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Items filtered by date: September 2020

               

When it comes to achieving confirmation of conservative judges, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has good reason to be "tooting (his) own horn."

               

The Kentucky Republican admitted that's what he was doing when telling the New York Times on Tuesday that the judicial confirmations in a polarized Washington, especially those of three Supreme Court justices in less than four years, were more "consequential" than the accomplishments of any other majority leader. If he isn't right about that, he is close.

               

The raw numbers don't lie, and they tell much of the story. Indeed, the more numbers one peruses, the more impressive McConnell's record looks. Through Oct. 27 of a first term, no president has secured more judicial confirmations than the 220 confirmed for Donald Trump under McConnell's Senate leadership. (George W. Bush and Bill Clinton tie for second at 203.) More impressive still, 53 of those appointees were for the crucial federal courts of appeal. That's 11 and 18 more, or 20-30% more, than the next two highest, the elder and younger Bushes.

               

Then, there are the three Supreme Court justices, all of the highest professional qualifications, all pushed through with narrow majorities under difficult circumstances.

               

Those difficult circumstances are not only quantifiable but astonishing. Never in U.S. history has the minority party in the Senate gone to such extreme procedural lengths to block the confirmation of judicial nominees. Again and again, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's Democrats have forced lengthy debate and used procedural hurdles against even noncontroversial nominees, gumming up the works in the Senate in piques of sheer spite.

               

For 214 years, all but the most divisive nominees advanced to a final floor vote without even a threat of a filibuster, with no need for "cloture" votes to overcome minority opposition. Only one cloture vote was required for any of President Ronald Reagan's judicial nominees, one for the elder Bush, one for Clinton. Until the Trump term, the record for judicial cloture votes was 13. Schumer, though, has forced McConnell to take 174 cloture votes -- yes, 174, or more than 13 times as many as the prior record! -- in order even to allow final votes on Trump's nominees.

               

Still, McConnell persisted.

               

And McConnell won. He won for two years, with a mere 51-49 Republican majority, and for two more, with just 53-47. And he won for good reason: These nominees were outstanding. As the Congressional Research Service has shown, and as even liberal judicial analysts have admitted, the percentage of judges appointed by Trump and confirmed under McConnell earning "well qualified" ratings even from the hostile American Bar Association has been at the very top end of all presidencies.

               

Under the original constitutional design, courts and judges were not meant to be as consequential as they are today. Nonetheless, after 100 years of liberal judicial activism, judges effectively set the parameters for a large host of divisive social and economic issues. It is thus of tremendous importance for the courts to be seeded with judges who are willing to stay in their lanes, as it were -- judges willing to set aside their own policy preferences and instead be bound by the original public meaning of the actual text of the Constitution and laws they apply. In almost all cases, that's what the Trump-McConnell judges are doing.

               

The result will be an appropriate rebalancing of American government with elective branches or clear constitutional text, not hazy notions of some cosmic justice, predominating.

               

Against leftist Democratic obstructionism (and, oft-times, smears), it is quite an accomplishment for McConnell to have held his focus and his colleagues together to confirm 220 such judges, including Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. But McConnell needs not toot his own horn because constitutionalists will be tooting it for him.

               

The Washington Examiner

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Published in Politics
Saturday, 31 October 2020 11:33

And Then There Were None

               

 

In the first months of President Donald Trump's presidency, the briefing room was standing room only. Around the room's 49 assigned seats for the press, with the front rows reserved for big media, reporters with smaller news outfits jostled for space and a chance to pose a question of then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

               

Playboy's Brian Karem named those of us standing in the sidelines "the aisle people."

               

Trump was a full employment act for political journalists. Networks and newspapers couldn't get enough of a story that sold itself to news consumers. Trump himself has been more accessible to the press corps than predecessors who had nicer things to say about the Fifth Estate.

               

Three press secretaries later, the briefings have come to a standstill. What used to be a must-see spectacle has evaporated. Blame it on the coronavirus and Trump's idiosyncratic mandates.

