Push to bring coronavirus vaccines to the poor faces trouble

By MARIA CHENG and LORI HINNANT | Associated Press

LONDON — An ambitious humanitarian project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest people is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves — and is running into skepticism even from some of those it’s intended to help most.

In one of the biggest obstacles, rich countries have locked up most of the world’s potential vaccine supply through 2021, and the U.S. and others have refused to join the project, called Covax.

“The supply of vaccines is not going to be there in the near term, and the money also isn’t there,” warned Rohit Malpani, a public health consultant who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders.

  • In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020 file photo, a medical worker addresses some of the first vaccine volunteers, at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, File)

  • In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020 file photo, a medical staff member prepares a syringe, at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, File)

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  • In this July 30, 2020 file photo, Kai Hu, a research associate transfers medium to cells, in the laboratory at Imperial College in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

  • In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020 file photo, a volunteer receives an injection at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg. Refrigeration, cargo planes, and, above all, money: All risk being in short supply for the international initiative to get coronavirus vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool via AP, File)

  • In this Monday, May 25, 2020 file photo, a vile of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate on a shelf during testing at the Chula Vaccine Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

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Covax was conceived as a way of giving countries access to coronavirus vaccines regardless of their wealth.

It is being led by the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency; Gavi, a public-private alliance, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that buys immunizations for 60% of the world’s children; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, another Gates-supported public-private collaboration.

Covax’s aim is to buy 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, though it isn’t yet clear whether the successful vaccine will require one dose or two for the world’s 7.8 billion people. Countries taking part in the project can either buy vaccines from Covax or get them for free, if needed.

One early problem that has emerged: Some of the world’s wealthiest nations have negotiated their own deals directly with drug companies, meaning they don’t need to participate in the endeavor at all. China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. don’t intend to join.

And so many rich countries bought vaccines from manufacturers — before the shots have even been approved — that they have already snapped up the majority of the vaccine supply for 2021.

“As a continent of 1.2 billion people, we still have concerns,” Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong said Thursday.

He praised Covax for the solidarity it represents but said there are serious questions about allocation, saying African nations’ envoys are meeting directly with vaccine manufacturers to ask “if we came to the table with money, how would we get enough vaccines to cover the gap?”

The European Union has contributed 400 million euros ($469 million) to support Covax, but the 27-country bloc won’t use Covax to buy vaccines, in what some see as a vote of no-confidence in the project’s ability to deliver. Instead, the EU has signed its own deals to buy more than 1 billion doses, depriving Covax of the bulk negotiating power of buying shots for the continent.

Gavi, WHO and CEPI announced in September that countries representing two-thirds of the world’s population had joined Covax, but they acknowledged they still need about $400 million more from governments or other sources.. Without it, according to internal documents seen by The Associated Press before the organization’s board meeting this week, Gavi can’t sign agreements to buy vaccines.

Covax did reach a major agreement this week for 200 million doses from the Indian vaccine maker Serum Institute, though the company made clear that a large portion of those will go to people in India.

By the end of next year, Gavi estimates the project will need $5 billion more.

Covax said negotiations to secure vaccines are moving forward despite the lack of funds.

Gavi’s Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of Covax, said that nothing similar has ever been attempted in public health.

Covax “is a hugely ambitious project,” she said, “but it is the only plan on the table to end the pandemic across the world.”

Still, the project is facing doubts and questions from poor countries and activists over how it will operate and how effective it will be.

Dr. Clemens Auer, who sits on WHO’s executive board and was the EU’s lead negotiator for its vaccine deals, said there is a troubling lack of transparency about how Covax will work.

“We would have no say over the vaccines, the price, the quality, the technical platform or the risks,” Auer said. “This is totally unacceptable.”

He said WHO never consulted countries about its proposed vaccine strategy and called the health agency’s goal of vaccinating the world’s most vulnerable people before anyone else a “noble notion” but politically naive.

As part of Covax, WHO and Gavi have asked countries to first prioritize front-line health workers, then the elderly, with the goal of vaccinating 20% of the world’s population.

One expensive hurdle is that many of the vaccine candidates need to be kept cold from factory to patient, according to internal documents from Gavi. Industry has signaled that “air freight for COVID vaccines will be a major constraint,” and a “significant and urgent ramp-up of cold chain capacity” may be needed.

Another obstacle: Many of the leading vaccine candidates require two doses. That will mean twice as many syringes, twice as much waste disposal, and the complications involved in ensuring patients in remote corners of the world receive the second dose on time and stay free of side effects.

“Because of the fact that we’re looking at trying to get vaccines out as quickly as possible, we’re looking at limited follow-up and efficacy data,” said Gian Gandhi, who runs logistics from UNICEF’s supply division in Copenhagen.

There is also concern that the fear of lawsuits could scuttle deals. According to the internal documents, Gavi told countries that drug companies will probably require assurances that they won’t face product liability claims over deaths or side effects from their vaccines.

Dr. Nakorn Premsi, director of Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute, said officials there are reviewing whether that condition is acceptable. Thailand so far has signed only a nonbinding agreement with Covax.

