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Wednesday, 12 April 2017 23:54

Everblades Stride Towards Kelly Cup

The Florida Everblades ended the regular season in style last weekend with a 10-0 thrashing of their in-state rival, the Orlando Solar Bears.

Saturday’s game turned out to be a warm-up for the first round of the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs in a best-of-7 series. Orlando’s fate was sealed as the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed with its loss.

The No. 1 seeded local favorites hosted the Solar Bears in first game of the playoffs Wednesday at Germain Arena and lost the home opener 4-2, looks like they could have used some of those goals from last saturday, the two teams meet again tonight. 

This will be the second playoff series between the two in-state rivals. In their last meeting the Everblades defeated the Solar Bears 4 games to 2 in the first round of the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs where the two team played a tight series, whereby 4 of the 6 games were decided by a single goal with the Everblades winning the final game in overtime.

The other South Division semifinal series features the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and the South Carolina Stingrays.

For tickets check out their website:

The playoff schedule for the first round South Division Semifinal Series was yesterday, but the remainder of the schedule is as follows:

Game 2: Friday, April 14 vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m. (Germain Arena)

Game 3: Thursday, April 20 at Orlando, 7:00 p.m. (Amway Center, Orlando)

Game 4: Saturday, April 22 at Orlando, 7:00 p.m. (Amway Center, Orlando)

Game 5: Sunday, April 23 at Orlando, 4:00 p.m. (Amway Center, Orlando)**

Game 6: Tuesday, April 25 vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m. (Germain Arena)**

Game 7: Wednesday, April 26 vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m. (Germain Arena)**

**If Necessary

Wednesday, 12 April 2017 23:51

Take the Sun Bay Paper with you!

As our seasonal residents and visiting guests begin to head back to their homes, we at the Sun

Bay Paper want to remind you that you can take us with you.

We publish our paper as a digital paper on our website: You can read the various stories from our featured section and other stories under the various categories.

You can also read our complete paper digitally in a flipbook manner. When on your computer you will find the different links at the top of the page, go to the 'digital version' link, if surfing the web on your smart phone, you will find the menu icon (looks like 3 horizontal lines) at the top of the page and that will bring you to the different links where you will find the digital version link as well.

We thank you for your support and look forward to keeping you informed.
This is also a great way for those who have a hard time finding our paper to get their copy on line.

Bobby Mimmo

For the community-based care providers that perform the lion’s share of child welfare services in Florida, the proposed 2017 budget is a disappointment.

Rick Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s future” budget proposal touts “a record $632 million to provide core services to children who depend on Florida’s child welfare system.”

“Governor Scott and the Legislature have been exceptionally supportive of the child welfare system and [the Department of Children and Families] is committed to ensuring that all of our resources are directed to be as efficient and effective as possible in serving vulnerable families,” David Frady, press secretary for the Florida DCF, told us in an email.

But number-crunching done by Florida TaxWatch, a non-partisan taxpayer research group, shows that this statement fails to tell the whole story.

According to TaxWatch’s November 2015 report, real spending on child welfare services has declined since 2008, when inflation-adjusted funding for child welfare providers hit $674.1 million (in 2015 dollars).

At the same time as the effective operating budget of the DCF has been declining, the number of children entering the welfare system has been increasing.

Kurt Kelly, CEO of the Florida Coalition for Children and former state legislator, told us that there are several factors behind the increased demand for child welfare services.

Part of the growth of children in the system is an outcome of policy changes at the DCF that result in children being removed from unsuitable homes quicker — a good thing, Kelly says.

He added that high turnover rates of child protection investigators affect this process. CPIs investigate claims of abuse and determine if a child needs to be placed into foster care, but the turnover rate means many investigators are new on the job. “Eighty percent of folks making decisions have less than 2 years experience,” Kelly said. With DCF policies that favor caution and quick action above all else, this might lead to inflated child removal numbers.

