Wary of Wildfires


News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports



A firefighter battles a fire along the Ronald Reagan Freeway, aka state Highway 118, in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

A firefighter battles a fire along the Ronald Reagan Freeway, aka state Highway 118, in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)


A firefighter battles a fire along the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)


Firefighters battle a fire along the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)


Returning winds have Southern California firefighters wary

By CHRISTOPHER WEBER and BRIAN MELLEY

Associated Press

Tuesday, November 13

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — With Santa Ana winds returning and hundreds of homes in ashes, firefighters were struggling to corral a devastating Southern California wildfire that has ravaged scenic canyons and celebrity enclaves near the ocean.

Crews taking advantage of a weekend lull in the winds had the immense Woolsey blaze about 30 percent contained. But at least 435 buildings had burned — most of them homes — and the hot embers smoldering there could become the sparks for more devastation, fire officials said.

The fire, which stretches from north of Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean, was only 30 percent contained — although that was significant progress from only a few days earlier thanks to a weekend lull in Santa Ana winds.

Fire crews had to stamp out two new blazes on Monday while still working to corral the hot western and eastern sides of the fire, which had burned its way through drought-stricken canyonlands in and around Malibu, burning celebrity houses along with modest mobile homes.

The hot, dry gusty winds were expected to blow through Wednesday, although not quite as furiously as last week. Winds, coupled with higher average annual temperatures, tinder-dry brush and a lack of rain in recent years, make the “perfect ingredients” for explosive fire growth around the state, said Chris Anthony, a division chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“I’ve been doing this job for 31 years and probably in the last five, maybe seven years, every year seems to get worse,” California Fire Chief Scott Jalbert told The Associated Press.

The fire has burned more than 80 percent of National Parks Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, officials said.

Fire officials lifted some evacuation orders Monday in Los Angeles County while warning Southern California residents to remain vigilant as strong winds fanned new fires. While some returned home, others were told to leave. As one major freeway reopened, another was closed.

The return to normal for some was juxtaposed with the arrival of chaos for others, illustrating how quickly conditions can turn. At least 57,000 homes were still considered threatened, state fire officials said, and more than 200,000 people remained under evacuation orders.

Relief and heartache awaited those who were allowed to return home Monday. Paul Rasmussen, his pregnant wife and 6-year-old daughter fled their mountainside Malibu home Friday for what they thought would be the last time.

Paul Rasmussen gasped Monday as he rounded corners on the road home that revealed the extent of damage with more than a dozen nearby houses reduced to rubble. But their home survived. His next-door neighbor, Randy Berkeley, protected his home and the Rasmussens’ house.

Berkeley and his wife, Robyn Berkeley, choked back tears as they recounted their ordeal holding back a 100-foot wall of flames and then repeatedly beating back hot spots that continued to flare up throughout the night and next day.

The couple and their 25-year-old son, Colin, used hoses, buckets of water and chain saws to battle flames and cut back brush as the fire kept coming to life.

“Just when you think everything is dying down, everything keeps coming back,” Randy Berkeley said.

The death toll stood at two, a pair of adults found last week in a car overtaken by flames a couple miles from Rasmussen’s house. Those fatalities added to California’s growing wildfire-related death toll.

At least 42 people were confirmed dead in the wildfire that obliterated the Northern California town of Paradise , making it the deadliest wildfire in recorded state history. The search for bodies continued.

The cause of the Southern California fires remained under investigation.

Southern California Edison reported to the California Public Utilities Commission “out of an abundance of caution” that there was an outage on an electrical circuit near where the fire started Thursday. The report said there was no indication its equipment was involved in the fire reported two minutes after the outage.

Downed powerlines and blown transformers have been blamed for several of the deadly fires that have burned in recent years.

Melley reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer John Antczak contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

WISHES HELP KEEP PEDIATRIC PATIENTS OUT OF THE HOSPITAL

Columbus – 11/13/2018

Cimone Stills, 15, has a medical condition that has caused her to have multiple seizures a day for most of her life. Specifically, she has treatment-resistant generalized epilepsy because of a genetic variation. Like many patients with such a serious illness, it affects her daily life and as a result, she was diagnosed with clinical depression. But Cimone’s outlook on life completely changed for the better after her wish of going to Paris. Cimone says that the wish helped provide her perspective and hope. It also helped reduced her number of seizures over time.

