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The Walt Disney Co. is planning to layoff about 4,000 more employees than it initially reported to the federal government because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, the company expects to layoff 32,000 employees in the upcoming months, according to its U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) report filed Wednesday. The entertainment company, which employs 203,000 people worldwide, includes media networks, studio entertainment, parks, other experiences.

In the filing, Disney revealed its plans to terminate the additional employees, mostly in parks, experiences and products.

 

"Due to the current climate, including COVID-19 impacts, and changing environment in which we are operating, the company has generated efficiencies in its staffing, including limiting hiring to critical business roles, furloughs and reductions-in-force," Disney said in the filing.

About 155,000 employees work in Disney's parks, resorts and retail stores worldwide, according to the report. The company had announced in September that it would layoff 28,000 workers, mostly from the business sector. The job cuts will take place through the first half of fiscal year 2021.

 

Disney furlough more than 120,000 employees during the initial months of the pandemic, continuing to provide medical benefits. Disney Cruise Line sailings have remained suspended since March 14. The company also closed resorts and parks in the U.S. in March and reopened them in July. Some employees were able to return to work as government regulations were lifted but with limited operations.

The company has incurred about $1 billion in additional costs from COVID-19 safety requirements and modifications, according to the report.

"With the unknown duration of COVID-19 and yet to be determined timing of the phased reopening of certain businesses, it is not possible to precisely estimate the impact of COVID-19 on our operations in future quarters," Disney said in the filing. "The reopening or closure of our businesses is dependent on applicable government requirements, which vary by location, are subject to ongoing changes, which could result from increasing COVID-19 cases."

Without the savings from furloughed employees, Disney said it would be unable to balance the additional costs for maintaining operations at parks, products, and experiences during the pandemic. The company said it might raise additional financing, reduce spending, and implement more furloughs or layoffs in the future.

"Some of these measures may have an adverse impact on our businesses," Disney said.

 

Nyamekye Daniel

The Center Square

In findings recently published in the journal Science Advances, these boisterous, red-beaked songbirds, known as zebra finches, have been shown to pick one another out of a crowd (or flock) based on a particular peer's distinct song or contact call.

Like humans who can instantly tell which friend or relative is calling by the timbre of the person's voice, zebra finches have a near-human capacity for language mapping. Moreover, they can remember each other's unique vocalizations for months and perhaps longer, the findings suggest.

"The amazing auditory memory of zebra finches shows that birds' brains are highly adapted for sophisticated social communication," said study lead author Frederic Theunissen, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology, integrative biology and neuroscience.

Theunissen and fellow researchers sought to gauge the scope and magnitude of zebra finches' ability to identify their feathered peers based purely on their unique sounds. As a result, they found that the birds, which mate for life, performed even better than anticipated.

"For animals, the ability to recognize the source and meaning of a cohort member's call requires complex mapping skills, and this is something zebra finches have clearly mastered," Theunissen said.

A pioneer in the study of bird and human auditory communication for at least two decades, Theunissen acquired a fascination and admiration for the communication skills of zebra finches through his collaboration with UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Julie Elie, a neuroethologist who has studied zebra finches in the forests of their native Australia. Their teamwork yielded groundbreaking findings about the communication skills of zebra finches.

Zebra finches usually travel around in colonies of 50 to 100 birds, flying apart and then coming back together. Their songs are typically mating calls, while their distance or contact calls are used to identify where they are, or to locate one another.

"They have what we call a 'fusion fission' society, where they split up and then come back together," Theunissen said. "They don't want to separate from the flock, and so, if one of them gets lost, they might call out 'Hey, Ted, we're right here.' Or, if one of them is sitting in a nest while the other is foraging, one might call out to ask if it's safe to return to the nest."

These days, Theunissen keeps a few dozen zebra finches in aviaries on and around campus, 20 of which were used in this latest experiment.

In a two-part experiment, 20 captive zebra finches were trained to distinguish between different birds and their vocalizations. At first, half the birds were tested on memorizing songs, while the other half were assessed on distance or contact calls. They then switched those tasks.

Next, the zebra finches were placed, one at a time, inside a chamber and listened to sounds as part of a reward system. The goal was to train them to respond to particular zebra finches by hearing several different renditions of those birds' distinct vocalizations and memorizing them.

By pecking a key inside the chamber, the bird subjects triggered an audio recording of a zebra finch vocalization. If they waited until the six-second recording ended, and it was part of the reward group, they received birdseed. If they pecked before the recording was finished, they moved to the next recording. Over several trials, they learned which vocalizations would yield birdseed, and which ones to skip.

Next, the zebra finches were introduced to more audio recordings from new zebra finches, to teach them to distinguish which vocalizations belonged to which bird. They soon learned to differentiate between 16 different zebra finches.

In fact, the zebra finches, both male and female, performed so well in the tests that four of them were given the more challenging task of distinguishing between 56 different zebra finches.

On average, they succeeded in recognizing 42 different zebra finches, based on their signature sounds. Plus, they were still able to identify the birds based on their unique sounds a month later.

"I am really impressed by the spectacular memory abilities that zebra finches possess in order to interpret communication calls," Theunissen said. "Previous research shows that songbirds are capable of using simple syntax to generate complex meanings and that, in many bird species, a song is learned by imitation. It is now clear that the songbird brain is wired for vocal communication."

University of California Berkeley

Donald Trump's claim that the 2020 election remains undecided, Joe Biden has begun to name his national security team.

Right now, it looks Democratic establishment all the way.

Antony Blinken, a longtime foreign policy aide, is Biden's choice for secretary of state. Jake Sullivan, one of Hillary Clinton's closest aides, is said to be his choice for national security adviser.

Biden's urgency in naming his foreign policy team is understandable.

For if his election is confirmed by the Electoral College, then he will find himself on Jan. 20 with a lineup of foreign policy crises.

First is Afghanistan. While a Beltway battle has erupted over the wisdom of Trump's decision to cut in half, to 2,500, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by Jan. 15, no one denies the risk this entails for the besieged pro-American government in Kabul.

Ex-Ambassador to Afghanistan and Pakistan Ryan Crocker summed it up Friday before the House Armed Services Committee: "The worst thing we can do is what we are doing. ... Basically telling the Taliban, 'You win. We lose. Let's dress this up as best we can.'"

America "is waving the white flag" of surrender, said Crocker.

Saturday, a barrage of rockets slammed into the Green Zone of Kabul where many embassies are located, killing eight and wounding two dozen. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.

As President Biden is not going to send fresh regiments of U.S. troops back to Afghanistan, he could, in his first year, face a collapse of the Kabul regime and a triumph of the Taliban, whom we expelled from power 19 years ago for hosting the al-Qaida terrorists who perpetrated 9/11.

Biden could, in his first days in office, preside over the first U.S. defeat in a major war since Vietnam.

A second situation confronting the new president is China. For the China of 2021 is not the China with which Barack Obama and Biden had to deal. The China of today revels in its Communist ideology.

It openly crushes democratic dissent in Hong Kong and defends "reeducation camps" for Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, uses air and naval forces and missile threats to assert and to defend its claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, to Taiwan, and to the Senkaku Islands that Japan controls and claims.

U.S. planes and ships flying close to Chinese territorial claims are intercepted and treated as hostile.

This is not a China that is going to back down before American power. If the U.S. imposes sanctions on Beijing, then Beijing will reciprocate with sanctions on the U.S. And if the U.S. decides to use force, the U.S. should not be surprised if China reciprocates in kind.

President Biden, it is said, will find a way to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal from which Trump rudely exited.

And how will this sit with Israel?

Sunday, at a memorial service for Founding Father David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu sent a message, clearly for Biden: "We must stick to an uncompromising policy to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. There must be no return to the previous nuclear agreement."

How will Biden deal with the now-regular Israeli attacks on Iran and Iranian-backed militias in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon? What would Biden do if Iran responded with attacks on Israel?

This is not an academic question. Sunday, the Israelis launched new attacks on Iranian-backed militia in Syria, and Trump has said that if an Iranian hand is found behind an attack that kills an American, then the U.S. will retaliate against Iran.

While his foreign policy advisers argued successfully against a Trump proposal for a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz, Israeli strikes on Iranian-backed militia in Syria could produce retaliation, and a sudden larger and wider war.

Worst-case scenario: Iran responds to an Israeli attack; Americans are killed; Trump retaliates; and Biden inherits a war with Iran he must fight or seek to end.

Then, there are the human rights backsliders that are U.S. partners and allies -- Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. How does Biden deal with the party's progressives who demand he sanction such partner-nations -- without risking the loss of these countries' cooperation on our policy agenda?

And the question with regard to Afghanistan is also true of Syria and Iraq. How do we extract our military from these endless conflicts without losing any leverage we have, and with it losing our influence over the composition and character of the regime and its direction?

"America First" has an answer to these questions: If there are no vital U.S. interests imperiled, keep U.S. troops out. And ashcan the utopian nonsense of trying to plant democracy in the sandy soil of a Middle East that has shown itself unreceptive to that particular crop.

The interventionalists got us into the sandbox. Let's see if they can get us out.

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Patrick J. Buchanan

Monday, 30 November 2020 09:50

Georgia's Rev. Warnock: Rev. Wright Acolyte

 

 

Secular liberals have a serious problem with any commingling of church and state ... at least when the church in question opposes their most precious and permissive causes, like the right to abort unborn babies, the right to subsidized contraceptives, and the right to invent your own genders and pronouns.

But when a church gives off a whiff of "progressive" ideology or theology, well, that's a different matter entirely. Religion then becomes a qualification, not a disqualification.

This was encapsulated in a tweet by Sam Stein of the Daily Beast: "Why are Raphael Warnock's faith and sermons fair game for attack but Amy Coney Barrett's religious views not?" The Rev. Raphael Warnock, now a Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia, is hailed by the secular media as an inheritor of not only Martin Luther King Jr.'s "iconic" Baptist church but also his leftist causes.

This is a curious stance for Stein, since he wrote an alarm-bells article last month in which he claimed Barrett had allowed her signature to appear on a local ad protesting the "barbaric legacy" of Roe v. Wade. Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review found that this claim was inaccurate, that Barrett only signed a statement supporting an end to "abortion on demand."

Stein surely feels other adjectives should be used for legal abortions, like "therapeutic," and "empowering" and, for serious Orwellians, "life-saving." But with an election looming, Senate Democrats felt pressure to avoid their innate desires to perpetuate the florid press angle that the traditionally Catholic Barrett is some kooky "handmaid" in a creepy religious group.

Now that Georgia has only the Senate races left for the media to cover, our "objective" media firmly placed any criticism of Warnock in the "Republicans Pounce" category. On Nov. 1, before the fall campaign ended, New York Times reporter Richard Fausset calmly acknowledged the radical so-called social gospel of Warnock.

Warnock's mentor was Rev. Dr. James H. Cone, the Marxist father of black liberation theology. And he publicly defended another Cone - head, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., who says "God damn America" in his sermons and who preached after 9/11 that "America's chickens are coming home to roost."

On Fox News in March 2008, Warnock proclaimed, "We celebrate Rev. Wright in the same way that we celebrate the truth-telling tradition of the black church." A lot of media said silly things like that about Wright's hateful "truth telling."

Republicans also "pounced" on Warnock's hot take on President Donald Trump in 2016: "America needs to repent for its worship of whiteness!" And they pounced on Warnock's 2011 sermon in which he said that "nobody can serve God and the military." If that's about violence, he hasn't claimed nobody can serve God and Planned Parenthood.

But ABC, CBS and NBC have shown no interest in these extreme sermons. The majority of the Senate hangs in the balance, and Martin Luther King's supposed heir is granted the customary partisan protections.

These journalists hate it when white Baptists or Catholics allegedly try the patience of God by supporting Donald Trump, but black churches ripping on the "worship of whiteness" and how America deserved 9/11 somehow never strains the bonds of Christian charity. This only underlines that most reporters are not religious people and just see religion as something employed to manipulate voters. Religion is considered virtuous if it manipulates voters toward the "right side of history."

Tim Graham

Six locations, including four Air Force installations, have made the first round of cuts for those being considered for the new headquarters of U.S. Space Command, the Air Force announced.

They include Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Offutt AFB in Nebraska, Patrick AFB in Florida, and Peterson AFB in Colorado, and Redstone Army Airfield in Alabama and Port San Antonio in Texas. Port San Antonio was home to the former Kelly Air Force Base and currently hosts Air National Guard and reserve operations.

“Self-nominated communities from across twenty-four states were evaluated as potential locations for hosting the headquarters,” the Air Force said in a news release.

“The Department of the Air Force evaluated each location and will now conduct both virtual and on-site visits at each candidate location to assess which location is best suited to host the U.S.

Space Command Headquarters,” the Air Force statement says. “This assessment will be based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support, and costs to the Department of Defense.”

But getting to the six finalists wasn’t easy, Defense News reports. “At times, the competition among cities has been politically contentious.”

When a memo listing potential locations was leaked to the media in 2019, which included four bases in Colorado, Florida lawmakers lobbied Air Force officials to reconsider and include Florida on the list.

U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, a Republican who sits on the House Armed Services and Science, Space and Technology committees told The Associated Press that the initial list “was very opaque, it was not well defined, and kind of out of the blue – Florida was completely excluded.”

By March of this year, Space Force Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson told the House Armed Services Committee that a search for a new location was starting over and new criteria was announced.

The final six locations being considered include only one location in Colorado, the current headquarters for Space Command, and one location in Florida, reflecting successful lobbying by the Florida delegation.

The six potential locations are more geographically representative, located in the south and west: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Huntsville, Alabama; and San Antonio, Texas.

In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Air Force John Henderson thanking him for considering Texas as one of the locations.

Upon hearing the announcement on Thursday, Abbott said the Air Force would find no better location than Port San Antonio.

"Not only does the state of Texas have the resources, universities, and human capital necessary to support the Space Command, but we are also enriched by our long-standing and celebrated tradition of military service and innovation in Texas," Abbott said.

Waltz argues Florida is the best choice.

“Space is in our DNA,” he said. “It has been for the last five decades. It’s all right here.”

NASA, SpaceX and universities that focus on engineering are based in both Florida and Texas, and both have strong military presences, making them competitive.

But the Colorado delegation argues that Peterson Air Force Base, the current Space Command headquarters, should be its permanent home. Colorado’s congressional delegation and state leaders have lobbied the Trump administration to keep the headquarters in the state.

“U.S. Space Command should stay here where it has already found a home among our strong military community, thriving aerospace industry, and world-class academic and research institutions,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.

Since 1982, Peterson Air Force Base has been home to the Air Force Space Command.

The U.S. Space Command was reactivated Aug. 29, 2019, as a unified combatant command to potentially fight wars in space. It was created as part of a $738 billion defense spending bill and is the first military branch to be added to the U.S. Armed Services since the Air Force was created in 1947.

Bethany Blankley
The Center Square

For those of you who did vote for Biden and Harris…If They Win.... you really screwed up! Have you noticed gas prices have already gone up from $1.85 to $2.35? Do you think it means nothing? When it hits $3.50 a gallon (and it will) remember you had a choice.

Biden, Harris and the rest of the Radical left will attack and severely damage your Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Right against Unlawful Search and Seizure, Equal Rights…and it will cost you dearly.

It’s kind of like the Cap and Trade BS Obama and his radical team tried to pass…but failed. You see, Cap and Trade was this…we are putting too much Carbon Dioxide into the air (coal fired power plants) however…if you pay to put (pollute) carbon into the air, we will allow it. How does paying to pollute help the atmosphere? It doesn’t but it puts money into the Ruling Class’s hands to spend to buy votes by giving, for example, illegal aliens welfare.

Understand this ,these scoundrels like Obama, Biden, Harris, do not care one bit about “Climate Change” ,coal fired plants, fossil fuels…what they care about is to scare dumb asses ,like you, who don’t understand the truth… about their money making schemes!

For one thing, there certainly is “climate change”, for example, but do you really believe we, “man”, can change that? How naive can you possibly be?

Nobody knows what’s causing “climate change” but every planet in our galaxy is undergoing “climate change”, some is catastrophic and planets disintegrate…but nobody knows why!

The Paris Accord is all about “carbon” …what you don’t know is this: trees and plants thrive on carbon and need 2,000 Parts Per Million (PPM) to thrive and will die with only 200 PPM…and so will you! We bounce around 400 PPM …and that is not enough! We need to increase carbon because …another interesting but unexplained fact is this …”Mother Nature” takes the “excess carbon” from the air and deposits it, in the oceans, every day of the year. Nobody knows how or why! So, bottom line is this…scientist’s do not “all” believe carbon is causing global warming…the fact is… they DON’T even know if there is global warming. That makes more sense than you think.

The thermometer wasn’t invented until 1750, there was no way to get to all parts of the world until the 1970’s and nobody cared what the temperature was across the street let alone in outer Mongolia or the Amazon .So let’s say people have been monitoring “global” temps for the past 40 years. How’s that compare to 4.5 billion years of unknown temperatures…genius? So the Earth warmed in the last 40 years…who cares? Really?

As Patrick Moore, Green Peace Founding Father has said, if your green house plants are dying, back up the family Buick and run the exhaust into the green house and you plants will thrive!
Climate Change is a fact and has been a part of planet Earth since it was created about 4.5 billion years ago from a ball of molten lava. The center of planet Earth continues to cool and shows that fact by sending lava to the surface to remind us, she’s not done cooling. So how can planet Earth heat up, if she’s still cooling?

If we joined the Paris accord we would have to agree to reduce carbon emissions…well consider this…China has 5,000 coal fired electric power plants and is building 1000 more. Russia has 2500 and is building 500 more.

How many coal fired power plants do we have? Answer…15!
Obama, by cutting coal plants, reduced our power grid ‘s ability to provide power from 125% to our current 85%. If we used all our Air Conditioners when Obama came into office and we used 100% of the power grid…we had an extra 25% electric grid power in reserve.

When Obama left office 8 years later, our Grid was at 85%, which means brown outs and not enough power to run everything at one time. With what, did Obama replace the 40% power he cut by closing coal plants…nothing!

If Obama was an empty suit, Biden is an invisible suit. He has no idea what the hell he’s doing or who to believe…he is surrounding himself with people who believe the world will end in 10 years (OAC) if we don’t “eliminate” CO2, that Climate change is the biggest threat to the US (Harris and Biden).

They believe charging legal AR15 owners $200 per gun will stop gun violence! Or do they? Even though 12 % of the US citizens commit 80% of the violent crimes, and 90% of all gun involved deaths to black people are committed by black people.

Why are prisons full of minorities…because they commit the crimes! It’s pretty simple arithmetic. It has nothing to do with police brutality, racism, or any other BS you hear…just look at the numbers…the facts…the numbers are not racist. Those who ignore them …are!

You are about to destroy the best good things this country has seen in 100 years (energy independent, no ISIS, no war, manufacturing jobs coming back, technology booming, economy booming, and much more)…all from a non- politician, businessman in 3 years and… he brought a Vaccine to fruition in 8 months to kill a virus, caused by the guy you just elected, Joe Biden’s best friends (China)…that’s what Donald Trump did.
therightsidejgarydilaura.com

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J.Gary DiLaura FBI RED

Retired Extremely Dangerous

Celebrate the season with thousands of lights, hundreds of historic decorations, and one unique holiday experience!

