Vancouver Scout honored for saving boy’s life
VANCOUVER — The Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America recently presented 12-year-old Cub Scout Noah Gable, of Troop 358, a National Honor Medal for saving a boy from drowning. When he was 10, Gable was swimming while on a campout with his grandparents. Fellow swimmer Lucas Johnson floated away to an area where he couldn’t touch the bottom and was struggling to grab a hold of an inner tube. Gable swam out to help. “Noah decided to try to carry Lucas on his back and swim back to shore. Despite not being able to touch and being pulled underwater, witnesses say Gable kept calm and kept swimming to shore until an adult could reach them,” according to a news release.
From the Newsroom: Passionate about a new generation
I seem to have been meeting and talking with a lot of young journalists and journalism students lately. It’s making me feel better about the future of an occupation I’ve spent most of the last 40 years pursuing.
To tell the truth, I haven’t been feeling very optimistic about journalism careers for the last few years. If anyone said to me they wanted to be a journalist, my response would be, “Change your mind!” Job security is a huge issue. According to the employment consulting firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, newsrooms shed 16,160 jobs last year, continuing at least a dozen years of employment decline. Pay has been stagnant, and stress has increased. More journalists have been physically assaulted on the job.
And before you say, “If the media was more (politically conservative or politically liberal), they would not have these problems,” let me remind you that this seemingly endless squeeze is due to the dominance of Google and Facebook, not a decline in subscription revenue. These big online media companies have simply sucked up all of the advertising dollars that used to be spent with news media, including local newspapers like The Columbian. In 2019, those two companies took in more than $200 billion in advertising. And the trend continues.
Yes, these have been rough, rough times for journalists. So why am I feeling a little bit better?
First, I recently attended (virtually) the annual Murrow Symposium put on by Washington State University’s communications school. I’m an alumnus, although it was a mere department in those days. The breakout sessions contained some good, helpful advice for students, much of it given by alumni who were five to 10 years on the job. The tone was optimistic, a “You can do this!” attitude.
A couple of weeks later, I had a brief video meeting with one of the seniors. This young woman is graduating from WSU today, and she will be testing the internship and job market. I asked her how the market looked, and she said opportunities were limited, but she had her eye on an internship at a newspaper in Central Washington. Having interned at that same newspaper a generation ago, it made me feel good to think that it remains a starting point for young talent. I hope her career flourishes there and she moves on to a permanent position, as I did. Truly, that internship set the course for my entire life.
We aren’t taking any WSU interns this summer, but we are preparing for our third annual Dee Anne Finken endowed summer internship, in partnership with Clark College’s journalism program and the Clark College Foundation. We’ll choose a student to work alongside our reporters and editors for the summer. You’ll be seeing the intern’s byline regularly, I suspect. Last summer’s intern, Nick Gibson, wrote more than a dozen stories for us, mostly about schools and coronavirus, but also a major piece on Portland International Airport’s new concourse and a feature on electric scooter businesses.
With the pandemic lifting, I think we will be able to give this summer’s intern a better range of stories and experiences, even though most of us are continuing to work remotely. By the way, you can support this internship by donating to the Finken internship fund at the Clark College Foundation. I think this is a great way to develop talent and attract nontraditional candidates to journalism.
Finally, I spoke with an actual job candidate recently. We aren’t doing much hiring, of course, (see third paragraph above for details,) but we have an urgent opening for a breaking news reporter.
This reporter candidate works for another newspaper in the Pacific Northwest but is eager to grow and is looking to move up to a larger city full of interesting stories. Hey, that sounds like Vancouver!
Passion was the common denominator in all of these encounters. Journalism is a passionate career. You don’t apply to be a reporter because you want to make a lot of money. You don’t apply to become well-liked. You don’t apply to become famous. (In fact, most journalists I know hate being in the spotlight.)
You choose journalism because you want to tell the community’s stories. You do it because our great nation sometimes produces bad things that need to be discussed and corrected. And you do it because the work is so darned interesting.
I feel good when I see this passion still exist among today’s journalism students and young journalists.
Rubin: GOP threatens U.S. media future
Monday was World Press Freedom Day, a United Nations-approved “reminder to governments to respect press freedom” that most nations ignore.
