts around like “The Idiot’s Guides” to the various isms. The idiot’s guides are funny, but even funnier is George Bernard Shaw's “The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism” which, as you can see from its title, assumes that women, being smarter than men, are also generally more educable. 

BUT THIS IS WHAT we’re getting and what we’re going to get from the Trump Republicans — fear of socialism, a term most Americans would be hard pressed to distinguish from a peanut butter sandwich, and the fear of civil disorder at a time when millions of people have the much more immediate fear of being out on the street, jobless, no income.

A REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN named Matt Gaetz of Florida said of the Democrats: “They’ll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door.”

GOT THAT AMERICA? All that stands between you and MS-13 next door is… Joe Biden. Myself, I'm learning Spanish as fast as I can.

* * *

REPUBLICANS SHATTER NORMS BY USING GOVERNMENT ROLES DURING POLITICAL CONVENTION

by Daniel Strauss

Trump allies and family members also used misleading claims to portray the president as the best hope for America’s future

Allies of Donald Trump shattered political norms, stirred controversy and issued misleading claims against Democrats during the second night of the Republican party’s national convention on Tuesday.

In speech after speech, a collection of Trump’s family members, allies, rightwing campaigners and swing-state farmers portrayed the president as the best hope for America’s future.

A spokesperson for Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden said Tuesday’s event presented an “alternate reality” that failed to acknowledge the severity of the coronavirus pandemic or its economic fallout.

In his speech on Tuesday, Larry Kudlow, who leads the White House’s council of economic advisers, described the coronavirus pandemic in the past tense, apparently ignoring that hundreds continue to die each day.

More than 175,000 people have died and more than 5.7 million have been infected in the US, far more than any other country in the world.

“President Trump’s RNC is an alternate reality. In this delusion, thousands of Americans didn’t die in the last week from Covid-19, nor have millions of Americans been infected or put out of work. Our economy hasn’t ground to a halt and our kids aren’t being kept home from school,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement.

“Donald Trump’s continual refusal to take this virus seriously has given the United States the worst outbreak in the world, and his convention’s refusal to come to grips with reality or acknowledge the magnitude of the loss is a stark reminder to Americans of his complete failure to lead.”

As Trump trails Biden in national polls, some speakers claimed that Trump’s first term accomplishments were being ignored, while Biden and Democrats enjoy the cover of a sympathetic media.

“My father ran, not because he needed the job, but because he knew hardworking people across this great country were being left behind,” said Eric Trump, the executive vice-president of the Trump Organization, which is currently under investigation. “The media mocked these patriots – and ‘the flyover states’ in which they lived.”

Meanwhile, Trump and members of his administration raised ethics concerns and broke longstanding traditions by using their public office positions for political purposes.

In a pre-recorded segment played early on in the evening, the president used his executive power to pardon Jon Ponder, a man from Nevada who founded an organization to help prisoners reintegrate into society after he served time in prison for robbing a bank. Later, the convention aired a naturalization ceremony for a diverse group of new American citizens, swearing their allegiance to the United States with the acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, and Trump present.

Mike Pompeo became the first sitting secretary of state to address a national convention in 75 years, again prompting criticism that he was inappropriately using his office for political gain. Pompeo himself has high political aspirations and has been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. He used his brief speech to tout the Trump administration’s major foreign policy moves.

“This president has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world,” Pompeo said, going on to say how Trump has “held China accountable for covering up the China virus”, without providing details. He also noted the Trump administration moved the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and claimed that under Trump’s leadership the “Isis caliphate is wiped out”. The commander of US Central Command said this week the terror group has not been completely defeated.

Legal observers warned the segments appeared to violate the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from taking part in political activity while on duty.

“Feels like the whole using the White House as a backdrop for a political campaign has been completely normalized already,” tweeted the former SDNY prosecutor Mimi Rocah. “It’s never been done before for a reason. It’s a violation of the Hatch Act, it’s a misuse of government resources & an abuse of power.”

Melania Trump gave the most sympathetic speech of the evening in front of an audience in the Rose Garden of the White House. She touched on the country’s ongoing opioid epidemic and alluded to the high death toll from the coronavirus pandemic.

“My deepest sympathy goes to everyone who has lost a loved one and my prayers are with those who are ill and suffering,” the first lady said. On the ongoing racial unrest in the country the first lady refrained from blaming it on anarchists as other speakers have throughout the convention.

“Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country,” the first lady said. “It’s a harsh reality. We are not proud of parts of our history.”

