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Wednesday, 21 December 2016 17:27

Federal Spending Gone Wild

By the end of 2016, our national debt will be more than $19.5 trillion, and on our current path, it will probably reach $22 trillion by the end of the decade. Last year our federal government spent $223 billion, or 8 percent of all discretionary spending, on interest payments alone. By the start of the next decade, we will spend more on interest than we do on our national defense. For many Americans the dollar figures are so large that it is hard to actually fathom how massive they really are.
So here is another way to look at it, in the last fiscal year, 2015 the federal government spent $439 billion more than it took it in. Sadly, this year the feds have already spent over $590 billion more than we took in and we have 10 more days left in the year as of our going to press, overspending now is almost routine. However, if Congress were able to balance the budget, keep it balanced, and create a yearly surplus of $50 billion per year, it would still take 460 years to pay off our national debt. Let me give you a moment to let that sink in.
Our current spending habits are unsustainable and irresponsible. Members of Congress from both parties--with cooperation from the President have a moral obligation to our children and grandchildren to leave them a country on a path to eliminate its overwhelming national debt.
Here are just some examples from "Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the Government has dropped the ball" By James Lankford US Senator from Oklahoma

1) Kids prefer food that has not been sneezed on!
National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently invested almost $2 million in a grant to study what influences a child’s views on food.
For instance, the grantees intended to study whether a person’s gender, race, or accent influenced which food a child will select. For the one-year-olds, the grantee planned to test whether the emotion of the person providing food influenced the child’s eating habits.
NIH has funded this grant since 2012, and the grantees have published 7 papers discussing their results.
In April 2015 the grantees published a paper slating that when children aged 5-8 were given the choice between alleged­ly sneezed-on food and clean food, they chose the clean food.
In 2014 the grantees published a report stating that when given the option. children prefer being wealthy as opposed to poor. Finally, earlier this year the grantees published a report that children who learn more than one language tend to have better communication skills. This is all Clearly ground braking research.
2) Exempt from effective
government oversight, CFPB has questionable spending practices that cannot be reformed through
congressional appropriations

Created in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank Act, The Consumer Financial Protection Board was formed to implement, supervise for compliance, and enforce federal consumer financial laws. Dodd-Frank intentionally made CFPB super-independent and put all of its powers in the hands of a single director whose only oversight constitutes semi-annual meetings before Congress. Evan though its still in its infant stages, CFPB's regulatory agenda has already imposed 49 final rules at a price of $2.8 billion.
The rules adversely impact critical consumer credit products. such as mortgages, auto loans, and payday loans. 'While CFPB often bypasses standard rulemaking procedures by simply suing and setting precedent, when they do follow standard procedures, they roll out rules at an astounding pace. One report found that on average, the CFPB rulemaking process is 3.5 times faster than other agencies.
Unlike most federal agencies, CFPB receives its fundin directly from the Federal Reserve Bank, rather than through the regular Congressional Appropriations process. Each year CFPB is authorized by law to draw up to 12% of the yearly earnings of the Federal Reserve System. In fiscal year 16 CFPB was allocated 605.9 million dollars and is slated to receive it 630 million dollars in fiscal year 17. The Federal Reserve is required to turn over the money to CFPB and cannot provide oversight into how the funds are utilized, where the spending is appropriate, and where the money is used efficiently. That means neither Congress nor the Federal reserve has oversight capabilities of CFPB spending. Recently the federal courts have even ruled that the current structure of CFPB is unconstitutional.
CFPB’s freedom from congressional budgetary oversight has created questionable spending decisions by The Bureau. A report from The Wall Street Journal found that in just the first half of 2016, the bureau spent more than 15 million on internet just to direct browsers to its website. The cost included a 12.5 million contract for the same advertizing firm used by the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The CFPB spends more than twice as much of its Budget on advertising than most agencies spend: where most federal agencies use less than 1% of their budget on Advertising, the CFPB has used 2.5% of its budget.
In 2013 chairman and Jeb Hensarling of the US House of Representatives finance committee estimated that CFPB spent almost 12 million on employees travel when the bureau employed 1,168 people. That represents more than $10,000 per employee in one year. It is not surprising that CFPB is outside the authority of OMB guidelines and rules, which helped ensure effective and efficient use of federal dollars.
While there is merit to laws that protect consumers from unscrupulous financial practices, the creation of a $600 million per year federal agency empowered to create and enforce regulations impacting millions of Americans and companies and that it is completely immune from any oversight or accountability is anathema to our nation's Democratic principles.
Almost everything the CFPB does is redundant to another Federal agency; it should never have been created. The best use of funds would be to abolish the CFPB and spend the available dollars to reform and appropriately staff the other regulatory entities.
At a minimum, the CFPB authority should be reined in by making it accountable to Congress through the appropriations and authorizing process. In October 2016 the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia ruled some of the CFPB broad power is unconstitutional because there are few executive of congressional oversight authorities written into law. The Obama Administration has vowed to appeal the ruling making the certainty of congressional reform legislation essential. In May 2015 Senator Purdue and 17 other Senators introduce the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accountability act. The simple legislation brings additional oversight and accountability to the CFPB by requiring it to seek appropriations from Congress through the normal budget process instead of receiving funding from the Federal Reserve.

