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Florida saw a $14.1 billion decline in its $117 billion maritime trade industry as cargo tonnage moving through its 15 seaports fell by 8.4%, with exports down 20% and imports down 13.8%, during pandemic-skewered 2020.

But according to a report published Tuesday, Florida’s seaports – where nearly 40% of U.S.-manufactured good are exported, supporting 900,000 jobs nationwide – are poised for a robust rebound in the “emerging post-pandemic world.”

“Most of the declines in 2020 occurred during the first six months of the year at the height of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19,” the Florida Seaports Transportation & Economic Development Council (FSTED) maintains in its 110-page report, "Seaport Mission Plan: Navigating Beyond the Pandemic," an annual update required by lawmakers when they created the council in 1990.

“Fall 2020 saw robust recovery in many sectors,” the report states. “2021 is expected to see a near complete recovery in terms both of cargo volume and cargo value as post-pandemic markets and supply chains regain stability and consumer confidence returns in line with the relaxing of economic constraints.”

Cargo operations are rebounding, especially bulkbreak cargo, a trend that should accelerate, the report forecasts, although Florida’s cruise-line industry’s recovery may lag behind other sectors.

“Florida’s 158,992 cruise-related jobs, and $8.1 billion in economic activity were severely impacted” by the pandemic, which ships pier-side since March 2020.

Most operators resume cruises in August, but the report states it may take “a few years” to return to 2019 numbers when 18.3 million passengers cruised out of Florida ports.

Nevertheless, “the fundamentals of the industry remain strong,” the report said, noting a “combination of pent-up demand and widespread vaccinations” could accelerate recovery.

Although overall Florida maritime trade declined by 16.1% in 2020, the report notes cargo volumes actually increased in three of the 15 ports — up 54.5% at Port Manatee, 49.9% at Port Tampa Bay, 33.5% at Port Panama City.

Japan was Florida’s top trade partner in 2020, edging out China for the second straight year, according to the report, which cites South/Central America and Caribbean ports as most-linked to Florida in maritime trade.

Breakbulk cargo increased 8.8% to 7.8 million tons in 2020. Breakbulk shipping transports goods that cannot fit in standard-sized shipping containers, such as vehicles, steel girders, structural steel, manufacturing and construction equipment.

FSTED notes more than $3.3 billion in capital improvements are planned for Florida ports the next five years with 70.7% — $2.3 billion — tabbed for Atlantic coast seaports.

The capital plan is essentially the 2020-24 Five-Year Seaport Mission Plan developed by the Florida Ports Council (FPC), which abdicates on behalf of port managers and businesses.

According to a Martin Associates’ study published last September by the FPC, state seaports were projected to incur $23 billion in “lost” economic activity. resulting in the loss of 170,000 jobs nationwide in 2020.

“Florida’s 15 seaports are resilient, and we expect to see a near complete recovery in 2021,” said Michael Rubin, FSTED program administrator who was named FPC President/CEO this month. “With $3.3 billion in capital improvements at Florida’s seaports identified over the next five years, we expect our ports to continue playing a leading role in job creation and economic growth.”

According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, more than 37% U.S,-made exports head overseas from Florida. More than 6,000 Florida companies export more than $6.5 billion in goods to more than 170 countries, creating 2.5 million indirect jobs across the world – more than 900,000 in the U.S. – while directly employing nearly 66,000 Floridians, the chamber states.

John Haughey
The Center Square

Wednesday, 04 August 2021 11:57

7th Annual Bacon-Fest Lets Guests Be The Judge

Bacon lovers will judge the "Best Drink" and "Best Appetizer" in the 7th Annual South Cape BaconFest Trolley Event on August 14th. A bacon themed pub crawl in Cape Coral's Entertainment District, from 7pm to 11pm, whereby guests will take trolleys to various locations to enjoy bacon themed drink and appetizer samples. At the end of the evening they'll cast their votes for the
worthiest contenders.

Hosted by South Cape Hospitality & Entertainment Association (SCHEA), the heavily
attended event takes place in a no driving atmosphere, but rides home are suggested.
"South Cape businesses and attendees are excited for the return of BaconFest," says SCHEA Board Member David Townsend. "I mean who doesn't love bacon? Participating locations are getting creative for your palate this year - from salty, spicy and savory to sweet and so much more! It continues to be a flavorful event."