               

Trump and Kayleigh McEnany, his fourth press secretary, both tested positive in early October, which made briefings untenable. After McEnany was able to return to work, she was focused on the campaign trail. There hasn't been a press briefing in about a month.

               

Not a first. Trump's third press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, did not preside over a regular briefing where she took questions during the nine months she held the prestigious post.

               

Enter the White House Coronavirus Task Force that brought energy and new characters to the Trump Show -- with Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx informing the public about a pandemic that required Americans to do things -- socially distance, stop working and stay home -- that went against their instincts.

               

They had a different approach than Trump, which added dramatic tension.

               

Partisans fault Trump for not taking extreme shutdown measures in January or February. They forget how skeptical many Americans were, that many blue state governors hesitated to close nonessential businesses and that local officials generally had a better sense of what they needed to do and could accomplish.

               

After taking the job in April, McEnany brought back the back-and-forth, but also COVID-19 changed how the administration communicated with the people.

               

The briefings got smaller because the White House Correspondents' Association, more concerned about the health and safety of its members than the White House was about its staff, worked out a plan that strictly limited who should work in the press area and when. The WHCA set up a rotation schedule for 14 seats, banned reporters standing in the aisles and discouraged members from working at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. unless they were in the press pool or had their turn in one of the 14 seats.

               

The new order worked well for folks such as me. To her credit, McEnany tried to call on everyone in the room -- not just the front rows - and that provided chances to ask questions about Las Vegas and an administration decision to deny Paycheck Protection Program funds to small casinos, which the administration revoked.

               

At the same time, The Washington Post and The New York Times stopped sending reporters to briefings -- despite journalists' designation as essential workers. Not a coincidence: The left wing had begun to call for journalists to boycott White House events during an election.

               

Where does it go from here?

               

If Joe Biden wins this week, the briefing room will be back in business and big media likely will flock to the center of power to lob softballs at the new president and his new press secretary.

               

But given Biden's limited press availability during the campaign, the often fawning questions directed at the Democratic nominee and his team's quickness to shut down any reportage on Hunter Biden's cashing in on his father's connections, the result could be more civility but less information.

               

If Trump wins, he will be governing in a shrinking bubble.

               

The 45th president doesn't talk to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He berates former stars in his White House team. Then he retreats to the warm embrace of his rallies rather than find a way to bridge divides. Is the now empty briefing room a metaphor for the Trump presidency? Figure it wouldn't happen to any other president.

               

Debra J. Saunders

Published in Politics
Saturday, 31 October 2020 11:27

Plastics May Be Wreaking Havoc on Your Health

How often are we told something is bad for us, yet we continue to keep it in our lives? Sure, a little bit every now and then won’t kill you, but it’s tough to say what is a little and what is a lot. The trouble for most of us comes down to convenience. It’s just easier to live our normal lives, not overthinking consumption habits—until the consequences are impossible to ignore. Take plastic.

A statement published earlier this year by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks identified 14 emerging health and environmental issues. Right near the top of that list was plastic waste. What was the nature of that concern? This was precisely the question raised by the statement, which emphasized the “urgent” need “for a better assessment of hazard and risk” associated with exposure to plastics of different shapes and form.

Plastic is made up almost entirely of hydrocarbon chains, which are an incredibly stable type of molecular bond. In cases where hydrocarbon chains occur naturally, that stability is a necessary component of an organism’s function and generally forms part of a greater ecosystem. Plastics, however, are synthetic, which means they’re no good as a food source for microorganisms (with at least one rare exception), and as we’ve so tragically come to learn, that is a major problem.

On one hand, there’s the obvious issue of what happens to all that accumulated plastic trash. We all know the answer to that one: it turns into giant islands of floating trash, it goes up into poor turtles’ nostrils, and is found in the stomachs of beached whales. In fact, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature’s recent Living Earth 2018 report, 90 percent of the world’s seabirds have plastic in their stomachs, a figure that is expected to rise to 99 percent by 2050.

