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Sunday, 25 October 2020 18:47

Pumpkins : Timely Info


Pumpkins are a variety of winter squash like butternut or acorn squash and are a good source of vitamins. Winter squash are left on the vine until they are mature and have a hard rind, and then they are baked for eating. Summer squash are picked off the vine while still green and have a soft rind and can be eaten raw or cooked. They do not store well and are eaten fresh.

Pumpkins can be stored at low humidity at 50 to 55 degrees F until next spring. For best storage, they should have a 3- or 4-inch piece of stem and should not have been exposed to a frost.

They should be cured properly before storage. Cure the pumpkins at a temperature of 80 to 85 F (27 to 29 degrees C) and at a relative humidity of 80% to 85% for about 10 days. Curing helps to harden their skins and heal any cuts and scratches. Immature fruit that are not fully orange and don't have a hard skin should be used quickly, as they don't store well.

A light frost this fall will kill the vines but not harm the fruit. A hard frost will damage the pumpkins, so harvest them before then. Don't store them outdoors, where a frost will damage them. Frost-damaged pumpkins are often fine for jack-o'-lanterns but not for storing all winter.

Cut the pumpkins off the vine with a pruner or knife. Leave at least a 3-inch handle, but don't carry the pumpkins by the handle. Fruits with handles last longer in storage. Be careful to not cut or bruise the fruit, as that is an infection point for bacteria and fungi.

Store the pumpkins in a spot where they won't touch one another. Don't stack them. All contact points are potential problem areas for infections. Don't store them with ripening fruit, such as apples, that release ethylene gas, which shortens the storage time. Good air circulation helps prevent mold. Throw away pumpkins as soon as you see any signs of decay.

If you want to have a decorated pumpkin but also save it for later eating, you can use tempera paint or markers to make your designs on the outside without cutting it open.

You can save the seeds for planting next year. The only problem is that they may be hybrids that won't give you the same kind of pumpkins next year. If the package was labeled as an heirloom, you will get crops next year that match this year's crop, provided there were no other pumpkin varieties nearby that could have cross-pollinated your plants to produce the seeds you have now.

For a real, fresh pumpkin taste in pies and pumpkin bread, don't use canned pumpkin. Do this instead: First, peel the rind to remove it, and then boil the flesh until soft. Drain the pot, and mash the pumpkin until it is soft. It can then be frozen. It will last for months. If you use fresh pumpkin in a recipe for pumpkin bread or pie, you will taste the difference and not want to go back to the canned stuff.

Small pumpkins can be eaten as a vegetable -- steamed, boiled, or battered and fried. They can also be sliced and eaten raw with dip as an appetizer.

Jeff Rugg

Justice Samuel Alito had a straightforward question, but the lawyer arguing on behalf of the petitioners in Obergefell v. Hodges did not have a coherent answer.

Her central argument in the case: The 14th Amendment's command that the states shall not "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" protected a "right" for people of the same sex to marry each other.
Alito did not buy it.

"Suppose we rule in your favor in this case and then after that, a group consisting of two men and two women apply for a marriage license," Alito said.

"Would there be any ground for denying them a license?" he asked.

"I believe so, Your Honor," said the lawyer.

"What would be the reason?" Alito asked.

"There'd be two," she said. "One is whether the state would even say that that is such a thing as a marriage, but then beyond that, there are definitely going to be concerns about coercion and consent and disrupting family relationships when you start talking about multiple persons."

To this, Justice Antonin Scalia responded succinctly, "Well, I didn't understand your answer."

The court ended up ruling 5-to-4 that the 14th Amendment did create a right to same-sex marriage. The dissenters included Scalia, Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts.

In a dissent joined by Thomas, Scalia explained why the 14th Amendment did not create a right to same-sex marriage.

"When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every state limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so," Scalia wrote.
"That resolves these cases," he said.

Scalia was right.

Nonetheless, he was on the losing side in Obergefell because Justice Anthony Kennedy, who President Ronald Reagan nominated in 1987, joined with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in ruling that the 14th Amendment did protect a right for two people of the same sex to marry.

Kennedy, in fact, wrote the majority opinion. It was a study in incoherence.

"It cannot be denied that this court's cases describing a right to marry presumed a relationship involving opposite-sex partners," Kennedy conceded.

"In defining the right to marry these cases have identified essential attributes of that right based on history, tradition, and other constitutional liberties inherent in this intimate bond," Kennedy said.

