Sun/Wind/Rain | 23 Cases | AVCSD Agenda | Peacock | Dining Signs | Slowball | Church Gig | Sunflowers | Doc Drew | Brew Stock | Cannabiz | Ancient Ruin | Ed Notes | Wrestlers | Groundwater Survey | Knight Exhibit | Wright Retiring | Revolución | PA Candidates | Yesterday's Catch | Bird Questions | Brick Mail | Shaky Ground | Oil Subsidies | Plot Exposed | Redistricting | Ham n Egg | Pandemic Ahead | Murder Vic | Oil Wells | Crime Scene | Chamber Music | Mannequin | Journalistic Cliches | Mendo Footballers | Jap Spy
SUNSHINE WILL GIVE WAY TO INCREASING CLOUDS later today, before a cold front sweeps across northwest California tonight, bringing rain and gusty southerly winds. Lingering showers will decrease through the day on Thursday with diminishing breezes. A series of weaker fronts will bring occasional bouts of mainly light rain through the weekend. (NWS)
23 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
REGULAR MEETING OF THE ANDERSON VALLEY COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT WATER PROJECTS COMMITTEE
To be held via teleconference Phone # 669 900 6833 Zoom Meeting ID 845 5084 3330 Password 048078
Public comments must be submitted by 10:00am on November 4th, 2021 electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday November 4th, 2021 at 10:30am
Call To Order And Roll Call:
Recognition Of Guests And Hearing Of Public:
Approval Of September 2nd, 2021 Regular Meeting Minutes (No Meeting In October)
Changes Or Modification To This Agenda:
Report On Drinking Water Project
Report On Wastewater Project
Concerns Of Members:
RED, YELLOW, GREEN: Mendocino County’s Covid-19 Signage Requirement Went Into Effect November 1
A little over one month ago Mendocino County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren implemented a new health order requiring all businesses that serve food or drink indoors to display one of three signs designed to represent the risks associated with that business’s precautions they are taking to limit the spread of the virus.
HELP WANTED: Part-Time Job in Fort Bragg
St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church is now accepting applications for a part-time administrative assistant. Good computer, organizational and communication skills required. Quickbooks experience suggested. Approximately 12 hours per week. Compensation negotiable based on experience. Training provided. Please email: email@example.com for an application form. Return the application form and your CV by November 15, 2021.
DOCTOR DREW IS NOT NEW
For Major Mark,
Where have you been? Dr. Drew [Colfax] and Alicia have hosted the COVID update on KZYX for over a year. Used to be on Monday at 3. Since Dr. Drew works at the emergency room in Ukiah, he's able to provide information about what's really happening — something the county health department hasn't been so good at. After his report, the line is open for questions from the public and he's usually able to answer most people's questions with either concrete information or his opinion.
The show was really helpful for me, being someone who is immuno-compromised and who didn't get protection from the vaccines due to the drug I was taking for multiple myeloma. Lots of people tuned in or listened later (from the jukebox) and judging from the feedback and the money raised during the show, I think people felt that it was a benefit to the community, especially those who had no internet access.
As far as I know Drew does the show voluntarily.
I love the AVA and am continually amazed that you and Bruce and the rest of the crew can put this paper out every week, along with the online content daily.
Kudos to all!
ED NOTE: I listen to KZYX's NPR early in the morning while I'm logging an hour or so of elevated pulsation. An hour of audio bullshit lasts me until the next morning's NPR. The Major listens to Karen Ottoboni, I think, because I can hear her and then him groaning from next door. I have every confidence in Dr. Drew, whom I knew as an unusually smart teenager who went off to Harvard, as did two of his brothers. I first met Ms. Bales when she was a nose-ringed and barefoot Miss Little Tree. Now that she's half grown I think she's very good on the radio; the one time I heard her interviewing some very boring local luminary where she had to do all the talking, she managed very well and without a lot of you knows and likes and kind-ofs. She of course is a charter member of the Bari Cult and of course no mention of the Bari interlude from the skeptical position can be mentioned on Free Speech Radio, Mendocino County. Or at the County Museum in Willits for that matter. I'm aware, though, as most of us are, that KZYX doesn't do controversy because it upsets the Bushansky wing of the Democrat Party who have dominated the station since it's dubious founding by a Republican hustler called Sean Donovan. But as you also certainly know we live in a cringing, cowardly time, what with all these little orthodoxy sniffers trying to tell us all what we should think about the issues of the day. I say let 'er rip, Dobe, and trust us all to make up our own minds about everything. Onward!
TRIANGLE POT INDUSTRY, an on-line comment: What sucks about the recent cannabis economy is that it’s the quantity game now. If you want to make cheddar you got to go huge. My name is $5000 a pound back in the day & that is true. When I first started growing cannabis we got sometimes even more than $5000. I remember as much as $6400 being paid for A+++. $400 an OUNCE! straight up. Back then, late 80’s-early 90’s we got Mexican brick weed for $500 a pound. Humboldt was going for $4800-$5000 depending on what it was and who was buying. The Grateful Dead helped keep the market stable. With the Dead touring around the country people would come to Humboldt from all over to buy weed and sell it on Shakedown Street/the Dead Lot. Once Jerry died in 95 the prop 215 thing started heating up and prices slowly began to decline as the outlaws were being overtaken by the indoor flip flop growers with medical cards. Back then, early 90’s, outdoor weed was in the bushes and if you were able to pull off dense sun bud you were a legend. I remember the 1st people to really start blowing up greenhouses and this really changed the game. Now people were getting quantity and quality and the Greenrush was on! Let’s fast forward to today and here we are in Humboldt County with pounds of cannabis going for $500 a pound and even less. We aren’t talking fluffy shade bud from the 90’s, but beautiful A++ full sun top quality nugs going for the same price as super shitty seeded Mexican brick weed from the 80’s/90’s. We have turned into Mexico. It’s all big quantity which equals big expenses and bigger risks. This has been a race to the bottom for the last 10-20 years (I’ve been growing for 30 years). This is also why I quit the game some time ago and just grow my 6 super organic and super tasty plants and no longer participate in this slow moving train wreck we call our local cannabis economy.