As a member of the Medical Advisory Council of Make-A-Wish America, Anup Patel, MD, section chief of Neurology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, anecdotally could attest that wishes like Cimone’s positively affected the patients he saw in the Complex Epilepsy Clinic at Nationwide Children’s. As a clinician, he sought evidence to support his hypothesis that these experiences provided children with progressive, life-threatening, or critical illnesses more than hope — that in fact, they had a clinical benefit.

Whatever a child has wished for — a puppy, seeing snow for the first time or to meet their favorite celebrity — a recent study led by Nationwide Children’s demonstrates that experiences, or “wishes,” granted to pediatric patients can actually reduce health care utilization. In the retrospective study published online by Pediatric Research, patients granted a wish were 2.5 times more likely to have fewer unplanned hospital admissions and 1.9 times more likely not to have to use the emergency department. This led to a decline in cost of care even after accounting for the average cost of the wish.

“My patients have about a one to three percent chance of ever becoming seizure-free. Not every patient of mine who gets a wish is going to come back seizure-free, but they are going to improve,” said Dr. Patel. “Their quality of life is going to be better and that might have an indirect impact on their seizures. They may have fewer seizures as a result, or be more likely to take their medications. Moreover, we are able to give them something they would not otherwise get: a break from their illness.”

“My wish that was granted in 1988 changed the way I felt about my illness,mand it motivated me to fight even harder, to believe even more that there was a future for me,” said Tiffany Rowe, Make-A-Wish recipient and chair of the Make-A-Wish National Board Alumni Association. “It is fundamentally part of why I am still here today.”

The study compared patients who received or did not receive a wish and associated impact on healthcare utilization and costs across two years. From 2011 to 2016, 496 Nationwide Children’s Hospital patients received a wish. These were matched to the same number of a control group based on age, gender, disease category and disease complexity.

“Wishes are a nice thing to do for a patient, their family and siblings, but for the first time this study lets us say that a wish is more than just nice,” said Dr. Patel. “A wish is something that potentially can help the health of a child get better over time, impact healthcare utilization and reduce dollars spent on healthcare.”

Dr. Patel says larger populations of wish-receiving patients need to be studied to determine if this pilot study can be replicated, and to help researchers understand why wishes have such a positive impact.

Reference: Patel AD, Falke AM, Reynolds M, Hoyt R, Hoynes A, Moore-Clingenpeel M, Salvator A, Moreland JJ. Impact of a Make-A-Wish experience on healthcare utilization. Pediatric Research. 2018 Oct 18. [Epub ahead of print]

Opinion: Is Your Lyft Driver an Unlikely American Hero?

By Matt Zeller and Steve Taylor

InsideSources.com

In 2008, my wartime translator saved my life during a firefight in Afghanistan. I counted on Janis Shinwari to help me navigate in a foreign land with a very different culture. He also looked our for the safety of my troops and myself. Thousands of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan similarly counted on their interpreters — known as ’Terps — to have their backs during while fighting in-country.

Ten years after my service, I now regularly count on my Afghan and Iraqi brothers to navigate me through the streets of a more familiar land — my home in the Washington metro area. When I request a Lyft, I frequently learn that the driver is an Afghan or Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa holder, a special visa program created solely for wartime interpreters who served honorably for two or more years (and some many more years than that) alongside American troops. For many of these individuals, remaining in their home countries is a death sentence as they are hunted by ISIS and the Taliban.

There are more than 69,000 SIV-holders and their immediate family members now living in the United States. In the D.C.-Northern Virginia-Maryland region, there are more than 11,000 SIV families. Coming to the United States is not without incredible challenges for these heroes. It takes at least three years to undergo the most rigorous visa approval process our country has for an interpreter and his family to be approved to resettled. They come with one suitcase, few belongings, and little money. Often, their professional credentials do not transfer here and they have to start over completely in, especially for this area, an expensive new city.