"This analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry," he concluded.
In explaining his pro-same-sex marriage conclusion, Kennedy went on to say that one "basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childbearing, procreation, and education."

In a dissent joined by Scalia, Thomas pointed directly to the threat the court's decision posed to religious liberty.

"In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well," wrote Thomas. "Today's decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples."

"Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process -- as the Constitution requires -- the people could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process," wrote Thomas.

"Instead," he said, "the majority's decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty."

Alito agreed. Today's decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage," he wrote in an opinion joined by Scalia and Thomas. "It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy."

This week, the Supreme Court declined to take up Davis v. Ermold. Lawyers representing Kim Davis, a former county clerk in Kentucky, explained this case in their petition to the court.

"Respondents claim that Davis violated their right to marry when she raised a conscientious objection, according to her deeply held religious beliefs, to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples under her name and authority," it said. "In the context of this case, however, and under well-established precedent, Davis is entitled to qualified immunity from respondents' claims against her in her individual capacity."

Davis' conscientious objection did not prevent same-sex couples from getting licenses in Kentucky. "Kentucky law," the petition noted, "allows applicants to seek a Kentucky marriage license, which is effective throughout the state, in any county."

Alito joined Thomas in issuing a statement, indicating their agreement in the decision not to hear the Davis case -- but challenging the precedent of Obergefell.

"This petition implicates important questions about the scope of our decision in Obergefell, but it does not cleanly present them," wrote Thomas.

"As a result of this court's alteration of the Constitution, Davis found herself faced with a choice between her religious beliefs and her job," he said.


sm no smile face with sunglasses

Sunday, 25 October 2020 10:54

Fatherless Households: A National Crisis

In a recent television appearance, I discussed my appointment to a presidential commission called "The Social Status of Black Men and Black Boys." I called fatherless households America's top domestic problem, a particularly severe phenomenon in the Black community where nearly 70% of kids begin their lives in households with unmarried mothers.

I then received the following letter:

"Dear Mr. Elder:

"I saw your interview today. ... I wanted to share some information about this.

"In the summer of 1969, I was a first-year obstetrics and gynecology resident at a hospital in New Orleans. I do not know if you are familiar with Charity Hospital. Unfortunately, it was closed by Hurricane Katrina. Up until then, it was nicknamed 'Big Mother' because most Black people in New Orleans were born there.

"As a first-year obstetrical resident, I delivered 150 babies in three months. Only one of the mothers was married. Most of these girls were 11 years old. (Most people do not believe me when I tell them that and -- unfortunately -- I do not have written statistics to prove it.) Obviously, there was no way 11-year-olds could serve as parents to these babies. Grandparents tried to do the best they could, but they were often too busy working to provide for the extended family. These little girls quickly learned (and/or taught each other) that having babies brought checks from the Aid to Dependent Children Program in the state of Louisiana. They learned that if they needed more money, they simply had to bear another child. The problem with the ADC Program was that these young mothers were denied the check if the father of the child lived with them. This never made any sense to me. Still, that was the rule.

"A public health physician at Tulane Medical School, Dr. Joseph Beasely, recognized the problem and tried to do something about it. He worked out an arrangement with the heads of OB-GYN Departments at Tulane and LSU Medical Schools to set up a free clinic. We residents manned the clinic. We did free examinations, free sexual counseling (many of these mothers did not know where these babies came from), prescribed birth control pills, inserted IUD's, etc. The program proved to be a huge success. Unfortunately, a group of Black ministers shut us down after six weeks claiming we were committing 'genocide.'

"I do not know if you find this information useful, but I thought it addressed an aspect of what you were talking about. If you would like to discuss these matters in greater detail, please feel free to contact me."

This problem is not confined to the Black community. In 2006, the Manhattan Institute published a piece in their quarterly magazine, City Journal, by Heather Mac Donald called "Hispanic Family Values? Runaway Illegitimacy is Creating a New U.S. Underclass." She wrote: "Hispanic women have the highest unmarried birthrate in the country -- over three times that of whites and Asians, and nearly one and a half times that of Black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Every 1,000 unmarried Hispanic women bore 92 children in 2003 (the latest year for which data exist), compared with 28 children for every 1,000 unmarried white women, 22 for every 1,000 unmarried Asian women, and 66 for every 1,000 unmarried Black women. Forty-five percent of all Hispanic births occur outside of marriage, compared with 24 percent of white births and 15 percent of Asian births. Only the percentage of Black out-of-wedlock births -- 68 percent -- exceeds the Hispanic rate. But the Black population is not going to triple over the next few decades."

The problem, Mac Donald wrote, is worse among some subgroups: "The rate of childbirth for Mexican teenagers, who come from by far the largest and fastest-growing immigrant population, greatly outstrips every other group. The Mexican teen birthrate is 93 births per every 1,000 girls, compared with 27 births for every 1,000 white girls, 17 births for every 1,000 Asian girls, and 65 births for every 1,000 Black girls. To put these numbers into international perspective, Japan's teen birthrate is 3.9, Italy's is 6.9, and France's is 10. Even though the outsize U.S. teen birthrate is dropping, it continues to inflict unnecessary costs on the country, to which Hispanics contribute disproportionately."

In 1965, the percentage of Blacks born out of wedlock was 25%, a number considered so alarming that it prompted then-Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write his controversial report: "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." Today, the percentage of white children born out of wedlock is 28%.

If protesters are truly concerned about the condition of Black and Hispanic urban Americans in particular, why the pathetic silence over the fatherless households, the principal reason for the very conditions they complain about?

Larry Elder

Larry Elder

Sunday, 25 October 2020 10:33


Two recent reports detail how much Joe Biden's tax plans will cost taxpayers if he is elected president. The Center Square reported that the National Tax Limitation Committee and National Tax Limitation Foundation concluded Biden's plans would cost nearly $4 trillion in increased taxes over the next 10 years, which “would be the highest in American history – indeed, in world history.” A separate analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation found that Biden’s tax plan would reduce the economy’s size by 1.47 percent, reduce wages by a little over 1 percent, and result in 518,000 full-time job losses.

A separate report, authored by the nonprofit Employment Policies Institute, found that implementation of a nationwide $15 minimum wage would result in the loss of more than 2 million jobs. In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act that, if enacted, would create an incremental schedule to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027. The bill also would increase the federal tipped wage incrementally to reach $12.60 by 2027, an increase of 491 percent. Both bills were blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. Depending on election results, they could be revived in 2021.


After he ran for governor in 2014 and 2018 as an opponent of legalizing recreational marijuana, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf changed his stance on the issue – now that he faces term limits and won’t have to go before voters again. Tracking his history on the issue involves cabinet officials who were staunch advocates for legalization and tangential family links, but Wolf’s office continues to insist that the governor has no personal stake in recreational marijuana legalization.


Small businesses in the Garden State may be finding it more difficult to weather both the coronavirus pandemic and their state’s restrictions than their peers in other states, according to the head of the New Jersey chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. “I love seeing, in the national survey, that improvements are happening across the country,” Eileen Kean told The Center Square. “But New Jersey is a different situation. We still have a lack of consumer confidence, in terms of people going out in stores.”


A recent report from the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute found the city of Columbus paid more tax dollars for city workers performing union work, rather than government work, than all but one other city in the nation.

In statewide news, Ohio’s unemployment rate fell from August to September, and the state added nearly 40,000 new private-sector jobs. But, in reality, according to an independent think tank, the picture isn’t as rosy as the numbers.


In Illinois, where voters face a constitutional amendment question seeking to change the state's flat income tax with a scaling progressive tax in which higher earners pay higher rates – if Biden wins and the amendment passes – the state's highest earners could be paying nearly 60% in combined federal and state marginal taxes.

With falling temperatures arriving this autumn, Illinois’ largest restaurant association said it can no longer support Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation plan that prohibits dine-in service. Pritzker has threatened to take liquor licenses away from small businesses that don’t comply. The Illinois Restaurant Association said the new restrictions could force 20% of bars and restaurants to close and result in an elimination of 120,000 jobs.

Taxing retirement income has become a political talking point in the argument over the progressive tax ballot initiative. A financial industry advocate warned about the hit to Illinois residents’ 401(k) plans that would stem from a different proposal. Taxing financial transactions has found its way back into the conversation in a number of cities and states as a way to shore up budgets battered by COVID-19 shutdowns. While the amounts are different, the premise of placing a fee on each trade conducted in a city or state remains the same. 


Owosso, Mich., barber Karl Manke, 77, garnered national attention and local rallies of support when he reopened his shop in May, against a since nullified executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – an action that sparked multiple law enforcement citations as well as administrative actions brought against him by state Attorney General Dana Nessel. This week, Manke learned all criminal charges were dropped against him. However, Nessel has yet to rescind her office’s administrative penalties against the barber and author, which may include revoking his state license. At least 30 other Michigan-based businesses are facing state department-issued fines that the government claims remain valid. However, some other businesses question if the citations should be thrown out. On Oct. 2, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against Whitmer’s attempt to extend her authority and thereby voided all COVID-19 executive orders issued by the governor since April 30. That Michigan Supreme Court ruling invalidated thousands of COVID-19 fines and criminal charges for violations of her executive orders. Among those orders was the threat of fines amid closures of salons and barbershops.