The newest threat, Kelly says, is the opioid issue, which is affecting families across the state. In addition to increased deaths from opioid misuse, CPIs are inclined to remove kids from homes if they see any signs of opioid abuse.

“We saw it in the Sarasota area, which may be the epicenter of the United States in this issue,” Kelly said. “In that area, our removal rate [of children from the family home] in the Sarasota/Manatee area is up 200 percent, which is … unsustainable.”

As of Feb. 28, Florida child welfare services were being provided to 41,707 children.

Underfunded and over-performing

Florida’s child welfare system relies on a community-based care model.

This means that once the DCF investigators have determined that a child needs to be pulled from home, they hand responsibility to regional care organizations. The not-for-profit private organizations administer services to children that enter the foster care system, as well as preventive care services for children that can remain at home, albeit in difficult circumstances.

Seventeen CBC lead agencies operate around the state. These lead agencies, which are spread out around 20 different regions, include Community Based Care of Central Florida and Our Kids of Miami-Dade. They are accountable to the DCF, but operate independently, and subcontract care out to smaller community organizations.

The transition from a more centralized, Tallahassee-administered services model began at the turn of the century. By 2006, the CBC model was operational statewide.

Kelly told us that Florida’s welfare system now serves as a model for other states. But funding remains a problem.
He estimates that Florida’s child welfare system needs a $49 million budget increase for 2017-18. DCF requested a $16 million increase for the community care centers.
The current proposal from Scott would allocate a $14.2 million funding increase for Florida’s community-based care providers.
Florida TaxWatch says the system needs another $100 million. The group’s analysis shows that the community-based care providers in particular have been underfunded, while overperforming, for years.
Kelly said that the community care providers were allowed access to a back-up funds several years ago, but quickly went through it. “When I tell you that we’re 20 million in the hole, that’s money that’s being spent right now.”
Decentralization is key
The 2012 Right for Kids Ranking, a report on child welfare systems across the nation, found that Florida has one of the best-performing systems.
Florida ranked fourth in the nation based on measureable outcomes such as adoption rates, family reunification and monthly caseworker visits.
The report found that if all states had welfare programs as effective as Florida’s, the U.S. would have 72,000 fewer kids in foster care per year and find adoptive families for 19,000 more.
Advocates like Florida’s Coalition for Children trace the effectiveness of the Florida system to its decentralization in 1998. Legislation mandated that the DCF contract direct care to private organizations operating at the local level.

Increasing the risk

Although the numbers show that the community-based care model has been a success in Florida and elsewhere, no system is free from problems.

Foster Shock, a 2016 documentary that tells the story of children who the Florida system has failed, and suggests that the decentralized, privatized system diverts money away from child services and into organization salaries.

Other dissenters focus less on the whole picture, and more on the individuals that child services has let down. Groups such as Florida’s Children First and firms like Talenfield Law advocate on behalf of the legal rights of children in the system — often, that means lawsuits in the face of the inevitable tragic failures.

“Even when we’re totally doing everything right there’s going to be slips and mistakes made and cracks in the system,” Dominic Calabro, CEO of Florida TaxWatch, “But when you don’t have the full focus or the full reasonable resources, you just increase the risk. And you have high turnover [of caseworkers]. You just increase the likelihood that something bad will happen.”

Elle Piloseno, Florida TaxWatch researcher and author of the 2015 report, said that insufficiently funding the system on the front end has social and fiscal implications for the future.

One of the biggest problems the foster care system faces is retaining case workers. High turnover rates mean that children deal with an increasing number of case managers — and that adds to their time in the system.

“Every time that this kid needs to be handed over to a new case manager, that case manager has to be trained, they have to be familiarized with the children that they’re serving, they have to be familiarized with the families and the individual characteristics of that situation,” Piloseno said. “All that time adds up when you’re trading hands a bunch of times, which is why turnover is such a huge issue.”

And as a general rule, the longer a child spends in the foster care system, the worse off they are. When kids age out of the system at 18 before finding a permanent home, pregnancy rates go up. High school diploma rates go down. “A quarter of the youth that are aging out of the child welfare system end up being incarcerated within two years,” Piloseno said.

