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COASTAL AREAS WILL EXPERIENCE MOSTLY CLOUDY SKIES and bouts of drizzle to light rain beginning late morning, while patchy fog develops across interior valleys. Otherwise, a front will move southeast across the region this evening. This feature will be accompanied by light rain for areas mainly north of highway 36. Strong high pressure will then build Tuesday through midweek promoting a period of dry weather across northwest CA. Another round of rain is expected Friday. (NWS)
47 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Sunday, bringing the total to 2230.
BILL STEELE PASSED AWAY ON SATURDAY. For over 40 years Bill was host of K-Wine Radio's Morning Show and our Program Director.
He was known for his many contributions to our community's well being and lifestyle. When Steele retired just last year Mendocino County proclaimed that thousands, from kids to grandparents, will remember him as their morning companion to help start the day with a smile. He inspired all with his tasteful humor, warm personality and intelligent observations. The proclamation said Bill’s coming into our homes on our radios has contributed to our civility, values, happiness and goodwill. His broadcasting work for charities, civic, cultural and educational organizations set examples for others.
Bill Steele was 78. He died peacefully in his Potter Valley home surrounded by his loving family.
DOUG (CHARLES D.) SMITH
Doug Smith, born Charles D. Smith, passed away May 30th, 2020 in Ukiah. Born October 24th, 1952,
Doug grew up in the Detroit area. An auto mechanic, tinkerer, motorcyclist and passionate audiophile, Doug arrived in Mendocino County at 18, and lived up and down the Mendocino Coast from Gualala to Wesport, residing for many years in Fort Bragg. Doug was the beloved life partner of Ada B. Fine. They met in Fort Bragg in 1995 and shared their lives together, living on the coast and then in Redwood Valley from 2006 to 2017, when their home was tragically destroyed in the Redwood Complex Fires. His health began to decline following their move to Ukiah, but he continued to delight in his vast record collection and his blissful soaks at Orr Hot Springs. He was preceded in death by his mother, Lavenue, his father Harry Smith, and his youngest sibling Dottie. Doug is loved and survived by his partner Ada, his siblings Victoria, Virginia, Portia, Gregg, and Ryan, their spouses and many neices and nephews. A celebration of Doug's life will be forthcoming. To view his complete memorial, visit fhwsolutions.com/obituaries/empire-mortuary/charles-d-smith-obituary.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
On Saturday, December 19, 2020 at about 7:15 AM Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a trespassing in progress at a piece of property located in the 25000 block of Highway 162 in Covelo.
While Deputies were responding to the location the suspect was reported to be an adult male who fled the property in a silver colored Nissan pickup truck.
Deputies arrived and contacted the owners of the property. Deputies learned the owners observed a vehicle on their property from their residence and went to investigate.
They observed the adult male exit a trailer on the property which is seasonally occupied.
The adult male, later identified as Wyatt Hurt, 26, of Covelo, entered a silver colored Nissan truck and tried to flee the area.
The owners of the property closed the entrance gate to the property in an attempt to prevent Hurt from leaving, however he crashed through the gate with his pickup truck and fled the area.
The investigating Deputies were familiar with Hurt who drove a silver colored Nissan truck and resided in the Covelo area.
The Deputies went to Hurt’s residence in the 76000 block of Highway 162 and observed a silver colored Nissan truck hidden in a creek bed adjacent to the residence.
Deputies located Hurt at the residence. Deputies were able to connect Hurt, based upon probable cause, to trespassing and entering two trailers on the victim’s property to commit theft.
Hurt was arrested for First Degree Burglary-First Degree and Felony Vandalism and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $125,000 bail.
ANOTHER COVELO ARREST
On Saturday, December 19, 2020 at about 3:24 PM Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a disturbance at a business in the 76000 block of Highway 162 in Covelo.
When Deputies arrived they learned Ira Redhawk Reyes, 35, of Covelo, had been involved in a verbal argument with an adult female at the business and had left the area in a white colored sports utility vehicle.
Deputies were aware Reyes had two outstanding Mendocino County felony arrest warrants.
At about 5:00 PM, a Deputy observed Reyes driving a vehicle on Tabor Lane in Covelo.
The Deputy conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle at the intersection of Tabor Lane and Pitt River Boulevard.
Reyes was taken into custody on the two outstanding felony arrest warrants without incident.
The Deputy located live ammunition and a controlled substance on him during a search of his person. Reyes is a convicted felon and is prohibited from possessing ammunition or any firearms.
Reyes was arrested for Felon in possession of firearm, Failure to appear in court, Felon in possession of Ammunition and Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance plus the arrest warrants and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $425,000 bail.
Deputies subsequently obtained a search warrant for Reyes's residence and located additional ammunition and an ammunition magazine to an assault rifle.
A bail enhancement was requested from a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge and as a result Reyes was to be held at the Mendocino County Jail on a No-Bail status.
HOUSE BILL SEEKS UP TO $30 MILLION FOR SONOMA, MENDOCINO COUNTIES’ FIGHT AGAINST INVASIVE MUSSELS
A measure that would make up to $30 million available annually to the Army Corps of Engineers to help guard against quagga and zebra mussels before they infest local water bodies, including Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, has been included in a federal omnibus spending bill, which is on track to be signed by President Donald Trump.
LIVING RURAL, BOONVILLE
Our breakfasts, lunches, and sometimes dinners have become a meditation on birds. Inside, the dining table is surrounded on two sides by large windows facing the garden we conjured starting sixteen years ago from a dry weed infested yard that lay beneath a huge muscular ancient valley oak. Outside, the two picnic tables beneath a covered overhang where we gather for our lunch breaks, everyone working that day, are in the garden. When we arrived there were few birds other than the acorn woodpeckers who owned the oak...and still do. (We are lucky that our house is concrete block!)
