In the latest string of incidents involving Southwest Florida law enforcement, a driver is accused of fighting with a Lee County Sheriff’s deputy after a Nov. 8, 2016 traffic stop. A man who fought with a deputy on Interstate 75 Exit 123 was shot by a passerby on Nov. 14, 2016. As well as man exchanging fire with deputies Nov. 16, 2016 in the Pine Manor neighborhood just south of Fort Myers.
On Sunday Nov. 20, 2016 at approximately 8 p.m. officer Jarred Ciccone was shot in his shoulder during a traffic stop. This is the fourth attack on a Southwest Florida police officer within the last two weeks.
Retired Sanibel police chief Bill Tomlinson, who worked the scene stated, “The suspect drove by and opened fire while the officer was working a traffic stop involving another driver near 2300 Periwinkle Way. The officer was in his vehicle when he was shot,” according to Tomlinson.
A SWAT team was called to the area, but then cleared once the suspect was taken into custody. The Sanibel suspect drove into The Dunes neighborhood, and exchanged gunfire with Sanibel and Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies. After, he then went to his home barricaded himself until he was surrendered. The suspect was shot and taken into custody along the 1400 block of Sand Castle Road, according to police, who issued an all-clear for the neighborhood shortly before 10 p.m.
Jarred Ciccone, was treated and released from Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, sources said.
“What we do know is that he definitely suffered a wound, definitely something to be very concerned about,” Tomlinson said. “We at the Sanibel Police Department are very concerned for him and his family, and we hope that he’ll be fine.”
Tomlinson added, “This incident is the first officer-involved shooting ever on Sanibel,
. It was similar to an attack earlier Sunday on an officer in San Antonio, Texas”
Sanibel resident Jeanne Vaughn said she heard six rapid-fire gunshots. Another resident said she heard sirens starting around 8:20, along with several gunshots and a helicopter.
“I heard a police siren and then, minute later I heard a bunch of shots. Bang, bang, you know, bang, bang, bang,” said Vaughn, who lives near the causeway. “And then I heard more police sirens and I see police coming up and down the streets.
Steven Chance, a resident of The Dunes .......“It’s unprecedented because I’ve lived on this island my whole life and I’ve never seen this many police in one spot,” Chance said. “It’s a little scary it was in my neighborhood. My dad is home. He’s elderly. I feared for his safety and I still don’t know how he is.”
Ed. Note: Let us be thankful that we have some of the finest police and sherriff departments that keep us safe, are they all perfect, probably not, but the violence against them will only make them more cautious and anxious as they approach potentially dangerous situations.
This holiday season, lets all remember our fallen officers and their families who now have to move forward without them.
Some Southwest Florida “snowbirds” really are birds …… in this case, the American white pelicans.
Unlike the brown pelicans, which are year-round residents of Florida, white pelicans spend only a portion of the year here in Southwest Florida.
The American white pelicans only come here when the U.S. heartlands, plains and ranges around the Rockies are coated with the frigid white powder. In fact, it is estimated that over 1,500 white pelicans migrate to the area for a period of time ranging from October through March. These birds are known to travel from as far away as Idaho, Minnesota and Canada. The most northerly nesting colony can be found on islands in the rapids of the Slave River which is located between Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta, and Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.
American white pelicans winter on the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts from central California, Florida and south to Panama, also along the Mississippi River at least as far north as St. Louis and Missouri. In the winter season, they are rarely found on the open seashore, preferring estuaries and lakes. Large groups of these birds make the journey here to enjoy the warmer sunny winter weather.
The American white pelican, similar to, yet rivals the trumpeter swan, with a similar overall length. The American white pelican is the longest bird native to North America. (Being both very large and plump) A white pelican's weight is nearly double that of the brown pelican. The white pelican’s wingspan is 9 feet compared to that of the brown's 6½-foot wing span. Also, has the second largest average wingspan of any North American bird, after the California condor. This large wingspan allows the bird to use soaring flight with ease and grace.
Unlike the brown pelican, the American white pelican does not dive for its food. Instead it catches its prey while swimming. The brown pelicans are notorious skydivers and piling-perches year-round.
White pelicans search for food in large groups of a dozen or more birds to feed. Instead of diving for food the way brown pelicans do, white pelicans swim on the surface in a semicircle and herd the fish to shallower water near the shore.
Then using their pouches as fishnets, the white pelicans submerge their heads and necks in order to scoop up the fish. When this is not easily possible …. For example in deep water, where fish can escape by diving out of reach, they will then prefer to forage alone.
Wild American white pelicans live for an average of more than 16 years. In captivity, the record life span stands at over 34 years.
They are colonial breeders, with up to 5,000 pairs per site. Wild American white pelicans arrive on the breeding grounds in March or April (depending on spring weather conditions) with nesting starting between early April and early June.
This species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It has the California Department of Fish and Game protective status California species of special concern (CSC).
There was a pronounced decline in American white pelican numbers in the mid-20th century; this was attributable to the excessive spraying of DDT, endrin and other organochlorides in agriculture areas, also with the widespread draining and pollution of wetlands. After stricter environmental protection laws came into effect, the American white pelican populations have recovered well, and are stable or slightly increasing today.
The United Nations has released a new report stating that the practice of geoengineering the weather presents dangers to the environment, but may be necessary to fight climate change.
In late October the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity released a new report examining the problems of geoengineering and whether or not humanity will be forced to employ the practice in an attempt to halt climate change. The report, Update On Climate Geoengineering in relation to the Convention on Biologicial Diversity: Potential Impacts and Regulatory Framework, found that geoengineering “would reduce the impacts of climate change on biodiversity at the global level”, but also cause unpredictable rain and temperature distribution on the local level.
The report defines geoengineering as “a deliberate intervention in the planetary environment of a nature and scale intended to counteract anthropogenic climate change and its impacts.” A 2013 congressional report also defined geoengineering in the following way:
In general, geoengineering technologies are categorized as either a carbon dioxide removal (CDR) method or a solar radiation management (SRM) (or albedo-modification)method. CDR methods address the warming effects of greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. CDR methods include ocean fertilization, and carbon capture and sequestration. SRM methods address climate change by increasing the reflectivity of the Earth’s atmosphere or surface.Aerosol injection and space-based reflectors are examples of SRM methods. SRM methods do not remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, but can be deployed faster with relatively immediate global cooling results compared to CDR methods.
The U.N. report states that the effectiveness of geoengineering is “uncertain” and “in reducing the scale of one problem, other new problems would be created. Thus, there would also be risk of the geoengineering action also contributing to other drivers affecting biodiversity loss and ecosystem integrity.” Dr. Phillip Williamson, Lead author of the report and scientist with the Natural Environment Research Council in the United Kingdom, says he is skeptical of geoengineering.
The report examines several types of geoengineering, including reforestation, ocean fertilization, and CO2 capture. However, the authors conclude that these activities “would be insufficient to remove carbon at the scale required in most current scenarios.” Instead, the report recommends further study and emphasis on Solar Radiation Management (SRM).
Recent studies and assessments have confirmed that SRM techniques, in theory, could slow, stop or reverse global temperature increases. Thus, if effective, they may reduce the impacts on biodiversity from warming, but there are high levels of uncertainty about the impacts of SRM techniques, which could present significant new risks to biodiversity.
The U.N. concludes that although SRM may possibly slow the loss of Arctic sea ice, but not without “unacceptable climatic impacts elsewhere.” One particular method of SRM involves injecting aerosols into the atmosphere via airplanes. The study found that the use of sulphur aerosols for SRM would be associated with a risk of stratospheric ozone loss. There is also a risk that stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) would have a small impact on climate change but could lead to negative impacts on biodiversity.
The U.N. study is not the first to find negative side effects of geoengineering. For example, Activist Post recently reported on a new analysis released by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The FMI is the government agency responsible for reporting weather data and forecasts in Finland. The Institute’s study, “Modelling radiative and climate effects of aerosols: from Anthropogenic emissions to geoengineering,” examined the potential for SRM to combat climate change.
The study specifically looked at two types of SRM. The first involved marine aerosol concentrations use to increase clouds, while the second looked at increasing the amount of sulphur concentrated in the stratosphere. The researchers stated that their key objectives were to “investigate the potential of aerosols to cool the climate at the global scale, and identify the possible limits in the effectiveness of the Solar Radiation Management techniques as well as the risks related to these techniques.”
The researchers found that the geoengineering techniques which were studied do in fact have the potential to cool the climate and slow down warming. “However, the cooling effect has limitations,” the team writes.“The cooling effect attributable to aerosols would be rather small due to the geographical change in tropospheric aerosol emissions or change in energy production studied here when compared to the warming due to the increased greenhouse gas emissions,” the paper states.
In other words, the effort, money, and time it would take to invest and create geoengineering methods would likely do very little to actually limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers even state that, based on their models, if the world replaced coal with nuclear power for energy production it would lead to a “temporal cooling effect,” but after several years “the warming effect from simultaneously increased GHG emission would exceed the cooling effect.” Also, the cooling that does result from an increase in aerosols is “often achieved at the cost of air quality” which could “lead to an increase in premature mortality.”
In February 2015, an international committee of scientists released a report stating that geoengineering techniques are not a viable alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat the effects of climate change. The committee report called for further research and understanding of various geoengineering techniques, including carbon dioxide removal schemes and solar-radiation management before implementation.
The scientists found that SRM techniques are likely to present “serious known and possible unknown environmental, social, and political risks, including the possibility of being deployed unilaterally.” The report was sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. intelligence community, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, if geoengineering programs were started and then suddenly halted, the planet could see an immediate rise in temperatures, particularly over land. The study, titled, “The Impact of Abrupt Suspension of Solar Radiation Management,” seems to indicate that once geoengineering begins, the programs cannot be suspended without causing the very problem the engineering was intended to solve.
Conspiracy Fact or Theory?
The idea that aerosols could be sprayed from planes is eerily reminiscent of various conspiracies involving the government using weather control technology to manipulate world events. This is what is derogatorily called the “Chemtrails Conspiracy.” Essentially, some believe geoengineering is actively taking place in our skies, and the “contrails” are actually geoengineering programs covertly being carried out. The “chemtrails” label comes from the portion of the crowd that believes these programs are delivering dangerous chemical additives to the food, water, soil, and humans below for nefarious purposes.
Despite the knee-jerk dismissal from many casual researchers, the theories might be grounded in reality. It’s important to know the United States government has a history of weather modification. In a 1996 document entitled “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather by 2025,” the U.S. Air Force discussed a number of proposals for using weather as a weapon. The Environmental Modification Treaty was signed by the United States and other nations to halt global weather modification.
But the government did not simply research these ideas. It actually implemented them. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government operated covert weather modification programs under Operation Popeye. In 2012, it was revealed that the U.S. Army sprayed toxic chemicals over the skies of St. Louis without informing the public.
In February 2015, while speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California, Professor Alan Robock discussed the possibility that the CIA is using the weather as a weapon of war. Robock has done research for the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) in the past.
Robock stated he was phoned by two men claiming to be from the CIA, asking whether or not it was possible for hostile governments to use geoengineering against the United States.
Professor Robock’s fears of the government using the weather as a weapon are not completely unfounded. In a 1996 document entitled“Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather by 2025” the U.S. Air Force discusses a number of proposals for using the weather as a weapon. The Environmental Modification Treaty was signed by the United States and other nations to halt global weather modification.
In late June, John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting about threats to global security. Director Brennan mentioned a number of threats to stability before discussing the science of geoengineering. Brennan said the technologies “potentially could help reverse the warming effects of global climate change.”
Director Brennan specifically mentions a type of SRM known as stratospheric aerosol injection, or SAI. As Brennan notes, SAI is “a method of seeding the stratosphere with particles that can help reflect the sun’s heat, in much the same way that volcanic eruptions do.”
Whether or not Professor Robock’s theory is correct remains to be seen; but, for now, Director Brennan’s speech makes it perfectly clear that America’s favorite spy agency is interested in manipulating the weather on a global scale. Whether it’s happening already or will be in the near future, the thought of the CIA (or any agency of government) using the weather as a weapon of war should show you that the U.S. government is not operating with reason or concern for the people.
What are your thoughts? Is the new U.N. report covertly pushing the geoengineering agenda? Are geoengineering programs already active?
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2
A funny word, "prudent." It's old-fashioned and kind of frumpy. I particularly remember when George Herbert Walker Bush, surely the best president of my lifetime, exulted in using it repeatedly.
When something foolish or stupid or just shortsighted would come up, he would consider action and then say, almost seeming to mimic the voices of his childhood: "Wouldn't be prudent!" It was his mother's favorite word, I later learned, and I'll just bet he's used it a-plenty over this electoral season.
But what is it doing hanging about in my cluttered head, as Donald Trump, for whom "prudence" is nothing more than a dirty word. What could such an old-fogey word have to do with our new-age problems?
"Prudent," in case you've never heard this word, simply means "acting with or showing care and thought for the future." Our Founding Fathers used to say they were planning our democracy for thousands of generations. Honey, that takes prudence, in addition to good feet, believe me!
Prudence is exactly what we haven't seen much of since the end of World War II, and particularly since the end of the Cold War in 1991, yet it is exactly what our next president, God willing, must be if we are to survive as a workable, thriving and leadership-worthy democracy.
Here are a few areas where our next president could inspire the American people to engage in change that could start to bring together the two ends of our political public square, both in domestic and foreign affairs.
-- First, clean up America. Whether I am in Washington or my hometown of Chicago, I am disgusted by the dirtiness and filth around me. Perhaps I should be amused by my foreign friends who, only half-jokingly, chide me that "America's now a Third World country!" I'm not amused, because they're right.
Example: Have you ridden Amtrak, which many foreign visitors and dignitaries ride, between Washington and New York lately? If you do, wear blinders. One decrepit and filthy building sweeps past after the other; then come the garbage and old car dumps. If you're lucky, you'll have a terrible headache and fall asleep.
-- Second, restore civic education and instruction in American history. Put these classes at the forefront of every school in the country. Some of us have been writing about this for years. To slightly paraphrase The Donald, if we don't, we won't have a country. He's right about that.
Instead, we've joked about our ignorance, we've watched "Saturday Night Live," had a drink and gone to sleep. Only, it's not funny, it's tragic!
-- Third, our new president should start a genuine discussion about American "exceptionalism." First used by Alexis de Tocqueville, the brilliant Frenchman who wandered our new land in the 1830s, the term came to mean a country inspired by God to introduce a "new nation" to the world, to democratize ourselves and to transform the world, as well. In truth, our exceptionalism was a result of the Protestant ethic of the original settlers and the protection of two great oceans.
But today, instead of employing a prudent worldview to protect our beautiful land, we push out recklessly and imprudently to fight Vietnamese, Iraqis, Afghanis, Somalis, Libyans ... oops, I'm running out of space. Oh well, there won't be left anyway, of these unfortunates by the time we're done with them.
Example: Iraq, though under the thumb of an unspeakable monster, was a country that was rapidly developing when we moved in to "save" it in 2003 -- and thus, bomb after bomb, destroyed it. (Whether we have also destroyed our own reputation, not to speak of our own future, remains to be seen.)
The new president might outline for us an America under a different exceptionalism, one devoted to science, research and education, with a finely tuned strategic sense of where our power should or must or, most important, successfully be used.
The presidency of Father Bush from 1989 to '93 represented wise and, yes, prudent leadership. But one fears that it may be the last of the old Eastern Establishment that gave us FDR, Theodore Roosevelt and so many other great -- and prudent -- leaders. Will the new "meritocracy" of the Clintons, the Obamas and the fashionable think tanks in Washington meet our new challenges? So far, they have not.
What we do know is that our overall national sin since World War II has been imprudence -- carelessness and recklessness. History is unforgivingly clear about the fact that nation-states, societies and tribes that succeed are, in the long run, those overseen by cautious, sagacious and judicious leaders -- but those leaders must be inspired and pushed to be so by their people.
Do you suppose we beleaguered citizens still have the guts to do that pushing?
Georgie Anne Geyer
We all know by now that the real terrorists, the politicians in the suits and ties and the "banksters" that pull their strings are waging the War of Terror on multiple fronts and for multiple reasons.
Domestically, it serves to rally the population around the flag keeping the "flock" in check, at the same time, it justifies the buildup of the "police state" control grid to catch any "thought criminals" that resist, it also writes a blank check for the illegal wars of aggression abroad, simply place your terrorist "Boogeyman" in the square of the chessboard you're looking to occupy and presto, you've got yourself an excuse to invade, even if you accidentally end up supporting them.... right Uncle Sam? (With recent headlines reading "U.S. attack on Syrian Army helps ISIS gain ground" or "U.S. Airstrike Helps ISIS.... A mistake?")
But of course the politicians, their string pullers, and fellow partners benefit from the war of Terror anymore straightforward sence, the get to use the terrorist scares that they themselves create, to drum up billions and billions of dollars to fight the "Boogeyman".
We were all heard of the $640 toilet seats and other ridiculous examples of pentagons overspending. But these stories tend to trivialize the abuses by the military contractors whose entire industry is built on providing overpriced Solutions to made up problems.
After all the Pentagon itself just admitted two months ago, it could cut up to 2 billion dollars of its budget by shutting down some of the needless bases in defense facilities that have been built around the globe, in the name of the American Empire.
But $2 billion chump change, in the 15 years since 9/11, 1 trillion dollars has been spent building up the police state in the America Homeland itself.
Meanwhile the defense department has been spending 600 billion dollars per year maintaining the American Military in the post 9/11 era. 4 - 6 trillion dollars was spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars alone, the most expensive Wars in US history.
Combined defense spending, including Homeland Security, DOD, State Department, defense-related debt interest and other defense costs have reached the highest level in modern history over the past decade.
From a cold war-era high in the 1980's of $3,500 per every man woman and child in the United States, to a 1992 low of $2,500, India even though the population has gone up 95 million people the figure since the 80's it has since breached $4,000 per every man woman and child today.
You can see in the chart exactly when the trend reversed, and the good times begin to flow for the military industrial contractors.
It was 9-11, the birthday of the War on Terror, and the new era of Homeland Security.
There are other numbers we can throw in here, the billions upon billions of military aid that have been sent to the co-perpetrators of the war on terror or the 38 billion dollars that has been promised Israel over the next 10 years, the 1.5 trillion dollar joke known as the F-35 fighter jet, the 6.5 trillion dollars of years and adjustments in the ongoing never ending Saga of the Pentagon'' missing trillions.
Still we have to be careful not to fall into the Psychopaths trap.
The real cost of the war on terror cannot be measured in dollars and cents. They cannot be tallied in a ledger, they are not about money at all!
The real cost is paid in blood, the blood of a million dead Iraqis, the blood of hundreds of thousands of murdered men women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The blood that is being shed right now in Syria, in Lybia, in Yemen and in all of the countries that have crossed through the crosshairs of the Nato, American and Israeli terrorists.
Is measured in the devastation of towns and cities that once bustled with life. In the families torn apart by drone bombings, in the headache of hundreds of thousands of forced to flee their homes, leave their families in their Homeland and their former life behind, as everything they do has been torn to shreds.
It’s measured in the blood of the servicemen and women themselves, lied to, propagandized and indoctrinated their entire lives, giving a ticket out of grinding poverty by the military, shot up with experimental vaccines, and shoved into the meat grinder for Tour of Duty after Tour of Duty.
And then, upon returning home, left to rot in rundown hospitals and ignored by the glad-handing politicians and the industrial cronies as the suicide epidemic gradually thins their ranks.
This is the true cost of the War of Terror and it is incalculable and none of it, absolutely none of it will come to an end until the public stop believing the false narrative and the lies that have brought it about.
Just like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny the War of Terror can only survive.... if you believe in it.
Let me tell you about my life since Donald Trump won the Republican primary. I voted against Trump in June because of his history as an unreliable conservative and longtime supporter of big government. I voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson in the general election. Yet I have had this dark presence that has shadowed me.
Wherever I have gone, I have been put in the position of explaining or defending Trump by people who saw it as my duty to denounce The Donald.
On the radio and in speaking appearances, it has fallen to me to explain to Bay Area audiences why someone who is not a complete idiot would vote for Trump. I can only assume that my questioners don't know any Trump voters -- other than relatives they must endure over cocktails during holidays.
To mention that Trump was preferable on regulation, Obamacare or the U.S. Supreme Court was to invite scorn. How dare anyone conjure up issues when Trump's rhetoric is so divisive?
I've watched countless hours of cable news, during which reporters grilled Republicans about whether they would vote for Trump in November. Never once did I see a reporter demand that Democrats disclose whether they would vote for Clinton, even though she had set up home-brew servers for State Department emails and then deleted thousands of those emails after they were under subpoena.
All you heard was nagging about Trump, Trump, Trump.
On panels, it has been my job to watch liberals excoriating Trump as a racist, sexist bigot. It never occurred to these fine fellows that American voters might support him. Sure, they winked, he won the Neanderthal GOP primary, but he could never win the popular vote. His appeal, they knew, was limited to angry white men who didn't go to college.
I was wrong, too. I thought Trump most likely would lose and also that he could cost Republicans control of the Senate. I believed the polls.
San Francisco sure believed those polls. How many times did I watch Democrats agree that it would be better if Clinton won big? As Chris Lehane, a former aide to Al Gore and now a lobbyist for Airbnb, told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, if Clinton won big, Republicans would have to face reality. If the election were tight, on the other hand, both sides would learn nothing and just go back to their corners.
I did not agree. A big win for Clinton would justify her bad decisions and her grabby ways. As I write this and Trump seems poised to win the Electoral College, I don't think many Democrats are hoping that Trump wins really big -- for the good of the country.
I remain dubious about whether Trump is up to the job of president. On the other hand, it is possible that winning the White House will humble Trump and make him a better man. Whereas with Clinton, we know that power corrupts.
Here's where the media really got it wrong. Most people in the press never thought Clinton's baggage would hurt her chances. Me, I thought Hillary Clinton would be a terrible president. And guess what. So did a huge chunk of American voters.
Debra J. Saunders
We have delayed the publication of our newspaper this week from Thursday to Friday, to get more of the information and any possible fall out following Trumps presidential victory.
As we feared, major protests and violence have erupted throughout the United States and in Europe.
In New York protesters took to the streets to march against the President-elect at Trump Towers and around the country in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, St.Paul Minnesota, and Portland Oregon, protests have erupted against Trump even across the Atlantic in London.
Remember after Obama won the election in 2008, all the protests in the streets, all the con servatives smashing things and burning the Flag and all the violence, NO? me either, that's because it didn't happen. Conservatives accepted defeat peacefully.
In this country the first amendment guarantees every one of us the right to free speech and to peaceful protest, it does not give anyone the right to violence, it does not give you or I the right to burn cars and smash winows or be destructive to private property, these protests are illegal and need to be stopped.
Trump said in his victory speech "It is time for us to come together as one United people"
Hopefully the country will not end up under Martial Law before he will have the chance to make that happen.
It's been nearly a quarter of a century since foreign correspondent David Aikman wrote a novel about a second American Civil War, with a government led by urban socialists going to war with heartland conservatives.
Alas, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
About a year ago, the bitter political events unfolding on cable news channels made it rather clear that it was time for a new edition of that post-Cold War thriller, "When the Almond Tree Blossoms."
"No matter who wins ... there are people out there who think we are headed toward some kind of civil war," said Aikman, in an interview just before Election Day.
"It's disappointing that our nation really hasn't come to terms with all of its internal problems. Right now, it feels like it would take a miracle -- some kind of divine intervention -- to heal the divisions we see in American life today."
Aikman was born in Surrey, England, and studied at Oxford's Worcester College before coming to America in the 1960s to pursue a doctorate in Russian and Chinese history. After contemplating a career in diplomacy -- he speaks German, French, Chinese and Russian -- he moved into journalism and became the senior foreign correspondent at Time magazine.
Among his many adventures, Aikman witnessed the 1989 massacre in China's Tiananmen Square and introduced readers to a Russian politico named Boris Yeltsin.
Ironically, Aikman wrote "When the Almond Tree Blossoms" -- the title is rebel code drawn from Ecclesiastes -- while preparing to become a naturalized United States citizen in 1993. In the novel, the liberal "People's Movement" -- backed by Russia -- rules the bicoastal power centers, as well as the industrial Midwest. The "Constitutionalists" control most of the Bible Belt and have dug into the Rocky Mountain West. But who will the pragmatic Chinese support?
