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The new study looked at 258 rivers across the globe, including the Thames in London and the Amazon in Brazil, to measure the presence of 61 pharmaceuticals, such as carbamazepine, metformin and caffeine.

The researchers studied rivers in over half of the world's countries -- with rivers in 36 of these countries having never previously been monitored for pharmaceuticals.

The study forms part of the University of York-led Global Monitoring of Pharmaceuticals Project, which has expanded significantly over the last two years, with the new study becoming the first truly global-scale investigation of medicinal contamination in the environment.
With their latest study, the researchers found that:

* pharmaceutical pollution is contaminating water on every continent

* strong correlations between the socioeconomic status of a country and higher pollution of pharmaceuticals in its rivers (with lower-middle income nations the most polluted)

* high levels of pharmaceutical pollution was most positively associated with regions of high median age as well as high local unemployment and poverty rates

* the most polluted countries and regions of the world are the ones that have been researched the least (namely sub-saharan Africa, South America and parts of southern Asia).

* the activities most associated with the highest levels of pharmaceutical pollution included rubbish dumping along river banks, inadequate wastewater infrastructure and pharmaceutical manufacturing, and the dumping of the contents of residual septic tanks into rivers.

The study revealed that a quarter of the sites contained contaminants (such as sulfamethoxazole, propranolol, ciprofloxacin and loratadine) at potentially harmful concentrations.

The researchers hope that by increasing the monitoring of pharmaceuticals in the environment, they can develop strategies to limit the effects potentially caused by the presence of pollutants.

The study included noteworthy rivers such as the Amazon, Mississippi, Thames and the Mekong. Water samples were obtained from sites spanning from a Yanomami Village in Venezuela, where modern medicines are not used, to some of the most populated cities on the planet, such as Delhi, London, New York, Lagos, Las Vegas, and Guangzhou.

Areas of political instability such as Baghdad, the Palestinian West Bank and Yaoundé in Cameroon were also included. The climates where samples were obtained varied from high altitude alpine tundra in Colorado and polar regions in Antarctica, to Tunisian deserts.

While previous studies have monitored active pharmaceuticals ingredients (APIs) in rivers, these have ignored many of the countries of the world, have typically measured only a select few contaminants, and employed different analytical methods. Cumulatively, this has made it difficult to quantify the scale of the problem from a global perspective.

The water sample analysis occurred at the University of York's Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry.

Co-leader of the project Dr John Wilkinson, from the Department of Environment and Geography, said: "With 127 collaborators across 86 institutions worldwide, the Global Monitoring of Pharmaceuticals Project is an excellent example of how the global scientific community can come together to tackle large-scale environmental issues.

"We've known for over two decades now that pharmaceuticals make their way into the aquatic environment where they may affect the biology of living organisms. But one of the largest problems we have faced in tackling this issue is that we have not been very representative when monitoring these contaminants, with almost all of the data focused on a select few areas in North America, Western Europe and China.

"Through our project, our knowledge of the global distribution of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment has now been considerably enhanced. This one study presents data from more countries around the world than the entire scientific community was previously aware of: 36 new countries to be precise where only 75 had ever been studied before."

The researchers suggest their approach could also be expanded in the future to include other environmental media such as sediments, soils and biota, and could allow for the development of global-scale datasets on pollution.

'' is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

The data for specific rivers will be available in the supplemental information associated with the publication (via PNAS). It will also be published on the Global Monitoring of Pharmaceuticals Project website.

The study used 'predicted no adverse effect concentrations (PNECs)' to determine where there may be risk for adverse effects (such as toxicity). If the team measured a concentration in the environment above the PNEC, then there was potential for organisms living there to be adversly affected by the pharmaceutical. This can manifest in many ways largely dependent on what the pharmaceutical is, what organism is being exposed and at what concentration. Examples can include disrupted reproductive capabilities, altered behaviour or physiology and even changes in heart rate.

The contaminants found at potentially harmful concentrations include: propranolol, sulfamethoxazole, ciprofloxacin, loratadine
University of York

Thursday, 17 February 2022 22:57

SCOTUS Takes on WOTUS

Sometimes as part of a dire prediction, someone will say, “I hope I’m wrong, but…”

When I heard about a new petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear another appeal on the extent of federal jurisdiction over water – the perennial “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) issue, I did not think the nation’s highest court would agree to hear the case. That’s partly because the justices agree to hear less than one percent of the cases brought to them, and also because EPA argued that the case is not “ripe,” because the agency will soon finalize another new WOTUS rule. That argument is usually persuasive to a court that is habitually reluctant to rule on anything it doesn’t yet have to. But to almost everyone’s surprise, last week the Court granted the petition, agreeing to hear the case – Sackett v. EPA – and reconsider the issue. The court denied 129 petitions, and granted only four, including this one. That raises the possibility that the question could finally be settled.

The confusion and inconsistency resulting from two opposite federal court rulings on WOTUS is among the greatest threats to water rights during our lifetime. The dispute represents a grave danger to the historic doctrine – reinforced many times over the past century – that water belongs to, and is controlled by, the states. The exception to that fundamental principle is the Clean Water Act, which created federal authority to regulate “navigable waters of the U.S.,” meaning major rivers, bays, inter-coastal waterways, and oceans, which involve interstate commerce. The law remained clear that inland waters belong to the states, and Congress has never attempted to change that. But presidents and regulators have tried to do so, leading to the court case that began this roller-coaster of confusion and contradiction.

