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Items filtered by date: August 2020
Saturday, 19 September 2020 12:59

Are the Forever Wars Really Ending?

"There is no... sound reason for the United States to continue sacrificing precious lives and treasure in a conflict not directly connected to our safety or other vital national interests." 

So said William Ruger about Afghanistan, our longest war.

What makes this statement significant is that President Donald Trump has ordered a drawdown by mid-October of half of the 8,600 troops still in the country. And Ruger was just named U.S. ambassador to Kabul.

The selection of Ruger to oversee the U.S. withdrawal came as Gen. Frank McKenzie of Central Command announced plans to cut the U.S. troop presence in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 by the end of September.

Is America, at long last, really coming home from the forever wars?

A foreign policy analyst at the libertarian Charles Koch Institute and a Naval officer decorated for his service in Afghanistan, Ruger has long championed a noninterventionist foreign policy.

His nomination tends to confirm that, should Trump win a second term, his often-declared goal of extracting America from the forever wars of the Middle East, unachieved in his first term, would become a priority.

Yet, we have been here before, bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, only to send thousands back when our enemies seemed to be gaining the upper hand at the expense of the allies we left behind.

Still, this time, Trump's withdrawals look to be irreversible. And with the U.S. deal with the Taliban producing peace negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban, America seems to be saying to both sides of this endless civil war:

The destiny of Afghanistan is yours. The choice of war or peace is up to you. If talks collapse and a fight to the finish ensues, we Americans are not coming back, even to prevent a Taliban victory.

Speaking in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Trump made a remarkable declaration:

"We don't have to be in the Middle East, other than we want to protect Israel. ... There was a time we needed desperately oil, we don't need that anymore." If Trump means what he says, U.S. forces will be out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan early in his second term.

But how to explain the continued presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Diego Garcia?

Another indication of where a Trump second term is pointing is the naming of retired Col. Douglas Macgregor as ambassador to Germany.

The winner of a Bronze Star for valor in the 1991 Gulf War, Macgregor speaks German and is steeped in that country's history. He has been highly visible on cable TV, calling for the transfer to our allies of the primary responsibility for their own defenses, and elevating the security of America's Southern border to a far higher national imperative.

In 2019, Macgregor was quoted: "The only solution is martial law on the border, putting the United States Army in charge of it and closing it off would take about 30, 40,000 troops. We're talking about the regular army. You need robust rules of engagement. That means that you can shoot people as required if your life is in danger."

That Macgregor's priorities may be Trump's also became evident with the president's announcement this summer of the withdrawal of 12,000 of the 35,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany.

Yet, at the same time, there is seemingly contradictory evidence to the notion that Donald Trump wants our troops home. Currently, some 2,800 U.S., British, and French troops are conducting "Noble Partner" exercises with Georgian troops in that country in the Caucasus bordering Russia.

In Trump's first term, his commitment to extricate America from the forever wars went unrealized, due in part to the resistance of hawks Trump himself appointed to carry out his foreign policy agenda.

Clearly, with the cuts in troops in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the appointments of Ruger and Macgregor, Trump has signaled a new resolve to reconfigure U.S. foreign policy in an "America First" direction, if he wins a second term. Will he follow through?

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has been in an extended argument with itself over America's role, America's mission in the world.

George H. W. Bush's New World Order is ancient history, as are the democracy crusades his son George W. Bush was persuaded to launch.

But what will Trump's foreign policy legacy be, should he win?

Joe Biden has signaled where he is headed -- straight back to Barack Obama:

"First thing I'm going to have to do, and I'm not joking: if elected I'm going to have to get on the phone with the heads of state and say America's back," Biden said, saying NATO has been "worried as hell about our failure to confront Russia."

Trump came to office pledging to establish a new relationship with the Kremlin of President Vladimir Putin.

Is that still his goal, or have the Beltway Russophobes prevailed?

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Patrick J.
Buchanan

Published in General/Features

 

 

 

Most expected President Donald Trump on Tuesday to tout his record in allocating the full federal $200 million annual commitment to the 40-year, $10.5 billion Everglades restoration plan for only the second time since Congress approved it in 2000.

Instead, during a campaign stop in Jupiter, Trump addressed another issue on Floridians’ minds: fears he planned to lift the moratorium on Gulf of Mexico oil drilling in June 2022 if he was re-elected.

