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A dream in the desert

CHESTER — For Cindy Chinn, showing her work in the Scrap Art Exhibition at the Souq Waqif Art Center in Doha, Qatar, was a dream she didn’t know she had.

Chinn, who lives and works in the former school building in Chester, was one of 30 international artists and one of just three American artists invited to participate in the show. There were 10 local Qatari artists participating, as well.


The Scrap Art Exhibition was visited by many schools in Doha, Qatar. Here Cindy Chinn is showing students how she hand forms brass plate into leaves for necklaces and key rings.

The show was organized by Qatar’s Private Engineering Office, which presented it for the benefit of the local population of the small country on the Arabian Peninsula.

Show organizers invited particular artists they wanted, including Chinn.

“I didn’t think it was real at all,” she said of the invitation. “Here’s this country I’ve never heard of in the Middle East that is inviting me, all expenses paid, to go to this scrap metal show. It just seemed so unreal. A lot of the artists felt that way, almost all of them. Never before has anybody brought together 30 international artists representing 14 countries into one show and paid for everything. Not many countries could afford to do that.”

The show ran for two weeks, concluding Nov. 2.

Highlights included a tour of National Museum of Qatar and even a camel-riding session one morning.

Courtesy Art Whitton  

While in Doha, Qatar, for the Scrap Art Exhibition, Cindy Chinn of Chester was able to take time for side trips like this camel ride.

The biggest thrill for Chinn, however, was being able to take a 4-wheel drive vehicle and go dune busting through the desert.

“It was great fun,” she said.

Chinn, who works in a variety of media, has transformed the former Chester school building into several different studios. She was honored to represent the small Thayer County community on the world stage.

She’s been working with metal for only about three years.

“Not very long,” she said.

At first she was awed by the other artists selected for the show.

“I’ve been watching their work over the years and thinking ‘Oh man, that’s so cool. I wish I was doing things like that,’ ” she said. “Then I actually meet them and become friends with them. That was really cool.”

Chinn gained confidence, though, as she sold out all of the artwork she took to Qatar.

The show included an exhibition space where pieces were for sale but displayed for the entirety of the show. There was also a bazaar where other pieces could be purchased and taken home immediately.

Chinn traveled with a series she called “Barnyard Portraits” that included three-dimensional animal heads, but gave it a Middle Eastern spin and featured camels, Arabian stallions and oryxes, an antelope-like animal that is the Qatar national animal.

Courtesy Art Whitton  

Cindy Chinn poses with some of the artwork she displayed at the Scrap Art Exhibition in Doha, Qatar.

Chinn, who makes art from old handsaws, also brought several saws that featured Middle Eastern scenes such as camels and palm trees.

“I made them for the area, as opposed to taking a bunch of bear saws or tractors,” she said. “Almost everything I took was custom for that area, which was very well received. I sold everything I took with me.”

She also conducted metal-working demonstrations for visitors to her booth.

Courtesy Art Whitton  

Cindy Chinn receives a plaque to commemorate her participation in the Scrap Art Exhibition in Doha, Qatar.

According to a survey show organizers conducted of visitors, her work was a clear favorite, Chinn said. She was invited to the metal show next year.

There are also plans to begin offering new exhibitions in other media, including a paper show.

“I thought I’m going to go home and become a paper artist now,” she said with a chuckle, “which is not out of the realm of possibility. Since I work in everything else I might as well try paper.”

Courtesy Art Whitton  

Cindy Chinn poses alongside show organizer Sultan Danaf with some of the artwork she displayed at the Scrap Art Exhibition in Doha, Qatar, earlier this month.

Chinn already makes small sculptures out of pencils and pitched the idea of a pencil sculpture sub-show to organizers, who were receptive to the idea.

Former congressman shares experience during Cold War

Thirty years ago, on Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall separating the two sides of Berlin was torn down, signaling the end of the Cold War.

To commemorate the event, Hastings College hosted a series of lectures and events during the week to explain to students and the community why the Cold War should be remembered.

“We felt a need to have this event because — I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I said that the end of the Cold War was the major event that took place during our lifetime,” said Sabina Hilaiel, assistant professor of political science and international relations.

The keystone event this week was a lecture by Doug Bereuter, who served as congressman for Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District for 26 years, between 1979 and 2004. Bereuter’s lecture was about his experience as a congressman behind the scenes during major events during the Cold War.


Doug Bereuter gives a lecture at Hastings College Wednesday evening about his experience as a congressman during the Cold War.