The TaxWatch study found that in addition to creating poor outcomes for children, workforce turnover adds to the taxpayer burden.

“Florida employs almost 3,800 case managers, of which an estimated 37 percent (approximately 1,400) resign and are replaced within one year.” The study found this costs the state approximately $14 million annually.

Prolonging an individual child’s stay in the welfare system has a significant cost. “Taxpayers could pay up to $70,000 per year to care for one child in out-of-home care,” TaxWatch reports.

“People need to understand there’s a real connection and real consequence when you don’t fund [the system],” said Calabro. “Pay me now, or pay me later.”

Erin Clark

Thursday, 06 April 2017 23:31

The Right Side: Unacceptable

Hillary Clinton, is given Classified Document Training by 2 FBI Agents; has a “Non Disclosure Document” READ to her, reads it herself, signs her name after reading it and then ,UNDER OATH, tells the FBI, when interviewed “officially”, about her illegal use of a private email and closet server…that she never had any training on Classified Documents. If you haven’t read what she signed, you must go on line and read it to see how outrageous her statement was!

Barack Obama, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton ALL lie about Benghazi being caused because of a video about Islam and then Hillary tells the same lie to the bereaved parents of the deceased US victim killed in Benghazi, AS HIS BODY IS OFF LOADED ON THE TARMACK! Then Hillary lies that she ever said THAT… EVEN after the father showed his notes taken as she spoke!

Eric Holder is held in contempt of Congress, his Assistant DOJ Attorneys are held in Contempt of Federal Courts in Ferguson, New Orleans and Texas, and even barred from appearing before a Federal Court by a Federal Court Judge involving 23 different Federal Jurisdictions for violations of Perjury, Evidence Tampering, and Witness Tampering!

Loretta Lynch, meets with Bill Clinton on a remote runway with two different planes, two different Security details and Flight plans for a “coincidental” meeting, while Hillary is under a criminal FBI investigation.

Hillary Clinton is given the questions, by Donna Brazil, of CNN, before the CNN, Matt Lauer Town Hall Meeting. Brazil arrogantly objected to being asked that and denied it…for about 6 months…then admitted it as if …so what?

I could go on and on about the despicable acts of Obama and his Band of thieves…okay, I will!

Then someone (Susan Rice?) releases the identity of US Citizens who are “ overheard” by a legal wire, lies about doing it and the names are leaked! That, my friend, is a serious Federal Violation and a violation of a US Citizen’s right to privacy. I have seen entire Federal Criminal Cases DISMISSED for mishandling of legal wiretap info, that wasn’t intentional!

None of the above are a concern of the major media as it receives little, if any coverage and nothing is done about it!

Yet… contact by anyone in the Trump administration of anyone in Russia, for any reason, is a MAJOR story about… NOTHING! There is NOTHING wrong with anyone speaking to Russians UNLESS they are plotting something illegal!

The corruption in the Obama administration is unlike anything I can ever remember.

President Trump MUST fire FBI Director Comey and replace him with an EX- FBI Agent Administrator, like Jim Kalstrom, and then order Sessions to open a RICO case on the Obama administration, with a special Grand Jury NOT a special prosecutor. The Investigation MUST be handled by the FBI under new leadership. Neither a Senate nor Congressional Investigation would result in anything as neither Congress nor the Senate can find their own asses with their own two hands and you can’t do an “investigation by committee” and meet one week every month!!

J Gary DiLaura
FBI Retired

Thursday, 06 April 2017 23:29

Killer Tornadoes in Southeast U.S.

Tornadoes, some of the most violent storms on the planet, are capable of unthinkable destruction in a matter of seconds. Often unpredictable, these incredible weather phenomena are responsible for some of the most extreme impacts on the Earth, killing more people in the southeastern United States than anywhere else in the country.

