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Items filtered by date: May 2016

Ford Motor Co. executives spared no expense

Published in Environment
 
You might remember the giant pink elephant on top of Goben Cars, located at San Carlos Boulevard and Broadway Avenue across the street from the Beach Bowl.This iconic elephant had to be taken down because it violated the county's code regarding signage.  The plastic Elephant had to be taken down by crane and hauled into the showroom.  Where, oh where did that pink elephant come from are you asking yourself?  Don Goben the owner bought it from a guy who runs an estate and antiques yard along with a giant plastic bull paying $5000 and another $2000 for the custom paint over on Pine Ridge.
"Someone called it in and complained" said Pat McCaig, manager of Goben cars."I assume it was one of the neighbors, but I'm not sure.  I'm willing to pay for the information."  "At first I did not like it " said McCaig, "But maybe we can get it into the Fort Myers Beach parades."  "It certainly gets us noticed and people talking, so it started to grow on me."
McCaig had to live with the beast for three months in his home after Goben had closed on the business in November.  Out of excitement he purchased this one of kind decoration, "So once again its back in my life," said  McCaig.
The building was an abandoned appliance store that was remolded into a car dealership with the neighboring DeHays Automotive where they were going to repair the cars they would sell. 20 years ago the building was a gas station and since then it has constantly been changing hands.
The building is home to as many as 20 stray black cats which the neighbors fed on a regular basis, "It has been a Zoo of sorts" said McCaig.  "As a result of the food the birds flew in and we all know what they drop on cars, so this wasn't good.  The neighbors had planted Areca Palms across the canal to serve as a cushion between them and Dehays, "Which we had to tear down for the room so there was a good flow between properties," said McCaig, "So I'm not sure the neighbors love us"
A lot of people were upset about the removal of the elephant like Jeff Burdge, a painter as well as the cartoonist for the Sun Bay Paper who actually wrote a letter to the editor in reference to the removal of the elephant.  Maybe in time things will get better for Goben Cars considering they gave life to an abandoned property.
 
Caption: It brings an element of sadness to no longer see the DeHays automotive sign on this building. For several decades, Larry DeHays was a fixture off San Carlos Boulevard right across from Beach Bowl Now that three buildings in a row have been purchased by Goben Cars, we expect that this spot will remain the place to go when the inevitable breakdown occurs. The sale of DeHays is but one on many changes transforming the main artery to Fort Myers Beach. Just last week, the Sun Bay ran a story on the sale of Sunnyland RV park and the week before covered two developments on San Carlos Island. With the limited amount of land and buildings near the desirable Gulf of Mexico readers can expect this trend to continue.
Published in Business
Monday, 27 June 2016 10:45

Bill Nelson

Earlier today, I spoke with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota about the new bipartisan gun bill Sen. Susan Collins and I recently introduced to prevent anyone who is on the No-Fly List from buying a gun. To me, it’s common sense — if we don’t let someone on a plane because the FBI thinks they may have ties to terrorism, then we shouldn’t let that person buy a gun. 

Another provision included in the bill is one I introduced last week to ensure that the FBI is notified if someone who was once on the terrorist watch list purchases a gun. 

We’re not saying: don’t sell guns to someone just because they were investigated. But having a system in place that alerts the FBI if someone they once investigated is suddenly trying to purchase multiple assault weapons is just common sense. 

Sadly, if we had such a system in place before the shooting in Orlando, it could have been prevented. 

The FBI previously investigated the gunman responsible for the attack in Orlando at least three times prior to the shooting and even placed him on the terrorist watch list in 2013 and 2014.

But because the FBI closed the case as inconclusive, the shooter was taken off the watch list. So when he walked into a gun store in Port St. Lucie, Florida to purchase two firearms — including an AR-15-style assault rifle — which he then used in the attack, the FBI was never notified. 

As FBI Director James Comey told reporters the day after the shooting, “once an investigation is closed there is then no notification of any sort that is triggered by that person then attempting to purchase a firearm when the cases were closed as inconclusive.” 

That’s something that has to change. We owe it to the people of Orlando and the nation. And that’s what I said on CNN earlier today.
 
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
Published in Politics

I wrote a column earlier this week about U.S. workers’ widespread and well-founded anxiety about retirement, and how, in the absence of any meaningful public or private efforts to address those concerns, many plan to work into their 70s.

I proposed that this newly-contemplated fifth decade of work presents a golden opportunity to fund retirements quite cheaply -- for just $16,500 per worker by my estimation -- assuming that: 1) We set aside that money at the beginning of workers’ careers in order to leverage the magic of 50 years of compounding returns, and 2) We invest the money in a straightforward 50-50 U.S. stock-bond portfolio.