3) National Science Foundation funded multiple grants,
totaling nearly $500,000
to find the connection between
religion, politics and cemeteries in 12th century Iceland
Norwegians and Celts first settled Iceland in the 9th and 10th centuries. A Danish colony for centuries, Iceland gained full independence in 1944. Its economy is primarily based on fishing, and although not a member of the European Union, Iceland is part of the European Economic Area, which allows free trade and travel with Europe. Iceland has also been the focus of countless American federal grants over the years.
Some of the grants NSF authorized for studies in Iceland this year include $61,000 to study volcanoes, $375,000 to look at the “calcium and strontium isotope geochemistry of weathering,” $1.1 million to look at the flow of water from Denmark to Iceland (and Greenland), and $102,531 (so far) to study the spread of flies at a lake in Iceland.
Over the last several years, NSF also provided more than
$500,000 to study the impact of religion in Iceland, focusing on locating church cemeteries from centuries past for excavation. One grant, totaling more than $400,000,
looked at how religion impacted “the development of political
power in Iceland between AD 870 and 1300.” The researchers recognize that in the 12th century a transition occurred from family churches to communal churches.
The grantees would like to know whether community churches were originally placed on prominent farms or located on farms that later “became important political and economic centers.” The other grants, one for $46,68836 and the other for $26,680,37 attempt to determine the best method to scan the ground for churchyards and cemeteries so archeologists know exactly where to dig during excavations.
Iceland is certainly an important NATO ally and friend to the US. But that friendship does not require adding to our national debt to study the county's 12th-century cemeteries. It is difficult to justify to many hard-working American families spending more than they make in a year to fund one grant to study how to locate cemeteries in Iceland. If the Icelandic people, who already have an extremely high tax rate, view this project as important, it is one in which they should invest their own money. NSF should fund im­portant research projects in the US or in places where it will provide a benefit to the American people to invest our hard earned tax dollars. While our families continue to struggle to make ends meet" and our national debt continues to skyrocket, we should not spend money on archeological work in other countries.

Even though the federal government spends $80 billion a year on IT, much of that money goes to support legacy technology that
could be more than 50 years old

