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Another View: Homeless people may sometimes surprise us

I became a newspaper reporter four decades ago because of the idealistic notion I could help save the world. But after hanging around too many slimy politicians, bungling bureaucrats, unjust judges, jaded cops, scuzzy crooks, boozy newshounds and other degenerates, I turned into a cynic.

Then I moved to Crescent City, retired, and began volunteering at the Community Assistance Network's food bank. The people who use C.A.N.'s services have given me a new outlook.

For the most part, they're not the homeless bums and drug addicts I expected, but are ordinary folks down on their luck. In general, they face their challenges with such fortitude, it makes me feel silly to think I've got it rough. Compared to them, I've got it made.


Another View: If it shakes 5 minutes get to high ground

Last week, I wrote about a man-made disaster — an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. But Del Norte County is more likely to experience a deadly tsunami caused by a massive undersea earthquake just off the coast.

A quake that close to shore could send a wall of seawater 60 feet high, or higher, surging through low-lying neighborhoods, obliterating everything in its path. Experts say it's only a matter of time.

Since 1933, 31 tsunamis have reached our shores, triggered by distant earthquakes. Four caused damage, and the one that devastated Crescent City in 1964 remains the West Coast's largest and most destructive.


Coastal Voices: Society held back by greed and inequality

Over the last three years I have written numerous letters to the editor regarding Sutter Coast Hospital and its failure to meets its commitment to provide adequate and affordable healthcare to our community. Borrowing from Arlo Guthrie in his song “Alice’s Restaurant,” Sutter is not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about greed and inequality.

The Declaration of Independence states that all men are entitled to “certain unalienable Rights that among these are life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.

It is difficult for the people of our country to obtain these rights if the leaders of banks, financial institutions, utilities, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals continue to compete in the market place by not playing by the rules expected of a level playing field.


Coastal Voices: Stop the witch hunt: Cannabis may just be the solution to our problem

In the light of public reaction to our leaders handling of state level cannabis reform, Evelyn Cook in her Jan. 2 column has painted cannabis users into a corner, much like addicts, homosexuals and discontent women of the past, we have psychosis. How do I argue when after my coffee and cannabis I might be hallucinating even reading this paper, and Evelyn Cook might just be a voice in my head.

Evelyn cites a study out of London that finds you are 3 times more likely to suffer psychosis if you use cannabis regularly. The meat of this conclusion comes from a sample group of people suffering from schizophrenia, of which 25 percent used cannabis regularly.

Many anti-cannabis studies get their results by assuming the adult population uses cannabis at the rate of about 4-8 percent (1 in 12 to 25). The real question is, did cannabis cause the mental health problem or did the mental health problem lead the person to self medicate, something most physicians who specialize in cannabis medicine believe all cannabis users are doing.


Coastal Voices: Improvements on U.S. 199, 197 needed, STAA trucks are not

I must add my voice to the chorus of locals who understand that the proposed work for Highways 199 and 197 in Del Norte County will not solve current road problems but will worsen already dangerous driving conditions if the work is completed and STAA-sized trucks are permitted to use both roadways.

I live off Highway 197 in Hiouchi and use the road virtually every day either heading north or south. I also use Highway 199 regularly, not just to come into town from home, but also to visit friends in Gasquet, or to travel further north into the mountains or all the way into Oregon.

I have studied the proposed plans for both roads and I know that, even though the work is needed, it will not make the roads compliant with STAA standards nor significantly safer. There are numerous sections on both roads which are more dangerous and in need of widening and straightening. Even if the proposed work is completed, mandated four-foot minimum shoulder widths will still not be created at too many spots on both roads, neither on the upslope mountain side nor on the downslope river side.


Another View: From tsunamis to EMPs, it's a scary world

Some people are afraid a bombastic billionaire blowhard may become commander in chief. Others fear a self-absorbed granny with more ambition than scruples will win the presidency.

