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Items filtered by date: January 2017
Thursday, 09 February 2017 16:38

Hail the Gender-Fluid Scouts?

The Boy Scouts of America, or BSA, used to be derided as a "traditional, values-based" organization, whose oath spoke of a "duty to God" and whose law insisted the Scouts be "reverent." Now the BSA worships something else: corporate donations. It should have been expected after it folded on homosexual Scouts and then on homosexual scoutmasters. 
Within a month of being pressured by the case of 8-year-old Joe Maldonado, who was born a girl named Jodi Maldonado, the BSA folded on God and how he "made them male and female." In today's culture, the secular left lets man overrule God. This cowardly shell of an organization should just scrap the references to God, and every God-respecting church should jettison their Boy Scout units to the nearest secular gathering place. 
The statement acknowledged that for many years, the organization employed common sense. It said: "For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual's birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs."
But it's a new day, and biological reality is no longer relevant. What Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called the "dictatorship of relativism" has overruled tradition. The organization continued, saying: "However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state. Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application."
This was a joyous occasion for otherwise-depressed libertine leftists at the dawn of President Trump's administration. Singer Miley Cyrus found her happy place with this news. In a post on her Instagram, she said: "Let there be LIGHT!!!! There is so much devastating information filling our brain lately. ... We ARE moving forward! We'll never stop standing up for what is right! Change is here! We just have to create it!" Another former Disney Channel star, Joe Jonas, seconded that emotion, saying: "I was a Boy Scout growing up. Hearing the news today makes me proud." 
Homosexual celebrity lobbyists were delighted. "Welcoming Transgender Boy Scouts -- I'd say the Boy Scouts have come a long way baby," tweeted Martina Navratilova. "I call this progress," added Ellen DeGeneres.
Then came the lightning bolts from the newspapers. The Washington Post editorial board welcomed this reform and hopes the reaction to it will show maturity and not dissent. It said: "The Scouts' relatively quick and decisive move on the transgender issue came more easily and quickly than previous reforms. The Boy Scouts appear to have decided to rely on the goodwill of their participants to accept the decision with the maturity the organization preaches to Scouts."
The New York Times editorial board, which has applied Jim Crow segregationist logic toward anyone who would deny the widest berth to gender fluidity, doubled down on being science deniers, saying: "The Boy Scouts are recognizing transgender boys for what they genuinely are: boys. This extends the organization's values and programs to a wider pool. It also may help a new generation of Americans think more rationally and compassionately about gender identity." 
Perhaps the next "reform" might be an 11-year-old Boy Scout declaring that he identifies as an Eagle Scout, negating the need for any stinking merit badges or review boards. Since relativism is king, who needs to earn or learn anything these days? Apparently the mission of all community organizations must be centered on "inclusion" and "welcoming," and everything else trails far behind.
 
 
L. Brent Bozell III 
and Tim Graham 
Published in General/Features
Wednesday, 08 February 2017 18:49

Moral Supremacy and Mr. Putin

Is Donald Trump to be allowed to craft a foreign policy based on the ideas on which he ran and won the presidency in 2016?
Our foreign policy elite's answer appears to be a thunderous no.
Case in point: U.S. relations with Russia. During the campaign Trump was clear. He would seek closer ties with Russia and cooperate with Vladimir Putin in smashing al-Qaida and ISIS terrorists in Syria, and leave Putin's ally Bashar Assad alone.
With this diplomatic deal in mind, President Trump has resisted efforts to get him to call Putin a "thug" or a "murderer."
Asked during his taped Super Bowl interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly whether he respected Putin, Trump said that, as a leader, yes.
O'Reilly pressed, "But he's a killer, though. Putin's a killer."
To which Trump replied, "There are a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country's so innocent?"
While his reply was clumsy, Trump's intent was commendable.
If he is to negotiate a modus vivendi with a nation with an arsenal of nuclear weapons sufficient to end life as we know it in the USA, probably not a good idea to start off by calling its leader a "killer."
Mitch McConnell rushed to assure America he believes Putin is a "thug" and any suggestion of a moral equivalence between America and Russia is outrageous.
Apparently referring to a polonium poisoning of KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko, Marco Rubio tweeted, "When has a Democratic political activist ever been poisoned by the GOP? Or vice versa?"
Yet, as we beat our chests in celebration of our own moral superiority over other nations and peoples, consider what Trump is trying to do here, and who is really behaving as a statesmen, and who is acting like an infantile and self-righteous prig.
When President Eisenhower invited Nikita Khrushchev to the United States, did Ike denounce him as the "Butcher of Budapest" for his massacre of the Hungarian patriots in 1956?
Did President Nixon, while negotiating his trip to Peking to end decades of hostility, speak the unvarnished truth about Mao Zedong -- that he was a greater mass murderer than Stalin?
While Nixon was in Peking, Mao was conducting his infamous Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that resulted in millions of deaths, a years-long pogrom that dwarfed the two-day Kristallnacht. Yet Mao's crimes went unmentioned in Nixon's toast to America and China starting a "long march" together.
John McCain calls Putin a KGB thug, "a murderer, and a killer."
Yet, Yuri Andropov, the Soviet ambassador in Budapest who engineered the slaughter of the Hungarian rebels with Russian tanks, became head of the KGB. And when he rose to general secretary of the Communist Party, Ronald Reagan wanted to talk to him, as he had wanted to talk to every Soviet leader.
Why? Because Reagan believed the truly moral thing he could do was negotiate to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
He finally met Gorbachev in 1985, when the USSR was occupying Afghanistan and slaughtering Afghan patriots.
The problem with some of our noisier exponents of "American exceptionalism" is that they lack Reagan's moral maturity.
Undeniably, we were on God's side in World War II and the Cold War. But were we ourselves without sin in those just struggles?
Was it not at least morally problematic what we did to Cologne, Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki where hundreds of thousands of women and children were blasted and burned to death?
How many innocent Iraqis have perished in the 13 years of war we began, based on falsified or fake evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction?
In Russia, there have been murders of journalists and dissidents. Yes, and President Rodrigo Duterte, our Philippine ally, has apparently condoned the deaths of thousands of drug dealers and users since last summer.
The Philippine Catholic Church calls it "a reign of terror."
Should we sever our treaty ties to the Duterte regime?
Have there been any extrajudicial killings in the Egypt of our ally Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi since he overthrew the elected government?
Has our Turkish ally, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, killed no innocents in his sweeping repression since last summer's attempted coup?
Some of us remember a Cold War in which Gen. Augusto Pinochet dealt summarily with our common enemies in Chile, and when the Savak of our ally the Shah of Iran was not a 501(c)(3) organization.
Sen. Rubio notwithstanding, the CIA has not been a complete stranger to "wet" operations or "terminating with extreme prejudice."
Was it not LBJ who said of the Kennedys, who had arranged multiple assassination attempts of Fidel Castro, that they had been "operating a damned Murder Inc. in the Caribbean"?
If Trump's talking to Putin can help end the bloodshed in Ukraine or Syria, it would appear to be at least as ethical an act as pulpiteering about our moral superiority on the Sunday talk shows.