What is less well known are the implications this holds for human health.

Marauding Microplastics

Over the course of several decades, as plastic is exposed to the elements, it begins to decompose into smaller particles. While this process, known as photooxidation, does not affect plastic on a molecular level, it does eventually break it down to its nanoparticles. If you’re finding that hard to imagine, picture a grocery bag that’s been zapped by a shrink ray: It’s the exact same piece of plastic, only now it’s microscopic.

On the surface, this result may appear to be a good thing. Out of sight, out of mind, right? If only it were that simple. Plastic may actually be at its most threatening once it has broken down to the point it’s invisible to the naked eye because at that point, those little particles can travel a lot faster and further, and into the bodies of animals, including us.

Research conducted by the State University of New York at Fredonia found a significant amount of microplastics in bottled water. To be precise, 10.4 microplastic particles per one liter of water were recorded in a sample of 259 bottles representing 11 major brands across nine countries, including Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestlé Pure Life and San Pellegrino, reflecting twice the amount of plastic found in a previous study using tap water. Researchers suggested the plastic contamination could have partially come from the bottling process.

“That’s fine, I’ll just stick to municipal water,” you say? Think again.

“Substantial amounts of microplastics” were recently found in tap water and rivers throughout South Africa, according to a recent study conducted by scientists from North-West University.

Zoologist Henk Bouwman, a member of the research team, explained that the findings were conclusive, but the implications remain unclear. “There is no consensus yet on any health impacts as the science is still in its infancy,” he told Johannesburg’s Daily Maverick. “It might be benign, and it might not be. There are a whole lot of things we don’t understand at this stage.”

OK, so we may not have clear evidence on the direct health impacts of microplastics, but what about more immediate side effects?

Let’s start with the ocean. A recent study conducted by a team of Chinese scientists discovered a sizable portion of plastic was discovered in the Mariana Trench. Published in the journal Geochemical Perspectives, the findings reported a discovery of up to 2,000 microplastic pieces found in a quarter-gallon of water at the Challenger Deep, the world’s deepest point in the western Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, concluding it may be one of the world’s largest “microplastic sinks.”

For one, there’s the fact that microplastics are foreign particles entering our bodies. Inflammation, for instance, is a response triggered by the immune system to this sort of invasion, writes Rachel Adams, a senior lecturer in biomedical science at Cardiff Metropolitan University, in The Conversation. Another cause for concern is that these microparticles act as carriers for other toxins entering the body. Toxic metals like mercury and organic pollutants like pesticides are just two examples of hazardous materials that could enter the body attached to plastic particles. They can slowly accumulate over time in our fatty tissue.

“We do not currently have clear evidence that plastic microparticles in drinking water have a negative effect on health,” writes Adams. “But given the effects other particles can have, we urgently need to find out more about plastic microparticles in the body.”

Despite this lack of certainty, there’s enough cause for concern that governments have responded to this plastic plight. In recent years, legislation has been passed in Australia, Canada, the European Union and the United States restricting or prohibiting the use of phthalates in certain consumer products. According to a paper published by the Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, these moves respond to the “variety of adverse outcomes” caused by the chemical, “including increased adiposity and insulin resistance” as well as “decreased levels of sex hormones, and other consequences for the human reproductive system.”

While it’s important to understand the health impact of plastic, perhaps a more pressing question is what happens when we tell ourselves that plastic is safe—and continue to produce it in ever greater quantities. According to Statista, a market research firm, global plastic production has grown from 50 to 335 million metric tons over the past four decades. Chances are likely that the ultimate consequence of our plastic consumption will be something far greater, and perhaps direr, than our current scientific understanding is able to predict.

truthdig.com

Published in Environment
Saturday, 31 October 2020 10:48

Tommy Edward as Rod Stewart... Comes to Town

Tommy Edward was a young aspiring musician who sang lead, played the Saxophone, Mandolin and Keyboards in numerous bands... "Sparkplugs", "Lecompt" and "Summertime" to name a few, who like many other musicians was working his way around the touring circuit trying to "make it big"

His bands would cover a few popular Rod Stewart songs and after the shows people would tell him how much they enjoyed it, and how much he looked and even sounded much like Rod.

Everywhere they played it happened over and over.

If people had just quit nagging him about it, Tommy Edward would never have started impersonating Rod Stewart. "People would come up to me and say, 'Well, you sound like Rod Stewart, and you look like Rod Stewart,' But Edward was in his own band and said "I was trying to be my own star, like everybody else was trying to be," also, he personally didn't think he looked that much like Rod and tried to dodge the comparisons.

He grew a goatee. He let his hair grow long and even dyed it jet black at one point. It didn't help. He kept getting compared to Rod Stewart.

Finally, he gave in and focused his show on Rod Steward songs and started promoting himself as "Tommy Edward as Rod Stewart and the Young Turks". That was many years ago....now people have given him the nickname "Sir Rod"

rod2sm

His band would tour the Jersey Shore in the summer: Wildwood, Sea Isle City, Long Beach Island and Atlantic City, since then, he has played Las Vegas: The Aladdin, The Sahara Casino,Merv Griffins Resort and many other show rooms there. 

" We all grew up listening to the Stones, Beatles, Cream, Hendrix. Then there was The Jeff Beck Group featuring Rod Stewart. In Sept 1971 Rod released 'Every Picture Tells a Story' with Maggie May. The album was number 1 & Maggie May was at the top of the charts. I'll never forget how different it sounded then the Three Dig Night or the Temptations. I've been singing that song every day since I was 10 years old!" He told me.

He added, "I discovered Fort Myers a few years ago and fell in love with the area, did shows at the Edison, Coconut Falls, Sunset Grill, all the Moose Lodges and The American Legion"

rod6sm

From Maggie May to Forever Young, Tommy has been a favorite as a Rod Stewart Tribute artist. Still touring regularly from New York to Key West. His voice and deep song repertoire make him a hit every time. He has been entertaining for decades and performed at the Fort Myers Beach Moose Lodge#964 last year for the first time.

He will be appearing there again on Tuesday, November 3rd, the evening of election day in the main lodge from 6 pm to 9 pm for a
members only show which will be free to all Moose Lodge members. He will also be performing on Wednesday the 4th in the Moose Lodge Event Center which is just next door to the Main Lodge. This show is open to the public for only $10 per person!

rod1sm 

(Performing live at the Moose Lodge 964 last year!)

On Wednesday the 4th, the Main Moose Lodge will be open to the public all day, so if you've ever wondered what the Moose was all about and what this particular lodge is like and perhaps wanted to possibly join, this would be a great opportunity for you to check it out! Also, they will be serving dinner starting at 5 pm as they usually do, so you can come in early, have dinner in the main lodge and then mosey over to the Event Center for the show.

So..... What do you have going on after this crazy election is finally over? Come to the Moose and enjoy yourself with a great show!

The Moose Lodge #964 is located at 19090 San Carlos Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931
Seating is limited for the "Open to the Public" show on the 4th so get your tickets early by calling 239-463-2221

 

small smiley face with sunglasses1

Published in Lifestyle

Public Service Announcement

VETERANS CLUB OF AMERICA POST #1
“ The Little Club”
16701 SAN CARLOS BLVD
FORT MYERS, FL 33908
239-466-3177
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MONDAY – NOVEMBER 2, 2020
2:00 PM – 8:00 PM

THE VETERANS CLUB OF AMERICA POST #1 WILL BE
HONORING OUR LOCAL FIRST RESPONDERS ALL DAY WITH FREE MEALS TO ALL ACTIVE AND RETIRED
(with credentials)

FIRST RESPONDERS.
WE WILL OFFER FREE MEALS TO ALL FIRST RESPONDERS AND DELIVER TO THOSE WHO ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND.

