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Items filtered by date: June 2016
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:34

Historically Speaking

Fort Myers is full of attractions
for the whole family, such as
the Southwest Florida Museum of
History, a perfect adventure for a
rainy day, located at 2031 Jackson
St. Fort Myers. The building the
museum now stands as was formally
known as the Atlantic Coastline
Railroad Depot, originally
built in 1924. It not only captures
Fort Myers history but all of
Southwest Florida as well.
Some fossils here date back
when the Florida peninsula was
covered in shallow water in prehistoric
times. Fossils from giant sea
creatures, such as the Megaladon
that inhabited the area over 12,000
years ago.
In 1971 the Atlantic Coastline
Railroad Depot closed no
longer bringing passenger train
service to Fort Myers. They finally
found a use for the old historic
depot when it reopened in
1982 as the Southwest Florida Museum
of History. This old building
is wonderfully laid out with exhibits
that take you through the
history of South west Florida.
Keeping its former use the
building still has the original segregated
waiting areas and two ticket
office windows thatwere used to separate blacks from
whites.
As you walk into one of the
waiting rooms you'll notice it still
has the original tile flooring and
fireplace. This room is now used
as a cinema showing room, where
a 30 minute film entitled "Untold
Stories of Fort Myers," where they
present amazing interviews with
famous Fort Myers Residents.
The Calusa Indians were as
much a part of Florida History as
the Spanish explorers. In the exhibits
you are able to lay your eyes
on artifacts and shells left behind
by the Calusa Indians You can
read the accounts of the Seminole
wars of Billy Bowlegs and his followers
before they were relocated
to Oklahoma.
The chronological order of
the exhibits will continue to take
you through the times of local history
known as the three C's: cattle,
citrus, and cane. Florida's history
as a cattle rearing history is told
with great detail including photographs
and storyboards. On the
grounds of the museum is a cracker
house recreated to show the cedar
pine walls, sloping tin roof and
shady front porch. These houses
were typical of early local cattlemen
and their families.
As you continue your journey
outside you'll feats your eyes
on an 83 foot Pullman Railcar.
The railcar was restored to its original
1929 luxury era. The only
guide taking you through the
lounge, dining room,
and servants quarters
is a self guiding information
card. Personalized
china, brass
fixtures and compact
sleeping compartments,
each with their
own bathroom is laid
out in historic detail to
recreate the feel of a
luxury railcar. They
even explain how they
kept the air conditioned,
by strapping a
block of ice to the
front of the car, so as
the air rushed through
the carriage it was
cooled for its passengers.
Along with the permanent
exhibits the Southwest Florida Museum
of History has what they call
traveling exhibits that forever
change. They've had exhibits including
the treasure of Eden, King
Tut, and a Roswell display. The
newest exhibit they added to this
was the Beatles 50th Anniversary
Photography exhibit which began
on January 24th, 2014.
Of course the most recent
history of Fort Myers includes the
arrival of Thomas Edison and his
wife Alva. After the railway arrived
in 1904 many other famous
American wealthy families bought
winter homes here including families
like Henry Ford and the Firestones.
The Museum of History
would be a great choice for history
buffs alike. It's a great chance to
see what Fort Myers was like
around the turn of the century and
prehistoric Florida. If you find
yourself on a day filled with rain
head down to the Museum of History
here in our very own Fort
Myers.

Published in General/Features
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:12

