Animal viruses are jumping to humans. Forest loss makes it easier.

“The destruction of forests into fragmented patches is increasing the likelihood that viruses and other pathogens will jump from wild animals to humans, according to a study from Stanford University published this month,” the New York Times is reporting.

“The research, which focused on contact between humans and primates in western Uganda, holds lessons for a world reeling from the coronavirus outbreak and searching for strategies to prevent the next global pandemic.

“’Covid has taught us that once a pandemic starts, it’s very hard to control,’ said Laura Bloomfield, a doctoral candidate at Stanford and the study’s lead author. ‘If we can decrease the potential for people to come into contact with wild animals, that is one way to decrease the likelihood of having recurrent pandemics.’

“In Uganda, a rapidly growing population means more people are carving out patches of forest land to feed their families.

“Humans have already claimed more than a third of the Earth’s land for agricultural use. Tropical forests are being destroyed at record or near-record rates every year. In places like the Amazon and Indonesia, for instance, virgin rain forest is being burned to farm commodities like soy, palm oil and cattle. Recently, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has risen sharply under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.

“Eric Lambin, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford and one of the study’s co-authors, said that the United States has its own example of an animal-borne disease linked to patchwork woodlands close to suburban and rural communities: Lyme disease, which spreads from wildlife to humans by ticks.

“’We see the animals as infecting us, but the picture that’s coming from the study and other studies is we really go to the animals,’ said Dr. Lambin. ‘We intrude on their habitats.'”

The rest of the article is here.

WorldFest in Grass Valley postponed until July 15-18, 2021, another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic

The statement from WorldFest is here:

Dear California WorldFest Family,

From homes around the world, WorldFest artists, leadership, and teams have been assessing the current crisis and trying to plan for the future. What is most important is the safety and well-being of our entire California WorldFest family. As we continue to face these unprecedented times, we had to make a very difficult decision.

We will be postponing the 24th Annual California WorldFest until July 15-18, 2021.

The impact of postponing this year’s festival extends to our crews, volunteers, partners, patrons, and our greater community. We spent the last 6 months planning and preparing a very special experience for you. We will continue to honor and build upon these efforts as we shift our focus to 2021. So, I guess you could say we have a significant head start for next year. 😉

In the meantime, please follow along on Facebook and Instagram as we highlight past performances, connect you with artists through virtual programming and workshops, showcase our vendors, and share partner stories. It is an incredibly challenging time for our artists and artisans. We can show our support and continue to create space for our WorldFest family, together online.

If you took advantage of our holiday pre-sale or early bird ticket offer, your 2020 tickets will be honored next year. This locks in your special pricing, helps us cover this year’s incurred expenses, and sets us up for a successful come-back.

WorldFest is presented by The Center for the Arts, a non-profit cultural and education organization dedicated to presenting and promoting the arts. We would be grateful if you would consider supporting us by making your tickets a tax-deductible donation. We can also issue gift cards for future use at WorldFest or shows held at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, or issue refunds. We are planning something extra special for those of you who can hold onto (or donate) your tickets, so stay tuned!

Now, more than ever, we are reminded that music really does connect us all. We are all saddened that we will miss this chance to be together but we look forward to welcoming you back when it is safe for us to gather under the tall pines at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Be Well,

Your Friends & Family at WorldFest

Happy Birthday Mitchell!

From a Facebook post today:

As we “self-quarantine” and “shelter in place” to“flatten the curve” our son Mitchell turns 18 today. His generation has been bookended by some unhappy times in America so far: 9/11 just before his birth, and this week a global pandemic as he reaches adulthood. (A visit with Mitchell to the 9/11 museum is here:…/a-visit-to-the-911-mus…/ )

But the time in between has been the happiest period of our lives! The memories are endless: witnessing Mitchell’s birth in San Francisco; his first San Francisco Giants game (“Happy Birthday Mitchell,” the scoreboard read); our world travel together; sailing at Lake Tahoe; his schooling at Mount Saint Mary Academy and Ghidotti Early College High SchoolNCVC Volleyball in Sacramento and a first-degree blackbelt; the high-school prom with Amalia; college tours and his acceptance at Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

We going to celebrate at home — “self-quarantine,” I guess — with a custom cake from Emily’s Catering, sushi from Kaido Japanese restaurant, gifts and cards. As I write this the night before, I can hear Mitchell laughing out loud in the back room as he plays videogames with his friends on a desktop PC that he built with pride. I know those conversations will continue later today. All told, we are blessed and wouldn’t change a thing. (Photo: Thanks to Joy Porter at Winding Road Imagery)

Nevada County issues coronavirus orders

“Today, April 7, 2020, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect vulnerable individuals and to help prevent the local healthcare system from being overwhelmed, the Nevada County Health Officer, Dr. Ken Cutler, has issued two new separate, but related orders:

“The first order is for self-isolation of anyone diagnosed with or showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within 14 days of being in close contact with a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19. Diagnosis can be made by a physician or a laboratory confirmation

“The second order is for the self-quarantine of anyone exposed to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19. For additional information on the statewide Stay-at-Home Order and recommendations to keep you and your family safer, please visit Nevada County’s coronavirus webpage at

—County of Nevada County

Music in the Mountains: A video dedicated to “the helpers”

“As I created this video from a recording of the Music in the Mountains Chorus singing at Peace Lutheran Church in the spring of 2017, I thought of this quote from Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers):

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.