$10.00 A MEAL FOR NON-FIRST RESPONDERS
WE WILL HAVE MULTIPLE ENTERTAINERS
THROUGHOUT THE DAY

SILENT AUCTION, BASKET RAFFLES & NEWS MEDIA
INVITATIONS TO OUR LOCAL UNITS ARE BEING HAND
DELIVERED BY THE CHAIRMAN AND THE COMMANDER AND WILL BE ASKED FOR A CHARITY OF THEIR CHOICE TO DONATE THE PROCEEDS TO.

AFTER THE EVENT WE WILL PERSONALLY DELIVER THEM A CONFIRMATION LETTER OF THEIR DONATION.
PLEASE COME JOIN US IN THIS VERY SPECIAL EVENT.

There are no words big enough,
there is not a hug strong enough
and there is not a smile wide enough
to thank these HEROES!!
So, let us all give them a day to remember!!

Published in General/Features

On Friday, Nov. 6, starting at 8 a.m., Town residents will be able to safely and responsibly dispose of household chemical waste (HCW) such as leftover paints, cleaners, herbicides, pesticides, automotive fluids and pool chemicals at Bay Oaks.

Hosted in partnership with Lee County Solid Waste, this no charge collection event will be from 8 a.m. to noon at Bay Oaks Recreation Center, 2731 Oak Street. Drop off is an easy, drive-through process available to all residents.

The Town’s inaugural collection in October 2019 gathered 3,669 pounds of chemicals from 53 residents. The quarterly HCW collection is part of the town’s interlocal agreement with Lee County. This agreement is to provide residents with convenient and responsible disposal of chemicals that might otherwise be harmful to people and the environment.

Businesses that need chemical waste disposal can call 239-533-8000 to schedule an appointment for the monthly business collection held at Lee County’s permanent HCW drop-off location. This location is just off Metro Parkway in south Fort Myers at 6441 Topaz Court.

Additional collection events are also tentatively scheduled in 2021 on February 5, April 30, and August 6. Reminders will be posted on the Town’s website at www.fmbgov.com and social media outlets.

Published in Environment

There has been a lot of banter from both presidential candidates about a potentially rigged or stolen election, and many on both sides of the aisle predict a lengthy legal battle over the presidency.

President Trump has warned that the outcome could be in dispute for “months and months” or “for years” due to mail in ballot fraud.

So instead of dwelling in speculation..... let’s run through the realities of an inconclusive presidential election.

First of all, it’s Congress, not the courts, that certify the results of a presidential election. Each state chooses its electors and those electors’ votes are transmitted by the state elections boss, usually a secretary of state, to the Senate.

On January 6, 2021 a joint session of the next Congress will meet to
ratify the electoral findings and declare the candidate that has won a majority of the vote..... getting 270 votes or more, the president of the United States.

One scenario is that not all the states would have their results by then or, what Trump and Biden have both suggested, is that the results may be rigged or disputed. Now that’s where things could get very interesting.

The courts have their own place in this, but that happens long before Congress gets to act. State elections officials have to certify their electors before the Monday after the second

Wednesday in December, which this year .... is Dec. 14. All of the legal positioning that takes place will have to happen between November 3rd and then.

We all recall the drama around the 2000 election that what was in legal dispute over the power of Florida’s secretary of state to certify the results despite demands from Al Gore’s campaign that recounts continue. The court deferred to state authorities and Florida certified its electors.

Taking into account how long counting has taken in some state primaries this year it’s not unreasonable to think that we could see legal battles until the last minute, but one way or the other, they’re obliged to convene their electors and transmit the results by certified mail by Dec. 14.

So what if some states don’t finish in time or what if secretaries of state certify electors with claims widely in dispute? Then we turn to the Constitution.

If the disputed or incomplete results will not prevent a candidate from reaching 270 votes then it’s no big deal. Congress would ignore what’s missing and still pick a president.

But what if the number of missing or disputed electors is large enough or the election close enough that the absence prevents either candidate from getting to 270? Then the House gets to choose. This would also be the case in a 269-269 tie, the House would select one of the candidates.