That won’t happen, Trump pledged, signing an executive order extending the drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico through 2032 and expanding the ban to new offshore drilling to sites off the Florida’s Atlantic coast, as well as to waters off Georgia and South Carolina.

“Who would have thought, ‘Trump is the great environmentalist?’ ” the president said. “You hear that? That’s good, and I am. I am. I believe strongly in it.”

The Trump administration reportedly was poised to lift a federal moratorium on Gulf drilling – despite bipartisan opposition from Florida’s congressional delegation and state lawmakers – and offer leases after November’s election within the state’s newly created 800-square-mile Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve.

Fear not, Trump said, citing a memo from Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt that said the region has been withdrawn from consideration through June 2032.

“My administration’s proving every day that we can improve our environment while creating millions of high-paying jobs,” Trump said, claiming Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s environmental plans would “destroy America’s middle class while giving a free pass to the world’s worst foreign polluters.

“To our political opponents,” he said, “environmental policy is just an excuse to impose a socialist platform that will impose trillions and trillions of dollars in taxes and send our jobs overseas, making it impossible to open up new companies and to live less expensively. (Democrats) talk a big game, and they do nothing.”

Trump said he consulted with Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott in crafting the 10-year drilling moratorium extension.

“As Gov. I fought for & secured a commitment from this Administration to keep drilling off FL’s coasts,” Scott tweeted shortly after Trump’s announcement. “After many conversations with [Trump] on the importance of keeping FL’s coastlines pristine, I’m glad he’s extending the moratorium for another 10 yrs. Big win for FL!”

“Drilling off the shores of Florida is a non-starter – not worth the risk of endangering our environment, fishing, boating or tourism,” U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Melbourne, said in a statement.

“President Trump’s plan to extend the moratorium is the right one, and it proves that our voices are being heard. We must never tolerate drilling near our beautiful coastline!”

A Quinnipiac University Poll in March 2019 found 64 percent of Florida voters opposed drilling off state waters, with 29 percent supporting it. All political, gender, education, age and racial groups were opposed to offshore drilling – except Florida Republicans, who supported offshore drilling, 54 percent to 38 percent.

Trump announced in December he would boost his Everglades funding request by more than $130 million from the $63 million he first sought, marking only the second time in 20 years the federal government fulfilled its annual $200 million commitment to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) that was adopted by Congress in 2000.

The boost in federal funding dovetails with DeSantis’ four-year, $2.5 billion state-funded Everglades restoration plan. The first two years have been approved by lawmakers, including more than $625 million in this year’s spending plan.

A key component within CERP and DeSantis’ plans is underway, with the 10,100-acre, $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir project breaking ground this year.

John Haughey
The Center Square

Published in Environment
Friday, 18 September 2020 22:37

Searching for Reuben

I moved to SW Florida over 25 years ago from New England, in my youth I worked at a NY Style Deli in Boston, just around the corner from Fenway park... the Kenmore Deli, where I learned among many other things, about Bratwurst, Hot Pastrami and The Reuben Sandwich, growing up in an Italian family, I had never tried these items prior to that job, I really liked the pastrami, the Bratwurst....not so much... but the Reuben..... I was in love.

This sandwich when prepared correctly gives the utmost pleasure to the senses and taste buds.

It has been one of the things that has been very difficult to find here in Florida, oh don't get me wrong, many local eateries offer the sandwich but a great one is hard to find. I'm sure I'll get all kinds of emails telling me of great places that serve them but although I have tried Reubens all over the place and have had some good ones....

I finally found one I ­­can call Great!

Now I could be telling you about how wonderful the atmosphere was,

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right on the water with breathtaking views or about how good their Honey dipped, Bacon wrapped Shrimp

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or the Harbor Mussels apps are and believe me... they are wonderful, but I'm here to talk about the Reuben!

Served on a marbled rye bread with thinly sliced Corned Beef, that was juicy and tender with just the right amount of Thousand Island Dressing, (too much and the sandwich is a mess, too little and it doesn't taste right) and also the right amount of sauerkraut (this is important: sauerkraut should be drained but not dry, again too much on the sandwich is bad, too little also bad .... this was perfect) and topped off with Swiss Cheese, grilled on a flat grill to perfection but not soaked oil/butter, this Reuben seemed to be grilled without any oil or butter.... nice! And it was also served with fresh cooked homemade potato chips, the combination was great.