The problem, of course, is that very few workers have $16,500 jangling around in their pockets when they start their careers. Nor do they earn enough at the beginning of their careers to save anywhere near that amount. According to the Census Bureau, the average full-time worker age 15 to 24 earned just over $24,000 in 2014.

The unfortunate reality is that the optimal time to save for retirement is when we begin our careers, which is precisely the time when most of us have no money. But there are several ways that government and employers can bridge the gap.

Precious Time

The rolling 50-year returns of a 50-50 portfolio of U.S. stocks and bonds have shown remarkably little deviation.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

Methodology: 50 percent S&P 500 and 50 percent five-year U.S. treasury notes, including dividends.

First, the federal government can simply give every 21 year old an IRA with $16,500. Workers would repay the federal government through payroll taxes over time, which would be a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that workers currently pay in payroll taxes over the course of their careers. (Realistically, one or two or maybe even three future generations of workers will have to continue paying some additional amount into social security in order to make good on promises to current workers, but that amount should decrease over time.)

We can also give young workers the opportunity to fund their future retirements through public service. The federal government could sponsor a program in which 18 to 25 year olds volunteer to spend a year working in schools or on infrastructure projects or for non-profits in exchange for a more generous IRA contribution of, say, $24,000 -- the average annual income for workers that age.  

The private sector can play a role too, as it stands to gain from a more efficient retirement system. Employers spend a fortune on workers’ retirements through 401(k) contributions or payroll taxes or both. Here again, those costs would be far lower -- and would go much further -- if they were made earlier in employees’ careers.   

Employers are unlikely, however, to change their approach to funding workers’ retirements if left to their own devices. For one thing, as long as employers are required to pay payroll taxes, a good portion of the cost is outside of their control. The workplace also is increasingly transient and many employers would be reluctant to cut generous checks to new employees who can walk out any time.

This is where a public-private partnership would make sense. The federal government can offer employers a modestly better than one-to-one reduction in payroll taxes for IRA contributions between, say, $15,000 and $20,000 that they make to employees under the age of 26. Employers would actually save money by making those IRA contributions, and over time the federal government would also be better off because what it forgoes in payroll taxes it will more than makes up in funded retirements.

How these accounts are invested is equally important. My analysis hinges on a 50-year investment in U.S. stocks and bonds, so everyone has to be dedicated to the task of leaving that money alone for a long time. We also could think of different approaches to how Social Security funds are currently invested, but that's yet another complex issue and a prescription I won’t address here.

In 50 years, our economy will be much bigger than it is today, companies will be making much more money, and, as a result, stocks will be sharply higher. (If that’s not the case, we will have bigger problems than how to save for retirement.) Yes, there will be more than a few scary moments along the way, which is why a 50-50 portfolio of U.S. stocks and bonds is a sensible way to harness growth while balancing risk.

The playbook for a more efficient retirement system is simple. All that's left -- which is undoubtedly the bigger hurdle -- is making it a reality.

Nir Kaissar

Nir Kaissar is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering the markets. He is the founder of Unison Advisors, an asset management firm. He has worked as a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell and a consultant at Ernst & Young.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Sun Bay Paper, Sea Level Broadcasting, Bloomberg LP or its owners.