That now-famous 2006 case, Rapanos v. United States, produced two competing definitions of “waters of the U.S.” in a strangely muddled 4-1-4 decision – two different views of where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. Four Justices shared the plurality opinion, written by Antonin Scalia, that the law covers wetlands only if they have a continuous surface connection to a river, lake or other major waterway. A fifth, Anthony Kennedy, agreed with the ruling, but with different reasoning, and wrote his own opinion – joined by no other Justice – saying the Clean Water Act covers all wetlands with a “significant nexus” to the larger bodies of water. What is “significant nexus?” Who knows – there is no such term in the Clean Water Act.

Nevertheless, the Obama EPA relied on the lone opinion of Justice Kennedy, in creating one of the most egregious power grabs in environmental history, asserting federal jurisdiction over every stream, rill, brook, creek, rivulet, backwater, stock pond, and parking lot drain in the country. It started a legal war with many states, though none had more to lose than Colorado, in terms of water.

Colorado helped lead the legal challenge, joined by half the other states, with full support of the Democratic legislature and then-Governor Hickenlooper. A federal Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that EPA had exceeded its statutory authority and blocking it in all 26 states. A different federal court disagreed, so the rule was blocked in 26 states and implemented in 24. Then the Trump Administration repealed the rule, issuing a new one based on the original plurality Supreme Court opinion, as Colorado had demanded. It was a hard-fought and enormously important victory for the State. But then, something unheard-of in the West happened.

Confounding generations of Colorado leaders, who always viewed protecting Colorado’s water as a non-partisan duty, newly-elected State Attorney General Phil Weiser filed an exactly-opposite suit seeking reinstatement of the Obama-era interpretation – federal control over Colorado water (he lost in court). That bizarre action defied the 2016 “Colorado Water Rights Protection Act,” passed unanimously by the Democratic legislature and signed by Hickenlooper, strongly opposing federal control. The Act re-asserted the constitutional principle that waters of Colorado belong to the people of Colorado, and are administered under State law.

There are no navigable waters in Colorado involving interstate commerce. EPA’s claim of jurisdiction, despite that obvious fact, may not be new (landowners have dealt with it off-and-on for decades), but it is nevertheless contrary to law. The Supreme Court finally has a chance to make that clear.

Predictably, many organizations will file briefs and opinions in this case, including states. Which side will Colorado be on this time? Will its officials defend its water, or knuckle under to federal control?

 sm no smile face with sunglasses

The illusory truth effect, also known as the illusion of truth, describes how, when we hear the same false information repeated again and again, we often come to believe it is true. Troublingly, this even happens when people should know better—that is, when people initially know that the misinformation is false. This phenomenon was first identified in a 1977 study at Villanova University and Temple University.

Individual effects

We all like to think of ourselves as being impervious to misinformation, but even the most well-informed individuals are still prone to the illusory truth effect. We may be skeptical of a false claim the first time it floats through our Twitter timeline, but the more we are exposed to it, the more we start to feel like it’s true—and our pre-existing knowledge can’t prevent this.

When truth is assessed, people rely on whether the information is in line with their understanding or if it feels familiar. The first condition is logical, as people compare new information with what they already know to be true. Repetition makes statements easier to process relative to new, unrepeated statements, leading people to believe that the repeated conclusion is more truthful. The illusory truth effect has also been linked to hindsight bias, in which the recollection of confidence is skewed after the truth has been received.

In a 2015 study, researchers discovered that familiarity can overpower rationality and that repetitively hearing that a certain fact is wrong can affect the hearer's beliefs. Researchers attributed the illusory truth effect's impact on participants who knew the correct answer to begin with, but were persuaded to believe otherwise through the repetition of a falsehood, to "processing fluency".

The illusory truth effect plays a significant role in such fields as election campaigns, advertising, news media, and political propaganda.

Initial study

 

The effect was first named and defined following the results in a study from 1977 at Villanova University and Temple University where participants were asked to rate a series of trivia statements as true or false.

On three occasions, Lynn Hasher, David Goldstein, and Thomas Toppino presented the same group of college students with lists of sixty plausible statements, some of them true and some of them false. The second list was distributed two weeks after the first, and the third two weeks after that.

Twenty statements appeared on all three lists; the other forty items on each list were unique to that list. Participants were asked how confident they were of the truth or falsity of the statements, which concerned matters about which they were unlikely to know anything. (For example, "The first air force base was launched in New Mexico." Or "Basketball became an Olympic discipline in 1925.") Specifically, the participants were asked to grade their belief in the truth of each statement on a scale of one to seven. While the participants' confidence in the truth of the non-repeated statements remained steady, their confidence in the truth of the repeated statements increased from the first to the second and second to third sessions, with an average score for those items rising from 4.2 to 4.6 to 4.7. The conclusion made by the researchers was that repeating a statement makes it more likely to appear factual.

In 1989, Hal R. Arkes, Catherine Hackett, and Larry Boehm replicated the original study, with similar results showing that exposure to false information changes the perceived truthfulness and plausibility of that information.