“On World Health Day amid a global health crisis, it is important to take a few minutes to remember the helpers. This video is dedicated to them.”

 -Jenny Darlington-Person, Executive Director, Music in the Mountains

Trade adviser warned White House in January of risks of a pandemic

“A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death,” The New York Times is reporting.

“The warning, written in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States.

“’The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,’ Mr. Navarro’s memo said. ‘This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.’

“Dated Jan. 29, it came during a period when Mr. Trump was playing down the risks to the United States, and he would later go on to say that no one could have predicted such a devastating outcome.

“Mr. Navarro said in the memo that the administration faced a choice about how aggressive to be in containing an outbreak, saying the human and economic costs would be relatively low if it turned out to be a problem along the lines of a seasonal flu.

“But he went on to emphasize that the “risk of a worst-case pandemic scenario should not be overlooked” given the information coming from China.

“In one worst-case scenario cited in the memo, more than a half-million Americans could die.

“A second memo that Mr. Navarro wrote, dated Feb. 23, warned of an “increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1.2 million souls.”

“At that time, Mr. Trump was still downplaying the threat of the virus. The administration was considering asking Congress for more money to address the situation, and the second memo, which circulated around the West Wing and was obtained by The Times, urged an immediate supplemental spending appropriation from Congress of at least $3 billion. 

“Neither Mr. Navarro nor spokespeople for the White House responded to requests for comment.”

The rest of the article is here.

Turning newspaper chains into charities: A new business model?

“Before you click that donate button, time to think long and hard about newspaper business models,” writes the managing editor of, the nemesis and competitor to the “for profit” Vail Daily, which is owned by The Union’s parent, Nevada-based Swift.  

Like the Vail Daily in Colorado, The Union in Grass Valley also has launched a donate button on its website during the coronavirus crisis. I flinched when I first saw it here. Newspaper chains holding out a proverbial tin cup?

“There’s a growing school of thought that the old business models just don’t work in the newspaper industry anymore – even in resort markets like ours with captive audiences – and that public, private and nonprofit institutions no longer should be looking to bail out old-school newspaper chains but rather the individual journalists those chains marginally employ,” continued.

Like others, the Swift-owned newspaper in Vail is not standing still. To weather the downturn, “longtime, loyal and dedicated staff members are taking pay cuts of 20% and several staffers at the Vail Daily have been or will be indefinitely furloughed,”’s managing editor continued. 

You can learn more about The Union’s own cost-cutting actions, and the impact of the coronavirus crisis on its revenues, in a frank discussion here. is an online-only “news, political, environmental, business, opinion and outdoor lifestyle site.” In our region, YubaNet might be seen as analogous to in general terms — that is, a free local news website.

To be sure, YubaNet seeks “subscriptions,” but it’s for a specific reason: “raising funds for a standby generating system” costing $25,000. And unlike The Union, YubaNet does not have a print edition that charges subscriptions or a “pay wall.”

It’s no secret that newspapers all over are struggling with their business model in the era of Google and Facebook, and searching for answers.

A “modest proposal” in Canada

An article titled “Turning newspapers into charities: A new model for the future” in the Canadian Journalism Project states: “One idea that is getting some traction [in Canada] is the idea of enabling Canadians to make charitable donations to newspapers—turn them into charities that can accept donations and issue tax receipts.”

“The Canadian government is prepared to give that some thought. In the most recent budget, it promises to explore ‘new models that will enable private giving and philanthropic support for trusted, professional, non-profit journalism and local news.’

“This could include new ways for Canadian newspapers to innovate and be recognized to receive charitable status for not-for-profit provision of journalism, reflecting the public interest that they serve.”

The article concludes: “I know I sound like a downer — I don’t mean to be. I think being able to donate to keep my local newspaper alive is good idea, and one worth exploring.”

We have made donations to YubaNet in the past and would not be opposed to making a donation to The Union either. Publisher Don Rogers is doing a good job given the circumstances and resources. But I’d like to see a long-term plan for survival, well beyond a “donate button.” After all, we have a lot of nonprofits around here who also need our support.