Participating locations include BackStreets Sports Bar, Cruisers, Dixie Live, Dixie Roadhouse, Good Intentions Uncorked, Monkey Bar, Rack'em Spirits & Times, Ralph's Place, Rusty's Raw Bar & Grill, Sidecar Treats, The Dive and Tiki Hut.

BaconFest is a 21+ nightlife event. Advance tickets are $25 and can be purchasedonline via Eventbrite and or at the South Cape Hub, located at 909 SE 47th Terrace, #105. In-person ticket purchases must be made in cash and carry no fees.


Their Facebook event page keeps you updated on all the details, including photos of the samples being served. 


Remember this is a voting event! Locations will be competing for BEST DRINK and BEST
APPETIZER, so expect some unique and savory options. Keep notes on your phone! You'll vote for your favorite at the end of the night!

Dress for the occasion, and you could win the official Photo Booth Contest* & win four tickets to our next trolley event!

Ticket price includes:
• Wristband to board the trolleys.
• Passport of locations - get every stamp & you could win the grand prize*: a bacon themed gift basket.
• A drink sample and an appetizer sample at each location.
• Eligibility to win prizes for answering trolley trivia!
• Access to the official photo booth contest* - winning photo receives a total of 4 tickets to the BBQ Pub Crawl Trolley Event in September.

Designated drivers are reccomended. DDs receive all the benefits of standard tickets, except for drink samples. DDs receive a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage, such as a bottled water or soda, at locations upon request. (This is a 21+ event. Valid ID at check-in will be required.)

Expect lots of entertainment, including live music, dancing, singing and more!
Participating Locations & Samples:

  • BackStreets Sports Bar - Blueberry Pancake Martini & Piggy Pinwheels with Bacon Jalapeño Aioli
  • Cruisers - Manhattan & Your Bacon ME Crazy Potato Salad
  • Dixie Live - Pig Punch & Mini Dogs w/ Bacon Aioli
  • Dixie Roadhouse - Hogwash & Baked Potato Soup with Bacon
  • Good Intentions Uncorked - Mimosa & Bacon-Tomato
  • Monkey Bar - Screwdriver & Deviled Eggs with Bacon
  • Rack'em Spirits & Times - Bacon Me Crazy & Bacon Ice Cream
  • Rusty's Raw Bar & Grill - Lumberjack & Bacon Wrapped Cheesecake
  • Sidecar Treats - Wine Slushy & Bacon Cheddar Popcorn
  • The Dive - Old Fashioned & BLT
  • Tiki Hut - Bloody Mary & Maple Sugar Bacon

Early check-in: 10am to 5pm at South Cape Hub (909 SE 47th Terrace, Cape Coral) Regular check-in: 6pm-7:30pm at two locations: South Cape Hub and Big John's Plaza (near Pinch-a-Penny)
Late check-in: until 10pm at South Cape Hub

For any additional questions, email :This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or call: (239)-900-4028.

To enter the photo booth contest, have your picture taken at the official photo booth, located at South Cape Hub. The public will vote on Facebook. To win the grand prize, have your passport (provided at check-in) stamped at all locations and turn it in on any trolley, at any participating location or at South Cape Hub. located at: 909 SE 47th Ter. #105, Cape Coral, FL 33904

small smiley face with sunglasses1

One of the most obvious misconceptions about liberals today is that they personify tolerance. The Oxford English Dictionary defines tolerance as "the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with."

A recent poll by the Survey Center on American Life at the American Enterprise Institute found that Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to report ending a friendship over a political disagreement (20% versus 10%). Liberals are also "far more likely than conservatives are to say they are no longer friends with someone due to political differences" (28% versus 10%). However, "no group is more likely to end a friendship over political differences than liberal women -- 33% responded they stopped a friendship over politics."

This was underlined by CBS News digital reporter Kathryn Watson, who tweeted out a chart of some of these numbers, adding, "This is so wild to me. I can't imagine not having friends across the political spectrum." Twitchy.com captured a flock of "tolerant" leftists expressing hot outrage at this notion.