April is a particularly dangerous month for tornadoes in parts of the U.S. In April 2011, 758 U.S. tornadoes set the record for any month. The April 26-28, 2011 "Superoutbreak" holds the record for the most tornadoes from a single outbreak. At least 349 tornadoes touched down across 21 states in the three days combined.

April 27 was the peak day with nearly 200 tornadoes confirmed. Four of those tornadoes were rated EF5, the highest rating possible. Swaths of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Cullman, Alabama; Birmingham, Alabama; Hackleburg, Alabama; Smithville, Mississippi; Ringgold, Georgia and Cleveland, Tennessee were leveled.

A total of 72 tornadoes touched down in Tennessee on April 27, 2011, which is the highest number of tornadoes in a single calendar day for any state in the country.

Incidentally, 62 tornadoes also tore through Alabama on that infamous April day.

A total of 324 people were killed and 2,775 were injured.

Incidentally, April is not just a dangerously tornadic month in just the U.S. What is officially considered the world's deadliest single tornado killed an estimated 1,300 in Bangladesh on April 30, 1989.

Officially, the fastest-moving tornado was the Tri-State Tornado in 1925 with a forward speed of 73 mph, t he Tri-State Tornado o n March 18, 1925 , is the deadliest on record , which carved an estimated 219-mile-long path from southeast Missouri to southern Illinois and southwest Indiana.

A total of 695 people were killed, in Murphysboro, Illinois, alone, 234 people were killed, which is the single highest tornado death toll for any city in the United States.

This year has also already had more tornado-related deaths than we saw in all of last year. An average of 70 tornado-related deaths occurred annually from 1986 to 2015, according to NOAA. A total of 17 people were killed by tornadoes in 2016. The tornado death toll for 2017 has risen to 26 after an EF1 destroyed a mobile home and killed two people in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Sunday morning.

Most of the fatalities from tornadoes so far this year occurred during a Jan. 21-22 outbreak that killed 20 people in the South. The other four additional tornado-related deaths were in Illinois and Missouri on Feb. 28.

The NWS says that nearly 40 percent of all tornado deaths have historically occurred in mobile homes. Reinforcing this is the fact that 17 of the 26 tornado-related deaths for 2017, or about 65 percent, have occurred in mobile homes.

This month, NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory kicked-off the second year of VORTEX-SE, a research program designed to understand how environmental factors and terrain in the southeastern U.S. affect tornadoes in that region. VORTEX-SE, shorthand for Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment-Southeast, will also look at how people learn of the threats posed by these storms and how they respond to protect their lives and property.

This study, which runs March 8 through May 8, brings together 40 physical and social science researchers from 20 research organizations. Scientists will deploy NOAA’s P-3 aircraft, 13 vehicles, five mobile radars, one fixed radar and other instruments in northern Alabama.

Thunderstorms in the Great Plains, such as this supercell that produced a tornado near Burwell, Nebraska, June 16, 2014, are different from storms in the southeastern United States. That's why this spring (2017), NOAA scientists and partners are deploying instruments near Huntsville, Alabama, as part of the VORTEX-SE research project.

All comic book fans have heard of ComicCon, the giant convention held in San Diego every year that celebrates the contributions of comics to art and culture. And most of them have probably heard of the Will Eisner award, which is basically the Oscars of the comic world that’s handed out there.

What you might not know, however, is that Eisner was drafted into the Army during World War II, and his creativity made a lasting impact on how soldiers learned the do’s and don’ts of their trades. He was so influential that a military comic magazine he created, “P.S. Monthly,” is still being published today.

That was just one of the cartooning genius’ accomplishments, though. Before the war, he created “The Spirit,” a comic superhero that was published in newspapers and comic books for more than a decade. Eisner is also known as one of the fathers of the graphic novel, and he even got to draw Batman once.

A Unique Training Perspective

For anyone in the military who operates any kind of machinery – a tank, a rifle or whatever – you’ve likely been told to read a clunky, boring technical manual to figure out how it works. The language in those manuals can be daunting for many, especially during Eisner’s day.