INTERESTING facebook comment re local tax bill: “I just opened my property tax statement and was shocked by the addition of the Mendocino Unified Bond measure. I thought that it was to be $60 per $100k in assessed value but it is more like three times that amount in additional fees. Anyone else see that? I’d love to be pointed in the right direction to read the bond measure. I found this that supports my original thought, but clearly doesn’t match what I’m being charged.”
CITIZENS GENERALLY don't seem to be aware of how much they pay for our public apparatuses, but when you have cops making over two hundred thou a year with lush retirement pay, and the Ukiah City Manager pulling down $300,000 plus an assistant to hand him his coffee cup as they oversee a failing town of 16,000 people, and scam artists like former supervisor Richard Shoemaker rake in $50 grand a year to be Point Arena's part-time city manager and then “retires” to become PA's “special projects manager,” and five county supervisors make $84,000 plus generous perks for part-time “work” (if that), you're seeing only the most egregious cases without getting into the county's fat ticket school bureaucracies.
EYES ONLY, ANDERSON VALLEY: “The old brown goat we all drive by in the morning, on our way to 101 and work, just past the last house on the right, out of Boonville, mile post 29.74 …has no shelter. He stood there, all through the ‘atmospheric river,’ staked out, on a 10 ft rope, in the open field…enduring the rain and the wind. Don’t think he’s ever gonna get a shelter. By the end of December, we’ll all be driving by a stiff, brown, snow covered mound of fluff. If only the wonderful people at the Brewery, would adopt him… what a wonderful, warm life he’d have…”
CRITICAL RACE THEORY. Nevermind it's not being taught anywhere in the United States, and nevermind even if it were it would make high school history slightly less unendurable by including the facts of what really happened on the way to our consumer paradise, the hysteria around it is one more example of how nervous the country seems to be.
GENDER REASSIGNMENT. A lot of the hysteria around this subject affecting maybe a few thousand confused people out of our fine, fat population of 330 million heteros, by not encouraging anyone under the age of forty from making the decision to either cut it off or sew it on.
DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES TO USE AIRBORNE ELECTROMAGNETIC (AEM) SURVEY TO MAP UKIAH VALLEY GROUNDWATER BASIN
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is using an innovative, helicopter-based technology to gather information about the state’s groundwater aquifer structure to support drought response and the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
Beginning November 11, 2021, DWR will conduct AEM surveys of groundwater basins in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Lake Counties, specifically around Ukiah, Big Valley, Petaluma, Santa Rosa Plain, and Sonoma Valley. The helicopter crew may run test flights several days prior to the start of the surveys as well. The survey schedule can be accessed from DWR’s AEM webpage or directly from the following link: https://gis.water.ca.gov/app/AEM-schedule.
During the surveys, a low-flying helicopter tows a large hoop with scientific equipment approximately 100 feet above the ground surface. The helicopter, flown by experienced and licensed pilots, will make several passes over the survey areas and may be visible to residents.
Survey data creates an image of the subsurface down to a depth of about 1,000 feet below ground surface and provides information about large-scale aquifer structures and geology. This information will help support the implementation of the Ukiah Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s (UVBGSA) Groundwater Sustainability Plan. For more information, please watch DWR’s short 2-minute video on the introduction to the AEM method, provided in both English and Spanish.
The AEM method is safe, and surveys have been conducted successfully in several locations throughout California. Surveys will be conducted during daylight hours only, and the helicopter will not fly over businesses, homes, other inhabitable structures, or confined animal feeding operations. The helicopter operator follows all established Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations and their highest priority is public safety. Experienced pilots, who are specially trained for the low-level flying required for geophysical surveys, will operate the helicopter.
For more information about the AEM surveys, visit DWR’s AEM project website. For questions, please email AEM@water.ca.gov
POP-UP EXHIBIT AT GRACE HUDSON--and First Friday
Grace Hudson Museum presents a pop-up exhibit of painting by the late Wayne Knight, a North Coast artist and teacher.
The exhibit will run from November 3rd through 21st. It augments the Museum's current exhibit in the main gallery: “Thirty Years On: Liden, Magruder, & Knight,” tracing the careers of these three artists, who first showed together at the Museum in 1991.
The Museum will be open for First Friday on 5 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 5th. This is a perfect time to view the exhibits, stop by a local restaurant, and stroll the Wild Gardens in these last days before Daylight Savings Time.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main Street in Ukiah. It is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m., and on the first Friday of every month. For more information call (707) 467-2836 or visit www.gracehudsonmuseum.org.
FAREWELL AND THANK YOU, DR. WRIGHT
Fort Bragg, CA — On November 19, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) will bid a fond farewell to Dr. Brent Wright as he completes his final day of work before retiring. The beloved obstetrician and gynecologist has delivered more than 1,000 babies and performed hundreds of surgical procedures in his 22 years serving the North Coast, but the time has come to hang up his stethoscope.
MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said, “Dr. Wright loves what he does, and it shows. It’s hard to count all the patients he has supported through the years. We’ll miss him so much.”
Looking back on his medical career, he said, “What a rewarding privilege to be able to be here and do something essential — to improve the health, quality of life, and happiness of families around the coast.” Though it is hard for many to imagine a different career for him, Dr. Wright started on a different path.