Patrick J. Buchanan

Published in Politics
 What is Islam?
 
You probably haven't read the Koran, Siras or Hadiths. Hadiths are writings of Mohammed's spoken and written words as well as his actions while Siras are biographies of his life. They combine with the Koran, to make up the Islam Trilogy or "Bible" (but there is no real Bible). They set forth very disturbing beliefs that ALL Muslims (those who submit) MUST follow! This is written in scripture and thousands of other writings! You must view Islam as a puzzle and look at the entire picture to gain an understanding. You cannot pick out one piece of the puzzle and draw any conclusions. Once you look at the entire "Puzzle", you understand why Islam is so dangerous and hard to understand! Millions of Muslims actually follow all these doctrines!
 In Islam there are NO "Radical Muslims," ONLY believers and unbelievers. Unbelievers fall into categories... unbelievers, infidels and Kafirs! Kafirs are the worst of all "Unbelievers." Kafirs are Jews, Christians, pagans, you and me! Islam demands brutal death to Kafirs, in a variety of ways; stoned to death, starved, buried alive, burned, beheaded and so forth!
 Most people just don't understand what we are up against with Islam. It is NOT a Religion!
 Islam is an IDEOLOGY which controls ALL aspects of a believer's life; religion, government, body and soul. Islam demands one way of believing and living, wherein believers MUST submit to a rule of law by a single, unelected, supreme leader, called an Ayatollah, who strictly follows the Koran, written by Mohammed. Failure to follow demands death!
 In the "Sunna of Mohammed" by Dr. Bill Warner, Center for the Political Study of Islam, Dr. Warner wrote that Mohammed and his "12 year old wife" sat in Medina and watched as Muslims cut off the heads of 800 Jews because the Jews said Mohammed was not the prophet of Allah! Beheading Kafirs continues today, as most of us have seen on You Tube, just as Mohammed did in 600 A.D. !!! It is an accepted practice of Islam. The Kafir's CRIME was Religious freedom! In Islam there is NO OTHER WAY!! If you have seen it on You Tube, believe what you saw "It is TRUE!!!"
 Would you call a "Faith", a Religion, if they only believed in human sacrifice "Just" once a month? NO, you would not.
 
What does Islam Demand?
 
 There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world! Some of whom do NOT believe in all the teachings of the Koran. However, disbelief is a crime punishable by death! So they keep their disbeliefs, secret! There are more than 57 NATIONS in the world that follow this way of life, including Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Sudan and on and on. Of these, more than 37 nations follow strict Sharia law which, by any interpretation, when compared to our Rule Of Law, legalizes Murder, Rape, Kidnapping, Cruel and Inhuman Punishment as clearly stated in the Koran. If only 10% are true Muslims, that's 150,000,000 Muslims, who want to kill YOU!!!
 Muslims "Attack" female genitalia because women are possessions and the prettiest are the most valuable. Pregnant woman are not attractive, according to Mohammed, so they destroy a pretty woman's reproductive chances!
 If you believe Islam is "Just" a Religion, you leave out their rule of Law and you are only partly correct. IF a "Muslim" believes in our First Amendment, the SEPARATION of Church and State, he is NOT a Muslim, according to Islam. Rather, he or she is an Infidel, an unbeliever, a Kafir, punishable by beheading!
 So tell me how can a Muslim become an American Citizen or hold public office or swear to;
"Hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
 That is the first part of the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States a new citizen must take to become a citizen! It completely contradicts Islam!! BUT, the Hadith and Koran allow lying and deceit if it enhances Islam!
 