At present, starting at first light in any season the garden is alive with birds pecking and scratching their way through the mostly oak duff, fighting over acorns, kicking up bugs, digging for worms, sucking from flowers and squabbling, chasing and sharing. A jay perches on a post beating the shell from an acorn while a varied thrush waits below for a piece of meat to drop. When it does he's not quick enough and the jay grabs it back with a squawk. A hummingbird loves the flowers on the now blooming loquat and is there all day every day resting occasionally on the bare branch of the neighboring Santa Rosa plum for a moment. A flock of determined pointy beaked birds lands on the upper branches of the Empress tree picking seeds from the dried seed pods that hang on for several years, meanwhile a pair of scrub jays pick off the flower buds that have already set for a spring showing.
Some of the trees were planted by us, one of each plum, loquat, ceanothus, and Empress, while others were planted by the birds, two toyons fruiting now and causing more squabbling because gorging on the overripe berries makes them drunk, a large manzanita and a couple of coast live oaks. The small pond we dug is a bathing, drinking and not always friendly meeting place. There is definitely a pecking order and the small birds bow to the larger or louder ones. Our house wren shares the spiders from the underside of the shade roof with the swallows and they give us an acrobatic aerial show in the process. Silence and stillness occurs only when a Coopers hawk swoops in or the sun is setting. At sunset we've watched the birds sit in the flowering quince and stare into the setting sun, seeming sad to see the day end. In this season when I see several birds sitting in the dusk on the bare branches of a tree I think of Christmas tree ornaments.
I began writing this with a very different direction in mind but realize it could go on forever. What is most remarkable and encouraging is to see the resilience of nature. I'll continue next month with the thought...if I happen to remember it (;>) Until then, have masked and distanced but warm and loving holidays. Stay well and look outward and beyond the "devices".
— Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Kreig, Petit Teton Farm, Boonville
MENDOCINO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY LOOKING FORWARD
In 2021, the Mendocino County Historical Society will celebrate 65 years of collecting, preserving and sharing Mendocino County’s history. The organization has evolved over the decades but has experienced its most dramatic changes in the last few years. Beginning in January, we will be doing business as the “Historical Society of Mendocino County.” The new business address is 100 S. Dora St., Ukiah, CA, 95482. The Held-Poage Memorial Home will retain its historic address but will no longer be used for business as our offices have moved into the archive on the same property.
The society was formed in 1956 after a group of citizens, interested in preserving Mendocino County’s history, met at the Palace Hotel in Ukiah, California. Five years later, we incorporated as a non-profit. We did not have a permanent location until 1969, when the family of Judge William Held and Ethel Poage loaned their family home to us to use as our headquarters. The family said that if the historical society survived for 20 years we could have the house. The society moved in and started the Held-Poage Research Library.
We started to receive so many donations that we were running out of room in the house so we set out to create a museum to store and share the history of Mendocino County. After much collective fundraising, and many generous donations, enough money was raised to build the Mendocino County Museum in Willits, California. The museum was dedicated on June 11, 1972, and handed over to the County of Mendocino.
In 1988, the Held-Poage Memorial Home was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The following year marked 20 years in the house and ownership was transferred to the Historical Society.
By the 2010s, the collection had again outgrown the house so we decided it was time to build an on-site archive. In 2016, the William J. & Molly Toney Archive was completed and the collection was moved into the new facility. With the house emptied of records, the restoration of the Held-Poage Memorial Home began. When complete, it will be a living history museum which reflects the life of Judge William Held and his family, as well as showcasing the formative years of Mendocino County.
The archive consists of the main archive and five annex rooms. It is fully climate controlled and outfitted with a HEPA filtration system to eliminate ambient mold spores. The archive is windowless to prevent damaging UV rays and all of the interior lights are LED. It houses roughly over a million documents, maps, newspapers, photographs and more. In addition, the archive holds our offices and public research facility where volunteers and staff can conduct research.
Currently we are archiving the entire collection and re-housing the collection in archival quality materials which will prolong their life. Next, we plan to digitize our collection which will help streamline research and make the collection more accessible to the public. This process will take some time, but the county’s history will be better protected and preserved.
The challenges of working under the cloud of the pandemic have been hard on everyone. Though we have been closed to the public during the pandemic we are still serving the public through email and by phone. When we reopen the grounds, we will have a newly restored living-history museum in the Held-Poage Memorial Home and a state-of-the art research facility and repository in the archive.
To learn more about the Historical Society of Mendocino County look for our latest video on YouTube (youtu.be/cXuNM3yRTPo), or follow us on Facebook and Instagram. If you would like to become a member or donate, visit our website at mendohistoricalsociety.com, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (707) 462-6969.
• The State of California has activated its Mass Fatality program, to include Coroner’s Mutual Aid.
• An additional 5,000 body bags have been purchased by the State in response to the current surge.
• Sixty refrigerated storage units will be used throughout the state, including in the Bay Area, as overflow for coroners and morgues.
• Hospitals are not only running out of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, they are running out of hospital beds, period.
This winter will likely prove to be the COVID-19 pandemic’s darkest hour. The nation and bay area region are currently experiencing the worst surge of COVID-19 cases and fatalities to date. Healthcare personnel are exhausted and bed capacity in hospitals has dropped at an alarming rate.