First up was Aaron Rupar, a Vox reporter who's popular on lefty Twitter: "It's hard to be friends with intolerant and irrational people." That's classic: I'm not intolerant. I am intolerant of the intolerant.

Race and racism worked its way in. The account "More_moxie" tweeted, "Tell me you're a straight white without telling me you're a straight white." Jersey Craig added, "Siri, what is white privilege?"

"Powerful Mel Ankoly" joked with this interpretation: "I've got Klan friends and non-Klan friends!" Leftists imagine you can't possibly be a Republican without being a Klansman. Aren't these people supposed to be the ones who are intellectually nimble and adept at nuance? No.

"GOPocalypseNow" added, "Shorter Kathryn Watson: 'it's only normal to have friends who are racist traitors.'" Here's just one more from "Masked Carpenter," who arrogantly announced: "I don't want to be friends with racist, anti-science people who support a police state. But that's just me."

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic, whose tweet Watson retweeted, deleted the tweet, perhaps to evade incoming fire at his account. He later tweeted in support of the notion that Twitter "is mostly a Dutch oven of indignation." Or: Twitter is full of some of the most intolerant, bullying leftists on the planet.

I don't know Kathryn Watson. She's not a friend of mine. But I have liberal friends, and I don't generally speak about politics in mixed company unless I'm asked about it. That's out of a sense of keeping the peace. Decades ago, my wife insisted this would be the wisest course.

The Survey Center found 55% of their sample said they discuss politics or government with their friends less than a few times a month. There's a fear there of losing friendships, and even jobs if you're talking to work friends. Social media has enhanced the heat of our political interaction. So has former President Donald Trump, who has enraged the left further into its already-increasing intolerance.

Today, merely stating to friends that Trump did anything right as president could cause a frothing horror. The same thing could happen after saying "all lives matter," "there are two genders" or "China is responsible for the pandemic."

Then, imagine people you've just met. It's sad when you're conservative that people can't see any dimension of you except the political one. You're immediately a "racist traitor" unless proven otherwise.

This "progressive" thought-cartooning just sadly calls to mind the 1980s movie "WarGames" about simulating global nuclear war: "The only winning move is not to play."

Tim Graham

The Grouper Grapple Offshore Fishing Tournament was founded in 2013 as a way to give back to the
community and show support to veterans that have served our country.

The tournament teams up with Reunite The Fight to sponsor a group of Military Veterans and provide each one with the opportunity to experience fishing freedom on the water!

This year the event will benefit the Jeff Sommer Memorial Scholarship Fund and Reunite The Fight.

The Captains meeting will be held on Thursday night, July 19th at 6:30 pm. at Fish-Tale Restaurant in Santini Plaza on Ft. Myers Beach. At least one angler from each team MUST attend the Captain’s Meeting.

• There will be a shotgun start from San Carlos Pass at 6:30am under the Matanzas Bridge. Teams will be required to check in with Official Tournament Boat between 6:00 am and 6:25 am prior to the shotgun start.

• Boats must return to Fish-Tale Restaurant by 6:00 pm on Friday August 20th. The weigh station will be located in front of the Fish-Tale Restaurant. The Weigh Station will open at 4:00PM for any teams returning early, but ALL boats must be within sight of tournament officials in order to qualify no later than 6:00pm. and all fish must be brought in by boat.

The Tournament consists of two categories: Grouper and Snapper.

Grouper
• Only specified Grouper (Gag, Red, and Scamp) will be eligible for 1st through 3rd places.

• 1st through 3rd place will be awarded for the largest of each species of grouper by weight i.e. Gag, Red, Scamp. All Grouper will be weighed individually. Teams may weigh more than one fish per species, but only the heaviest Grouper (Gag, Red or Scamp) will count for the teams. All other Grouper species including Black, Warsaw; etc. will only be admitted for the big fish Calcutta prize they will not count towards 1st through 3rd.

Snapper
• Only specified Snapper (Mangrove, Mutton, and Lane) will be eligible for 1st through 3rd places.