The effect works because when people assess truth, they rely on whether the information agrees with their understanding or whether it feels familiar. The first condition is logical as people compare new information with what they already know to be true and consider the credibility of both sources. However, researchers discovered that familiarity can overpower rationality—so much so that repetitively hearing that a certain fact is wrong can have a paradoxical effect.

Relation to other phenomena

Processing fluency

At first, the truth effect was believed to occur only when individuals are highly uncertain about a given statement. Psychologists also assumed that "outlandish" headlines wouldn't produce this effect however, recent research shows the illusory truth effect is indeed at play with false news. This assumption was challenged by the results of a 2015 study by Lisa K. Fazio, Nadia M. Brasier, B. Keith Payne, and Elizabeth J. Marsh. Published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology; the study suggested that the truth effect can influence participants who actually knew the correct answer to begin with, but who were swayed to believe otherwise through the repetition of a falsehood. For example, when participants encountered on multiple occasions the statement "A sari is the name of the short plaid skirt worn by Scots," some of them were likely to come to believe it was true, even though these same people were able to correctly answer the question "What is the name of the short pleated skirt worn by Scots?"

After replicating these results in another experiment, Fazio and her team attributed this curious phenomenon to processing fluency, the facility with which people comprehend statements. "Repetition," explained the researcher, "makes statements easier to process (i.e. fluent) relative to new statements, leading people to the (sometimes) false conclusion that they are more truthful." When an individual hears something for a second or third time, their brain responds faster to it and misattributes that fluency as a signal for truth.

Hindsight bias

 

In a 1997 study, Ralph Hertwig, Gerd Gigerenzer, and Ulrich Hoffrage linked the truth effect to the phenomenon known as "hindsight bias", described as a situation in which the recollection of confidence is skewed after the truth or falsity has been received. They have described the truth effect (which they call "the reiteration effect") as a subset of hindsight bias.

sm no smile face with sunglasses

Thursday, 17 February 2022 21:57

Black Woman for SCOTUS: Another Mandate

“Black woman” is Biden’s requirement for any candidates to succeed Justice Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. That sounds fine, and as expected. So, what’s the issue? Following is some context.

In 2003, President Bush nominated Janice Rogers Brown to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, generally considered to be the country’s second most important court. It was understood to be a preliminary step to elevating Brown to the Supreme Court. This republican nominee was Black, and a woman.

Joseph Epstein reminded us of something in his February 14 WSJ column: “The man who now promises to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court……warned in 2005 that if President Bush nominated Judge Janice Rogers Brown, ‘I can assure you that would be a very, very, very difficult fight and she probably would be filibustered……’ They opposed her because of her judicial philosophy……intensified because they especially despised the prospect of a libertarian conservative justice who was a black female.”

Then-Senators Biden and Obama repeatedly filibustered Brown’s confirmation. She was eventually seated on the D.C. court, with Biden having voted against her three times. Shortly thereafter, Brown made the short list as a possible replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Senator Biden once again declared a nomination of Brown’s would face a filibuster.

None of the other conservative “short listers” for O’Conner’s seat were threatened with a filibuster. Only this Black woman, by our current President, who now refers to filibuster as a “relic the Jim Crow era.” Samuel Alito was eventually seated. Our President’s apparent motivation is to guild his legacy, with a dedication to diversity way down his list of priorities.

Two events are now in process that many observers won’t connect as being related – a Supreme Court ruling regarding racial considerations in higher education admissions, and Biden’s SCOTUS appointment. The Court ruling will inevitably include debating the applicability of the 1978 “Bakke”reverse discrimination decision. That ruling stated: “Preferring members of any one group for no reason other than race or ethnic origin is discrimination for its own sake.”

George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley wrote as early as 2020 that Biden’s campaign pledge seemed to be against the law: “It is precisely what the Supreme Court already declared to be unconstitutional discrimination…in [Bakke], the Supreme Court found quota and affirmative action admissions policies based on race to be unconstitutional.”

Given that context, consider the President’s announcement the same day as Justice Breyer’s retirement announcement: “I will nominate…someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience, and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.” Biden was emphatic in his racial requirement. It was subject to no other contingencies. Continuing with words from the 1978 ruling, “This the Constitution forbids.”

Politicians, journalists and even cartoonists must be careful when plying their trade. They shouldn’t mislead their readers because of ignorance of important legal nuances. The problem Biden will face in this nomination has nothing to do with diversity, gender, or anything else other than the ham-handed way it is being handled makes the process unconstitutional - i.e., illegal.

South Carolina Democrat Representative Jim Clyburn, House Majority Whip and Congress’ highest’ ranking Black member, has given Biden an opportunity to tiptoe out of this unconstitutional corner. It doesn’t remove the process blunders made but may quiet much of the opposition.

Clyburn considers lack of law school diversity more concerning than race. Eight of the nine current Court justices attended either Harvard or Yale law schools, and Clyburn wants the new justice to have a non-Ivy League degree. His preferred candidate is J. Michelle Childs. And he has bipartisan support from Republican South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott.