Aikman said he wouldn't "change one iota" of his vision of Russia evolving into a totalitarian regime run by a strongman. On the other hand, "China has actually become much nastier in recent months, especially on religious issues," he said.
Aikman built his fictional civil war primarily on political and economic trends, along with a dash of conflict about morality and culture. Decades later, it's clear that cultural tensions -- often linked to religion and sexuality -- are creating deep cracks in American life.
Rather than violent conflict, "I think we're going to see an 'OK Corral' shootout between state courts and legislatures over decisions by the Supreme Court and executive orders from the White House," he said. "It seems that Congress has lost the ability to find compromises on our most divisive issues."
For example, what happens if other states join Massachusetts in declaring religious sanctuaries "public spaces" under that state's new transgender anti-discrimination law? At some point, clergy may need to start adding "trigger warnings" to their sermons, offering outsiders an opportunity to leave their services if they do not believe ancient doctrines affirmed in that body of believers.
Obviously, said Aikman, the U.S. Supreme Court is not through dealing with hot-button cases involving religious liberty and the Sexual Revolution.
In the newest edition of his book, Aikman also added a postscript highlighting themes in the novel that have, if anything, become more relevant through the years.
For example, he wrote: "A major component of the book -- the People's Movement's hostility toward Israel and indeed toward American Jews -- has been expressed so far only by fairly far-left elements of the American political scene. There nevertheless remains a serious danger that anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments within the United States itself could at some point develop into a major internal ethnic squabble in which Jews are blamed for many things wrong with American life."
Over the years, readers have asked Aikman why he ended the book at a crucial turning point, as an action by China created a new dynamic in the war.
The short answer is that he wanted to produce a sequel, but instead turned to writing a number of nonfiction projects, such as his books "Jesus in Beijing" and "One Nation Without God?"
"I have an outline and I know the rest of the story," he said. "I have to admit that I find it surprising, and rather sad, that the topic remains so relevant."
Stark, white marble headstones dot the lush, green grass, forming uniform rows as far as the eye can see in nearly every direction.
Names of servicemembers are carefully carved into each piece of stone.
This is a place of honor, prestige and remembrance – a resting place for those who served their country.
For more than 150 years, servicemembers from every military branch have been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, located on 200 acres of land in Arlington, Virginia, across from the Potomac River.
Among those servicemembers are Coast Guardsmen Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, the Coast Guard’s most recent combat casualty, Commodore Ellsworth Bertholf, the Coast Guard’s first commandant, and Cmdr. Elmer Stone, the Coast Guard’s first helicopter pilot who went on to fly the first trans-Atlantic flight.
In addition to the more than 400,000 servicemembers buried there, the site is also home to numerous monuments, one of which is the Coast Guard Memorial.
The memorial, located on Coast Guard Hill in the cemetery, commemorates two tragic events in Coast Guard history during World War I. The first occurred Sept. 17, 1918, when 11 shipmates from Coast Guard Cutter Seneca perished when the torpedoed British steamer they were assisting sank in the Bay of Biscay. Just nine days later, Cutter Tampa was sunk by enemy submarine UB-91 in the British Channel, and all aboard Tampa were lost.
Another memorial on Coast Guard Hill is the final resting place of Lt. Jack Ritticher, a Coast Guard aviator who volunteered to deploy as part of the Rescue and Recovery Squadron operating out of Da Nang during the Vietnam War. Within a month of arriving he earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses for his rescues of downed aviators – all in combat conditions under fire. Sadly, after only two months in theater, his helicopter was hit by enemy fire while trying to rescue a downed U.S. Marine Corps pilot. Before he deployed to Vietnam, Ritticher’s brother asked him why he had volunteered for service. Ritticher told him, “This is what I am. I’m an air rescue pilot and I’ve got an obligation.”
With so much to see at Arlington, it could be overwhelming. To assist visitors, there is a free Arlington National Cemetery app available on the cemetery’s website, on-site kiosks and for download through app stores.
