FORT MYERS- The School District of Lee County is holding an information session at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 for those interested in exploring career opportunities as a school bus driver.
The session will be held at the Lee County Public Education Center, 2855 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.
Required job qualifications for school bus drivers include at least five years of driving experience, a satisfactory driving record and a social security card. The District will provide training for candidates who do not already possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The starting pay for bus drivers in Lee County is $14.01 per hour, and the District offers flexible hours, training reimbursement and access to a complete benefits package for full-time employees.
To RSVP for the information session, please call 239-337-8640 by Wednesday, Feb. 28. Visit DriveForLeeSchools.net for additional information.
About the School District of Lee County: Lee County Public Schools is the ninth-largest district in Florida and the 33rd-largest district in the United States. The District educates more than 94,000 students in grades K-12 and is a model for others in the state and around the nation. With approximately 10,000 full- and part-time employees, the District is one of the county’s largest employers. As the District builds new schools and renovates and expands existing facilities to accommodate the unprecedented growth experienced in the last several years, the District has become one of Southwest Florida’s largest developers.
Dear Doctor: I'm hearing a lot about the health benefits of a ketogenic diet, that it's great for weight loss and can even reverse diabetes. What is the diet, exactly? Are the claims true?
Dear Reader: The ketogenic diet, widely known as "keto," is an eating plan that switches an individual's main energy source from carbohydrates to fat. In its strictest form, 80 percent of calories come from fat, 15 percent from protein, and carbohydrates are limited to 5 percent of the total daily food intake. Considering that most Americans get about half of their daily calories from carbohydrates, 15 percent from protein, and about one-third from fat, keto basically flips the typical American diet on its head.
The name comes from the word "ketosis," the metabolic state that arises from this particular distribution of nutrients. When adequate carbohydrates are available, the body turns them into glucose, which it uses for energy. With carbs missing in action, the body switches to Plan B -- its stored fat. Burning that fat creates an energy source known as ketones. This shift takes place over the course of the first few days of limiting carbs to the 20- to 50-gram range. (Some dieters opt to jump-start the process with a 24- or 36-hour fast.)
People on a ketogenic diet eat mainly meat, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy, oils and low-carb vegetables, like leafy greens. Because of their high carb count, fruit, root vegetables, corn, grains, cereals and legumes don't make it onto the plate. Needless to say, pasta, rice, bread, and sweets become a thing of the past. In fact, with carbs restricted to about 20 grams per day, a single apple or banana will blow your carbohydrate budget.
While the extreme nature of the keto diet makes it sound like a fad, it was actually introduced in the 1920s to help children with medication-resistant epilepsy. Ongoing research suggests the diet may be neuroprotective, and scientists are looking into its potential to help patients with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
You're right that the keto diet has been shown to improve glycemic control in people with Type 2 diabetes. Some patients do go on to reduce or even discontinue their medication. However, the diet's effect on blood chemistry can be extreme enough to require rapid adjustments in medication levels. People with Type 2 diabetes should not attempt it without a doctor's supervision. The diet is not recommended for people with Type 1 diabetes.
And while those on the keto diet experience rapid weight loss, they're also subject to constipation, electrolyte imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, poor mood and just plain boredom. Our main concern is the high fat content. Despite a dieter's best intentions to stick to good fats, the focus on high fat inevitably leads to excessive bad fat consumption. One of our patients wound up with LDL levels that doubled, which is never a good thing.
You've heard this from us before, but seriously, please check with your doctor before going keto. And if you do decide to give it a try, it would be wise to work with a nutritionist to craft the most well-rounded version of the diet possible.
Eve Glazier, M.D.,
and Elizabeth Ko, M.D.
I know the left leaders won’t tell you this or admit to this, but you just had 8 years of as close to lawlessness as we can have and still have some resemblance of a Republic!
To remind you what Obama said and actually did, Barack Obama told us he was going to “fundamentally change” America…make her “less” war like, more “peaceful” like Islam, more European like! He decimated our Military, and opened the doors to gays, lesbians, and transgender soldiers…just what an Army needs to kill our enemies! He reduced our nuclear armament by 5,000 warheads and virtually stopped maintenance on planes and equipment and training for our soldiers and flyers! I am speaking fact and not supposition folks…just read what our new Military leaders are saying!
