Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dozens 'Die' on HSU Quad to Protest Climate Change

Posted By on Sun, Sep 29, 2019 at 8:55 PM

Bodies were strewn across the Humboldt State University quad Friday afternoon as students staged a die-in to bring awareness to the global climate crisis.

Dozens participated in the protest, which spanned about an hour. Local photographer Mark McKenna was there to document the protest and share the following slideshow.

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Safe Spaces v. Free Speech: Watch the HumRights Bar Debate (Video)

Posted By on Sun, Sep 29, 2019 at 1:40 PM

Over the course of about an hour one night last week, two people with diametrically opposing views on a heated topic sat in a bar and had a reasonable, civil conversation about it.

Crazy, right?

The Humboldt Center for Constitutional Rights (HumRights) hosted the debate, which saw Humboldt State University students Freddy Brewster (a Journal freelancer) and Fabian Cuevas tackle the question of whether California colleges can have both safe spaces and free speech.

Fabian Cuevas and Freddy Brewster debate over brews, with Marcy Burstiner moderating. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • Fabian Cuevas and Freddy Brewster debate over brews, with Marcy Burstiner moderating.
HumRights Chair (and sometimes Journal columnist) Marcy Burstiner said the center’s mission is to educate people about their constitutional rights and convince them to exercise them, and the bar debate falls into that.

“I was a bit troubled that people said they weren’t going home for Thanksgiving and avoiding family gatherings because they didn’t want to get into political conversations with relatives,” Burstiner said, introducing the debate at HumBrews. “People are afraid to talk to each other. … The whole idea of the HumRights bar debate is to take people who are at polar opposite positions and put them in a bar and have them argue it out to demonstrate that we actually can have civil dialogue.”

Remarkably, the thing worked. A civil discussion was had with nary a punch thrown. And thankfully the Journal’s Zach Lathouris was there to capture the thing on video. So whether you think the world needs more safe spaces or freer speech, give it a watch and see how to discuss the matter like mature adults.


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Friday, September 27, 2019

NBC News Investigation Finds Vitamin E, Pesticides in Illicit Vape Cartridges

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2019 at 2:35 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
An investigative report published by NBC News this morning seems to underscore the dangers of vaping cannabis products purchased on the illicit market, as reports of serious vaping-related lung disease continue to increase nationwide.

The news outlet purchased 18 THC vape pen cartridges — three from licensed dispensaries and 15 on the unregulated, illicit market — and reports the “findings were deeply troubling.”

While the three purchased at legal dispensaries tested clean for heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like Vitamin E, 13 of the 15 illicit market samples tested positive for Vitamin E, which some health officials believe is a potential cause of the rash of lung illnesses being being reported throughout the country, which now include a dozen deaths.

Further, the NBC News reported that it tested 10 of the unregulated vape cartridges for pesticides and all 10 came back dirty, with all containing varying amounts of the fungicide myclobutanil, which can transform into hydrogen cyanide when it is heated.

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Benbow Inn Files for Bankruptcy Protection, Blames U.S. Bank

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2019 at 10:12 AM

The Benbow Inn's owners have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. - FILE
  • File
  • The Benbow Inn's owners have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The Benbow Historic Inn filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday after going into debt to bring the Humboldt County landmark up to meet federal Americans with Disability Act standards, according to John Porter, managing partner for Benbow Valley Investments.

“We just filed for reorganization,” he said, characterizing the situation as a large national financial institution bullying a local business. “It is kind of the beginning of the end of fighting with US Bank – with them acting in an uncooperative and unethical way… The only mechanism we have to keep them from beating us up is the Chapter 11 laws. ... There’s going to be a fight involved but we feel we’re going to come out on top.”

He explained, “We are going to federal court and we think we have a pretty good chance… We don’t feel happy we are in this position but we feel the outcome is going to be positive for us and for our employees. … This filing will stop the process of the them setting up a receiver to run the property.”

In 2016, Benbow Valley Investments began the $8.5 million renovation that not only upgraded the Inn with an elevator to meet ADA requirements but added new kitchens, new restrooms and 10 new rooms for guests — all but one of them decorated in honor of each of the nine original Benbow brothers and sisters.

However, according to Porter, the construction loan, which began with a local branch of the US Bank, was moved to a succession of different bank employees located all over the country. “Every time they moved it around, we had to get [the new loan officer] to understand what we were doing,” Porter said.