Some say.....Look at the 
Christian Crusades, if you want brutality! 
 
Okay let's do that...In the first Crusades, in 1095 A.D., Pope Urban II called for Christians to take up arms to help the Byzantine Empire stop the marauding Turk "Muslims" and ultimately, take Jerusalem and the Holy Land away from Islamic Rule!
 From its beginning, Islam has been at war with the world: not my opinion, but the opinion of the entire WORLD!! Pick a period of time and Google a leader like Thomas Jefferson. Look at what he did and said about Islam, it will wake you up! Recently one Islamic "Nation", self proclaimed the Islamic State, ISIS (a caliphate or Islamic region), has declared itself at War with the rest of the world!
Iranian leaders have repeatedly and clearly declared America their enemy and say they are at war with the US. All government statistics show Iran is the BIGGEST sponsor of terrorism in the world and is responsible for 99% of terror acts IN THE WORLD! Yet Obama chose to minimize ISIS and IGNORE Iran's declarations and threats to kill us and then rewarded Iran with 170 billion dollars as part of an "Agreement". Where was the ACLU then?
 
Good or bad Muslim? 
 
This presents an impossible problem, right now! How do we tell the difference between good and bad Muslims? GOOD, being the ones who DON'T want to kill us and BAD, being those that do! I have no idea EXCEPT doing what Japan did and that is to deny ALL (non US Citizen) Muslims entry, period! Japan has no terrorism and won't allow Muslims to become Citizens! When we can find a way to truly vet them, then we will take those who want to assimilate to become Americans and have something to offer, not something to demand!! If we can't vet them and they don't want to assimilate, they can't come in! Interestingly, there are NO terrorist attacks in Japan! Maybe they have the right idea?!
\Ask any Muslim if he believes in all the Shuras in the Koran, if he says, Yes, run away. If he says, No, ask what his "Book of Faith" is. If he says, "The Koran"...... run away!
 So our President banned everyone from 7 Muslim Nations that are in chaos because of terrorism and where vetting of aliens to the US is impossible. That's a very smart move! Then an activist Judge stops the President from protecting us. Somehow I don't feel safer. Alien, non US citizens have no Constitutional rights......None! NO! right to come here. What law school did this Judge go to? Our Constitution is NOT a treaty! It belongs to us and those WE allow in!
 The President should declare a National Emergency caused by this court order allowing thousands of aliens into our country and by Executive Order direct the re-implementation of his order! Follow that with requesting Congress to declare war, under Article 8, on ISIS! Call it what it is!
  I realize there is much, much more to it than any of us realized! Put very simply... I don't want anyone coming here who wants to kill us! We have enough killers here already Citizens and not! Admit it or not, we are at war with Islam. Which ones, you ask? The ones who want to kill us; you, your family and me and mine, those Muslims! Some of you still don't think we are at war and that's, in part, because of the previous President, the horrible main stream media and a general ignorance of Islam!! Obama and the press lied to us! President Trump is telling the truth!
 The 1952 Immigration and Naturalization Act allows the President by Proclamation to...STOP ALL non US Citizen Muslims from entering our country. President Carter used this law in 1979 when he blocked entry to the US, then deported 15,000 Iranian Muslims; with no ACLU nor Activist Judges interfering! Give exemptions where necessary but get some freaking common sense!
 America; created by geniuses and run by idiots... until now!
 