Obama showed his total distain for Law Enforcement repeatedly, but made clear his intentions when he appointed Eric Holder as his Attorney General. Those of us in Law Enforcement know what Eric Holder is and Obama is out of the same mold!
Eric Holder is by far, without any exception, the worst Attorney General; the most anti police, anti Law, AG, we have ever had! He is a bigger racist, and bigot than the most red neck, militant, white supremacist, KKK members there ever was. What made him so bad is that he was so powerful! He was the 2nd highest “Law Enforcement” person in the country. Through the most corrupt DOJ, we ever had, he refused to prosecute Black Panther cop killers, who took time off from cop killing, to harass white voters. I remember that group and their history because I worked some of their cop killings, bank robberies and the “off shoot” groups, like the Black Liberation Army. Remember Hewey Newton, the cop killer…the one who started the Black Panther Party? He’s the one that, none other than Hillary Clinton, helped to get off by trying to find Civil Rights violations on the cops Newton killed!
Holder also sent teams of racist lawyers, that he called “investigators”, who were DOJ Militant Civil Rights Attorneys with, in my opinion, orders to find dirt on the Ferguson Police , and New Orleans Police. His “investigator” lawyers were held in contempt of court by those Federal Judges for Witness Tampering, Evidence Tampering, Obstruction, violating Court orders and intimidating witnesses, to get them to change their stories. Did Holder suspend his employees and open Administrative Inquiries to see if the 2 different Federal Judges were lying? No… Holder did NOTHING!
His DOJ Attorneys, that he sent to Texas to fight the Immigration case involving 23 States…were held in contempt of court, for disobeying Federal Court orders and barred from appearing in ANY of those 23 Federal jurisdictions! What did he do to them? Again, nothing!
He later put Border Patrol Officers in jail and let the Illegal aliens go!
Oh…! I almost forgot, Holder is the first and only U S Attorney General, EVER, to be held in Contempt of Congress!
Regarding Obama’s distain for the Police…he supported Black Lives Matter and invited them to the White House! He opened the prison doors …and “Katie Bar the Door”…out they came. Obama took the side of any black person who was involved with the police in any incident, before he knew any facts, and condemned the actions of the Police…EVERY time! He refused to call Islamic Terrorism…Islamic Terrorism! He refused to fight ISIS and said that as long as he was President we will not be at war with Islam! He gave Aid and Comfort to the Muslim Brotherhood (F-16 Fighters, tanks…you name it) and gave Iran, 1.7 billion dollars, the biggest State sponsor of terrorism in the World, according to the rest of the World!!!
His plan to destroy our Military was working and he needed a way to destroy the best Law Enforcement Agency in the world…the FBI. So…Obama hired the most corrupt and either the ‘dumbest” or the “smartest”, FBI Director that the FBI has ever seen, James Comey.
In my opinion, Obama told Comey to destroy the FBI because Comey was on a path to do just that! He destroyed America’s confidence in the FBI..am I wrong? Why did Comey do it and how did Comey do it? Is he dumb or did he foster a brilliant plan for destruction?
What made the FBI great was its relationship with the Public and the crime solving that the Public did for us!! So Comey set out to destroy that relationship! Comey installed some type of phone system that made it almost impossible for the public to talk to an Agent… I am speaking from experience! I tried many times to provide info, ask questions, and could not get through to the Agent in Charge, Assistant Agent in Charge, a Supervisor…anybody. A few weeks ago I was given info that I recognized was very important. I hesitated to put in the call to the Buffalo Office because of the difficulty everyone was having getting through to an Agent. In this call, I insisted and finally got through to an Agent! I learned my info was indeed, important and found out that all incoming calls go to headquarters and THEY route the calls!...and you aren’t going to believe this, but the recording I first received, actually said, “If this is an emergency, hang up and call 911”…I kid you not! If I, a former Agent, former Supervisor can’t get through…neither can you!
