President-Elect Biden Nominates Dr. Rachel Levine to be Assistant Secretary of Health

Media Contact: David Perry & Associates, Inc. / / (415) 676-7007

President-Elect Biden Nominates Dr. Rachel Levine to be Assistant Secretary of Health

Nomination Marks First Transgender Federal Official Slated to Receive Senate Confirmation

19 January 2021 – San Francisco, CA: Dr. Rachel Levine has been nominated by the incoming Biden / Harris administration to be the next assistant secretary of health for the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  This appointment would make Levine  the first openly transgender federal official to receive Senate confirmation.

“Team Biden / Harris are quickly showing their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” stated Paul Pendergast, President and founder of BuildOUT California. “Through her work in Pennsylvania during COVID, Dr. Levine has proved that she is, quite simply, the best person for this job .”

Levine has been leading Pennsylvania’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, becoming the public face of the state’s public health response as she has led regular briefings alongside Gov. Tom Wolf. Levine was first appointed as Pennsylvania’s health secretary in 2017, also leading the state’s response to the opioid epidemic during her tenure. The Pennsylvania official was confirmed three times by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature, the Biden transition noted in a statement announcing her nomination, and Levine was the first transgender person appointed to a Cabinet position in Pennsylvania when she became its physician general in 2015.

About BuildOUT California:

BuildOUT California is the world’s first LGBT Industry Association dedicated to the sustainable growth of LGBT owned & certified businesses, and our allies, in the fields of Architecture, Engineering, Construction Services, Real Estate Development, and Related Industries. BuildOUT California’s efforts are directed toward advocacy at the regional, statewide and national levels, providing relevant technical assistance & training and delivering connections that lead to measurable business growth. BuildOUT California’s 21 Founders represent over 620 years of experience in the A&E/Construction industries. For more information, visit

LYRIC’s Toni Newman Calls Nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine “Historic and Reflective of America’s Diversity”

Media Contact: DP&A, Inc. / David Perry / / (415) 676-7007

LYRIC’s Toni Newman Calls Nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine “Historic and Reflective of America’s Diversity”

19 January 2021 – San Francisco, CA: Following today’s announcement by the incoming Biden / Harris Administration of Dr. Rachel Levine to be assistant secretary of health, Toni Newman, Interim Executive Director for San Francisco’s esteemed nonprofit LYRIC (, called the nomination “historic.” If confirmed, Levine will be the first openly transgender federal official to receive Senate confirmation. 

“The incoming Biden / Harris Administration promised a cabinet that looked like the people it is charged with serving,” said Newman. This nomination of Dr. Levine is historic and reflective of America’s diversity.”

Levine has been leading Pennsylvania’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, becoming the public face of the state’s public health response as she has led regular briefings alongside Gov. Tom Wolf. Levine was first appointed as Pennsylvania’s health secretary in 2017, also leading the state’s response to the opioid epidemic during her tenure. The Pennsylvania official was confirmed three times by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature, the Biden transition noted in a statement announcing her nomination, and Levine was the first transgender person appointed to a Cabinet position in Pennsylvania when she became its physician general in 2015.

LYRIC is the San Francisco Bay Area’s leading organization offering expertise in youth workforce development, healthcare navigation, individual counseling, and group-based community building to marginalized low-income LGBTQQ+ youth.  In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, LYRIC has continued its vital work for LGBTQQ youth in our community.

Newman is the former Interim Director for Employment Services at the San Francisco LGBT Center and a consultant for the Transgender Strategy Center. Toni is a graduate of Wake Forest University and current candidate for her Juris of Doctorate (JD). Toni served as the Executive Director for St. James Infirmary and the Director of Development for Maitri Compassionate Care, and previously served as the Interim Director of Development & Communications at To Help Everyone Health and Wellness Centers and as a Strategic Fundraiser, Volunteer Recruiter, and Legislative Aide for Equality California. Additionally, Toni is a best selling author, noted for her memoir I Rise – The Transformation of Toni Newman released in 2011, which is based on the poem I Rise by Wake Forest University Reynolds Professor, Dr. Maya Angelou. 

LYRIC’s mission is to build community and inspire positive social change through education enhancement, career trainings, health promotion, and leadership development with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth, their families, and allies of all races, classes, genders, and abilities. For more information and to make a donation, go to  





from Bill Miller

Jan 17th 2021

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Sun Jan 3rd Rotterdam:   Hans Hoffmann has generously sent this superb aerial photo of Carnival Cruise Lines’ Mardi Gras – sailing from its birthplace in Finland via Rotterdam to Florida.   The $1 billion, 5,200-passenger ship weighs in at 182,000 tons.   She is part of a new generation of Carnival ships and is the first new arrival in US cruising for 2021.