The 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders reports that “journalism, the main vaccine against disinformation, is completely or partly blocked in 73 percent of the 180 countries ranked by the organization.”
Thirty-two journalists around the globe were reportedly killed last year. Already this year, in Afghanistan, in an episode enough to make one cry, three young women employees of a local TV station in Jalalabad were gunned down in March by the local Islamic State affiliate. That’s after a 26-year-old woman presenter at the same station was shot dead in December.
Today’s main threat to press freedom in the United States is insidious. And it undermines the very future of our democratic system.
I refer to the growth of an alternative media universe, amplified by Donald Trump, that attracts a sizable portion of the American public into their own news silo and feeds them a constant and hypnotic “news” diet of outright lies. This cuts to the heart of how we define press freedom.
We are not (yet) in a “1984” era, to cite the famous George Orwell novel about a totalitarian society whose members are taught that “freedom is slavery” and “ignorance is strength.” The press is still free to report the facts, but an important segment of the media, especially on TV, radio and the internet, have chosen to use that freedom to promote an endless stream of falsehoods about public health and political issues.
I needn’t repeat here the history of how Roger Ailes and Fox News built a network that looked like a news network. It soon devolved into a source of radical right fantasies, from the birther lie about President Barack Obama’s birthplace to COVID-19 denial to the continued promotion of the biggest lie of all — that the 2020 election was stolen.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Fox backed off slightly, but small, propaganda-style networks such as Newsmax and One America News rushed to capture their defecting viewers. In a race to the bottom, Fox junked some news shows and has gone full bore with its opinion blast of untruths.
We are not talking of serious debate about controversial questions or critiques of President Joe Biden’s policies. We are talking of lies that mislead much of the public.
We have Tucker Carlson telling viewers that Biden wants war with Russia. Or John Roberts falsely claiming that Biden wants Americans to cut 90 percent of red meat from their diet. Or constant lies about massive 2020 election fraud that feed the GOP public’s pressure for laws to suppress voting.
This litany of lies has serious consequences.
A September 2020 Gallup poll reported that only 4 in 10 U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” (9 percent) or “a fair amount” (31 percent) of trust and confidence in the media (newspapers, TV, and radio) to report the news “accurately, and fairly.”
But the gap between the political parties is stunning. Seventy-three percent of Democrats reported a great or fair amount of trust, while only 10 percent of Republicans did. We can surely attribute much of that to the misinformation promoted by Fox, its imitators and talk radio.
As Hannah Arendt, an expert on totalitarian rule, said in 1974: “What makes it possible for a dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed. If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. With such a people you can then do what you please.”
Open debate should be welcomed by all sides (including progressives), but constant, overt lies undermine the republic. Those talking heads from Congress who promote the Big Election Lie should be reprimanded on talk shows when they do so.
To let those lies spread not only undermines press freedom but also promotes civil war.
Vancouver Police Department seeks proposals from bodycam vendors
The Vancouver Police Department is looking for vendors of body-worn cameras and related programs to send a proposal to the city council by June 2. The program is expected to launch by spring of 2022.
The cameras and programs include body-worn, in-car and on-dash cameras. It also includes associated equipment, data storage, implementation of the program, training for officers and ongoing maintenance and support, according to a news release from the City of Vancouver.
Proposals are due by June 2, and they can be completed online or delivered by UPS, FedEX or the U.S. Postal Service. Submission details are available at https://vancouver.procureware.com/Bids.
The Vancouver City Council approved $3 million in the 2021-22 biennial budget to fund the program. Once a vendor has been selected, the department will hire staff to manage the program, test the cameras, train the police and install cameras in police vehicles, according to the news release.
Suit aims to make pet telemedicine permanent
SAN FRANCISCO — A group of veterinarians and pet owners in California is asking the state to permit more telemedicine for animals even after the pandemic ends.
In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says the state should not end waivers allowed during the pandemic for remote visits.
“People can use telemedicine for themselves and their children, so why not for their pets?” said Brandy Kuentzel, general counsel at the San Francisco SPCA. “Telemedicine can be a vital tool to improve the lives of pets and the people who love them.”