I submit, in my opinion, that’s probably how that call from a concerned citizen to report on Nikolas Cruz, got “lost”!
DUMB AND DUMBER
Comey puts two people, who know absolutely NOTHING about criminal investigations, in charge of the biggest ,best , Criminal Investigative Agency in the “World “! I’m talking about Andy McCabe and Peter Strzok! What made the FBI the best law enforcement agency was its Crime fighting ability, NOT it’s “intelligence gathering” ability!! I’m guessing that neither McCabe nor Strzok ever worked a criminal case nor took one to trial and that Hillary Clinton was probably Strzok’s FIRST criminal interview!
If you want to keep the best Crime Fighting Agency …the best… do you place the best criminal Agents at the top or the worst? In my opinion, these two characters gathered intelligence information from computers, their entire careers, and knew nothing about Crime fighting! If I am wrong, why did they break every Rule in the book regarding interviewing, investigating and making a criminal case against Hillary and totally screw up an EASY case to make? They have her signed, no way out, no excuses, Non Disclosure Agreement that only requires that she violate the agreement; no criminal intent necessary!
When Comey throws these two under the bus, I would have to say that the conniving SOB is brilliant…first he gets Hillary off the hook, gets back at Trump, destroys the FBI and blames the two guys he hired! Jim, you should become a Democrat Presidential Candidate (when you get out of jail)…your corruption expertise has few rivals!
Comey broke the law and broke the back of the FBI when he “got Hillary Clinton off the hook”! The American people aren’t stupid. The evidence Comey laid out, was overwhelming against Hillary…the American people know what she did… they understand common sense, which is nothing more than Probable Cause! Then “he” declines prosecution, which he can’t do, but did anyway!!! You decide… Comey…smart or stupid?
If you read the articles I wrote before President Trump was sworn in, I suggested, in the strongest terms possible, that he clean out DOJ of all Obama appointees and replace every single Attorney in DOJ, Civil Rights Section! I called for Jim Kallstrom or a Retired , Former Agent to take the FBI Job because you need to be an Agent in order to understand the FBI! There hasn’t been a FBI Director since Hoover who could find his own ass with his own two hands except for Freed!
If the FBI doesn’t go back to direct contact with the public and Crime Fighting besides Intelligence gathering, many more calls and lives will be lost in the abyss! Real Agents, don’t let important calls go unattended!
Again, get rid of electronic phone answering and McCabe, Strzok, Page and DOJ Rosenstein, Ohr and the others who signed the FISA warrants; prosecute Comey, Hillary, Yates, Lynch, Holder and keep going to the top, Obama! Lead by example and enforce the laws!
Our Rule of Law…Applies to All!
J Gary DiLaura
Retired FBI Agent
Women’s History Month is a month-long celebration of women’s contributions to society and history that is observed during the month of March in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and is observed during the month of October in Canada. In the U.S., it’s been officially celebrated since March of 1987.
THE ORIGINS OF WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
Women’s History Month in the United States grew out of a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history and society organized by the school district of Sonoma, California, in 1978. Presentations were given at dozens of schools, hundreds of students participated in a “Real Woman” essay contest and a parade was held in downtown Santa Rosa.
A few years later, the idea had caught on within communities, school districts and organizations across the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. The U.S. Congress followed suit the next year, passing a resolution establishing a national celebration. Six years later, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women, took place for the first time on March 8, 1911. Many countries around the world celebrate the holiday with demonstrations, educational initiatives and customs such as presenting women with gifts and flowers. The United Nations has sponsored International Women’s Day since 1975. When adopting its resolution on the observance of International Women’s Day, the United Nations General Assembly cited the following reasons: “To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.”
Fort Myers icon Tom Cronin died last week. To the business community, he was brilliant. To his friends, he was a joker who would make you laugh at the drop of a hat especially if he thought you were feeling down. To North Fort Myers residents, he was the guy who took a rundown tourist attraction and made it into a fun family destination. The good lord took Tom too young, only 78 years young.