In medical school, he had no plans to deliver babies. Dr. Wright obtained his M.D. and Ph.D. planning to go into academia doing research in reproductive endocrinology and embryo development, but after he delivered his first baby, that was it. “I just knew. That became my passion — taking care of pregnant patients and others, getting to know them, watching their families grow up,” he said.
In July of 1999, when choosing a place to practice, he wanted to find a small town where he and his wife could make a difference. As they drove through redwoods on the way to the coast, they began to fall in love with this area. With their first view of ocean, he said, “We knew we’d found the place we wanted to spend the rest of our lives.”
Mendocino Coast District Hospital (now Adventist Health Mendocino Coast) had a Labor and Delivery Department but needed someone to run it. Dr. Wright applied to fill the vacancy and has been in the area ever since. In 2005, Dr. Wright joined the team at Mendocino Coast Clinics and continued to deliver babies until the hospital closed its Labor and Delivery service on March 31, 2020.
Dr. Wright said, “When it looked like perinatal care was going to fall apart on the coast, the leadership of Mendocino Coast Clinics rescued us and maintained an essential service. I am eternally indebted to them for that.”
Dr. Wright delivered babies, performed surgical procedures, and cared for patients, even as other providers retired or moved away. He and his wife adjusted to small-town living “where you know almost everyone, and they know you.” He joked about planning an extra hour for grocery shopping since he knew he would run into patients and want to chat.
“Truly, one of greatest things is watching families grow up. I’ve loved being at MCC where we were able to take care of patients during their pregnancy through delivery and afterwards, and we got to care for their children through our pediatric service,” he said. “I looked forward to coming to work every day.”
Now, however, he is looking forward to retirement, though he admits he is not sure how he will spend his days. Both Dr. Wright and his wife share an interest in marine biology and have been active in marine mammal rescue. After Dr. Wright began his medical practice, his wife became an adjunct professor teaching environmental science, environmental ethics, and marine mammal biology at College of the Redwoods (now Mendocino College, Coast Center).
As his working days come to an end, Dr. Wright expects to dedicate more time to marine mammal rescue and to volunteering at the local animal shelter. “I expect I’ll pick up other things that have fallen out of my life, like traveling, kayaking, piano, French, astronomy, and other pursuits.”
Dr. Wright says the certified nurse midwives at MCC are excellent and will continue to provide perinatal services. “Jenna Breton and Kei Velazquez can carry on very well without me. They have a lot of experience and I trust them to provide wonderful care for pregnant women and Gyn patients here on the coast,” he said. He noted that if patients have more complicated issues that require a higher level of care, they can still be referred to specialists.
Dr. Wright again expressed his gratitude to MCC for the essential role it plays in health care for the whole community. “It has been a joy to be part of the MCC family. It’s the best clinic I've ever worked in. It’s been a thrill and an honor. I feel privileged to have found the perfect work environment. When they say, ‘Best care anywhere,’ it’s true.”
(MCC is a non-profit, federally qualified health center providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to residents from Westport to Elk and inland to Comptche in Mendocino County. www.mendocinocoastclinics.org)
NOMINATION PERIOD OPENS FOR 2022 PINT ARENA CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL ELECTION
On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, a special municipal election will be held in the City of Point Arena to elect two new Councilmembers to replace recently resigned Councilmembers.
Official nomination papers for eligible candidates desiring to file for the above office may be obtained from the Office of the City Clerk, 451 School Street in Point Arena beginning November 1, 2021, through November 29, 2021, during regular business hours as posted.
In order to be eligible to hold office as a member of the Council, a person must be a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age on or before Election Day and a registered voter of the City of Point Arena at the time nomination papers are issued for his or her candidacy and shall continue to reside in the City of Point Arena during the term of office.
For more information and to make an appointment to pick up papers, please contact Point Arena City Hall at 882-2122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Point Arena City Hall is open from 9am to 4pm Monday-Thursday and closed Fridays.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 2, 2021
JUAN LOPEZ, Ukiah. Parole violation.
JORGE MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MATTHEW MILLER, Laredo, Texas/Ukiah. DUI.
AGUSTIN QUINTANO-HERNANDEZ, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Harboring a wanted felon.
ABIMAEL SERNA-CASTILLO, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
MATHEW VICCHIONE SR., Fort Bragg. Battery on person, parole violation.
JUAN ZAZUETA-NORIEGA, Ukiah. DUI, reckless evasion.
WHAT'S UP WITH THE PELICANS AND SEAGULLS?
A COAST READER WRITES: Having watched in awe the graceful, lovable pelicans all along our coast, only once have I actually seen some dive and show signs of catching fish (at Portuguee Beach). At all other locations they floated by in the sky effortlessly, beautifully, but despite all the energy to stay aloft, I never saw them feed.
Anyone: do they feed at night? And here is another question: Throughout the last few days there have been swarms of hundreds of seagulls flying south. Has that always been so this time of year?
JUNK MAIL, AN EXCHANGE:
On 11/2/2021 4:24 PM, email@example.com wrote:
I always look to see if there is a pre-paid response envelope included, then cut up the catalog or junk mail and stuff it into the envelope and mail it back to them. Do that a few times and you will absolutely get removed from their mailing list!
* * *
Notty, once almost 30 years ago I printed something in my newspaper about wrapping a brick in butcher paper, taping the business reply mail envelope to it and sending that back. It says, “Postage will be paid by addressee.” After that issue came out, I was at a party after a play, where a woman whose day-job was in the post office was flush-faced drunk, and when she saw me come in she lit into me about how very wrong it is to tell people to do things that can injure postal workers. I asked her, “But is it legal, the brick thing?” Her contention was that it doesn't matter if something's legal, don't fucking do it! Okay, got it. Good, see that you do! Don't. Yes, see that you don't!
