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Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Astronomers shared a collective
sigh of relief last week
when a 100-foot asteroid hurtling
toward Earth missed by 50,000
miles—just a fifth of the distance
to the moon. As comforting as the
avoided terrestrial calamity was,
what remains disturbing is that no
one knew it was coming.
The near miss came just
days before NASA plans to launch
an $800 million probe that will
land on a much larger asteroid, a
remnant from the beginning of the
solar system that should provide
clues to Earth’s origins.
The mission OSIRIS-REx,
which actually stands for something
(Origins Spectral Interpretation
Resource Identification
Security Regolith Explorer), is
slated to blast off on Sept. 8, from
Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The mission “advances our
more practical goals of understanding
the resources of the near earth
Solar System—as well as the hazards,”
Jeffrey Grossman, a mission
scientist, said at a press conference
last month.
The probe will visit a
“near-Earth object” that traces an
orbit around the Sun similar to the
Earth’s. The asteroid, called
Bennu—named by a nine year-old
from North Carolina—recommended
itself for several reasons.
It’s old—basically leftover
pizza dough from the beginning of
the solar system. As a result, it
might contain some of the chemical
secrets about how the Earth
was seeded with the potential for
life.
Being a near-Earth object,
however, doesn’t make Bennu a
pal of our home planet. By being in
the neighborhood, it passes Earth
every six years, coming so close
that scientists give it a 1-in-2,700
chance of hitting us over the next
two centuries.
It's tempting to believe that
Kepler's laws of planetary motion
describes heavenly objects, including
asteroids and comets, as taking
immutable, precisely calculable
tours around the sun. But there's
more to it than that.
OSIRIS-REx will be
measuring a phenomenon
known by
the spy-novel sounding
moniker, “the
Yarkovsky effect.” A
big chunk of rock
can pick up speed as
sunlight heats it up
and the blackness of
space cools it off.
This acceleration
can nudge its heading
slightly. The effect
“acts like a
thruster and changes
the trajectory of the
asteroid,” Dante
Lauretta, the mission's
principal investigator and a
professor at the University of Arizona,
said last month. “So if you
want to predict where an object
like Bennu is going to be in the future,
you have to account for this
phenomenon.”
What it means is that
Bennu, which was discovered in
1999, might still surprise astronomers
when its orbit starts to
more closely track Earth's in 160
years. By collecting precise data on
its composition, shape, and surface
features, NASA hopes it will be
able to document the Yarkovsky effect
in greater detail, and consequently
get a better sense of the
risk asteroids pose to Earth—like
"2016 QA2," the recent near-miss.
NASA, directed by Congress, takes
impact-risk seriously, maintaining
a database of possible hazards and
a scientific scale for categorizing
their threats. The National Research
Council in 2010 published a
report about asteroid risks and
what to do about them. That research
suggests that a rock the size
of 2016 QA2 might have had some
serious local impacts:
Many dozens of people
work for years to launch a mission
that has the complexity of OSIRISREx.
Often, it’s a lifelong dream.
As Canadian Space Agency’s Tim
Haltigin said in this NASA video,
“I grew up playing video games
about shooting lasers at asteroids,
and now it’s my job to shoot lasers
at asteroids. It never stops amazing
me.”
The sample-return spacecraft
can carry up to 4.4 pounds of
space rock. The minimum amount
scientists expect is about 2 ounces.
It's a lot of work for what seems
like a little material—and yet a
much better idea than waiting to
see if the whole 1,600-foot-wide
asteroid slams into earth at the end
of the next century.
Eric Roston
Bloomberg

Published in General/Features

In the last issue I wrote about the Zika Virus
and how this relatively benign virus that 80% of people
that contract it, have no symptoms at all and 20% have
very minor flu-like symptoms has been turned into this
plague over the last two years.
And the reason for this is this Genetically Modified
mosquito that has been created by Oxitec Corporation
in England funded by The Gates Foundation, Bill
Gates and his foundation gave 20 million dollars to Oxitec
to develop this genetically modified mosquito.
The opposition to releasing this genetically
modified mosquito has been .... to quote the Fuccillo
Kia Guy... huge Caroline.... HUGE!
And for good reason, these genetically modified
mosquitoes have been modified by having been inserted
with protein fragments from the Herpes Virus
and the E coli bacteria just to me name a few.
Now Oxitec is just sitting around with their lab
off the coast of Florida Keys just waiting for the green
light for the FDA to allow them to release these genetically
modified mosquitoes, and you might ask why is
that horrifying? Because the built-in kill switch that is
supposed to keep these genetically modified mosquitoes
in check is flawed! please refer to last week's article
to read more about that or you can find it online as
well at our website www.sunbaypaper.com.
To top that off, back in January the MIT technology
review came out with a report saying that an increase
in Zika Virus cases could increase demand for
GM mosquitoes stating that interest in the idea of releasing
GM mosquitoes might accelerate if Zika or unexplained
cases of Microcephaly spring up in Florida.
And a month ago the "The Telegraph" an online
newspaper in England wrote a piece