Porter insisted, “We made every payment on time – never missed a payment,” but US Bank didn’t want to roll over the construction loan to a longer term business loan. They stopped accepting payments from Porter in February, after the construction loan time ran out, he said. However, Porter insisted he has continued to set aside the money owed every month in an account and is prepared to pay it.

Normally, he said, a business would “get a construction loan [and] part of the loan is an agreement they will convert this to a term loan under certain conditions.”

This loan would normally be a 25 to 30 year loan and Porter thought that he would get such a loan from US Bank for the Benbow Inn.

“Now most banks would work with you,” Porter said. But he didn’t feel that US Bank was being flexible in setting the terms.

“We started to look at other banks,” he told us.

“They [US Bank] did everything they could possibly do to prevent us from getting another loan,” he said. “Then US Bank files a notice of default.”

This, he said made it difficult to get other banks to provide favorable terms that made financial sense to the inn's owners.

According to Porter, “US Bank then filed a notice of sale that is set for Oct. 10…Our way of stopping this is reorganization."

“I think they thought they could bully me,” Porter said. “I’ve just never been treated like this. … They are a big bank. They don’t care about us. They don’t care about the community. They don’t have any emotional attachment to this property.”

Porter said he's looking for a seven-year loan, which would allow them to refinance.

“We fixed the inn so that people are now going to be able to enjoy it for 100 years," he said. "We did the right thing… We’re not failing… We have money in the bank. We’ve been setting that money aside for the payments… We only have one secured creditor–U.S. Bank… The courts are going to look at this historic property that is an economic driver and aren’t going to ignore that.

“We’ll get through this and move on," Porter continued. "We’re not going anywhere and we’re not selling.”

Efforts to reach US Bank for comment before posting were unsuccessful.

A press release from the Benbow Inn is copied below:

Benbow Historic Inn Files for Reorganization

Benbow, CA (September 27, 2019) - Benbow Valley Investments, dba Benbow Historic Inn, owner of the premier historical hotel in Humboldt County since 1994, announced today that it has initiated proceedings for reorganization under Chapter 11 protection to preserve value and continue to serve its loyal guests with the best accommodations and cuisine in Southern Humboldt County.
In 2016 the Benbow Historic Inn commenced an inspiring update of the hotel, in part to meet the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to improve its capacity to serve the needs of its guests and develop group business. The construction project included a major expansion of the hotel, adding a new east wing that had been envisioned by the Benbow Family when the hotel opened in 1926.
“We knew we needed to make the Inn ADA-compliant and the best way to accomplish this was to install a 5-stop elevator”, said John Porter, the Managing Partner of Benbow Valley Investments.
The expansion plans not only included the spacious elevator but also a ground-level check-in/out lobby, two new meeting rooms, four public ADA restrooms, three ADA guest rooms, seven new guest rooms on the fourth floor, two new state of the art kitchens, a new cocktail lounge, and new state-of-the-art heating and air condition systems.
Despite its faithful and timely performance during the course of construction, Benbow Valley Investments was informed that the bank which financed the construction would not fund a permanent loan, and in February of this year it began foreclosure proceedings. The time it is taking to find a permanent replacement lender, has led the Inn to filing for reorganization protection. The filing will ensure the continued operations of the Inn, preserve the jobs of our dedicated employees and protect the value of the Inn for all stakeholders. “We will continue to operate the Inn as normal, as we have in the past and emerge from the reorganization process that will treat all creditors, fair and equitable under the law”, Porter said.
“This is not an issue where the Inn is failing. Occupancy and room revenue at the Inn have been on budget and our plan to build group business is working,” continued Porter. “We plan on coming out with a resolution that will work for us financially and continue to provide an exceptional, world class travel experience for our guests.”
Benbow Historic Inn was opened in 1926 by the nine brothers and sisters of the Benbow Family, each of whom had their own exceptional skill set. Benbow Valley Investments is the fifth owner including the Benbow Family.


Editor's note: This story was first published at www.kymkemp.com and is reposted here with permission.
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Thursday, September 26, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Ramparts on the Coast

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 1:41 PM

DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
The Stars in Motion and Thoughts on Geotagging

A photograph can be worth many more than a thousand words. It’s an old expression, though, and maybe the number “one thousand” just isn’t what it used to be. But you’ll be happy to know that I’ll spare you the full count today and just touch on a couple thoughts about locations, both in the sky and here on Earth.