Published in Lifestyle
Friday, 17 June 2016 15:27

Bright-Line for the Sunshine State

A Brightline for the Sunshine State
High Speed Rail for South Florida Much Closer Thanks to Private Funding.
 When our Governor Rick Scott visited California last month to persuade business owners living in the Golden State to move to the Sunshine State, his principle argument was the high rate of taxation in California as compared to low-tax Florida.
Yet, in an odd turnabout, according to information just released, a company in Florida that is promoting the first privately funded U.S. high speed railway says it will manufacture its trains in California.
The company that will build the railway is called Brightline and is owned by Fortress Investment Group. While many observers think the concern is taking a big gamble, others, including the company itself is convinced that the rail system is an idea whose time has come.
"Everybody loves trains," said Brightline President Mike Reininger.
Reininger’s background might make him appear unsuited to be running a railroad. He worked for 12 years at Disney, where his main focus and responsibility was too develop resorts. And another Brightline executive came from MGM Resorts. How do you translate resort and hotel experience into a railway company? By putting an emphasis on providing a "hospitality experience" that will mix modernized and efficient transportation with train stations that offer retail and other amenities creating an “attraction” based system that provides warmth and appeal beyond what is currently used in the rail business.
"The train literally reaches out to greet you at the platform." -Brightline President Mike Reininger
According to the company, Brightline cars will feature amenities like oversized comfortable seats, large windows, aisles twice as wide as those on airplanes, hands-free bathrooms cleaned regularly, outlets everywhere, free Wi-Fi, and something it calls a "gap filler," which allows passengers to walk onto the train without stepping up or down.
"The train literally reaches out to greet you at the platform," said Reininger. The train will travel at speeds up to 125 mph making the trip from Miami to Orlando in three hours.
Brightline has already raised $1 billion in equity and debt to launch the first phase of the rail service, which is set to commence next year between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Using existing rail corridors, the company is currently building stations on land it bought over the past several years. There is also a second phase planned to service Orlando. It is expected to cost an additional $1.5 billion.
Reininger projects Brightline will get at least 1 percent of the estimated 500 million automobile trips taken annually between cities in South Florida and Orlando. While ticket prices have not yet been established, Reininger says they will be competitive with the cost of driving a car.
"At the end of the day, we know we've got to do one thing. We have to change your behavior a little bit. We have to convince you to get out of your car and get into what we consider a smarter way to travel, the affable CEO told reporters."
To the dedicated people working at Brightline, high-speed rail is an idea about to take off in a big way and the company is already looking conceptually at other markets in places like Texas or California.
To get the first trains built, Brightline chose Siemens USA a company based in Sacramento California, the capitol of the Golden State. Siemens is also involved in trying to build its own high speed rail, funded by taxpayers, with a total price tag that could easily top $68 billion., nearly 30 times the price of Brightline's Florida train.
Reininger wouldn’t disclose how much it is paying for its trains but it is easy to see the money needed to build a private railway here in South Florida will be much less than the public system planned for California since it is already projected to be a fraction of the costs, maybe as much as 95% less.
The Siemens USA plant is just a few miles away from the California state Capitol, and thought it has been said the political climate is hostile to manufacturing, that doesn’t seem to bother Michael Cahill, president of Siemens USA's rolling stock division. He said the company has been in the Golden State for 30 years.
“Our company has been in California over 30 years and one of the great things about California is the positive spirit," said Cahill. "In California there is an enthusiasm here that is unmatched anywhere else in the country."
Recently released data shows that Siemens USA increased its 600,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sacramento by 20 percent to accommodate the Brightline contract. The locomotives they're building for south Florida will run on clean diesel, and the passenger cars are manufactured with stainless steel to make them resistant to rust.
Siemens is busy these days. Not only are they building for themselves and Florida there are other contracts for locomotives and rail cars being built inside the Sacramento plant for other cities and states, from San Francisco to Calgary, Washington to Illinois.
"Our production is growing," said Cahill. "We've added, compared to last year, about 150,000 man hours of work in the factory."
Making Siemens a model of ecologically sound manufacturing is the heavy use of solar power by the company. Cahill said another advantage of remaining in California is the sun.
"Up to 80 percent of the power we use is generated by solar panels," said Cahill and then added,”it gives us a big advantage when it comes to public perception and costs.”
Like a lot of the labor force today, Siemens is challenged by a lack of skilled labor. For example -Welders are in high demand, particularly those who can weld stainless steel. Rather than buck a sluggish and untrained labor force, Siemens started its own training program to develop new talent.
One lady who went through the training program, - 23-year-old Denise Robertson – is already on the job and was seen welding a new train car just this week. Robertson used to solder metal for jewelry, but she heard about the welding training program she signed up.
"It opened up a whole new world for me," she said. "I learned you could actually make a pretty good career in welding."
 
Caption 1 – Michael Reininger,CEO of Brighline, is seen here standing in a locomotive being built by Siemens in California. This is one of ten locomotives scheduled to be built for the privately funded high speed rail system set to begin operations in 2017 serving south Florida.
 
 
BRIGHTLINES EXPRESS TRAIN SERVICE IS CALLED All Aboard Florida on a website that lays out the details of its proposed service for intercity travel in one of the most populous and visited regions in the United States. In the website, Brightline presents “a bright and optimistic view of the future for the millions of residents and tourists who crisscross the state’s highways and skyways annually by offering an important new travel alternative in Florida, the first of its kind in the United States.”



Brightline will use the existing Florida East Coast Railway corridor between Miami and Cocoa, and is building new track along State Road 528 between Cocoa and Orlando. Once complete, it will serve residents and visitors in this area with a train that is billed as “convenient, safe, fast and environmentally friendly”

It is anticipated that over the next eight years, high speed rail will have a high direct impact on Florida’s economy. During construction, it will create nearly 10,000 jobs. It will also require zero funding from taxpayers. And it’s all moving full-speed ahead.
 


To proponents of passenger rail, trains have the capacity to transform the travel experience. They say not only will it reduce emissions and take cars off the road, it will allow passengers to arrive more relaxed, refreshed and comfortable decreasing road rage, accidents and lowering stress for travelers.
 
