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‘Messiah’ made for the masses; singalong set at First Presbyterian Church
Author: Scott Hewitt

The “Messiah” is a “monster.”

That’s how Laurie Chinn describes the legendary piece, even after serving as the organist for 17 consecutive, annual performances at a church in Portland. Every year, she said, she goes back to the drawing board for review and practice.

“There are parts that are very difficult,” Chinn said. “What I’m doing is being the whole orchestra, because it’s written for orchestra.”

English composer George Frideric Handel first scored his piece for a small orchestra (more like a big band) in 1741; the work was always warmly received, but it wasn’t until after Handel’s death that other arrangers recognized its monumental power, and reworked the score for massive groups of musicians and singers.

Other adaptations are for organ only, but they still try to squeeze in every speck of orchestral genius from those earlier passes (by the likes of arrangers like Mozart). That makes for an incredibly detailed, busy piece of music, Chinn said.

“I’d love to know how many notes I play,” she said. “I don’t know what it is, but it must be a crazy number.”

Crazy isn’t usually how Chinn views numbers. “Numbers are my thing,” she said, and she works as a bookkeeper — when she’s not playing the organ for various area churches, including Vancouver’s First Presbyterian Church, and for the Vancouver USA Singers, who use First Pres as their base of operations and concert venue.

And that’s where the “Messiah” will meet its match, on Dec. 21, in another couple of monsters. One is the mighty pipe organ at First Pres, a truly fearsome musical beast that required a fearsome amount of maintenance this year.

The church spent $140,000 and several months maintaining and upgrading the organ, Chinn said. One Sunday morning, she was nearby but not even touching the instrument when “every single note started playing. All the stops opened up, the whole organ started playing like there was a ghost in there.”

That led to multiple discoveries about the innards of the complex contraption, Chinn said — both hardware and software. Yes, did you know, the organ is driven by a computer? It turned out to be state-of-the-art for 1982, Chinn said, and was replaced. Also replaced were keyboard controls, pedal and keyboard contacts, thumb pistons, valves and valve wires (10 miles of wire in all). Chinn said the church tapped a dedicated organ fund for this expensive project.

Singalong

The other monster is you, the Vancouver community, joined in song. Everybody is invited to a singalong of all choruses (not the solos) from “Messiah,” Parts I, II and III, set for 7 p.m. Dec. 21, with Chinn providing organ accompaniment. The Vancouver USA Singers will have some scores to share, but please bring your own if you’ve got one. The event is free, but goodwill offerings will be gratefully accepted for Friends of the Carpenter, the nonprofit woodshop and day center for the homeless and vulnerable.

Most people know the big hit from “Messiah,” that joyous “Hallelujah” chorus; most may not know that the entire piece consists of three sections that last about two hours in all. The group will perform the whole thing, beginning to end, and audience participation is welcome throughout — but it’s assumed that “Hallelujah” is when the audience will form up a real musical monster and steal the show.

Chinn and VUSA director Jana Hart have been leading “Messiahs” for years — down in Portland. This year is the first time they’ve decided to stay home and launch what they hope will become an annual tradition. The real reason, Hart has admitted, is anything but heavenly: “Hearing how difficult it was for Vancouver residents to fight traffic to Portland on a Friday night.”

From the heart

Chinn said her mother and older sister used to play the organ — but they stopped as soon as she started. “They were intimidated by me,” said Chinn, who was picking out melodies by age 4 and started on organ lessons by 8.

The pipe organ may look something like a piano, she said, but it’s a very different animal. “There are three keyboards and a keyboard for your feet, as well,” she said. (The keyboards are actually called “manuals.”) Pianos respond to the touch of the player, and the foot pedals sustain or dampen the sound — but not the organ, Chinn said. Its keys are like on-off switches; the sustain, dynamics and tonal colors come from stops controlled by hand and by foot.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and you’ve got to start out “thinking technically,” Chinn said, but with practice comes mastery — and depth.

“When you really know it, and actually perform it with a group like VUSAS, it’s very moving,” she said. “It’s from the heart.”