• 1st through 3rd place will be awarded for the largest of each species of snapper by weight i.e. Marygrove, Mutton, and Lane. All snapper will be weighed individually. Teams may weigh more than one fish per species, but only the heaviest snapper (Mangrove and Lane) will count for the teams.

• Tournament Grouper and Snapper must be measured according to all FWC regulations as of 8/19/21. It is the responsibility of the angler to know the regulations. If you have questions visit www.myfwc.com for more information. Any fish brought to the weigh station that does not meet the current laws will be disqualified.

• Any fish weighed and entered in by tournament officials become the property of The Grouper Grapple Offshore Fishing Tournament. These fish are being served at the awards ceremony. If you weigh more than 3 Grouper or 3 Snapper, you may keep the Grouper not counted towards “total weight.”

• All fish must be caught on rod and reel, hook and line. No electric or hydraulic reels, no spear fishing or explosives.

For complete rules for the 2021 tournament, registration information and sponsorship opportunities, go to : https://groupergrapple.com/

Schedule:
Thursday, August 19th: Captain's Meeting at 6:30pm

Friday, August 20th: Fishing Day 6:60 am- 6pm

Saturday, August 21st: Awards and Festivities 6pm at Fish Tale Restaurant

Pre Registration: Team Entry Fee...$600 and includes 5 Anglers who will receive Tunaskin Tournament Shirts. Additional Angler fee is $100. Additional Guests for the Saturday Reception is $25 for Adults and $15 for Youth. Additions can be added on at the end of the online Registration Form. Pre Registration deadline is August 6, 2021

grouper grapple tunaskin shirt

Registration fee starting August 7, 2021 will be $675 includes all of above but Tunaskin shirts with registration are not guaranteed.

To Register your team, go to : https://groupergrapple.com/

click on 'Register Team', then click on Tickets,

be prepared to enter the contact information for the Captain and each Angler, including Name, Phone, Email, Shirt Size etc. If you will not have 5 anglers, put N/A in that section of the form. Registration has a time limit of 45 minutes so please have all your information together before starting the form.

The 2021 Grouper Grapple Fishing Tournament is presented by Tunaskin and Florida Structural Group and hosted by Fish Tale Marina and Fish Tale Restaurant on Fort Myers Beach!

some previous years tourneys pics

grouper grapple2

grouper grapple3

grouper grapple4

The Grouper Grapple Offshore Fishing Tournament was founded in 2013 as a way to give back to the
community and show support to veterans that have served our country.

The tournament teams up with Reunite The Fight to sponsor a group of Military Veterans and provide each one with the opportunity to experience fishing freedom on the water!

This year the event will benefit the Jeff Sommer Memorial Scholarship Fund and Reunite The Fight.

The Captains meeting will be held on Thursday night, July 19th at 6:30 pm. at Fish-Tale Restaurant in Santini Plaza on Ft. Myers Beach. At least one angler from each team MUST attend the Captain’s Meeting.

• There will be a shotgun start from San Carlos Pass at 6:30am under the Matanzas Bridge. Teams will be required to check in with Official Tournament Boat between 6:00 am and 6:25 am prior to the shotgun start.

• Boats must return to Fish-Tale Restaurant by 6:00 pm on Friday August 20th. The weigh station will be located in front of the Fish-Tale Restaurant. The Weigh Station will open at 4:00PM for any teams returning early, but ALL boats must be within sight of tournament officials in order to qualify no later than 6:00pm. and all fish must be brought in by boat.

The Tournament consists of two categories: Grouper and Snapper.

Grouper
• Only specified Grouper (Gag, Red, and Scamp) will be eligible for 1st through 3rd places.

• 1st through 3rd place will be awarded for the largest of each species of grouper by weight i.e. Gag, Red, Scamp. All Grouper will be weighed individually. Teams may weigh more than one fish per species, but only the heaviest Grouper (Gag, Red or Scamp) will count for the teams. All other Grouper species including Black, Warsaw; etc. will only be admitted for the big fish Calcutta prize they will not count towards 1st through 3rd.

Snapper
• Only specified Snapper (Mangrove, Mutton, and Lane) will be eligible for 1st through 3rd places.