Antarctic Ozone Layer Begins to Heal

New research has identified
clear signs that the gaping hole in
the Antarctic ozone layer is beginning
to close and could close permanently
by mid-century.
Scientists at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, MIT,
and elsewhere have identified the
“first fingerprints of healing” of the
Antarctic ozone layer, published
Thursday in the journal “Science.”
The team found that the
September ozone hole has shrunk
by more than four million square
kilometers – about half the area of
the lower 48 United States – since
2000, when ozone depletion was at
its peak.
The team also showed for
the first time that this recovery has
slowed somewhat at times, due to
the effects of volcanic eruptions
from year to year. Overall, however,
the ozone hole appears to be
on a healing path.
The authors used “fingerprints”
of the ozone changes with
season and altitude to attribute the
ozone’s recovery to the continuing
decline of atmospheric chlorine
originating from chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs).
These chemical compounds
were once emitted by dry cleaning
processes, old refrigerators, and
aerosols such as hairspray. In 1987,
virtually every country in the world
signed on to the Montreal Protocol
in a concerted effort to ban the use
of CFCs and repair the ozone hole.
“We can now be confident
that the things we’ve done have put
the planet on a path to heal,” says
lead author Susan Solomon, a professor
of atmospheric chemistry
and climate science at MIT.
“Which is pretty good for us, isn’t
it?”
“Aren’t we amazing humans,
that we did something that
created a situation that we decided
collectively, as a world, ‘Let’s get
rid of these molecules’? We got rid
of them, and now we’re seeing the
planet respond,” said Solomon.
“What’s exciting for me
personally is, this brings so much
of my own work over 30 years full
circle,” says Solomon, whose research
into chlorine and ozone
spurred the Montreal Protocol.
“Science was helpful in showing
the path, diplomats and countries
and industry were incredibly able
in charting a pathway out of these
molecules, and now we’ve actually
seen the planet starting to get better.
It’s a wonderful thing.”
Solomon’s co-authors include
Diane Ivy, research scientist
in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric
and Planetary Sciences,
along with researchers at the National
Center for Atmospheric Research
in Boulder, Colorado, and
the University of Leeds in the
United Kingdom.
This research was supported,
in part, by the U.S. National
Science Foundation and the
U.S. Department of Energy.
The ozone hole was first
discovered using ground-based
data that began in the 1950s.
Around the mid-1980s, scientists
from the British Antarctic survey
noticed that the October total
ozone was dropping. From then on,
scientists worldwide tracked
ozone depletion using October
measurements of Antarctic
ozone.
Ozone is sensitive not just
to chlorine, but also to temperature
and sunlight.
Chlorine eats away at
ozone, but only if light is
present and if the atmosphere
is cold enough to create
polar stratospheric clouds
on which chlorine chemistry
can occur – a relationship
that Solomon was first to
characterize in 1986.
Measurements have shown
that ozone depletion starts
each year in late August, as
Antarctica emerges from its
dark winter, and the hole is
fully formed by early October.
Solomon and her colleagues
believed they would
get a clearer picture of chlorine’s
effects by looking earlier
in the year, at ozone
levels in September, when cold
winter temperatures still prevail
and the ozone hole is opening up.
The team showed that as
the chlorine has decreased, the rate
at which the hole opens up in September
has slowed down.
“I think people, myself included,
had been too focused on
October, because that’s when the
ozone hole is enormous, in its full
glory,” Solomon said. “But October
is also subject to the slings and
arrows of other things that vary,
like slight changes in meteorology.
September is a better time to look
because chlorine chemistry is
firmly in control of the rate at
which the hole forms at that time
of year. That point hasn’t really
been made strongly in the past.”
The researchers tracked the
yearly opening of the Antarctic
ozone hole in the month of September,
from 2000 to 2015. They
analyzed ozone measurements
taken from weather balloons and
satellites, as well as satellite measurements
of sulfur dioxide emitted
by volcanoes, which can also enhance
ozone depletion. And, they
tracked meteorological changes,
such as temperature and wind,
which can shift the ozone hole
back and forth.
They then compared their
yearly September ozone measurements
with model simulations that
predict ozone levels based on the
amount of chlorine that scientists
have estimated to be present in the
atmosphere from year to year.
The researchers found that
the ozone hole has declined compared
to its peak size in 2000,
shrinking by more than four million
square kilometers by 2015.
They found that this decline
matched the model’s predictions,
and that more than half the shrinkage
was due solely to the reduction
in atmospheric chlorine.
“It’s been interesting to
think about this in a different
month, and looking in September
was a novel way,” Ivy says. “It
showed we can actually see a
chemical fingerprint, which is sensitive
to the levels of chlorine, finally
emerging as a sign of
recovery.”
The team did observe an
important outlier in the trend: In
2015, the ozone hole reached a
record size, despite the fact that atmospheric
chlorine continued to
drop.
Going through the data,
Solomon and her colleagues realized
that the 2015 spike in ozone
depletion was due primarily to the
eruption of the Chilean volcano
Calbuco. Volcanoes don’t inject
much chlorine into the stratosphere
but they do increase small particles,
which increase the amount of
polar stratospheric clouds with
which the human-made chlorine
reacts.
“Why I like this paper so
much is, nature threus a curveball in 2015,” says Ross
Salawitch, professor of chemistry
and biochemistry at the University
of Maryland. “People thought we
set a record for the depth of the
ozone hole in October 2015. The
Solomon paper explains it was due
to a specific volcanic eruption. So
without this paper, if all we had was
the data, we would be scratching
our heads – what was going on in
2015?”
Co-author Dr. Ryan R.
Neely III, a lecturer in Observational
Atmospheric Science at
Leeds, said, “Observations and
computer models agree; healing of
the Antarctic ozone has begun. We
were also able to quantify the separate
impacts of man-made pollutants,
changes in temperature and
winds, and volcanoes, on the size
and magnitude of the Antarctic
ozone hole.”
Leeds colleague and co-author
Dr. Anja Schmidt, an academic
research fellow in Volcanic Impacts,
said, “The Montreal Protocol
is a true success story that provided
a solution to a global environmental
issue.”
As chlorine levels continue
to dissipate from the atmosphere,
Solomon sees no reason why, barring
future volcanic eruptions, the
ozone hole shouldn’t shrink and
eventually close permanently by
midcentury.
© Environment News Service
(ENS) 2016. All rights reserved.
www.ens-newswire.com