This year’s event, themed Sounds of the Season, runs from November 27 through January 3 from 5:30-9p.m nightly (closed Christmas night).

They are now open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Don’t miss all-new decorations, including a new one-of-a-kind coordinated music and light show at the historic Mysore Fig tree, an animated 25′ tree, as well as returning favorites, like the Children’s Tree Trail, featuring decorations from dozens of local schools.

HolidayNights JProd 140

• Holiday Nights Admission: Adults $20, Teens $10, Children age 6-12 $2

• Guided tours (offered at 6pm and 7pm nightly, first-come, first-served): Adults $30, Teens $25, Children age 6-12 $18

• Inside the Homes Holiday Tours: Available on 12/2, 12/9 and 12/16 at 6:30 p.m. (additional cost, call to reserve)

• Upgrade: Purchase any daytime admission and combine Holiday Nights (valid only on same evening as daytime admission/tour):

• Add the Holiday Nights guided tour to your daytime admission: Adults $20, Teen $15, Child $10

• Add Holiday Nights general admission to your daytime tour: Adults $10, Teen $5, Child $1

• Note: Combo Upgrades can be purchased the day of your visit. They are not sold in advance.

Children age five and under always admitted free of charge. Reciprocal museum or garden memberships are not valid for Holiday Nights admission. Lee County residents with proof of residency receive a $5 discount off adult admission on Mondays.

The museum and laboratory will not be open during Holiday Nights. The rest of the grounds, including the historic homes and gardens, will be open until 9 p.m. nightly.

Vendors serving food and beverages, as well as live music, will be available on select nights. A calendar is coming soon.

Holiday Nights6

General admission tickets may be purchased online or in the museum ticket office; guided tours are first come, first served, and must be purchased in the museum ticket office on the day of the tour. General admission tickets purchased online are valid for one-time use on any night of the event. Online tickets need not be printed, just show your tickets on your mobile device upon arrival. Advance purchase is not required.

Please note that pets are not permitted on the estates, although trained service animals are welcome.

Masks are required during Holiday Nights.

For information on health and safety protocols in place, please call 239.334.7419
or visit: edisonfordwinterestates.org

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The coral reefs in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans were given a "fair" score on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's first ever status report detailing the conditions of US reefs.

The NOAA and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science compiled the report, which was released Thursday.

Though the report lists the reefs as fair, it does warn that the reefs are both in a state of decline and are vulnerable to further degradation.

The data was collected between 2012 and 2018, and scored the coral using four categories: corals and algae abundance, reef fish populations, influence of climate on the reefs and human connections to the reefs.

The categories were ranked from "very good" for positive outlooks and "impaired" or "critical" for struggling reefs.

The report found that coral reefs that are closer to higher-density human populations are degraded, likely resulting from local stressors, which includes land-based sources of pollution and damage from fishing.

Retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim Galludet, the assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator said that addressing those issues will be critical to diverting potential economic harm resulting from further reef destruction.

"Considering the more than $3.4 billion in annual economic benefits of coral reefs, these reports and the policy actions that they will inform are critical to our American Blue Economy,” he said.

Heath Kelsey, the director of UMCES's Integration and Application Network said the university's work has found reefs are extremely vulnerable.

“These status reports clearly show the impacts people are having on coral reef ecosystems,” he said. "“Our work in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans shows a dire outlook for coral reef ecosystem health, from warming ocean waters, fishing, disease, and pollution from the land. Of all of these, climate change is the single biggest threat to shallow water coral reefs in the U.S., and worldwide."

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Our reefs are hurting

 

The report names reefs off the Florida coast the country's most degraded, stating there is possibly as little as two per cent remaining intact.