The Right Side
J Gary DiLaura
 
Published in Lifestyle
Wednesday, 08 February 2017 18:39

GOVERNING IN FRAUGHT TIMES

"We must, I now think, prepare ourselves to accept the inevitable. I do it with composure and cheerfulness. To me the result is no personal calamity." -- Entry in the personal diary of Rutherford B. Hayes, Nov. 12, 1876
FREMONT, Ohio -- He went to bed thinking he had lost the election, and in truth it looked as if his rival, Democratic Gov. Samuel J. Tilden of New York, had triumphed. That was somewhere between midnight and 1 in the morning, and, according to Hayes, he and his wife talked a bit before they drifted off to the sleep of disappointment, he consoling her "with such topics as readily occurred of a nature to make us feel satisfied on merely personal grounds with the result."
They soon fell into what Hayes, the governor of Ohio and the Republican presidential nominee, described as a "refreshing sleep," adding, "and the affair seemed over."
But the election of 1876 was not over. It would not, in fact, be over for months -- and the man who lost the popular vote eventually won the presidency. Tilden would not become the 19th president of the United States, just as Hillary Clinton would not become the 45th.
Donald J. Trump is the fifth person to lose the popular vote but win the presidency. John Quincy Adams preceded Hayes in that distinction, followed by Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush. None of Trump's predecessors is regarded as a particularly successful president, but all offer lessons for him, none more so than Hayes.
It was here in Fremont that Hayes and his wife are buried, and it is here, in leafy and lovely Spiegel Grove, that sits the Rutherford Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, one of those quiet, almost forgotten landmarks off the beaten track of history, but a formidable reminder of the caprices of politics and of the challenges faced by a president who won the Electoral College vote in fraught circumstances.
Ohio is the classic swing state, the one Republicans always win when they capture the White House, and perhaps Trump will stop by here one of these days, examine the remarkable private library of 8,000 books Hayes assembled, and maybe stroll through the 25-acre estate, the Trump Tower of its day, a majestic presidential home with a rustic flair.
Trump might find that the Hayes presidency began with even more tumult than his own -- "a political drama," the Hayes biographer Kenneth E. Davison wrote in his 1972 volume, "without parallel in the history of American presidential elections." While Trump's election is the political manifestation of the economic, social and cultural disruption of the digital age, the Hayes-Tilden affair reflected the disruption of the Gilded Age.
Like the deadlock between George W. Bush and Vice President Albert Gore Jr., the 1876 election went into overtime -- an extended period of political strife that lasted until days before the inauguration. With the votes in several states in dispute, a 15-member commission divided evenly among members of the House, Senate and Supreme Court was nonetheless not divided evenly among Republicans and Democrats. Repeated commission votes reached an 8-7 GOP advantage.
"Able and tenacious Republican leaders," the late Ari Hoogenboom, a scholar of the Gilded Age, wrote, "challenged and outclassed Democrats in a sordid struggle for electoral votes."
Their guile gave the presidency to Hayes and relegated Tilden, a reform governor not so unlike his rival, to an asterisk in history, though if you walk through the streets named for the presidents in Wichita Falls, Texas, you will find Tilden Street, right between Grant and Hayes Streets.
"I can retire to private life," Tilden said, "with the consciousness that I shall receive from posterity the credit of having been elected to the highest position in the gift of the people, without any of the cares and responsibilities of the office."
But those responsibilities fell heavily onto the winner's shoulders, as they do on Trump's.
They share several challenges, among them internecine fighting within the Republican Party. (In the case of Hayes, there was lingering tension between the president and Sen. Roscoe Conkling, who was aggrieved he hadn't won the party's nomination and who dismissed the president's civil-service reform efforts as "snivel service reform.") Republican lawmakers also were angered the president hadn't consulted them on Cabinet appointments.
It was a time, too, of unusually brutal labor strife, bursting into full flower with the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, with the greatest clashes in Pittsburgh, where 20 were killed, more than three dozen buildings set on fire and 104 locomotives and 1,245 rail cars destroyed.
But the most significant strife came over Reconstruction. Hayes, who once said that half his life was dedicated "to resist the increase of slavery and ... destroy it," worked to gain pledges that Democrats would respect the rights of Republicans and blacks if federal troops, garrisoned in the South since the end of the Civil War, were withdrawn.
Those vows were not kept, though Hayes kept his part of what was known as the Compromise of 1877 by inviting a Southern Democrat into his Cabinet. A year later he opposed the Bland-Allison Act to inflate the currency through the government purchase of silver; Congress overrode his veto.
Overall it was a sad and sober time, marked by sectional, party, economic and racial tension, the sad and sober harvest of a disputed election won by a minority-vote president.
Mark Twain described Hayes as "quiet and unostentatious," two words never applied to his successor 140 years later. But in the time of Rutherford B. Hayes, as in the time of Donald J. Trump, the greatest challenge is to win national unity.
The trials that Hayes, who won 254,235 fewer votes than his rival, endured serve to underscore the difficulties in the path ahead for the current president, who won 2,864,974 fewer votes than his principal opponent, though conservative-oriented candidates outdrew liberal-oriented candidates in 2016. The mansion at Spiegel Grove stands as a landmark, but also a lantern of warning. Uniting a divided country is no easy task.