• 1st through 3rd place will be awarded for the largest of each species of snapper by weight i.e. Marygrove, Mutton, and Lane. All snapper will be weighed individually. Teams may weigh more than one fish per species, but only the heaviest snapper (Mangrove and Lane) will count for the teams.

• Tournament Grouper and Snapper must be measured according to all FWC regulations as of 8/19/21. It is the responsibility of the angler to know the regulations. If you have questions visit www.myfwc.com for more information. Any fish brought to the weigh station that does not meet the current laws will be disqualified.

• Any fish weighed and entered in by tournament officials become the property of The Grouper Grapple Offshore Fishing Tournament. These fish are being served at the awards ceremony. If you weigh more than 3 Grouper or 3 Snapper, you may keep the Grouper not counted towards “total weight.”

• All fish must be caught on rod and reel, hook and line. No electric or hydraulic reels, no spear fishing or explosives.

For complete rules for the 2021 tournament, registration information and sponsorship opportunities, go to : https://groupergrapple.com/

 

Schedule:
Thursday, August 19th: Captain's Meeting at 6:30pm

Friday, August 20th: Fishing Day 6:60 am- 6pm

Saturday, August 21st: Awards and Festivities 6pm at Fish Tale Restaurant

 

Pre Registration: Team Entry Fee...$600 and includes 5 Anglers who will receive Tunaskin Tournament Shirts. Additional Angler fee is $100. Additional Guests for the Saturday Reception is $25 for Adults and $15 for Youth. Additions can be added on at the end of the online Registration Form. Pre Registration deadline is August 6, 2021

grouper grapple tunaskin shirt

Registration fee starting August 7, 2021 will be $675 includes all of above but Tunaskin shirts with registration are not guaranteed.

To Register your team, go to : https://groupergrapple.com/

click on 'Register Team', then click on Tickets,

be prepared to enter the contact information for the Captain and each Angler, including Name, Phone, Email, Shirt Size etc. If you will not have 5 anglers, put N/A in that section of the form. Registration has a time limit of 45 minutes so please have all your information together before starting the form.

The 2021 Grouper Grapple Fishing Tournament is presented by Tunaskin and Florida Structural Group and hosted by Fish Tale Marina and Fish Tale Restaurant on Fort Myers Beach!

 

a few photos from previous years tourneys:

 

 grouper grapple3

grouper grapple4grouper grapple2

The premier bull riding organization in the world, the Professional Bull Riders, began as a dream of 20 bull riders 23 years ago and is now a global sports phenomenon.

PBR broadcasts reach more than half a billion households in 50 nations and territories around the world, and more than 2.5 million fans attend live events each year. The PBR features the best bull riders in the world and the top bulls in the business.

Three circuits, the televised Built Ford Tough Series, the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and the Touring Pro Division, have paid more than $140 million in earnings to its athletes.

Twenty-seven men have earned more than $1 million, including three-time World Champion Silvano Alves who, in just 54 months, won more than $5.2 million to become the richest bull rider in history.

2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney and two-time World Champion Justin McBride have also surpassed $5.1 million in earnings.

Last weekend the Touring Pro Division came to Hertz Arena to a full house Saturday night where TYLER CONGLETON riding "Kung Fu" took first place with a score of 88... see the ride here: https://youtu.be/yyHjoOuEexQ

FLÁVIO VINÍCIUS DA SILVA and KANE TAYLOR tied for second place with scores of 85.5.

Over the 2 night event there were 69 rides on incredible athlete Bulls..... only resulting in 6 qualifying rides. many came close to that coveted 8 second ride but only 6 succeeded!

Laurent Simons, who is half-Belgian and half-Dutch, obtained a bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Antwerp in just 18 months.

It can be tough having high-achieving siblings. Every family gathering becomes a battle for which child is more successful or who’s smarter than who, and before you know it you’re fist-fighting your sister in the kitchen over whether Mahler was more influential than Pythagoras.

Well, just be glad you don’t have to invite Laurent Simons to Thanksgiving this year. This Dutch-Belgian wunderkind has not only completed a bachelor’s degree in physics, but he did so in half the time it usually takes and still managed to get the highest grade in his class.