Driving with Lyft has become the single largest earning opportunity for interpreters. Thousands already drive on the platform, and more join every month. Lyft provides a flexible earning opportunity in which these new immigrants can drive full-time or part-time to provide more resources for their families.

Of course, drivers need a car. But this can be out of reach for many of these visa holders, which is why Lyft and No One Left Behind have partnered to create a unique package of benefits for interpreters, such as the Express Drive program.

Express Drivers rent a car through a third-party partner, like Hertz or Flexdrive, and are given the opportunity to earn weekly bonuses to offset the cost of the rental. Lyft has demonstrated a strong commitment to veterans and service members, and extends a similar honor to our wartime allies, who moved to the top of the wait list, receive a free first week rental, and have their deposit waived.

No One Left Behind is a nonprofit organization I started with my interpreter Janis after he resettled here. The amount of bureaucratic red tape I and others had to cut through along with heart-wrenching delays that put his family in danger the longer they remained in Afghanistan inspired us to want to help others. To those of us who have worked with ’Terps, they are just as much a soldier as anyone else in uniform.

We owe them an extraordinary debt of gratitude. The private sector recognizes this as well. The visas the interpreters hold give them full work eligibility. They are highly educated and have made incredible sacrifices for our country and their own families. Through our formal partnerships with corporate partners like Lyft and others, we are able to provide more earning opportunities for this population while also driving value and profit for businesses. Lyft’s ridesharing network provides a unique opportunity for motivated drivers to earn a living — and connect with Americans in the backseat — once again getting us safely to our destinations.

We just celebrated Veterans Day on which Americans gave thanks to men and women who have served our great nation. There are thousands of others, though, who have served as well. So the next time you find yourself in a Lyft, talk to your driver. He or she just might be an unlikely American hero.

ABOUT THE WRITERS

Matt Zeller, a former U.S. Army captain, is the co-founder and CEO of No One Left Behind. Steve Taylor, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant, is Lyft’s general manager for the Mid-Atlantic region. They wrote this for InsideSources.com.

Brain changes found in self-injuring teen girls

Study highlights need for prevention, early intervention in those at high risk of suicide

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The brains of teenage girls who engage in serious forms of self-harm, including cutting, show features similar to those seen in adults with borderline personality disorder, a severe and hard-to-treat mental illness, a new study has found.

Reduced brain volumes seen in these girls confirms biological – and not just behavioral – changes and should prompt additional efforts to prevent and treat self-inflicted injury, a known risk factor for suicide, said study lead author Theodore Beauchaine, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.

This research is the first to highlight physical changes in the brain in teenage girls who harm themselves.

The findings are especially important given recent increases in self-harm in the U.S., which now affects as many as 20 percent of adolescents and is being seen earlier in childhood, Beauchaine said.

“Girls are initiating self-injury at younger and younger ages, many before age 10,” he said.

Cutting and other forms of self-harm often precede suicide, which increased among 10- to 14-year-old girls by 300 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that same time, there was a 53 percent increase in suicide in older teen girls and young women. Self-injury also has been linked to later diagnosis of depression and borderline personality disorder.

In adults with borderline personality disorder, structural and functional abnormalities are well-documented in several areas of the brain that help regulate emotions.

But until this research, nobody had looked at the brains of adolescents who engage in self-harm to see if there are similar changes.

The new study, which appears in the journal Development and Psychopathology, included 20 teenage girls with a history of severe self-injury and 20 girls with no history of self-harm. Each girl underwent magnetic resonance imaging of her brain. When the researchers compared overall brain volumes of the 20 self-injuring girls with those in the control group, they found clear decreases in volume in parts of the brain called the insular cortex and inferior frontal gyrus.

These regions, which are next to one another, are two of several areas where brain volumes are smaller in adults with borderline personality disorder, or BPD, which, like cutting and other forms of self-harm, is more common among females. Brain volume losses are also well-documented in people who’ve undergone abuse, neglect and trauma, Beauchaine said.