Childs, a South Carolina federal judge, is currently under consideration for the D.C. Court of appeals. She has a record of strong bipartisan support, was the first person from her family to attend college and graduated from the University of South Carolina law school. She would be a serious candidate on most bipartisan “short lists.” And she happens to be Black.

For me, that’s a smart diversity pick, a unifying pick.

www.myslantonthings.com

Steve Bakke, Fort Myers

Thursday, 17 February 2022 21:52

CIA Spies and Their Collaborators

In the past month, this column has twice addressed the unbridled propensity of federal intelligence agencies to spy on Americans without search warrants as required by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

These agencies believe that the Fourth Amendment -- which protects the individual right to privacy -- only regulates law enforcement and does not apply to domestic spying.

There is no basis in the constitutional text, history or judicial interpretations for such a limiting and toothless view of this constitutional guarantee. The courts have held that the Fourth Amendment restrains government. Period. Last week, Congress got burned when the CIA released a heavily redacted summary of its current spying in the United States.

 

Here is the backstory.

When the CIA was created in 1947, members of Congress who feared the establishment here of the type of domestic surveillance apparatus that the Allies had just defeated in Germany insisted that the new CIA have no role in American law enforcement and no legal ability to spy within the U.S. The legislation creating the CIA contains those limitations.

Nevertheless, we know from statements of former governors of several states that CIA agents claim to be physically present in all 50 statehouses in the United States.

The agents who have infiltrated state governments didn't arrive until after Dec. 4, 1981. That's the date that President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333, which purports to give the CIA authority to spy in America -- supposedly looking for narcotics from foreign countries -- and keep from law enforcement whatever it finds.

Stated differently, while Reagan purported to authorize the CIA to defy the limitations imposed upon it by the Constitution and by federal law, he insisted on a "wall" of separation between domestic spying and law enforcement.

So, if the CIA using unconstitutional spying discovered that a janitor in the Russian Embassy in Washington was really a KGB colonel who abused his wife in their suburban Maryland home, under E.O. 12333, it could continue to spy upon him in defiance of the Fourth Amendment and the CIA charter, but it could not reveal to Maryland prosecutors -- who can only use evidence lawfully obtained -- any evidence of his domestic violence.

All this changed 20 years later when President George W. Bush demolished Reagan's "wall" between law enforcement and domestic spying and directed the CIA and other domestic spying agencies to share the fruits of their spying with the FBI.

Thus, thanks to Reagan and Bush authorizing it, and their successors looking the other way, CIA agents have been engaging in fishing expeditions on a grand scale inside the U.S. for the past 20 years. Congress knows about this because all intelligence agencies are required by statute to report the extent of their spying secretly to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

This, of course, does not absolve the CIA of its presidentially authorized computer hacking crimes; rather, it gives Congress a false sense of security that it has a handle on what's going on.

What's going on is not CIA lawyers appearing before judges asking for surveillance warrants based upon probable cause of crime, as the Constitution requires. What's going on is CIA agents going to Big Tech and paying for access to communications used by ordinary Americans. Some Big Tech firms told the CIA to take a hike. Others took the CIA's cash and opened the spigots of their fiber optic data to the voracious federal appetite.

If the CIA went to a judge and demonstrated probable cause of crime -- for example, that a janitor in the Russian Embassy was passing defense secrets to Moscow -- surely the judge would have signed a surveillance warrant. But to the CIA, following the Constitution is too limiting.
Thus, by acquiring bulk data -- fiber optic data on hundreds of millions of Americans acquired without search warrants -- the CIA could avoid the time and trouble of demonstrating probable cause to a judge. But that time and trouble were intentionally required by the authors of the Fourth Amendment so as to keep the government off our backs.

Not to be outdone by its principal rival, the FBI soon began doing the same thing -- gathering bulk data without search warrants.

When Congress learned of this, it enacted legislation that banned the warrantless acquisition of bulk data. Apparently, Congress is naive enough to believe that the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency, their cousin with 60,000 domestic spies, actually comply with federal law.

Last week, that naivete was manifested front and center when the CIA sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee documenting the extent of its domestic acquisition of bulk data on Americans.

Two senators who should have known better claimed they were "shocked" at what they read. They read an admission of continued CIA warrantless bulk acquisition of personal data on unsuspecting and unsuspected Americans, and they saw large portions of the letter redacted so that the senators do not know the nature of the data received.

So, notwithstanding the persistent efforts of members of Congress from both parties to limit and in some cases to prohibit the warrantless acquisition of bulk data by the CIA from Americans, the practice continues, the CIA defends it and presidents look the other way.

In 1947, Congress created a monster which today is so big and so powerful and so indifferent to the Constitution and the federal laws its agents have sworn to uphold that it can boast about its lawlessness, have no fear of defying Congress and always escape the consequences of all this largely unscathed.

I suspect the CIA and its cousins get away with this because they spy on Congress and possess damning personal data on members who regularly vote to increase their secret budgets. When will we have a government whose officials are courageous enough to uphold the Constitution?

Andrew P. Napolitano

Florida welcomed more visitors in 2021 than in any other year in recorded state history – nearly 118 million people.

Florida’s total hotel revenue also reached its highest level in state history of $17.3 billion, a 2% increase from 2019.