“Back in the 1940 and ‘50s, when soldiers enlisted into the Army or were drafted, they barely had a fifth grade reading level,” said Army 1st Sgt. Richard Bernard, the garrison first sergeant at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

During World War II, Eisner was stationed at APG. He worked for the post newspaper and drew comics for training. After a promotion to warrant officer, he helped develop a preventative maintenance magazine called “Army Motors” and drew characters that helped soldiers take better care of their equipment. He was then assigned to the Pentagon, where he worked until 1945. After WWII ended, Eisner formed the American Visuals Corporation to produce educational materials for the government and military.

But during the Korean War, the Army wanted an even simpler way to explain maintenance issues to the troops. Leaders needed something to grab soldiers’ attention.

“Everybody read comics back in the day. It was actually the highest form of reading at that time,” Bernard said.

So in 1951, Eisner stepped up to the challenge, and P.S. Monthly was born.

“He understood that maintenance wasn’t being done like it should have been done, and he figured out the reason why – soldiers who were coming into the Army didn’t understand what the manual said,” Bernard explained. “So, he chose to break it down on their level.”

P.S. Monthly is called that because it’s considered a “postscript” to official Army publications. It was the first of its kind and quickly became the most distributed comic magazine worldwide, providing entertainment to a captive audience, as well as helping soldiers maintain their equipment and retain information on a higher level. Eisner was even sent into combat zones like Korea and Vietnam to research material for the magazine.

Eisner eventually moved on from his Army work to write graphic novels and pursue other interests, but P.S. Monthly continued to be produced by the Army Materiel Command.

“I remember reading it when I first came in in 1995,” Bernard said. “I looked forward to that P.S. Monthly Magazine coming out.”

Eisner died in 2005 at age 87. He would have turned 100 this month. Coincidentally, Aberdeen Proving Ground is also celebrating its centennial this year, so post leaders decided to set up an exhibit in honor of Eisner’s work at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore. Along with P.S. Monthly covers, there are photos of Eisner in uniform and several pieces of his rarely-seen art.

Going Digital

While P.S. Monthly’s aesthetics have largely gone unchanged over the decades, the magazine’s current editor just announced a major shift — the magazine will be going digital in June, complete with a mobile app that will include videos and other resources.

And while P.S. Monthly is aimed at an Army audience, all service branches may find it useful.

“There is a lot of equipment that we kind of co-cross, like the weapons systems we use – the M-16, A4 – it’s the same. They use the same rifle, the same pistol. … A majority of the equipment is relatively the same,” Bernard said.

By the end of his career, Eisner had written more than two-dozen graphic novels, including his first, “A Contract With God,” and a retelling of “Moby Dick.” “The Spirit” was recreated over the years, too, and is even part of a new DC Comics series.


Thursday, 06 April 2017 23:23


The American president was a romantic, a visionary, even a utopian. He was not without flaws; his racial views were offensive for his time, repugnant for ours. But he believed in human rights and the sanctity of human life. And he had a broad view of natural rights, and they included the freedom of the seas and the virtue of national self-determination. It was a toxic brew of ideas and ideals -- it would produce rhetorical majesty and personal and national tragedy -- but on April 2, 1917, he delivered the most important speech of his life, perhaps the most important speech of his time.

The son of a preacher, the product of Johns Hopkins and Princeton, a scholar and reformer, an introvert and an inveterate golfer, Woodrow Wilson strode to the podium of the House of Representatives that day, summoned every corpuscle of compassion and every calorie of energy he possessed, and bid the United States to abandon a century-and-a-quarter-old tradition of abstinence from the affairs of Europe and to join the Great War.

"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts -- for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."

These were brave words at a time when Russia was in revolutionary tumult, Europe was in exhaustion and despair, and the conflict across the Atlantic seemed far away.

The immediate implication was clear. Americans would travel beyond their home regions for the first time, and they, and the country they returned to when the war ended the following year, would be transformed forever: more worldly, more engaged in the world, and more regarded as an essential element in world affairs. World War I, as it came to be known after there was a second one, made a world of difference.