If You Go

•  What: Community singalong on Handel’s “Messiah.”

•  Featuring: Vancouver USA Singers.

•  When: 7 p.m. Dec. 21.

•  Where: First Presbyterian Church, 4300 Main St., Vancouver.

•  Cost: Free. Donations for Friends of the Carpenter gratefully accepted.

•  Scores: There will be some to share, but please bring one if you have your own.

Free Clinic fundraiser brings in $230K
Author: The Columbian

The 10th annual Holiday Ball benefiting the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington raised $230,000.

The funds, which were collected at the ball and through related follow-up pledges, will help provide medical care, medicine, supplies, lab testing, and medical equipment for low-income, uninsured and underinsured people.

The ball was held Dec. 1 at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver. About 218 people attended.

“We are so grateful to the Friends of the Free Clinic and our Holiday Ball guests for their support,” Ann Wheelock, interim executive director of the Free Clinic, said in a press release. “This was a very successful event.”

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center served as presenting sponsor. Other sponsors included Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, Providence Health and Services, The Vancouver Clinic, Hidden Charitable Trust, Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company, ENTOffice.org, Wells Fargo Advisors, Rebound Orthopedics & Neurosurgery Inc., the Free Clinic’s Board of Directors, and the Friends of the Free Clinic.

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers
Author: The Columbian

Cheers: To a generous community. Organizers of Walk & Knock, a one-day food drive that took place Dec. 1, report that they collected 282,460 pounds of food and about $10,000 in cash for the Clark County Food Bank. Walk & Knock was first organized in 1985, and officials claim it is the nation’s largest single-day community food drive. “We’re very pleased that once again people in our county have stepped up to help those less fortunate,” organization President Justin Wood said.

Walk & Knock is among the most notable of numerous local charity drives during the holiday season, but there are many opportunities for residents to help their needy neighbors. In addition, we offer a reminder that the Clark County Food Bank welcomes donations throughout the year. According to its website, the organization distributes 6.6 million pounds of food and 5.5 million meals a year — thanks to the generosity of local residents.

Jeers: To a widespread hoax. Multiple Vancouver businesses were targeted as part of what appears to be a coordinated nationwide bomb threat hoax. Several local businesses received emails they reported to law enforcement, and Vancouver Police Department officials said no suspicious devices have been found.

Nationally, schools and businesses ranging from Anchorage, Alaska, to Miami received threats. In at least some cases, the emails demanded a payment of $20,000 through Bitcoin. FBI officials said, “As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety.” No damage was reported, but we hope the perpetrators are identified and prosecuted.

Cheers: To engagement. We’ll examine the details at a later date, but for now we are happy that officials from Washington and Oregon are talking face-to-face about a replacement for the Interstate 5 Bridge. Discussions about the bridge have been sparse since the Washington Legislature scuttled plans for a bridge in 2013; last year, Oregon lawmakers snubbed an invitation from this side of the river.

The meeting is only a start, but we hope that leaders from both states can remained engaged and slowly chip away at the issues that have prevented replacement of the 101-year-old bridge. Even the longest journey begins with a single step, and it is encouraging that a bistate commission finally is taking shape.

Jeers: To being stranded. Workers at Mt. Hood Meadows had to evacuate about 150 would-be skiers from a chairlift when power fluctuations caused the lift to be shut down. Would-be skiers were lowered to the ground using harnesses and ropes. As OregonLive.com explained: “Workers shoot the harness over the chairlift line, climb up the chairlift using its stanchions and watch the skiers put their harnesses on. Workers down below then belay — or lower — the skiers to the ground.”

Clearing the entire lift, which was near capacity, took nearly 2 1/2 hours. That’s a good way to ruin a day of skiing, but it gave those involved a memorable story to tell.

Cheers: To Ridgefield City Hall. The 1920 building, originally used as a bank, has been added to the Clark County Heritage Register. According to the Clark County Historic Preservation Commission, “the building is a rare example of formal Classical Revival architecture in Ridgefield. In the state of Washington, the building is one of the few remaining smaller banks of the era, and it has a high level of historic integrity.”