INTERESTING COMMENT Sunday morning by Laz of Willits, so us outback folks might want to adjust our anticipation accordingly: “This is my place in line according to The New York Times vaccine calculator. ‘Based on your risk profile, we believe you’re in line behind 118.5 million people across the United States. When it comes to California, we think you’re behind 12.3 million others who are at higher risk in your state. And in Mendocino County, you’re behind 30,000 others’.”
I'LL get my shot and its booster poke whenever it becomes generally available. I think it's obvious that masks and distancing are keeping infection at bay so I don't feel any particular anxiety about when. Quick anecdote if you'll indulge an old man: In Marine Corps boot camp we got all our shots at once, whatever they were vaccinating us for, no questions asked. We lined up at an unmarked door in a quonset hut and, barely breaking stride, we marched past medics posted on either side of the door as they hit us with the shots, and that was that.
COMMENTS ABOUT Congressman Huffman's fatuous press release announcing that he's been covid-proofed elicited a deluge of derisive on-line comment of which the following is representative: “Encouraged others to do the same when it becomes available?” You are joking, right? The masses will be lucky to get vaccinated by late spring but here you are jumping the line to get vaccinated. Are you a Doctor, Nurse, Health Care Professional? No. How about a fireman, policeman, first responder? Nope. Do you work in an assisted care facility with older people who are very susceptible to the Coronavirus? Uh-uh. OK, maybe you are at risk because you have a pre-existing condition? No, again! Just another privileged politician who took advantage of his position, again for no apparent reason? Bingo. Stop telling your constituents how much you ‘care’ about them. You obviously don't. There are others who actually needed this vaccine you so selfishly accepted. Shame on you, Mr. Huffman, you and Thompson just lost my support (and vote).”
CLICHÉ MONGERS always roll out phrases like “end of an era” when a notable person moves on, but Michael Krasny deserves a lot more than a cliché no matter how apt. So far as I'm aware he was the first and the last talk guy who brought true erudition to the microphone, as at ease with formidable intellectuals like Chomsky and David Foster Wallace as he was with show biz personalities. When Krasny was talking with a writer it was always clear that he'd done the reading, and not merely in preparation for his morning slot on KQED Radio but because he reads books, and is an intellectual himself, both qualifications going, going, gone but still hugely appreciated in the Bay Area where Krasny's absence will be felt like a death in the family.
“I want to thank all of the listeners, guests and exceptional colleagues I’ve had the great fortune to encounter over the years as host of KQED’s Forum. I’ve been unusually fortunate to sustain such a long career serving the Bay Area in a role that allows me to participate in such rich and thoughtful conversations about the topics of our times.”
A LITTLE BETTER than a kick in the teeth but still way short of what's needed: Congress today (Sunday) agreed to a $900 billion coronavirus relief package. The deal finally delivers long-overdue help to businesses and individuals and provides money to deliver vaccines. It establishes a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for struggling businesses and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.
YOU KNOW the end is near when Point Arena can't find anybody more reputable than its grasping outgoing “part-time” city manager ($50,000 a year) to swear in its new rubber stamp city council. The ICO reports: “Ford, Dahlhoff and Ignacio took their oaths of office — swearing to support and defend the constitutions of the United States and California, as well as the Point Arena municipal code — via Zoom, as led by City Manager Richard Shoemaker.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 20, 2020
ABDON ANDRADE-PABLO, Willits. DUI with BA over 0.15% second offense in ten years, suspended license (for DUI).
ROSS BARCLAY, San Rafael/Ukiah. DUI.
CHARLES CAREY, Willits. Domestic battery.
JOSE CORREA, Los Angeles/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, paraphernalia.
DAMOND LINNER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
RAMON MACIEL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
SHIDEEWUM MARTINEZ, Redwood Valley. DUI causing bodily injury, probation revocation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
If you consider young lung as having an air capacity of 100%, we lose lung capacity during our lifetime to old age emphysema, disease destruction, smoking, pollution, and obesity. Consider that each hit lowers the percentage capacity. When the inside surface area gets below a certain percentage, the lungs cannot absorb enough O2 and exhale enough CO2 to keep up with the body’s needs. You die. The O2 sat measurements that folks talk about is a measurement of how much the body can get vs. what it needs.
So if you are compromised below a certain percentage by obesity, old age, smoking, compromised perfusion, etc. taking a hit from this virus and the immune over reaction drops you below the critical percentage, you die.
Think about the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back, that is Covid. Eventually, something comes along, COPD, asthma, allergic reaction, flu or Covid that uses up that last critical lung space and that is it.
Covid is just one of a number of things that can kill by reducing lung capacity. It does have two things that I have heard aggravates the situation, one, the immune over response which floods large volumes of lung space and two, in the severe cases, there is a protein present that gels the secretions, making the lung act like a solid. Hence the inability for ventilators to help much.
Once below criticality, it is over. I do not care what category you want to put it in.
All public servants take an oath of office at the beginning of their term, “solemnly swear(ing) to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic …” I am dumbfounded and disappointed in the leaders of the Republican Party who appear to have allegiance only to Donald Trump and to have forgotten what they vowed to do. Trump’s failure to accept the election results and his spewing of false claims about fraud is nothing less than sedition. The spineless GOP leaders have shown their true colors and failed as representatives of the people. Redemption in my eyes will not come anytime soon.
Noel J. O’Neill
ODE TO THE DOLLAR TREE
The Dollar Tree store is heaven on earth,
A strip mall version of a miracle birth.
Candy and incense and napkins and jam,
Put your wrinkled buck down, thank you much, ma'am!
It's bang on eight in Healdsburg proper,
The gates swing open to happy shoppers.
Merry Christmas reads festive bauble adorned,
On silent white knights atop Rudolph's horns.