Published in Environment
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:11

Guest Opinion

It only took a couple of
weeks for our esteemed Town
Council to reverse its firing “for
cause” of Town Manager Don Stilwell,
and instead terminate his employment
“for convenience,” as his
contract with the town allows. Firing
Stilwell without “cause” means
the town will have to pay him 20
weeks’ worth of severance pay plus
his accrued personal leave and his
attorney’s fees.
The fees, yet to be determined,
were basically for a letter
from Stilwell’s lawyer pointing out
all the reasons why the firing “for
cause” was deficient – little things
like there was no stated “cause,”
and that “as a public sector employee
with an employment contract,”
Stilwell is protected by law
to due process which includes “notice
and an opportunity to respond
in a pre-termination hearing and an
explanation of the evidence” of his
alleged non-feasance. If Stilwell
sued for wrongful termination, it
would have been a slam-dunk win
and really cost the town big bucks.
The fact that Council member
(and attorney) Rexanne
Hosafros pointed out everything
that the lawyer’s letter said at the
meeting when the firing took place
didn’t matter to Mayor Dennis
Boback, Vice-mayor Summer
Stockton and Council Member
Tracey Gore. They chose to ignore
the warning and dug the town into
a hole that just kept getting deeper.
Had they listened to Hosafros in
the first place, they could have
saved the town some money. But
they were hell-bent on their misguided
adventure and did it anyway.
Boback later commented
that he was “100% certain that the
determination of ‘with cause’
would be upheld” and that he was
changing his vote “against his better
judgement because it would
cause a lot of chaos in the town
over the next year . . .” Too bad he
didn’t think about all that chaos before
making his original motion.
His statement has a ring of
defamation in it that might give
Stilwell pause about accepting the
deal.
It would be comforting if
just one of the three council members
who made the mess would
have the integrity (and guts) to
stand up and say, “We made a mistake.
We acted hastily without
thinking through where this action
would take us.” I’m not holding
my breath for that. We’ll have to
be satisfied that their reversal of
the action is all the admission of
error we’ll get.
But wait. There’s more!
At the June 3rd meeting, Boback
openly admitted that he had consulted
an (unnamed) outside attorney
about the firing. As a result of
this consultation, he believed he
could pull it off without having to
pay Stilwell anything and at the
same time, didn’t have to be specific
about stating “cause” or offering
Stilwell due process. If that
was the actual advice, it has to be
some of the worst legal advice ever
given. Boback declined to reveal
the identity of the mystery attorney.
(So much for the transparency
in government that Boback
lamented the lack of during the
campaign.)
By wonder of wonders, a
public records request by the Sand
Paper revealed an email from
Boback to attorney, former council
member and apparently still-angry
man, Bill Shenko - the text of
which is, “Bill, Attached is the reconsideration
request for Stilwell
from (sic) Attorney George Knott.
Would you be available sometime
afternoon today or tomorrow
morning anytime after 10am to discuss?”
So, the unknown attorney is
revealed, to no one’s surprise.
But wait. There’s still
more! Last September, the Charter
Review Commission (of which I
was a member) heard concerns
from Bill Shenko about a proposed
amendment to delete a section
about “revenue sharing” which
then-town attorney Derek Rooney
had advised us, was unnecessary
because it was already covered in
Florida General Law. He inquired
about this with the Attorney General’s
office by phone and was told
that his take on the issue was correct.
In February, Shenko raised
the issue with new town attorney
Dawn Lehnert who believed the
town could lose as much as
$200,000 by not having that clause
in the Charter. An “official” ruling
in writing was asked of the Attorney
General, the status of which no
one seems to know anything about.
Nonetheless, in April newlyelected
mayor Boback made it
clear that if it turned out that
Rooney was wrong, it was his intention
to seek reimbursement
from him for giving the town
faulty legal advice.
That brings us back to the
current situation. If Boback was
ready to go after Rooney for allegedly
giving the town bad legal
advice, then consistency would
dictate that he go after Shenko for
at least the attorney fees that Stilwell
incurred in straightening out
his botched firing. Boback sought
and received legal advice without
any authorization that ended up
costing the taxpayers money, some
of which was mine. I want it back.
This whole fiasco began
with Boback stating that the town
had lost faith and trust in the town
manager. He, Stockton and Gore
should think about that statement
the next time they look in a mirror.