CHRIS CALDER NOTES: "
The “I'll stop drinking...tomorrow” strategy:
“It does, on the surface, seem inconsistent,” the president said, “but it’s not at all inconsistent in that no one has anticipated that this year we’d be in a position — or even next year — that we’re not going to use any more oil or gas; that we’re not going to be engaged in any fossil fuels. We’re going to stop subsidizing those fossil fuels. We’re going to be making significant changes. And it just makes the argument that we should move more rapidly to renewable energy — to wind and solar and other means of energy.”
“Mr. Biden’s climate and social spending plan pending in Congress does not eliminate government subsidies for fossil fuels, which are estimated to be about $20 billion annually.” (NYT)
COMMUNITY-BASED ADVISORY REDISTRICTING COMMISSION TO HOLD FINAL PUBLIC WORKSHOP NOVEMBER 3, 2021
The five member Community-based Advisory Redistricting Commission (ARC) will hold its’ last public workshop on Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 6:15 pm. The deadline to receive draft maps from the public was October 29, 2021. On Wednesday, the ARC will consider additional draft maps based on community input on redistricting criteria and narrow maps for recommendation to the Board of Supervisors during Redistricting Hearing #3 on November 9, 2021.
Upcoming meeting and deadlines regarding redistricting:
November 4th – Staff to publish 2-4 draft maps
November 9th – Regular Board of Supervisors Meeting, Redistricting Hearing #3 – ARC Chair and Staff present draft maps to BOS and BOS to identify preferred map with any requested changes – approx. time 1:30 pm
November 11th – Publish final map to be considered by the Board of Supervisors
November 18th – Special Meeting set of Board of Supervisors, Redistricting Hearing #4 –BOS to approve final map- approximate time 1:00 pm
December 7th – Regular Board of Supervisors Meeting, Redistricting Hearing #5 - Introduce Ordinance adopting final maps
December 14th - Regular Board of Supervisors Meeting, 2nd reading of the Ordinance adopting final maps
Public comment on communities of interest for redistricting is important because it determines which neighborhoods and communities will be grouped together for the purposes of electing member of the Board of Supervisors by district. Residents have the opportunity to provide input on what kind of boundaries should be drawn to best represent their community.
The public may submit testimony in the following ways:
Online: Go to https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/executive-office/redistricting and click on “Submit General Public Comment” or “Submit Community of Interest Public Comments and Maps”
In person during the public hearing: Go to https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/executive-office/redistricting for information on how to participate
Mail: County Executive Office, 501 Low Gap Rd., Room 1010, Ukiah, CA 95482 Attn: Redistricting
Phone: Call 707-463-4441
For more information on this process, visit: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/executive-office/redistricting.
COVID-19: THE LONG ROAD AHEAD
from Dave Pollard, How To Save The World blog
As we head into another winter season of the pandemic, there are a number of scenarios that might play out from here. We are still enormously ignorant about many important facts about the virus and the pandemic, but some things are pretty clear:
We are not going to eradicate the virus; it is just too transmissible and capable of rapid mutation. As such, everyone on the planet will either get the disease, be inoculated against it, or both. Masks, distancing, and shut-downs can effectively delay infection until each of us is inoculated, but unless you are inoculated it is just a matter of time before you contract the disease. Waiting will not reduce your risk.
The death rate for the aged and for those with compromised immune systems is at least two orders of magnitude greater than that for healthy children, though no one is immune. This may change as additional variants emerge.
The death rate in parts of Asia and Africa is at least one order of magnitude lower than that in affluent, sedentary nations with high rates of obesity and low exposure to other viruses in their childhood and in their everyday lives. Though, again, no part of the world is immune or sufficiently isolated to avoid endemic exposure and some risk of dying — this virus is that contagious.
The vaccines have worked brilliantly, and have at least halved the number of deaths from the pandemic. Had they been introduced more quickly and universally, more than half of those who have died from the disease (and the vast majority of those who have died in the last six months) would likely have been spared.
Global average vaccination rate is about 30%. In affluent nations the rate varies from about 40-80% by country, state, and age cohort, with an average of about 60%.
There are no feasible ‘treatments’ for viral infections that might be used, now or in the future, to eliminate the need for vaccines. Viruses are staggeringly varied and quick to mutate, and antivirals are a hit-and-miss proposition with many dangerous side effects. And, as with antibiotics, the development of new antivirals raises the risk that viruses will emerge that are immune to them as well, eliminating their value even in the most desperate cases.
Globally, the pandemic continues unabated, with about 10-20,000 people dying of it every day, and roughly three million new infections every day. This is about the average rate of deaths and new infections that the disease has produced since its very start eighteen months ago.
After a year of remarkable stability, the last eight months have seen some dramatic mutations in the virus, all of them for the worse. A recent study described by NPR concluded that “SARS-CoV-2’s rate of adaptation is remarkably high right now, roughly four times higher for SARS-CoV-2 than it is even for seasonal flu, which changes so fast that people can be vulnerable to it each year.” NPR’s report goes on: “This fast evolution has immense implications, many scientists say. It essentially dashes the hopes of eradicating SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S. or even in smaller communities. As with the flu, the coronavirus will likely be able to reinfect people over and over again. It will keep returning year after year. ‘Eventually everyone will be exposed to SARS-CoV-2,’ says Dr. Abraar Karan, who’s an infectious disease specialist at Stanford University. ‘It’s just a matter of whether you’re exposed when you’re fully vaccinated or when you’re not vaccinated.’ “
Between a third and an eighth of those infected with the disease have symptoms of chronic or permanent injury from damage caused by the disease, to the respiratory, neurological, cardiopulmonary and gastro-intestinal systems of the body, and/or to the brain and other organs. Even if most of these “long CoVid” symptoms eventually ease, the cost in terms of lost healthy life, lost work time, support health costs, and shortened overall life, will be astronomical.