Do you expect to find the Milky Way in the sky when you go out to a dark place to star gaze? You’d find it stretching across the sky all summer, but in winter when Earth’s night side faces the opposite direction we can lose sight of its magnificence — the star field we see at night changes throughout the year. The stars all maintain their positions relative to each other, but our viewing angle of the cosmos changes a little each day as we orbit the sun; in half a year Earth’s night side will be facing the opposite direction from now, and in a full year we will again have the same view as tonight.
Ramparts stand watch over the great Pacific Ocean at the edge of the continent. The lights of a pair of fishing boats glow in the marine layer’s gloom on the horizon. Patrick’s Point State Park, Humboldt County, California. September 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Ramparts stand watch over the great Pacific Ocean at the edge of the continent. The lights of a pair of fishing boats glow in the marine layer’s gloom on the horizon. Patrick’s Point State Park, Humboldt County, California. September 2019.
What’s never the same is the position of the planets in our solar system. They’re relatively near to us, and because they travel about the sun in their own orbits we see their positions change gradually against the fixed stars of the rest of the galaxy.

During the 2019 Milky Way season, the Milky Way has been straddled by Jupiter and Saturn. I am writing this in late September, and since March the two planets have slid a bit to the right relative to the Milky Way; earlier in the year Jupiter was just inside of it and Saturn was a little farther from it. In 2018, Mars was near the Milky Way all summer and Saturn was deep inside it.
Photographing at night has made me more aware of the motion of objects in the night sky. The sky changes almost imperceptibly each night, and different parts change at different rates: The stars all move together, but the planets change their place against the stars gradually as they move in their own orbits around the sun. The speedy moon appears each night with a different shape and in a different position. All of this helps make the night interesting to photograph.
Too numerous to label, stars, nebulae and planets abound in this image with some of the notable objects annotated. Not labeled is the Dark Horse Nebula; its foot is standing on Jupiter, can you spot it? Pacific Ocean, Humboldt County, California. September, 2019. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Too numerous to label, stars, nebulae and planets abound in this image with some of the notable objects annotated. Not labeled is the Dark Horse Nebula; its foot is standing on Jupiter, can you spot it? Pacific Ocean, Humboldt County, California. September, 2019.
Meanwhile back on Earth, some thoughts on sharing precise location information on social media. When we share images online, how specific should we be about the locations where we took the photographs? As a photographer, I pay attention to the interesting images of others. There are some places I’ve seen in photographs online so many times that I no longer have any interest in going there myself. Some locations I see photographed all the time. I wouldn’t feel unique to go make nearly the same photo I’ve seen a hundred other times. I dislike being part of a trend and would rather find less traveled places to photograph. I understand the draw to capture for yourself something beautiful that you have seen before; but I can reach a point where it pushes me away instead. Remember, there is power in uniqueness. Find interesting light and you can make an interesting photo.

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Coast Guard Rescues 3, Chihuahua from Battered Sailboat (With Video)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 9:19 AM

A Coast Guard helicopter comes in for the rescue. - COURTESY OF THE COAST GUARD
  • Courtesy of the Coast Guard
  • A Coast Guard helicopter comes in for the rescue.
The Coast Guard rescued three people and a Chihuahua from a disabled sailboat that was being battered by up to 40-mile per hour winds and 20-foot seas off the coast of Klamath Wednesday morning.

The captain of the Missfit, which was traveling from San Francisco to Washington, called in their predicament around 6:25 a.m. and two MH-65 Dolphin crews were dispatched to the vessel’s location. A rescue swimmer was deployed and all three passengers and their tiny companion were hoisted aboard a helicopter and taken to Sector Humboldt Bay in McKinleyville.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Tanner Marshall, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Hernon, both rescue swimmers at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay, stand with three survivors and their Chihuahua at Coast Guard Sector Humbold Bay in McKinleyville, California, Sept. 25, 2019. The captain of the sailboat Missfit contacted the Coast Guard stating the vessel had lost propulsion in 35-knot winds and up to 20-foot seas and that he was in need of assistance. - COURTESY OF THE COAST GUARD
  • Courtesy of the Coast Guard
  • Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Tanner Marshall, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Hernon, both rescue swimmers at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay, stand with three survivors and their Chihuahua at Coast Guard Sector Humbold Bay in McKinleyville, California, Sept. 25, 2019. The captain of the sailboat Missfit contacted the Coast Guard stating the vessel had lost propulsion in 35-knot winds and up to 20-foot seas and that he was in need of assistance.

