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Coastal Voices: Acknowledging the need for healthier pope

Editor’s note: The following piece written by former Del Norter Pia de Solenni was originally published in the Washington Times and is reprinted with permission.

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Pia de Solenni
Pope Benedict’s resignation has shocked the world. Who knew that a “conservative” 85-year-old could surprise us?

In many ways, his decision is a culmination of the years of work to better prepare the leadership of the Catholic Church to engage with a global world. Karol Wojytla was only 58 when he was elected as John Paul II. Possessing a strong intellectual background, he spoke at least 25 languages and was fluent in eight, had communication skills and knew global politics. During his pontificate and more so under the pontificate of Benedict XVI, priests named as bishops were younger than before.

The world has changed significantly, and the church needs leaders who are more agile, supported by the natural endowments of relative youth. In the past, it might have made sense to nominate an older person who had a wealth of experience. Now, we need leaders who have experience and the ability to engage in a world that changes minute by minute.

Many Catholics see the role of the pope as simply a spiritual father who puts out documents now and then, and can be counted on for a blessing and a photo op with the occasional baby.

Yet the pope is responsible for the leadership of the Catholic Church and all the politics that comes with that. The Holy See has diplomatic relations with more nations than any other government and is actively leading Catholics around the world. Canon Law stipulates that the pope must be concerned for every soul in the world. Granted, there are plenty of people who would disabuse the pope of his concern for them. Nevertheless, he does have this responsibility.

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Coastal Voices: A steady erosion of citizens’ rights

With New York heading the draconian gun control laws  in the country, California legislators  rush impetuously to re-establish California as the trend setter in fashion and absurdity (“Lawmakers mull gun laws: If approved, would be the toughest in U.S.,” Feb. 9).

Of course a complete ban on military “style” semi-automatic rifles is the backbone of the gun-grabbers’  panoply of solutions to what is a far more complex problem. California lawmakers insidiously include semi-automatic rifles that incorporate detachable magazines to prevent quick reloading by a shooter. That ban would exclude a “grandfather” clause, thereby  stripping current owners of all semi-automatic rifles of possession of their long-owned rifles.

Additionally, one of 10 laws being considered is a background check on the purchase of ammunition.

At the federal level, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill would seemingly cover semi-automatic weapons of all descriptions. A provision has even been suggested by a lawmaker whose name I did not record that went so far as to state that he wants to require that all guns be loaded a bullet at a time.

I can see it all now; gun owners of America will be returning to the trusty old flintlock. That has the salutary effect of reviving the flint mining  industry,  thereby creating new jobs!

When will the American electorate come to its senses and begin electing lawmakers with true zeal for the Constitution combined with common sense, or will it?

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Church Notebook: Pre-Easter activities coming

The recent news has certainly been surprising! To hear that the Pope will resign — that hasn’t happened in hundreds of years! But I think we have to give him credit for being willing to step down when he felt he would be unable to continue.

Once again, we will be waiting to see who is chosen to lead — perhaps a younger man who will be able to serve for a longer time.

I have to admit I am not very well versed in the Catholic faith, though many of my friends are of that denomination. It’s things like this that afford me the chance to learn.

Though I grew up Baptist, I now attend a non-denominational church, which I really like. And groups like the Ladies’ Christian Fellowship are just the ticket. The members of the group are from almost every church in town, and some from Klamath, too. Once a month, we enjoy getting together for good fellowship, a speaker and music—and contribute to a couple very worthy causes.

But the nice thing is, though we attend from many denominations, there are no arguments. Those differences are left outside the door. This month’s meeting brought an inspiring message from Pastor Larry Read of New Life Community Church — and an absolutely beautiful song sung by Marilyn Pricer that we won’t soon forget.

• Pre-Easter happenings are beginning, and will increase as we get closer. There is a weekly class at the Crescent City United Methodist Church in the Fireside room on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. The class will study the beginning of the Christian faith, exploring the Holy Land through the lens of the season.

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House Calls: Breast-fed babies get head start

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Jeannine Williams-Barnard
House Calls runs every other Saturday. Today’s column is written by Jeannine Williams-Barnard, a registered nurse in the Obstetrics Department at Sutter coast Hospital.