The four-day convention is also including Republicans who embrace the QAnon conspiracy theory. Mary Ann Mendoza, who was set to speak on Tuesday, urged her Twitter followers to look into an antisemitic QAnon conspiracy. She was reportedly taken off the list of scheduled speakers shortly before Tuesday night’s program began.

On Tuesday, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican congressional candidate in Georgia with a long record of engaging in QAnon circles, was invited to attend Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday.

Tuesday’s speakers also railed against “cancel culture”, and the pro-choice movement, and argued that Biden and his family have enjoyed unfair advantages because of the Democratic nominee’s former position as vice-president, despite many members of the Trump family holding influential positions as White House advisers and Trump campaign surrogates.

The former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi directly attacked Biden’s son Hunter during her speech.

“A corrupt Ukrainian oligarch put Hunter on the board of his gas company, even though he had no experience in the country – or in the energy sector. None. Yet he was paid millions to do nothing,” Bondi claimed in her speech. “He only had one qualification that mattered: he was the son of the man in charge of distributing US aid to Ukraine.”

There is no evidence the Bidens broke the law. Trump’s attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate them prompted the impeachment process against him. He became the third president in US history to be impeached.

Bondi’s speech bashing nepotism was immediately followed by a speech from Tiffany Trump, the president’s 26-year-old daughter who recently graduated law school. The daughter of the billionaire American president said Trump was the candidate of criminal justice reform and the economy, which is struggling, with more than 30 million Americans unemployed as the country fails to control the coronavirus pandemic.

“As a recent graduate, I can relate to so many of you who might be looking for a job,” Tiffany Trump said. “My father built a thriving economy once, and believe me, he will do it again.”

Many of the minority or African American speakers addressed race during their speeches. Daniel Cameron, the African American attorney general of Kentucky pegged as a rising star in the Republican party, used a portion of his speech to bash past comments Biden made on race.

“I think often about my ancestors who struggled for freedom. And as I think of those giants and their broad shoulders, I also think about Joe Biden, who says: ‘If you aren’t voting for me, you ain’t black,’ Cameron said.

The Trump campaign described Tuesday’s events as focused on honoring “the opportunities all Americans now have, thanks to President Trump’s policies and his leadership empowering all Americans to achieve their full potential”.

(courtesy The Guardian)

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, August 25, 2020

Barber, Elliott, Espinoza

ANTHONY BARBER, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.

ALICIO ELLIOTT, Covelo. Probation revocation.

JESUS ESPINOZA, Santa Rosa/Covelo. Sale-transport of organic drug, disobeying court order, destroying/concealing evidence, resisting.

Green, Higgins, Joaquin

STEVEN GREEN, Potter Valley. Mandatory supervision sentencing, failure to appear, probation revocation.

RONALD HIGGINS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, contempt of court, probation revocation.

DAVID JOAQUIN SR., Covelo. Community supervision violation. (Frequent Flyer)

Kopman, Nelson, Savidan

DYLAN KOPMAN, Cazadero/Redwood Valley. County parole violation.

PAUL NELSON, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, suspended license (for DUI), evasion, resisting, similar priors, probation revocation.

MONICA SAVIDAN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

Vessey, Walrath, White

COURTNEY VESSEY, Lakeport/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MARK WALRATH, Ukiah. Leaded cane or similar, destructive device, controlled substance, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)

NORMAN WHITE, Ukiah. Contributing to delinquency of minor, cruelty to child with infliction of injury, false imprisonment.

* * *

GREETINGS FROM A MANDATORY EVACUATION ZONE 

by Marc Ash

A Mandatory Evacuation Order (MEO) was issued for our area on Saturday morning. I had already packed my car with everything I could fit into it. One complicating factor was my chickens. I have a small organic chicken farm in Sonoma County near the Russian River. I distribute organic eggs to local low-income residents. 48 chickens can feed a lot of people.

In a wildfire evacuation situation at a farm, standard procedure is to open all animal enclosures before leaving. The theory is that it gives the animals a chance to flee and evade the fire rather than remain trapped in the fire’s path. It’s a good idea with horses, but chickens are not God’s brightest creatures, and they don’t always fare well in fires. But that’s the drill that is supposed to be followed, so I followed it. I loaded up the remainder of my possessions, including my Cockatoo Blackie, into my car and headed out.

In 2017, during the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa, a woman who was part of our local chicken chat group was forced to flee her home and her chickens. She was not allowed to go back into the area to check on them or care for them. I managed, with the help of a small local rescue farm, to get in and rescue 12 surviving chickens and 2 cats. She did not forget that act of kindness.