The study also found a correlation between brain volume and the girls’ self-reported levels of emotion dysregulation, which were gathered during interviews prior to the brain scans.

Beauchaine said this study does not mean that all girls who harm themselves will go on to develop BPD – but it does highlight a clear need to do a better job with prevention and early intervention.

“These girls are at high risk for eventual suicide. Self-injury is the strongest predictor of suicide outside of previous suicide attempts,” Beauchaine said. “But there’s most likely an opportunity here to prevent that. We know that these brain regions are really sensitive to outside factors, both positive and negative, and that they continue to develop all the way into the mid-20s,” he said.

Adolescents who self-injure are more anxious, more depressed and more hostile than their peers who are also referred to mental health experts, previous studies have shown. This new brain-volume evidence bolsters the argument that self-injury should be viewed as a potential sign of serious, life-threatening illness, Beauchaine said, adding that there are no major prevention projects currently aimed at pre-adolescent girls in the United States. Instead, most current interventions start in adolescence when risk for self-harm is greatest.

“A lot of people react to girls who cut by saying, ‘She’s just doing it for attention, she should just knock it off,’ but we need to take this seriously and focus on prevention. It’s far easier to prevent a problem than to reverse it,” he said.

He said it’s important to recognize that the research does not establish whether the decreased brain volume seen in the study preceded the self-harm, or emerged after the girls began to injure themselves.

Further studies looking at brain changes are needed to help researchers better understand the relationship between structural differences and self-harm and how those might correspond to BPD and other mental disorders down the road, Beauchaine said.

“If we can learn more about how adults with psychiatric disorders got there, we are in a much better position to take care of people with these illnesses, or even stop them from happening in the first place,” he said.

A previously published study in these same girls applied functional MRI during a task in which they could receive monetary rewards. The researchers saw diminished brain responses to reward in those girls with a history of self-harm – results that looked similar to previous studies of adults with mood disorders and borderline personality disorder.

“Self-injury is a phenomenon that’s increasing, and that’s less common outside of the United States. It’s saying something about our culture that this is happening, and we should do whatever we can to look for ways to prevent it,” Beauchaine said.

Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to Honor

GPK Indoor Entertainment

COLUMBUS – GPK Indoor Entertainment in Columbus has been selected by Secretary of State Jon Husted as one of November’s featured businesses for the Ohio Business Profile program.

A representative from the Secretary of State’s office will visit GPK Indoor Entertainment to present a certificate highlighting this accomplishment. As part of the Ohio Business Profile program, Secretary Husted declared November as “Veteran-Owned Businesses” Month to highlight a series of businesses around the state that are owned by veterans.

GPK Indoor Entertainment is an entertainment center focused on family fun. With activities such as indoor kart racing and laser tag, GPK has become a Central Ohio favorite for birthday parties, team building activities, and other events.

After the Vote

An Essay of the Man from the North

by Rivera Sun

[Editor’s note: The Man from the North is a fictional character from Rivera Sun’s series of novels. She has him offering essays beyond her novels.]

The Vote – the beloved, abused, scorned, corrupted, stolen, hijacked, pointless, profound, hopeful, depressing, hard-won, cherished vote – is not the only way to take action for meaningful change. Currently, the elections operate in our nation like a cattle chute, all too often forcing us back into the deadly, no-win tracks of the two-party duopoly that serves primarily the moneyed class. It becomes a handy device for siphoning off the demand for revolutionary change by giving mostly false hope that elected officials will actually enact their campaign promises once in office.

Instead of taking matters into our own, capable, millions of hands, we vote to let someone else take care of it. And, in large part, these representatives do nothing beyond raising funds for their next campaign. We wind up hamstringing our movements over and over. We vote for Candidate X’s promises of someday guaranteeing living wages instead of going on strike until we actually get them. We vote for Candidate Y’s vow to someday ban assault weapons instead of picketing and blockading arms dealers. Instead of targeting fossil fuel investors, we try to elect politicians to craft legislation that, even if passed, is largely ignored by industry until they manage to get officials and judges in place to overturn the law.

It is maddening and infuriating. We have other – and better – options.