Published in Op Ed

Among the windswept pine
trees of Joint Base Cape Cod, 14
Soldiers battled it out in the 2016
Army National Guard Best Warrior
Competition to earn the title of
Army Guard Soldier and Noncommissioned
Officer of the Year.
At the end of the competition,
Army Sgt. Calvin Koziol, an
infantryman with the Nebraska
Army National Guard's C Company
(Long Range Surveillance),
1st Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment,
was named Soldier of the
Year while Army Staff Sgt. Dirk
Omerzo, an instructor with the
Pennsylvania Army National
Guard's 3rd Battalion, 166th Regiment
(Regional Training Institute),
was named the NCO of the Year.
Both will move on to compete
in the 2016 all-Army Best
Warrior Competition, scheduled for
October, where they will compete
against Soldiers from throughout
the Army to be named the Army's
Soldier and NCO of the Year.
"It's really surreal," said
Koziol after the winners were announced.
"It's hard to believe. It's a
great feeling."
Omerzo agreed. "I'm not really
one for all the attention, but it's
amazing," he said.
The competition stood as a
grueling three-day test that stressed
competitors both physically and
mentally. For Omerzo, winning the
competition was a surprise.
"I did very poorly on the
ruck march today," he said. "When
I came in and saw the leader board
was updated and I was at the top, I
was blown away."
The 14-mile ruck march
was only one part of the competition
that put competitors through
their paces on a variety of tactical
and technical skills ranging from
weapons to first aid to land navigation.
"This week just really put it
to us," said Omerzo. "I expended a
lot of energy on the land nav lanes
and I just didn't have any energy in
my legs for the ruck march."
That was, in part, the intent
of the competition.
"One of my initial instructions
to the NCOs running all the
events was I do not want this to be
easy," said Command Sgt. Maj.
Carlos Ramos Rivera, the state
command sergeant major for the
Massachusetts National Guard,
which was the host for this year's
competition. "This has to be an absolute
challenge for all the competitors.
I want them to struggle. I
want them to push as hard as they
absolutely, possibly can."
Ramos Rivera's team was
successful in that regard. "It's been
pretty exhausting," said Army Staff
Sgt. Logan Gehlhausen, an infantry
instructor with the Indiana Army
National Guard's 138th Regiment
(Regional Training Institute), who
took second place in the NCO category.
"They've definitely stacked
the events up back-to-back. It's
very physically demanding. They
definitely made it challenging,
which it should be at this level."
The goal was to give competitors
a sense for the next level,
the all-Army competition.
"We want to prepare them
to the best extent possible for that
competition," said Ramos Rivera.
"We try to anticipate what the sergeant
major of the Army is going
to do at his level and replicate
that."
Competitors worked their
way up to the Army Guard-level
competition through several competitions
beginning at the unit
level. While the skills they were
tested on at each competition were
similar, this year's Army Guard
competition had a unique element
to it: the location.
"The Massachusetts National
Guard is not only the birthplace
of the National Guard, it's the
birthplace of the United States
Army," said Ramos Rivera. "What
more fitting location to recognize
and identify the absolute best
among our Soldiers and NCOs?"
Keeping with that historical
tie, the ruck march event took
place along the "Battle Road" between
Lexington and Concord,
starting and ending at the Old
North Bridge where in April 1775
the first shots of the Revolutionary
War were fired.
"The ruck march had to be
here at this location," said Ramos
Rivera.
Others agreed. "It's especially
significant to our Soldiers,
and Army National Guard Soldiers,
that we're doing the road march
here," said Command Sgt. Maj.
Christopher Kepner, the sergeant
major of the Army National Guard,
who completed the 14-mile ruck
march alongside the competitors.
As the competition unfolded,
Kepner said it was motivating
watching the competitors excel.
"My favorite part about this is seeing
Soldiers doing their best and
elevating the Soldiers around them
to do their best," he said. "When
we have these competitions, it
brings everybody up a notch.
And that spreads beyond the competition
itself,” said Kepner.
"When these Soldiers go back to
their organizations, even if they
don't win this competition, the fact
that they are here, the Soldiers and
the organization they belong to
stand up a little bit taller, they try a
little bit harder," he said.
Omerzo said being around
the other competitors made him
push a little harder at each event.
"All those guys were awesome
and I really enjoyed competing
against those guys," he said.
"They were very difficult to compete
against. Every event there was
a different person who was strong."
For Omerzo, winning this
year's competition is a comeback
of sorts. "I competed last year, lost
at my region level," he said. "I
wanted to come back and I wanted
to win my region. Once I won my
region, obviously I wanted to keep
winning."
Staying competition ready
has meant constant training, said
Omerzo. "I've been training for
over a year," he said. "There have
been ups and downs with my training
regimen, but I've been doing
everything I can think of for the
past year.” Omerzo added that
without support from others he
wouldn't have been as successful.
"My mentor has been amazing
throughout the last year leading up
to this point," he said.
Koziol said similar support
from his unit allowed him to just
keep pushing himself. "You have
to dig deep and find it within yourself
to just keep pushing and make
sure you finish," he said. "It's just
one step at a time, really."
For both Omerzo and
Koziol, the next step is ensuring
they're ready to compete in October,
they said.
"My plan now is to keep up
my physical fitness, study a lot and
just go over all the tasks I can possibly
think of," Koziol said.
Though, no matter how
they do at the next level, both said
it's rewarding simply being able to
compete.
"They put on a great competition,"
said Omerzo. "I just want
to say thank you to everybody that
helped. The competition was awesome."
Koziol agreed. "You don't
get to do this every day," he said.
"It's something I'll remember forever."
Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy

Published in General/Features
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:08

A Stroll Through The Garden

If you like nature or just
want to spend an afternoon walking
through a beautiful garden head
down to The Butterfly Estates in
Fort Myers. This butterfly conservatory
is shrouded in 3,614 square
foot of glass with some of the most
serene landscaping in and outside.
The moment you park your
car you are greeted by little winged
visitors due to the tropical nectar
plants that draws them to the exterior
of the estates.
I was curious when I heard
about a “Butterfly Estates” as it
was described to me.
There are so many different
types of butterflies it makes it hard
to focus on just one. Nicole Bennet
34 of Columbus, Ohio was
there taking a tour and she explained
“I saw the Butterfly Estates
in the “Must Do” magazine and
thought I have to check this out, a
butterfly conservatory. It’s not
everyday you get to have a relaxing
day with some of the most tranquil
surroundings.” The
conservatory on average raises
about ten different species depending
on the seasons according to the
educational staff. “There are local
butterfly gardeners who donate
their caterpillars and chrysalis because
there is not enough vegetation,
so there will not be enough
food to go around,” Bennet explained
to me after learning it herself
on the tour.
They play classical music
in the background while you enjoy
your adventure; I found it very fitting
considering it almost looked as
if the butterflies danced with their
wings. With Bennet was her partner
Mark 36 of Monticello, New
York who said, “This classical
music was by far the best choice.
It really adds to the mood and
seems as if the butterflies are listening.”
It was relaxing watching
these butterflies such as the Queen
and the Pipevine Swallowtail land
on the exoctic flowers
and nectar plants. One
of the species the
Monarch butterfly can
live for 180-240 days or
six to eight months.
Mark added “I didn't realize
they lived that
long. I thought that all
butterflies only lived a
couple of days.”
You would be
surprised at the amount
of Queen Caterpillar
and chrysalis, also
known as the Pupa stage
that are present due to
the perfect environment
for the developing stages of the
butterfly. There are
four complete stages of the butterfly;
egg, larvae, pupa, and adult.
You can witness all of these stages.
If you come at the right time you
can watch the chrysalis metamorph
into a beautiful butterfly. “I was
hoping to get to see one of the
pupas’ open up today, but maybe
next time,” Bennet added.
After you visit the Conservatory
you can enjoy the variety
shops that are available at the estates
such as the Caterpillars Ice
Cream Shop to enjoy a cold treat or
maybe a delicious chocolate snack
at the Fudge Factory. The conservatory
is a place for the whole family
to enjoy and experience
something you’ve never experienced
before.
Admission is only $7 for adults 13
and above, ages 3 to 12 is $4, children
under 3 and valid military
I.D.’s are free. The Butterfly
Estates are located 1815 Fowler St.
in the River District of Fort Myers.
Colin Conley