Now, four years later, she and her husband have rebuilt, and they offered me and Blackie a place to stay. It was a wonderful offer, but after one night I was sick with worry over what was happening at my home farm. I starting checking the weather reports, and the wind was cooperating. Light, westerly ocean breezes were holding up the progress of the fire. I decided to try to return home.

The first roadblock I came to was manned by San Francisco sheriff’s deputies. To be blunt, SF law enforcement is a lot more democratic than Sonoma law enforcement. They wanted to see my resident ID, cautioned me that the situation was still dangerous, and let me through. Blackie and I made it back home. I was very relieved to find my chickens frightened but largely unharmed. One chicken is still missing, but all the others are safe and accounted for.

The fire is still burning about three miles away in rugged, mountainous terrain. The wind has held up its progress and looks to continue to do so for the next few days. Right now, it’s a waiting and watching game. I have full phone and internet services. I can work.

Interestingly, the local birds are still around, but the normally abundant squirrels have vanished. They apparently don’t need text message alerts to know when to evacuate. 

In the last decade, amid drought and searing heat, California has entered the “era of megafires” and has become the “examplar for climate change extreme events today.”

There’s an idea that when the climate crisis begins, we will know it. Movies present it as a moment when the world’s weather suddenly turns apocalyptic: winds howl, sea levels surge, capital cities are decimated. Climate messaging can bolster this notion, implying that we have a certain number of years to save the day before reaching a cataclysmic point of no return.

Living in expectation of a definitive global break can blind us to the fact that gradually, insidiously, the climate crisis has already arrived.

In few places is this as clear as California, where extreme wildfires have become the new abnormal. There is currently a “fire siege” in northern California, with wildfires burning in every one of the nine Bay Area counties except for San Francisco, which is entirely urbanized. Tens of thousands of residents have evacuated and people are choking on smoke.

The circumstances of these blazes are unusual. They began with a tropical storm deteriorating in the Pacific Ocean, spinning off moisture in the direction of California. As it made landfall in the San Francisco region over the weekend, it sparked a remarkable lightning storm, and 10,849 lightning strikes were tallied in three days.

Over millennia California’s landscape has adapted to burn, with some tree species requiring the heat of flames to open their seed cases, and lightning-sparked wildfires are not unusual. But the state has been experiencing unheard-of heat, and just logged what may have been the hottest ever temperature recorded on earth: 129.9F in Death Valley, a few hundred miles southeast of the Bay Area lightning swarm. Vegetation is achingly dry and primed to ignite.

California’s governor announced on Wednesday that there were 367 fires, and conflagrations have grown so rapidly that there are not enough firefighters to tackle them all. Neil Lareau, an atmospheric scientist, told us that he was watching the current fires with “incredulity.”

“It seems like every year re-ups the previous year in terms of pushing the envelope, in terms of how much fire we’re seeing in the landscape and how severe that fire is,” he said.

There were also, by the by, several fire tornadoes at the weekend. Witnessing these phenomena, another fire expert remarked that California “is the exemplar for climate change extreme events today.”

In the last decade, amid drought and searing heat, California has entered the “era of megafires” 

A new book, ‘Fire in Paradise’, tells the story of a town that was almost entirely wiped out by a fire of unheralded speed in 2018. It killed 85 people, making it the deadliest ever fire in California. Other notable blazes include a 1,000-ft wide fire tornado that churned through the town of Redding a few months before the Paradise catastrophe, and fires in California¹s Wine Country that killed 44 people.

All of this is why, as we scan the headlines for the planetary shift that will mark the true arrival of the climate crisis, we risk losing sight of the fact that places like California are already experiencing it.

This is not entirely surprising. According to the ecological theory of “shifting baselines,” we do not notice the degradation of the natural world because little by little we get used to it, like a frog in hot water. We think that it has always been this way.

Once, for example, the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America, perhaps the world. Observers in the 19th century described great flocks so loud that you couldn’t hold a conversation and so large they blocked the sun: “The light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse.”

Yet slowly, as a result of overhunting and habitat destruction, they vanished into extinction, and most of us do not miss them because we have never known anything else. Our expectations of the natural world are simply different.

When it comes to California wildfires, the ground has been moving under our feet for decades, as heat rises, snowpacks shrink, and plants dry out. The baseline has shifted. How long before we forget that it was ever otherwise?