As the frequency and complexity of pandemic diseases continues to accelerate in the 21st century, we can expect more, and more severe, pandemics in the years ahead.
The complexity of our global systems is such that we will not be able to eliminate or even significantly diminish the causes that underlie pandemics — massive-scale factory farming; the cultivation, harvesting and exposure to exotic animals that are reservoirs for most pandemic viruses; and the invasion and destruction of the world’s last wilderness areas that currently contain many more unknown pathogens.
There is almost no evidence that we — the leaders and members of our political, social, economic, and health systems — have learned any lessons from CoVid-19 that will significantly change our response to the next pandemic. We are likely to repeat the same mistakes we are continuing to make now, and because the next pandemic is (statistically) likely to come from animal-to-human species-gap transmission from a factory farm reservoir, we may take even longer to respond to its more complex transmission mechanisms than we did this time around.
Some other things are completely unclear, and are likely to remain so, perhaps forever:
As with the 1918 pandemic, we will probably never know how many people caught the disease, or how many died from it, and hence, we will never know even approximately what the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for the disease is. There are credible estimates that range from 8-17M deaths so far, 15-60% of the population infected so far, and hence an IFR anywhere in the 0.17-1.7% range.
As with the 1918 pandemic, we have no idea how the disease will mutate from here on. A radical mutation of the 1918 virus created a late, devastating wave that killed four times as many as the earlier waves, and targeted especially the young and healthy, precipitating a violent immune system reaction that killed its victims — those with strong immune systems were essentially killed by their own reactions, not by any action of the virus itself. Such a mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is entirely possible, especially as the disease’s spread continues largely unabated.
We don’t know how severe the effects of “Long CoVid” will be, nor what they will be, nor how long they will last, among the likely billions who will bear the scars of this disease, some in ways they do not yet know and cannot even imagine.
We don’t know how this pandemic originated. While there are some plausible theories of human incompetence causing it, there are far more tenable theories that the virus was transmitted by a bat directly to a human, and that such accidents, while rarely as devastating as CoVid-19 turned out to be, happen all the time.
We don’t know how the virus affects us, makes us ill, and kills us. We are still fighting the symptoms, not the mechanism that gives rise to them, because the virus seems to have many, many, complex, inconsistent and unpredicted effects on many different parts of our bodies.
We don’t know how long the vaccines, and getting infected, will continue to offer protection against new infections, and what effect “booster” shots will have on immunity to infection and reinfection.
We don’t know what proportion of the hold-outs will get vaccinated, and when, either because of work mandates (there’s some evidence at more than 80% of holdouts begrudgingly get vaccinated when their job is on the line), or because, in many less affluent countries, vaccines are finally made available when they haven’t been to date. This could make a huge difference on the duration of the pandemic and the likelihood of new, virulent variants emerging.
So that leaves us with the possible scenarios outlined in the charts above. What they suggest is that, far from the pandemic being close to its end, as we’d hoped when the vaccines were introduced, we’re really not far beyond the middle. Few countries have achieved the 80-90% vaccination rates needed to achieve herd immunity, especially with borders opening, mask mandates being dropped, and the extraordinary transmissibility of the Delta variant. The blue “business as usual” projections in these charts presume that vaccine take-up among the unvaccinated will remain sluggish, as we enter the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere which last year saw a sharp upward spike in CoVid-19 infections and deaths. It suggests that a year from now we will not be much further ahead than we are now in terms of getting the pandemic under control.
If there is a dramatic uptick in vaccine take-up, and if the aged and vulnerable get booster shots, then a year from now (grey lines) we might finally be able to do everything we could do before the pandemic, though we will probably still be using masks as prophylactics indoors with strangers or in areas of the country and world with continuing high case rates. That’s the best case scenario.
If there is a new, more virulent variant (and with current low vaccination rates there is lots of time and lots of places for one to emerge), then all bets are off. The radically virulent variant that emerged in 1918 after the initial waves put everything back to square one, as it primarily sickened and killed the young and the healthy, notably children, and this is the age cohort that would be most vulnerable to such a variant now, since their vaccination rate is very low almost everywhere in the world. We could see infection and death rates much higher than what we have seen to date.
Why is this going on so long? It’s a combination of factors. Our modern way of living and travelling allows new viruses to reach every part of the world with unprecedented speed. Our lifestyle in affluent nations prevents our immune systems from learning healthy and powerful responses to pathogens, because of our nutritionally poor, unvaried diets and our excessive use of antibiotics and chemicals. Fear of governments and other authorities has increased public opposition to mandates and vaccines, and hence led to much lower rates of compliance with health authorities’ recommendations. Public health departments have been systematically starved of needed resources for research and preparedness for decades. And bad luck has also played a part — the accident of the virus’ first appearance, its extraordinary transmissibility, and more recently the rapid pace of its mutation.
While flu pandemics have tended to be short-lived, other viral pandemics (such as polio and AIDS) have gone on for years, even decades. Just as 9/11 may have permanently changed our experience of air travel, it is possible that CoVid-19 will usher in permanent changes in our social and work behaviour. The real surprise is that, with all the preconditions in place, it has taken so long for a pandemic to have as great a global impact as CoVid-19 has. If you were dreaming about a celebratory mask-burning to mark the end of the pandemic, best put such thoughts out of your mind for the foreseeable future.
CALIFORNIA ISSUES RULE BANNING NEW OIL WELLS WITHIN 3,200 FEET OF HOMES AND SCHOOLS
by Dan Bacher
After years of grassroots organizing, protests and political pressure by environmental justice advocates, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced at a press conference on October 21 that the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, has released a proposed regulation that would prohibit new oil wells and facilities within a 3,200-foot “exclusion area” — or setback — from homes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other sensitive locations.