Most judicious court, absent all pretense,
For bargain-hunting souls who came from whence.
Everything's a mere dollar, top shelf to far aisle.
If you're blessed with a fiver, prepare to stay awhile!
Kosher French salt and red chili flakes too,
And cobalt lacquer to make toenails blue.
Apple skin snacks and Mexican jug bleach,
Q-tips and scrubbers for spots hard to reach!
Dish soap, lip balm, penne for the boil,
Plastic roses, and clingfilm to stop the spoil.
Tannenbaum candles and campfire kits,
Lemony sprays to make odors submit!
Chicken broth soup and mouthwashes minty,
Smooth-glide floss to keep dentifrice glinty.
Spoons and spatulas and shy chocolate mice,
Pizza sauce in a box with Florentine rice.
Gummi-bear icons of monsters from Mars,
Greek olive oil in faux alabaster jars.
Plus shrink-wrapped meat the color of guns,
Sippy-cup glasses, frosted honey buns.
Nine-volt batteries, wine coolers for thirst,
Disposable knives, German mustards for wurst.
Tuna in cans, or dried figs, take your pick,
Pork rinds and Fanta to make one quite sick!
Confetti, spaghetti, candles in pink,
Ajax cleaner for a spotless kitchen sink!
Salves, creams and ointments, diapers for young-uns,
Beef bouillon and chili with powdered onion!
So when I finally leave this realm,
to the sweet bells chiming of Saint Anselm,
Take a dollar and hurry post haste
To my lingering ghost, near the travel toothpaste!
‘TOTAL WAR’ ON POLIO IN THE BAY AREA
by Bill Van Niekerken
As scientists search for a vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic, I remembered when a major vaccination campaign to stop polio came to the Bay Area. My family and I walked a short distance from our house to the local high school and received a sugar cube that contained a polio vaccine.
I knew there had to be more to the story, so I went to The Chronicle’s archives and found coverage and great photos of the “K.O. Polio” campaign that haven’t been seen in decades.
Polio is a contagious viral illness that in the most severe cases causes paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death. Once one of the most feared diseases in the U.S., polio caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis each year during the early 1950s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Families believed the only defense was to keep their children at home during the summer, avoiding baseball games, movies and swimming pools.
Dr. Jonas Salk announced the success of his polio vaccine in 1955, but the availability of a working vaccine didn’t mean all was immediately well. Vaccination rates across the country were low, not enough to wipe out the disease.
But separate research by Dr. Albert Sabin had led to a vaccine that could be delivered without injection. The oral vaccine contained a live but weakened version of the virus, instead of the inactive version in the injection, and immunized against three strains of the poliovirus. Public health officials saw it as the best hope for widespread immunization.
“Total War on Polio,” read a headline on the front page of the May 25, 1962, Chronicle.
“Six Bay Area counties will join medical forces this fall in a massive effort to vaccinate every man, woman and child in the region against polio,” science reporter David Perlman wrote. “The weapon will be the long-awaited Sabin oral vaccine, which has been completely approved by the United States Public Health Service, and which has already wiped out polio among millions in Europe, Africa and Lain America.”
The program was called “K.O. Polio” — short for “knock out.” The plan was to deliver millions of doses of the vaccine throughout the fall of 1962 at schools and neighborhood centers around the Bay Area via sugar cubes dosed with the vaccine.
On Sept. 5, 1962, 3.5 million doses arrived at San Francisco International Airport. Larry Montoya, the “theme child” for the “K.O. Polio” campaign, was at the airport waiting for the arrival. “This will prevent an epidemic,” Montoya, who had been paralyzed by polio, told The Chronicle. “I hope nothing happens to it.”
The vaccine was whisked off to refrigerated storage while officials waited for the arrival of 23.5 million tons of sugar cubes from Hawaii.
The Chronicle reported extensively on the campaign, with a Q&A box answering readers’ questions and county-by-county numbers on how many people had taken part — more than 2.5 million on the first Sunday, or 76% of the population. (Seem familiar? We have coronavirus Q&As and a case tracker right now.)
Perlman explained what Bay Area residents could expect: Go to a local vaccination center, probably a school or government building, fill out a short form with your name, eat the sugar cube and then receive a blue form certifying you’d been immunized against polio. A donation box suggested a quarter per dose, but it wasn’t required.
Not everybody was on board, but none other than Herb Caen had harsh words for naysayers in his column that week: “As I stood online at the little school on Broadway, I thought about the old buzzard — I use the term in lieu of something less polite — who had said to me a couple of nights earlier: ‘You won’t catch ME out there on Sunday. That’s Socialism, son, pure and simple. I’ll take my chances with polio but not with brainwashing.’ The fact that millions of people were being immunized for next to nothing failed to move him, so brainwashed is he.”
Similar programs happened across the U.S., and six years later, there were only 53 polio cases recorded in the U.S. By the late 1970s, the U.S. was declared polio-free.
US GOVERNMENT SPENDS MORE ON FIRE PREVENTION IN RICH, WHITE AREAS
by Sophie Cousins
The first recorded polio epidemic was in Sweden in the 1880s, though inscriptions in Egypt suggest the disease dates back to ancient times. In 1916 the virus devastated New York and swathes of the north-eastern United States, killing six thousand people, mostly children, and leaving thousands more paralysed. Unlike other deadly epidemic diseases, such as tuberculosis, polio appeared to have no correlation to poverty. ‘Once the terror stalks, mere wealth cannot buy immunity,’ as the Ladies Home Journal put it in 1935. ‘The well-fed babies of the boulevards are no safer than gamins from the gutter from the mysterious universality of the crippling midget, once it’s on the rampage.’