David M. Shribman

Published in Politics

Asma Shuaib, a 22-year-old student attending a rally near Ellis Island to protest the new and confusing immigration rules, was in tears when a reporter for The New York Times caught up with her.
"If you see something that you believe in your heart is wrong," she said, "you must speak out, and then act."
When I read that, I knew I had a sweet way to begin my annual Valentine's Day column. Because, your heart isn't just a mindless pump that pushes blood around your body. It's command central for overall well-being. It's the center of joy and spirit in your life. It's the center of heartbreak, too.
There's plenty of scientific evidence that positive emotions and compassionate actions are big contributors to a healthy heart. We also know that anger, hatred and other negative emotions can cause damage to your heart, no matter how many followers you have on Facebook.
So thanks, Asma.
Along with listening to your heart and speaking out, here are a few more strategies for celebrating Valentine's Day this year, especially "this" year, when so many of our hearts are taking a beating:
LOVE. "If I could ask someone only one question," writes best-selling author John Robbins, "and I wanted to learn the most I could about their health and how long they are likely to live, my question would not be 'Do you smoke?' It would not be 'Are you overweight?' Nor would I ask 'What's your cholesterol level?' or 'How's your blood pressure?'
"Instead I would ask, 'How much love is there in your life?'"
If you can answer that question with high numbers and deep gratitude, it means more to the ongoing health of your heart than all the fish-oil capsules in China.
And if your answer causes a little heartburn because you really wish there were "more" love in your life, do what the happiness experts teach at Healthy Lifestyle U: Open your heart to others. Cultivate kindness; be less judgmental and more compassionate. Be funny, and be a good listener, because your friends will benefit most of all from your attention, not your well-meaning advice.
BE MORE ACTIVE. You knew this was coming. February is National Heart Month, and I'd have to turn in my official Red Cross Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation card if I didn't restate the obvious: Physical activity -- at home, in the gym, in your office -- is a must if you want to nurture a healthier heart. Get focused. Get moving. Have fun. Bonus points if you do it outdoors, in nature. Take a walk! Ride your bike! Vacuum to the Supremes!
And don't forget one of my personal favorites: yoga, a 5,000-year-old recipe for vibrant health that includes meditation and conscious breathing, two more proven paths to a calmer, stronger heart.
Whatever you do, do "something" Take action, as Asma Shuaib said, and remember this: Just going from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one has tremendous health benefits. Start where you are.
LET GO OF ANGER. If you hold onto anger in your mind and body -- at your boss, your thoughtless and noisy neighbor, your senator -- it depresses your immune system, drains your energy and weakens your heart. So this Valentine's Day, indulge in a ritual that identifies your anger and lets it go: Light a candle; write a poem; float a feather out to sea. Practice forgiveness, and your heart will expand in ways that will help you feel more connected and less stressed, no matter what your most trusted news channel is reporting.
EAT SMARTER. Extra pounds weigh heavily on your heart. To lighten your load, eat in a more enlightened way. Forget dieting. Diets are all about denial and deprivation, and the moment you go off your diet, the weight piles back on.
Instead, this Valentine's Day, hold your hand over your heart and vow to consume moderate amounts of real food: more clean fruits and veggies and fewer junky meats and processed foods. Learn to prepare meals using the freshest, most local ingredients you can find. Don't depend on supplements or fasts to power up your heart. It thrives on good food -- pure food -- prepared with love and eaten slowly, with awareness and appreciation of all the blessings in your life.
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." -- Aristotle

Marilynn Preston

Published in General/Features
Wednesday, 08 February 2017 18:33

Eating Meat Causes Obesity: The Doctors Weigh In

Depending on the study you consult, the numbers may vary a bit, but they all say that over 70% of Americans are overweight. To be clinically overweight means that our condition will likely at some point adversely affect our health, and our life, particularly if we are obese. There are many causes of being overweight.
Lack of exercise is a big one, especially for Americans. Granted, many of us have jobs that keep us busy, especially given the service economy so much of this country finds itself in (“desk jobs” are becoming the exception for the majority it seems); yet even so, this sort of activity rarely constitutes healthful physical exercise, like biking or swimming or even brisk walking. Given our love of video stimulation, whether movies, TV or gaming and computer entertainment in our spare time which only compounds the problem.
Genetics can also be considered, as some of us are small or large, yet for most of us our inherent size is only our baseline.
Then there is diet, which is for nearly everyone the primary issue. Given our culture’s reliance upon fast food, processed food and arguably even GMO foods--- diet can prove to be an important issue as well for people with no overweight condition.
What is becoming increasingly clear in the corporate consumer culture, gaining mainstream media attention, is the role of meat and animal product consumption in American diets.
To be thorough, there are environmental and human health issues stemming from the industrial production and consumption of meat: resources used to produce animal protein, along with the resulting waste products, “may be responsible for 18% of human- caused global greenhouse gas; Animals confined to US factory farms produce three times more waste than the entire US population which can contaminate water supplies and emit harmful gasses such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane."
Animal protein is very resource-intensive, for example, requiring up to 26 times more water to produce than a pound of soy protein; wastes cause outbreaks of salmonella, e.coli and similar pathogens, particularly in people living near production facilities; antibiotics are used in the animals in these facilities to try to keep them healthy. These antibiotics are now found in the groundwater, soil and air there, and in humans as well, contributing to antibiotic-resistant infections.
According to Dr. Michael Greger, HSUS Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture: “We don’t need to consume animals to be healthy--- just the opposite. Nutrition experts worldwide advise us to increase our consumption of plant-based foods and to cut down on saturated animal fat and cholesterol, which are found exclusively in meat, eggs and dairy products. Meat-free diets are recommended by the American Heart Association, National Cancer Institute, World Health Organization and U.S. dietary guidelines.
“The benefits are clear. People who eat fewer animal products have lower rates of obesity, dementia, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, gallstones, hemorrhoids, constipation, diverticulosis and appendicitis. People who eat completely meatless diets are half as likely to become hospitalized or require medications, and they’re less likely to need emergency medical procedures. Meat-free diets are even being used to reverse chronic diseases: opening clogged arteries, curing type 2 diabetes and alleviating obesity.
“Humane diets may also boost our longevity. The population with the longest life expectancy isn’t the Okinawa Japanese or the Mediterranean Sardinians, but the California Adventist vegetarians, who live up to 10 years longer than the average American and enjoy lower rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers. Choosing animal-free foods is an easy, inexpensive way to shed unnecessary pounds, reduce cancer risk and improve heart health.”
Professor Maciej Henneberg of the University of Adelaide wrote, “In the analysis of obesity prevalence across 170 countries, we have found that sugar availability in a nation explains 50% of obesity variation while meat availability another 50%. After correcting for differences in nations’ wealth, calorie consumption, levels of urbanization and of physical inactivity, which are all major contributors to obesity, sugar availability remained an important factor, contributing independently 13%, while meat contributed another 13%.”
Youfa Wong, MD, PhD, MS at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School’s Center for Human Nutrition, wrote in the “Journal of Human Obesity”: “While Americans had a high level of meat consumption per capita they lacked adequate consumption of fruits, vegetables and dairy… translates to approximately 4.6 servings of meat, 3 servings of fruit and vegetables, and 1.4 servings of dairy per day although Americans are recommended to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 3 servings of dairy a day. Participants consuming higher amounts of meat were nearly 27% more likely to be obese, compared to those who consumed low amounts. In fact, higher intakes of “all meat” and “other meat” products were associated with higher BMI (body mass index) and waist circumference, whereas intake of vegetables and fruits was inversely associated with BMI.”
“Our analysis based on the recent nationally representative data shows a consistent positive association between meat consumption and adiposity measure among U.S. adults.” There are many studies that have shown direct correlations between the consumption of meat and obesity, yet Dr. Wong asserts that some authors’ claims that it is the fat content of the meat that contributes to human obesity are incorrect: “On the contrary, we believe the protein in meat is directly contributing to obesity.”
The research for Professor Henneberg’s study was conducted by PhD student Wenpeng You, who recently published his findings in the “Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences”, he says, “There is a dogma that fats and carbohydrates, especially fats, are the major factors contributing to obesity.“
“Whether we like it or not, fats and carbohydrates in modern diets are supplying enough energy to meet our daily needs. Because meat protein is digested later than fats and carbohydrates, this makes the energy we receive from protein a surplus, which is then converted and stored as fat in the human body.”
­
Dave Bowman
Fort Myers