Change happens on many levels: cultural, economic, industrial, social, artistic, personal, psychological, spiritual, and more. We must work in all of them if we hope for lasting, systemic shifts. Don’t be fooled by the annual circus of voting. Go vote, sure, but don’t sit back down on the couch when you’ve cast your ballot. Go out into your community, businesses, churches, colleges, and so on, and work for the changes we wish to see in the world. In truth, no legislation has the power to enact the full scope of change without the cooperation of all those other institutions and the popular support in ordinary citizens.

Want living wages, for example? Change the sickening culture of greed and the hero worship of the criminals at the top of capitalism’s cannibalistic food chain. Challenge the moral “right” our culture places upon exploitation and survival of the fittest. We will never see justice for workers while we salivate over billionaires and laud their “brilliance” (read: ruthless willingness to shove others under the bus) with which they “made their fortunes” (read: stolen from others by means of low wages, high prices, global exploitation, insider deals, destruction of the earth, corruption of democracy, self-serving laws and legislation.)

Elections and politics are the games of elites. We are whipped up each election cycle to serve as their cheering crowds at their jousting matches. It is no better than the feudal days of fighting for this king or that queen when the real struggle is the establishment of “nobles” and the theft of common land from the people. In the 1500s, the real struggle was not whether Queen Elizabeth of England and Mary Queen of Scots would sit on the throne, but rather, how ordinary women were being stripped of rights and lowered into the status of property. Neither Mary nor Elizabeth’s rule stopped the rise of patriarchy into a monstrous beast that still echoes in the policies and practices of today.

History is long; I could go on with examples across nations, class, and creed. The real challenge of our times is not which super-wealthy Democratic or Republican regime gets to hand out sweet deals and lucky breaks to their friends, but how we, the people, wrest the state apparatus from the death-grip of the “nobility” of our times. Just as fighting for this king or that queen was not as vital as defending the commons, so do I warn you, today, about over-inflating the significance of the vote.

The idea is wonderful; our practice of it, deplorable. Never confuse those two. Prize our ideals. Exercise your right to vote – it is hard-won for 75 percent of our populace. But never allow its current, corrupted incarnation to distract you from working on cultural, economic, social, or any other type of change. Measure for measure, pour your courageous heart into all levels of change. If you spend 10 minutes reading a report about a candidates’ forum, spend the same time reading about – and participating in – strikes for better wages or sit-ins to abolish mass incarceration or shut-downs of insurance offices for affordable healthcare. If you go door-to-door canvassing for a politician, spend an equal amount of time knocking on doors to build support for a boycott of exploitative goods. If you’re willing to throw a house party for an election campaign, go to a local organizer and offer to throw a house party in support of their social justice cause. If you donate to a political campaign, donate to a movement, too.

These are just a few examples. Remember that the elections have become a massive industry. Many of our social justice movements remain shoestring, miracle-workers. Your time, skills, and donations are all deeply appreciated by your fellow citizens who are striving for significant change. Don’t forget them during the shouting matches of our election circuses. Without our movements changing the hearts and minds and daily lives of ordinary people, the mere words on paper that make up legislation have no meaning. Laws are irrelevant if officials ignore them, courts reject them, and people disobey them. Do the legwork of making sure that the populace can uphold justice, not merely because it is the law, but because it is our will, our belief, and our sense of justice turned into a way of life. To do this, you must make change in every level of our lives.

Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books, and a nationally known movement trainer in strategic nonviolence.

A firefighter battles a fire along the Ronald Reagan Freeway, aka state Highway 118, in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/11/web1_121765671-6c1f769624a14108b8b96a4ad63bd5c2.jpgA firefighter battles a fire along the Ronald Reagan Freeway, aka state Highway 118, in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

A firefighter battles a fire along the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/11/web1_121765671-a932520ead214c8fbc2144a4a4c812d7.jpgA firefighter battles a fire along the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Firefighters battle a fire along the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/11/web1_121765671-aa923cd26d0749edbd31de1a1b6fc4be.jpgFirefighters battle a fire along the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway in Simi Valley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports