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Friday, 17 June 2016 15:22

Saving our ocean one turtle at a time

A sea turtle floats trapped in a derelict fishing net off the west side of Oahu, Hawaii, June, 4, 2016. Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Young and Seaman Cameron Ables, members of Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point rescued three sea turtles trapped in the derelict fishing net and brought the net to shore for disposal. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Young/Released)

Today we celebrate World Oceans Day, a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. This year’s theme is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet.” Individuals and organizations across the planet are taking action to prevent pollution in our oceans.

The Coast Guard is known worldwide as America’s premiere lifesavers on the water. Rescues take many shapes ranging from a cruise ship passenger in distress to the crew of a fishing vessel foundering in a storm. Recently two Coast Guardsmen performed a different sort of rescue on their off-duty time. This resulted in not just three lives saved, but protected marine life, kept waters free of hazards, and ultimately cared for our oceans.

The word for sea turtle in Hawaiian is “honu.” Conservation efforts have allowed the population of green sea turtles to rebound somewhat, but they remain threatened and are covered by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Petty Officer 1st Class Matt Young and Seaman Cameron Ables rescued three honu from a derelict fishing net off the west side of Oahu Saturday.

“As we approached, we saw a mass of net and fishing line with three turtles entangled and we decided to take action,” said Young. “We both slid into the water with knives in hand.”

Young attended to the first turtle he saw while Ables attended another. They found clear fishing line wrapped around the fin and head of the first turtle. It could swim a little, but it couldn’t go far from the mass of netting. Young cut the line and the turtle pulled itself free and swam away. Ables moved heavy netting aside, freeing the remaining turtles.

Realizing this mass of derelict net and line was still a hazard to other marine life and safe navigation, they made the decision to bring it to shore by attaching a line to it and towing it in. The weight and size of the netting made moving and steering their 16-foot boat a challenge. When they reached approximately 1,000 yards from shore, Young and Able swam the net to shore.

“We would swim about 12 feet then the swell would pull us back 6 feet,” said Young. “Lucky for us we are professional swimmers!”

Originally from Connersville, Indiana, Young has been in the Coast Guard for 14 years and swims competitively in races such as the annual Alcatraz race across San Francisco Bay. Ables is from Clovis, California, and has been in the Coast Guard for about 14 months. He was a varsity swimmer and water polo competitor in high school, but didn’t really develop a deep love for the ocean before being stationed in Hawaii.

As they came closer to shore, the seabed became shallow enough for them to grab rocks by hand or brace their feet on rock ledges and hold the net from being pulled out by the big swell.

Derelict nets present a real hazard to marine life of all sizes throughout the world. It can entrap and drown them. Since 1996 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has removed more than 904 tons of marine debris from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands alone, not including Oahu or the other main Hawaiian Islands.

The synthetic net and line materials that Young and Ables came upon had unintentionally trapped the turtles because the nylon and polypropylene materials were slow to degrade. Much of the fishing gear recovered through cleanups can be recycled or diverted into energy through local initiatives, but the best-case scenario is that it doesn’t become lost or abandoned and a threat to marine life in the first place.

After their good deed Young and Ables continued their original trip up the coast.

“It’s a good feeling to save lives, all lives. Cameron and I swam back out to my boat and karma gave us an awesome day on the water swimming with more turtles, dolphins and spotted eagle rays,” said Young.

World Oceans Day is a reminder that we all need to do our part year-round, like Young and Ables, because the ocean impacts the health of our environment and economy.

Sara Mooers

Friday, 17 June 2016 15:19

Letters to Editor

It is sad that so many innocent people lost their lives yesterday. US is supposed to have the Best Military in the world and we can't handle these rats from Middle East?? Obama want to give Asylum and to get 100,000.00 people /refugees to settle in US? Why would we knowingly help these people to settle in U.S.? They will make Washington, DC like their Caliphate. They will screw America as they did to Europe!! What is wrong with our politicians? They are poor leaders or are fooling us for reasons they don’t share.
WAKE UP PEOPLE, THESE REFUGES ARE LIKE the TROJAN HORSE. THEY WILL MAKE WASHINGTON, DC THEIR NEW CAPITAL.

Chris Landrum

 

The Clinton Foundation is the greatest criminal enterprise and money-laundering operation in existence today. It's nothing more than a slush fund for the Clintons and their minions/stooges.

Sonny Crist

We love your focus on illegal fishing since we are a third generation Florida Commercial Fishermen family. Your article about the Chinese was spot on. Chinese fishermen are widely known for being destroyers of natural acquatic habitat that include coral reefs causing it to drive away fishery resources within its territorial waters not to mention the gears they used that entangle sea otters and get them to drawn. They also illegally engage in trading tortoise that are considered endagered. For this reason, they are forced to fish outside of their own boundaries and ruin other countries' environment. They feel they are untouchables.

 

Bob, Mary and Lou Wlliams

Friday, 17 June 2016 15:10

In the Middle of Nowhere

 

To reach the Venus Project Research Center, a utopian compound created by a 100-year-old futurist, drive through vast stretches of fields, orchards, and dirt roads in south-central Florida. There's little cell phone service and no signs of other humans on the way to a white gate. A sandy path flanked by lush tropical trees leads to a cluster of white dome-like structures. Inside one sits Jacque Fresco, hunched on a couch within his own model of an ideal society.

Fresco, now hard of hearing, gave me a nod when I visited in March. "Thank you for driving all this way," said Roxanne Meadows, 67, a former portrait artist and Fresco's longtime girlfriend and collaborator. A dozen people had turned out that day to see the secluded 21-acre property, including Venus Project devotees from as far away as Australia.
Fresco's 100th birthday bash, held days earlier at a convention center in Fort Myers, drew more than 600 fans. For them, these rounded retro structures in the wilds of Florida are a hint of what could be: a master plan for a City of the Future without money, a place where all needs are met by technology. That city, Fresco says, will be run not by politicians but by a central computer that will distribute resources as needed. It's a vision he's been working on for most of his life. “A machine doesn’t have emotions,” Fresco likes to say. “It’s not susceptible to corruption.” Social engineering and favorable living circumstances will ensure that people act responsibly toward one another.
 
A Brooklyn native born in 1916, Fresco embodies a certain breed of irrepressible, self-taught inventors and futurists, the sort of free-spirited visionaries from the 20th century who have largely been subsumed today by the world-making ambitions of Silicon Valley tech culture. Fresco's backstory includes all the requisite (and difficult to verify) tales of a imaginative life. Fed up with the status quo and worried about the future, he says he dropped out of school at age 13 and hitchhiked across America before taking a temporary job drafting designs for an aircraft company. What followed has been a lifetime of dreaming up novel technologies and infrastructure, including oval-shaped driverless cars, floating cities, and mass-produced extruded dwellings.
On the property in Venus, Fla.—his utopian master project adopted the name of the town—two domes contain workshops filled with hundreds of models and renderings. There are disc-shaped aircrafts and a channel-digger designed to help filter off the ocean’s rising sea levels into uninhabited deserts. Two more domes house a rotating cast of international Venus Project volunteers, who help spread Fresco's ideas worldwide.

The compound itself is intended to show what the outskirts of a city built in the image of the Venus Project might look like. "We didn't build what we wanted to build, we built what we could afford to build," says Meadows, who gives tours of the grounds. The couple, who met 40 years ago when Meadows came to hear Fresco talk, purchased the property in 1979. It had previously been a tomato farm. They planted hundreds of trees, dredged the land, and began building examples of mass-produceable housing.

"We labored in obscurity for a long time," says Meadows. Everything was financed with money they scraped together doing various odd jobs, such as freelancing as model builders for architecture firms and medical equipment companies.

As for Fresco, he remains convinced his computer-governed city can become reality. "We already have the technology to do it," he says, speaking with the group after the tour. What’s lacking, as he sees it, is the will. Once modern life gets truly hard, Fresco believes there will be a revolution that will clear the way for the Venus Project to be built. “There will be a lot of people getting shot, including me,” he says wryly. “I’m surprised I haven’t been shot already.”

By 6:30 p.m., the 100-year-old visionary is starting to fade. It’s been a long birthday week. “Thanks so much for coming,” he tells us. “Now I’m gonna hit the sack.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) launched a talking filibuster on the Senate floor - which was quickly joined by fellow Democrats - in an effort to pressure Republicans to accept legislation that would deny suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms and require universal background checks.
The Senate is debating a spending bill that Democrats hope to offer gun amendments to, but Murphy said that the Senate should "not proceed with debate on amendments to this bill until we have figured out a way to come together on, at the very least, two simple ideas."
"I'm going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful, bipartisan way," Murphy continued on the Senate floor on Wednesday, after he first started his filibuster at about 11:20 a.m.
Murphy, a top gun-control advocate whose home state saw the massacre of 20 school children at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, launched the filibuster, and was immediately backed up by colleagues Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). More Senate Democrats are expected to join the talk-a-thon throughout the day and night on Wednesday - the same day presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with the National Rifle Association.
The NRA has backed an approach favored by Senate Republicans that would allow a judge to arbitrate people who mistakenly end up on the terrorism watch list and want to buy guns, while Democrats prefer giving the Justice Department such authority. Both approaches were voted down by the Senate last December.
Senate Democrats are refusing to give up the floor, which prevents any amendment votes on the spending bill currently being considered by the chamber that provides funding for the Justice Department and other related agencies. The tactics by Democrats are likely to prevent some senators from attending an all-senators briefing on the Orlando attacks at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
"Senator Murphy and Senate Democrats are holding the floor because they will not accept inaction or half measures in the face of continued slaughter," Murphy spokesman Chris Harris said. "Congress cannot sit on the sidelines while killers freely buy weapons to brutally murder the people Congress is supposed to be protecting."
Democrats are attempting to pressure Republicans on tougher gun-control laws after the Orlando mass shooting in which 49 people were killed and at least 50 were injured at a gay nightclub early Sunday morning. Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not filed cloture on the bill, Senate Democrats can talk indefinitely.
"I've cleared my entire day," Booker said. "I've cleared my evening events ... so that I can stay on this floor and support Sen. Murphy."
The Democrats' floor fight came as some potential signs of compromise arose on gun measures in the Senate. A spokeswoman for Everytown for Gun Safety, the pro-gun control group led by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, confirmed Wednesday morning that they were working with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on measures to ensure suspected terrorists could not purchase weapons.
Toomey's office declined requests for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday.
 
Politico News Florida
Friday, 17 June 2016 14:56

Aftermath of Tragedy: Florida Copes

On a late Sunday night more than 300 people came under attack

Friday, 17 June 2016 14:55

Letter to Editor

Please stop cutting the old electric poles in half and putting up new more expensive ones.

It is dangerous for the workers and the public.

Put the lines underground now when it is easy to do during construction. This will  be vital when the next hurricane hits.

Remember Charley when there was no electricity and water for two weeks and nobody could get back to save their belongings.\

Transformers will be safe from lighting.

Precious space will be more available for transportation.

Traffic visibility will increase; think about the views of our precious island and gulf without them.

Please use pervious pavers on our sidewalks and boulevard and side streets( or just turn it back to hard packed sand) to solve our storm water issues and thus prevent discharges into our estuary as well as save on our water bills and the need to spend 60 mil more on storm water treatment loans.

The value and ascetics to our island will increase greatly.

Please explain why we are not using alternative methods of construction such as trenchless and directional technology as outlined on page 14 of Tetra Tech's water facilities report resulting in minimal disruption and further damage to our economy.

Why can't construction go full force 24/7 especially during off season?

Why are we not asking for Emanate Domain on the sugar land instead of a water treatment component for C-43 in order to prevent a disaster such as the 1928 hurricane event?

Why did weekly town manager reports stop being published in the town hall's archives in 2015?

What happened to the letter from Tetra Tech to the town and their reference to not being paid?

The time is now, it is not too late.

We have the opportunity to be one of the greatest places on earth.