Published in General/Features
Wednesday, 08 February 2017 18:30

SOCIAL SECURITY AND YOU

My Advice:
Don't Play by the Rules

Well, let's see if I get in trouble again! Today's question comes from a retiree who plans to return to work, he will make about $20K and is worried about how his earnings might jeopardize his eligibility for his Social Security benefits. It's a question I'm often asked. And my usual answer doesn't exactly follow the Social Security Administration playbook. In the past, I've gotten into trouble with some of my former colleagues at SSA who took me to task for encouraging people to bend the rules. But I still think I'm handing out good advice. Before I get to the question and my apparently controversial answer, let me first explain the rules. Once you are 66 years old, you can make as much money as you want and get all of your Social Security checks. But if you are on Social Security and you are under that magic age and you return to work, then the law says that for every two dollars you earn over $16,920, one dollar must be withheld from your Social Security benefits. It sounds simple enough. But the reason it gets complicated has to do with the mechanics of how the law is administered. Let's follow an example. Jack is 64 and getting Social Security. He starts working and dutifully reports his earnings to Social Security (after waiting on hold for 45 minutes). He is told that based on his reported earnings, he isn't due any benefits for the next five months. After a couple of months' processing delay, SSA finally stops his checks. And being a good citizen, Jack had returned the two checks he received before his benefits were stopped. But then a month later, Jack got an overpayment letter from SSA telling him he owed an amount equal to the two benefits checks he already returned. It took several more months to straighten that out. Then later in the year, Jack learned he was getting a raise and was asked to work more hours. So now he was expecting to make several thousand dollars more than the first estimate he gave SSA. Once again, he reported this. And that report led to another overpayment letter advising him of benefits he was now not due based on his new estimate. Then, at the beginning of the next year, when he got his W-2, it turned out that he didn't make quite as much as he had previously reported to SSA. So now, the agency owed Jack some of that money they had asked him to repay last year. But at the same time, Jack reported his anticipated earnings for the new year, and this led to another round of benefit reductions and overpayment letters. And on and on it goes! And this is not an exaggerated example. It is fairly typical of what happens to folks when they get wrapped up in the administrative nightmare of dealing with Social Security's earnings penalty rules. So now let's look at today's question and how I suggest that slightly bending those rules can save you a lot of heartache. So, you could play by the rules, like Jack did in the example I cited above. But look where that got him! In other words, you could contact SSA and report your anticipated earnings. They will eventually stop your benefits. Then you could just cross your fingers that you keep your job, earn exactly as much money as you initially reported, and don't get slapped with any overpayment letters. Or you could do what I've been advising people in your situation to do for years. And that is to do nothing. Just let your Social Security checks continue to flow into your bank account -- remembering all along that you aren't due all of those benefits and will eventually have to pay some of them back. At some point down the road (it might be later this year, or it may even be early next year), SSA will learn that you have been working -- either because of earnings reports from your employer or through a computer data exchange with IRS. Once they learn you had been working and the precise amount of your earnings, they will send you an overpayment letter. But you will be expecting it and, assuming you didn't lose all the proceeds of your Social Security checks in a wild gambling spree in Las Vegas, you will have the money sitting in your bank account ready to pay them back. (And by the way, they don't charge interest.) There are two advantages to doing things this way. One: You can pocket what little interest you might have earned on those benefit payments before they were stopped. And two: You avoid all the back-and-forth hassle with SSA -- the calling and waiting on hold and starting and stopping of Social Security checks that Jack experienced. What I am suggesting you do isn't exactly kosher, but it's not illegal. You'd simply be bending the rules a bit. As long as SSA eventually gets its money back, they'll be satisfied. And as a side note: Here is a message to any of my readers under age 66 who are getting Social Security checks and decide to return to work, thus forcing a suspension of those checks. Once you reach age 66, you will get credit for those months in which you did not receive a benefit -- in the form of an adjustment to your initial benefit reduction.
Tom Margenau