"The war made America more urban, more modern, more devoted to pleasure, licit and illicit," wrote Will Englund in his new book, "March 1917." It also made America committed to fighting dangerous foes and ideas on foreign lands, lest their evils -- Nazi genocide, Soviet tyranny and aggression, al-Qaida terror -- reach our own land.

None of that was known when the 28th president opened his remarks. What was known was that the economic output of the United States had just surpassed that of the British Empire -- an important fact for this war and for the following one -- and that whether it remained on the sidelines in the war or moved to the center of the European conflict, the United States was moving to the center of global affairs.

"Henceforth, down to the beginning of the 21st century, American economic might would be the decisive factor in the shaping of the world order," the historian Adam Tooze would write in his 2014 book, "The Deluge," perhaps the most imaginative and insightful interpretation of World War I in a generation. Tooze, a Briton who teaches at Columbia, argued that Wilson wanted peace without victory -- one of the president's signature phrases -- to assure that the United States "emerged as the truly undisputed arbiter of world affairs."

That is a matter of substantial scholarly debate, but what is beyond debate is that Wilson's war speech marked a significant inflection point in American life and politics. And, as presidents do when setting the nation on a course of conflict, Wilson spoke the language of grandeur and moral heroism -- grandeur and heroism that would be debased in the sodden, contaminated trenches of wartime Europe.

"Just because we fight without rancor and without selfish object, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for."

Not everyone wanted to enter this war. The isolationist Sen. William E. Borah of Idaho warned that once the United States was "in the maelstrom of European politics," it would be "impossible to get out." Even a few years of Warren Harding-inspired "normalcy" wouldn't disprove the Borah contention. The president knew that.

"Wilson knew full well war's awful consequences, and he was keenly aware of the terrible risk he was taking," wrote John Milton Cooper Jr., the University of Wisconsin historian and Wilson biographer. "Yet given his temperament, it would have been nearly impossible for him not to choose war."

The president concluded his remarks to Congress this way:

"To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other."

That last sentence was an adaptation of the famous exhortation of Martin Luther. "Mr. President," said Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, "you have expressed in the loftiest manner possible, the sentiments of the American people." Two years later the Massachusetts Republican would defeat the president's plan for American entry into the League of Nations.

One of the 50 House members who voted against entering the war was Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a pacifist and the first woman to serve in Congress. Decades later, she returned for a second term, and was the only lawmaker to oppose entering World War II. In her late 80s, she would lead a march against the Vietnam War.

The great British historian A.J.P. Taylor once reflected on the European turmoil of 1848 and said that "German history reached its turning point and failed to turn." The United States reached its turning point in 1917, and turned.

David M. Shribman

Any service member with teenagers knows it can be hard to keep them entertained, especially in the summer. That’s why the Department of Defense offers military teen adventure camps, and the schedule for the 2017 camps has just been announced.

The Office of Military Community and Family Policy has teamed up with Purdue University and the Land Grant University system to give military teens – who make sacrifices for their nation, just like their parents – support in the form of fun, games and adventure.

The teen adventure camps aren’t like the norm, though. Kids ages 14-18 can get experiences that aren’t typically available through military youth programs.

Would your teen like to hike to a 1946 B-17 Air Force crash site in the Rocky Mountains, or snorkel through crystal-clear springs in Florida? Maybe they’re up for learning survival skills like trapping, foraging and fishing in the Kentucky wilderness, or canoeing and sailing along the coast of Maine?

Aside from adventure, the camps also build teens’ self-esteem, team-building and life skills and their ability to plan and make decisions.

So far, the camps are scheduled throughout the summer of 2017 in four states: Kentucky, Maine, Georgia and Colorado. Families can choose camps by the date or location, and they’re all available at little to no cost. To find out more about a camp or to apply, visit the military teen adventure camps website. Click on “camps by location,” and that will take you to the contact information for each camp:

The camps were first offered six years ago and have become very popular. About 2,300 military youths took part in varying camps during 2015.