Some critics say Gavi isn’t ambitious enough. The pandemic won’t end until there is herd immunity well beyond the rich nations that have secured their own doses, said Eric Friedman, a scholar of global health law at Georgetown University who is generally supportive of Covax.

“If we want to achieve herd immunity and get rid of this, 20% is not going to do it,” he said. “What’s the end game?”

Alicia Yamin, an adjunct lecturer on global health at Harvard University, said she fears the “window is closing” for Covax to prove workable. She said it is disappointing that Gavi, WHO and their partners haven’t pushed pharmaceutical companies harder on issues like intellectual property or open licenses, which might make more vaccines available.

With little evidence of such fundamental change in the global health world, Yamin said it’s likely that developing countries will have to rely on donated vaccines rather than any equitable allocation program.

“I would say that poor countries probably will not get vaccinated until 2022 or 2023,” Yamin said.

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Lori Hinnant reported from Paris. Cara Anna contributed from Johannesburg.

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Thousands expected to honor Ginsburg at Supreme Court

By MARK SHERMAN | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people are expected to pay their respects at the Supreme Court to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the women’s rights champion, leader of the court’s liberal bloc and feminist icon who died last week.

Even with the court closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic and Washington already consumed with talk of Ginsburg’s replacement, the justice’s former colleagues, family, close friends and the public will have the chance Wednesday and Thursday to pass by the casket of the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

  • A memorial to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg includes a photograph of the late Justice, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, outside the Harvard Law School library at Langdell Hall, on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass. Ginsburg, who attended Harvard law school but transferred to Columbia, died Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, at the age of 87. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Socially-distant chairs sit on a plaza outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, as preparations take place for a private ceremony and public viewing in remembrance of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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  • Heather Setzler of Raleigh, N.C., wears a face mask bearing images of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she stands outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, before a private ceremony and public viewing for Ginsburg. Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • The sun rises behind the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, before a private ceremony and public viewing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • Officials stand on the Supreme Court steps on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, as preparations take place for a private ceremony and public viewing in remembrance of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • Kara Stewart of Martin, Ky., stands outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, before a private ceremony and public viewing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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The sad occasion is expected to bring together the remaining eight justices for the first time since the building was closed in March and they resorted to meetings by telephone.

Ginsburg will lie in repose for two days at the court where she served for 27 years and, before that, argued six cases for gender equality in the 1970s.

Nearly 200 members of the public had gathered to pay their respects by early morning, intermingling with dog walkers and joggers who cut through the crowd. At the front of the crowd were attorneys Cara Stewart and Jenny Beene-Skuban, who drove overnight from the Cincinnati area to be there.

“I felt like I couldn’t not be here,” said Stewart, a public-interest lawyer from Martin, Kentucky.

Stewart said she particularly identified with Ginsburg’s early career as a civil rights advocate.

“What moves me more is her career before the court,” she said. “Using the courts for justice and being successful — that’s not easy to do.”

Beene-Skuban, of Cincinnati, said Ginsburg’s career blazed trails for women who came after her.

“We’re here to recognize the shoulders we’re standing on,” she said.

Outside the building chairs and monitors were set up.

Following a private ceremony Wednesday in the court’s Great Hall, her casket will be moved outside the building to the top of the court’s front steps so that public mourners can pay their respects in line with public health guidance for the pandemic.

Since her death Friday evening, people have been leaving flowers, notes, placards and all manner of Ginsburg paraphernalia outside the court in tribute to the woman who became known in her final years as the “Notorious RBG.” Court workers cleared away the items and cleaned the court plaza and sidewalk in advance of Wednesday’s ceremony.

Following past practice at the tradition-laden court, Ginsburg’s casket is expected to arrive just before 9:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, the court said. Supreme Court police will carry it up the court steps, which will be lined by former Ginsburg law clerks serving as honorary pallbearers.

Chief Justice John Roberts and the other justices will be in the Great Hall when the casket arrives and is placed on the Lincoln Catafalque, the platform on which President Abraham Lincoln’s coffin rested in the Capitol rotunda in 1865. A 2016 portrait of Ginsburg by artist Constance P. Beaty will be displayed nearby.

It’s unclear whether President Donald Trump would visit the court before he leaves town Wednesday afternoon, though he did pay respects when Justice John Paul Stevens died last year and President Barack Obama visited the court after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016.

The entrance to the courtroom, along with Ginsburg’s chair and place on the bench next to Roberts, have been draped in black, a longstanding court custom. These visual signs of mourning, which in years past have reinforced the sense of loss, will largely go unseen this year. The court begins its new term Oct. 5, but the justices will not be in the courtroom and instead will hear arguments by phone.

After the private ceremony inside the court, Ginsburg’s casket will be on public view from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday.

On Friday, Ginsburg will lie in state at the Capitol, the first woman to do so and only the second Supreme Court justice after William Howard Taft. Taft had also been president. Rosa Parks, a private citizen as opposed to a government official, is the only woman who has lain in honor at the Capitol.

Ginsburg will be buried beside her husband, Martin, in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery next week. Martin Ginsburg died in 2010. She is survived by a son and a daughter, four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Ginsburg’s death from cancer at age 87 has added another layer of tumult to an already chaotic election year. Trump and Senate Republicans are plowing ahead with plans to have a new justice on the bench, perhaps before the Nov. 3 election.