We can’t speak for its architectural significance, but the building looks pretty cool and lends a historic feel to downtown, harkening back to when Ridgefield had a population of about 600 people.

Morning Press: Fatal Hazel Dell Shooting; waterfront plans; park name
Author: Amy Libby

Looks like we can look forward to a lot of rain. Check our local weather coverage for details.

In case you missed them, here are some of the top stories from the week:

Police: One person fatally shot in Hazel Dell parking lot

Clark County sheriff’s deputies are searching for a suspect in a fatal shooting Monday afternoon that occurred in the parking lot of a Hazel Dell strip mall.

An 18-year-old man, who has not yet been identified, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office. 

Joe’s Crab Shack, Who Song & Larry’s site to become new development

Vancouver-based Kirkland Development plans to build a mixed-use development on a 3.5-acre site along the Columbia River, east of the Interstate 5 Bridge, the company announced Wednesday. The property is currently home to two restaurants: Joe’s Crab Shack and Who Song & Larry’s.

“This is an incredible opportunity to re-envision a key section of Vancouver’s waterfront. Our goal is to bring new life to this area, and to create a unique destination for Vancouver residents and visitors alike,” said Dean Kirkland, Kirkland Development chairman.

Proposed Vancouver park name draws protest

A plan to name a new Vancouver park after local philanthropists has run into an unexpected complication based on something city officials never expected: the philanthropists’ last name.

The city wants to honor its promise to name a park in Vancouver’s Northwest neighborhood after Ed and Dollie Lynch, but after continued pushback from the community, and particularly from people of color, the park’s name may be up for debate.

Tree Wisemans among those closing U-cut business early

Bruce Wiseman planted Christmas tree seedlings on his Ridgefield property in 1980 and harvested his first Douglas firs in 1986. Not many years after, he allowed customers onto his 25 acres to cut their own trees.

A visit to The Tree Wisemans became a tradition for many people. Some even made it a habit to visit Christmas Eve.

But for the first time ever, Wiseman’s U-cut operation will be closed Christmas Eve. In fact, the Tree Wisemans posted this notice Saturday on their Facebook page: “CLOSED for the season! Hard to believe we are shutting down so early, but we’ve had amazing year and we were happy to greet so many old and new friends.”

Berko: Is GoPro stock a go?
Author: Malcolm Berko

Dear Mr. Berko: GoPro looks like fun. Our neighbor’s son showed us photos of his skiing trip, and some of the video looked fantastic. He says GoPro is the latest trend, and our 32-year-old son and his wife may buy a GoPro device. What can you tell us about the stock? I’ll buy 2,000 shares or so at $4.91 if you think it’s a good deal.

— NE, Vancouver

Dear NE: When you’re part of a group photo and someone shows you a color print, whose face do you look for first? Yours, of course! Americans have much higher levels of self-importance than those in any other nation — rightfully so. Resultantly, we’re more self-centered than citizens of other countries. And surfer/businessman Nick Woodman, founder of GoPro, realized that he, like many Americans, would go blithely bonkers if he could view video of himself ski jumping, off-road motorcycle racing, parachuting, bungee jumping and doing other extreme activities. Americans are narcissistic, and Woodman designed a product that reciprocates. GoPro!

GoPro (GPRO-$4.91) came public in the summer of 2014. Almost 9 million shares were sold to IPO-crazed investors at $24 by J.P. Morgan, Citigroup and Barclays. Within a few days, the stock had been hyped to $98 a share in a buying frenzy of stupids who thought they were acquiring gold at a discount. During the next 18 months, GPRO collapsed by over 90 points as speculators realized that what looked like gold was iron pyrite.

GPRO has more cameras and accessories to choose from than my grandmother has tattoos. Its versatile selection allows users to capture immersive and engaging footage of themselves participating in adventurous and adulterous activities. One of those numerous GPRO cameras, depending upon your level of sophistication, can cost between $160 and well over $1,000. And that’s without the extensive mounts and accessories that can ratchet up the cost of your device. GPRO’s unique HERO5, HERO6 and HERO7 cameras are cloud-connected devices with cloud-based storage solutions. They can be loaded with numerous apps that allow for livestreaming and voice control, and users can store, preview, edit and share content.