The draft rule would also require pollution controls for existing wells and facilities within the same 3,200-foot setback area.
Until this announcement, California, unlike most other oil and gas drilling states, required no health and safety setbacks between homes, schools, day care centers, hospitals and other facilities. This setback is 700 feet more than the distance initially requested by environmental advocates.
“Our reliance on fossil fuels has resulted in more kids getting asthma, more children born with birth defects, and more communities exposed to toxic, dangerous chemicals,” said Governor Newsom. “California is taking a significant step to protect the more than two million residents who live within a half-mile of oil drilling sites, many in low-income and communities of color, We are committed to protecting public health, the economy and our environment as we transition to a greener future that reckons with the realities of the climate crisis we’re all facing.”
“We don’t see oil in our future. We don’t,” noted Newsom at the press conference.
Over 2 million Californians live within a half-mile of oil drilling sites, leading to birth defects, asthma, health risks for kids and more, according to the Governor’s Office. By moving to keep new oil wells away from communities, California is “prioritizing the health and safety of Californians.”
A 15-member public health expert panel selected by University of California, Berkeley and Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers, or PSE, for Healthy Energy helped inform the draft rule announced on Thursday,
““The panel concluded that when oil and gas developments are within 3,200 feet, there is a strong connection to higher rates of adverse birth outcomes, respiratory diseases such as asthma, and heart disease, among other health impacts. The panel’s research supports both moving oil production farther away from communities in combination with pollution controls for operating wells,” according to the Governor’s Office.
Climate and environmental justice advocates praised the release of the draft setbacks rule but called on Newsom to stop issuing new oil and gas permits. The Western States Petroleum Association, the trade association for the oil industry in the West, condemned it, claiming that the decision “was not based on what is best for Californians or science.”
Despite the constant portrayal of California by the state’s politicians as the nation’s “green” and “progressive” leader, the Newsom Administration has issued 9,728 oil drilling permits since Newsom assumed office in 2019, according to a new analysis of permits approved through October 1, 2021and posted at www.NewsomWellWatch.org <http://www.newsomwellwatch.org/> by Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance.
In addition to the nearly 10,000 onshore oil and gas wells approved by Newsom’s oil and gas regulators, there have been a total of 150 reported permits issued for offshore wells since January 1, 2019. Five of these permits were for new drilling and the remaining 145 for reworks (including sidetracks and deepening operations).
Newsom’s announcement comes just days before he is set to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from November 1-3, 2021, said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy, noting that frontline communities have waited two years for the promised health and safety rule from CalGEM.
“Governor Newsom’s announcement is a victory for communities on the frontlines of drilling who suffer the daily health impacts of proximity to fossil fuel extraction,” said Nagy. “3,200 foot buffer zones between sensitive community sites and drill locations are a vital step in protecting Californians from the pollution and emissions of fossil fuels. But we know that there is only one way for Governor Newsom to truly protect Californians from the public health and environmental crises caused by fossil fuels: stop issuing oil and gas permits immediately.”
Environmental justice advocates and scientists say neighborhood oil and gas drilling endangers the health of the more than 2.5 million people, mostly Black, Latino and Asian immigrant communities who live within 2,500 feet of oil and gas extraction sites.
In the last two years alone, 630 new and rework permits have been granted for oil and gas sites in neighborhoods, the VISION coalition noted. The coalition commended Newsom for announcing the “historic” and “momentous” 3,200 ft setback for public health, but urged Governor Newsom to close loopholes and phase out existing drilling.
“The draft rule promises to set into motion a directive made by Governor Newsom almost two years ago to take action on the issue of neighborhood oil and gas extraction. While environmental justice advocates await details of the full draft rule, the coalition celebrated the historic buffer zone distance while urging the Newsom administration to strengthen the rule,” VISION stated in a news release.
“Wilmington residents have lived with the dangerous health impacts of oil drilling for far too long,” said Wendy Miranda, Wilmington Community Member, Communities for a Better Environment. “The Governor’s announcement regarding the CALGEM rulemaking shows us that the Newsom administration is listening to us. But now we need them to strengthen this rule and make it law. Countless frontline environmental justice communities have been waiting for this rule and we look forward to engaging in the process to ensure that workers and communities are protected as this rule is finalized.” Photograph by Zbynek Burival.
Advocates pointed out that the draft rule on oil and gas extraction was announced just one month after the decisive defeat of a right-wing recall campaign and just weeks after Newsom appeared at an oil-fouled beach in Orange County proclaiming California’s commitment to securing “a livable future and just transition.”
“Today’s announcement represents years of work by environmental justice advocates to put public health first after over a century of putting oil company profits over health and safety,” said Martha Dina Arguello, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. “Governor Newsom and his administration need to take a science-based approach and listen to frontline residents — mostly low-income Black and Latino families — whose health has suffered the assault of living next to oil wells for years.”
“We know there is no safe distance for oil and gas drilling, but until we phase out all drilling our communities will continue to be at risk from day-to-day operations and the continuous threat of catastrophic accidents like we saw in Orange County. We look forward to reviewing the regulations and working towards a healthy and equitable transition,” stated Arguello.
Proximity to oil production sites increases exposure to toxic chemicals and byproducts of California’s industrial oil operations that take place just feet away from homes, schools, parks, hospitals, daycare centers and other facilities, according to VISION.
“Science has confirmed the need for a 3,200 ft setback for communities living close to oil and gas,” said Nayamin Martinez, Executive Director of Central California Environmental Justice Network. “Residents of environmental justice communities in Kern County, like those living in Lamont, Arvin, Lost Hills who have for decades been suffocated with dangerous gases from the oil facilities surrounding their homes, are finally receiving good news. Today’s decision is promising — but we need to demonstrate the first step towards health is as important as the profits of the oil companies that are cozy with Kern County politicians.”