The pandemic has changed how people live and work, and many want those changes to remain after the threat of COVID-19 fades. As the lawsuit notes, people “live in a world that has grown daily accustomed to medical appointments, court hearings, and classroom instruction conducted by Zoom and other online teleconference platforms.”
The lawsuit contends pet owners and veterinarians have a First Amendment free speech right to telemedicine. Restrictions on veterinarians also violate equal protection guarantees because doctors who treat people can do so remotely, the suit argues.
The state veterinarian board has “arbitrarily deprived veterinarians of the opportunity to speak with clients using modern telemedicine communication methods, like Zoom, that are available to doctors who care for human beings, and which have become increasingly valuable and essential tools to the delivery of safe and comprehensive healthcare,” the suit says.
California has justified its rules restricting veterinarian telemedicine on the grounds that animals can’t talk, the suit says. But physicians regularly do virtual visits with patients who can’t speak, including infants, and rely on family members to relay information.
Despite the success of creating effective vaccines for COVID-19 in such a short time, the nation is now facing a second challenge: ensuring that everyone eligible to receive the vaccines feels comfortable getting vaccinated when it’s their turn.
“In light of California’s treatment of telemedicine for humans, that rationale makes little sense,” the suit says.
A pandemic rule that is set to expire in June allows California veterinarians to treat animals remotely if they already were patients. Before the pandemic, veterinarians could do telemedicine only if the animal had a condition that had previously been treated in the office.
The group of pet owners and veterinarians named as plaintiffs in the suit say remote visits should also be permitted for new patients and animals with new conditions. The suit notes that many animals become extremely anxious when taken to the vet, and some people live in remote places without easy access to animal specialists.
California was one of many states to loosen veterinary telemedicine restrictions during the pandemic, which caused a boom in pet adoptions.
Letter: Light rail doesn’t make sense
So once again, here we are: discussing the Interstate 5 Bridge and the light rail mandate. As before, we are hearing that if there is no light rail, there will be no bridge. The existing structure is dangerous and decrepit. It needs to be replaced. Only if light rail is included.
Why? The truth is that light rail makes no sense. There are no current plans to extend it north to Ridgefield and Longview. No plans to extend it east to Camas and Washougal. It just stops in downtown Vancouver. Who in their right mind is going to exit the freeway just before the bridge, pay to park, pay to get on the train, transfer to a different train in Delta Park, and then ride to Portland? No one. Light rail nearly doubles the cost of construction, and would serve virtually no one. These are the facts. Please, no bridge to nowhere.
Letter: Attack on Idaho is despicable
It is unfortunate that the letter “Save Idaho wolves” (Our Readers’ Views, May 4) would involve innocent people in political games. In no way, shape, or form, do Idaho farming families deserve this attack on our livelihoods or families’ well-being. We have nothing to do with politics, nor do we want to. Asking people for a boycott on Idaho agriculture is wrong and shows a complete disregard for the well-being of my family and others. This attempt at blackmail for political gain is despicable.
Weston: 8 ½ birthdays that can affect your finances
You hit a lot of milestone birthdays when you’re young. There’s your first birthday, of course, and also the one where you turn 10 (finally, double digits!). At 13, you’re a teenager. At 16, you’re probably thinking about driving. At 18, you can vote; at 21, you can get into bars.
You hit a bunch of milestones later in life as well, and many of them have to do with retirement . Knowing these age milestones can help you better prepare for life after work. They include:
It’s catch-up time! People 50 and older can contribute $6,500 more to their 401(k)s or 403(b)s each year, for a total contribution of up to $26,000 this year. Those 50 and older who contribute to IRAs and Roth IRAs can throw in an additional $1,000, for a total maximum annual contribution of $7,000.
Normally people have to pay a 10% federal penalty, along with income taxes, when they withdraw money from retirement accounts before age 59 ½. The penalty (but not the taxes) disappears on 401(k) and 403(b) withdrawals if you’re 55 or older when you quit, get fired or retire. This “separated from service “ rule applies during or after the year you turn 55.