Here we have some precedent. In 1877, the results from three states were in dispute in a race close enough to call the final result, in this case, Congress created a bipartisan panel to review the results. The House certified the panel’s findings and awarded the presidency to Rutherford Hayes.

But regardless of how Congress arrives to its conclusion, on Jan. 6 the members will either certify the results or the House will get to work making its choice. In this case, the House acts differently than usual. The delegations from each of the 50 states get only one vote. California and Deleware would be equals.

Currently, Congress is pretty narrowly divided with 25 Republican, majority delegations, 24 Democrat, majority delegations and one tie, Pennsylvania. We don’t know what the next Congress will look like exactly, but we can assume it won’t be wildly different.

There are currently four states with caucus control decided by one seat: Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Michigan. One imagines there would be a great deal of deal making in such places. And it would be heated, indeed.

But whatever happens, the House will pick a president before noon on Jan. 20 when the current president’s term expires.

Our Founders, who created our Constitution contemplated the possibility of contested elections and on three separate occasions, it has been our Constitution that has been applied, leaving

Congress to resolve such disputes. If we end up screwing up this election beyond repair or if the participants try to wreck the republic in order to keep or obtain power, it won’t be the end of us.

Instead, it could be a historical lesson in civics and politics for us all.

sm no smile face with sunglasses

 

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 27 October 2020 07:39

The Final Stretch

 

               

This week, Americans will have their final chance before the election to listen to the presidential candidates present their competing visions for the country.

               

Based on the debate's announced topics -- COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership -- the differences should be clear.

               

Fighting COVID-19 provides President Donald Trump the opportunity to point out that former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden's administration left us with little capacity to deal with a pandemic. While Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were calling Trump racist, he closed down travel from China, which clearly saved American lives. While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was sending nursing-home residents infected with SARS-CoV-2 back to infect other family members, Trump was sending a ship to New York to reduce the burden on hospitals and rallying American companies to supply the needed surge in personal protective equipment and medical supplies. The sad reality is that people die in a pandemic. But Trump's early action clearly saved lives. The vaccine is on its way, and the economic damage done through good intentions must be negated by an active, robust economy going forward.

               

American families will be better off under a Trump administration. A Stanford University study released this week revealed that the policy that would be implemented if Biden and Kamala Harris are elected would result in a $6,500 drop in median household income, with 4.9 million fewer jobs. Their plan is so egregious that rapper-actor 50 Cent has endorsed Trump. He understands that a vote for Biden-Harris is a vote for a 62% tax rate in New York.

               

Trump's focus on law and order is also better for families. To build a prosperous family, you must be able to work, shop for groceries and get gas without being afraid that you will be a victim of violence. Rioters who destroy businesses hurt entrepreneurs and the ability of workers to provide for their families.

               

While his detractors label him as racist, Trump has delivered real results for blacks, just as he has for all Americans. Trump signed the First Step Act, funded historically black colleges and universities, and created Opportunity Zones. The historic growth in jobs that occurred under Trump's administration fueled a sharp increase in minority employment. While Biden is focused on pitting racial groups against one another, Trump is focused on providing opportunity for all, regardless of race.

               

Under Trump's leadership this year, the Great Outdoors Act was signed into law, an accomplishment that none of the last five presidents had been able to achieve. It provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A Biden-Harris administration would pass the Green New Deal, which is job-killing legislation. The Democrats base this on a false choice that we can have either a good economy or a better environment. Trump understands that American ingenuity -- through innovation and tax incentives -- will allow both to happen.

               

National security is a topic where Trump stands ahead of Biden. He puts America and Americans first, negotiating with other countries to get the best deal for the American people. This stands in stark contrast with the Obama-Biden administration, which started off with an apology tour and was consistent in blaming America first.