The ANC Explorer app allows visitors to locate gravesites and places of interest, obtain walking directions and photos, as well as find events and other points of interest.
The latest version also includes self-guided tours, easy access to general information, and provides the ability to save searched burial records to a mobile device.
One of the self-guided tours available is a U.S. Coast Guard tour. The tour focuses on points of interest relating to the Coast Guard, Coast Guard aviation and other notable pioneers of naval aviation. Points of interest include the Tampa and Seneca Monument, the USS Serpens Monument and the graves of several past Coast Guard commandants, aviation pioneers and Coast Guard heroes.
The tour has 20 different stops and is an estimated 3 1/2 miles. Each stop has a brief history or biography attached to it. You can also use the app to select certain persons of interest and it will provide directions to the site.
“For those who live in the Washington, D.C. area or those visiting the nation’s capital, I would encourage you to visit Arlington National Cemetery and pay respect to those who came before us,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Liam Williams, the aircrew programs manager at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “The history and stories are both moving and awe inspiring.”
PA2 Connie Terrell
Now's a good time to talk about change. Not change for the country -- though that is surely coming, I mean personal change.
Healthy lifestyles don't just happen, the way dust balls do. It's up to you to carpe diem, to let go of old habits so you can dance with new ones -- two steps forward, one step back -- until the new ones become a juicy and joyful part of your life.
It all begins and ends with you, your readiness, your determination, your support system, your willingness to do something as silly sounding as keeping a journal.
As the country gets ready for this change, let me share a user-friendly, three step plan for you to consider when it comes to making a positive change in your own life:
STEP ONE: DECIDE ON ONE THING. Keep it simple. Pick one goal, something that will spark joy and satisfaction when you reach it. Be specific. Don't just say something like, "I want to get in shape." That's not a goal; it's a prayer. Goals that motivate are SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Maybe you want to comfortably walk a 10-mile trail with a 20-pound backpack. Or get certified in scuba diving. Or -- I'm cheering for this one because it saves so much money and weight gain -- learn to cook simple, tasty meals using real food.
(Your goal is 100 percent your choice; I'm just tossing stuff out here.)
Just remember this No. 1 rule from the Making Change playbook: You can't change because someone else wants you to. You can't stop smoking, start jumping rope, learn to meditate, or "just say no" to chocolate chip cookies because your spouse, your children or your doctor wants you to. It's a decision you must make for yourself -- honestly, fearlessly and authentically
And if you're not really ready to give up cigars, limit sugar and find ways to be physically active 30 minutes a day: Don't beat yourself up. Accept yourself as you are, because it's from that place of kindness and self-confidence that change ultimately can happen.
Setting too high a goal will be counterproductive. Better to be successful at a small, doable goal than fail at something impossible. Translation: Better to train for a 5K and triumph than plan for a marathon and suffer.
Once you decide on your one goal, write it down.
STEP TWO: KEEP A JOURNAL. Stop that groaning. Keeping track of your journey by writing stuff down is a time-honored way to help you succeed at making change. We forget. We lose focus. We need reminders of how far we've come.
So write your goal in your journal, and on the next page, write "Week One," with the dates and days included.
Detail the three actions you'll take in the next week to move toward your goal.
Be specific. Write out your action steps.
Here's an example from someone who wants to get back in shape: "I will take a 6 p.m. yoga class at Yoga Source three times a week, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and strength train with weights at home for 30 minutes on Wednesday mornings from 7:30 to 8 a.m."
You can check back with your action steps weekly or daily, but daily is best.
STEP THREE: REVIEW AND REJOICE. At the end of every week, review how well you did moving yourself closer to your goal. Be kind. OK, maybe you said you'd do three workouts and you only did two. Or you promised to eat no sweets whatsoever and you found yourself tearing into a forgotten Snickers bar in the bottom of your gym bag. No shame, no blame.
Just take it as it is, focusing not on failures but on what went well. Stay strong and confident. You can do this!
And every week for the next 12, begin again.
If you can find a wellness coach to work with you, that's ideal. If not, stay the course, and when the 12 weeks are over, give yourself a reward -- a massage, a golf lesson (maybe that's not a reward) -- just for showing up.
healthy lifestyle expert,
well being coach