One piece of business finished during Virginia lawmakers' two-months-long special session was legislation to forgive residents' unpaid utility bills. If signed into law by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, all utility companies except Dominion Energy would be eligible to access $100 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to forgive utility debts for accounts that are at least 30 days behind on payments. Dominion Energy will be required to use about $127 million of its excess money to forgive accounts that are at least 30 days behind. In the past, excess money had been returned to customers. "All of the utilities, in effect, have been promised that they will eventually be made whole, and their unpaid and uncollectible bills will be covered by rate hikes on their remaining customers," said Stephen Haner, a senior fellow for state and local tax policy at the free-market Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. "The utilities are the only businesses that the General Assembly protected from the financial damage of the COVID recession."


Nearly 70% of Georgians indicated the state needs better oversight of the tax incentives it offers companies to do business in the Peach State. A Georgia Budget & Policy Institute (GBPI) poll showed 68.7% of Georgians support implementing a formal review process on the return on investment from incentives the state provides to companies each year. GBPI projected Georgia will grant $3.5 billion in tax exemptions to manufacturing companies this year. Government should avoid picking winners and losers, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation said. "Tax policy should not single out individuals, products, businesses or particular groups for preferential treatment," the GPPF said. "Taxes should be designed to raise revenue to fund necessary government programs, not to micromanage economic decisions in a complex economy."


As Colorado faces record wildfires, the state's largest public utility provider is asking for a monthly rate increase to residential bills that would total $17.2 million next year in order to recoup wildfire damages and improve mitigation.


Seattle Police Department officers are leaving the force in record numbers as the department faces pending budget cuts, data released by the Seattle mayor' s office showed. The city has seen 53 SPD officers turn in their badges this year. A typical September sees five to seven officers on average leave. In September 2020 alone, SPD saw the departure of 36 sworn officers and three officers in training, following a summer of racial strife and increased scrutiny of law enforcement around the country. After The Center Square sent an open records request to SPD, the agency said it might not be able to respond until "on or about" May 21, 2021, citing backlogs and staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While SPD later fulfilled the request, the Washington Coalition for Open Government told The Center Square, "There’s been a growing problem with agencies intentionally restricting the number of hours a month that their staff can spend on public records requests, with those limits being arbitrary and not based on their historical demand for public records."


Like other states facing potential tax increases at the ballot box on November 3, Arizona’s Proposition 208 shows that a combined marginal tax rate would increase significantly higher than what the state’s taxpayers owe currently. The Tax Foundation said Tuesday that, should the 3.5% income tax surcharge to high-earners succeed and Joe Biden’s marginal increases become a reality, Arizonans would pay a 57.34% top combined income tax rate. That’s less than 3% points from California, the nation’s highest. 

Chris Krug is publisher of The Center Square. Executive Editor Dan McCaleb, and regional editors J.D. Davidson, Derek Draplin, Brett Rowland, Jason Schaumburg and Bruce Walker contributed to the column.

Chris Krug 

As three regional task forces prepare for final meetings to gauge the feasibility of the Florida Legislature’s multibillion dollar proposal to build 340 miles of toll roads by 2030, opponents say the state is hiding overwhelming public opposition to the plan.

According to an analysis of nearly 10,000 public comments by the No Roads to Ruin coalition gleaned from 15 months of review, more than 93 percent oppose the three proposed toll roads.

Lawmakers created the task forces in 2019 to study a proposed Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) plan to build a 150-mile Southwest-Central Florida Connector, a 40-mile Suncoast Connector linking the Florida Turnpike and I-75 with the Suncoast Parkway and a 150-mile Northern Turnpike Connector, which would extend the Suncoast Parkway to Georgia.


M-CORES would be funded with $1.1 billion in license plate tag revenue to finance a bond; estimates top $10 billion. Construction would begin in 2022 and end in 2030.

The 2019 bill allocated $45 million to study the proposal and authorized $90 million for M-CORES in this year’s budget, $135 million in fiscal year 2022 and $140 million annually through fiscal 2030.

That money is not assured, however. Funding must be approved annually. Task force recommendations, due Nov. 15, will be key in determining how, or if, M-CORES will be funded.