Last quarter, from October to December, Florida welcomed 30.9 million people, marking the second consecutive quarter that overall visitation surpassed pre-pandemic tourism/travel levels in 2019. This represents a 61.9% increase from the last quarter of 2020.

The majority, 29 million, were domestic travelers, an increase of 57% from the last quarter of 2020 and 7% increase from the last quarter of 2019.

Travelers “flocked to Florida as a refuge from lockdown policies,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said when announcing new data published by VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism agency.

“In Florida, we put freedom first, and as a result people are choosing to vacation in our state from across the country and the world to escape lockdowns, including the politicians who advocated for those reckless policies and who are often spotted vacationing here,” he said. “While tourism in other states is only just beginning to recover, Florida is at the front of the pack – now we are surpassing pre-pandemic levels and setting new visitation records.”

“We are thrilled to cap off an incredible year with more record-breaking success for Florida’s tourism industry,” Dana Young, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said. “Overall visitation not only exceeded 2019’s for the second quarter in a row, but domestically reached the highest point in our state’s history. We also saw a significant rebound in international travel, including record visitation from Colombia that has made it now Florida’s No. 1 international origin market. VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing continues to drive results on behalf of Florida’s tourism economy, and we are looking forward to taking this success to new heights in 2022 and beyond.”

Approximately 1.5 million overseas visitors came to Florida in the last quarter of 2021, a 198% increase from the last quarter of 2020.

Canadian visitors reached 359,000 in the last quarter of 2021, nearly three times as many as in the previous quarter.

Total enplanements at 19 Florida airports were up 108.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, with domestic enplanements up by 105.4% over the same time period. Miami had the largest number of enplaned passengers of 5.83 million, an increase of 150.5%; Orlando had 5.77 million, an increase of 114.7%. Seven airports saw an increase in enplanements compared to 2019, with Sarasota and Key West seeing the most significant growth, up 65.6% and 58.6%, respectively.

Bethany Blankley
The Center Square

The first and foremost solution, Comrade Schumer, is to replace you, Comrade Pelosi and brain dead Comrade Obiden and his handler, the Ayatollah Hussein Obama… with President Trump and any Republican who can walk and chew gum…!

What President Trump will do is exactly what he did in 2 years that Obama couldn’t do in 8 years and Obiden destroyed 8 months…that is…bring back Made In America products…make America energy independent and make America the biggest, wealthiest, most deadly, country in the world…AGAIN…........dumb ass!

Since none of your Comrades know the details, apparently… please allow me to expand the simple actions that President Trump did, without the “magic wand” the Ayatollah Obama said would be required…

 

First,

Enforce the existing Immigration and Naturalization Laws that you and your Comrades refuse to enforce! Simply put, “Enforce the Laws and Build the Walls”! Quit trying to destroy the Border Patrol, ICE, INS , Immigration and support them by starting with an arrest and fair trial for Mayorkas and then turn him into well done toast! Your illegal, criminal actions have allowed over 4 million, illegal, unvaccinated, good, bad, and ugly, criminals, terrorists, gang bangers, children, and drug and women smugglers into this country, so you could buy votes. The Monetary burden and dangers you and your left wing, red, commie, pinko, actions, have placed on Americans are intentional, criminal and violate every oath you and your fellow Comrades ever took to Defend, Preserver and Protect the Constitution, America and We The People!

 

Second,

Open the Green River Oil Reserves…GOVERNMENT OWNED… oil reserves, that Comrade Obama and Obiden …intentionally CLOSED. Restart oil drilling, fracking, and exploration… along with all the other lands that President Trump opened to oil drilling and exploration… which made us Energy independent…duh! I’m not certain but instead …I am 100% positive…that the closing of all the drilling, exploration and fracking that the Democrap New Communist Party lead by Obiden/Obama is 100% responsible for the “shortage of oil” causing Biden to beg OPEC to drill more oil…double duh! Simply put,”If you stop the farmers from growing potatoes, we will run out of potatoes”.

 

Third,

Reopen and continue the Keystone Pipeline as well as the other pipelines you closed and President Trump kept open. Please note… that the Second and Third actions your Party…Comrade…would/could be considered Acts of War, Espionage, Treason, Terrorism …IF…you did that to weaken America, and Aid our enemies ,to help change America to a Socialist, Communist, OR Islamic Nation…UNLESS you can point to an Amendment to the Constitution or Law that allows overthrow of our Constitutional Republic and make America a Socialist nation…you and the others are subjecting yourselves to Criminal Prosecutions. I personally cannot seem to find ANYTHING that allows your criminal actions!

On that note… please take notice that ANY tampering with the Internet to convert the US to Bitcoin/ Digital money…or interruptions to our Power Grid would …without any doubt …be Treason and don’t try to blame Trump, or any Republicans or China or N Korea, or Haiti…we ALL know what you rats are chewing on…it’s our freedoms, our Constitution, our Republic, our lives and we won’t tolerate it!

 

Fourth,

Pass voter ID and mail in by current, Absentee Ballot, rules and regulations only.

 

 

Fifth,

Re-impose the financial restrictions on all our enemies that Trump imposed and your team canceled. In case you and you buddies cannot find who our Nation’s Enemies are…just look at your investment portfolios, you should find, at least, the wealthiest there! Need some help…Hunter Biden in China, Ukraine, Daddy gets a cut…John Kerry in Iran and probably China, Obama and Pelosi in every Country dumb enough to deal with them!