But that’s not as frightening as the possibility of a monster tsunami washing us away, or Yellowstone’s super-volcano burying us under ten feet of ash. Asteroids, solar flares, global warming, nuclear war and bioweapons could wipe out much of the human race, as could antibiotic-resistant diseases, pandemics and famine, to name just a few mass-kill-off possibilities.

One of the scariest by-products of modern science and technology is something called an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. The enormous destructive power unleashed by one of these man-made disasters is hard to imagine. Not only is it being imagined, it’s being prioritized as a weapon by the militaries of Russia, China, North Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and other nations that hope to defeat the U.S. in the event of war.


Coastal Voices: Misinformation's source hidden within Sutter's vault of secrets

In the ongoing Sutter conflict, a pattern emerged: four public officials reportedly signed confidentiality agreements for a private corporation, followed by their support for corporate plans.

The story begins in 2011 when the Sutter Coast Hospital Board of Directors voted in secret to transfer hospital ownership out of Del Norte County to a corporation in San Francisco controlled by Sutter Health — a process called “Regionalization.”  

The hospital Board’s action triggered a firestorm of opposition. In response, Sutter Coast paid a consulting firm, the Camden Group, to conduct a closed door study, using local residents as advisors. Amid concerns of study bias, the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors and Del Norte Healthcare District Board declined to participate. Nevertheless, one supervisor, Martha McClure, and one healthcare district director, Clarke Moore, decided to join the group.


Coastal Voices: Soundtrack of my life lost several special artists

Ever since my old man had us singing three part harmony in the car on family vacations, music, like it is for many of my brothers and sisters out there, has been a part of my life, indeed with many of the songs and artists in some way feeling like they’d scored parts of it. And if that’s true, for many of us, these recent weeks had to feel like hitting the wall in turn four at Daytona.

On Dec. 26, we lost Motorhead founder, bassist and lead “Lemmy” Kilmister. The original “Ace of Spades,” throughout 23 studio albums, the group with Lemmy fronting defined British heavy metal. As the music and life he lived, Lemmy was loud, large and a rock warrior. As the band noted in their farewell tribute, “Lemmy was born to lose — and lived to win.” Amen.

I recall seeing David Bowie in the mid-70s in Memphis with the Spiders from Mars, several years after his initial hit, “Space Oddity,” with it‘s “Ground Control to Major Tom” intro that few of us forgot and was the biggest act to invade America since the Beatles and the Stones. I don’t know if the phrase “freaked out” had entered our vernacular on that night, but it would have been appropriate.


Coastal Voices: Don't let your concerns about STAA be disregarded

The Del Norte County Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) provides a coordinated, 20-year “vision” of the regionally significant transportation improvements and policies needed in the region.

At the public meeting held by the Del Norte Transportation Commission for the revision of the RTP, very relevant public input was squelched. The many public comments in opposition to big STAA truck access on Hwy 199/197 and in support of fixing south Highway 101 and Last Chance Grade are extremely relevant and timely to the RTP revision.

Highways 199/197 STAA truck access is a project with significant negative impacts and inconsistency issues with overarching goals and policies. We now know just how dangerous this project is, a threat to our safety, our water quality and fishery, that makes trucking accidents and spills more likely.


Another View: Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's good

After spending a weekend in Weed, I began wondering how it got its name. Did the town fathers have a special fondness for dandelions? Or were they pioneer potheads? This led me to pondering the legalization of marijuana.

A number of people I’ve talked to who suffer from serious ailments swear it reduces pain and other symptoms better than pharmaceuticals, and vastly improves their quality of life. That’s probably why it has been legalized for medical purposes in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Still, it’s listed by the federal government as a Schedule I controlled substance that cannot legally be prescribed, possessed, or sold under federal law. It’s not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any medical use, although Dronabinol, a pharmaceutical form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) has been approved by the FDA to treat some conditions, as has a man-made cannabinoid drug called Nabilone.


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