Western experts thought polio was a disease of modernity, a sign of advancement. But it soon became apparent that poor countries in the Global South were affected too. What epidemiologists termed ‘modern polio’ had been brought on by sanitary advances in Europe and the United States which meant people were less likely to contract the disease as infants and so (if they survived) to gain immunity, which led to intermittent large outbreaks among a more susceptible older population. Countries from India to Egypt, meanwhile, still faced endemic ‘old polio’, leaving uncounted numbers of children dead or paralysed.
When two vaccines arrived against polio in the 1950s, countries including Australia and the US declared the war against the virus over. It took longer in the rest of the world: the WHO announced that polio had finally been eradicated in India in 2014. Pakistan and Afghanistan were the only countries where the disease was still endemic in 2019.
Like polio, Covid-19 has ravaged all types of bodies in all types of places, all across the world. The poor have been more likely to be worse affected, but the privileged have not been able to buy themselves out of it altogether. The disease has infected prime ministers and presidents, celebrities and Olympians. Ten days ago, a ninety-year-old woman in the UK was the first person in the world to be vaccinated against it. The development of the vaccines in less than a year is an incredible feat. But along with the announcement that the UK was beginning its vaccination programme – with other wealthy countries soon to follow suit – came the news that rich countries are hoarding vaccine doses.
According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, wealthy countries with 14 per cent of the world’s population have secured 53 per cent of the most promising vaccines. Canada is the worst offender: it has bought enough jabs to vaccinate every Canadian five times. The Alliance estimates that 90 per cent of people in seventy low-income countries are unlikely to be vaccinated against the virus next year.
‘No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket,’ Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, said. ‘But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 for years to come.’
There is a risk that Covid-19 will become yet another disease, like malaria or tuberculosis, that overwhelmingly affects those who live in low-income countries. To prevent that happening, one place to start would be India and South Africa’s proposal to the World Trade Organization Council that intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments be suspended until everyone, everywhere is protected.
(London Review of Books)
MERRY, MERRILY MARY LEE CHRISTMAS TO YOU!
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Whether I’d been naughty or nice and regardless whether I’d shouted or pouted, Santa Claus has always been good to me.
“Always” only goes back to the 1950s, but it suggests I have some history and experience when it comes to the Christmas season. Many wonderful gifts with my name on the tags have appeared under the tree or stuffed into stockings hung by the chimney with care.
Santa once brought me a bicycle, and another year a Rawlings baseball glove (Stan Musial model). There was the Rolex watch that turned out to be a Faux-lex Rolex watch, but I couldn’t have loved it more had it been genuine. Ten years ago Lucas gave me a CD collection of old gospel music I treasure, every morning I have coffee from the cup Emily gave me in 1985, and in 2014 wife Trophy wrapped a Mediterranean cruise up in a pretty box with a nice ribbon.
In short I’ve had many wonderful presents throughout the years, and here in 2020 I have yet another. And it isn’t even Christmas yet.
But let’s change the subject.
I know this interruption violates several rules of column-writing, but it’s more important to me to give credit to Mary Lee Davis for this year’s Christmas magic than it is to pay homage to Walter Winchell, Herb Caen, Milt Widder or other giants of a lost art in the disappearing world of newspapers.
Mary Lee Davis was a longtime neighbor and a veteran stroller around Ukiah’s west side, having walked blocks upon blocks with husband Eugene over many years and many miles. Sadly, the walking partnership and all that went with it ended several years ago.
Coincidentally, a haphazard batch of locals who gather early most mornings to shuffle about Todd Grove Park materialized. Many have dogs but they’re not required. All that matters is showing up, and most mornings you can rely on pooches like Millie, Boo, Kirby, Churro, Puppy, Fiona, Louie and Haley. Or not. Or others.
The dogs serve as chaperones for elderly sorts: Jerry, Dave, Charlotte, Ken, Arlynn, Valerie, Rod and anyone else who arrives, some by accident.
By 2017 or so Mary Lee, though dogless, once again donned her hiking shoes and joined the group. Ever prompt, as if to punch a time card, Mary Lee departed her Grove Street home each morning in time to merge with the gathering herd at the park. Perhaps because she is of a certain generation, she was always nicely attired, hair coiffed and makeup applied just so. Most other dog walkers dressed as if they’d rolled out of bed, but Mary Lee looked as if she were going to the opera.
The dogs demand chow before setting out and thankfully Ken, he of the bottomless pocket of biscuits, is part of the pack. Distribution of Treats complete, the group strolls and talks and talks and talks, and the dogs pester everyone for more treats.
One morning a few months ago Mary Lee Davis quietly announced she’d be leaving the group. She said she was selling the big old family house and moving. To Rohnert Park. A retirement home.
Well now. That morning’s walk was a subdued one, as we and dogs considered the consequences of morning walks without Mary Lee. Conceivable, yes, but there’d be a hole in the lineup, a missing piece that couldn’t be replaced.
Questions were asked and details emerged about her needing to be closer to family, which is of course nice, and the mundane details, like selling the house and moving 65 miles away.
Note: When we say “the house” it’s important to point out she’s lived in a huge old two story barn-like Craftsman beauty well over 60 years and that her husband had both been born and died in it. So it was a house filled with boxes, paintings, dishes, furnishings, memories and a million other precious things, some of them possessions.
It didn’t seem real. It felt like it couldn’t really happen, that she wouldn’t really leave us. But the weeks went by and a For Sale sign appeared in the front yard, boxes got loaded and hauled, and next thing you know Mary Lee had vanished. There’s indeed been a hole in the lineup.