He took over the Shell Factory about 20 years ago, back when the quirky tourist attraction had almost gone under, and turned it into a bustling theme park that reflected his quirky personality—taxidermy and all.
People remember him as a man who worked hard and played even harder, living every day to the fullest.
He is also remembered as a family man who loved his children and wife very much.
"Tommy was the absolute love of my life, soul-mate and partner in every sense of the word. He encouraged me and supported my endeavors with love as I did his. Butler and I will miss him every day of our lives," said Pam Cronin, his wife.
"He lived life with gusto. He had a way of enjoying life to the fullest and then some," said friend Susan Bennett, who has known him since the 1970s. "If there was a P.T. Barnum for Southwest Florida in the 21st Century, it was Tom."
And even in death, the show goes on, the Shell Factory is open for business as usual.
At 4:46 am Friday, February 16, Southwest Flor¬ida lost a true icon. Thomas R. Cronin, Sr. passed on from this life in the finest way possible; peacefully, in his sleep with his adoring wife at his side.
Thomas (affectionally known as Tommy) was born in Hartford City, Indiana to Thomas E. and Pau¬line R. Cronin on February 23, 1939. He went to St. Francis Xavier Catholic School through Junior High and Graduated from Fort Myers High School in 1956. One of his favorite stories (he has a letter as proof) was that the principal said that he was not college material and would most like not go on to accomplish "much" in life.
He very proudly served in the United States Army where he held Top Secret Security Clearance received a Good Conduct Medal, and Graduated Classes in Microwave Radio, Equipment Repair, Business Law and Real Estate, which would be the first step of a life-long career that he loved.
When he returned to Fort Myers he joined his father in the wholesale beer company, Cronin Distributors. He later purchased that company from his father and expanded it to over 60 product brands.
As Chairman of the Board of Flordeco, and General Partner of CSL&G Development he and his contemporaries were instrumental in the growth and development of Lee County. Daniels Road was a dirt path from US 41 to the airport, when his group began selling five-acre parcels for $50 down and $50 a month. He worked with a group of doctors to develop Southwest Florida Regional Hospital (now Gulf Coast Hospital) for which he was its first Chairman of the Board for 19 years, further developed distressed properties, which has greatly impacted the Lee County YMCA, assembled the property for City of Palms Park Stadium, redeveloped neglected properties such as Beacon Executive Suites (once a nursing home), Renaissance Executive (once the Rafters Mall), Carrell Corners to the Strip Centers and Condos to the East. His father leased the property where Joe's Crab Shack is located (Pleasure Pier at the beginning of the last century) years later Tommy purchased that property and developed the Chart House. His specialty in development for the past 20 years has been redevelopment of distressed properties which has greatly impacted the attractiveness of buildings county-wide, most recently (20 years ago) The Shell Factory and Nature Park became his pet project and there were too many other properties in between to mention.
Organizer and Chairman of several local banks, a Trustee of International College (now Hodges University), Chairman of the United Way of Lee County, President of the YMCA, President of the City of Fort Myers Planning Board, Chairman of the Downtown Redevelopment Agency and again too many more charitable commitments to mention. Tommy was a philanthropist, donating money, time and talent to hundreds of local organizations through the years.
In 2006 he was one of the first recipients of the Junonia Award, selected by the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, it is a recognition of in¬dividuals who have demonstrated leadership, commitment and dedication throughout the local tourism community. He has 13 civic awards, the most notable of which are: Citizen of the Year, Freedom of Brotherhood from the NAACP, Hadassah Service Award, President's Award for YMCA Capital Fund Drive and Outstanding Young Man of America. He was a honorary Mayor of North Fort Myers!
Tommy is survived by his wife, Pamela J. Cronin, his son, Thomas R. Cronin, Jr., daughter Constance Martine Cronin, Sister and Brother-in Law, to Mary ( Prudy) Rubin and Harry Rubin, nieces and nephews, Brenda and George Brincku, Denise and Trey Sones, Dennis Peterson Jr., numerous loving great nieces, nephews and other relatives. Tom is preceded in death by both his parents.