“I have never talked publicly about the things I did during the Cold War, ever,” Bereuter said.

Bereuter’s perspective was on the political front line of major events in Europe and Asia as a congressman. Specifically, he served as a leading member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, six years of which were as vice chairman. He was also chair of the European and Asia-Pacific subcommittees

Bereuter’s experience with the Cold War began in his junior year of high school working a construction job at an Air Force base in Lincoln. He said he remembers there were always at least two B-47’s on the runway ready to receive nuclear weapons.

“The B-47 had one purpose, not conventional warfare,” he said. “The pilots really knew this was a one-way trip for them.”

Bereuter recounted memories of reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis when he was a graduate student at Harvard.

“I remember seeing the Boston Globe, the circles as to how far these intermediate range missiles from Cuba could reach, including over Boston,” he said.


Doug Bereuter, former 1st Congressional District representative for Nebraska, gives a lecture at Hastings College Wednesday evening about his experience as a congressman during the Cold War.

Bereuter recalled when he went to a trade conference in Moscow with other politicians. Before he was about to leave, Leonid Brezhnev, the fifth leader of the Soviet Union, died. Bereuter’s group arrived on the day of the funeral.

“We were given an indication of what the Soviet Union in Moscow was like, in a small way,” he said. “Women were waiting in line for two hours to get into the grocery story, and find there was nothing to buy when they got in there.”

Bereuter said preparing for the lecture was a chance to reflect.

“It was such a busy period of time and I didn’t keep a diary, didn’t keep a log,” he said. “The Cold War, at its height, was a dangerous period of time for Americans and Soviet citizens to live through. If we were in trouble with each other, the whole world was vulnerable.”

Bereuter said ultimately, it was former President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, who pushed the Cold War to end.

“It would not have been brought to an end as rapidly as it was, if it hadn’t been for these two men,” he said.

Bereuter said it’s important to discuss the Cold War and the events that happened because various nuclear treaties are expiring in the coming years and there has been little discussion about them.

“We certainly don’t want to go back to that period of uncertainty and potential danger,” he said.

Bereuter also served on the Human Rights and Economic Policy and Trade subcommittees. He was also retired as vice chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Hastings College will play host to Adam Seipp, a professor of history at Texas A&M University, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Morrison-Reeves Science Center Room 219. Seipp will give a lecture titled “We Have to Pay the Price: American Garrison Towns in Germany after 1989,” which is about what happened to areas that were occupied by American military then abandoned. The lecture is open to the public.

Hastings College also held several events for students, ranging from a Cold War photo exhibit to a Skype conversation with its sister school at Pyatigorsk State University in Russia.

Rob Babcock, professor of history, said this week was put together by several academic departments, including the Pushkin Institute for the Study of Russian Language and Culture. He said in addition to commemorating the Cold War, the departments worked together to take advantage of the new curriculum and calendar, and give students an opportunity to explore a field of study they haven’t before.

“It’s a chance for us to get out of our silos and be interdisciplinary,” Babcock said.

‘Bits and pieces’: Americans view impeachment on their terms

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Cattle rancher Jeffery Gatzke in South Dakota was listening in as he worked on his tractor in his workshop. The first public hearing on impeaching President Donald Trump is a political show, he thinks, but one he wanted to tune into.

Nadxely Sanchez, 18, watched on her phone, splitting her attention during a psychology lecture at Marquette University in Milwaukee. As a child of immigrants, she says she takes Trump’s presidency personally: “Living in the Trump era right now is scary and we’re just wondering what’s going to happen next.”

Randy Johnson, a 63-year-old semi-retired Tennessee man and Trump voter, cast his fishing line into the Gulf of Mexico from a seawall in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was happily missing the opening gavel. “Oh, is that today?” he said.

If Americans have devoured past live hearings in Washington, following each dramatic twist and turn, many seemed only to nibble and graze on Wednesday’s proceedings. They scanned headlines on their phones, read social media posts or clicked on snippets of video pushed out online. They planned to catch up with highlights or clips later, from a range of sources, and were content to let it play in the background.

The fractured and filtered way the country consumed the testimony — and all news — may have consequences. Democrats are hoping to use a series of hearings to tell a complex tale of overseas intrigue involving unfamiliar figures and a distant war. There were signs Wednesday that many Americans were falling back on their partisan allegiances, rather than diving into the details.