 

 

Sixth,

STOP telling the people that the number one problem facing America is Climate Change/Global Warming or the Weather Fairy…STOP…IT’S NOT TRUE! That’s a class “A” fraud!

All the real scientists do agree on some contributing factors to The Earth’s Changes and there are many…not JUST weather! One such fact, is that there is change to the Climate…it changes daily! They also agree that here is nothing man can do to stop the daily climate change. I want you to grasp that concept because science knows what some of the contributors to Climate Change are (which is a poor description for what planet Earth endures) …and so do you! Sun spots…a big contributor to our climate and the impact on our Gravity… Sun Spots can cause changes to our forces of gravity and atmospherics temperatures, Meteor Impacts to Earth…they certainly cause changes, just ask any dinosaur…oops…their all dead from a Meteor impact… 66 million years ago!

Many Earth Quakes occur in uninhabited places on Earth but it is estimated that Minor Earth Quakes, like category 2, occur about 100 times DAILY ! In an average year, there might be 20-25 magnitude 7 earthquakes globally -- about one every 2 to 3 weeks. Is /are Earth Quakes an effect that changes the climate… “Climate Change”…hmmm…good question…ask someone who has lived in California along a fault…they would be more able to answer that one!? While you’re at it ask them if a Quake is worse than “Climate Change” (warming or cooling)…and do they think man can reduce Earth Quakes?

 

If you say that’s “unfair” how about this for, honesty and fairness…Al Gore and his Goreites ,based upon data from the left’s sole source for Climate Change/ Global Warming is the US financed, UNIPCC…a totally fraudulent outfit, according to NASA’s 2015 report on AntArtic ‘s Land Mass Ice cap…its bigger than ever. And the UNIPCC Global Warming model that predicted the end to Glaciers and predicted annual temperature increases…there was NEITHER, look it up!

 

therightsidejgarydilaura.com

gary small

J.Gary DiLaura
FBI RED  Retired...Extremely Dangerous

 

 

 

 

Republican state lawmakers on Thursday said they introduced what would be the single-largest tax cut package in Florida history.

As Floridians, and all Americans, pay more for every day purchases due to surging inflation and depleted supply stemming from supply chain issues, some lawmakers are seeking to reduce the state’s tax burden.

The package, submitted to the House Ways and Means Committee, would reduce sales taxes and property taxes for some Floridians and expand several tax holidays.

If enacted, the measure would increase the property tax exemption for widows, widowers, blind and disabled persons by 10 times the current cap, and provide retroactive property tax relief for owners of Champlain Towers South Tower properties in Surfside.

“Today we introduced the single-largest sales tax cut package in the history of the state, giving Florida residents back more of their hard-earned money,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said. “We’ve expanded existing tax cuts like the popular Freedom Week, Hurricane Preparedness and Back-to-School holidays, and we introduced new tax cuts to ensure that every person who resides, works and pays taxes in Florida is the beneficiary of these tax breaks.”

Introduced as PCB WMC 22-01, the wide-ranging tax cut package would expand the annual Back to School and Disaster Preparedness holidays from 10 days to two weeks and add new qualifying items. It also would retain the Freedom Week sales tax holiday introduced last year, and add a new seven-day sales tax holiday through Labor Day.

It proposes temporary sales tax cuts for purchases of baby and toddler clothes and children’s diapers, for one year, and on children’s books for three months to encourage summer reading.

Floridians purchasing ENERGY STAR refrigerators, washers, dryers and water heaters, for example, would pay less in sales tax on these items for six months; those who purchase impact-resistant windows, doors and garage doors would pay a lower tax for two years.

“More than sales taxes, our tax cut package provides property tax relief, increases the cap for the Strong Families Tax Credit and assists affordable housing projects,” state Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, Ways & Means Committee chair, said. “Every Floridian can find a way to take advantage of the provisions in our package.”

The bill would expand flexibility in the timing of the New Worlds Reading Initiative and Strong Families Tax Credit programs. It would increase the annual cap of the Strong Families Tax Credit to $10 million and provide an additional $5 million annually for the Community Contribution Tax Credit program.

By expanding the donations cap for the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program, the bill would encourage investments in affordable housing programs, according to the bill summary. It also would exempt loans from the federal government made in response to a state of emergency from the documentary stamp tax, and expand the list of overseas military deployments that qualify for the deployed service member homestead exemption.

According to the bill summary, the number of tax reductions and other tax-related modifications would directly benefit families and businesses. Homesteaders would see some relief, including widows, widowers, blind, or totally and permanently disabled, who would receive an increased exemption from ad valorem taxes from $500 to $5,000.

Proposed sales tax changes include a 14-day “disaster preparedness” holiday in May and June for specified disaster preparedness supplies for families and their pets; a seven-day “Freedom Week” tax holiday in July for specified recreational items and activities; a 14-day “back-to-school” tax holiday in July and August for certain clothing, school supplies, learning aids, puzzles and personal computers; and a seven-day tax holiday in September for tools and equipment needed in skilled trades.