Waters off of South Florida, from the Keys to the north of Palm Beach, are where the most at-risk US reefs are located. That region is also home to one of the densest population centers in the US, with more than 9 million people residing along the coast. Reefs grew the longest (and thickest) in the relatively isolated Dry Tortugas National Park Reefs are central to the maintenance of a health marine ecosystem. They provide natural barriers to storm surges - especially in regions prone to hurricanes - and provide habitats for numerous sea creatures.

Healthy reefs are also critical to coastal economies that depend on tourism, commercial fishing and marine aquaculture. Any industry that relies on the continued health of the sea relies in part on the continued health of coral reefs.

noaa

Monday, 30 November 2020 08:58

Missing Our Canadian ‘Snowbirds’

An estimated 1 million Canadians spend up to six months wintering in the Sunshine State, contributing an estimated $6.5 billion to Florida’s economy.

With Canada extending until Dec. 21 its ban on nonessential, cross-border traffic, which was set to expire Tuesday, and hinting no relaxation is likely until at least March, however, a significant component of Florida’s “snowbird” seasonal economy may not show up this winter.

Cars with Canadian license plates begin to materialize on Florida roads in October and November and remain an important economic contributor in many local economies across the state into April.

While Canadian license plates have been rare sights in Florida parking lots since Canada and the U.S. agreed to close the border to nonessential traffic in late March, that doesn’t mean Canadians cannot come to Florida.

While the U.S.-Canada border will remain closed to nonessential travel for another month, it only applies to land crossings.

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One of my friends from Canada, who RV's at a FMB RV Resort every winter said he had his RV transported to the States by a commercial transport company and then flew to Detroit from Canada to meet up with his RV.

 

 

 

Canadian citizens are permitted to travel to the U.S. by air as part of an agreement between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s and President Donald Trump’s administrations.

"People can make their own decisions," Trudeau said recently. "But a travel advisory from the government of Canada to not travel outside the borders unless it's essential travel is about as strong as we can go."

The Canadian government, however, applies the restriction to all modes of travel coming into Canada and has issued a travel advisory cautioning citizens to avoid traveling to the U.S.
According to Canadian media accounts, there is a robust business in getting around the land-crossing restrictions by shipping cars – even by helicopter – across the border from Canada into the U.S.

The biggest obstacle facing Canadians who opt to winter in Florida is concerns over health insurance, with a travel advisory cautioning “travel at your own risk” in the U.S., especially with the U.S. in general, and Florida in particular, seeing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths steadily mounting.

Many wintering Canadians purchase travel insurance to augment their national insurance policies, which limits them to more than 185 days out of Canada.

Insurance brokers, however, have told various Florida media outlets that demand from Canadian snowbirds seeking travel insurance policies is down 50%-75%.

While Canadian snowbirds make up a significant component of the state’s seasonal economy, short-term visitors from Canada also are a bedrock constituency of the state’s tourism economy.

Fort Myers and Cape Coral are especially popular with visitors from Ontario. The Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau said more than 215,000 Canadians visited last year, spending more than $218 million.

Based on a Canada-Florida economic impact study produced by Canada’s Miami consulate in 2018, the border-crossing ban also could affect the $7 billion in goods traded between Canadian and Florida companies.

Canada is “responsible for upwards of 620,000 jobs in the state,” according to the report, adding, “Canadian tourism to Florida contributed $686.56 million to state and local coffers in 2016 alone.”

Those numbers are similar to figures in Enterprise Florida’s Florida-Canada 2015-17 trade profile, which said in 2017, “Florida and Canada enjoyed more than $7 billion in trade, which supported about 600,000 jobs in the state."

The Enterprise Florida report cited TradeStats Express statistics in noting Florida sent almost $3.6 billion in exports to Canada, second only to the nearly $4.1 billion exported to Brazil.

John Haughey
The Center Square

 

 

 

Pennsylvania officials banned alcohol sales at bars and restaurants on Thanksgiving Eve, traditionally one of the industry’s biggest nights of the year, as COVID-19 cases surge.