               

As for leadership, while others will focus on Trump's tweets, comments and personal abrasiveness, the contrast is unmistakable. While Biden-Harris might appear to have good motives, their policies are inadequate, ill-conceived and mistaken. Based on the Stanford report, their policies would result in a greatly reduced America. Biden has been leading for 47 years; he has had his chance -- and he has failed.

               

Trump's leadership has yielded real results. A Gallup poll last week noted that 56% of Americans said they were better off today than they were four years ago. While the news media focuses on divisiveness, Americans understand that shared values hold us together as a nation; that freedom allows us as individuals to make our own choices; that we have the right to speak freely about our beliefs and the right to vote for the person we believe will be best for our country.

               

The choice is between Trump, who has confidence in the American people and the foundation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and Biden, who believes we will be better off if we cede more control to the government.

               

Trump understands that confidence is contagious. America is not perfect, but it's the safest, freest, most prosperous nation in the world. Immigrants rush to come into our country, not because we are an evil place with systemic problems but because we believe people have the right to chase their dreams as they see fit, in an environment based on the rule of law, freedom, liberty and a respect for individuals.

JACKIE CUSHMAN

Published in Business

 

               

"Public broadcasting" is a comical phrase. Its audience is not the public. It is the left. PBS and NPR don't care one iota what everyone else thinks ... even if everyone else pays a chunk of their budget through taxes.

               

On the morning before the last presidential debate, Kelly McBride, NPR's "public editor" -- the person who is supposed to bring outside perspectives from the public into the NPR bubble -- tweeted, "Why haven't you seen any stories from NPR about the NY Post's Hunter Biden story?" Below a link to her newsletter was a quote in bold type from Terence Samuel, NPR's managing editor for news: "We don't want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don't want to waste the listeners' and readers' time on stories that are just pure distractions."

               

In McBride's newsletter, Samuel added: "And quite frankly, that's where we ended up, this was ... a politically driven event and we decided to treat it that way."

               

This is beyond sick coming from NPR. Nina Totenberg made Anita Hill a legend with sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas that were never proven. It was the very definition of a "politically driven event," a story leaked to Totenberg by Senate Democrats to sabotage the Thomas nomination. No one at NPR said that was an unvetted waste of time, a "pure distraction."

               

Every allegation of sexual assault made against Brett Kavanaugh was a "politically driven event," and Christine Blasey Ford, the most acclaimed accuser, couldn't even define a time or a place to her supposed meeting with Kavanaugh. This is why NPR's declarations about "pure distractions" look extremely partisan.

               

The essence of McBride's argument is simply, "Consider the source." If it came from a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper and two supporters of President Donald Trump, then it has to be garbage. "Intelligence officials warn that Russia has been working overtime to keep the story of Hunter Biden in the spotlight. Even if Russia can't be positively connected to this information, the story of how Trump associates Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani came into a copy of this computer hard drive has not been verified and seems suspect."

               

They put NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik on the case -- a man who routinely rains fire on Fox News and who wrote an entire book ripping into Rupert Murdoch. This was a promotional blurb for his book from Booklist: "One cannot, even facetiously, describe this account ... as 'fair and balanced.' It is neither." Folkenflik said the New York Post story was "suspect" and the main reporter worked for Sean Hannity. He scorned it as "speculative partisan advocacy. "

               

When she became NPR's "public editor" in April, McBride promised, "As I watch NPR, I promise to do so through the eyes of you, the audience -- the core audience, and also those of you dipping your toes in around the edges of NPR." She asked how NPR could broaden its audience. "Although I'm the advocate for the audience that NPR has right now, I'll be mindful of NPR's mission to broaden it. Through encouragement and accountability, I hope to hold the door open for new and diverse communities to connect with public radio."

               

That's obviously baloney. NPR is catering every day to its "core audience" of left-wing partisans, and its dismissal of any kind of Biden family scandal reeks of a disdain for "(holding) the door open" to all the taxpayers who pay some of NPR's bills. Just like Folkenflik's book, it's easy to proclaim that one cannot, even facetiously, describe NPR as fair and balanced. It is neither.