GPRO, located in San Mateo, Calif., began selling hand-held and mountable cameras in 2004. The company now has 1,300 employees, and its products are sold in over 25,000 retail stores in 100 countries. Revenues peaked in 2015 at $1.6 billion and commenced declining in each of the following three years, to an expected $1.1 billion this year. During the past three years, GPRO has lost over $600 million, and Wall Street expects it to lose about $40 million in 2019, though revenues are expected to increase slightly, to $1.2 billion. GPRO has some heady competition from Panasonic, Sony, Nikon, Vivitar, Samsung and JVC. These are well-capitalized companies, and GPRO’s management will have to burn barrels of midnight oil to keep the office doors open.

Though it sells righteous products, GPRO is not a growth stock. In addition to themselves, Americans love fads. GPRO is a fad, and the surrounding excitement is fugacious. Sooner than later, today’s consumers will satiate themselves, and tomorrow’s consumers will become obsessed with another entertainment craze.

Its balance sheet needs help, and if GPRO isn’t merged into another company within the next several years, its business model may disappear into the ether. Still, management has reduced its costs, and several new products, including image stabilizers and an updated subscription service, will help the bottom line for a few years.

Buy the stock, but only as a short-term investment. Some pros think GPRO will return to the $9-$11 level in the next dozen months, and two firms, Market Edge and Ned Davis Research, have “buy” recommendations on the stock.

From the Newsroom: Teachers of color project very special
Author: Craig Brown

We work on a lot of special projects at The Columbian, but our latest feels more special.

After more than a year of planning and months of reporting, we are presenting a multipart series detailing the lack of teachers of color in Washington, the huge gap between teachers of color and students of color, how that affects learning, what is being done and what more could be done to close the gap.

It took so much work! But that’s another reason why this is a special, special project: We shared the reporting with The Seattle Times and the staff of its innovative Education Lab.

Our talented education reporter, Katie Gillespie, thought about doing this story for a long time. In 2017, she attended a data in journalism conference where she met reporter Dahlia Bazzaz of the Times’ Education Lab. It turned out they both had the same idea. So why not throw in together on the story and make it a statewide report?

The first thing was to assemble a database containing demographic data on 64,700 teachers and 1.1 million students from 313 Washington school districts, charter schools and educational service districts. Katie and Dahlia then came up with a formula to calculate the ratio of students of color to teachers of color, with 1.0 being a perfect representation. When you read the story or look at the graphics, you’ll see almost every number but 1.0. Clearly we have a statewide disparity.

From there, the story required a lot of reporting. Katie visited local classrooms, talked with students and teachers and documented some new alternative teacher training programs here that could improve diversity in school faculty.

Summer school vacations and teachers’ strikes meant Katie and Dahlia couldn’t kick the reporting into high gear until the end of September. Using some of The Times’ Education Lab funding, which comes from donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Katie was able to travel to Seattle to work alongside Dahlia and her team for a few days. The Columbian, of course, continued to pay Katie’s salary.

As the project wound down, drafts went back and forth between Vancouver and Seattle. The reporters spent hours on the phone. The Seattle Times’ graphic artist, Emily Eng, created a top-notch graphics package for the newspapers to share. Our photography team provided images to both newspapers. In all at least a dozen people, maybe about half from The Columbian, worked on the project.

I won’t claim it was all seamless; the difference in the size and workflow of the two newsrooms became evident as we blew past at least two scheduled publication dates, requiring us here at The Columbian to make some hasty new Sunday A1 plans and, in one case, change a copy editor’s days off.

But it was so worthwhile! As Katie told me, “With newspapers as strapped as they are, we need to look at regional resources to tell big stories. I would have never done a statewide look without The Seattle Times.”

The Times benefits, too. Not only did they get access to Katie — whom I would put up as an equal to any newspaper’s best reporters — but they got to look at innovative teacher training programs taking place in Clark County, some of which could be duplicated statewide.