At the age of 11.

“I find it flattering that people compare me with Einstein,” Simons told The Telegraph. “But I think everyone is unique. Einstein is just Einstein and I, Laurent, am just Laurent.”

As if that isn’t humiliating enough, this wasn’t even Simons’ first attempt at college. After completing high school by the age of eight, he originally enrolled in Eindhoven University in 2018 but dropped out when college officials refused his schedule. He then took some courses at the University of Ghent, before eventually transferring to the University of Antwerp, where he graduated this month.

Although this lost him the chance to become the youngest ever college graduate – that distinction remains with University of South Alabama Class of ‘94 alumnus Michael Kearney, who received a degree in anthropology at the age of ten – Simons is sanguine.

"I don't really care if I'm the youngest,” he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. “It's all about getting knowledge for me.”

With diploma in hand, Simons’ next step is to officially start and complete his master’s degree, a University of Antwerp spokesperson told The Brussels Times. After that, the goal is a PhD.

“As well as his home country, Belgium, he will be studying in the US, Israel and the UK, too,” Simons’ father, Alexander, said. “Lots of the world’s best universities are located [in the UK] so [it] had to be on the list.”

And, at an age where most of us are just hoping to get through puberty unscathed, Simons has big plans.

Laurent’s mother, Lydia, has defended the family from accusations that her son should be having fun rather than studying.

“I can imagine that a lot of people think ‘leave him alone, he is still young’,” she said.

“But people who say that have not had a child like Laurent. Everyone, including psychologists, who want to give advice, just can’t, because there’s never been a case like this before”.

“Immortality, that is my goal,” he said, inadvertently revealing that he probably doesn’t read IFLS. “I want to be able to replace as many body parts as possible with mechanical parts.”

His vision of a cyborg-filled future isn’t just some vague notion, though – the miniature mastermind says he’s already mapped out the path to achieving his dream.

“Quantum physics – the study of the smallest particles – is the first piece of the puzzle,” he said. “I want to work with the best professors in the world, look inside their brains and find out how they think.”

 

A social experiment in Iceland has investigated the pros and cons of working a four-day week. Now, the brains behind the trial have released a report and the findings are quite something: not only did people report feeling happier, healthier, and less stressed, many workplaces also became more productive.

The experiment was run by UK-based thinktank Autonomy and the Association for Sustainability and Democracy (ALDA) in Iceland. The full report, released on Sunday, can be read here [PDF].

From 2015 to 2019, two large-scale trials saw 2,500 people in Iceland (more than 1 percent of the country’s entire working population) cut their working hours from around 40 hours a week to 35 or 36 hours. The participants worked in a range of environments, including offices, shops, hospitals, daycare centers, etc, and involved those who worked a typical "9-to-5" day as well as non-standard shift patterns. Throughout the trial, the researchers interviewed workers and gathered data on their well-being and changes to the workplace.

The benefits were clear: peoples’ well-being increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and risk of “burnout,” to physical health and work-life balance.

Most participants reported having more energy for other activities, such as socializing, exercising, and hobbies, while explaining the cut in hours allowed them to spend more time with their families and made it easier to complete other home chores. These benefits were especially noticeable among the single-parent families included in the trials. Men in heterosexual partnerships also took on more housework and greater domestic responsibilities, sharing out the division of labor more evenly.

“I work less… For me, it is like a gift from the heavens. And I like it a lot,” one participant said in an interview.

Crucially, productivity was either maintained or improved in the majority of workplaces. The researchers put the improvement in productivity down to better morale at work.

“Moral has been good here, and always has, but it got even better,” a manager said.

Much of the data is self-reported, and though there is what the report calls quantitative data, it's unclear how things like work efficacy increases were measured across the board. However, following the apparent success of the trial, unions were able to renegotiate working patterns and now 86 percent of Iceland’s workforce has moved to a shorter working week.

“The Icelandic shorter working week journey tells us that not only is it possible to work less in modern times, but that progressive change is possible too,” Gudmundur D. Haraldsson, a researcher at Alda, said in a statement.