Juan Flores, community organizer with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, pointed out that “oil and gas companies have been treating our communities as sacrifice zones for over a century.”
“This industry has elevated its own profits above the health, well-being, and lives of primarily BIPOC and low-income communities,” said Flores. “Frontline community members have spoken in a clear voice, demanding an end to neighborhood drilling. Today, Governor Newsom and CalGEM have announced a health and safety setback of 3200 feet, a strong step in the right direction. However, this draft rule misses the chance to prohibit new permits for existing wells, a key element for our communities. We look forward to working with the administration to close this loophole and quickly move to protect our communities at long last.”
“For decades the San Joaquin Valley has seen epidemic levels of sickness from being one of the nation’s most polluted air basins for fine particle (PM2.5) and ozone pollution,” added Catherine Garoupa-White with the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition. “Oil and gas operations emit toxic air pollutants including PM2.5, a major contributor to serious cases of COVID-19, and are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s draft rule is a crucial first step in a continuing battle to protect everyone, especially frontline communities, from the worst of oil and gas byproducts. Health and safety buffers will combat climate change and improve air quality, protecting the right to breathe clean air. We call on the Newsom administration to strengthen the rule and demand rework permits be included in the final rule.”
“After years of delay, we are encouraged by this announcement from the Newsom administration, which sends a strong signal that oil and gas has no place in neighborhoods,” said Neena Mohan, Climate Justice Manager with the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “We’re ready to carry this rule home and make sure it actually accomplishes what we need it to accomplish: the end of neighborhood oil and gas drilling. If the final rule doesn’t do that, then it’s not enough. Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian immigrant communities deserve neighborhoods free from air, water and soil pollution. We know today’s announcement of 3,2000 ft setbacks for frontline communities is just a first, critical step. Oil and gas executives won’t let neighborhood oil drilling end without a fight — and we’ll keep fighting for working people until every person’s right to clean air in every neighborhood is guaranteed.” Photograph by Grant Durr.
Consumer Watchdog called Governor Newsom’s draft rule creating a 3200-foot setback between oil wells and communities a “historic moment for California and the nation, but one that needs to followed with immediate denial of oil and gas permits as part of a full phase out plan for drilling in this state no later than 2030.”
“California’s oil boom went bust a long time ago and the oil that is left is dirty crude oil that is energy-intensive to refine,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. ‘’Oil refineries that make our gasoline in California run on a majority of crude oil from OPEC and South America that is lighter and less energy intensive to refine. It’s a no brainer to stop oil companies from drilling that poisons communities.”
“Next, we need a plan to stop all existing drilling in the state and plug those wells. The fact that offshore drilling permits are still being renewed by the state of California after the recent Orange County oil spill is a sign that much more needs to be done to protect the public and our land. Governor Newsom took a big historic step today, but he now needs to follow Los Angeles County’s lead in phasing out all oil drilling in a reasonable time,” Court concluded.
“Newsom’s proposed setback is tougher than anywhere else in the nation and we commend him,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker. “This sets a precedent for the nation and blows past the 2,000-foot setback Colorado put in place. We need to make sure the rule is airtight and does not allow oil companies to continue to rework wells in frontline communities. The rule does not ban permits to rework — meaning essentially re-drill — wells near communities and that process is dangerous. That means more community exposure to dangerous emissions that come with drilling.”
On the other hand, Western States Petroleum Association President and CEO Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California, issued a statement blasting Governor Newsom’s proposed setbacks rule:
“Just a few weeks ago, President Biden asked the OPEC nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Venezuela, specifically to produce more oil in order to bring energy costs down and ensure reliability. Today, Governor Newsom took an opposing path and proposed a setback regulation that could lead to increased costs and reduce the reliability of our energy supply. His decision was not based on what is best for Californians or science.
“The proposed rule’s true setbacks will be imposed upon California’s families, workers and businesses that need affordable, reliable energy every day. This was not a scientific process, as facts do not support the recommendation, nor were dissenting voices or industry experts even allowed to provide input to the panel. It’s time we call these series of actions, bans, rules and mandates what they are: an activist assault on California’s way of life, economy and people.
“The oil and gas industry is not opposed to setbacks and in fact, has supported many local setbacks that are based on science, data and rigorous health assessments. But this approach by the state will eliminate tax revenues and community benefits, raise costs for everyone and put thousands of people out of work.
“While we are disappointed that the governor continues to lead through fear and division, we will trust and work with the California we know, a citizenry that dismisses the pessimism of bans and mandates and believes that by working together we can create a future that balances the needs of people, environment, energy and equity. Despite what may come from this administration, we will continue to apply research, hard work, investment and the innovative power people working together to solve the big issues of our day.”
WSPA may sue over the setback rule, as they have already done against what Reheis-Boyd described as “a defacto moratorium” on well stimulation (fracking) permits in California by the Gavin Newsom Administration: WSPA, the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, spent a total of $4,267,181 lobbying state officials in 2020 and $8.8 million in 2019: https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/02/17/big-oil-spent-10-million-lobbying-california-officials-in-2020/
OPUS CHAMBER MUSIC
More Live Music in Cotton Auditorium! Here is one quote of many from the audience after our first Opus Concert in October:
"I so enjoyed yesterday's program! You all did such a wonderful job with the spacing, covid safety, etc. Thank you for all your hard work during this challenging time. We were thrilled to be enjoying music again on a Sunday afternoon."
Opus Chamber Music Series is presenting the next concert this Sunday, November 7th at 3 PM in Cotton Auditorium. Virtuoso pianist Jason Sia in Concert will perform a romantic program ranging from F. Schumann to F. Liszt.