titled "Millions of GM mosquitoes
could be released in Florida to combat
Zika virus" because Oxitec and
the Gates Foundation stand to make
loads of money if they are allowed
to release the GM Mosquitoes
So what are the chances that
it’s all a coincidence.... that after a
report from MIT says if we had
more cases of Zika Virus in Florida,
it might stir interest in releasing
a GM mosquito and then just a
few months later lo and behold
we have a whole new scare in
Florida .......well I myself don't
believe in coincidences.
Now the general idea behind
the genetically modified mosquito
is a good one, it was designed
in order to combat Malaria and
other mosquito borne diseases but
once the FDA has given its approval
for the release of this mosquito
well we really don't know
what will be released.
These genetically modified
mosquitoes the scary enough who's
to say that other genetically modified
mosquitoes won't be released,
with different characteristics. Another
concern is the possibility of
using these GM Mosquitoes specially
to vaccinate mass populations.
These are just some of the
discussions that are going on about
the use of GM mosquitoes.
That's why we have the
completely overblown, scaremongering
that is going on now with the
Zika virus, a benign virus since the
late forties that has suddenly become
nasty and we all need to be
afraid of.
That's why we have all
these people signing petitions saying
that they don't want
these mosquitoes released in their
neighborhood,
just outside Florida Keys,
the residents there are threatening
to sue because they don't want to be
Lab Rats.
So there's basically turning
it into a scary scenario that we have
no other choice but to release these
GM mosquitoes in order to combat
this epidemic virus.
Best Oxitech chief executive
Hayden Perry attending a congress
hearing calling for the
Emergency use of the genetically
modified mosquitoes saying that
"The Zika threat is here and now
and there is local transmission in
Florida so that is why I urged Congress
to seriously considered emergency
use"
So in the end the big
question is what's going to happen
when we actually get bitten by one
of these GM mosquitoes because I
see no way that there's not going to
be GM mosquitos reproducing in
their natural environment, it's going
to happen... They've set up the
whole design for it to happen. With
a pretty glaring flaw in the kill
switch which essentially assures
that it will. Dr. Joseph Mercola
states .03% of the mosquitoes released
are female even though
every effort is made to only release
males,just think about it, with millions
of mosquitoes being released
we're still talking about thousands
of female mosquitoes that can
bite... not to mention any that are
able to survive reproduction.
They really have no idea
what will happen, another way to
think about it is when did they ever
done anything with genetically
modified foods that hasn’t wreak
havoc on the environment. We’ve
seen dramatic increases in health
problems since GMO foods have
hit the market, we've seen superbugs,
we've seen super-weeds.....
they actually did not know what
was going to happen then and do
not know what will really happen
now with the release of these GM
mosquitoes.
Another point to ponder is:
Why haven't we seen any of these
cases of Zika ... I mean the people
who have this "Virus" ? Far as I can
tell no one that has it is really sick!
Have you seen otherwise? I haven't
seen any indication that there is any
concerns at all. Please if you have,
write us here at the
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
What they're telling us
doesn't make sense, again, I recommend
you do your own research
and don't just let this happen without
a fight.
Alfredo DiPasquale
Fort Myers