Only Chief Justice Roger Taney, who died in October 1864, died closer to a presidential election. Lincoln waited until December to nominate his replacement, Salmon Chase, who was confirmed the same day.

When Scalia, Ginsburg’s closest friend on the court, died unexpectedly in 2016, Republicans refused to act on President Barack Obama’s high-court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

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Associated Press Writer Matthew Barakat contributed to this report.

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Katie Kalvoda gives to get the voices of Asian Americans heard

Donor /ˈdōnər/ : a person who provides financial resources to fund a campaign.

When Katie Kalvoda was just one year old, her family lost everything fleeing their home country of Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon. For the next 13 months of her life, they would live in a Malaysian refugee camp trying to make their way to the United States.

“I often talk about my brother,” Kalvoda says, “who was born in the camp. His birth certificate says he was born in international waters because no country claimed him. What does it mean when no one wants you?”

Kalvoda thinks about this question of being unwanted and unclaimed often.

“There can be this accusatory narrative about people who embark on dangerous journeys with their children to get into the United States…but, think of how desperate people must be. Think of how desperate that experience was for my family and the many families who see this country as their only beacon of hope.”

For Kalvoda, this hope includes political stability and inclusion. It also is the ability to safely participate in the democratic process.

But Kalvoda argues that many Asian Americans do not benefit from these privileges, because “many migrated from authoritarian countries where people are unable to enjoy freedom of speech or assembly. This means some people stay very quiet and just focus on surviving and taking care of their family.”

And while she admits this is admirable, she also believes Asian Americans must stand up and advocate for the specific needs of their community.

“It’s a larger conversation about feeling welcome in America,” she says. “We initially came in through the railroads and we think we’re making strides, but it wasn’t long before [President Donald] Trump referred to COVID as the Asian virus that we found ourselves being targeted like we were decades ago. It’s very sobering.”


President Katie Kalvoda speaks during the official launch of the new progressive political action committee Asian Americans Rising during an event at Baker’s Parkside Grill in Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley on Thursday, May 2, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

When Kalvoda founded her political action committee (PAC), Asian Americans Rising, after a successful career in hedge fund investing, one of her priorities was to offer a “safe harbor” for people to understand the issues.

“I understand when folks arrive at a conversation, not everyone is ready to dive in to the deep-end of politics. If we want civil discourse where voters are more informed, we have to meet them where they are so they can engage.”

By finding ways to provide a positive experience for people, she hopes her community will feel “a fire in their bellies to engage politically.”

She says, “We’re 6% of the U.S. population, so it’s easy to forget about us. But while we may not necessarily move general elections, we are the marginal vote in localized elections in places like Nevada and Texas. So, it’s imperative we have a platform to talk about politics and to advocate for policy that is justice oriented.”

Kalvoda believes justice-oriented policy includes addressing the 27.5% of AAPI who live below the poverty level. It also addresses the many Asian Americans living in segregated enclaves due to language barriers and a lack of cultural competency.

Ultimately, Kalvoda hopes her PAC will contribute to decency and humanity in the way the United States is run.

“I think the way we no longer welcome asylum seekers and those who have nowhere else to go is not decent. There’s just no need for useless suffering on our borders. All of us want our kids to have a better life than we did, we don’t want our skin tone to dictate our opportunities, and we want a clean environment that’s safe for us to pursue our passions.

“I believe we can find our humanity again. A country where we look after one another is really the strongest foundation of any governing nation, and we can honor no greater cause than that.”

_ _ _ _ _

Editor’s note: On Sept. 20, the newsmagazine “Body Politic: People Making Democracy Work” went out to subscribers. While so much media attention goes to politicians, the truth is that citizens at all levels of engagement keep democracy going. “Body Politic” highlighted players in our region’s political ecosystem, getting beyond platform points and party ideology to find out what motivates them, what they care about, and what they hope their part adds to a healthy political process.

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Daniel Tamm traded a career in entertainment for grassroots organizing

Grassroots organizer /ˈɡras ˈˌro͞ots/ /ˈôrɡəˌnīzər/: a person in a campaign who marshals the most basic level of an organization, ordinary citizens.

I was working for the Obama for America campaign as a regional field director in Southern California during the 2008 presidential election. I was based in Los Angeles, but on this day, I was in Rancho Cucamonga, organizing the training of volunteers. They were the ones who would carry on the work of voter contact and bring the message of hope, action and change to voters in the Inland Empire.

They came from all walks of life – Black, White, Latino men and women, teenagers, people in their 40s and in their 80s. People who had never volunteered, and people who’d volunteered steadily since John F. Kennedy’s campaign. Their excitement was palpable.

I took a break during the day and turned over in my mind what my purpose really was.

I saw my job as fighting for justice of all kinds – social, economic, racial, environmental – and to do it fearlessly. As a Christian, I took this as a spiritual call. And in coming alongside the grassroots volunteers, the ordinary people who were moved to get involved, my mission was to evoke their leadership.

It had been this way since I first turned to politics in 2003.