Published in Lifestyle
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:06

Hunting For Diamonds

On the semi-frozen surface
of Faraday Lake in Canada’s subarctic,
two diamond rigs are
drilling around the clock. It’s
spring breakup north of the 63rd
parallel, which means the Kennady
Diamonds Inc. exploration team is
running out of time.
“It’s starting to candle,”
says geologist Martina Bezzola,
scuffing her rubber boot over the
fast-melting ice where vertical tunnels,
or “candles,” have recently
appeared. The thaw means the
team has two weeks to extract kimberlite
samples from beneath the
lake before they’re banished to
drilling onshore. “Basically it’s like
sticking a needle into a haystack to
determine what’s in the haystack.”
Twenty-five years after the
first diamonds were found in
Canada’s Northwest Territories, it’s
still a game of hurry-up-and-wait.
For every thousand grassroots exploration
projects, only one becomes
a mine. Snap Lake, one of
three operating mines in the region,
was shuttered by De Beers last
year, a casualty of harsh geography
and falling diamond prices. Government
attempts to add production
value with a cutting industry collapsed
years ago; all that remains
of “Diamond Row” in the territorial
capital Yellowknife is a line of
derelict buildings behind barbed
wire.
Gahcho Kué
And yet the dream lives on.
At a time when global miners are
shedding assets, De Beers is about
to open the largest new diamond
mine in the world, Gahcho Kué,
280 kilometers (175 miles) northeast
of Yellowknife. A little further
north, Rio Tinto Group last year
found—and just sold—the largest
gem-quality diamond ever
recorded in North America at its
Diavik mine, the 187-carat Foxfire.
Dominion Diamond Corp. last
week agreed to extend the life of
the neighboring Ekati mine beyond
2020.
“The return in diamonds is
fantastic, but you need the patience
of Job,’’ says Jonathan Comerford,
chairman of Kennady Diamonds,
on site at the Kelvin Camp on
Faraday Lake to represent the interests
of Irish billionaire Dermot
Desmond.
Desmond owns almost a
quarter of Toronto-based Kennady
and 23 percent of its former parent
company, Mountain Province Diamonds
Inc., which these days is focused
on developing Gahcho Kué
with De Beers. Canada has a couple
of marks in its favor that keep
the majors interested amid a grim
market, says Kim Truter, chief executive
officer of De Beers
Canada.
Engineering Challenge
Prices for rough stones
have rebounded 10 percent this
year after plunging 44 percent in
the five years ending in January.
The country is politically stable
and has a long mining history, mitigating
the snail’s pace at which
projects proceed; Gahcho Kué took
21 years to bring into production.
And Canada’s diamond deposits
tend to be predictable, with high
concentrations of bridal-quality
gems.
Canada produces approximately
10 percent of world diamond
output by volume but about
15 percent by value, said Truter,
51. “The price we receive for the
diamonds in Canada is actually
quite high compared to other regions
of the world.”

Ice Road
So is the cost to produce
them. Gahcho Kué’s billion-dollar
price tag could have been 30 percent
less elsewhere in the world,
Truter says. In seven years of operation,
Snap Lake never made
money, crippled by the costly engineering
challenge extracting diamonds
from beneath a subarctic
lake.
The best way to understand
what it takes to mine diamonds in
this part of the world is to view it
from above. The landscape, for
hundreds of miles in all directions,
is almost entirely binary: snowcovered
rock and too many lakes to
count. The temperature ranges
from minus 50 degrees Celsius (-
58 Fahrenheit), to plus 35 in the
summer. Scattered aboriginal communities
inhabit the area, along
with caribou and grizzlies.
Each winter, mine operators
spend three months constructing a
350-kilometer ice road across this
terrain. Once the ice is thick
enough to support the movement of
heavy equipment, a convoy of
trucks crawl along at one-kilometer
intervals to avoid stressing the ice.
This year, the road was open eight
weeks before it started to melt.
After that, the only way in is by air.
Irish Billionaire
Historically, diamonds in
Canada have tended to be found by
lean and nimble junior exploration
companies, although De Beers continues
to invest heavily in exploration.
Those that go broke scare
off future investors, making a
benefactor like Ireland’s Desmond
and his private equity money invaluable.
“Without the support of the
Irish we would be up the creek,”
says Patrick Evans, 60, Mountain
Province’s CEO and, until this
April, also of Kennady. It was
Desmond’s team that insisted Kennady
be spun off to maximize the
value of both companies. The Irish
billionaire, who made his fortune
in software and betting shops, has
done well this year with diamonds:
Kennady’s stock is up about 40
percent in Toronto. Mountain
Province has gained about 60 percent.
Neither company has any revenue.
Friendly Debate
Evans, Comerford and
Kennady’s new CEO, Rory Moore,
have flown into Kelvin Camp to go
over the geological data. It’s a
spare but cozy operation: two neat
rows of red-walled sleep tents surrounded
by an electric bear fence.
There’s also a plywood office,
communal washroom (hand sanitizer,
no sinks), carb-heavy kitchen
and a core shack. The latter is
crowded with executives, a handful
of camp personnel and Tom Mc-
Candless, an independent director
of Kennady.
A geologist, McCandless,
61, has been wheelchair-bound
since a desert bike accident in
1975. That’s never kept him out of
the field; he’s spent the day gamely
wheeling through snow. At frequent
intervals Evans and the others
step in to lift his chair in and
out of buildings, vehicles and aircraft,
at one point jury-rigging a
sled to drag him through a challenging
patch of slush.
Inside, crowded between
tables of kimberlite samples and
geological maps, this esprit de
corps morphs into a friendly debate
between McCandless and Moore as
they grill Bezzola’s fellow geologist
David Cox, 31, on the team’s
progress. The discussion is technical
but the underlying question is
clear: could Kelvin Camp be sitting
on the kind of deposit De Beers is
developing a stone’s throw away?