As task forces prepare for next week’s meetings, No Roads to Ruin criticized the Florida Department of Transportation for classifying comments by areas of interest – route alignment, hurricane evacuation, wetlands, wildlife impacts, costs, tourism, infrastructure and jobs – without an overall “for” and “against” tally.

“They might tell us they got X number of comments concerned about water quality or X number of comments concerned about wildlife,” Progress Florida Communications Specialist Jon Bleyer said. “But what they didn’t share was the sentiment of those comments. They never shared how many anti or pro comments were received.”

The coalition, which spans more than 110 organizations, filed multiple public-records requests with the FDOT to access all public comments and received 9,886 comments submitted between August 2019 and Oct. 7, 2020.


Bleyer said an “army of volunteers” examined the comments and determined 9,232 – 93.4% – opposed the projects, 379 were in favor and 275 were undecided.

The coalition sent FDOT Secretary Kevin Thibault a letter this week citing the overwhelming opposition and the absence of a “no build” option, even though the task forces requested one.

In the same statement in draft reports issued in late-September, all three task forces called for the FDOT “to consider a ‘no build’ alternative in future project development activities until a final recommendation about each specific project is made.”

“Because no-build is always an option, the department has only tracked topics mentioned at a very high level, not the sentiment of the comment,” FDOT Communications Director Beth Frady said in an email response shared by the coalition.

“Tracking it this way has allowed the department to ensure the topics mentioned by the public were discussed at task force meetings,” she said. “This means that, in the event the proposed corridors meet environmental and financial feasibility, the task forces have had the opportunity to consider all actionable feedback and input via multiple productive discussions.”

The task forces will hold virtual and in-person meetings and open houses next week.

The Southwest-Central Florida Corridor Task Force will meet Monday. An open house is scheduled for Tuesday at Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda.

The Suncoast Corridor Task Force will meet Tuesday, with a Thursday open house at Madison County Church of God in Madison.

The Northern Turnpike Corridor Task Force will meet Wednesday, with an open house Thursday at The Plantation on Crystal River.

Friday, 23 October 2020 08:15

THE PATRIOT PAGE: Vietnam War Protests



Ed. Note: with all the protests and violence in our streets... it's good to remember our history

Vietnam War protests began small among peace activists and leftist intellectuals on college campuses but gained national prominence in 1965, after the United States began bombing North Vietnam in earnest. Vietnam War Protests: The Beginnings of a Movement-In August 1964, North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, and President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the retaliatory bombing of military targets in North Vietnam. And by the time U.S. planes began regular bombings of North Vietnam in February 1965, some critics had begun to question the government’s assertion that it was fighting a democratic war to liberate the South Vietnamese people from Communist aggression.

Boxer Muhammad Ali was one prominent American who resisted being drafted into service during the Vietnam War. Ali, then heavyweight champion of the world, declared himself a "conscientious objector," earning a prison sentence (later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court) and a three-year ban from boxing.

The anti-war movement began mostly on college campuses, as members of the leftist organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) began organizing “teach-ins” to express their opposition to the way in which it was being conducted. Though the vast majority of the American population still supported the administration policy in Vietnam, a small but outspoken liberal minority was making its voice heard by the end of 1965. This minority included many students as well as prominent artists and intellectuals and members of the hippie movement, a growing number of young people who rejected authority and embraced the drug culture.

Widespread Disillusionment-

By November 1967, American troop strength in Vietnam was approaching 500,000 and U.S. casualties had reached 15,058 killed and 109,527 wounded. The Vietnam War was costing the U.S. some $25 billion per year, and disillusionment was beginning to reach greater sections of the taxpaying public. More casualties were reported in Vietnam every day, even as U.S. commanders demanded more troops. Under the draft system, as many as 40,000 young men were called into service each month, adding fuel to the fire of the anti-war movement.

On October 21, 1967, one of the most prominent anti-war demonstrations took place, as some 100,000 protesters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial; around 30,000 of them continued in a march on the Pentagon later that night. After a brutal confrontation with the soldiers and U.S. Marshals protecting the building, hundreds of demonstrators were arrested. One of them was the author Norman Mailer, who chronicled the events in his book “The Armies of the Night,” published the following year to widespread acclaim.

Also in 1967, the anti-war movement got a big boost when the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. went public with his opposition to the war on moral grounds, condemning the war’s diversion of federal funds from domestic programs as well as the disproportionate number of African American casualties in relation to the total number of soldiers killed in the war. At a march of over 5,000 protestors in Chicago, Illinois on March 25, 1967, Martin Luther King called the Vietnam War “a blasphemy against all that America stands for.”