But Then Another One Gone:    The classic Marco Polo was sent out from the UK to Dubai, supposedly to be used as a floating hotel and then revived at a future date for further cruising.   But things have suddenly changed – as of today, the 56-year-old ship – the former Soviet Alexandr Pushkin – was sold for $2.7 million to Indian scrappers.   As of today, she was headed for Alang, to be beached and then demolished.


Above:  Portugal’s Vera Cruz (1952)

Mon Jan 4th Last Rites in India:   Carnival’s first newbuild was the Tropicale of 1981. But now, after several names and lastly as the Ocean Dream (below), the 38,000-ton ship has reached Alang and is soon to be scrapped.


Tue Jan 5th Safety in the Skies:  Because many cruises include air connections,  Airline’s safest airlines for 2021 are:

1. Qantas

2. Qatar Airways

3. Air New Zealand

4. Singapore Airlines

5. Emirates

6. EVA Air

7. Etihad Airways

8. Alaska Airlines

9. Cathay Pacific Airways

10. British Airways

11. Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic

12. Hawaiian Airlines

13. Southwest Airlines

14. Delta Air Lines

15. American Airlines

16. SAS

17. Finnair

18. Lufthansa

19. KLM

20. United Airlines

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Above:  Proposed rebuilds for the SS United States over the years

Wed Jan 6th Busy Year Ahead! 2021 will ring in 27  cruise ships, adding 39,530 lower berths to the global fleet.  It is a $10 ½ billion investment and includes 15 expedition ships.

Carnival Update:  Carnival Cruise Line is notifying guests of additional cruise cancellations, including extending its pause in all operations in the U.S. through Mar 31st, as well as select ships and homeport operations related to itineraries and dry dock work.

Thu Jan 7th  Another Re-Start Date:  Costa Cruises announced it will restart operations in Italy on Jan. 31 with the Costa Deliziosa, citing uncertainty with regards to COVID-19 restrictions in the coming weeks and confirming that it had cancelled other sailings between Jan 7 and Jan 31.

Mon Jan 11th More Disposals:   Carnival Corporation that 4 more ships would be withdrawn & sold off from its various brands.

Slow Up:   Carnival Corp was expecting the delivery of no less than 5 new cruise liners this year.   But construction as well as delivery dates – now, only one new liner will be commissioned this year.   Word is that construction in Italy has temporarily stopped on Cunard’s fourth liner.  


Above:  The Greek Line’s Olympia at Bermuda, Nov 1969

Thu Jan 14th Looking Ahead:  Yesterday, the first steel was laid for Carnival Cruise Lines’ next newbuild, the $1 billion Carnival Celebration.  The 5,300-bed ship will be constructed at Turku in Finland.  Meanwhile, Carnival’s 50th Birthday festivities begin in March 2022 – the company’s birthday month – with a series of commemorative sailings that will feature special entertainment and itineraries and continuing all year long, culminating with Carnival Celebration’s arrival in November.

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Sales Dept: Bookings for the first half of 2022 are running ahead of the very high 2019 levels, according to Carnival Corporation.  Booking trends confirm the underlying demand for cruising that will support the company’s resumption of service.


Update from India:  Our good friend Justin Zizes has passed along this photo of the beached and ready-to-be-scrapped Marco Polo  (below).


Sat Jan 16th:   News from Cunard!  It was announced this week that Cunard’s bookings for 2022 are greater than those in 2019. On another hand, a friend who loves sailing on the Queens has just had her 6th cancelation & postponement.  She was booked for a 3-week combination Queen Mary 2/Queen Victoria combination, but added:  “I’m thinking of changing to the Staten Island ferry!”


Above:   Regal Empress sailing from New York (Aug 2000)

Building ShipsCruise ship construction is continuing with fitting out progressing on existing projects while work is also commencing on existing orders from the major cruise companies. While the construction timelines and delivery dates have been extended, no large cruise ship orders have been canceled in the nine months since the industry went on pause.


Above:  “Even here out at sea, we never miss Scribblings & news updates from Mr Ocean Liner!”

MV ASTOR Cruise Ship Being SCRAPPED in Aliaga - YouTube

Above:   Built in 1987 and last used by UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages, the 600-passenger Astor is shown being scrapped at Aliaga in Turkey this past week.  The German-built ship has had a diverse life – starting with Safmarine Lines and then Morgan Leisure before going to the Odessa-based Black Sea Shipping Co and finally on charters to Germany’s Transocean Tours and then CMV.  