Tickets at brownpapertickets.com, Out of this World in Mendocino and Harvest Market in Fort Bragg.
more information at symphonyoftheredwoods.org
See you all on Sunday!
Eva von Bahr
TRACKING A JOURNALISTIC CLICHE: ‘The Worst Attack on Our Democracy Since the Civil War’
by Matt Taibbi
On April 28th of this year, Joe Biden gave one of the first big speeches of his presidency, addressing a Joint Session of Congress. “I stand here tonight, just one day shy of the 100th day of my administration,” he said. “One hundred days since I took the oath of office, lifted my hand off our family Bible, and inherited a nation in crisis.”
He went on:
“The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”
Presidential speeches are more like corporate productions than individual literary efforts. A key aide or team of aides may write the first draft — adviser Mike Donilon is said to have authored this one — and from there, other cooks in the kitchen fight over the ingredients.
One wants to remove a line, a second tries to add one, and a third will battle over run time or location. According to speechwriter David Frum, George Bush’s famed “Axis of Evil” line was also delivered to a Joint Session, because Karl Rove believed his boss was better before audiences than before “the silent eye of a television camera.” No one has said where exactly the line “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War” came from. None other than Thomas Friedman in the fall of 2020 wrote a pre-election column saying America was in “more danger than it has been since the Civil War,” and it’s possible a political aide spotted the line and liked it. Certainly, however, it didn’t become journalistic cliche until Biden’s April 28th speech.
News directors and editors once needed stiff nudges to repeat a president’s words verbatim, not just because it’s embarrassing to take dictation from a politician, but because it was bad business to do it for free. If politicians wanted you to buy the “Axis of Evil” or “the end of welfare as we know it,” that’s what paid political advertising was for. In the Trump years, however, it’s become almost a daily practice for commentators to fob off White House-crafted political messaging as their own thoughts.
I feel bad picking on old friend Chris Hayes, among other things because he did come up with his own, more generalized “since the Civil War” analogy before Biden’s speech. Still, watch in the clip above how he pauses and adds an “arguably, probably” in the middle of a now-almost-verbatim recitation of Biden’s line — “the worst attack on American Democracy, arguably, probably, since the Civil War” — as if he’s coming up with the phrase in the moment, and not repeating exact presidential language from six months before.
This disease has spread rapidly in the last year or so, when phrases like “transformative president” and “pandemic of the unvaccinated” have begun traveling from White House transcripts to teleprompters facing anchors on CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox with humorous alacrity. In fact, “the worst… since the Civil War” was such a success in flowing from Biden’s head to the lips of people like Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo that, as noted in Matt Orfalea’s terrific compilation above, it’s been deployed for rare double-duty as a political cliche. It’s currently in circulation describing both the January 6th riots and the efforts by Republican state officials to change voting rights laws, and has even become a bit of a crossover hit.
PROBABLY THE BEST VIEW OF HONOLULU is from the top of the city’s mountainous backdrop, Aiea Heights. We have Takeo Yoshikawa’s word on that. He was one of the spookiest and most important of history’s phantoms and was part of the plot to destroy Hawaii. It was in Aiea, in what were the cane fields (now mostly bungalows), that Yoshikawa, a Japanese spy, watched the movements of ships in Pearl Harbor and, in general, gaped at the life of the friendly city.
No one suspected this man of engaging in open espionage – Honolulu was, and is, a city where Japanese are in the majority. Yoshikawa was twenty-nine. Some days he disguised himself in cane-cutter’s clothes. On other days he wore a suit and worked under a false name at the Japanese Consulate – as prettily housed today on the Pali Highway as it was in 1941, looking just as it did when the impostors inside supplied information for Admiral Yamamoto’s master plan of bombardment. “If you want the tiger’s cubs,” the admiral was fond of saying, “you must go into the tiger’s lair.”
Yoshikawa arrived from Japan in March 1941, and prowling Aiea spied assiduously on the city and harbor for eight months. He was still on the job the day the planes were strafing and the bombs were falling and ships sinking, and the first of the 2,403 people were dying from Japanese bombs.
When he had scoped out the strategic locations, Yoshikawa had noted that the ships were generally moored in Pearl Harbor on the weekends, and the planes were parked at Hickam Field then too. From his tootling around the north shore of the island in a borrowed 1937 Ford, Yoshikawa was pleased to see that North Oahu was very lightly defended – a safe direction for the kamikazes. Admiral Yamamoto had worried about balloons – barrage balloons that would impede attacks by fighter planes. No balloons, Yoshikawa reported, and less than a day before the Sunday morning bombing of Pearl Harbor, Yoshikawa cabled from the Consulate: "There are limits to the balloon defense of Pearl Harbor. I imagine that in all probability there is considerable opportunity left to take advantage for a surprise attack…"
Fifty years later, I went to the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor to pay my respects. This area of Pearl is a national park. Everyone watches the short documentary beforehand, which describes the events of the morning of 7 December 1941. It is not a flag-waving film and is the more moving for its cruel factuality. After that sobering experience, the visitors are ferried into the harbor to the memorial itself, which is a white shrine-like structure built over the rusty hulk of the sunken battleship in which 1,200 Americans lost their lives when a Japanese bomb scored a direct hit on the Arizona’s number two turret. Research is so detailed on the attack that the bombardier’s name is known. It was Noboru Kanai, who, like the others in the attack force, wore a white cloth around his head reading Hissho, “Certain Victory.”
“Do Japanese tourists come here?” I asked the park service guide.
“Not many,” he said. “And the ones who do sometimes laugh and snap pictures of each other. I don’t think they realize how important this place is to us.”
— Paul Theroux, from The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific (1992)