Other sales tax benefits would include cutting the sales tax from 6% to 3% for the purchase of a new mobile home.

Bethany Blankley
The Center Square

Thursday, 17 February 2022 19:45

Catching Up with “Just Country!

We play Old Country Music,” emphasizes Don White, founder and bassist of “Just Country.” “We do songs from artists like Merle Haggard, George Jones, and George Strait. To me, new Country Music is not Country, Rock-&-Roll or even good music at all. It is something promoters make performers do because that is where the money is, as that is what teenyboppers want these days, but I will not play it. We do Old Country as that is the real Country sound!”

Don’s “Just Country” bandmate, Bob Slaughter, agrees. “We do mainly Country, along with a little Bluegrass, some Pop and Rock, with a variety of other stuff but mainly Country. With Country now, there is old Country and new Country, with new Country much more like Rock-& Roll. We mostly do traditional Country that you sadly do not hear much anymore, as that is our bag of tea! Of course, when you have a female singer as talented as Charlie, it is easy to play as broad variety of musical styles.”

Charlie is Charlie Ursitti, who joins Don and Bob in “Just Country,” along with Michael Ursitti on guitar and steel guitar, Frank Message on guitar, with drummer David Gravelin. Don plays bass and sings, with Bob on pedal steel, electric and acoustic guitars. Don started “Just Country” roughly 18 years ago: “I was in the Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres areas, getting acquainted, and decided to form a group, as I was in Country Music my entire life. I was talking to a guy and said I play just good old Country Music and needed a name for my new Florida band; he said I said it – ‘Just Country!’”

 

The Hills of Tennessee

Don was “born and raised in the hills of East Tennessee. I grew up in a musical family, especially on Mom’s side, with my uncles in a Country band. Mom played guitar so she was my earliest influence and why I am a guitarist. When I was 9 or 10 years old, I always wanted to go to gigs with my uncles but they could not bring a little kid with them. I played guitar until my late 20s, but our Ohio band had issues with our bassist, so I switched to that as well as singing. That band was ‘Country Music Sounds’ and we toured a lot in the 1970s including going to Vietnam, the Philippines and Wake Island.”

He relocated to Florida because of the construction business, “but no matter where I was, I played Country. Thirteen years ago, I began playing at the Fleamasters Fleamarket on Saturdays, just me and my guitar, and several guys asked if I needed other musicians and that was the start of ‘Just Country.’ Prior to the pandemic, we played several other venues, like the American Legion and VFW Posts, but now are only at the Fleamarket, so we do not do as many shows as we formerly did in the past.”

Bob is from Tennessee as well. “My earliest musical influence was my Grandmother, who played guitar, so she taught me to play when I was about 9 years old. I stuck with it and eventually worked with many well-known Country artists, including the great Bobby Helm, who was at one time the most popular Country entertainer in the nation. Everyone knows Bobby from hits like ‘Fraulein,’ ‘My Special Angel,’ and perhaps most famously, 1957’s ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ that is still a supremely popular Christmas song, so that probably remains my claim to fame! I worked the Nashville
circuit with some real talented Grand Old Opry stars for a long time and had a lot of fun! I eventually retired from General Motors and moved to Florida fulltime for the warm weather roughly 30 years ago, opening a music store in Fleamasters Fleamarket. Don and I met there, he found out about my musical background and asked if I could help out in ‘Just Country’ every now and then.”

fleamasters logo sm

FleaMasters is located at 4135 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Fort Myers, FL 33916

 

Turn Your Mood Around!

They love performing at the Fleamasters Fleamarket Music Hall. “We built that along with the owner several years ago to have a place to play,” relates Bob. “We are usually there performing free every Saturday from Noon to 2 p.m., though in February that changes to Sundays from Noon to 2 p.m. It is a nice big auditorium with a tremendous sound system that seats around 500 people, with a humongous floor for dancing. It is such a terrific venue that it hosted many Grand Old Opry stars when they toured the area.” To book “Just Country,” call Don at 239-240-6813 or Bob at 239-273-0146.

“Just Country” takes requests during their concerts. “Merle Haggard, George Jones, George Strait, and Ray Price are the most popular,” Don offers. “The people who come to hear us want Old Country, but sometimes classic Rock-&-Roll as well, like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, and we are happy to play that.” “We always take requests,” agrees Bob, “with most being #1 songs from the 1960s and 70s. For me, I love playing music from Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams and Hank Williams, Junior.”

Even after decades of making music, Don and Bob still love it! “I just like to play Old Country Music,” Don recollects, “whether up on stage or in a jam session with a group of pickers; I just love to keep playing!” Bob enjoys “performing, singing and being the Master of Ceremonies. I still get a charge out of being in front of a crowd. You hear comedians say their biggest thrill is getting a laugh; mine is still picking up a guitar and playing to please an audience. My advice to other musicians is to keep making and playing music, as music makes the world go round, and that is my theory on everything! When you are in a bad mood, play or listen to music and it will amaze you how fast it turns your mood around!”