The Department of Health said Monday nearly 12,000 new cases emerged over the last 48 hours as hospitalizations for the virus exceed 3,300. Another 69 people died, bringing the statewide total to 9,870 since the first recorded case in early March. 

And forbidding bars and restaurants from selling drinks between 5 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday will prevent more deaths, Gov. Tom Wolf said during a Monday news conference. He also advised residents to celebrate Thanksgiving with other household members only. 

 

The state-run Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores will remain open on Wednesday, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board spokesperson Shawn Kelly said.

“A number is not just a number," Wolf said. “It’s a person. A family member or a neighbor who gets sick or who dies. Sadly what the numbers show right now is that more people are getting sick at a faster rate than before.”

Test positivity for the last seven day period ending Nov. 19 reached 11.1 percent, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said, more than doubling the 5 percent rate that officials consider worrisome. As intensive care unit beds fill up, Levine said hospitals in strained regions must stop elective procedures once instructed to by the state. 

Modeling from Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington projects Pennsylvania could run out of ICU beds next month and that the death toll could exceed 32,000 by the last week of February.

So although the state’s economic restrictions have been arguably the toughest on bars and restaurants, Wolf said it’s a crucial element of saving lives.

“It's not me. It’s the virus,” he said. “It’s not the administration. It’s not the government. … Let’s acknowledge the reality. We’ve got to recognize that as tough as it is, it’s tougher when people die.”

The state also reminded school districts in 59 of the state’s counties with “substantial” levels of community spread about the guidance to transition to remote learning. Indoor gathering limits have been reduced further, with any event of more than 500 people banned. Enforcement of existing mandates, including universal masking, will be stepped up with fines up to $300 possible.

 

“We don’t want to trash the economy like we did in the spring,” Wolf said. “We don’t have any tentative steps to go back to that old March/April system.”

The aforementioned system shuttered all nonessential businesses for more than two months until health officials deemed that community transmission of the virus had reduced to safer levels in different regions of the state. But the administration insists the state won’t return to these color-coded red, yellow and green phases of shutdown again.

Still, House Republicans criticized the governor for imposing restrictions on residents instead of trusting them to take precautions on their own. The majority party has been vocal about the administration’s unwillingness to work with them on mitigation measures since the pandemic hit last spring.

“While Pennsylvanians prepare to go Black Friday shopping at big box retailers unrestricted by new orders from Gov. Wolf, bars and restaurants are going to be left to languish under more onerous limitations on their ability to do business during what should be a robust holiday season,” said Jason Gottesman, spokesperson for the House Republican Caucus. “Pennsylvanians are currently policing their own activity during the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. What they do not need during this unprecedented holiday season is the heavy hand of government forcing them to do that which they have been doing on their own accord for months.”

Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, said the order banning Thanksgiving Eve alcohol sales came as no surprise. And he says the association’s members understand and appreciate their role in saving lives, as well as the administration’s new liability protections for owners enforcing mask mandates.

“But what we don’t get is why there has been no significant financial help to assist our small business taverns and licensed restaurants survive,” he said. “As this crisis continues, more small businesses are closing while their employees lose jobs.”

A survey conducted by the association in August extrapolated the alarming condition of the industry, with seven in 10 respondents indicating they would close by 2021 without a change in the state’s limits on indoor dining capacity and alcohol sales. More than two-thirds experienced cash flow problems caused by the pandemic restrictions.

The survey of 100 licensed restaurants and bars found 13 percent closed already, with 29 percent set to close by December. More than 109,200 employees have been laid off, the association estimates.

Wolf said he continues to support federal and state relief for restaurants and bars. He signed a seven-month budget plan on Monday that used the remaining $1.3 billion in CARES Act money – aid that could’ve funded and industrywide relief, according to many Democrats – to balance the state’s $3 billion deficit, leaving it unclear when or if establishments will see any stimulus at all.

“Help is needed now, not later,” Moran said. “Many small businesses cannot sustain continued targeted mitigation without help from either the federal or state government.”

Christen Smith

The Center Square