If high adventure isn’t your child’s thing, there are also Operation Purple camps you can check out that are offered by the National Military Family Association.

No matter what, see what options are in store for your child this summer. Because after all, when we invest in the well-being of the military family, we invest in the well-being of the nation!


Thursday, 06 April 2017 23:18


Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has been sharply critical of the panel's Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, for visiting the White House to view classified documents that Nunes says show the Obama administration intercepted the communications of Donald Trump associates before the president took office in January.

Among other things, Schiff slammed Nunes for viewing the documents by himself and not sharing them with Democrats on the committee. So last week, White House counsel Don McGahn invited Schiff to come see the documents for himself. Schiff did so on Friday.

Now, both the Republican chairman and the Democratic ranking member on the Intel Committee have seen the documents. And now, the public has a chance to hear another assessment to balance Nunes' claim that he saw "dozens" of intelligence reports involving the incidental collection of Trumpworld figures in Obama administration intercepts, with the names of some of them "unmasked," and that none of it had to do with Russia. In other words, Nunes suggested the Obama administration misused its wiretapping powers to gather information on the Trump team.

So with Schiff's visit to the White House, a chance for balance. But after viewing the documents, Schiff has gone nearly completely silent about what he saw. He has kept up his criticism of how Nunes came to view the material, but on what's actually in the documents, Schiff has said virtually nothing.

On Friday, immediately after viewing the documents, Schiff released a statement in which he declined to say anything about substance and repeated earlier criticisms of Republicans' handling of the matter.

"While I cannot discuss the content of the documents," Schiff said, "if the White House had any concern over these materials, they should have been shared with the full committee in the first place."

Schiff made no public comments on Saturday, and then on Sunday morning appeared on CNN, where Jake Tapper asked Schiff if, having seen the documents, "can you understand why Chairman Nunes might have some issues with the surveillance that was going on?"

"I can't go into the contents of the documents, Jake," Schiff said, before a quick pivot to Nunes' methods. "I can say I don't agree with the chairman's characterization, which is exactly why it's so important you don't share documents with just one person or even two people. They need to be shared with both full committees."

Continuing, Schiff said "the most important thing" about the documents is not what is in them but how they were handled:

"But the most important thing people need to know about these documents is not classified, and it's a couple of things. First, the deputy assistant to the White House informed me when I went to see them that these are exactly the same materials that were shown to the chairman.

"Now, this is a very interesting point. How does the White House know that these are the same materials that were shown to the chairman, if the White House wasn't aware what the chairman was being shown?

"And the second point was also made to me. And this is -- I think was also underscored by Sean Spicer -- and that is, it was told to me by the deputy assistant that these materials were produced in the ordinary course of business.

"Well, the question for the White House and for Mr. Spicer is the ordinary course of whose business? Because, if these were produced either for or by the White House, then why all of the subterfuge? There's nothing ordinary about the process that was used here at all."

All the talk about intercepts, Schiff said, was just an attempt by Trump and Republicans to distract from questions about Trump and Russia.

By that time, anyone interested in the substance of the issue -- Do the documents show that Obama administration officials picked up Trumpworld figures in electronic intercepts and then identified them by name? -- was entirely frustrated. Schiff appeared determined to say nothing about substance.

"I guess the question that Nunes is asking or suggesting that we should be asking in the media," Tapper said to Schiff, "(is) who unmasked these Trump advisers, and is it possible that any of this unmasking was being done for political reasons, instead of for legitimate ones?"

"Well, first of all, I can't talk about, as I mentioned, the contents of any documents," Schiff said. "So at this point, I can't say whether anything was masked or unmasked improperly."

Schiff then pivoted again to criticize Republican procedures.

Monday morning, Bloomberg's Eli Lake reported that former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice "requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter." If that is accurate, it seems unlikely that the "most important" thing about the documents is how they were handled.