You can read the first story in the series on the front page of Sunday’s paper or online today at columbian.com.

Nationwide shortage of nursing school educators evident at Clark College
Author: Wyatt Stayner

Congratulations are exchanged in the hallways. There’s champagne assembled on a table near the stage. Parents carry bouquets, and students wear suits and dresses at the Clark College School of Nursing’s pinning ceremony at Gaiser Hall on the Clark College Campus in Vancouver.

The pinning ceremony is a favorite event for nursing school professors Lisa Aepfelbacher and Mary Ellen Pierce. On Wednesday, the school propelled 34 students into one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S., but those students left behind a group of teachers who are experiencing the exact opposite workforce trend: a nationwide shortage.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects nursing to grow by 15 percent through 2026 at a “much faster than average” pace for all occupations, nursing school faculty is declining across the U.S. due to retirements and higher compensation offered in clinical and private-sector settings.

As of 2016, the American Association of College Nurses reported that there were 1,567 faculty vacancies identified across 821 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs. It’s expected that by 2022, more than 34,200 new educators will be needed.

“It’s an issue across the state and the nation,” said Clark College President Bob Knight.

A nationwide problem at the local level

At Clark College, faculty and administrators have grappled with how to attack the issue, which has been exacerbated by recent staff departures.

Since September 2017, four tenured nursing faculty members have retired. Another tenured professor left to teach in a different area of the college, and two tenure-track faculty members left for better positions elsewhere, said Brenda Walstead, the dean of business and health sciences. The school has hired three tenure-track faculty members to help replace those losses.

Right now, the school has 13 full-time faculty members, Walstead said, with five tenured faculty members, five full-time temporary faculty members and three tenure-track faculty members. She said ideally the school would have 14 or 15 tenured faculty.

Aepfelbacher and Pierce, who are tenured, said the shortage is causing them to work more hours than they should — Aepfelbacher said she works consistently on weekends, and Pierce said she works about 80 hours a week consistently. They said the increased workload is eroding goodwill with faculty and could lead to more departures in the near future.

While the school does have the ability to hire new staff, Aepfelbacher and Pierce said candidates are turning jobs down because the pay is too low for the job duties.

The professors said Clark’s nursing faculty starting salary is $56,219, which requires job experience and a graduate degree in nursing. That salary is lower than the annual salaries for registered nurses in the Vancouver and Portland area, which has a salary range of $65,450 to $120,670. Aepfelbacher and Pierce would like to see the starting salary raised to around $76,000 to be more competitive in recruitment.

“We’ve had a number of people who are interested,” Pierce said. “They come in to interview. They find out about the salary. They said, ‘We can’t make that work.’ We’ve had faculty, including people who are in tenure-track, who could not sustain because of compensation and had to leave.”

Aepfelbacher and Pierce have spoken with the administration about this issue, but they said they feel the administration isn’t treating the shortage with the proper sense of urgency.

“They say they value us, but we’re not seeing any action,” Aepfelbacher said.

The school faces accreditation in February, and Pierce, who has been at Clark for five years, and Aepfelbacher, who has been there eight years, said it’s the most worried they’ve been about the accreditation process in their time at the school. Aepfelbacher and Pierce are concerned with relying on part-time staff to fill tenured staff holes.

“We’re committed to try to keep the program together as much as we can,” Pierce said. “The concern is, that when you’re piecing things together like this, at some point the program quality begins to suffer. That’s not OK. That’s not consistent with our standards of practice, and we have an obligation to advocate for the viability and the quality of the program before that happens.”

Finding a solution

Clark has a salary scale for the nursing school that runs A through L. A is the lowest pay tier, L is the highest; nursing professors are brought in at B on the ladder. There have been discussions about starting salaries beginning higher on the ladder such as at C or D, Knight said.

Clark has ongoing collective bargaining with its faculty right now. Knight said raising nursing school salaries is something the union would have to agree on. He added “it’s going to be very tough for the union to vote it up when the rest of them aren’t getting that.”