It is perhaps the greatest understatement that technology has changed a lot over the last few decades. Our cell phones can do more than any computer could manage just 10 years ago. It is now cheaper to talk to someone on
the other side of the planet than it is to drive to the next state. As technology advances, so does the type of technology Americans use. Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 who own computers decreased by 10 percent
from 2010 to 2015, while the number of Americans using smart phones almost doubled.
The federal government spends $80 billion on technology-
related expenses each year. Approximately 75 percent of that goes solely to the cost of operating and maintaining existing technology, and that percentage has continued
to increase over the last few years. As a result, the government invested less and less in new technology, which would provide enhanced capabilities and potentially decrease the cost of operation and maintenance.
In fact, Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in Fiscal Year15, federal agencies and departments planned to spend $55 billion of their $80 billion technology budgets on “services that do not use solutions
often viewed as more efficient.” That is to say, the agencies spend money on older technology instead of utilizing cheaper and more efficient options like cloud-based computing and storage. According to GAO,the Dept of Defense still utilizes 8-inch floppy disks for a computer system that controls our nation’s nuclear weapons. Treasury
utilizes a computer code from the early 1960s to catalogue taxpayers, and the VA utilizes programing code written in the 1950s to track veteran claims for benefits and employee timecards and payroll.
In 2014 Congress passed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which required OMB to develop a method—with metrics—to ensure agencies updated their technology, but unfortunately agencies
have not yet universally adopted the rules. GAO reports that while Office of Management and Budget has put out a metric for agencies to follow, It has not fully developed the goals to go with the metrics, and "agencies may be limited In their ability to evaluate progress" in updating their technology. In fact, GAO states that DOD, Treasury, and the VA have not yet even set a plan to update much of their oldest technology."
If an agency believes the technology it currently has is the absolute best to complete a task, the agency should retain it. However, spending on operation and maintenance for technology continues to expand, and investment in new technology continues to decrease. Mix that with the fact that some agencies use computer systems older than the average American, and it is mostly likely time to look for something new.
Since 2011 GAO has made 800 recommendations for agencies to update their technology. By the end of October 2015, 68 percent of those recommendations had not been implemented. With more than $80 billon spent each year on technology, American taxpayers have the right to know that money is spent responsibly and efficiently. As.of now, It does not appear that they receive the best return on their investment

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 17:18

Guest Editorial

Another year is about to turn the page on the calander and the busy season is upon us once more. While I have been in this area for the past 23 years, I have come to love this small community of Fort Myers Beach that I call home.
Many of you have called the paper office to tell us what a great job we are doing, and the letters to the Editor have been very supportive of all the changes we have implemented over the past three months.
We are slowly increasing our local writing staff of Al DiPasquale and Patsy Berliner, writer and Editor Jennifer VanderWest, recently bringing in Sarah Nicholson from Bonita, Alexandra Sargent from Kelley’s Treats at the Lani Kai, also getting regular submissions from William Wehunt from Fort Myers, Dave Bowman of Fort Myers, and Mark Stiggs from North Fort Myers.
We have also added some classic comic strips and syndicated with world class writers to bring more variety of topics to you.
Our Sunset Photo contest has been well received and we have over a dozen entries for this week’s contest.
We thank you for your support and look forward to improving with each new issue that hits the street.
The many changes you have notices are due to a change in ownership of the paper. The Sun Bay Paper was co-founded by Trent Townsend and Carl Conley last summer, I came on board as the production manager and have been putting it together since July, 2015.
The original plan was that Carl would be involved full time for the first year to a year and a half and then he would retain a small percentage of the paper but 90% ownership would be with Trent, well things changed and that didn’t happen.
This past April, Carl approached me about coming on as a partner with him and we came to an agreement.
When June/July came around Carl started talking about his original plan to get out after a year or so. We started negotiations on the subject of my buying the whole paper. As of October this year we came to a deal and I have been the sole 100% owner of “The Sun Bay Paper.”
Carl will probably submit some stories as he did submit the Editorial, just after the election when Trump won on Nov. 8th.
Many people don’t remember my working at the Sand Paper with Carl back in 2000-2002, I started there as a volunteer and worked my way up from selling ads, taking pictures of bands, writing articles, to doing the production work, the paper was getting busier in 2002 and Carl told me if I wanted to stay involved I would have to be full time but my other business -Armando’s Day Spa- was also getting busier and I could not do both so I stopped working at the Sand Paper and focused on my Spa.
Now my spa is well established, I only work on clients that specifically request me so my time is available to focus my attention with the paper.
My name is Robert Mimmo, most of you know me as Bobby, over the past 16 years, I have lived on the beach, I have tried to be a positive influence in our Community. I have supported every fundraiser that has presented themselves to me at Armando’s for donation or gift certificates, I have no axes to grind and only hope to bring you a good read.
We are not trying to be like the Sand Paper or the Observer, they have the beach politics and town hall covered. Having said that, we will be covering the beach, but also a much larger distribution area. Thus, we hope to bring a broader prospective and while we will be printing opposing views, we are trying to bring a much needed conservative voice to our area.
I waited until now to announce the change of ownership because I wanted to make some changes slowly while improving our content.
For those of you who are good friends with Carl, I hope you can see we are still putting out a good paper (since we took over in October) and still welcome your continued input, comments and submissions.
For those of you that do not consider yourselves friends of Carl, I hope you will take another look at us and know we welcome your comments, input and submissions.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Bobby Mimmo
Owner &
Production Manager