“I get bits and pieces,” said Bee Quarterman, a 64-year-old census worker in Savannah, Georgia. “Just enough to know what’s going on.”

As she walked into a barber shop for a lunchtime haircut, she glanced up at the hearing on the TV and said Americans should “just go to the ballot box” to settle whether Trump should remain in office.

House Democrats argue Trump abused his power when he solicited a political favor from the president of Ukraine and held up millions in foreign aid. Polls show more Americans support impeachment than oppose, although the partisan divide on the question is striking and consistent in the weeks leading up the hearings.

In putting two respected and measured U.S. diplomats on live television Wednesday, Democrats were hoping, if not for a national epiphany, then at least a day that would stand out from the partisan acrimony and circus-like atmosphere of Trump-era Washington.

“I don’t want to say it will be the tipping point, but I think it will be the beginning of a week or two where it will be very difficult for the president to change the subject,” said Adam Cutler, a Denver technology manager and Democrat who arranged to work from home so he could watch the day’s events.

Democrats’ goal is a shift in public opinion that mirrors 1973, when the nationally televised Watergate hearings helped sink President Richard Nixon’s approval ratings before his 1974 resignation from office.

But other recent examples offer Democrats less hope. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s testimony about his investigation into interference in 2016 election produced little change in Trump’s approval. Live hearings on accusation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh did not prevent his ascension to the Supreme Court.

For Gatzke, a 50-year-old farmer and rancher from Hitchcock, South Dakota, the Ukraine affair was just the Washington establishment’s latest attempt to thwart an outsider president.

“He is not one of them and they don’t like it,” he said, just before the hearings began. Gatzke caught as much as he could during his morning chores on the farm, before he had to load up cattle for the processing plant. His wife, Sheila Gatzke, watched, too, and fumed about what she claimed was testimony based on “hearsay,” a defense Trump has pushed and his Republican defenders on the committee echoed on Wednesday.

Christian Jacobs, 50, sat in a beach bar in St. Petersburg, wearing a fedora and reluctantly watching the drama on television.

“I did not want this,” he said, glancing at the TV with and sipping in a breath from his marijuana vape pen. A Democrat, he had initially balked at impeachment but has come around to it as details trickled out about Trump’s behavior with Ukraine.

“I’m so afraid, left to his own devices, what else he may do,” Jacobs said of Trump.

Jim Borelli’s response to the turmoil and conflict in Washington? Pray.

The 60-year-old attorney in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas, read his Bible at a coffee shop, part of his daily devotional, after listening to part of the hearing Wednesday morning.

One of the daily readings was a verse from the Book of Wisdom which he found “appropriate for today,” the Democrat said, noting that it reads in part, “for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends.”

“I pray that our leaders exercise wisdom in the impeachment process,” he said.

He watched part of the hearing with his 95-year-old mother but said it’s hard to talk about politics with some people in the current environment.

“I think we are in a bad space,” he said.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Bryant Randall, a freshman at Louisiana State University, didn’t like what he saw either. But that’s because the registered Republican found the Democrats’ case unpersuasive.

“All the witnesses who have come forward so far are saying, ‘I interpret this as a quid pro quo,’” Randall said. “I don’t care how you interpret it. I care about what the facts are.”

While Democrats control the House and likely have the votes to impeach Trump, they would need about 20 Republican senators to vote to convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors before he would be removed from office.

That’s tempered some Democrats’ hopes of what they can achieve in the impeachment inquiry.

Pilar Esperon waited for a train in Boston’s South Station Wednesday, with a nearby television turned to the hearing. Few were watching.

Esperon, who works in real estate in New York City, was scrolling through the news coverage on her phone. She said she already believes Trump committed an impeachable offense.

“So all you’ll get is a lot of posturing by a lot of people in front of the camera,” the Democrat said. “I don’t think anything will really move the needle.”

At the University of Cincinnati students took refuge from the cold in the warm library and its Starbucks stand. Math majors Mary Tabor, 20, of Louisville, Kentucky, and Olivia Fenner, 23, of Cincinnati were studying together and both said they’d catch up on impeachment developments at night with non-traditional news shows.

Tabor said she’ll watch Seth Meyers’ late-night show on NBC.

Fenner is a fan of YouTube star Philip DeFranco, who talks about pop culture with news.

“It’s entertaining,” she explained. “But I still get my news; I know what’s going on. It’s a better outlet for me.”

In Portland, Maine, psychiatric nurse Seth Morrill says he and his friends are interested and talking about the impeachment, and he planned to watch clip later. He’s become skeptical of how such events are spun by the media.