* * *

DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE COLD WAR when it was viewed as disloyal and compromising to show a sympathetic interest in Marxism or sympathies with Soviet ideology, someone at the U.S. military base at Frankfurt distributed to the soldiers stationed there, a handwritten version of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution, in the form of petition. Very few of the soldiers approached were willing to affix their signatures, most alleging that this seemed a subversive document circulated by enemies of the United States, and was Soviet propaganda. Somehow the Western propaganda message that the Cold War was about the defense of ‘the free world’ against a totalitarian enemy had made no impact, or alternatively, that the free world had nothing to do with the substantive elements of freedom as social practice. For me, and for the person who was using the petition to assess the commitment of Americans to the values of a free and democratic society, it conveyed the reality that what freedoms exist can be easily swept aside by an opportunistic or autocratic leadership. This perception has been confirmed, at least provisionally by Trump’s extreme encroachment on American institutions and civil liberties during his first term as president. A final confirmation would occur if Trump is able to hold onto power either by being reelected in November or by somehow managing to remain in the White House even if defeated by his electoral opponent. 

— Richard Falk

* * *

TODD GROVE ARMY CAMP, EARLY 1900s

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Got arrested in my second floor apartment as a 19 year old GI on a drunk and disorderly charge in Wahiawa HI in 1977. We were jammin’ to Ted Nugent Double Live Gonzo on a shitty period boom box fueled by copious amounts of alcohol and youthful exuberance when the Korean neighbors had finally had enough and called the cops. As the cops pulled just below the windows we were all singing and shouting out of, Terrible Ted launched into “Stranglehold,” easily the most bitchin’ song on the entire album, a key musical phrase of which was the lyric “come on, come on up.” Such an unfortunate turn of phrase for our particular circumstance!

One thing led to another and of course HPD followed our musical injunction by comin’ on up and delivering one of their own. “Shut this shit down, youngster” they demanded on their first request. I said OK and politely shut the door and rejoined the festivities. The second request a few seconds later was not nearly so pleasant. The cuffs behind the back and bouncing around the paddy wagon defenseless to prevent forward falls on the way to the drunk tank was surely unpleasant enough, but the technique that stuck with me most was the simple application of the nightstick under the jaw every time I opened my mouth to say a word. Not even hard, mind you, but MOST effective all the same!

Surprisingly, the 1st Sgt was mostly bemused by the whole incident when he came to bail me out several hours later. No ass chewings or nothing! Needless to say, when the cops showed up at court for me to plead out and pay my fine a few days later I was nothing but respectful. Learnt my lesson with that little adventure, I did.

* * *

LED ZEPPELIN?

Dear Readers,

My attorney paid me a visit this morning. I am in solitary confinement, isolation, 24 hours per day.

We are preparing for a jury trial which is scheduled for September 2. My attorney knows my situation is dire. He knows I have very little in terms of support on the outside and few books to keep myself occupied. In short, he knows I am one stressed-out individual!

At the conclusion of our visit he asked me to go to my cell and make a list of the people in this world I most admire and why. So I laid here for quite a while staring at the ceiling and thought real hard about it and came up with a variety of people I admire. I want to share those who made my list with your use, the readers.

I admire kind people. I admire people who in spite of being kicked around their whole lives continue to treat others with love and respect.

I admire good parents. Because really, the best contribution someone can make to the world is to raise good children.

I admire people who in spite of facing great adversity stand for what they belive in. I admire people like Martin Luther King who in spite of being the subject of great persecution stood up for what was right. I admire Jesus Christ who was the greatest bad ass of all time. People can say what they want about the man, but he stood up for what he believed even though he knew he would eventually be killed for it. In spite of that he continued to deliver his message. How can you not admire that? I admire the poor and the challenged people in our society for all the obvious reasons everybody should.

I admire generous people who are generous when they cannot afford to be. I admire the rich people who donate when most other rich people do not. The Bill Gates of the world who can and do help so many. I admire artists, true masters of their craft. The Led Zeppelins of the world, the Elvis Presleys, the Picassos, the Michelangelos, and the van Goghs.

I think what I admire most are those who step up and take care of those who need support. A good husband and dad. And those who play by the rules. Those who get up each and every day and in spite of being in a crazy world where they struggle to make ends meet, they treat others with love and kindness!

Thanks for allowing me to share this Each and everyone of you are in my prayers. I understand things are difficult right now but please try to remember we are all in this together!

All my love,

Alan Crow, 

Lake County Jail, Lakeport

* * *

TRAIN CAR

* * *

SOUTH OF NORTH GREENWOOD

Editor,

North Greenwood, every one say yes.