Gary Mooney

The annual Florida Legislative Session is a 60-day window (Jan 11-March 11) where the Legislature is convened for the purpose of lawmaking. On February 4th, the Florida Senate filed Senate Bill 2508, a suspicious piece of legislation that poses a major threat to Everglades restoration and clean water progress. Most of the bill’s contents appear to be bad news for South Floridians, but our major concern is that it deprioritizes the EAA Reservoir and reduces measurable gains made in the public and transparent LOSOM process. Watch the video above for the full story and scroll down to learn more.

 

Click here for important video

 

 

FAQS ABOUT SENATE BILL 2508

Senate Bill 2508

 

What was suspicious about the bill? A wolf in sheep’s clothing

  • Sneak attack: The Senate Appropriations circumvented the legislative process by filing SB 2508 as a “budget conforming bill” which is basically a budget procedure, not meant for substantive policy legislation. This budget procedure, circumvents the legislative committee process and fast-tracks the bill to a vote on the Senate floor.
  • Minimal public involvement: As a conforming bill, there’s only one chance for public comment, not the usual 3-4 committee hearings where the bill would be heard. The Senate Appropriations Committee meeting was held on February 9th, three business days after the bill’s filing. The bill passed 16-4 and heads to it’s last stop on the Senate floor on February 17th.
  • SB 2508 is a procedural bill that was tied to proviso language in the general budget that conditions the passage of SB 2508 to Everglades Restoration money. Basically, if SB 2508 doesn’t pass, neither does the annual state funding for Everglades Restoration.

 

What are your specific concerns with the bill? More harmful discharges

Find a detailed outline of harmful provisions and line numbers here.

If implemented, SB 2508 will:

  • Prioritize water supply to sugar farms south of Lake Okeechobee over all other users
  • Result in more harmful Lake O discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers
  • Jeopardize funding and expedited construction of the EAA reservoir, the critical project needed to reduce damaging discharges and send more water to the Everglades

But I’ve heard it doesn’t remove funding from the EAA Reservoir. Is that accurate?

  • Not quite. Even if the amount of funding remains the same, SB 2508 adds three more projects as “priorities” which will deprioritize, dilute funding for, and further delay construction of the reservoir.
  • In this way, SB 2508 seeks to change existing law and contradicts Governor DeSantis’s plan for restoring Florida’s environment. Senate Bill 10, passed in 2017 in response to toxic algae blooms, authorized the EAA Reservoir (not the other projects) and Governor DeSantis made it his priority in Executive Order 19-12 (water policy reform).

 

What’s the status of the SB 2508? (as of Feb 16, 2022) The fight is far from over!

The bill has not passed into law. There is still a lengthy process ahead. In its first stop, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill 16-4, despite hours of passionate protest from fishing guides, business owners, and concerned stakeholders.

On February 17th, the bill will go to the floor for a full Senate vote. If the bill passes the Senate, it will become part of the budget negotiations between the Senate and the House, where both branches have to agree on a final budget to present to the Governor. In order to prevent the bill from passing and going to the Governor, the House would have to refuse to include it in the final budget conference report. Once the budget conference is complete, the finished product (the budget) will be voted on by both chambers and sent to the Governor.

 

Why did the Senate Appropriations Committee say you were misinformed?

SB 2508 is just one example of decades of similar political schemes intended to secure the interests of one powerful interest group—the industrial sugar industry, or “Big Sugar.”

For over 30 years, Big Sugar has employed the largest and most powerful lobbying force in Florida’s State Capitol, working daily to secure perfect growing conditions, a taxpayer-funded irrigation and flood control system, free water, lack of oversight on pollution, and federal subsidies to produce 1.5 million tons of refined sugar each year.

To protect and advance their political interests, Big Sugar has effectively navigated the political levers behind the curtains at both state and federal levels. They have successfully lobbied to identify and elect political candidates who understand the sugar industry’s political goals and priorities and they invest millions in political contributions to ensure their interests are prioritized—interests that are rarely aligned with the rest of South Florida.

In its very essence, SB 2508 benefits the sugar industry at the expense of all others. The treatment displayed by the Senate Committee to the constituents who showed up to oppose the bill—was intended to manipulate, confuse, and ultimately neutralize their resistance.

This resistance we face is largely the economy of the past. The intent is not to vilify the sugar industry, but they are desperate to keep their control on water management, preserving an antiquated system that benefits few at the expense of many. Rather than acknowledging their contributions to the problem and actively working toward solutions, they fight it completely against the good of today’s economy.

The bill passed committee, so why should we consider this a success?

This bill could have slipped through the legislative process unnoticed, but YOU stopped this from happening. SB 2508 has not passed into law. It was approved to proceed to the next step. However, the victory lies in the movement that has been ignited! A movement of unity, massive public engagement, and passionate opposition of this harmful bill. This is how we kill the bill. The more people who speak up against SB 2508, the more public pressure we create on lawmakers to do the right thing. Together, we have the power of the people. Stay loud!

 

How can we stop it and what can I do to help?

Sign our petition to voice your opposition to SB 2508 and share it far and wide. Stay loud on this issue all the way to the finish line on March 11th. Educate others; share our updates on social media or create your own. Join our newsletter to stay informed on progress and action opportunities. These lawmakers are feeling the heat. They don’t like the negative media attention or the fact that thousands of people are holding them accountable on social media. Don’t let up! These are our jobs, our economy and our water.