Choose Utopia not Myopia

Ber Stevenson

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 15:56

When a Man

When a man thinks he's a duck then hes diagnosed as having a mental illness. When a man thinks he's possessed he has a mental illness. When a man thinks that he's a super hero then hes diagnosed as having a mental illness. When a little boy thinks he's a 60 year old manu hes diagnosed as having a mental illness. When a man thinks he's a cream cheese bagel he obvously has a mental illness. When a man thinks he's hearing voices in his head hes mentally ill. But when a man thinks he's a woman but his penis, genetics, chemical make up, and birth certificate (determined by trained medical professionals) indicate otherwise then its merely an "identity issue. And when a man with an identity issue (apparently an alternative word for mental illness) hes all at once vested with some special "rights" that permits him to shower and go potty next to little girls.
 
Craig Weston
Tuesday, 14 June 2016 15:55

Senator Sends Memorial Day Message

Too often, the true meaning of Memorial Day gets lost amid all the holiday sales and backyard barbecues. But as you gather with friends or simply enjoy some time off, it’s important to remember why we set aside this day each May. 

It’s a day to remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our nation’s armed forces. It’s a day to pay tribute to them for their courage and selflessness. And it’s a day to thank them for their service and pray for the loved ones they left behind.  

              I spent Monday in Mims, Florida and attended a Memorial Day ceremony at the new Cape Canaveral National Cemetery. The courageous warriors laid to rest there are true American heroes, as are all who lost their lives in service to their country. It’s important that we, as a nation, pause to remember them and the sacrifices they’ve made — after all, that’s what this day is really all about.