If you were planning a trip to Greenwood, where would you ask directions or how would you plan your trip? First decide which Greenwood you'd like to visit. Then you can write to me. I'm a minor-league historian and the lineal descendent of both Caleb Greenwood, Jim Bridgers, last mountaineer pard, and Britton Greenwood, Mexican war hero, anti-Russian activist (remember Fort Ross) and rescuer of the Donner party.

So you can say I'm well-versed on the two soon to be three Greenwood towns in northern California and if you are lucky you might find only one on any map. That would be Greenwood by the Sierras, possibly in El Dorado County.

Of course it is a tiny burg like Fort Bragg, Texas, population 18. So that Greenwood is named after my uncle Caleb. Like Fort Bragg, Texas, it might be too small to get on the map. I've never been there yet but I hear it's a small hitchhike from Grass Valley. My great aunt Batchika was born in Crow territory now northeastern Montana and was one of 18 Youngcaults and she married Caleb in the Sierras shortly after leaving Truckee River City, now Reno, around 1855. My great-grandmother Sooney Youngcault became Mary Jane Gardner Hudson Hall after she married great granddad Captain James Hudson Hall in El Dorado County around 1865 after he was detached from the Confederate states of America battleship ‘Alabama’ which by the way had 100 cannon and never lost a battle. It is now a museum boat in Mobile, Alabama. There is a secret photo of it at the Wharf motel hallway battleship walk of fame at Noyo Harbor.

My ancestors prowled the area of the ill-fated Donner stomping grounds. One part of that party took Youngcault advice and took a safer route. But Mr. Donner, sad to say, was thickheaded and didn't trust grandma's advice and ended up on a restricted diet. That's what my uncle Britton called it. he was my grandma Suzanne Saunders last cousin. He must have seen it as he rescued the remnant. They haven't built a statue to him yet. There is one of his dad Caleb auntie Batchika, born in 1800 in Crow territory and grandma Sooney Youngcault born 1825, the same exact day as Sitting Bull in Ogallala Village just 25 miles east across what is now the North Dakota border. Anyone traveling that way can look up old Mountain Man stockade, now Fort Union in North Dakota, due to Missouri River flow changes. The tiny Montana town of Wolf Point is where my original River Crow Village was. If you want to see uncle Caleb's Greenwood, best to drive to Grass Valley and ask directions. I hear it's great hunting, fishing and skiing.

As for the other two Greenwoods nearer the late great Fort Bragg, you could also pull into Nello’s market and deli in North North Greenwood — North Main Street Fort Bragg by glass Beach — and ask the proprietor James D. Britt for directions. He is also well versed in Mendocino Coast history, real estate, tennis, track and field and is an avid San Francisco Giants fan. You can watch a game right there and order any alcoholic beverage from anywhere worldwide right from that market. James is essentially Fort Bragg’s Vice Mayor so you might hear a little politics too.

The original coastal Greenland town was settled by uncle Britton around 1860 but had to have its name changed to Elk due to U.S. Postal Service in the pre-ZIP code era. The mail would get mixed up between the two Greenwood Californias. Even today if you write to Montana or Missouri and don't use a zip code, the post office flips a coin, heads your mail goes to Montana, tails to Missouri. That even happened to me when I first moved to Montana. Some of my mail would end up in Missouri. Just call it Montana Crow territory and leave it at that.

One reason a lot of other Native tribes criticize Crow people is due to jealousy. When Lewis and Clark returned to President Thomas Jefferson they reported that of all the many tribes they met the Crows were the most beautiful and well behaved tribe of all. Late great Fort Bragg historians will find that fact written in history books with presidential seals. If you choose to pursue that further look up that Yankee Custer. His Cheyenne imports who invaded Crow territory fought their little battle on our land. 

As for the third Greenwood in Northern California that brings up the 150 year reign of old Braxton Bragg: the demise of the Fort Bragg Mendoza County -- can we also change Mendocino back to its original of Mendoza, territory of Spain? Governor Mendoza was our last governor with no slaves and was a lot more honest than Jerry the Fairy Brown or Arnold McDonald Schwarzenegger. If you look up Webster and proper English, Mendocino is not even one syllable, let alone three! I doubt General Bragg will squawk much as there are at least five other Ford Braggs in the United States. Let the imbecilic mob deal with those and leave us Greenwood boys alone. Do you like the North part? We in Fort Bragg are north of Old Greenwood (Elk) and being very habitual we could now say going to North Greenwood instead of Fort Bragg. We should keep the name of our school system as Fort Bragg Unified which means it's a unified district of local people.

