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Environment

Haiti Endures 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake, Followed by Tropical Storm

The island country of Haiti is experiencing yet another spate of political and environmental difficulties.

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Life after the earthquake, Haiti stock photo from istock.com

The island country of Haiti is experiencing yet another spate of political and environmental difficulties.

On August 14, 2021, there was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Western part of Haiti about 80 miles from the capital, Port au Prince. So far, nearly 1,500 lives have been lost. 

Then, tropical storm Grace touched down in Haiti on August 17 before continuing to Jamaica.

The catastrophes occur in the political upheaval and confusion in the aftermath of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, 2021.

Wyclef Jean, a Haitian actor, musician and rapper, asked for help for his home country via Instagram:

“[t]oday, once again, sad to report, Haiti’s hit with another earthquake,” Wyclef’s voice can be heard saying as footage of the earthquake is shown. “I encourage everybody — everybody and everybody — please do your part so we can help the country.”

In 2010 Haiti had a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed 100,000 people.

Aid is needed, but one of the most common aid relief organizations is not accepting donations at this time, according to an e-mail sent by the American Red Cross to the Associated Press.  This shift apparently arises from an ongoing investigation by news outlets ProPublica and NPR about questions and overstatements of how the $500 million raised by them in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake was spent.

The American Red Cross denies allegations from the investigation and stated they will work with partners such as the Haitian Red Cross and the Red Crescent to deliver aid in the latest earthquake.

Meanwhile, folks on social media are urging donations be sent via this site:

https://www.omprakash.org/global/haiti-communitere/donate

CNN, Newsone.com, and USA Today were sources for this report.

Bay Area

Rosie the Riveter Trust to Celebrate History, ‘We Can Do It!’ Spirit

Tribute to storyteller and park ranger Betty Reid Soskin marking her 100th birthday

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Betty Reid Soskin/Wikimedia Commons

The Rosie the Riveter Trust is celebrating the history of the World War II home front at a September 26 gala, Making History Together. The fundraiser will highlight programs supported by the trust in collaboration with Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park: Every Kid Outdoors, Rosie’s Service Corps, and a documentary about the park’s Rosie Ambassadors, currently in production.

“We have a gem of a national park located right here in Richmond, California, where visitors can come learn about the home front and hear stories told in first person. This includes women and men who worked in the Kaiser shipyards, as well as those who spent years in the internment camps during the war,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director of Rosie the Riveter Trust. “The history of the home front and societal changes that transpired during World War II are important lessons to preserve and share.”

The gala will also include a special tribute to Betty Reid Soskin, who turns 100 in September. Soskin helped establish the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, later joining the National Park Service and becoming the oldest ranger in the national park system at 85. 

Soskin’s programs at the park’s visitor center have captivated audiences since the center opened in May 2012. During her presentations, she shares her own experiences as a young woman of color during a time when segregation and discrimination were common, adding dimension to the stories of the home front too often left out of the history books. “What gets remembered is determined by who is in the room doing the remembering,” says Soskin in her 2019 film, “No Time to Waste.”

The gala will be held at the historic Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South (next to the park’s visitor center on the Richmond waterfront). The Craneway, which boasts a fabulous view of San Francisco, is the former Ford Assembly Plant where some 49,000 tanks and jeeps were assembled during the home front era. 

While individual tickets to the in-person event sold out on August 1, tickets to view the live-streamed event are still available. The event begins at 5:00 p.m., followed by a tribute to Soskin, highlights of the trust’s programs, a live auction, a Zoom afterparty, and entertainment.

Major event sponsors include the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Kaiser Permanente, The Marguerite Fund, Chevron Richmond Refinery, Accenture, Bank of Labor, California State Pipe Trades Council, Microsoft Corp., The Honorable Barry Goode, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, IBEW Local 302, IBEW Local Union 595, and Marathon Petroleum. Event sponsorships are available beginning at $1,000.

Rosie the Riveter Trust is the official partner of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, founded in 2000 in Richmond, California. The Park chronicles the explosive growth of wartime industry, the innovations fostered by visionaries like Henry J. Kaiser, and the extraordinary history of people who were challenged as never before and came together to overcome wartime odds with the “We Can Do It!” spirit.

Event proceeds support expansion of educational programs for all ages and preservation of historical resources for the Bay Area and the nation.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the trust’s web site at www.rosietheriveter.org. For sponsorships, contact Executive Director Sarah Pritchard, at 510-507-2276, or by email at sarah@rosietheriveter.org.