              Bill Nelson U.S. Senator              

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 15:47

God's Table

There are thousands of homeless people throughout our nation and a multitude of programs that offer aid and assistance. One such program, found locally here on Fort Myers Beach is known as “God’s Table” located at the Chapel by the Sea.  Formally an ecumenical program that has been serving the community for 14 years it is internally described as the Community Cooperative.  Community Cooperative took it over 2 years ago when asked to step in by the program director who at the time was having a bout of bad health. 
God’s Table offers daily assistance and aid to the homeless through the untiring efforts of its volunteers.  Every morning at 7:00 volunteers gather at the Chapel by the Sea to offer a safe place where food is shared, clothing is provided, showers are available and a sack lunch is prepared to hand out. 
The volunteers at God’s Table are guided by compassion and share a common goal to help those in need. One example is Darc Graffam who has volunteered at the program for the past two and a half years.
“I don’t do it for my own self-satisfaction but to honor God because he told me to take care of the poor and I love to cook,” said Graffam with an effervescent smile on her face.
Another who feel the need to serve our local homeless is Charlotte Walters who has been volunteering at God’s Table for about a year.
“I feel blessed” she said while packing up sack lunches, “if I can help in some way,” she added.
In addition to God’s Table every Friday at 7:30am there is an onsite Family Health Center Homeless Clinic, a program put in place to aid and assist individuals who meet the criteria (essentially being without Medicaid or Medicare coverages). 
The volunteers at God’s Table are obviously dedicated to serving the poor and encourage others to help them in their daily service of compassion.  If you are interested or willing to volunteer with the folks at God’s Table, then visit them at Chapel by the Sea, where any of the regular volunteers will be happy to find a place for you. 
When asked why she chose to volunteer at God’s Table, another well-known local, Gretchen Johnson, who has been at God’s Table approximately two years, was clear with conviction.
“I must do something for my fellow man,” said Johnson.
The number of services offered to the homeless on the Beach at God’s Table are notable. They have a Nurse Practitioner on site that sees patients as well as Pharmacy and Prescription assistance.
The volunteers at God’s Table enjoy helping out so much that even when they are shorthanded during the off-season, summer months, they still persevere to get the job done.
There are some in the community that question why the same people seem to always be at the Table. When asked if they see a lot of the same faces, Graffam replied affirmatively.  
“Yes its heart breaking to see some of them who don’t want to be helped but some are in situations where they are unable to help themselves such as a disability or they may lack family and relationships,” she explained.”
Fort Myers Beach has other services available to its residents such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Monday thru Friday between 9:00 & 10:00 a.m. 365 days of the year and Wednesday during Beach season St. Vincent offers services such as budget counseling, rent assistance, emergency transportation, referral services, assistance with utility bills, bus passes, and food vouchers as well as a food pantry.  They also house a representative from the Veterans Administration and the Salvation Army to assist veterans applying for medical benefits and pensions as well as, assessing individuals for case management services.
Looking elsewhere around Florida, it became quite clear that other communities take a less compassionate approach to the homeless.
Sarasota Florida recently lifted a law against “flying signs” in December of 2015.  A panhandler can now go out and fly a sign to make $20 in an hour.  Before the law was lifted it could have cost up to $500 in fines or up to 60 days in jail but Sarasota has now become a haven for panhandlers.  The law was lifted allowing the homeless to solicit money from people in their vehicles, because the ACLU felt it infringed upon their constitutional right to freedom of speech.  As a result there has been an influx of homeless pouring in to Sarasota because of the newly passed laws.  With all the panhandlers coming in and lining their medians and roadways city officials plan to review this updated ordinance that will permit the police to arrest panhandlers in the street and on the medians. 
The question on everybody’s mind is when are we extending our hand too far and how far do we go to help those in need.  
NAIROBI, Kenya, June 5, 2016 (ENS) – “More than one quarter of the world’s elephant population has been killed in a decade,” according to the International Police, INTERPOL, and the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, in a new report that emphasizes the financial machinations behind environmental crimes such as poaching.
Published today on the UN-backed World Environment Day, the “rapid response report” finds that the value of environmental crime has risen by 26 percent since 2014.
In fact, environmental crime is the world’s fourth largest criminal enterprise – after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking, Interpol and UNEP say environmental crime dwarfs the illegal trade in small arms, which is valued at about US$3 billion annually.
“Environmental crime is growing at an alarming pace.” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock, who heads the world’s largest international police organization, with 190 member countries.
“The complexity of this type of criminality requires a multi-sector response underpinned by collaboration across borders. Through its global policing capabilities, Interpol is resolutely committed to working with its member countries to combat the organized crime networks active in environmental crime,” he said.
Some of the most vulnerable wildlife, including rhinos and elephants, are being killed at a rate that has grown by more than 25 percent every year over the last 10 years, the report states.
In that same 10 year period, poachers have killed an average of 3,000 elephants a year in Tanzania, roughly 10 elephants a day losing their lives to poachers and other kinds of human-elephant conflict.
The ivory is smuggled to Asia where it is carved into ornamental objects that are in high demand.
The report calculates that as an annual street value for ivory traffickers of US$10.5 million, an amount five times greater than the entire national budget of Tanzania’s wildlife division.
That pattern is repeated on a broader scale. The amount of money lost from environmental crime is 10,000 times greater than the amount of money spent by international agencies on combating it, just US$20-30 million, the report estimates.
The two organizations – the international environmental agency and the international police agency – pooled their data and calculated that the value of environmental crime has ballooned to US$91-258 billion today. In 2014 it stood at US$70-213 billion.
Titled “The Rise of Environmental Crime,” the report blames weak laws and inadequate funding for security forces for the inability of many countries to prevent international criminal networks and armed rebels from profiting from a trade that fuels conflicts, devastates ecosystems and is threatening species with extinction.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “The rise of environmental crime across the world is deeply troubling. The vast sums of money generated from these despicable crimes are fueling insecurity and keeping highly sophisticated international criminal gangs in business. It is essential the world acts now to combat this growing menace before it is too late.”
The report recommends strong action, legislation and sanctions at national and international levels.
To begin taking effective action against poachers, UNEP and Interpol would like to see legislation targeted at disrupting overseas tax havens.
They want a big increase in financial support, enough to deal with the serious threat environmental crime poses to sustainable development.
Poachers need to find other ways of making a living, the report acknowledges. The basic problem – poverty – will not be solved until there are economic incentives and alternative livelihoods for those at the bottom of the environmental crime chain, such as poachers.