“If I had all the money in the world to pay them, I still have to negotiate with the union. So the union may not agree to it. The union has to agree,” Knight said. “Their first priority is to raise salary for all faculty. I’m not going to speak for them, and I don’t want to bargain outside of the bargaining process, but I can’t just do it arbitrarily. We have to negotiate with the faculty through the bargaining process to allow that to happen.”

Aepfelbacher and Pierce feel that with nursing’s growing demand, and importance, the school should receive a higher starting salary since it’s a high-demand, high-need, high-specialty area that is difficult to recruit for with a lower salary.

Knight said that nursing isn’t the only area that could receive that designation, mentioning that welding, engineering, computer technology and dental hygiene are other places where you can make much more money in the field than teaching.

“There are other faculty across the school that potentially deserve increased salaries because of what they’re teaching,” Knight said. “It’s just heightened (at the nursing school) now because of the turnover.”

Sachi Horback, vice president of instruction at Clark College, said the school will look to solve the staffing shortage through a “multi-pronged” approach, which will include examining salary, among a number of other options. She mentioned the administration prefers this approach, because, in the short and long run, Clark will not be able to compete in compensation with the private sector.

Knight mentioned possibly having PeaceHealth provide a nurse to teach, or sharing teachers with Washington State University Vancouver, which would allow Clark teachers to instruct at the bachelor’s degree level. The administration also mentioned exploring how they can better advertise positions to recruit staff.

Horback said she wants to make sure the college is letting prospective candidates know the benefits of teaching, such as a shortened work year, the opportunity for professional development and the opportunity to further their education while teaching.

“We’re prioritizing, and we recognize the needs of nursing,” Horback said. “We recognize the needs of those tenured lines, so they’re there and ready. We’re looking at how to recruit and what that looks like. As a college, we also have to be aware of how this impacts all of the other high-demand areas. What’s the larger plan? And how do we tackle something that is nationwide? There’s not even a model that’s clear that has made an impact. I think we’re all looking and hoping that we can learn from each other in making a difference in this area.”

Aepfelbacher and Pierce said the shortage needs to be remedied soon. They said the faculty feels as though they’re being stretched thin, and that students are beginning to complain on evaluations about the amount of turnover, and not having sustained, longer relationships with more teachers. Pierce said those problems are creating “crumbling and a lack of cohesion in the program.”

“We recognize that this is a hard problem, that it’s a complex problem,” Pierce said. “We’re not unaware of that or unsympathetic to that. We would not be asking for this if we did not believe that we are at a point that has become critical and urgent. This program isn’t going to stay here by osmosis.”

Milbank: Emergency! Time for Trump to fabricate new crisis!
Author: Dana Milbank

Robert Mueller is circling, recessionary clouds are building, and Democrats are rising to power. For President Trump, this can mean only one thing: It’s time to fabricate a new crisis.

And that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Trump summoned Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to the Oval Office on Tuesday for what was supposed to be a negotiating session about border security. Instead, he used them as props in an impromptu, 17-minute reality-TV show.

“Look, we have to have the wall,” Trump bellowed at the Democratic Senate and House leaders — seated awkwardly on couches — while the TV cameras rolled. “This is a national emergency. Drugs are pouring into our country. People with tremendous medical difficulty and medical problems are pouring in, and in many cases it’s contagious.”

Emergency! Drugs and contagion! And then, a threat: “If we don’t get what we want one way or the other … I will shut down the government, absolutely.” The president added: “I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security.”

Pelosi, who later said she felt like the “mom” in the room, appealed to a raving Trump to calm down, saying, “I don’t think we should have a debate in front of the press.” Said Pelosi: “We’re coming in, in good faith, to negotiate with you about how we can keep the government open.”

But Trump had no such purpose in mind. He was practicing leadership as he knows it: deliberately throw everything into turmoil, see what emerges — and then claim victory regardless of outcome. He kept taunting the Democrats, mocking their words to the cameras, scowling and interrupting.

The meeting, thus sabotaged by Trump, devolved into taunts.

Vice President Pence, seated at Trump’s right, watched with the enthusiasm of a norovirus victim at a tennis match. Queasiness is called for, because Trump’s claim of ownership of a possible government shutdown was a debacle for congressional Republicans.