Published in Business

Looking back on Earth’s global temperature over the past three years...2014: record warm—wow! 2015: record warm—wow!! 2016: record warm—holy cow!!!
In 2016, the annual global temperature reached a record high for the third year in a row, a remarkable occurrence rarely seen in the 137-year NOAA record and one not seen since the streak of record warmth (at the time) of 1939, 1940, and 1941.
Those years, which ranked as third warmest, second warmest, and warmest, respectively, in 1941, now rank as 64th, 50th, and 38th warmest today. But back to the current streak…how did this happen?
If you guess long-term climate change—Yes! If you guess El Niño—Yes! Also correct. If you guess supermoons—umm, sorry, not so much.

The Background
First, Earth’s temperature has been rising at an average rate of 0.13°F each decade since the start of the record in 1880 and more than twice that rate (0.31°F) if you consider the past half century alone. That increase is due to long-term warming.
Second, natural climate cycles, the biggest player being the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), cause global temperatures to temporarily rise (El Niño) or fall (La Niña). Generally, the stronger the El Niño or La Niña, the greater the impact will be on the average global temperature. Over time, the effects of El Niños and La Niñas balance each other out, so the net effect on long-term warming is negligible.

The Story
Near the end of 2014, one of the strongest El Niños since at least the mid-20th century, and the strongest since 1998, emerged in the eastern Pacific Ocean and lasted through late spring 2016. So not only was this a strong El Niño, it was the longest-lasting one since the Climate Prediction Center began tracking the phenomenon in 1950. This extreme intensity and duration led to the fall of lots of annual and monthly global temperature records. And when they fell, they fell hard.

Annual temperatures
With a couple of months in the El Niño phase at the end of the year—but still weak at this point—2014 broke the annual record set in 2010 (another year with El Niño by the way) by 0.07°F.
El Niño continued to strengthen throughout 2015 and was among the strongest on record by the end of the year. (Side lesson: there are a lot of complicated dynamics between the ocean and the atmosphere, but to simplify here, a strong and long-lived El Niño exposes a lot of warm water to the atmosphere. If you take away some of the details, it's like adding a subtle temporary floor furnace to the atmosphere.) With all the extra heat pumped into the atmosphere from the ocean, 2015 broke the annual record set in 2014 by an incredible 0.29°F, the widest margin on record.
El Niño began to weaken around the beginning of 2016, officially ending in late spring. Often, the effects of the phenomenon continue to impact global temperatures for up to a few months after the event has ended because all of that added heat in the atmosphere doesn’t immediately go away. And as sometimes happens, a La Niña event emerged a few months after El Niño’s demise, bringing its cooling effect with it.
Because of its strength and lingering effects, the 2016 annual global temperature was influenced more by El Niño than by La Niña. And so, with the global temperature already elevated at the beginning of the year, 2016 set yet another annual global temperature record, albeit by a slimmer margin of 0.07°F.
But how does the 2016 temperature stack up against 1998, the year of the last strong El Niño? If we were comparing apples to apples, we would expect the temperatures to be roughly close to one another. But it’s not apples to apples: this is where the effect of long-term global warming can clearly be seen. Although each year started with a strong El Niño and ended with La Niña, 2016 was more than half a degree (0.56°F) warmer than 1998. That matches up well with the average decadal rate of warming. Even 2014 beat out 1998 by 0.19°F.

The monthly records
While three record warm years in a row is pretty incredible, monthly temperatures during these three years were equally astonishing. Lots of records were broken, several in dramatic fashion.
In the 28-month span between May 2014 and August 2016, 24 monthly global temperature records were broken. That includes 16 in a row (s-i-x-t-e-e-n!) from May 2015 to August 2016. Fourteen of the 15 largest all-time monthly temperatures departures were set during 2015 and 2016, with the highest in March 2016 (January 2007 tied for 10th warmest, and yes, El Niño was involved here too).
El Niño is over. What now?
El Niños and La Niñas and other natural climate patterns are really difficult to predict far in advance. It is unknown exactly when they will occur, how long they will last, and how intense they will be. So it’s not really possible to know exactly how warm or cool next year, or the year after, or the year after that will be.
But underlying this uncertainty is the certainty that the annual global temperature record has been broken five times since the beginning of the 21st century and the certainty that the global temperature has been increasing around 0.3°F per decade over the past 50 years.
Although we don’t know when, the global annual temperature record will be broken again. Monthly global temperature records will be broken again. We will not see new global high temperature records every year, nor do we expect to. We probably won’t see a new record in 2017, but we probably will see one in the not so distant future.
that the average global temperature is just that - an average. Different parts of the world will set new records at different times, and yes, we expect to see some records this year too. We expect a few of these will even be cold records. In some regions of the world, like the Arctic, temperatures are rising at a much higher rate than most other regions of the world. Increasing temperatures manifest into impacts, like melting glaciers and ice sheets that lead to sea level rise, among countless others. That won’t change—new record annual global temperatures or not.