At that time, the United States about to invade Iraq and I was angry that everyone seemed to be going along with the idea. The presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq seemed to me the most transparent of lies.

I began to wonder: What can I do as an ordinary citizen? A presidential election campaign was forming and I decided to get behind the candidate – John Kerry – who I thought would be successful in defeating the current regime – President George W. Bush – and looked for ways to get involved.

I had worked in theater, film and television, but had never organized politically before. I quickly discovered that my skills translated rather well to grassroots organizing. I had to work with groups of people, with finite resources of time and money – a shared purpose and a deadline.

Only it was not Opening Night, but Election Day that energized us.

Kerry lost that election, but I now I was immersed in politics, and had experienced the power of ordinary citizens.

Through local Democratic politics I was elected to the state party, and then to its executive board. I was meeting elected officials and candidates, and also worked on ballot measure campaigns with the leadership of California partisan politics. We enjoyed a great camaraderie, the energy of competition and a strong sense of mission. Local candidates began offering me jobs to run their campaigns and were willing to pay me, so I left my former career behind.

What captivated me was the ability to organize power – and this has motivated me ever since, through my work as field coordinator, political director, campaign manager, and even recently as an aide to the mayor of Los Angeles.

If you want to change the way the country is run or get a stop light installed at a dangerous neighborhood intersection, you still have to build community, hone a convincing message, and bring the power of the people to bear on the outcome you want to achieve. That’s politics.

After it was clear that we would win the Democratic nomination in 2008, and before the convention, I was in charge of the delegate selection process in Southern California with a colleague in Northern California.

He and I were both paranoid that supporters of our opponent might manipulate the process by flooding the delegate selection caucuses with their own people and hijacking the process. We orchestrated a stringent means of limiting who could participate. When we were on a call with our boss, Barack Obama, we proudly described what we’d done to protect his nomination.

Obama then said, “No guys, let them in. Don’t worry about it. There’s no need to overthink it. Trust the process.”

From that moment, I realized that the democratic process is something greater than any one person or group of people. While it needs to be safeguarded from those who would manipulate it to oppress people, it is sustained by the people’s strong will to live in freedom, equality and justice for all.

Trust the democratic process. Trust the people.

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Editor’s note: On Sept. 20, the newsmagazine “Body Politic: People Making Democracy Work” went out to subscribers. While so much media attention goes to politicians, the truth is that citizens at all levels of engagement keep democracy going. “Body Politic” highlighted players in our region’s political ecosystem, getting beyond platform points and party ideology to find out what motivates them, what they care about, and what they hope their part adds to a healthy political process.

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Karthich Ramakrishnan wants academic insights to help solve policy problems

Wonk /wäNGk/: Informal term for a person who takes an extreme interest in political policy. See also academic, scholar, geek, nerd.

There are certain moments that set you on a life path. This was one for Karthick Ramakrishnan: There he was, a mere grad student, slated to present his research paper at the prestigious American Political Science Association alongside esteemed professors whose works he revered.

His research was about immigration, a subject near and dear to his India-born heart. His family had been immigrants, first to Canada and then they finally settled in Massachusetts when he was 12 — just in time for middle school, where he was one of the few minorities in a working-class neighborhood. A target for bullies?

“I did get beat up,” he says, but he found refuge in the library and the Model UN program. That served him well when it came to getting into the Ivy League — he went to Brown University to get a bachelor’s degree in international relations, and then was accepted to Harvard. Instead, he chose Princeton. He wanted to study religion and politics.

“People were like, ‘Who is this kid?’” he says with a laugh, explaining that the push from immigrant parents in his community was usually to go into medicine, business or law. “There was no playbook for me. I did not see anyone else who looked like me. Someone who is Asian or Indian who does social science work? I didn’t see it at all.”

So he was inclined to innovative approaches. Which leads back to that graduate paper he was presenting: There are many experts in the political profiles of specific groups — Asians, Latinos — but Ramakrishnan’s research looked at all immigrants across time, regardless of where they came from — the huge population of White European immigrants, for example — and examined how different generations engage in the political system. (Interestingly, there’s an increase in political participation from the immigrant generation to the next generation, but then participation declines. “There is something very special and unique about the second generation,” he says.)

“My paper was groundbreaking, in a way,” says Ramakrishnan, who today is a professor of public policy and political science at UC Riverside and founding director of the university’s Center for Social Innovation, a think tank that aims to provide credible research about public policies that spur civic leadership and innovative policies.

But when as a grad student he went to light the world on fire with his discoveries, it fizzled.

“I thought, ‘This was going to be amazing.’ I didn’t pay attention to the fact that this was a Thursday, 8 a.m. panel. There were maybe five people in the audience. The other professors who I revered were like, ‘Oh yeah, this is normal.’ And I thought, ‘This is not the way I want to have impact in the world.’”

Today, you can say that Ramakrishnan is bringing ivory tower brainpower to the places that can apply it to solve real-world problems. Ramakrishnan serves on the board of The California Endowment, which seeks to improve healthcare and its affordability, and he’s also on the board of the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs. He directs the National Asian American Survey and is founder of AAPIData.com, which publishes demographic data and policy research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He also serves as director of the Inland Empire Census Complete Count Committee.