“This study shows that the world’s largest-ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success. It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks – and lessons can be learned for other governments,” added Will Stronge, Director of Research at Autonomy.

While Iceland is known for its socially progressive initiatives, it is not alone in its push towards a shorter working week. A number of similar trials are now being run across the world, including in Spain and New Zealand. Even Japan, a country with a notoriously intense attitude towards work, has recently encouraged workplaces to allow their employees to choose to work four-day a week instead of the typical five.

Saturday, 24 July 2021 13:56

As America Recedes, China Rises

As our July Fourth celebrations were beginning, the U.S. quietly closed and abandoned Bagram Air Base, the largest American military base between the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea.

Afghan looters were soon seen scavenging inside the base.

The long retreat of the American Empire is underway, and this longest war is likely to end in bloody retribution for the Afghans who sided with us against the Taliban and are left behind.

When the last American departed Bagram, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. is making plans for "an emergency evacuation of the American embassy in Kabul amid concern that a worsening security situation in Afghanistan could imperil the remaining military and diplomatic corps."

Apparently, we are preparing for a possible Saigon '75 finish to the war launched by George W. Bush 20 years ago. Pressed by reporters on the grim situation in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden did not want to reflect on or talk about what might be coming.

"I want to talk about happy things, man," Biden told reporters. "Look, it's Fourth of July ... it's the holiday weekend. I'm going to celebrate it. There's great things happening."

In that same edition, the Journal reported that China has moved 50,000 troops to the border region with India where forces of the two nations, in June 2020, had their bloodiest skirmish in decades.

Other reports suggest that China intends to fill the vacuum left by the departure of America's power and provide billions from its Belt and Road Initiative to build a highway from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Peshawar, Pakistan.

As America executes its strategic retreat from Central Asia, China is on the move.

In addition to militarizing its frontier with India, China is reasserting its maximalist claims to the South China Sea, ending independence and crushing democracy in Hong Kong, continuing cultural genocide against the Uyghurs, and regularly sending swarms of warplanes toward Taiwan to transmit the message to Taipei that annexation is but a matter of time.

Nor was Chinese President Xi Jinping's address on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party an exercise in nuance.

"We'll never accept insufferably arrogant lecturing from those 'master teachers!'" said Xi, drawing a roar from the crowd of party members and veterans. Clad in a Mao suit, Xi had other warnings for those who seek to stand in the way of Communist China's destiny:

"The Chinese people will never allow foreign forces to bully, oppress or enslave us ... Whoever nurses delusions of doing that will crack their heads and spill blood on the Great Wall of steel built from the flesh and blood of 1.4 billion Chinese people."

Undeniably, Xi and his predecessors have an awesome record, as the Financial Times relates:

"China's emergence over the past four decades ranks as the biggest and longest-run economic boom in history. Its annual gross domestic product rose from a mere $191bn, or $195 per capita, in 1980 to $14.3tn, or $10,261 per capita, in 2019. It has raised more than 770m people from poverty and transformed the Chinese economy into a high-tech powerhouse that is on course to eclipse America's in size. This transformation is the landmark achievement of the Chinese Communist party, which celebrates its 100th anniversary on Thursday."

China's growth could not have been achieved had it not been for the U.S. decision to throw open the world's largest consumer market to Chinese-made goods, to bring Beijing into the World Trade Organization, and to sit idly by as a huge slice of U.S. industry and manufacturing was transshipped to China for production there and not here.

Between 1990 and 2021, U.S. imports of Chinese-made goods provided Beijing with the trillions it has accumulated to finance its strategic objective of becoming the first power on earth.

But this is water over the dam. Where do we go from here?

China's assets are impressive. At 1.4 billion people, it has the largest population on earth. If its growth rate continues, it will have the largest economy. Its strategic arsenal of nuclear weapons is a fraction of ours, but given the horrendous damage these weapons can do, a nuclear war would be ruinous if not mortal for both countries.

In terms of conventional military -- ships, soldiers, planes, guns, missiles and bases in the East Asia-Western Pacific theater where any war between us would be fought -- China's advantages are greater.