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Some of my friends have called me a Reuben snob! Hey, what can I say, I worked at that deli for years and made my own Reubens so I got pretty picky about how it is supposed to be.

I enjoyed it so much I came back the next day to see if it was a fluke or they have it down.... once again.... it was great!

So I made you wait till the end of the article to find out where this great Reuben is to be found!!! At Snug Harbor located on the back bay at 645 Old San Carlos Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, Fl 33931.

For a limited time..... Mention the Sun Bay Paper and get your second Drink FREE... only one per person and not available with any other specials or
offers.

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Published in Business

            Whether you're a golf genius, a passionate putter or just love arguing with competitive siblings - Tiger Woods has got just the thing for you.

            While juggling his preparation for the US Open next week, the legendary golfer has revealed his plans to open up a state-of-the-art crazy golf course.

            Woods, who already owns a portion of PopStroke in Port Saint Lucie, hoped to add a second mini course to the highly-rated facility later this year.and dispite Covid -19 ... the course opened on schedule last week at 5531 Six Mile Commercial Ct, Fort Myers, FL 33912

            The 44-year-old has been working behind the scenes on a design for the 36-hole course

            But Woods' plans aren't just any old plans - this is the 15-time major champion we're talking about here.

            It's understood the future World Golf Hall of Famer wants his extravagant course to include bunkers, fairways and roughs.

Crazy, right?

                        Oh, and on top of that he plans on having the entire course made out of synthetic grass.

            "As a partner in PopStroke, I am excited to use golf and specifically putting to bring families and friends together," Woods said.

            "From competitive putting tournaments to kids playing on the playground, PopStroke really does offer something for all ages.

            "Keeping families, kids and skilled putters in mind while building the two putting courses was a fun challenge for myself and my TGR Design team.

            "I am proud to be an owner and partner of PopStroke."

            The beautiful facilities also feature dining and drinking areas as well as places for children to play.

            The Fort Myers facility features two putting courses. The Cub is more geared toward beginners and the Tiger is more challenging. Golfers can keep their score with an app that also includes the ability to order food and drinks from the on-site restaurant and have them delivered to them on the course.

            PopStroke also will have at least two more facilities on Florida's Gulf Coast. One is slated for North Naples, at a soon-to-be-finalized location, and another in Sarasota in the next year.

Published in Outdoor
Friday, 18 September 2020 10:04

FMB... Town Council report

 

 

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council met at 5:01 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, regular meeting as well as the first hearing on the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. 

The meeting began with public comment from two gentlemen and a report from Ellyn Bogdanoff, a security risk assessor hired by the Lani Kai Hotel.

One of the gentlemen who spoke was Len Lemmer, owner of Nervous Nellie’s Restaurant. He requested that the Town allow him to lease a small piece of Bayside Park to accommodate the restaurant’s hostess station and propane heaters. He also requested to continue to be part of the conversations about the Bayside Park redesign.

The second gentleman was 40 year resident, John Heim, involved with South West Florida Clean Water Movement, he brought attention to past administrations having approved signage on the beach and some accesses do have signs and some still do not... with QR codes and the ones that do have the codes, when you use the QR codes where they is signage, the link does not work, and wondering why it has never worked and when it can work, as taxpayers are paying for it!

Then he spoke about testing the water quality of the back bay under previous Natural Resource Director Ray Blake, whose job was to test the waters, and the job was about being transparent and giving this information to the general public about what was in the water, when it came to her findings, that information was never relinquished .... at all! And when recently ask to ex mayor Cereceda, she said the records never existed, as if the tests were never taken ...again this is taxpayers money....this was a budget item.... Posing the question "are we still paying for water testing, are we still conducting water testing and where is the information after four years now."

Next he spoke of the city allowing runoff from the construction to go into the back bay bringing attention to the fact that the Estero Aquatic Preserve was the first protected body of water in the state of Florida and here we are allowing this construction company to build coverts and pump their chemicals and who knows what else right down to peoples canals and making these canals extremely dangerous and he reminded the council that the canals have never been dredged in history, closing with a request that the council give consideration to these items he spoke about and requested the council dredge the canals and treat them like a roadway.