At his request, a joyful celebration in the form of an Irish Wake will be held in his honor on March 1, at 5:30pm at his beloved Shell Factory and Nature Park. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Nature Park Environmental Education Foundation, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, N Fort Myers, FL 33903 which is where Tommy would like his ashes spread so he may spend the rest of time with the creatures he loved and cared for.
The Florida Senate Education Committee disassembled a massive $25.8 billion House omnibus education bill and then endorsed many of its most significant components one-by-one in individual Senate bills.
The committee on Tuesday also introduced several new amendments of its own – including a requirement that school districts develop programs for on-site armed security officers to get training from local law enforcement, specifically preparing for a school shooting.
The amendment is proposed by Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, less than a week after 17 people were killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County — his district.
“The amendment doesn’t go far enough but, certainly, we think it would help fortify schools,” he said. “This is an opportunity to have the first-responders already in the schools.”
In addition to mandating districts establish school resource officer programs, the “Thurston Amendment” requires districts to formulate procedures for active-shooter situations with training by law enforcement agencies, conduct safety assessments every three years, designate school safety officers at each site, require every school to identify one single, secure point of entry onto its grounds.
Despite its vagaries – such as how much, exactly, it would cost and where the money to pay for it will come from – supporters said legislators could fill in the blanks later, emphasizing alacrity over detail in responding to rising pressure to address school safety.
“There is no harm in taking up this amendment. It begins a discussion on the topic,” Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, said. “Put it in [this bill] and let it move forward with this legislation.”
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, suggested the amendment be incorporated into a comprehensive school safety package being introduced Thursday by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and Majority Leader Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby.
The fast-tracked “Thurston Amendment’s” only stop before a full Senate vote is a review by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. The House Education Committee will respond to its Senate counterpart’s amendments when it meets Wednesday.
The House approved its entire $87.2 billion budget contingent on the adoption of its 202-page $25.8 billion omnibus education package as one comprehensive bill.
The Senate Education Committee quickly snuffed that proposition when Chair Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, filed a 115-page “strike all” amendment that replaced many items in the massive House bill with individual bills already adopted or being reviewed as stand-alone issues in various Senate committees.
Among distinct differences in the proposed House and Senate education budget is the Senate earmarks a $187 million increase for universities and a $60 million reduction in college funding while the House wants to cut universities by $304 million while increasing spending for colleges by $86 million.
Like the House bill, the original Senate bill would force teachers’ unions to disband if their membership falls below half the employees they represent. But in a 5-4 vote, the committee approved another Thurston amendment to remove the union decertification provision from the education bill and require it to stand alone.
“This is the first time many of us are seeing these proposals,” Thurston said, noting the “problematic” precedent it sets. “Looks like an attack on instructional teachers,” he said. “Remove it [from the bill]. Let it be viewed on its own merit.”
For the most part, despite the procedural intrigue and differences over union decertification, most components within the House omnibus bill are endorsed in stand-alone Senate legislation.
Both chambers’ spending plans expand Bright Futures merit scholarships, strengthen oversight of publicly funded private-school scholarship programs and establish a “Hope Scholarship” voucher program for bullied public-school students funded by car buyers who dedicate part of their sales tax to the scholarships.
In this instance, the committee adopted the House “Hope Scholarship” plan over its own. Rather than levy $20 as the Senate originally proposed, it adopted the $105 tax credit for each transaction in the House proposal. The House bill forecasts it would generate $41.5 million a year for the scholarships.
"Enough is enough!" "This can't go on!" "This has to stop!"
These were among the comments that came through the blizzard of commentary after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County. We have heard these words before.
Unfortunately, such atrocities are not going to stop. For the ingredients that produce such slaughters are present and abundant in American society.
And what can stop a man full of hate, who has ceased to care about his life and is willing to end it, from getting a weapon in a country of 300 million guns and killing as many as he can in a public place before the police arrive?
An act of "absolute pure evil," said Gov. Rick Scott, of the atrocity that took 17 lives and left a dozen more wounded. And evil is the right word.
While this massacre may be a product of mental illness, it is surely a product of moral depravity. For this was premeditated and plotted, done in copycat style to the mass killings to which this country has become all too accustomed.