The results are in and the outcome is clear: When it comes to feeding your baby, breast is best.

Scientists and medical researchers have been looking closely at this question for years now, and the findings indicate that breast-fed babies enjoy many health advantages.

They are healthier and need fewer doctor visits. They suffer fewer allergies, ear infections, gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, and have fewer hospital stays. Studies have found that they also score slightly higher on IQ tests.

Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for babies. Human milk is uniquely suited for human babies, and has not been duplicated in formulas. 

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that babies be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months. Exclusive breast-feeding means no water supplements, no juices and no foods be added to the baby’s diet. The AAP also recommends that babies continue to receive breast milk for at least the first 12 months, along with the introduction of foods, and longer if the mother and baby are willing.

Breast-feeding is healthier for moms as well. Research has shown that women who have breast-fed a child have a lower risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, and often experience a more rapid return to their pre-pregnant weight.

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Coastal Voices: The real story about tsunami-swept steer

We recently read in the Triplicate about the passing of Harold Del Ponte (“Longtime leader dies at age of 96”). We were sorry to hear of his death. However, in reading the story regarding his life, there were discrepancies about the steer who survived the flood.

I have known Harold for over 75 years and my wife has known him since we were married nearly 56
years ago. We bought the Angus cross bull (at that time) from Harold for
$2.50 when the animal was 2 or 3 days old. We took him home to the Glen, where we raised him on a bottle. He became a steer in his early days. 

He was 2 ½ years old when the flood took our home and our animals, leaving us with the clothes we had on and thank God our three little children who were safe. 

The steer that we had named Bahamas survived the flood and came into the harbor in Crescent City. He was rescued by some men there and was very ill from his ordeal. When my wife went to the fishing shack to see if possibly it could be our steer, he stood up for the first time and came to her. 

We were willing to give him to the city of Crescent City so that he would
have a place to live for the rest of his life. However, before that could be done, the rescuers had hired an attorney so that they might keep him. After a lot of controversy over who Bahamas belonged to, Lyle Corliss, the local brand inspector, determined he was in fact our steer.

If it had not been for the help and efforts of Colin Henninger, George and Millie Merriman, Wally Griffin and others at the local papers, we would not have been able to get him back as a principle of the matter. We got him back after paying the rescue fees, vet bills, upkeep and attorney fees (again with Colin’s help).

Later in the process, the rescue fee was returned when the one person who led the rescue was going to receive an award from the National Humane Society.

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Reel Deal: Heady times on the rivers

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Noel Shumway of Larkspur landed this hatchery steelhead. Courtesy of Andy Martin / Wild Rivers Fishing
A blast of rain on Thursday brought more chrome steelhead into the Smith River and other North Coast rivers, which is predicted to keep steelhead fishing hot into next week.

The Smith and Chetco are the best local bets, both producing three to six numbers per day, with several 20-plus- pounders being pulled from the Smith.

Smith River

Last week, fishing guides were putting up good numbers with up to five or six per boat on the Smith River, including some large 20-plus-pound steelhead that the jade-colored river is known to produce.

Most guides are continuing to use roe, yarn and fish pills, but fishing guide Jim Mitchell also found plugs last week.

After peaking at nearly 9 feet on Thursday night, the Smith is expected to drop down to 8 feet Sunday night. 

Eel River

If you can make the trip for killer double-digit per boat steelhead fishing, head to the Eel River, which is having a fantastic year, according to Sepulveda.

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Church Notebook: Local church activities are plentiful

The other day, someone asked me about “that plant you wrote about last year that you thought was dead.”

 And it dawned on me — it’s February — time for it to start showing again if it has survived those dormant months once  more.

When I got home, I brought the pot out from its resting place to the sunny kitchen window it obviously likes — and sure enough, there were seven tiny leaves peeking up out of the soil. So here we go again.

This little white Gloxinia has been a faithful performer for several years now, and I’ve become very fond of it. Flowers are often given as a symbol of love — and they don’t always have to be bouquets of roses. The Gloxinia was not a gift, but a rescue, a sad specimen that was going to be discarded as unsalable, but given to me for the token price of 50 cents.