Ellyn Bogdanoff came to this meeting to report on the data analysis that she completed to investigate concerns of residents and Town Councilors about the amount of law enforcement actions at the Lani Kai. Bogdanoff said that about 75% of the sheriff’s actions at the Lani Kai are not serious. Town Councilors questioned this analysis at length... very much so. She also said that she has identified training for security staff and controlling property access as two areas of improvement to be implemented at the Lani Kai.

She spoke for about 40 minutes answering every question, over and over and over again, so much so that the mayor commented several times that the questions have been already answered and we are repeating ourselves.

During the first budget hearing that was part of this meeting, the recommended tax millage rate of .95 for Fiscal Year 2021 - same rate as this fiscal year - was proposed for adoption at the second budget hearing. This rate provides the revenue to continue current levels of service and repay the loan to improve Times Square, Bay Oaks Recreational Campus, and Bayside Park.

The second budget hearing was set for 5:01 p.m. on September 21, 2020.

In other business, the Town Manager asked for approval for street performers to start back within the next few weeks, which was granted. Street performers must apply for a permit and be approved. The form and more information can be found on the Town’s website, as well as a link to the video from the entire meeting.

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Published in Business

 

 

 

Florida does not have the luxury to engage in ideological debates over climate change when it comes to rising sea levels, according to the incoming state Senate president and speaker of the House.

“With 1,350 miles of coastline, relatively low elevations, and communities built largely on top of
former swampland, Florida remains particularly
vulnerable to the risk of flooding caused by sea level rise,” Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Spring Hill, and Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, wrote in a Florida Politics op-ed. “Over the last several years, we have seen that risk grow exponentially.”

At risk: $300 billion in taxable property value in seaside communities projected to be underwater by century’s end.

“Over 20 percent of (Florida) homes, the largest single investment for most families, have a greater than one-in-four chance of flooding over a 30-year mortgage. Unless we take steps to curb this risk, those numbers will likely grow,” Simpson and Sprowls wrote.

Florida lawmakers reviewed several bills related to rising sea levels during the 2020 legislative session.

Adopted unanimously by both chambers, Senate Bill 178 prohibits local governments and the state from building a coastal structure without a sea level impact projection (SLIP) study approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and funded by the new Florida Resilient Coastline Initiative (FRCI).

A bill adopted by the Senate to create a Florida Office of Resiliency and a nine-member sea level task force, however, failed to gain traction in the House.

The 2021 Legislature’s GOP leaders said lawmakers will continue to develop sea-level mitigation strategies in the upcoming session.

“Unlike the overpriced and entirely unrealistic ‘Green New Deal,’ Florida remains focused on finding solutions that actually work,” Simpson and Sprowls wrote, noting the FRCI is among “solutions that actually work,” with $2.1 million in grants already issued to 30 coastal communities in 17 counties.

Simpson and Sprowls outlined three policy goals.

“First, we want to elevate flood mitigation as a critical part of Florida’s public safety infrastructure,” they wrote. “We should approach these projects systematically by assessing long-term needs, making sound engineering decisions and being fiscally disciplined in when, where and how we spend taxpayer dollars.”

Coordinating with federal agencies is vital, Simpson and Sprowls said, noting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development have “made significant funding available for resilience in the context of rebuilding hurricane-impacted areas.”

Most notable is the Corps’ proposed $4.6 billion plan to build 6 miles of 6-to-13-foot “flood walls” in south Florida, including within Biscayne Bay.

“These are great first steps toward an enhanced federal-state partnership; however, given the size and importance of our state, Florida should be receiving a greater proportion of existing funds allocated for flooding prevention,” Simpson and Sprowls wrote.
“Third,” Simpson and Sprowls concluded, “we want to address the disparate local impacts of this statewide challenge. Tampa Bay, for instance, is one of the areas at greatest risk for storm surge. Not only in the state, but in the nation.”

Ultimately, not all imperiled areas can be rescued from eventual inundation and some won’t be capable of committing the local resources to do so.

“While state government must take a leading role in this fight, we are not going to simply subsidize high-risk communities,” Simpson and Sprowls wrote. “In this area, as in many other policy areas, we believe in helping those who are willing to help themselves.”

John Haughey
The Center Square

Published in Outdoor

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