Nikolas Cruz thought this through. He knew it was Valentine's Day. He brought his fully loaded AR-15 with extra magazines and smoke grenades to the school that had expelled him. He set off a fire alarm, knowing it would bring students rushing into crowded halls where they would be easy to kill. He then escaped by mixing in with fleeing students.
The first ingredient then was an icy indifference toward human life and a willingness to slaughter former fellow students to deliver payback for whatever it was Cruz believed had been done to him at Douglas High.
In his case, the conscience was dead, or was buried beneath hatred, rage or resentment at those succeeding where he had failed. He had been rejected, cast aside, expelled. This would be his revenge, and it would be something for Douglas High and the nation to see -- and never forget.
Indeed, it seems a common denominator of the atrocities to which we have been witness in recent years is that the perpetrators are nobodies who wish to die as somebodies.
If a sense of grievance against those perceived to have injured them is the goad that drives misfits like Cruz to mass murder, the magnet that draws them to it is infamy. Infamy is their shortcut to immortality.
From the killings in Columbine to Dylann Roof's murder of black parishioners at the Charleston Church, from the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando to the slaughter of first-graders in Newtown, to Las Vegas last October where Stephen Paddock, firing from an upper floor of the Mandalay Bay, shot dead 58 people and wounded hundreds at a country music festival -- these atrocities enter the social and cultural history of the nation. And those who carry them out achieve a recognition few Americans ever know. Charles Whitman, shooting 47 people from that Texas tower in 1966, is the original model.
Evil has its own hierarchy of rewards. Perhaps the most famous man of the 20th century was Hitler, with Stalin and Mao among his leading rivals.
Some of these individuals who seek to "go out" this way take their own lives when the responders arrive, or they commit "suicide by cop" and end their lives in a shootout. Others, Cruz among them, prefer to star in court, so the world can see who they are. And the commentators and TV cameras will again give them what they crave: massive publicity.
And we can't change this. As soon as the story broke, the cameras came running, and we watched another staging of the familiar drama -- the patrol cars, cops in body armor, ambulances, students running in panic or walking in line, talking TV heads demanding to know why the cowards in Congress won't vote to outlaw AR-15s.
Yet, among the reasons gun-owners prize the AR-15 is that, not only in movies and TV shows is it the hero's -- and the villain's -- weapon of choice, but in real life, these are the kinds of rifles carried by the America's most-admired warriors.
They are the modern version of muskets over the fireplace.
Another factor helps to explain what happened Wednesday: We are a formerly Christian society in an advanced state of decomposition.
Nikolas Cruz was a product of broken families. He was adopted. Both adoptive parents had died. Where did he get his ideas of right and wrong, good and evil? Before the Death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.
One imagines Nikolas sitting alone, watching coverage of the Las Vegas shooting, and thinking, "Why not? What have I got to lose? If this life is so miserable and unlikely to get better, why not go out, spectacularly, like that? If I did, they would remember who I was and what I did for the rest of their lives."
And, so, regrettably, we shall.
Patrick J. Buchanan
WHAT IS MARDI GRAS?
Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.
When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.
WHAT DOES MARDI GRAS MEAN?
Mardi is the French word for Tuesday, and gras means “fat.” In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”
Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the rich, fatty foods—meat, eggs, milk, lard, cheese—that remained in their homes, in anticipation of several weeks of eating only fish and different types of fasting.
The word carnival, another common name for the pre-Lenten festivities, also derives from this feasting tradition: in Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat, from the Latin carnem for meat.
NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS
The first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when French explorers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Sieur de Bienville landed near present-day New Orleans, Louisiana. They held a small celebration and dubbed their landing spot Point du Mardi Gras.
In the decades that followed, New Orleans and other French settlements began marking the holiday with street parties, masked balls and lavish dinners. When the Spanish took control of New Orleans, however, they abolished these rowdy rituals, and the bans remained in force until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.
On Mardi Gras in 1827, a group of students donned colorful costumes and danced through the streets of New Orleans, emulating the revelry they’d observed while visiting Paris. Ten years later, the first recorded New Orleans Mardi Gras parade took place, a tradition that continues to this day.