And of the issues over which we might fight -- islands, rocks, reefs in the South and East China Seas, and Taiwan -- none of them is claimed by us or vital to us. All are claimed by China as rightly theirs.

In the Cold War with the USSR, time, it turned out, was on our side. But in the last decade, Xi Jinping might fairly see time as having switched sides. Either way, we are surely better off relying upon our abilities rather than our weapons to win the competition and settle the rivalry that may settle the future of mankind.

Patrick J. Buchanan

As more information trickles out on the assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moise, there are details that point to the issue of narcotics trafficking in South Florida and issues surrounding how the cartels use Haiti as a shipping and transportation transfer hub. That old investigative phrase of "follow the money," and who benefits from the death of Moise, will eventually reveal who did this and why. However, there are significant details available today that answer some of these questions while creating additional ones.

It is reasonable to believe the United States government knows exactly what happened in Haiti, who is behind the killing of Moise and why he was killed. There is a large Drug Enforcement Administration operational capability in Haiti, and they have been there for many years. One of the Haitian Americans arrested is believed to be a DEA source having reportedly worked with DEA agents on major cases. That links the DEA and the Department of Justice directly to the assassination of Moise, according to some reports.

Like it or not, the U.S. government is tied into this killing and its aftermath. If not directly, they certainly know why Moise was killed. It could be that some of their very informants were involved, and we know for a fact that the government keeps close eyes on informants. The DEA has a record of sloppiness running confidential narcotics sources, and let us not forget about the various issues -- including corruption -- during the various sting operations south of the border in the 1980s and early '90s. Why is the U.S. government noticeably silent on this assassination? It certainly does bring them further into the spotlight and raises several serious questions about what they do and don't know.

We can ask the attorney general and the director of the DEA if the U.S. government had advance warning about the assassination plan against Moise. If so, why wasn't it prevented? These are all crucial details that the public has a right to know. With the revelation that one of the arrested suspects -- a Haitian and American citizen -- is or was a DEA source, it's reasonable to believe that the DEA must have gotten some details of this planned event before it occurred, since it was a complex, well-planned and successful operation. The DEA and the U.S. intelligence apparatus has a law that must be followed called the "Duty to Warn." Was Moise warned? If so, by what department?

This story should grow legs. A head of state has been assassinated in our backyard, and the DOJ, DEA and FBI either knew about it in advance and said nothing, or really didn't detect the threat and are guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance or incompetence. Any of these outcomes is bad. Some hard questioning will bring the facts of this case into the light. The president of Haiti was tortured and brutally murdered in his home. As a head of state, penetrating his home and bedroom to torture and murder him is almost unheard of. Where were the inner circle, outer circle and perimeter security components? How were all three successfully penetrated? The success of the operational plan to murder him would indicate considerable skill and pre-planning. The brutality of his torture and murder presents questions. A clear signal has been sent. Who was this signal for?

As the details continue to surface on the background of the captured assassins, the links to U.S. law enforcement and its regional counternarcotics programs are coming into view. So is the breadth and depth of the political corruption of Moise's administration. The billions of U.S. tax dollars poured into Haiti over the previous four U.S. administrations are breathtaking. For example: The U.S. government provided funding to conduct a fuel pier refurbishment study that captures the scale of theft in plain sight. A study of pier suitability was tendered by the U.S. government, and $4.5 million was paid for it. The study never occurred because the pier was impossible to recondition. It was a total waste of time and money. The study was commissioned; the pier was declared unsuitable; and a memo saying so was produced. The $4.5 million disappeared, and the issue was closed out on the official books. Case closed.

Ask the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the DEA for a report on the origins and ownership of all the weapons recovered from the assassins.

This mess is just the latest example of the disorganized, uncontrollable and unaccountable U.S. government law enforcement and intelligence apparatus. The FBI and the DEA "running sources, CI's, assets, cases, informants" is amateurish and dangerous. I would expect to learn soon that the CIA and military intelligence also have links to some of these operatives from Columbia or some other counternarcotics program. This latest flop will be very difficult to sweep under the rug. When a head of state is killed, global news and questions are going to keep coming.

The Haitian logistics hub for the trafficking of narcotics and human beings continues forward without Moise.

 

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