And then last week a tiny package arrived, a package not much bigger than a deck of cards. It came from Mary Lee Davis in Rohnert Park, addressed to “Tom and Puppy.”
The gift wrap showed small bears cavorting, and inside was a little red box of See’s Candies, plus a ziploc baggie with 23 heart-shaped dog treats.
I can’t say a small red box of candy in 2020 is a nicer gift than the green-and-silver bicycle Santa brought me in 1957, but I also can’t say it isn’t. I’m not even sure a genuine Rolex watch would be a nicer gift.
We’re saving the Sees Candies for Christmas morning when the kids will be home, and we’ll stuff the heart-shaped treats into Puppy’s stocking. It’ll be hung by the chimney with care.
And the next day Puppy and I will go to the park early. We’ll distribute the remaining treats among Boo, Haley, Kirby, Fiona, Millie and any other dog who arrives in time.
I’ll be talking with my friends about Mary Lee Davis and Christmas 2020, when Santa Claus brought me one of the nicest gifts of my life.
(While you’ve been getting holiday greetings all week, Tom Hine has had everyone asking him about the Cleveland Idiots changing the team name. He shrugs and says, “Who cares? I’m an Oakland A’s fan.” TWK assumes this will result in the A’s moving to Tulsa next year.)
THE TRANSITION AND THE PANDEMIC
by Jim Shields
On Monday, Dec. 14, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation after the Electoral College officially rubber-stamped his win over President Donald Trump and proved he’s no Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who lifted up a Depression Era nation, carrying them on his back as he led the country out of the economic abyss.
Completely lacking any soul-stirring oratory, a bland Biden soothingly reassured all voters that the republic’s constitutional pillars were as stout as ever and that the outcome of the election was legitimate, just like a bevy of black robes had ruled in a multitude of court cases.
Routinely he thanked all the election workers for following the rule of law, said that President Trump was given every opportunity to contest the results of the election and got clobbered in the legal arena.
Biden said that it was time for “America to move forward” and “turn the page” on the election.
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed,” Biden said. “We, the people, voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. And so, now it is time to turn the page. To unite. To heal.”
On a positive note, and hopefully he’s up to the task, Biden vowed to be “a President for all Americans” and said he was ready to “get to work fighting the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding the economy.”
Aside from those just-mentioned objectives, Biden’s number one priority should be getting the so-called “non-essential,” nearly forgotten millions of unemployed workers and rapidly failing small business owners (who employ the majority of the workforce) immediate and meaningful economic relief. Anything short of that accomplishment will reduce this country to an extended period of economic and social misery, and we’ve had more than enough of dealing with those conditions.
It appears that a temporary stop-gap deal may be worked out shortly as the Dems and GOP say they are close on a $900 billion package that would include aid for small businesses, the unemployed, schools, vaccine distribution and a one-time check of up to $700 for millions of lower-income Americans. Assuming they close the deal, it’s only a starting point for what needs to be a full economic recovery plan.
While Trump remains obsessed on law-suiting (new phrase I just invented) to overturn his electoral loss, notwithstanding the fact that over 30 state and federal courts, including the Supremes, have ruled his claims lack merit and are devoid of any evidence, he even distracted himself with sour grapes “stolen election” ranting at this week’s White House “Vaccine Summit.” I’m sure the Summit was planned as an opportunity for him to take credit — mostly deserved, to be honest — for the vaccine breakthroughs with his Operation Warp Speed. But Trump being Trump, he could not resist the puerile urge to slight the Bidenites by not inviting anyone from the incoming Administration to the gathering, even though they’ll be ramrodding Pandemic public policy and vaccine distribution in 2021.
But while Trump appears to be sticking to his strategy of stink-bombing the transition process, word has leaked out that the White House Secret Service staff plans a thorough C-19 disinfect-deep-scrub of the 55,000-square-foot Presidential residence in the estimated five-hour interlude between Trump’s (presumed) exit and Biden’s arrival on Inauguration Day.
Jan. 20, 2021 may prove to be more than the grandly dignified star-spangled affair that we’re accustomed to, especially if Trump follows through with a proposed Counter-Inauguration at his Florida estate. It’ll be quite a show if he does, guaranteed.
• Why we wear masks: Researchers using a military-grade infrared camera found how nearly invisible particles spread like smoke through the air every time we speak or breathe.
• Another good reason to mask up: New Hampshire’s newly appointed House speaker, Rep. Dick Hinch (R), 71, died of covid-19 a week after being sworn in at a ceremony where dozens of people wore no masks.
• On the other hand: The mayor of Dodge City, Kansas, announced her resignation this past Tuesday after getting death threats over the city’s mask order.
• According to Fish and Wildlife officials, California’s coastal waters are being polluted by discarded masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes. Come on people, we have enough problems with this damn Pandemic without folks acting like slobs.
• According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration is negotiating with Pfizer to secure more vaccines by spring, federal health officials said, after last week’s news that additional doses wouldn’t be on the way until June or July. This move comes after Pfizer’s report that other nations have rushed to buy its 2021 second quarter supply after the federal government turned down its opportunity to double its purchase of 100 million doses.
I’m a free-style mountain and rock climber so it’s always astounded me when morons take selfies of themselves in dangerous environments and/or treacherous terrain. The first rule of climbing is mountains can kill you with no warning, so don’t do anything stupid to accelerate your demise.
Over the years, hundreds, if not several thousands of folks I call “Idiot Selfies” have killed themselves doing something stupid: Mugging and posing for what’s known as “extremist photos” that they post on social media.