But the spectacle suited Trump’s purposes perfectly. As many have observed, his presidency has been one long series of self-generated crises, which he then resolves by more-or-less accepting a restored status quo. He is the arsonist who demands credit for dousing the fire.

This has happened with North Korea (which went from “fire and fury” to “love” with no concrete change in the country’s nuclear program); NATO (whose members reiterated previous pledges after Trump’s harangue); the North American Free Trade Agreement (which was updated with minor amendments after a threat to tear it up) and variations of the same pattern over trade with Europe; deferred action for “dreamers”; family separations; the China trade showdown; and, now, the shutdown threat.

A bit of a bluff

The shutdown is a bit of a bluff. Even the current Republican majority in the House doesn’t have enough votes for Trump’s border wall.

Trump also undermined himself by claiming that, under current funding, which Democrats have approved, “tremendous amounts of wall have already been built,” and he read off statistics about lower illegal border traffic.

Um, so why the “crisis” and need for a shutdown?

Pelosi, returning to Capitol Hill, told colleagues privately that “this wall thing” is “like a manhood thing for him — as if manhood could ever be associated with him,” The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis reported.

But there’s also something simple at work here. Because Trump’s crises are fabricated, what constitutes a successful outcome is ambiguous. Trump can therefore declare victory no matter what happens. In the border “crisis,” that could mean a deal adding a small amount for security, which probably would have happened anyway.

The country will suffer yet another trauma, Republicans will take another political hit, the status quo will be maintained — and Trump will take credit.

Letter: Stop, or at least slow down
Author: James D. Wulf, VANCOUVER

How can we get people, and life in general, to slow down?

This morning I witnessed a driver in such a hurry for a drink, food, or whatever that he pulled into the Andresen McDonald’s driveway at about 5:30 a.m., and almost took out both a pedestrian and bicyclist who had already entered the driveway.

Our commerce and media are the same way. Our businesses push the next holiday, at least two holidays ahead, before the current special day and/or season is even over. So every holiday’s significance is diminished and watered down.

Businesses also push for “convenience” and so strive for the almighty dollar that they are working their employees ridiculous hours, even late into the night. Not many shop at that time, and the employees are inundated by shoplifters seeking items for drug money, and they can’t even do anything.

Wouldn’t it be better to close at a decent time and use your valuable workers earlier in the day and evening? And don’t even get me started on employees not having holiday time with families any more.

We really need to slow down and get back into some of the simpler, more important things in life.

Three Prince albums set to be reissued by Sony in February
Author: Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune

Two of Prince’s best albums of the 2000s and one more will be reissued in February by Sony Legacy Recordings, another extension of the deal struck this summer between Sony and the late Minnesota music icon’s estate to oversee much of his post-Warner Bros. music.

The fairly well-received records “Musicology” and “3121,” from 2004 and 2006, respectively, will each be issued on vinyl for the first time Feb. 8 — including a collectable purple vinyl edition — alongside new digital and CD releases. These new editions won’t feature any remastering or bonus tracks but will serve as reminders he still made some excellent albums into this millennium.

“Musicology,” in particular, was a retro-soulful and timelessly funky collection with such key tunes as the romantic gem “Call My Name” and the title track, each of which earned a Grammy Award. Named after his address in Los Angeles at the time, “3121” landed the minor hit “Black Sweat” and became his first record to go No. 1 in Billboard since 1989’s “Batman” soundtrack.

The third title in the reissue trio will be “Planet Earth,” which Prince famously gave out for free with editions of the national U.K. newspaper in 2007 ahead of his 21-night run at O2 Arena in London. The record was never really given a proper release as a traditional album and included appearances by the Revolution’s Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman as well as Sheila E.

Sony is moving rather swiftly and creatively to promote its portion of Prince’s catalog. Warner Bros. instead focused this year on the previously unreleased “Piano & a Microphone 1983” album. Word is the Warner team is now working toward an expanded reissue edition of the classic “1999” double-album from 1982, but no official announcement has been made.

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