“It seems like a romantic notion, but if you can bring together people who want to do good things, either in government or in society and business, and people who have that expertise in research, you can build some pretty amazing things. It’s a romantic notion because politics matters, but the hopeful notion there is relationships matter,” says Ramakrishnan, who has made his home in the IE since 2005 with his wife and two children.

He is bold enough to want to make Southern California the trendsetter for solving the tough issues facing the nation. “I first thought, here we can build a think tank for the Inland Empire. Then I thought, why just the IE?”

He argues that in the IE “we look like the rest of America. We are more politically diverse than LA County and the Bay area, certainly. The kinds of ideas and solutions we cook up here are more viable than politically-divided jurisdictions.”

That is part of the reason the center he founded is called the Center for Social Innovation.

“We want to come up with ideas that aren’t just supported by certain political parties. I think the way that we approach our work through the lens of innovation should ideally be appealing to people regardless of party – and it might also be threatening to people regardless of party, because what we want to do is come up with new ideas and different ways of doing things. And so for people who are wedded to a status quo, they might resist it. But I think most people are not against innovation. It has made some of the ideas and solutions we come up with more transportable to different parts of the country.”

Currently, his center is a major research partner on an effort called IE RISE – shorthand for Inland Empire Roadmap for an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy.

“What we are doing there is working with census partners, using that as a foundation on which to build inclusive regional planning,” he explains, saying that the U.S. Census effort was an opportunity to create collaborations with nonprofits and government agencies, creating a structure for collective impact.

“We built up all this social capital, all these working relationships, these collaborations, and unified the region in such an amazing way, it would be a shame to say, ‘OK let’s pack it up, see you again in nine years.’ But that is typically what happens.

“Usually some small group from the census effort sticks around and works on redistricting, but most of all of those relationships, and expertise, get lost. What we have done with IE RISE is say no, let’s not break up the team. Importantly, let’s look ahead to 2030 – not just to say how can we do a better census, but how can we build a better region in 2030 that we can all be proud of.”

It’s a lot, for sure, but somehow he’s not done: He has also published seven books, including the most recent out in late October, “Citizenship Reimagined.”

The book looks at the interplay between immigrant rights and Black civil rights in California, not just in the last 20 years but since the state’s founding. “We fundamentally reimagine what citizenship means. Instead of just legal status or voting rights, there are five basic dimensions of rights, including the right to free movement.” (Here he brings up the example of runaway slaves before the Emancipation Proclamation – when national law said that slaves had to be returned to owners, many states moved to protect them.)

It is, he says, a book not only about reimagining what citizenship means but about the concept of state citizenship – he points to the Midwest, where, from the 1840s through World War II there were states that allowed non-U.S. citizens to vote. He argues that California has a form of state citizenship, citing a law that uses the term “citizens of the state,” passed in 2018. It’s a very minor law about non-U.S. citizens serving on boards and commissions – but he says the implications could be far-reaching.

With so much to do already, he talks eagerly about all that is yet to come. What pushes him is the memory of how his brother died young of a heart attack. “People said, ‘He had his whole life ahead of him,’” he recalls.

Ramakrishnan realized then he never wanted to think of his life as potential, he wanted to get busy doing. “I’m always fighting for the underdog.”

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Editor’s note: On Sept. 20, the newsmagazine “Body Politic: People Making Democracy Work” went out to subscribers. While so much media attention goes to politicians, the truth is that citizens at all levels of engagement keep democracy going. “Body Politic” highlighted players in our region’s political ecosystem, getting beyond platform points and party ideology to find out what motivates them, what they care about, and what they hope their part adds to a healthy political process.

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CA GOP chair Jessica Millan Patterson says diversity doesn’t end with her

Party Chair /ˈpärdē/ /CHer/: the presiding officer of a political party. Party chairs are elected at local, regional and national levels.

Jessica Millan Patterson made history and headlines in 2019 when GOP delegates elected her to chair California’s Republican Party.

First Latina!

First woman!

First millennial!

She was a fresh face for a party with a branding problem. Nothing old, white or manly about her.

But the 39-year-old didn’t just pop onto the political scene. In fact, Patterson first waded into the democratic process back when she was just 16. It happened one day when her mom was driving her and her siblings to high school.

They were taking turns saying the Rosary, like they always did on their morning commute, even though Patterson wished they could just turn on the radio and listen to Rick Dees count down the Top 40.

On this particular day, Patterson piped up as their car passed the Los Angeles County Republican Party headquarters in Hacienda Heights. She already had a lot on her plate, with cheerleading, homework and her role as a lector at youth masses. Not to mention helping at the food pantry on weekends. But on this day, she announced that she would like to start volunteering there.

Patterson’s mom Julie was at various times a crossing guard, a librarian and a teacher’s aide – but always a Democrat. Her dad, Frank, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico before he was born, is a lifelong Democrat too. A “big labor guy,” Patterson says, a Teamster in fact, who worked for UPS for 32 years before retiring.

But Julie and Frank raised five Republican kids, Patterson says, laughing. (And yes, they’re all still friends).