Here’s an Australian report chronicling the latest extremist selfie stunt resulting in the untimely end of another idiot:
A 38-year-old woman fell to her death at Victoria’s Grampians National Park in Australia as her horrified family watched helplessly. Rosy Loomba reportedly climbed over a safety barrier to pose for a photo when she lost her balance and fell off the edge of the cliff.
When the police arrived at the scene, they planned to engage in a rescue operation but called it off after realizing that Loomba did not survive the 260-foot fall.
It took authorities six hours to rappel down the cliff-face and retrieve Loomba’s body.
Officials called Loomba’s death a tragic accident that could have been avoided.
“My message is: Stop this extreme photo taking for social media purposes,” Victoria’s Police Minister, Lisa Neville said. “Enjoy what we’ve got on offer. But you don’t need to do it in that extreme way. No photo is worth a life.”
Tourists routinely ignore the posted warning signs and take risky photos, a local tour guide told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“I don’t know how you can stop it happening, but maybe this incident will help,” Graham Wood said. “It’s a hard way to get people to adhere to what should be common sense.”
My final thought on the subject is as the old saying goes, “The curious thing about common sense is that it’s not all that common.”
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
WHEN I WORKED on the movie, “Saving Private Ryan” where we re-created the Normandy Landing using Special Effects, I did some research and came across another interesting fact related to the real invasion itself.
On June 6th 1944 150,000 men and one woman hit the beaches of Normandy. That woman was Martha Gelhorn, a journalist and the third wife of Ernest Hemingway.
She was going to be a credentialed reporter for Collier’s Weekly until Hemingway found out and told Collier’s he would report for them, so due to his fame he got her credential of which there was only one.
On June 5, 1944, however, journalist Martha Gellhorn hid herself in the bathroom of a hospital ship — just one of the 5,000 vessels set to sail across the English Channel with some of the estimated 150 to 160 thousand men and 30 thousand vehicles headed to Normandy. “Where I want to be, boy, is where it is all blowing up,” Martha is quoted as saying.
By dawn on June 6, better known as D-Day, her hospital vessel landing craft was on the beach of France, shortly before the invasions began. By nightfall on June 6, 1944, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were dead or wounded. More than 100,000 others — including that one female stowaway — had survived the landing. Now that is guts. Hemingway and all the other male reporters saw the landing thru binoculars from far away.
Both filed their stories but hers was better than Hemingway's because she was on the beach.
— Bill Kimberlin
HUNTER BIDEN AND THE CHINESE
Based on information from the laptop and interviews, here’s what we know about the Chinese deal:
As the Obama-Biden administration hit the halfway point of its inaugural year, Hunter Biden co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners, an investment fund, along with Christopher Heinz — the stepson of Obama’s future Secretary of State John Kerry — and Devon Archer, a former Kerry adviser.
April 7-9, 2010
Hunter Biden visited China as a Rosemont Seneca rep during the second year of his father’s vice presidency. There he gained audiences with top officials of influential state-linked enterprises including the Postal Savings Bank, China Investment Corp., and Founder Group. He was joined on the trip by James Bulger, the politically connected co-founder of the Thornton Group, an Asia-oriented financial services firm.
As Joe Biden ran for his second term as vice president, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer made contact with Chinese financier Jonathan Li, who ran the private-equity fund Bohai Capital. The trio discussed a plan to become partners in a new operation that would invest Chinese cash in ventures outside the country. Eighty percent of the resulting company, Bohai Harvest, was controlled by Chinese state-owned interests.
When Chinese president Xi Jinping alarmed the rest of Asia with an aggressive expansion of his military claims over the East China Sea, Vice President Biden was dispatched to Beijing to try to de-escalate tensions. The second son tagged along on Air Force Two. While a somber and subdued Joe Biden held a marathon five-hour meeting with Xi, Hunter got together with Jonathan Li in what handlers at the time described as a social visit. The son even arranged for a handshake between Li and his father at the hotel of the American delegation — troubling some of the vice president’s advisors, according to the New Yorker. Ten days later, the Chinese business license for Bohai Harvest — the company that Hunter Biden and Devon Archer had been trying to launch for more than a year — was approved.
Around this time Hunter Biden’s relationship to Chinese tycoon Ye Jianming “began to ramp up,” according to a Senate report released in September. Ye, the founder of Chinese energy giant CEFC, served as the nation’s unofficial energy liaison to Russia.
Feb. 23 and March 1, 2017
A month after Biden left office, a total of $6 million in wire transfers were made from State Energy HK Ltd., a company controlled by Ye, to Robinson Walker LLC. That company was controlled by Rob Walker, a longtime business partner of Hunter’s who had collaborated with him in at least three other companies. Walker served in both Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations — and his wife, Betsy Massey Walker, is reportedly a former member of future First Lady’s Jill Biden’s personal staff. The Senate’s joint Finance Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report said it was “unclear what the true purpose is behind these transactions and who the ultimate beneficiary is.”
May 2-3, 2017
Venture capitalist Tony Bobulinski was recruited by the Bidens around this time to serve as CEO of Sinohawk Holdings, which he describes as a partnership between Ye’s CEFC and the Biden family. Bobulinski met twice with Joe Biden at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, where the former veep was set to give a speech. Hunter, Bobulinski told The Post, “brings Joe over and introduces me, saying [Joe’s] the one who’s helping us with the business we’re doing with the Chinese.” Biden responded, “I trust you. Good luck and work hard” — and added a second instruction the next morning: “Keep an eye on my son and [brother Jim Biden] and look out for my family.”