A Very Sad Situation:  The Italian News Website Corriere della Sera reports that the crew onboard Pacific World (former Sun Princess) are facing dire conditions. Corriere released a video from the ship’s chief engineer officer Michele Bertella, explaining that the temperature is approaching minus degrees and there is no heating on board, there is a shortage of fresh food and the ship is understaffed. Mr. Bertella explains that he along with 40 crew members onboard are unable to return home because of the anti-Covid restrictions in China. Anchored near Shanghai, the 77,000-ton ship was to be handed over to new owners, the Japanese Peace Boat Organization.  

Looking Ahead!  Oceania Cruises unveiled its 2023 world cruise with 96 ports.  

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Cruising will return! .. but for now, best thanks to friends, readers, reporters & those faraway “maritime secret agents”

Palm Springs Couple “Lights Up” for Good Causes & History

media contact: DP&A, Inc. (415) 676-7007 /  

Palm Trees Lit for Important Days Starting Last Night
with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Tonight to Honor COVID Death Toll
& Wednesday’s Inauguration

Idea Hoped to be Catalyst for Official Lightings in PS and CV

18 January 2021 – Palm Springs, CA:  Inspired by memorable lightings around the country during COVID, two Palm Springs residents have taken the idea to heart – and to home. Beginning tonight — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — Alfredo Casuso & David Perry will light up the LED powered palm trees in front of their Los Compadres home in ever changing rainbow hues to mark important days in history, national commemorations honoring nonprofits and charities and other significant dates. It’s an idea they hope will grow and get picked up and magnified at a community and official level.

The schedule for their palm trees palette is online at including a special star spangled display for tomorrow’s Presidential Inauguration. Tonight as part of the nationwide tribute coordinated by the Biden Inaugural Committee, the trees will be lit AMBER to honor all those who have died from COVID-19. 

“A dear friend of ours, the Rev. Anthony Turney, used to say: ‘timing is important but lighting is everything,’ ”said Casuso and Perry in a statement. “2020 was a rough year and 2021 can use all the light it can get to brighten our lives and our lessons. We’re hoping that our neighbors, and our local governments, will pick up the idea.  Our idea is that perhaps Palm Springs Airport, City Hall and various iconic buildings through the Coachella Valley will ‘light up’ to bring attention to important commemorative days through the year.”

Owners of a public relations and design firm, Casuso and Perry moved their fulltime residence to Palm Springs in 2015 but maintain a client base both here and in San Francisco including work with several SF mayoral administrations. Over the years, one of the iconic images transmitted internationally has been San Francisco City Hall lit for various causes: rainbow for LGBT Pride; Purple for Cleft Palate Awareness Day; Red, White & Blue for July 4th. This past April, in honor of the devastating death toll from COVID in Spain, Casuso and Perry, working with the Spanish Consul General, pushed to have City Hall lit in the colors of that country: Red & Gold. Those images went around the world and were picked up by international press outlets.

“That’s when I began thinking. We can do it here, on our own,” said Casuso.

As the months dragged on and COVID surge followed by COVID surge, the idea fell onto the back burner.

“Then it was Christmas and we always put up lights, lots of lights,” said Perry. “It clicked: Instead of putting up temporary decorations, let’s install lights that we can change for every occasion.”

Through the miracle of LEDs and an iPhone app, the couple had their very own palm trees palette.

“We can all use a little more light after 2020,’ said Casuso. “And what better time to start a new tradition than this week.”

Tonight, in honor or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the couple’s palm trees will be lit in the colors of his birth state, Georgia: Red, Gold and Blue.

“And for Inauguration Day, as it should be,” said Perry, “Red, White and Blue.”

Following is the complete schedule through February, published online at Casuso and Perry are hoping the idea will grow and get picked up by neighbors and by local city governments.  

January 18 — for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: RED, YELLOW (GOLD) & BLUE, colors of the state of Georgia where MLK, Jr. was born.

January 19 — In memory of all those lost to COVID-19 as part of the Inaugural Committee coordinated effort: AMBER

January 20 — Presidential Inauguration: RED, WHITE & BLUE 

January 24 — The day in 1848 Gold was discovered in California: ALL GOLD

January 27 — 1945 Auschwitz Liberated – International Holocaust Remembrance Day: BLUE & WHITE

January 30 —  San Francisco naming day, 1847:  Colors of San Francisco – RED & GOLD

February 1 —  National Freedom Day, honoring the signing by Abraham Lincoln of a joint House and Senate resolution that later became the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. President Lincoln signed the Amendment outlawing slavery on February 1, 1865:  RED, BLACK, GREEN

February 4 —  World Cancer Day: BLUE & ORANGE

February 11 —  Nelson Mandela released from Prison: GREEN, BLACK, GOLD

February 12 — Chinese / Lunar New Year, “The Year of the Ox”: ALL RED

February 27 —  On February 27, 1922, the 19th Amendment is upheld by the United States Supreme Court, defending women’s voting rights: WHITE the colors of the Suffragists.