Like President elect Trump,
I also believe that political correctness is out of hand, it has become a bane
to our society, Correct in it’s
original form, meaning lets not be mean to people who are not able to look after themselves, it has now arrived to a place where you can’t say anything
criticle about anything without it being labled as cruel or offensive to someone.
There are over 70% of
Americans that identify themselves
as Christian so I believe using the
traditional Merry Christmas greeting
is appropriate.
To my Jewish friends
Happy Chanukah, and Happy Holidays
to everyone else!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 17:09

"Why do we hate?"

“We hate because we're taught to hate. We hate because we're ignorant. We are the product of ignorant people, who have been taught an ignorant thing. Which is, that there are four or five different races. There are not four or five different races. There is only one race on the face of the earth! And we're all members of that race - the human race! But we have separated people into races, so that some of us can see ourselves as superior to the others. We thought, it would work. I guess it hasn't worked! That has been bad for everyone! It's time to get over this business!

There is no gene for racism. There's no gene for bigotry. You're not born a bigot! You have to learn to be a bigot. Anything you learn, you can unlearn. It is time to unlearn bigotry! It is time to get over this thing. And we best get over it pretty soon.

I'm an educator and as my business as an educator it is, to lead people out of ignorance. The ignorance of thinking, that you're better or worse than someone else, because of the amount of a pigment in your skin. Pigmentation in your skin has nothing to do with intelligence or with your worth as a human being. It is time to get over that!” --Jane Elliot

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 17:06

The Double Standard On Election Acceptance

Two months ago, the liberal media erupted in horror after the third presidential debate. Fox's Chris Wallace challenged Donald Trump on whether he would accept the result of the election, and Trump said he would wait and see. NBC described a "flood of condemnation" and cited President Obama accusing Trump of "(undermining) our democracy." "Today" co-host Savannah Guthrie called it an "earthquake."
Guthrie turned to retired anchorman Tom Brokaw to denounce Trump. He said: "This is not a banana republic. We've got more than 200 years of presidential elections and graceful and peaceful transitions to the new administration. As you saw, even Richard Nixon, Al Gore, the people who were caught up in very close races, said, 'I accept that this is the new president.'"
Trump won the election handily with 304 electoral votes, and Democrats flip-flopped, sullenly refusing to accept the results. And so did the "objective" media. On Dec. 18, there was no "earthquake" at NBC when Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta refused to say that President-elect Trump won a free and fair election. He said instead that it was rigged by the Russians.
And it was the ballot errors. And FBI Director James Comey. And the fake news epidemic. And the Constitution -- that “blasted Electoral College “! Nobody brought in Brokaw to lecture Team Hillary about banana-republic behavior.
Back in October, The New York Times issued a front-page alert, saying, "In a remarkable statement that seemed to cast doubt on American democracy, Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he might not accept the results of next month's election if he felt it was rigged against him -- a stand that Hillary Clinton blasted as 'horrifying' at their final and caustic debate on Wednesday."
Two months later, the Times was eagerly giving oxygen to any protest against Trump, no matter how fanatical. It said: "In Florida, protesters swarmed the Capitol rotunda, one hoisting a 'Trump Is Too Rusky' sign featuring a hammer and sickle. In Wisconsin's statehouse, a heckler shouted, ''We're all going to go to war and die thanks to you.'"
This was somehow democracy in action. There was no remarkable or horrifying adjective at the top of the story. Instead, the Times turned to Adam Jentleson, a top aide to retiring Sen. Harry Reid, who warned, "There's not going to be a grace period this time because everybody on our side thinks he's illegitimate and poses a massive threat."
Even the leftist late-night comedians showed the double standard. CBS "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert mocked Trump in October, saying: "Oh, suspense! Democracy's going to end in a cliffhanger! I guess we're all going to have to wait until Nov. 9 to find out if we still have a country -- if Donald Trump is the mood for a peaceful transfer of power or if he's just going to wipe his fat a-- with the Constitution."
After the election, Colbert said: "Walking around the streets of New York today, a lot of people (were) a little rough. You know, you could see it in their eyes. ... This is what it feels like when America's made great again." The crowd laughed. He continued: "And I was really hoping it would feel better because this sucks! And I don't know if you guys had any trouble getting in here tonight because right now, tonight, thousands of people have taken to the streets in protests in cities all over America."
Colbert told his audience to accept President Trump (how noble). But the protesters still drew screams and hearty applause. Somehow they weren't fat dictators using the Constitution as toilet paper.
The Times insisted on Monday that "the uneasiness with Mr. Trump has hardly receded in the nearly six weeks since his election." That is because the press will not stop agitating, and all the while they call it "news."
That, folks, is also "fake news."
L. Brent Bozell III
& Tim Graham