“I like to watch for myself and digest it for myself rather than have other people give me the information,” the Democrat said.

“I know it’s important. It’s significant for the county. I just feel like maybe I can get the information other ways,” he said. “It’s not something I felt that I needed to carve out time for.”

Signs of Washington fatigue are easy to find.

At the Holmes II barber shop in Savannah, live impeachment broadcast was showing Wednesday on three TVs. Barbers and their customers barely seemed to look up as they talked about NFL football and new phone apps.

Owner Anthony Harris, has cut hair at the shop since it opened in 1994, said he’s not surprised people are tuning out impeachment.

“It’s kind of monotonous. He’s on the news every day, all day, for all kinds of things,” said Harris, a 56-year-old independent who leans Democratic. “It’s gotten to the point now where people are even tired of listening.”

US superbug infections rising, but deaths are falling

NEW YORK — Drug-resistant “superbug” infections have been called a developing nightmare that could set medicine back a century, making conquered germs once again untreatable.

So there’s some surprising news in a report released Wednesday: U.S. superbug deaths appear to be going down.

About 36,000 Americans died from drug-resistant infections in 2017, down 18% from an estimated 44,000 in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated. The decline is mainly attributed to an intense effort in hospitals to control the spread of particularly dangerous infections.

“We are pushing back in a battle we were losing,” said Michael Kirsch, a pharmacist at AdventHealth Tampa, a Florida hospital that has seen lower superbug infection rates. “I would not by any means declare success.”

Indeed, though deaths are going down, nonfatal infections grew nationally from 2.6 million in 2013 to 2.8 million in 2017. Some worrisome new germs are emerging. And superbugs are appearing much more often outside of hospitals, the report says.

For example, urinary tract infections have been easily treated in doctor’s offices with common antibiotics. But it’s increasingly common to see young healthy women with such infections forced into the hospital after initial treatments don’t work, said Dr. Bradley Frazee, a California emergency room doctor.

“We never really worried about this kind of antibiotic resistance in the past,” said Frazee, who last year co-authored a journal article documenting more than 1,000 drug-resistant urinary tract infections in one year at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

Antibiotics first became widely available in the 1940s, and today dozens are used to kill or suppress the bacteria behind illnesses ranging from strep throat to the plague. The drugs are considered among medicine’s greatest advances, and have saved countless lives.

But as decades passed, some antibiotics stopped working. Experts say their overuse and misuse have helped make them less effective.

The new report marks only the second time the CDC has tried to measure the numbers of U.S. illnesses and deaths attributed to drug-resistant germs. The first was released six years ago. This time, the agency relied on new data and it recalculated the 2013 numbers, resulting in larger baseline estimates.

The 2013 report estimated more than 23,000 U.S. deaths and more than 2 million infections each year from superbugs. Those numbers were based on 17 germs that were considered the greatest threat.

That count did not include deaths and illnesses from a nasty bug called Clostridium difficile, because the germ still is cowed by the drugs used to treat it. But C. diff is considered part of the larger problem, because it can grow out of control when antibiotics kill other bacteria. C. diff infections and deaths, fortunately, have also been declining.

Overall, public health officials acknowledge the superbug problem is probably even bigger. A 2018 paper suggested more than 153,000 Americans die each year with — though not necessarily from — superbug infections.

The difference stems from where researchers get their data and on what’s included. “There’s not universal agreement on what constitutes a drug-resistant infection,” said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Jason Burnham of Washington University in St. Louis.

For Wednesday’s report, the CDC turned to new data sources.

For example, some earlier estimates were based on reports from about 180 hospitals. This time, CDC was able to draw from the electronic health records of about 700 U.S. hospitals.

Among the CDC’s other findings:

—There were fewer cases of several nasty hospital-associated germs, including drug-resistant tuberculosis and the bug known as MRSA.

—Infections from a so-called “nightmare bacteria” — carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE — held steady instead of increasing, to the relief of health officials.

Officials credit hospitals for using antibiotics more judiciously, and to do more to isolate patients with resistant infections. They also believe government funding for laboratories has helped investigators labs more quickly spot drug-resistant germs and take steps against them.

Still, CDC officials said there’s hardly cause for celebration.

“There are still way too many people dying,” said Michael Craig, a leader in CDC’s superbug threat-assessment work. “We have a long way to go before we can feel we can even get ahead of this.”