Next Thursday is Valentine’s Day — a day dedicated to love. But what is love? A four-letter word with many definitions.

The most important love of all is that which God shows to us. And when I think of how that little flower makes me happy each year, I have to wonder if we are dependable enough to make God happy.

When all is going well, we so often put our faith on the back burner — until some difficulty crops up that we can’t handle, and then we’re ready to exercise faith again. I think there are many times that God is probably pretty disappointed in us.

The Easter season, depending on your denomination, may start as early as this coming Wednesday — known as Ash Wednesday — the day before Valentine’s Day. Between the two, we have a number of things coming up, starting today.

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Coastal Voices: Finding Del Norte, my 'forever home'

My husband and I moved to Del Norte County a year and a half ago from San Jose.  I had previously worked as a deputy district attorney both in San Joaquin County and San Benito County, and budget cuts seemed to follow me wherever I went. We came to Del Norte County because I was offered the chance to continue my career as a deputy district attorney. 

We were not sure what to expect moving to a rural city, so far north from everyone we knew. We need not have worried, for Del Norte County embraced us with open arms. Through my work and community service, I truly learned what it meant to live in a small town.

People may say there is nothing to do in a small town, but I disagree. In a small community there is everything to do. I became a board member for the North Coast Marine Mammal Center and worked on several of its fundraising events.

In addition, I became a member of Sunrise Rotary, and just last month was elected to the Board of Directors.  Through Rotary, I became a volunteer for the Schools of Hope. As a volunteer for the Schools of Hope, I dedicate my lunch hour once a week to helping two first grade students learn how to read. The two students always manage to put a smile on my face, and I look forward every week to seeing their progress.

Through Rotary, I met wonderful leaders in our community who serve in many difference capacities. I started attending public meetings. In attending the City Council meetings and Harbor Commission meetings, I saw elected members and volunteers of the community dedicate their time to make Del Norte County a wonderful place to live in.

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Vista Point: Pondering our fates at the four-way stop

Let’s talk, you and me, about other drivers. I feel sorry for them. I really do. They’re so much dumber than us.

They can’t remember to use the turn signal because they’re too busy trying to remember where they were supposed to go. 

They think the “three-second rule” refers not to following distance but to how much time it takes to fish a french fry out of their crotch before it leaves a grease spot.

Not even counting themselves, other drivers have to deal with a lot of mental challenges on the road.

One of the worst is clearly the stop sign, which compels the more observant among them to look up from their text messages.

Every time you meet other drivers at an intersection, you can see them struggle with its permutations:

“Hmm. Pedestrians. If they don’t get out of my way, is there a height requirement for the ones I can run over?”

“How far over the stop line do I have to go before I can stop?”

“I know what the Go pedal does, but I’m not sure what the other one’s for.”

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California Focus: Immigration: Political landscape has changed

Elections matter, one reason for the immigration reform proposals coming from President Obama and a bipartisan panel of U.S. senators.

Here are a few facts behind those moves: Republican Mitt Romney won among white voters, rich and poor, male and female, by an overall 59-39 percent last November. Because Obama had far larger margins among Latinos, blacks and Asian-Americans, Romney’s strong showing among whites wasn't enough.

Meanwhile, voting by Latinos is on an upswing in many currently safe GOP states like Texas and Georgia, causing freshman Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to observe that unless the GOP does something to win them over, Texas will become Democratic in a decade.

But that’s only part of the picture. It turns out the strong anti-illegal immigrant feeling behind GOP platforms, state and federal, for most of the last 20 years was on the wane long before the fall election.

Before the spring of 2012, legislative action in Arizona and Utah, two states whose governments are firmly controlled by Republicans, saw an uninterrupted flow of precedent-setting moves against illegal immigrants.

Police in Arizona now must stop anyone they so much as suspect of being in this country illegally, and demand documents. All employers there are required to use the national E-Verify system to determine whether any new hire was undocumented.

The results for Arizona have been decidedly mixed so far. The state lost a few conventions to boycotts by liberal-leaning organizations. Thousands of illegal immigrants moved to other states, including an estimated 20,000 coming to California.

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