“My parents were always in a place of ‘We want you guys to come to your own decisions,’” Patterson says. So, her mom’s reaction that day in the car was decidedly undramatic: “OK, your brother has football Thursday nights, I can drop you off on the way.”

Looking back, Patterson says she was just trying to scratch an itch to be involved in the democratic process in some way.

“I was looking to the future. I thought maybe I’d be a lawyer, someone who could write laws and make policy,” she says. “I didn’t think I’d end up in politics.”

As for why she was drawn to the Republican Party when her parents voted for Democrats?

“The example they set followed conservative principals,” she says. Hard work. Personal responsibility. It appealed to her.

In between stuffing envelopes and making phone calls, Patterson found a mentor at the headquarters, a woman named Martha House, who made her feel empowered.

“She talked about the future and how important young people were to that,” Patterson recalls, pushing her further along the path of a life in politics.

After high school, Patterson landed an internship at Assemblyman Bob Pacheco’s district office while earning a degree in political science at California State University Northridge. With her no-nonsense personality, strategic acumen and fundraising smarts, she quickly became a key player in the state’s political ecosystem, taking leadership roles in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign and the presidential runs of Sen. John McCain and Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In 2011, Patterson helped launch California Trailblazers, which recruits and trains Republicans for state legislative office.

Patterson says she is surprised to find herself today on the front lines.

“I was very happy being behind the scenes,” she says. “But (Republicans) were coming out of a very dark time (after the 2018 midterm elections). We had just lost half of the seats we held in California.”

So, she asked herself a question that she has at times put to others: “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”

As the chair, her top goal is to rebuild the party. Since she was elected, more than 37,000 new volunteers have been recruited and trained. The party also has registered more than 300,000 new Republicans, reversing a decade of voter decline.

Patterson has personally travelled 62,000 miles to 68 cities (all before COVID-19 hit) to get the Republican message out.

Her mom and dad have moved into the Simi Valley home she shares with her husband, Wes Patterson (a nonprofit fundraiser), and their daughters, ages 7 and 5. They help care for their granddaughters when mom’s on the road.

Patterson says the coronavirus hasn’t slowed her pace. Since shutdown orders, the party has held more than 2,200 California Republican Comeback trainings on Zoom. She has put a premium on inclusivity, promising to bring communities of color back to the party.

She points out that her vice-chairman is Peter Kuo, a Taiwanese American immigrant, and the party treasurer is Gregory Gandrud, an openly gay man.

“When I was elected there were a lot of headlines: First woman. First Latina. But the diversity doesn’t end with me. We have a board of 23. Almost half are women. We have a ton of diversity. It slaps the narrative in the face.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Editor’s note: On Sept. 20, the newsmagazine “Body Politic: People Making Democracy Work” went out to subscribers. While so much media attention goes to politicians, the truth is that citizens at all levels of engagement keep democracy going. “Body Politic” highlighted players in our region’s political ecosystem, getting beyond platform points and party ideology to find out what motivates them, what they care about, and what they hope their part adds to a healthy political process.

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This middle school English teacher has a passion for political causes and volunteering

Volunteer /ˌvälənˈtir/: a person who voluntarily offers their time and skills to an undertaking without receiving financial remuneration.

When Ebony Murphy-Root is not teaching English at a middle school in Los Angeles, she volunteers for progressive and feminist political candidates throughout California and across the United States. Her volunteer work started when she was in her 20s with CT NOW (the University of Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women), and grew from there. Today she lives in Long Beach.

What motivates you, and what is important to you?My parents, though not wealthy, raised me to see that I’ve been privileged enough to share what I have. Many people think that you have to be a parent to be invested in the next generation, but I think that says more about how we silo ourselves away from one another. I’m not a mother, but I want better for everybody’s kid. If we can explore space, we can make sure our fellow humans are not evicted during a pandemic. We can look after each other.

What keeps you going as a volunteer?I grew up in a union household. The ideas of going on strike and collective bargaining and shaking the table of power are not far off for me. I grew up with food and clothes and books, solid health insurance, and access to healthcare because of the labor movement. My dad paid 75% of my college tuition with fair wages and overtime driving a tractor trailer. It’s not theoretical for me.

Was there a moment when everything changed for you?Al Gore/Joe Lieberman in 2000 was my first election. Hanging chads, all that. That was my freshman year at the University of Connecticut and also the year my mother passed away from breast cancer at age 39.

It reminded me of the Gil Scott-Heron lyrics from the ’70s that my dad recited:

“How much more evidence do the citizens needThat the election was sabotaged by trickery and greed?And, if this is so, and who we got didn’t winLet’s do the whole goddamn election over again!”

My parents always voted. My grandparents left the South so they could have access to the franchise.

What part of the political process do you hope to impact the most?I want to create future voters who hold our civil servants accountable. They work for all of us; I think we all forget that sometimes. And if they stop working for us, we can vote them out.

Part of my work is granular, day-to-day modeling and teaching of reading, writing and critical thinking skills. Not every kid is going to be a doctor or a physicist or a nurse. But if they do, I hope they come home and read the paper, or pick up a novel or a collection of poetry.