Jessica Blunden
Noaa.gov

Published in Environment

The year was 1904. The American Flag had 45 stars, Theodore Roosevelt was president and the average American earned 22 cents per hour. It was the year that T.J. Laud-Brown convinced the city founders and the rail line that they needed to bring the South Florida Fair to the grounds of the Tampa Bay Hotel. The Fair was held on a 27-acre plot, now known as the University of Tampa.
Today, the Florida State Fair attracts up to 500,000 people in twelve days. Each year Florida residents create exhibits for Aquaculture, Horticulture, Woodcarving, Needlework and more. Over ninety years later bragging rights are still won for the prized bull, best pie and the most beautiful quilt. The Mildred W. and Doyle E. Carlton, Jr Cracker Country living history museum has original structures, including homes, a general store, railroad depot, print shop and more. Offering guests a representation of home life, commerce and transportation as it was in many rural Florida communities just before the turn of the 20th century. The Midway rides provide our visitors with all the thrills and chills they've come to expect.
As the first State Fair of the year, we get all the latest and greatest in Fair foods such as the Pizza Cone, Redneck Burger, Bacon Ice Cream, and more! It’s affordable family fun at its best.

Admission

Adult admission for ages 12 and older is $11 for Monday through Friday entry and $13 on Saturdays and Sundays
Child Admission for ages 6 to 11 is $6 for Monday through Friday admission and $7 on Saturdays and Sundays
Senior admission for ages 55 and up is $9, but senior tickets are only valid on the following Senior Days: Feb. 13-17. All other days require adult admission tickets.

Ride Armbands

Any day ride armbands cost $35 at the fair and provide unlimited rides
Weekday ride armbands are $25 at the fair and are only good on Feb. 9 and Feb. 13-16.

Concerts

Feb. 10, 8 p.m.: Shalyah Fearing.

Feb. 11, 7 p.m.: Mighty Mongo

Feb. 13, 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.: Z Street Band

Feb. 14-16, 5:30 p.m.: The River City Boys present a Tribute to the Statler Brothers

Feb. 14-16, 6 p.m.: Elvis Extravaganza

Feb. 14, 2 p.m.: Country Gold Tour, featuring Leroy Van Dyke, Johnny Lee, David Frizzell, Barbara Fairchild

Feb. 15, 2 p.m.: Country Gould Tour, featuring Leroy Van Dyke, Steve and Rudy Gatlin, Marty Haggard, Bobby Bare

Feb. 17, 7 p.m.: Shawn Scheller and the Contenders

Feb. 18, 7 p.m.: Lauren Mitchell Band

Feb. 19, 6 p.m.: Building 429, opening act: Overflow

Feb. 19, 7 p.m.: Joe Zuniga

Feb. 20, Roots and Boots Tour: Aaron Tippin, Colin Raye and Sammy Kershaw

Competitions and Special Events

Feb. 11: Florida State Fair Cheer and Dance Championships

Feb. 11, noon: Sunshine State Jack Russell Terrier Races

Feb. 12, 2 p.m.: Championship Tractor Pull

Feb. 15-16, 3 and 7 p.m.: Florida State Fair Ranch Rodeo
Feb. 16, noon: Draft Horse Pulls

Feb. 17-18: Vex Robotics Championships

Feb. 18, noon and Feb. 19, 2 p.m.: Winter National Championship Lawn Mower Races.

Free Daily Entertainment
Special Days & Discounts

When: February 9 – 20, 2017

Where: Florida State Fairgrounds – 4800 US Hwy. 301 North, Tampa 33610

Parking: FREE

Tickets Sales: • Purchase online at www.FloridaStateFair.com. Tickets also are available through the Fair box office, website, mail or fax. Call 1-800-345-FAIR (3247)

Published in Outdoor
Wednesday, 08 February 2017 18:21

Festival of Lupercalia

February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
The holiday's roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia (for 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus) a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15.
Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.
Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
The Roman Empire was experiencing massive turmoil at the time. Dubbed the ‘Crisis of the Third Century’ by scholars, this period saw the empire divide into three competing states, with the threat of invasion all around.
Claudius made the unpopular decision to ban marriage among young people, believing that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers. With the Roman Empire hanging by a thread, Claudius needed all the brazen war power he could get.
This is where Valentine comes in; the pesky priest who believed marriage to be a God-given sacrament. Valentine began officiating marriages in secret but was eventually found out and imprisoned.
According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “Valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
The priest was eventually beheaded and then named a martyr by the Church because he gave up his life to perform the sacrament of marriage: for love of love and love of God.
There was also a conventional belief in Europe during the Middle Ages that birds chose their partners in the middle of February. Thus the day was dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved.
The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)
Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America, made with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” She is known as the “Mother of the Valentine.”
Although the mid-February holiday celebrating love and lovers remains wildly popular, the confusion over its origins led the Catholic Church, in 1969, to drop St. Valentine’s Day from the Roman calendar of official, worldwide Catholic feasts.
Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Italy and Denmark and Great Britain.

Jennifer VanderWest

Published in Lifestyle
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