Kelvin Camp
Kelvin Camp is located just
up the road from Gahcho Kué (or
would be, if there
were a road). How
Ireland’s Desmond
came to have a foot in
both camps is a story
Evans and Comerford
never tire of telling.
The area was
discovered by Mountain
Province in the
early ’90s. Like most
exploration companies,
to fund development
it ended up in
bed with a major, in
this case De Beers.
‘What Fools’
Back in 2005,
as Evans recounts it,
De Beers was focused
on developing Gahcho
Kué and balked at paying
C$10,000 ($7,600) to extend permits
on the surrounding land. “I sat
in the meeting and thought: my
God, what fools,” he said. Mountain
Province leapt in to take over
the mineral rights for free and
when it got around to drilling in
2011, Evans’s instinct was validated.
“It was clear from the results
we were getting that they’d put
their holes in the wrong place and
we asked the question: what the
hell is going on?”
The Mountain Province
team tracked down a geologist who
solved the mystery: A builder
changed the height of the building
on which the radio beacon was located
without alerting the geologists
and the company ended up
drilling the wrong coordinates.
How Chuck Fipke and
Stewart Blusson, two prospectors
down to their last nickels, found diamonds
in this part of the world
back in 1991 is also the stuff of
legend. The discovery started a
frenzy reminiscent of the 1940s
gold rush on which Yellowknife
was founded. Tom Hoefer, executive
director of the NWT &
Nunavut Chamber of Mines, remembers
the heady days well. People
mortgaged their houses and
every helicopter for miles around
was booked, ferrying prospectors
to remote areas. Above the tree
line, even the wood for the stakes
had to be flown in after Yellowknife
hardware stores ran out of
two-by-fours. Some 50 million
acres were staked, he says.
Strong Personalities
Since then, strong personalities
have persevered but also, at
times, got in the way of investors,
says Comerford. Consolidation
makes sense yet has been slow in
coming. Rio Tinto’s Diavik mine
and Dominion’s Ekati are on the
same lake and Dominion has a 40
percent interest in Diavik.
“We’ve been quite public
that if they were ever for sale,
we’re certainly interested,” Dominion’s
CEO Brendan Bell said in an
interview. He said it appears “Rio
Tinto is committed to the diamond
space and the asset isn’t for sale.”
In a recent interview in
New York, Rio Tinto’s former head
of Diamonds & Minerals, Alan
Davies, wouldn’t discuss the possibility
of consolidation other than to
say the company is looking at options
to extend Diavik’s life beyond
2024.
Not Aligned
“For whatever reason, the
stars haven’t aligned quite yet” for
consolidation, says De Beers’
Truter. “There’s probably a bit of
inevitability about it.”
Evans agrees but for now
he’s focused on more nitty-gritty
matters. Back at Kelvin Camp, the
Hagglunds all-terrain ground vehicle
has broken down and a helicopter
is being discussed as the best
option to ferry the executives to the
Twin Otter plane waiting a few
hundred meters out on the lake.
“Can’t we walk?” Comerford
demands impatiently. “Let’s
just walk.”
Given the melting ice, it
will mean a stroll through shindeep
water. David Cox looks at
him like he’s mad. “You can try.”
James Tarmy
and Vernon Silver
Bloomberg Business Week