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Commentary

Let’s Talk Black Education; Governor Newsom Should Close the Vaccination Loophole for School Employees

It leaves the rest of us — including the students — without a teacher, cafeteria worker, or janitorial staff. We have to throw on five or six hats in order to ensure that our students are educated.

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Let's Talk Black Education with Margaret Fortune

The honeymoon is over in communities where the Delta variant has taken hold.

Since back-to-school, I’ve spent weeks filling in for principals, supervising children, checking children’s temperatures and providing them masks, directing traffic in the parking lot, picking up garbage, wiping down cafeteria tables — all of which are required to run safe schools in these times.

I’ve talked to other heads of schools that can say the same thing or something similar since the start of this school year. The same culprit continues to affect us all — COVID-19. However, normally we have a village to manage these tasks. Now, we don’t.

Staffing shortages are severe and there are no substitutes to be had.

Further aggravating the situation, are public health rules that require paid school staff who test negative for COVID-19 but remain unvaccinated to stay home for 10 days at a time when they are exposed to someone who tests positive.

It leaves the rest of us — including the students — without a teacher, cafeteria worker, or janitorial staff. We have to throw on five or six hats in order to ensure that our students are educated.

Necessary? Yes. Sustainable? No.

Gov. Gavin Newsom took a good first step when he required school employees to be vaccinated, but he left a gaping loophole. He allowed school staff to ‘test out’ of being vaccinated by committing to take a COVID test twice a week.  Then he put the burden on schools to become COVID testing centers overnight for the employees who refuse to get vaccinated.

The result is that these staff who refuse vaccination have to be benched for two weeks every time they get exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Imagine, if you will, being a part of a 40-person team and every week there are 10 people who are forced to quarantine for two weeks, leaving 30 team members to do the work of 40 during that first week.

That’s one person doing their job and the additional work of three coworkers. These types of staffing outages are debilitating schools across the state. There are news reports of schools having to shut down classrooms for lack of staff.

Some major school systems with the political clout have taken matters into their own hands. Los Angeles Unified, for example, has closed the loophole and is requiring all school employees to be vaccinated.  The state of California should do the same.

California has over 6 million students who can’t afford for us to agree to anything less than 100% vaccination for school employees.

Yes, the policy could force out educators who refuse to get vaccinated but, they won’t be working anyway if they get exposed to a positive case.  Essentially, the unvaccinated have become hard to employ in a school setting.  They can go out at any time and take down our schools with them.

We can’t risk that.

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Environment

Gov. Newsom Directs Nearly $138 Million to Local Fire Prevention

These funds have been allocated to 105 local fire prevention programs in communities across California.

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Penn Valley, California - 2020: Sign with Smokey the Bear reads Fire Danger Red Flag Warning today. Prevent Forest Fires. Firewise communities. The fire danger in Northern California remains high.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, through the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (Cal Fire), has directed nearly $137 million in funding to local fire prevention.

Newsom approved $123 million of that funding in April for the Fire Prevention Grant Program, while the additional $14.8 million is being repurposed from grants from Cal Fire’s budget last year.

These funds have been allocated to 105 local fire prevention programs in communities across California.

“California and the western U.S. are facing an unparalleled risk of catastrophic wildfire in this new climate reality. That’s why @CAL_FIRE is directing nearly $138 million in grants to protect and build resilience in local communities,” Newsom tweeted.

Last year, Newsom cut roughly $150 million from Cal Fire’s budget.

According to Cal Fire, California’s wildfire crisis has burned about 1,968,326 acres, damaged or destroyed 3,050 structures and caused one confirmed fatality.

Newsom and others have claimed that climate change is contributing to the wildfires.

“These grants will further our work to tackle California’s forest health and wildfire crisis, funding community-based projects that build resilience to protect lives and property,” Newsom said in a statement last week.

Newsom also claimed that California is a leader on the national stage in the global fight against climate change. He made that statement last weekend when President Biden visited California to support him before the recall election on September 14.

“California is leading the nation with bold solutions to protect people and the environment, and the Biden-Harris Administration is proposing transformative investments to take on this existential crisis. With their dedicated partnership, we will continue to scale up our forest health and wildfire resilience efforts and ensure our communities recovering from wildfires have the support they need,” he said.

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