Some people will install air conditioners, become artists, work at the grocery store or maybe all of those jobs over the course of a lifetime. And that’s OK. All those people need to be able to call their mayor’s office or email their congresswoman’s staff.

Every job has dignity, and if we really do value hard work as part of our American ethos, then people who work 40 hours a week should be able to have a decent standard of living. If you can read closely, write clearly, and speak with confidence, you will show up with confidence to take part in our democracy.

In my experience, people who don’t read, don’t vote. Read everything. Read Jacobin, Sports Illustrated, Mother Jones, The National Review, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Sacramento Bee, the magazines at the dentist.

What’s one lesson you’ll never forget?

My dad always told me, “You’re not better than anybody, but nobody’s better than you.”

I am endlessly proud to be the daughter of a Teamster, to be three generations removed from South Carolina sharecroppers who moved up North as part of the Great Migration.

I can walk into any room and find someone with whom to chat. I’m rarely intimidated, and if I am, it’s by someone’s bookshelf, not their money or their fancy house – OK, maybe their fancy bookshelves. … I’ll admit to coveting a few of those.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Editor’s note: On Sept. 20, the newsmagazine “Body Politic: People Making Democracy Work” went out to subscribers. While so much media attention goes to politicians, the truth is that citizens at all levels of engagement keep democracy going. “Body Politic” highlighted players in our region’s political ecosystem, getting beyond platform points and party ideology to find out what motivates them, what they care about, and what they hope their part adds to a healthy political process.

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Cop’s call as to whether you get cited for not having a front license plate

Q. I just got a fix-it ticket from the California Highway Patrol on the 73 for not having a front license plate. The front of my car, a 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT, did not have a mount for a front plate. Right after getting the ticket, I saw more than five vehicles without front license plates within a two-mile stretch. I went to my car dealership and it graciously put the plate on. I wasn’t looking forward to defacing my car’s front look. Everyone knows that thousands of cars in our area are driving around with no front plates. My gripe is about the arbitrary enforcement. Any thoughts you might have about remedies would be appreciated.

– Ray Novaco, Costa Mesa

A. Doc Honk has no remedies that will soothe you, Ray.

As a youth, he drove around sans front license plate because he thought his ’71 Bug looked better without one. These days, he insists the fleet driven by the Honk clan sports front plates to decrease the chance officers will pull anyone over.

Rafael Reynoso, an officer and spokesman for the California Highway Patrol out of the San Juan Capistrano station house, which patrols part of the 73, said he might not want to slap a front plate on his vehicle, either, but he must.

“Here is California, most drivers know they have to have two plates,” he said. “It’s the driver’s responsibility. … It’s one of many violations we can stop someone for.

“It’s officer’s discretion,” he said, as to who gets cited. “Some officers look for it, some don’t. But it’s a violation.”

Under the law, the only vehicles that don’t have to carry front plates are those wearing a dealer’s license plate in the rear and motorcycles, Reynoso said.

By the way, if for some reason only one plate was mailed out, the vehicle’s owner must tell the Department of Motor Vehicles so it can ensure the vehicle gets two, said Ivette Burch, a DMV spokeswoman in Sacramento.

“The envelope that (the) DMV sends out with the plates … recommends examining the plates carefully because two plates can stick together and appear as one,” she said.

Q. Hello Mr. Honk: I look forward to your column in the newspaper where I can find your (sometimes) humorous answers. I do have a question for you. I live close to the 241 toll road and wonder: Why do we still have to see those eyesore toll booths that have remained unused for years? When I visited my sister in Tampa, Florida, the toll booths were being removed everywhere. She said the whole state had gone to transponders and no toll-collection booths were needed and they were removed. Is that possible here?

– Cheryl Liford, Mission Viejo

A. Well … yes … eventually.

In May 2014, the toll booth attendants disappeared, with tolls now paid online or with an account.

The Transportation Corridor Agencies, which operates all of Orange County’s tollways except the 91 Express Lanes, is slowly removing the toll booths.

“Toll booths on the 73, 133, 241 and 261 toll roads are being removed in phases,” said Lori Olin, the organization’s director of communications, in an email to Honk.

“Booths on multi-lane ramps have been removed,” she said. “The removal of the remaining toll booths at single-lane ramps and mainline toll points will be completed over the coming years.”

Their removal is not currently planned, and the downturn in revenues because of the coronavirus won’t help. Agency officials said priority will be given to projects that improve traffic flow, so your view won’t improve for a while, Cheryl.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at honk@ocregister.com. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk. Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

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Ziggy Marley coming to Anaheim’s Drive-In OC series for two different shows

Following a live performance of his latest single “Play With Sky” featuring Ben Harper on “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” Ziggy Marley was set to announce he’ll headline City National Grove of Anaheim’s Drive-In OC concert series on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The Grammy Award-winning reggae artist and son of late legend Bob Marley will perform two sets: a kid-friendly 2 p.m. matinee featuring Norm the Rhythm Child, and then a more traditional evening show at 7:30 p.m. with special guest Zuri.

Tickets are $160-$300 per vehicle (with up to six patrons per vehicle who must all have a safety belt) and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept 25 via AXS.com.