None of those rescued were injured.
"I’m very proud of the response that our helicopter and command center crews provided on this rescue," said Cmdr. Brendan Hilleary, the Sector Humboldt Bay Response chief. “Their professionalism and decisive action were the key to a successful outcome.”
Read the full Coast Guard release below:

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Rio Dell Police Name Eureka Man 'Person of Interest' in Shooting

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 1:07 PM

Shooting victim Johnny Renfro. - RIO DELL POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Rio Dell Police Department
  • Shooting victim Johnny Renfro.
The Rio Dell Police Department has named a Eureka man as a “person of interest” in a fatal shooting of 26-year-old Johnny Renfro that took place Aug. 29.

According to a release, the department is having a “third party” analyze any information related to the killing contained on “numerous mobile phones, computers, recordings and other modern technology,” that were obtained via search warrants.

“It is believed that when the results of these warrants are received, there will be enough evidence to seek an arrest warrant
Demetrius Coleman - RIO DELL POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Rio Dell Police Department
  • Demetrius Coleman
 for the shooter,” the release states. “Additional investigation into the motive for the shooting is ongoing and the Department has also identified a person of interest in the investigation, Demetrius Coleman, 39 of Eureka, California.”

Renfro pulled over on Monument Road around 6:30 p.m. Aug. 29 and was walking away from his car when another driver pulled up and opened fire, according to information previously released by the city.

The Honda Accord believed to have been used in the shooting has been recovered, the release states.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. John Beauchaine or Rio Dell Police Chief Jeff Conner at (707)764‐5642.
Front of the Honda believed used in the shooting. - RIO DELL POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Rio Dell Police Department
  • Front of the Honda believed used in the shooting.
Rear of the Honda believed used in the shooting. - RIO DELL POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Rio Dell Police Department
  • Rear of the Honda believed used in the shooting.
Update from the city of Rio Dell:


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California Department of Public Health: 'Refrain from Vaping'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 10:45 AM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
The California Department of Public Health has issued a health advisory recommending people stop vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete. 

According to a release, as of Sept. 24, the CDPH had received 90 reports of people with a history of vaping who have been hospitalized for “severe breathing problems and lung damage, and two people have died” in California.

The health advisory came one week after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order funding a $20 million public awareness campaign to warn people of the dangers of vaping cannabis or nicotine products.

“We are seeing something that we have not seen before,” said Dr. Charity Dean, acting state public health officer, in the release. “There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”

The CDPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, local health departments and healthcare providers are investigating what is making people sick.

In the meantime, health care officials are encouraging people who use vaping products that experience shortness of breath to contact their doctor immediately.

For more information about the risks of vaping click here.

Read the full press release below. 
California Department of Public Health Issues Public Health Advisory Urging Everyone to Refrain from Vaping

Health Advisory Warns About Imminent Public Health Risks

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory today urging everyone to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete. The health advisory follows an executive order signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last week to confront the growing youth epidemic and health risks linked to vaping.
As of September 24, 2019, CDPH has received reports that 90 people in California who have a history of vaping were hospitalized for severe breathing problems and lung damage, and two people have died. Across the U.S., there are more than 500 reports of lung damage associated with vaping across 38 states and 1 U.S. territory, and more reports are coming in nearly every day.

“We are seeing something that we have not seen before,” said Dr. Charity Dean, Acting State Public Health Officer. “There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain
from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”

CDPH, along with other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), local health departments, and healthcare providers are working hard to investigate what is in the vape materials that is making
people sick.

Although CDPH regulates manufacturers of cannabis vaping products to ensure they are as safe as possible for those who choose to vape, CDPH warns that all individuals put themselves at risk any time they inhale a foreign substance into their lungs. The risk of vaping for any individual may include serious illness and death. “Vaping is not just a concern for youth; the vaping cases under investigation affect youth and adults alike,” said Dr. Dean.

If you experience difficulty breathing after vaping, contact your doctor immediately. You may also experience other symptoms including: cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. If this happens to you, do not discard any used vaping cartridges you might have, as CDPH is interested in testing the remaining substance in used cartridges. Those cartridges are being collected by local health departments and sent to CDPH labs for analysis.

In California, licensed cannabis retailers are required to sell products obtained from a licensed cannabis manufacturer that have been tested by a licensed laboratory. Cannabis products sold by licensed sources are tested for a variety of chemicals, pesticides, microbial impurities, and heavy metals. Illegal cannabis dispensaries sell unregulated and untested cannabis products and absolutely should not be used.