That has nothing to do with Braxton Bragg. Fort Bragg Unified is dedicated to one thing: a higher learning education which we do quite good -- look at my fabulous writing! I learned there at the Mendoza Beacon. I would challenge the so-called imbecilic mob geniuses to show me in black-and-white documents or history where General Braxton Bragg actually owned slaves. I already know the Louisiana story is false. Louisiana Okies can't spell Bragg let alone Braxton! And to the so-called imbecile historian who called General Bragg a coward, I hope he or she soon gets the black eye they put in for. I doubt they're running around Macon Georgia or Charleston spouting those lies.

Hopefully there are still some old-timers living in Fort Bragg who were born in the Greenwood area. I would like to hear their opinion of our town becoming their town again. Fort Bragg should have been North Greenwood to begin with. Thanks a lot Lt. Gibson. He sure caused a stir from the grave. My own dad was born out of Vinegar Ridge Road east of Greenwood/Elk. And both my granddads were born between there and Navarro. If you'd like to learn more of the Greenwood clas (from Crow territory and Missouri), a good book is the true biography of Jim Bridger, or stop by my cousin's motel in North Fort Bragg and ask for Betty Jo Saunders. I can't remember her motel's name but it's the newest one just north of Nello’s across Pudding Creek Bridge on the right across from Pudding Creek Cemetery on Pudding Creek Road. Betty Jo might be able to fill in the blanks. Hopefully she isn't as ornery as our great-grandmother Sooney Youngcault who quit alcohol and was nicknamed The Blister!

While we’re name changing what about this syllable Comptche? Why not change that to Ciroville or Jerry Town? Come on Jerry, tell us something important like what does Comptche really mean? Happy Paul Bunyan Day to Norman and you.

Sincerely, Detective Youngcault, Crow Nation

You can write me at David Giusti #3979, 951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah 95482 and donate to my defense fund if you can spare it. I hope to be out by October anyway. I have a fine large Youngcault family waiting in Crow territory for me.

David Giusti

Ukiah

* * *

* * *

‘MORALITY PILLS’ MAY BE THE US’S BEST SHOT AT ENDING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, According To One Ethicist

COVID-19 is a collective risk. It threatens everyone, and we all must cooperate to lower the chance that the coronavirus harms any one individual. Among other things, that means keeping safe social distances and wearing masks. But many people choose not to do these things, making spread of infection more likely.

When someone chooses not to follow public health guidelines around the coronavirus, they’re defecting from the public good. It’s the moral equivalent of the tragedy of the commons: If everyone shares the same pasture for their individual flocks, some people are going to graze their animals longer, or let them eat more than their fair share, ruining the commons in the process. Selfish and self-defeating behavior undermines the pursuit of something from which everyone can benefit.

Democratically enacted enforceable rules – mandating things like mask wearing and social distancing – might work, if defectors could be coerced into adhering to them. But not all states have opted to pass them or to enforce the rules that are in place.

theconversation.com/morality-pills-may-be-the-uss-best-shot-at-ending-the-coronavirus-pandemic-according-to-one-ethicist-142601

* * *

IN THE LAB

by Rupert Beale

On July 29, I received “Coronavirus (Covid-19) update: issue 97” from my university. I understand from dimly remembered friends and colleagues outside the Covidology bubble that 2020 hasn’t been much fun for them either. We’re all tetchy. Those of us who have been working round the clock on increasing testing capacity are also thoroughly exhausted. In March we ran on adrenaline and four hours’ sleep. By late July, it feels as if 2020 has been going on far too long already. We reach for equally tired clichés to describe our work. Like everyone else, we crave good news. Plenty of Panglosses are happy to supply the fix, usually in the form of something recently misunderstood by them, but well known to virologists for decades. They line up to tell us it’s all OK, nothing to worry about, we are now safe, the first wave will be the last. These opinion pieces seem to be the flip-side of the “take it on the chin” philosophy, espoused by wearyingly performative mask non-wearers – or at least, they’re published in the same sorts of places.

Still, there are genuine grounds for hope. All that work by tired, tetchy scientists is beginning to pay off. There are better tests, far more of them, and they’re cheaper. We know many if not all of the virus’s weaknesses, and there are lots of promising drugs that might prevent its replication. We are beginning to understand the immune response to the virus, and its complex relationship with the common cold coronaviruses. We are better at supportive care: ventilation and anticoagulation. We also have two useful drugs. Remdesivir is an antiviral that clogs up the virus’s replication machinery. Trials have demonstrated a marginal effect. It’s complicated to manufacture (never mind the patent lawyers) and must be given intravenously. It would probably be most effective if given early in the course of infection, before you knew whether the patient was going to be mildly or severely affected. A promising start, but hardly transformative. It’s probable that later in the disease, especially for the most severely affected patients, a maladaptive immune response is mostly to blame. For this, a laser-guided sniper rifle approach, precisely targeting an important mediator of inflammation called interleukin 6, has so far proved ineffective. In contrast, and to my surprise, an ancient blunderbuss of a steroid called dexamethasone, invented in the 1950s, has proven blessedly effective, especially for very severely ill patients requiring mechanical ventilation.