Joe Biden has repeatedly denied any knowledge of his son’s business operation. In September 2020 he told reporters emphatically, “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”
May 11, 2017
James Gilliar, another Hunter Biden business associate, talked with Bobulinski about how to “get Joe involved” in a joint venture with CEFC. The two discussed ways to make the effort look like a “truly family business” in a series of text messages seen by The Post. “Let’s get the company set up, then tell H and family the high stakes and get Joe involved,” Gilliar wrote. The texts were contained in a tranche of emails and documents released by Bobulinski.
May 13, 2017
Gilliar emailed Hunter Biden to outline remuneration packages for Hunter and five other people in an unspecified business venture. The email — found on the Hunter Biden laptop and exposed in a bombshell report by The Post — suggested equity shares were being assigned to Biden family members, with a note indicating that 10% would be held by Hunter “for the big guy” — who Bobulinski later definitively identified as Joe Biden. Three days later, Bobulinski says, the plans changed: Joe Biden’s 10% share would be held in the name of his brother Jim instead.
Bobulinski voiced his doubts about the wisdom of Joe Biden’s involvement to Jim Biden, in light of his brother’s political stature.
“I remember saying, ‘How are you guys getting away with this? Aren’t you concerned?’” Bobulinski said in an interview with The Post’s Michael Goodwin.
“‘Plausible deniability,'” Jim Biden responded with a chuckle, Bobulinski recalled.
May 20, 2017
“Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u are face to face, I know u know that but they are paranoid,” Gilliar instructed Bobulinksi in an encrypted WhatsApp message thread. In response, Bobulinksi wrote, “OK they should be paranoid about things.” Later, Bobulinski added what seemed to be a warning about Joe Biden’s future political plans: “You need to stress to H, does he want to be the reason or factor that blows up his dad’s campaign.” The former veep was still two years away from announcing his third White House bid.
June 18, 2017
Hunter Biden made an urgent request to Ye Jianming to wire him $10 million as seed money for a new venture, SinoHawk Holdings, according to an email obtained by The Post. In the missive he said he was extending “best wishes from the entire Biden family” and that “We are all hoping to see you here again soon, or in Shanghai.”
The diamond sent to Hunter Biden by Ye Jianming.
Hunter met with Ye in Miami to solicit donations for World Food Program USA, according to the Senate report. Over dinner, they discussed details of helping the Chinese magnate find investments for CEFC in the United States. Afterward, Ye sent him a 2.8-carat diamond as a thank-you gift. “I just felt like it was weird,” Hunter later told The New Yorker — but he accepted the gem. The rock later become a bone of contention in divorce proceedings between Hunter Biden and first wife Kathleen Buhle.
Aug 1, 2017
A hand-drawn flow chart included in the Senate report shows an ownership breakdown of an entity called “Hudson West” with a 50/50 split between Biden and someone identified only as “chairman.” An email sent the next day strongly suggests the “chairman” in question was Ye Jianming — and notes that while Hunter was to have earned $10 million a year “for introductions alone,” those earlier terms had been changed “TO A MUCH MORE LASTING AND LUCRATIVE ARRANGEMENT.”
Aug. 8, 2017
Ye’s CEFC wired $5 million to Hudson West. That same day, the company began a year-long series of payments to Owasco, Hunter Biden’s law firm, that would total $4.79 million, the Senate report found. Owasco subsequently sent $1.4 million — parceled out in 20 different wire transfers — to the Lion Hall Group, a consulting firm controlled by James Biden and his wife, Sara Biden.
Sept. 21, 2017
Hunter Biden emailed the Washington office building House of Sweden to request a set of keys for Rosemont Seneca offices be produced for Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Jim Biden and Gongwen Dong — all of whom were described as “office mates,” according to another email. Hunter Biden also noted that Gongwen Dong was an “emissary” for CEFC and Ye.
The House of Sweden building.
Chi Ping Patrick Ho, a Ye lieutenant, agreed to pay Hunter Biden a $1 million retainer for “Counsel to matters related to US law and advice pertaining to the hiring and legal analysis of any US Law Firm or Lawyer,” according to an attorney engagement letter obtained by The Post.
A Manhattan federal jury convicted Ho for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by trying to bribe government officials in Africa. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
The Department of Justice opens a probe into Hunter Biden’s tax affairs, business ties in China and the Ukraine and documents covering his involvement in more than two dozen entities, according to a Dec. 13, 2020 report by the Associated Press. At least one 2017 email notes Hunter Biden failed to disclose $400,000 in income he earned while on the board of the Ukrainian Energy company Burisma.
Ye Jianming vanishes in China amid suspicions of “economic crimes.”
April 12, 2019
Hunter Biden left a waterlogged laptop at a Delaware computer repair store owned by John Paul Mac Isaac seeking repairs. The computer bore a sticker for the Beau Biden Foundation, named for his deceased brother. Hunter Biden never returned for the machine, however, and Mac Isaac said after repeated attempts to contact Hunter failed, he legally took possession of it under terms of the repair contract.
April 25, 2019
Joe Biden announced he’s running for president.
Dec. 9, 2019
The FBI issued a subpoena for the Hunter Biden laptop after they are informed of its existence by Mac Isaac, who was “concerned” about what he saw on its hard drive. “I just don’t know … what I’m allowed to say,” Isaac explained months later. “I know that I saw, I saw stuff. And I was concerned. I was concerned that somebody might want to come looking for this stuff eventually and I wanted it out of my shop.” Along with business emails, the device contained numerous explicit self-taken photos and videos of Hunter Biden having sex and doing what appeared to be drugs.
(New York Post)