“From a public health standpoint, getting people out of cars and into public transportation has always been a desirable goal, people just don’t like to give up what they perceive as independence associates with private automobiles. It’s very American to cling to cars, Europe and Asia already use rail much more but it’s advent and acceptance here will be better for all Americans,” said Roger Clemens a researcher who specializes in the effects of transportation on health and well-being.
 
Clemens views are about to get tested since Brightline will launch service between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2017, with service from Miami to Orlando following.
 
In the meantime, All Aboard Florida will be improving the route between Miami and Cocoa, building out the route between Cocoa and Orlando, and constructing modern train stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

The website states that:
“Station construction projects at the four destination cities are at various stages. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) designed the three South Florida stations in association with Zyscovich Architects. Construction has begun in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and each station will be completed in advance of the 2017 launch. Suffolk Construction is serving as general contractor in Miami, and Moss & Associates is the general contractor in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The Orlando station will be part of a larger Intermodal Transportation Center at Orlando International Airport.”
 
Since millions live, work and vacation in the stretch of Florida between Orlando and Miami, Brighline has strategically located its stations near local transportation options, providing passengers convenient access to each city and destinations located throughout the region.

The Orlando Station will be adjacent to Orlando International Airport, allowing visitors from around the world a new and attractive option as they explore Central and South Florida.
All together the project may finally bring a much needed alternative mode of transportation to South Florida and lessen pollution, highway congestion and bring Florida into the modern world of efficient high-speed rail travel. To stay updated on the progress and be ready to take an inaugural trip get connected with Brightline online at allaboardflorida.com to stay updated on progress and news.
Published in General/Features

In the past few weeks it seems some prominent noses have been tweaked. Because of changes in the wind, lines have been drawn in the sand (easy to do here) and gruff challenging words were spoken. It is well known there are monetary problems within the city but what puzzles most citizens are that none of the troubles ever seem be addressed.  Instead there are such statements as, ‘ we have no money’, we’ll check in to it, I can’t speak to that now, the coffers are good with 6 million in assets( whatever that means), and my two favorites, we change council members a lot, and money comes in and money goes out’. What on earth does that mean?

I would say that probably 75% plus of FMB residents and 100% of business owners know what it means to handle all sizes of budgets.  One buys, one receives (or uses), one gets a bill, and one pays the bill. Rocket science it is not…and if one is not a CPA but wants to know how the ‘state of the state’ is going, one has only to hire a  bookkeeper who shows up each week, or month with actual facts showing ‘money in, money out’, and ‘how much is left’!

Mr. Bobeck speaks truthfully about the city not having faith in all of its employees.  The proper channels to separate Mr. Stillwell were taken with many more people aware than what was stated, as shown by the speakers before the discussion of his removal.   He was aware of the action prior to the meeting and declined to resign….Having said that it is not the actual situation, but subtle insinuations of illegalities concerning Mr. Bobeck that cause a bad taste in one’s mouth.  Somebody had to make a move about the city not being tended to, and it fell upon his shoulders, as mayor. 

City councils come and go…..employees in all businesses come and go….that does and should not cause a company or city to be run poorly.  If the outrageous nonpayment situation had been addressed properly, bills paid properly, and employees taught to do their jobs properly, Mr. Stillwell might not have found himself being let go. If TDC money had not been improperly used to tear down docks…and taken from Mound House coffers, (against the rules), they might still have been standing.   And if the money inadvertently sent to FMB by FPL had been discussed and reimbursed properly (which is the honest thing to do), we would not today have to listen to the collective gasp whenever it is brought up.

We have many community situations to be addressed...Bay Oaks, storm water appeals, Lake O, TDC, and the budget.  This council is very capable of working together as a viable and indivisible unit. Their success is based only on their obligation to work together for the sake of the city they were sent to care for. They need staff to help them concerning rules and regulations and codes; they need city attorneys to be advised and ready for critical opinions; and they need to see how, when, and where the money flows, frequently. Downtown business and residential areas need to be listened to and for different reasons. (i.e. residents don’t need street cleaning, but downtown sure needs power-washed)

 Push on city council…make amends; agree to disagree even….as long as it is in the best interest of our town.

Published in Letters To The Editor
Friday, 17 June 2016 15:22

Saving our ocean one turtle at a time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sara Mooers

Published in Environment
Friday, 17 June 2016 15:19

Letters to Editor

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

Chris Landrum

 

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

Sonny Crist

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

 

Bob, Mary and Lou Wlliams

Published in Letters To The Editor
Friday, 17 June 2016 15:10

In the Middle of Nowhere

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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