A substantially reduced chance of death for patients in intensive care is good news of a sort, but isn’t going to make the world normal again. You will still avoid hugging and kissing your nearest and dearest outside your bubble if you have any sense. A good vaccine is needed. Here we have the best news of all. In the few months since we first learned of the virus, several strong vaccine candidates have made it to final stage clinical trials. The Trump administration has come up with a name for the collective effort of thousands of dedicated scientists and medics to produce a vaccine faster than any other in history: Operation Warp Speed. The most obvious goal is to elicit a decent antibody response against Sars-CoV-2’s vicious entry weapon, Spike.* The leading vaccine candidates are of three kinds: killed Sars-CoV-2 virus; a hybrid, with Spike protein bolted on to a completely different kind of live virus; and the RNA message that gives instructions to your body’s own cells to make Spike protein.

To make good, sustained antibody responses to a target like Spike, you have to introduce the protein in such a way that the immune system recognises it not only as something new, but also as something dangerous. Mounting an aggressive immune response to something novel yet innocuous – pollen, peanuts or penicillin, say – isn’t generally useful, and is often harmful. The immune system therefore has multiple ways of recognising a pathogen, and mounting an appropriate response to it. The kind of response you want to a virus is different from the sort that would be most effective against a bacterium, and very different from what you’d need to rid yourself of worms. Each of the three kinds of vaccine candidate seems to produce the right kind of response.

The killed virus has the virtue of simplicity. You grow a large stock of the virus – easier said than done, but a particular kind of African Green Monkey kidney cell called Vero E6 obligingly replicates the virus to quite high titres – kill it, and jab it in the arms of public-spirited volunteers (or recruits in the Chinese army). Jonas Salk used the same approach to produce the first successful polio vaccine. He started his work in 1948, the vaccine was tried in animals in 1952, and it was proven to be successful in humans in 1955. Salk’s successors at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York are among the leaders in tackling the present crisis; notably, they’ve been very good at demonstrating simple things extremely well. The virus is perceived as dangerous by the immune system because it is a virus, with all the viral bits and pieces that the immune system normally recognises. Our understanding of biology has changed spectacularly since Salk began his research – Watson and Crick published the structure of DNA in 1953 – but designing successful vaccines sometimes isn’t technologically complex.

The hybrid virus approach owes more to Watson and Crick, relying on molecular biology (DNA makes RNA which in turn makes protein) to adapt a completely different sort of virus to express Spike. The vaccine developed by scientists at Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca is the most advanced candidate of this kind. Sars-CoV-2 is an RNA virus, making protein directly from the viral genome; the vaccine is an adapted DNA virus, instructing the production of RNA and then protein in the conventional way. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine rejoices in the name ChAdOx1 nCoV-19: ‘Ox’ for Oxford; ‘Ad’ because it’s an adapted adenovirus, another common cause of the common cold; ‘Ch’ because it’s based on a chimpanzee virus, to avoid stimulating a pre-existing response to the common human adenoviruses; and nCoV-19 (novel Coronavirus 2019) because that is what we called Sars-CoV-2 in January, before it got its official name in February. The recombinant virus produces the notorious Spike, and the immune system recognises it as dangerous because it’s encoded by a virus.

The hybrid is constructed in such a way that it can get into human cells and start making proteins, but cannot produce viable infectious virus. In principle, therefore, it should be pretty safe, and so it seems to be. A recent publication detailing initial findings from ongoing trials of more than a thousand volunteers (half given the new vaccine, half given a meningitis vaccine to act as the control group) didn’t show any serious adverse effects attributable to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Just about everyone who was vaccinated developed good titres of neutralising antibodies to Spike. There was also a decent response from a different kind of immunity mediated by T cells. It’s very difficult to believe that such a vaccine would have no useful effect, and as reported in Nature on 30 July, at least in rhesus macaques it protects substantially against disease. It didn’t prevent replication of the virus in the upper airways, so if humans respond to the vaccine in the same way as the monkeys, we would expect vaccinated individuals to be protected from severe disease, but still be able to pass the virus on.