In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Mardi Gras procession with marching bands and rolling floats, setting the tone for future public celebrations in the city.
Since then, krewes have remained a fixture of the Carnival scene Louisiana. Other lasting customs include throwing beads and other trinkets, wearing masks, decorating floats and eating King Cake.
Did You Know?
Rex, one of the oldest Mardi Gras krewes, has been participating in parades since 1872, and established purple, gold and green as the iconic Mardi Gras colors.
Rex Jester Float
Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a legal holiday. However, elaborate carnival festivities draw crowds in other parts of the United States during the Mardi Gras season as well, including Alabama and Mississippi. Each region has its own events and traditions.
MARDI GRAS AROUND THE WORLD
Across the globe, pre-Lenten festivals continue to take place in many countries with significant Roman Catholic populations.
Brazil’s weeklong Carnival festivities feature a vibrant amalgam of European, African and native traditions. In Canada, Quebec City hosts the giant Quebec Winter Carnival. In Italy, tourists flock to Venice’s Carnevale, which dates back to the 13th century and is famous for its masquerade balls.
Known as Karneval, Fastnacht or Fasching, the German celebration includes parades, costume balls and a tradition that empowers women to cut off men’s ties. For Denmark’s Fastevlan, children dress up and gather candy in a similar manner to Halloween—although the parallel ends when they ritually flog their parents on Easter Sunday morning.
WHEN IS MARDI GRAS?
Mardi Gras is traditionally celebrated on “Fat Tuesday,” the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. In many areas, however, Mardi Gras has evolved into a week-long festival.
Mardi Gras 2018 occurs on Tuesday, February 13, though many places (such as New Orleans) begin their celebrations the weekend before, starting on February 9.
Mardi Gras 2019 falls on Tuesday, March 5.
Kennedy Space Center: Tuesday's SpaceX launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket was clearly designed for maximum glitz. There was no research value in using a Tesla electric roadster as the cargo or positioning a space-suited mannequin in the driver's seat, as if tooling around the universe on a Sunday drive.
But admit it: You smiled. This spectacular feat deserved all the hype it generated. Americans of all ages and political perspectives have a new source of
Environmental activists who want to cheer SpaceX owner Elon Musk's campaign for cleaner transportation options can view this as the promotional campaign to beat all promotional campaigns. Conservatives can applaud it as the dawn of a new era as the private sector transitions into the driver's seat while the government cedes its sole dominion over space exploration. And maybe, just maybe, it'll turn out that the private sector can do it better.
Which is not to say that the government didn't do a fabulous job getting the space program up and running from the first manned Mercury mission in 1961, to the lunar landing in 1969 and through the space shuttle program from 1981 to 2011. The dangers astronauts endured were formidable. It was the correct decision to maintain the program under government auspices during those formative stages.
After the space shuttle program ended, the federal government throttled down. Congress lost the will to continue funding such an expensive space program. NASA faced major budget cutbacks. Many scientists who had devoted their lives to NASA found themselves without jobs.
The nation couldn't help but feel deflated when NASA wound up having to buy seats aboard Russian space flights just so U.S. astronauts could get to the International Space Station. Moscow's asking price for each seat skyrocketed from $25 million in 2006 to $81 million today.
Tuesday's launch of the world's most powerful rocket cost about $90 million. Musk's team has cut costs by designing boosters to be reusable. Although SpaceX lost one of Falcon Heavy's three boosters when it failed to land properly, two other boosters landed simultaneously on their floating platforms with the precision of an Olympic water ballet team.
Musk is finding more efficiencies at every turn. And he's having fun. The dashboard screen aboard his space car carries the message, "Don't panic," drawn from the book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." The mannequin was positioned with its right hand on the steering wheel and left elbow casually resting on the convertible's door, as if out for a joy ride.
Private space ventures are in their infancy, and make no mistake, there will be many hiccups -- even tragedies -- to come. But America is back in the space race in the kind of brash, spectacular way that should make us all cheer. This is the new right stuff.