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 17:02

2016 MASTER MASON of the YEAR!

Local resident and brother, Fred Wright (holding award) has been chosen Master Mason of the year by the Masters and Wardens Association, representing the 28th and 29 Masonic districts.
Pictured here with the 29th District Deputy Clay W. Taylor (on the left) and District Deputy for the 28th District, Fulton J. Smedley (on the right) and SW FL Masters and Wardens Association President, Dan Akard at the annual Table Lodge/Award Dinner held in Lehigh Acres last week.
Brother Wright is the secretary of our local Ft Myers Beach Masonic Lodge #362 located at 17671 Pine Ridge Road, Fort Myers Beach and has been the secretary there for most of the past decade.
This award is given each year to the Master Mason who has contributed of himself to the relief of mankind and of his fellow brother Masons.
Not only has Fred been a unstoppable force in giving of his time and participation in our area but he also drives Veterans to the VA Hospitals in Miami and Orlando, visits with brothers in distress and is an all around good guy.

Congratulations my brother! This award is well deserved!

Bobby Mimmo

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 16:59

Being Santa

In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.
When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.
I take them out "for hot chocolate" at the local cafe. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made:
“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [ Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people's feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.
You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren't ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.
Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? (lead the child from "cookies" to the good feeling of having done something for someone else). Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!" (in a whisper, leaning in.. make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone.)
Then have the child choose someone they know, usually a neighbor or school mate.
The child's mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it--and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn't about getting credit, you see. It's unselfish giving.
My oldest chose the "witch lady" on the corner. She really was horrible--had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She'd yell at them to play quieter, etc--a real pill. He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. So then he had to go spy and decide how big her feet were.
He hid in the bushes one Saturday, and decided she was a medium. We went to Kmart and bought warm slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it "merry Christmas from Santa." After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate.
The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper--wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn't be a Santa.
Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend's daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok. The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son's face.
When it came time for Son #2 to join the ranks, my oldest came along, and helped with the induction speech. They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to--because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.

@lovewhatreallymatters

Sunday, 27 November 2016 22:13

IFAS, Lawns and Ethics

Dear readers: I offer a brief, fun Florida History Quiz:

When Juan Ponce de León stepped ashore in 1513 as Florida’s first undocumented immigrant, he reportedly said:

A) “Damn! If I’d known this place was so horticulturally challenged, I’d have brought along the lawn sprinklers and fertilizer.”
—or—
B) “Wow! I’ve never seen a place so stunning and lush. Let’s call it La Florida—the Land of Flowers!”