Published in General/Features

American Sugar Refining,
Inc., the world’s largest supplier of
refined sugar, has unveiled a new
corporate brand name: ASR Group.
The company, which is owned by
Florida Crystals Corp. and Sugar
Cane Growers Cooperative of
Florida, said the move is designed
to “jointly identify the group of related
companies and portfolio of
brands.”
ASR Group’s regional
brands include: Domino Sugar and
C&H Sugar in the United States,
Redpath in Canada, Tate & Lyle
and Lyle’s in the United Kingdom,
Sidul and Sores in Portugal. ASR
Group also includes raw and refined
sugar operations in Mexico
and Belize and the Dominican Republic.
The company initially
began with U.S.-based refineries,
but their strategic acquisitions over
the past 10 years have elevated
them to where they are today: A
global company with business activities
spanning more than 40
countries worldwide. Their branded
and private label sugars, sweeteners
and syrups are sold in grocery,
food service and industrial channels
in the Americas, Europe, the
Middle East, India and Asia.
MEET THE ASR GROUP
Perhaps no industry has received
as much bipartisan federal
support as Big Sugar. The ASR
Group, a part of which is American
Crystal Sugar Company, has, in
2014, donated over

$1.3 million to 221 members of
Congress this election cycle, following
$1.4 million spent on lobbying
in 2013. Imagine what the
total amount will be in 2016.
Lawmakers across the political
spectrum, from Senator Barbara
Mikulski (D-MD) to Senator
Marco Rubio (R-FL), support
using taxpayer dollars to subsidize
the American sugar industry. In the
House, 46 percent of members—
109 Democrats and 92 Republicans—
received money from
American Crystal Sugar in this
election cycle.
In 1998, two Florida sugar
companies – Florida Crystals Corporation
and Sugar Cane Growers
Cooperative of Florida — formed a
strategic partnership to begin largescale
refining of their raw sugar.
The collaboration laid the groundwork
for what would become the
world’s most successful and innovative
cane sugar company: ASR
Group.
American Sugar Refining,
Inc. acquired Domino Sugar in
2001, the California and Hawaiian
Sugar Company (C&H Sugar) in
2005, Redpath Sugar in 2007, and
Tate & Lyle's European sugar operations
in 2010.
It’s the consummate immigrant
success story. The Fanjul
brothers and one sister, Alfonso,
José, Andres, Alexander and Lian,
come from a long line of powerful
Cuban sugar producers. After Fidel
Castro came to power in 1959, the
family fled to Florida. They began
growing cane in and around the
Everglades and in the 1980s expanded
production to the Dominican
Republic, where their company
is now the country’s largest private
landowner and employer.
In the European Union, the
company owns and operates sugar
refineries in England and Portugal,
formerly owned by Tate & Lyle.
The company’s products
are sold through a brand portfolio
that includes the premier
sugar brands Domino, C&H,
Florida Crystals, Redpath, and
Tate & Lyle. The company is
also the majority shareholder
of Belize Sugar Industries, the
only sugar mill in Belize.
They also own a sugar company,
Central Romana, in The
Dominican Republic. The
four Fanjul brothers have an
outsize presence in both the
Dominican Republic and the
United States. In the DR, their
American company, Central
Romana, produces most of the
country’s sugar. In the U.S., the
Fanjuls also grow cane and spend
heavily in Washington, ranking
among the sugar industry’s top political
donors and biggest spenders
on lobbying. As big players in both
countries, they benefit from a
highly profitable combination of
factors: In the DR, Central Romana
pays some of the lowest wages in
the country, produces most of the
country’s allotment of sugar exported
to the U.S. and, thanks to
CAFTA-DR, pays dwindling tariffs
for those exports.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the
Fanjuls sell their sugar at sometimes
two to three times the global
market price, thanks to import limits
and price supports.
SUGAR MONEY IN POLITICS
They are on Both Sides of the
Fence!
Despite their international
holdings, the Fanjuls have kept
their focus on ensuring that their
U.S. operations are as secure and
profitable as possible, with little
pushback from the government. In
last year’s election cycle, the
Florida Crystals political action
committee and the company’s employees
together contributed more
than $860,000 to candidates and
political spending groups. Also in
2014, Florida Crystals spent more
than $1 million lobbying Congress,
the U.S. Departments of Agriculture
and Commerce, and the Office
of the U.S. Trade Representative,
largely on import tariffs and policies
on biofuels and clean water.
The sugar industry, too, is a heavy
donor. According
to
the nonpartisan
research
group Center
for Responsive
Politics,
the industry
gave more
than $5 million
to members
of
Congress in
the last election
cycle,
an all-time
high. What the industry gets in return
for all this are domestic controls
and import tariffs that keep
prices up and profits high for U.S.
sugar producers, perpetuating a
controversial system.
Sugar is
“more dependent on