               

Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. 

Published in General/Features

In the world’s largest seagrass restoration project, scientists have observed an ecosystem from birth to full flowering.

As part of a 20-plus-years project, researchers and volunteers spread more than 70 million eelgrass seeds over plots covering more than 200 hectares, just beyond the wide expanses of salt marsh off the southern end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Long-term monitoring of the restored seagrass beds reveals a remarkably hardy ecosystem that is trapping carbon and nitrogen that would otherwise contribute to global warming and pollution, the team reports October 7 in Science Advances. That success provides a glimmer of hope for the climate and for ecosystems, the researchers say.

The project, led by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and The Nature Conservancy, has now grown to cover 3,612 hectares — and counting — in new seagrass beds. By comparison, the largest such project in Australia aims to restore 10 hectares of seagrass.

The results are “a game changer,” says Carlos Duarte. “It’s an exemplar of how nature-based solutions can help mitigate climate change,” he says. The marine ecologist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia is a leader in recognizing the carbon-storing capacity of mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses.

The team in Virginia started with a blank slate, says Robert Orth, a marine biologist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point. The seagrass in these inshore lagoons had been wiped out by disease and a hurricane in the early 1930s, but the water was still clear enough to transmit the sunlight plants require.

Within the first 10 years of restoration, Orth and colleagues witnessed an ecosystem rebounding rapidly across almost every indicator of ecosystem health — seagrass coverage, water quality, carbon and nitrogen storage, and invertebrate and fish biomass (SN: 2/16/17).

For instance, the team monitored how much carbon and nitrogen the meadows were capturing from the environment and storing in the sediment as seagrass coverage expanded.

It found that meadows in place for nine or more years stored, on average, 1.3 times more carbon and 2.2 times more nitrogen than younger plots, suggesting that storage capacity increases as meadows mature. Within 20 years, the restored plots were accumulating carbon and nitrogen at rates similar to what natural, undisturbed seagrass beds in the same location would have stored. The restored seagrass beds are now sequestering on average about 3,000 metric tons of carbon per year and more than 600 metric tons of nitrogen, the researchers report.

Seagrasses can take a hit. When a sudden marine heat wave killed off a portion of the seagrass, it took just three years for the meadow to fully recover its plant density. “It surprised us how resilient these seagrass meadows were,” says Karen McGlathery, a coastal ecologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

She believes the team’s work is more than just a great case study in restoration. It “offers a blueprint for restoring and maintaining healthy seagrass ecosystems” that others can adapt elsewhere in the world, she says.

Seagrasses are among the world’s most valuable and most threatened ecosystems, and are important globally as reservoirs of what’s known as blue carbon, the carbon stored in ocean and coastal ecosystems. Seagrasses store more carbon, for far longer, than any other land or ocean habitat, preventing it from escaping to the atmosphere as heat-trapping carbon dioxide. These underwater prairies also support near-shore and offshore fisheries, and protect coastlines as well as other marine habitats. Despite their importance, seagrasses have declined globally by some 30 percent since 1879, according to an Aug. 14 study in Frontiers in Marine Science.

“The study helps fill some large gaps in our understanding of how blue carbon can contribute to climate restoration,” says McGlathery. “It’s the first to put a number on how much carbon restored meadows take out of the atmosphere and store,” for decades and potentially for centuries.

The restoration is far from finished. But already, it may point the way for struggling ecosystems such as Florida’s Biscayne Bay, once rich in seagrass but now suffering from water quality degradation and widespread fish kills. Once the water is cleaned up, says Orth, “our work suggests that seagrasses can recover rapidly” (SN: 3/5/18).

McGlathery also believes the scale of the team’s success should be uplifting for coastal communities. “In my first years here, there was no seagrass and there hadn’t been for decades. Today, as far as I can swim, I see lush meadows, rays, the occasional seahorse. It’s beautiful.”

Joseph Polidoro
ScienceNews

Published in Environment
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