TURNING 59 ½
At this age you can take withdrawals from workplace plans or IRAs without penalty. Also, some 401(k) plans allow workers who are at least 59 ½ to do an “in-service “ rollover, allowing you to move money into an IRA while still working and contributing to the 401(k). If you’re interested, check with your 401(k) plan provider or your human resources department to see if this option is available to you.
For most widows and widowers, age 60 is the earliest that they can begin Social Security survivor benefits. (Survivor benefits are available starting at age 50 for survivors living with a disability, or at any age if the survivor cares for the deceased spouse’s children who are under age 16 or disabled.)
This is the earliest age you can begin Social Security retirement or spousal benefits, but your checks will be permanently reduced if you start before your full retirement age, which ranges from 66 to 67. Also, you’ll face an earnings test that reduces your benefit by $1 for every $2 you earn over a certain amount, which in 2021 is $18,960. The earnings test disappears once you reach full retirement age.
At 65, most Americans are eligible for Medicare, the government health care program. Typically, you’ll want to sign up in the seven months around your birthday — meaning the three months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and the three months after. Delaying after that point can cause you to pay permanently increased premiums. Explaining the ins and outs of Medicare is beyond the scope of this column, but you can learn more at medicare.gov or by calling Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to request the “Medicare and You” handbook.
TURNING 66 to 67
Full retirement age is 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954. The age rises two months for each birth year after that until it reaches 67 for people born in 1960 and later. Waiting at least until full retirement age to start Social Security benefits means you won’t have to settle for checks that have been reduced because you started early or because of earned income.
A juicy benefit awaits those who can delay the start of Social Security after full retirement age: Their benefit increases by 8% annually until it maxes out at age 70. This not only means more money for the rest of your life, but if you’re the larger earner in a couple, it also maximizes the survivor benefit for your spouse.
Most retirement plan contributions reduce your taxes in the year you make them, and your account grows tax-deferred over the years. But eventually the government wants its cut. You’re required to start taking at least a minimum amount from most retirement plans beginning at age 72. (Required minimum distributions used to start at age 70 ½, but that’s been pushed back.) There are a couple of exceptions. If you continue to work, you can wait until you retire to start minimum distributions from your 401(k) or 403(b) . Minimum distributions are still required from traditional IRAs even if you’re working. If you have a Roth IRA, however, you won’t be required to start distributions at any age. If you leave the money to your heirs, however, they will have to start taking withdrawals.
Letter: Make bowing great again
Health necessity has made the handshake passe. It served as a form of greeting, bonding, commitment commonality for centuries.
I say it is time to return a bit to the past. The pandemic has changed many things, including limiting close contact and certainly grasping another person’s hand. Rather we see folks bumping fists or elbows when greeting others. These all seem crude and more suitable for the football field.
A bow, however, is a graceful way to greet another.
This is a unisex form of greeting. And it should be universally used whether at an initial introduction to another person, leaving others or at the end of signing a formal contract.
To make the bow an accepted norm in our society, we should begin teaching this for a greeting at home and in kindergarten, provided face-to-face schooling starts up again.
We could follow this etiquette guide from the 1873 “Hill’s Manual of Forms”:
“To a casual acquaintance you may bow without speaking; but to those with whom you are well acquainted greater cordiality is due. A bow should always be returned; even to an enemy it is courtesy to return his recognition.”
Letter: Agree to disagree
An unfortunate incident occurred on May 5 at a Fred Meyer garden nursery in Vancouver. An older gentleman verbally attacked a young woman because her car sported some bumper stickers he did not like.
Although the majority of the stickers were harmless and humorous, apparently a couple of them contrasted with his personal political viewpoint. He announced loudly that she was a terrorist. She, to her credit, did not take the bait, and even went so far as to say they probably had more in common than they had differences. He continued his rant, and she continued her deflection, saying they may not agree, but here they both were buying flowers. As he left, he hit her car with his fist and shouted “Goodbye, traitor!”
I wonder at the character of a man who would verbally assault a person younger and smaller than he was. She was obviously more polite and mature than someone twice her age. I hope he reads this and feels at least some regret for his angry, immature, and unnecessary outburst. Surely we can all agree to disagree in this great nation without threatening others.