government support or protection
than any other agricultural industry
in this country,” says Daniel Pearson,
senior fellow of trade policy
studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian
think tank. “Government has
tended to look out for them, so it is
a symbiotic relationship.” The
price support system, known as the
sugar program, is reinserted into
the U.S. farm bill every time it
comes up for renewal. The
program limits the amount of sugar
on the U.S. market, whether imported
or grown domestically, to
keep prices higher than they are
everywhere else. And if there is a
glut in the market, the U.S. government
buys the surplus, which can
cost taxpayers hundreds of millions
of dollars.
Critics of the program
claim the elevated prices constitute
a redistribution of money from
consumers to wealthy sugar companies
and that they have driven
thousands of candy-making jobs
out of the country. Still, the program
continues, and according to
Pearson, the elevated sugar prices
add billions to consumer costs. In
the face of efforts by some legislators
to reform the sugar program,
cane and beet growers say the U.S.
sugar policy is needed to keep the
domestic sweetener competitive
and has allowed for the creation of
thousands of jobs.
As exporters to the United
States, the Fanjuls have some objectives
that the rest of the U.S.
sugar industry doesn’t. “They have
a balancing act in lobbying,” says
Vincent Smith, a professor of agricultural
economics at Montana
State University and visiting
scholar at American Enterprise Institute,
a conservative-leaning
think tank. According to Smith, the
Fanjuls have an interest in limiting
imports on sugar to keep domestic
prices high, but also for the DR to
have the highest proportion of
those imports. The tariff rate quota,
or TRQ, is the amount a country
can export to the U.S. with reduced
tariffs. The DR is consistently
among the top exporters of sugar to
the U.S., and it has the highest
TRQ of any country, taking 17 percent
of the share. (Brazil is second
with 13.7 percent.) Sixty-three percent
of the DR’s quota is allocated
to the Fanjuls’ company, Central
Romana.
Still, what the DR exports to the
U.S. is not enough to depress domestic
prices. In recent years, the
Caribbean country has been far
from filling its TRQ because of reduced
production due to drought
and increased exports to Europe.
But even if it did, that wouldn’t
lower the price of sugar in the
U.S., say analysts. Most of the
sugar Americans consume is produced
domestically, and the big
import threat comes not from the
DR, but from Mexico — which is
exempt from quotas under the
North American Free Trade Agreement.
In their lobbying on NAFTA,
the Fanjuls’ Florida

Crystals and other domestic producers
have the same interests.
Last fall, U.S. sugar was able to
convince the Department of Commerce
to impose a tariff on Mexican
sugar imports in an ongoing
anti-dumping case, in which U.S.
sugar representatives’ claim, ironically,
that Mexico is violating
NAFTA by
subsidizing its sugar.
The Fanjul family
donates to legislators of
both parties as well. Alfonso,
aka Alfy, consistently
supports
Democratic candidates
and causes, while his
younger brother José, aka
Pepe, does the same for
Republicans.
And two longtime family
favorites are current presidential
candidates:
Hillary Clinton and Sen.
Marco Rubio. According
to the Center for Responsive
Politics, Florida
Crystals’ employees and
dependents rank among Rubio’s
top five contributors since 2009.
Despite their international
holdings, the Fanjuls have kept
their focus on ensuring that their
U.S. operations are as secure and
profitable as possible, with little
pushback from the government. In
last year’s election cycle, the
Florida Crystals political action
committee and the company’s employees
together contributed more
than $860,000 to candidates and
political spending groups. Also in
2014, Florida Crystals spent more
than $1 million lobbying Congress,
the U.S. Departments of Agriculture
and Commerce, and the Office
of the U.S. Trade Representative,
largely on import tariffs and policies
on biofuels and clean water.
The sugar industry, too, is a
heavy donor. According to the nonpartisan
research group Center for
Responsive Politics, the industry
gave more than $5 million to members
of Congress in the last election
cycle, an all-time high. What
the industry gets in return for all
this are domestic controls and import
tariffs that keep prices up and
profits high for U.S. sugar producers,
perpetuating a controversial
system.
Sugar is “more dependent
on government support or protection
than any other agricultural industry
in this country,” says Daniel
Pearson, senior fellow of trade policy
studies at the Cato Institute, a
libertarian think tank. “Government
has tended to look out for
them, so it is a symbiotic relationship.”
The price support system,
known as the sugar program, is
reinserted into the U.S. farm bill
every time it comes up for renewal.
The program limits the
amount of sugar on the U.S. market,
whether imported or grown
domestically, to keep prices higher
than they are everywhere else. And
if there is a glut in the market, the
U.S. government buys the surplus,
which can cost taxpayers hundreds
of millions of dollars.
Critics of the program
claim the elevated
prices constitute a redistribution
of money
from consumers to
wealthy sugar companies
and that they have
driven thousands of
candy-making jobs out
of the country. Still, the
program continues, and
according to Pearson,
the elevated sugar
prices add billions to
consumer costs. In the
face of efforts by some
legislators to reform
the sugar program,
cane and beet growers
say the U.S. sugar policy
is needed to keep
the domestic sweetener
competitive and has allowed for
the creation of thousands of jobs.
“The Sugar Program' ensures
prices in the U.S. are higher than in
the rest of the world!
Keith Nicholson
Fort Myers Beach