Marley just dropped his new album “More Family Time.” Marley said he tried to capture the energy of his 4-year-old son in music in an effort to captivate kids and keep parents engaged while not departing from his signature reggae sound. The album features several guests artists including Sheryl Crow, Lisa Loeb, Tom Morello, Busta Rhymes, Alanis Morissette, his brother, Stephen Marley, and actress Jamie Lee Curtis who reads sections of her new children’s book.

Marley’s kids including Judah, Gideon, Abraham and Isaiah make special appearances on the album along with their family puppy, Romeo. A portion of the proceeds from the album benefit Marley’s URGE non-profit which supports education and social development of children of the Chepstow Primary School and the One Love Youth Camp in Jamaica.

The Drive-In OC concert series is a predominately contactless experience, including entry, ticketing, concessions and restrooms. All tickets must be purchased in advance and there will be no on-site box office.

Vehicles will be spaced 10 feet apart and staggered to provide distancing, appropriate sight lines and guests may use the empty adjacent spot to set up folding chairs and blankets. Masks are required whenever guests leave their designated parking spots.

For more details, upcoming events and social distancing guidelines, go to DriveInOC.com.

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Senior Living: Staying well-nourished throughout life

By Cynthia Mazon, RD, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center

Contributing writer


Cynthia Mazon, RD. (Courtesy of MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center)

According to the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, also known as ASPEN, cases of malnutrition are highest among adults 65 years of age and older.

Malnutrition occurs when your body is deprived of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. As you get older, it’s especially important that you learn how to stay properly nourished to maintain your ability to preserve muscle, bone density and cognitive function, and improve wound healing.

How malnutrition develops

As you age, you may begin to experience health or lifestyle changes that can increase your risk of becoming malnourished. These include: 

  • Living with a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, which are more common with age. These conditions require you to follow a specific diet and avoid certain foods, making it easier to become malnourished.
  • Changes in your teeth. Lack of natural teeth or poorly fitting dentures can limit your food choices and affect your ability to chew solid foods that are essential to a healthy diet.
  • Changes in your metabolism and body’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to a higher risk of nutrient deficiency.
  • Loss of muscle mass, which can lead to mobility issues and reduce your ability to shop for your own groceries and prepare healthy meals. 
  • Psychological and cognitive factors, such as dementia or depression, can make everyday chores difficult to do on your own. 
  • Economic and social issues, such as changes in income, lack of access to transportation or living alone can all negatively affect your ability to eat healthy meals.  
  • Consuming medications, including proton-pump inhibitors, diuretics and corticosteroids, as well as drugs for diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, can affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

As some of these changes naturally occur with age, it’s especially important that you are always aware of and lookout for signs of malnutrition. Symptoms include: 

  • Loss of appetite; 
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing when eating;
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • Feeling tired or weak;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Loss of fat; and
  • Bruised, dry or cracked skin.

It’s important to monitor these symptoms and manage your specific risk factors to prevent malnutrition. You should seek immediate medical care if you begin to experience sudden changes to your weight, appetite or ability to eat.  

Consuming the right vitamins and nutrients

Although becoming malnourished can negatively affect your health, prevention is possible by ensuring that you consume your daily recommended vitamin intake and eat healthy, nutritious foods. 

One of the most important vitamins that you need later in life is B12, which helps your body make red blood cells and maintain function of nerve cells. As you age, your risk of having a deficiency increases due to the higher risk of developing atrophic gastritis, a condition that inhibits the absorption of vitamin B12. 

Other important vitamins and minerals to try and include in your diet:

  • Vitamin B6: helps support normal brain development and keeps the nervous and immune systems healthy. It can be found in whole grains, salmon, eggs, carrots, spinach and avocado.
  • Vitamin D: found in food such as salmon and mackerel, and helps your body maintain healthy bones and teeth. Spending a few minutes under the sun’s ultraviolet rays also can help your skin produce vitamin D. 
  • Vitamin A: supports healthy vision and immunity. It is found in mackerel, salmon, trout, cheese and eggs.
  • Fiber: supports your bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels and helps control blood sugars. It is found in whole grains, legumes, almonds, green peas, chia seeds and avocado.
  • Calcium: helps keep bones and teeth strong. It is commonly known to be in milk, cheese and yogurt, but can also be found in chia seeds, salmon and legumes.
  • Protein: helps your body build and repair tissue. It is found in oily fish, legumes, dairy and fortified foods.

When taking supplements, it’s also important follow the directions on the label. Talk to your doctor or caregiver for help with consuming the appropriate amount. 

Nourishment Support

Staying healthy as you age can be challenging to do alone. It’s helpful to have loved ones support your nutrition needs by taking you grocery shopping, helping you prepare healthy meals and assisting with eating, if necessary. Food bank programs, such as Meals on Wheels America, deliver nutritious and healthy meals specifically to those 60 and up. If economic hardships prevent you from eating well, you also can apply for various programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, which provides funding to help you pay for your groceries. 

Managing your nutritional needs and ensuring that you’re consuming the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals will help you live a long and healthy life.

If you need help managing a healthy diet and preventing malnutrition, find a primary care doctor who can help by contacting MemorialCare: 800-MEMORIAL OR memorialcare.org/providers.

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