CDC continues to warn that any tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. Furthermore, use of cannabis and tobacco products remains especially unsafe for youth, and for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

The Governor’s executive order directed CDPH to launch a $20 million statewide digital and social media public awareness campaign to educate youth, young adults and parents about the health risks associated with vaping nicotine and cannabis products.

CDPH is also tasked with developing recommendations to reduce smoking among young adults and teens by establishing warning signs with health risks where vaping products are sold and on product advertisements.
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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Huffman: Dems 'Snowball of Unity' on Impeachment Led to Historic Announcement

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2019 at 4:33 PM

As one of the first and most vociferous members of Congress to beat the impeachment drum, his frustrations having steadily built in recent weeks, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman applauded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic announcement this afternoon that the U.S. House of Representatives will launch a formal impeachment inquiry.

“It’s been a remarkable snowball of unity in our caucus around the Ukraine scandal,” Huffman told the Journal by phone this afternoon. “As someone who thinks this president should be impeached around at least a half-dozen impeachable offenses, I’m happy to see that unity, even if it just gels around this one scandal. I’ll take it.”

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
The Ukraine scandal, as Huffman dubbed it, has been rapidly gaining traction over the past week and centers on reports — as well as admissions from the president and his advisors — that in July Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on widely debunked allegations that he inappropriately pressed for the ousting of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating a company that employed Biden’s son. The pressing — eight requests for the investigation in a single phone call, according to some reports — reportedly came weeks after Trump ordered his acting chief of staff to withhold $400 million in promised military aid to the country.

Huffman said there was zero dissension in the ranks when Pelosi informed the Democratic caucus today that she intended to announce the launching of an impeachment inquiry this afternoon, despite the fact that many Democrats have taken a cautious approach to the subject, believing that committee investigations could accomplish the larger information gathering goal without the potential political price of an official inquiry.

In announcing the opening of a formal inquiry, Pelosi said Trump has “seriously violated the Constitution” and “must be held accountable.”

To date, the whistleblower complaint that brought the Ukraine scandal to light has not been turned over to Congress, as required by law. But Huffman said acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is slated to offer “historic testimony” before Congress Thursday, noting that the hearing will be televised.

Huffman, who has repeatedly and loudly called for the start of a formal impeachment inquiry to look into potential violations of the emoluments clause, obstruction of justice and campaign finance violations, said he believes the Ukraine scandal has captured his colleagues’ urgent attention because it is “an unambiguous, impeachable offense and there is no amount of spin or nuance that can get the president out of this box.” The facts as they are known, he said, already support an impeachment vote, noting that Trump has admitted to asking Zelensky to investigate Biden and halting the military aid money as members of his administration have refused to comply with legal requirements to turn the whistleblower’s complaint over to Congress.

“That alone crosses the threshold of impeachment,” Huffman said.

On Twitter, Trump has called the issue a “total witch hunt” and “presidential harassment,” and has pledged to release a transcript of his call with Zelensky tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Huffman says he believes there is “air-tight unity” in the Democratic caucus in the belief that Trump’s own public admissions about the call — coupled with his administration’s handling of the complaint — constitute grounds for impeachment. He says he still wants to see the president held accountable for profiting off the presidency, obstructing justice and violating campaign finance rules by paying off a porn star to keep voters from learning about his extra-marital affair, but all that can wait.

“I’m not backing off any of that but I do think this Ukraine scandal goes to the fast lane and probably stands alone as having that full imprimatur of the speaker and our caucus,” he says.
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UPDATE: Construction Starts on a One-Way Future for Fairfield

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2019 at 11:35 AM

The intersection of Fairfield and Wabash. - CALTRANS
  • Caltrans
  • The intersection of Fairfield and Wabash.
A project to help address the slog that is driving through intersections along U.S. Highway 101 in Eureka begins today.

Caltrans is starting work on Fairfield Street at Wabash Avenue, meaning Fairfield will be closed for the next four to six weeks, according to the agency. When construction is complete, the street will be one-way for those traveling southbound (between Wabash and West Del Norte) in a bid to stave off gridlock at the notorious five-way intersection.

The improvements are just the beginning of a series of alterations proposed by Caltrans for Fourth and Fifth streets, as reported in the Journal’s February story “Big Changes Considered for 101 Through Eureka.” Read more here.
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