SF Mayor London Breed Announces Plan for Network of COVID-19 Vaccination Sites in Francisco

SF Mayor London Breed Announces Plan for Network of COVID-19 Vaccination Sites in Francisco

Contact: San Francisco Joint Information Center,


City will partner with health care providers to stand up a mix of high-volume and community-based sites to quickly get people the COVID-19 vaccine as supply become more readily available

15 January 2021 — San Francisco, CA: Mayor London N. Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax today outlined the City’s plan to create a network of vaccination sites to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible when doses become more readily available. In partnership with the health care providers in San Francisco, which are receiving the majority of the vaccine doses from the state, the City will facilitate the quick and efficient delivery of vaccines through high-volume vaccine sites as well as community-based sites. 

The providers partnering with the City include Kaiser Permanente, UCSF Health, Dignity Health, Sutter Health/California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) and the Department of Public Health, which provides healthcare to the uninsured and underinsured. The City has also created a vaccination notification website where, starting Tuesday, January 19, people who live and work in San Francisco can sign up to be notified when they become eligible under state guidance to receive the vaccine.  

The goal of this initiative is to ensure all health care providers in San Francisco are fully-prepared to facilitate wide-scale vaccinations for those who live and work in San Francisco as soon as health care providers receive sufficient vaccine allocations from the state and federal government. The sites will be created to scale-up capacity as vaccine supply increases. Once the vaccine locations are fully operational, pending vaccine supply, the city has a goal of facilitating 10,000 vaccine doses per day.

“We are doing everything we can to help get people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Breed. “The vaccine is the most important tool we have to end this pandemic once and for all, and getting people protected from this virus is our top priority. By creating these vaccination locations with our private healthcare partners and continuing our efforts to serve the highest-need residents by bringing the vaccine to them, we can all work together to move the vaccine more quickly as supply increases. We need more vaccines now, and we will be ready when they do arrive.”

“We have begun the most ambitious vaccine distribution effort in our City’s history,” said Dr. Grant Colfax. “This is a historic and hopeful moment for all of us. We are working with all of our health partners to ensure an effective and equitable distribution. We have been planning for months now to be ready to vaccinate as many people as fast as possible when the vaccine is more readily available from the federal and state government.”

COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

In partnership with health care providers, DPH, and COVID-19 Command Center, the City will establish high-volume vaccination sites at several locations. These sites will provide a unified place for health care providers to set-up vaccination stations and vaccinate people who are eligible. Each site will have space for all of the City’s health care providers to have vaccination strategies and create coordinated, centralized vaccine locations that people can go to regardless of their insurer.

The selection of these high-volume vaccine sites is informed by the rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalizations, and deaths in San Francisco. The highest rates of infection are in the Southeast sector of the city, and the City has selected the locations of vaccine sites so they are easily accessible to the residents of these neighborhoods. 

The City is working with the providers to ensure these facilities have everything in place to activate and begin offering vaccinations as soon as they receive sufficient vaccine supply. The sites will open and scale based on the amount of vaccine doses health care providers receive.

  • SoMa: Moscone Center. 
  • OMI: City College of San Francisco (Main Campus).
  • Bayview: The SF Market (San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market).

In addition to the high-volume vaccination sites that will serve everyone, the City and health care providers will augment COVID-19 vaccination in high impacted communities with pop-up vaccine sites, DPH’s community clinics, and other safety-net clinics for the uninsured and underserved in neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Mission, Western Addition, and Bayview. 

The City is also working with One Medical, Safeway, and Walgreens to deliver vaccines as doses become available. Additionally, the City has been working with partners to develop mobile vaccination teams to deploy to hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations. The City is working with community partners to best understand where and how to embed these teams within communities to reach the populations most at risk of disease.

Additionally, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFGH) will begin scaling up vaccination of its patients this weekend. ZSFGH serves approximately 110,000 inpatient and outpatient clients annually at their hospitals and clinics.

Vaccine Notification Webpage

Mayor Breed also announced the City has created a webpage for people who live and work in San Francisco to enter their information and be notified once they are eligible to be vaccinated. Starting Tuesday, January 19, people who live and work in San Francisco can sign-up for vaccine notification at

“Hospitals throughout San Francisco look forward to partnering with local public health officials and other health care providers to vaccinate as many people as possible, once there are sufficient and reliable allocations of the vaccine,” said Bryan Bucklew, President and CEO, Hospital Council Northern and Central California.

“As part of our commitment to getting the COVID-19 vaccine to all of our members and communities as soon as possible, we are working with counties and state leaders on expanding vaccination locations,” said Carrie Owen Plietz, FACHE, President, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “We are pleased also to be working together with other healthcare providers to create these mass vaccination sites, and are anticipating opening quickly and as soon as vaccine supplies are available.”