Published in Environment
Thursday, 15 September 2016 15:00

Florida Springs Restoration Summit

Florida's fresh water
springs are in danger of excessive
groundwater pumping and pollution.
To help insure the restoration
and protection of these springs
there will be a Florida Springs
Restoration Summit that will take
place on Friday September 30th
and Saturday October 1st. Dozens
of invited leaders and experts are
expected to show and share their
piece of the objective at the college
of central Florida in Ocala at
the Harvey R. Klein Conference
Center located at 3001 SW College
Road.
On day one and two of the
summit there will be a mix of short
presentations led by the invited
participants with a particular aspect
of springs science, policy,
and management. These speakers
will provide the most current data
on the science and trends of the
springs. These discussions will be
available to explore and identify
future goals and a vision for
springs and the tools 

to lead us to healthy and protected
springs.
Groundwater that was once
plentiful and clean is now depleted
and polluted," said Dr. Robert
Knight, Director of the Howard T.
Odum Florida Springs Institute. In
spite of recent funding, years of research
and protection, these springs
are now in jeopardy.
On Sunday October 2nd
participants will observe the Silver
River while paddling the river to
view its beauty and explore
restoration activities. Among these
participants will be reporters,
artists, scientists, academics, policy
makers, and leading advocates
such as the Honorable Gwen Graham
U.S. Representatives FL 2nd
District to be a keynote speaker on
Saturday at the summit.
During the Springs Summit
these discussions will go beyond
springs health and management.
They intend to gather as
many remedies that will generate
long-term protection and meaningful
restoration that will last generations.
They will be presenting
examples of successful tools and
activities that will help prepare for
the next steps of restoration. Short
presentations and discussions will
be led by invited experts as well as
legal and legislative remedies to
help with this restoration summit to
help educate anyone who attends.
"We are excited about the
holistic approach of the Summit
and are hopeful that participants
will leave with tools they need to
help advance protection and
restoration of our springs and
spring sheds," said Dr. Katie Tripp,
Director of science and conservation
for the save the Manatee Club.
All the knowledge gained from the
summit will be consolidated into a
Springs Restoration Action Plan
for Florida. The steps to support
the implemented plan will be available
to participants after the Summit.
Many organizations came
together to help host this Summit.
The Florida Springs Council,
Florida Springs Institute, Save the
Manatee club, Sea to Shore Alliance,
and Normandeau Associates
are the organizations that helped
make this Summit a reality. This is
an issue everyone should be
knowledgeable about considering
our drinking water comes from our
springs not to mention the destruction
of our beautiful state.
Everyone is invited and encouraged
to participate to help
make these meaningful springs
restoration a reality. Conference
attendees will have ample opportunity
to ask questions of presenters
during panel discussions. "For
someone who really wants to learn
about this, this is the best way to
get all the information at once,"
said Heather Obara , Associate Director
of the Institute (Suwannee
Valley Times). Anyone can attend
and become part of an informed
group of participants who can work
together to recognize threats and
follow through on implementing
restoration and protection actions.
The cost to attend the
Springs Summit has been kept low
to encourage participation by
members of the public and nonprofit
organizations. We encourage
organizations, businesses, agencies,
and other interested parties to
show their support for springs by
becoming a sponsor.
Colin Conley

Published in Environment

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