Published in General/Features

Social Security was meant
to protect elderly Americans from
the financial vicissitudes of growing
old. Eighty years later, the
safety net championed by President
Franklin D. Roosevelt is protecting
some younger people, too.
About 6.4 million kids, or
almost 1 in 10 Americans under the
age of 18, rely on checks from Social
Security. The fastest growth is
among indirect beneficiaries, especially
kids who live with grandparents
collecting the federal benefit.
According to a new report
by the Center for Global Policy Solutions,
more than 3.2 million children
were indirect recipients in
2014, up 48 percent from 2001.
Another 3.2 million children receive
Social Security directly because
their parents or guardians
have died, are disabled, or are old
enough to retire. The number of
minors in this category was up 6
percent since 2001, according to
the report by the Center, a liberalleaning
Washington think tank.
More children are being
supported by Social Security as the
American family heads back to a
living arrangement more akin to
the early 20th century, with multiple
generations living under the
same roof. According to the Census
Bureau (PDF), 5.1 million U.S.
households consisted of three or
more generations in 2010, up from
3.9 million in the 2000 census.
Much of this is being driven by
economics, as U.S. families make
thousands of dollars less now than
they did in 2001.
“Social Security is a
tremendous economic benefit for
children living in some of America’s
most vulnerable households,”
the report stated, estimating that
benefit checks make up 39 percent
of household income for underage
beneficiaries. The Center proposes
expanding Social Security benefits
by, for example, extending direct
benefits for 18- to 22-year-olds so
they can more easily attend college.
Policymakers have been
underestimating the number of
children who get help from Social
Security, according to the report’s
authors, who include researchers at
the University of Massachusetts-
Amherst. To measure the number
of beneficiaries under 18, the report
analyzed both Social Security
data and the U.S. Current Population
Survey.
Extended families are being
forced to pool resources. After adjusting
for inflation, the median income
for families with children
was $60,410 in 2014, down from
$64,613 in 2007 and $65,678 in
2001. The poverty rate among children
receiving Social Security is 26
percent, the report estimates, but it
would be 43 percent without the
program’s benefits.
The Center’s report is also
a reminder of how difficult it's gotten
to save and plan for retirement.
Many Americans aren’t just using
Social Security—and any paltry
savings they've accumulated—to
support themselves. Now, some
also bear the burden of caring for
grandchildren.
Ben Steverman
Bloomberg

Published in General/Features
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:03

Opinion

We enjoyed the op-ed piece about entitlement programing and why it
doesn’t work as intended as well as the perspective on taking food
stamps and other benefits as a way of life. Maybe we’re harsh but we
feel the only thing keeping these people from getting out of poverty is
their own poor decision making. If you are already in poverty, how do
you think having more children that you can't afford is going to make
that situation even better? If that weren't bad enough, why would anyone
in their right mind have a child with a man who is on public assistance
himself, can't take care of himself, and is mentally ill? In what fantasy
world does anyone think that is going to work out well? With more states
taking a liberal view, it looks like those of us who are responsible, and
work hard, will have more of our tax money taken to support these people
who are nothing but a drain on society.
Lou and Sarah Parkinson

Published in Letters To The Editor
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:02

Dear Editor,

I had to file for chapter 13 just to get out from my car payment. Your article
last month about debt slavery was EXACTLY on the money, I used
to have this giant ego, I had a new 2010 Mustang, but after continual
$400 monthly payments plus $120 insurance on a $1,500 take home, I
had to take payday loans just to pay my other bills. Part of it was not my
fault, since my company got bought out and they reduced the size of my
paychecks due to revised payday schedules, so it would take me 6
months(1) to recoup what I would have gotten over the bi-monthly
method. So, I gave the Mustang back to Ford Credit AFTER I had filed
for chapter 13, putting a stay of execution in place so it did not count as a
repo. I didn't pay anything out of pocket, but I do have to pay $69 every
two weeks for another 30 months to get out of the deal, and I'm glad I
did, because now I have a good running little car that I own that gets 40
MPG, and NO PAYMENTS!
I tossed out the ego, and took on some humility, the car doesn't turn
heads but it gets me from A to B and everything works great and it feels
new. But what feels good is having one paycheck every two weeks that's
just for me and not Ford Credit or any other lender. Screw new, I say, if
you don't have the cash, forget it!
M.D Darcy

Published in Letters To The Editor

All the advertising in the world won’t change my mind either!
I live in a red state. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I'm making
my vote for a third party count by sending a message to the DNC that
they cannot buy by vote.
The higher the number of votes for a third party, the louder the message.
Sally Petersen

Published in Letters To The Editor
Page 1 of 4

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