It’s foolish to extrapolate directly from animal models, however, and that’s the reason large-scale human trials are underway. There have been mutterings that the currently low levels of community transmission in the UK might not provide sufficiently swift evidence of the vaccine’s efficacy, and even suggestions that exceedingly brave volunteers – young, fit, healthy, slim – might agree to be given a dose of SARS-CoV-2 to test the vaccine’s efficacy directly. That seems unnecessary when there’s still plenty of transmission in many other parts of the world where the vaccine is being tested, and when it’s likely (although not inevitable) that there will be second and subsequent waves in the UK.

It’s unlikely but not impossible that a small minority of people might develop the wrong kind of response to the vaccine, and end up being more susceptible to the virus. In the studies so far that’s not been seen, and it’s being looked for very carefully. The main caveats to the so far excellent news from this vaccine are that it wasn’t completely protective in the macaque model; we don’t know how long protective immunity might last; and the correlates of immunity (such as the development of neutralising antibody titres) have so far been shown only in a relatively young and healthy population. Clearly, it’s most important to protect the elderly and those with chronic health conditions that make them especially vulnerable.

The third type of vaccine is exemplified by one produced by Moderna, a biotech company based in Massachusetts, funded by the US government. Instead of using a virus, they take the messenger RNA that instructs cells to make Spike, and coat it with an oily chemical that helps it slip into cells. In many ways it resembles an artificial virus, and the immune system recognises it as such. The advantage of these kinds of vaccine is that they’re comparatively easy to make in large amounts, good for ‘Warp Speed’ delivery. Moderna reported their results in macaques at the end of July. The monkeys were protected from severe disease, and the vaccine also seemed to prevent replication of the virus in the upper airways. Good titres of neutralising antibodies were demonstrated. A trial in (eventually) tens of thousands of people is underway, and the otherwise abject failure to suppress transmission by social distancing in many parts of the US augurs well for determining its efficacy.

Will this all be over by Christmas? No. “Warp Speed” means early next year, if we are lucky. By then, there is a reasonable chance that all three types of vaccine will have been shown to be efficacious, and hundreds of millions of doses will have been manufactured. That’s not the same as their having been administered to all the right people. The chance of partial success – a good level of temporary protection – is higher than the chance of full success. It may well be that two doses of the vaccine are required for better protection, or that we will eventually prefer one of the hundreds of vaccines currently in earlier stages of development. I would be extremely surprised if we never develop an effective vaccine. A bigger concern is to get enough people to take it up.

(London Review of Books)

* * *

* * *

BILL GRIMES RECOMMENDS…

Here's an encouraging newspaper article, the kind of news/information the media needs to convey to us. Good for the environment and good for the individual doing it.

I know some of you are doing this. I look out my window to see a marvelous garden of many veggies.

https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2020-08-19/this-sentimental-uban-gardener-brings-ohio-to-his-east-la-home

* * *

GOING DEEP

Fire Lines

On 8/25/2020 1:15 PM, alan haack wrote (Coast Listserve): “We need wide fire lines cut throughout the state. According to my research with CalFire, these have to be clear cut as wide as twice the height of the tallest nearby trees.”

Marco McClean:

If you're gonna do that, then as you clear these freeway-wide swaths, install solar power panels and battery storage (like the Tesla battery farms in Australia), and instant shipping-container villages and farms and industry centers and, most important of all, aerial monorail tracks, with lots of open space under and between the structures* for animals to cross. Enough free electricity for everyone and every purpose (including the trains), free mass transit and cargo delivery -- the monorail transports food, construction and art supplies, it's there for leisure trips as well as essential travel. The project produces food and oxygen as well as power, and completely eliminates homelessness. Though if there are still people after all this who can't stand the confinement of walls and want to live outdoors and smoke crack or be philosopher-hobos or whatever, it gives plenty more places to live outside under*, out of the weather. Hospitals too. Whole hospitals and schools and theaters could be put up overnight by robots under the control of a single motivated high-school kid at her gaming computer. 

I mean, as long as you're completely denuding thousands of square miles of vegetation in strips criscrossing the entire West, why not use that space? Every dollar invested in this not only gives green-future results but comes back many times over in value to be spent on the public good again. It can start small and grow. The rewards begin immediately. 

Also monorail aerial track systems can be run through already-built-up areas with no real estate cost and no more footprint than already exists as surface roads. And the track itself can contain new electric and water lines. And it's as fireproof and earthquakeproof and frugal of materials as anything we've ever built. 

* * *

FOUND OBJECT

33 Responses to "MCT: Wednesday, August 26, 2020"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.