The point being that with our natural abundance of rainfall, sunshine and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen, Florida could justifiably have “In God We Trust” stamped on our landscapes and lawns, and not just on our currency and license plates.
This is the truth our trusted institutions and political leaders dare not speak: Really, we’d do just fine without the lawn sprinklers and fertilizer. And Florida would be a better place.
But artificially maintained lawns look so pretty, you say. And they’re good for the economy! They provide jobs for irrigation installers and the turfgrass and fertilizer industry and university researchers. Why would we want to upend the established order?
In a word, sustainability. Those six syllables are more than a marketing buzzword. What it means is that the old ways are destroying our waters and diminishing our children’s future.
Let’s wade in for a closer look, shall we?
Florida’s waters are in terrible shape and if you’re wondering where to point a finger, groundwater overpumping and fertilizer pollution are high on the list of culprits.
All of this is underscored in the alarming new WATER 2070 report by the 1000 Friends of Florida planning advocacy group, in cooperation with the Florida Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida GeoPlan Center.
Here are the twin takeaways from the report: With a projected 15 million thirsty new residents due to arrive here in the next half century, we Floridians need to seriously reduce our water consumption or we’re screwed.
And this: "The single most effective strategy to reduce water demand in Florida is to significantly reduce the amount of water used for landscape irrigation.”
In plain English: The needs of tomorrow are more important than the lawns of today. And if we don’t change our ways, we can kiss our springs goodbye.
We knew—or we should have known—this moment of reckoning was coming. The world is running out of fresh water. And the reality of life on a finite planet demands a new way of thinking about water and Florida’s future.
Meanwhile, a 2014 IFAS survey shows that we Floridians are concerned about water and the environment and we’re willing to cut back—but only if it doesn’t affect our lawns.
How can this be, you may be wondering. Here’s a clue: When IFAS speaks, Florida listens.
Few institutions statewide rival the clout and credibility of the University of Florida’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences, or have done more for the common good. But when it comes to IFAS and water conservation, what’s the message we hear?
Let’s be clear; if you find it incomprehensible that so many Floridians are hooked on chemically-dependent, irrigation-intensive lawns despite the well- documented collateral damage they exact on our waters, know that IFAS didn’t create this problem.
But their solution, the “Florida-Friendly” landscaping program with its supposedly “responsible” use of fertilizer and lawn irrigation—has unintentionally enshrined the normalization of abuse.
Think about it. “Friendly” means “able to coexist without harm.” If someone you love got lung cancer, would you encourage them to smoke “only when needed”? Or would you suggest they give up their harmful habit altogether?
We can’t irrigate and fertilize our way to a better tomorrow. It ain’t gonna happen. But IFAS stubbornly resists promoting ZEROscaping as the truly friendly-to-Florida option. Yes, ZEROscaping, which is to say, managing our lawns with zero irrigation and zero chemical inputs. For the love of Florida, mow the yard a few times a year as you wish but otherwise, let it be.
We have coddled our lawns too long. Stripped of their resilience per IFAS guidelines too many Florida lawns now live in a state of learned dependency.
It is a dereliction of civic duty to deplete and poison our springs and aquifer for the sake of our lawns, no matter how pretty they are.
And then there’s the spiritual component. I can think of no finer way to honor the Creator, however known, than by living sustainably here in Creation.
We who say we care deeply about this place are called to grow our ethical imagination and social responsibility. For as Lyndon Johnson said, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
IFAS has led the way in creating beautiful lawns. Now comes the higher challenge: One authentically sustainable lawn at a time, we need IFAS to lead the way in creating a better Florida.

John Moran is a Gainesville-based nature photographer and water
advocate.

Sunday, 27 November 2016 22:10

Blue Lives Matter

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.”

Jennifer VandrerWest

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.

Sunday, 27 November 2016 22:05

The Snowbirds

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.

Jennifer VanderWest

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

Derrick Broze
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