After seeing the documents with his own eyes, Schiff had a chance to shed some light on what has become a key question in the Trump-Russia matter. He didn't take it.

Byron York

Thursday, 06 April 2017 23:10

Short Takes

No bull: Fearless Girl stands her ground

The defiant, burly, overly endowed bronze bull that adorns the entrance to Wall Street in Manhattan has been long overdue for a feminine touch. In honor of International Women's Day, an investment firm commissioned sculptor Kristen Visbal to install Fearless Girl directly in the 7,000-pound bull's path.It was meant to be a temporary installation, but tourists couldn't get enough of this unlikely duo. Fearless Girl's overwhelming popularity prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to declare that she's here to stay, at least for the next year. "She spoke to the moment. That sense that women were not going to live in fear," De Blasio said.Not everyone is thrilled. A spokesman for the Italian sculptor who created the bull denounced Fearless Girl as "an outrage" and an illegal interloper on the bull's sacred territory. Legal action could follow.Give it a rest, guys. There's no space on this planet where fearless girls should be blocked from taking a stand.

Another Webster chess team national title

The Webster University chess team won its fifth straight national championship last weekend in New York. St. Louis University finished third, behind Webster and Texas Tech. Webster's coach, former women's world champion Susan Polgar, who formerly coached at Texas Tech, now has seven national titles under her belt. That would be a monumental achievement in any sport.She said one weekend competition lasted a grueling 13 hours, which is enough to test anyone's patience and endurance.

2,750 foul shots, not one afoul

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Tom Amberry, a retired Long Beach, Calif., podiatrist, died March 18 at the age of 94. With him went the world record for most consecutive free throws.
Amberry was 71 on that day in 1993 when he made 2,750 straight shots from the charity stripe at a gym in Orange County. It took him 12 hours. "I could have made more -- a lot more," Amberry once recalled. "But they were closing the gym, so they kicked me out."
Amberry shot fouls every day for exercise. He shot them right-handed and left-handed alike. All it took, he said, was pure, locked-in concentration and muscle memory. And keep your elbows in.
He was on the David Letterman show. He was sought out by big-name coaches and players. He wrote a book on the subject. He's in the Guinness Book of Records. He claimed to have made 500 in a row on 473 occasions.
If you're obsessive enough to shoot them, you're obsessive enough to count them.

O'Reilly goes for offensiveness trifecta

Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly really does need to give it a rest. As in go home, kick off the shoes, and leave broadcasting behind. His employer had to settle a lawsuit reportedly in the high six figures after host Juliet Huddy accused O'Reilly of making inappropriate phone calls and trying to forcefully kiss her. When she complained, the network retaliated by demoting her to a 4:30 a.m. anchoring slot.
Last week, O'Reilly showed a clip of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., giving a speech. On a dual screen, O'Reilly could be seen pumping a black power fist while mockingly mouthing "right on." When the clip of the black congresswoman finished, O'Reilly said, "I didn't hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig." Another Fox host immediately came to Waters' defense.
After viewers began calling for O'Reilly's ouster, he apologized. Kind of. Then he attacked her again. Also on Tuesday, two women in the network's payroll department sued, claiming they had been subjected to "top-down racial harassment." Anyone see a pattern here?

End of the splashdown

Thursday's first-ever launch of a previously launched rocket booster was a milestone in space exploration. The space shuttle program was the first to embrace the concept of flying reusable craft into space, but never before has the expensive first-stage rocket booster been recovered and used again in a subsequent launch. All that changed when SpaceX founder Elon Musk pioneered new technology that allowed rocket boosters to be guided vertically back to a landing pad rather than being unceremoniously ditched in the ocean.
The savings could be enormous and mark a dramatic step toward a human mission to Mars. Musk compares the waste of rocket boosters during launches as the equivalent to scrapping a 747 jumbo jet after a single flight. With space shuttles, it turned out, the cost of refurbishing after every flight made it prohibitively expensive to continue the program. Not so with rocket boosters, which could now lead to a 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in the $62 million cost of each launch.