Vietnam War Protest Songs-

The Vietnam War protest inspired many popular songs that became an anthem for their generation. Phil Ochs wrote “What Are You Fighting For?” in 1963 and “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” in 1965. Other songs whose very titles were a protest unto themselves included Pete Seeger’s “Bring ‘Em Home” (1966) and Joan Baez’s “Saigon Bride” (1967). Nina Simone’s “Backlash Blues” (1967) took a civil rights poem by Langston Hughes and adapted it into a protest of Vietnam: “Raise my taxes/Freeze my wages/Send my son to Vietnam.” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” from 1971 went on to be one of the most popular songs of all time.

John Lennon’s first song after leaving the Beatles, “Give Peace a Chance,” hit airwaves in 1966. “Imagine,” from 1971, has transcended the Vietnam era to continue to be a song of peace and unity.

Political Consequences of Vietnam War Protests

The launch of the Tet Offensive by North Vietnamese communist troops in January 1968, and its success against U.S. and South Vietnamese troops, sent waves of shock and discontent across the home front and sparked the most intense period of anti-war protests to date. By early February 1968, a Gallup poll showed only 35 percent of the population approved of Johnson’s handling of the war and a full 50 percent disapproved (the rest had no opinion). Joining the anti-war demonstrations by this time were members of the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War, many of whom were in wheelchairs and on crutches. The sight of these men on television throwing away the medals they had won during the war did much to win people over to the anti-war cause.

After many New Hampshire primary voters rallied behind the anti-war Democrat Eugene McCarthy, Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection. Vice President Hubert Humphrey accepted the Democratic nomination in August in Chicago, and 10,000 anti-war demonstrators showed up outside the convention building, clashing with security forces assembled by Mayor Richard Daley. Humphrey lost the 1968 presidential election to Richard M. Nixon, who promised in his campaign to restore “law and order”–a reference to conflict over anti-war protests as well as the rioting that followed King’s assassination in 1968–more effectively than Johnson had.

The following year, Nixon claimed in a famous speech that anti-war protesters constituted a small–albeit vocal–minority that should not be allowed to drown out the “silent majority” of Americans. Nixon’s war policies divided the nation still further, however: In December 1969, the government instituted the first U.S. draft lottery since World War II, inciting a vast amount of controversy and causing many young men to flee to Canada to avoid conscription. Tensions ran higher than ever, spurred on by mass demonstrations and incidents of official violence such those at Kent State in May 1970, when National Guard troops shot into a group of protesters demonstrating against the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, killing four students.

In mid-1971, the publication of the first Pentagon Papers–which revealed previously confidential details about the war’s conduct–caused more and more Americans to question the accountability of the U.S. government and military establishments. In response to a strong anti-war mandate, Nixon announced the effective end to U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia in January 1973. The Paris Peace Agreement was signed on January 27, 1973.

Our instruction manual for combatting COVID-19 started with blank pages. We’ve slowly filled them with notes and studies, and gradually applied them to rules of practical living, along with government recommended standard practices. But those “notes” are in pencil, with many erasures and cross-outs.

It seems I’ve been buried in statistics lately as I try to understand the status and characteristics of many things happening during this pandemic. Here are two sets of observed data that have interesting implications as we decide how they should be interpreted and how they should be used. Let’s be smart about opening schools.

We’ve learned conclusively that this virus holds only minor consequences for school-age children. Using CDC statistics for the period February 1 through September 26, for Americans under age 18, there were 95 deaths from COVID-19, 325 from pneumonia, and 123 from influenza. Comparing that to citizens age 65 through 84 for the same diseases, deaths approximated 93,000, 98,000, and 3,000, respectively. Those comparisons speak loudly to us as we struggle to set the right priorities. For me, this should lead us to prudently normalize the school setting as soon and as thoroughly as possible.

In contrast, as of now we know far less about how contagious these youth might be. They are personally largely unaffected, but we’re still learning about how likely they are to spread the virus. Early reports about how readily these young people spread COVID are encouraging, but as yet they are inconclusive. We should therefore focus attention on those with whom students have contact, specifically those we know are more seriously affected by COVID. Older teachers and older family members should be the focus of protective measures, including but not limited to regular testing of students and those with whom they are in contact.

If we summarily shut down schools, we’re inviting all the emotional and social “collateral damage” into our lives which come from interrupting educational interaction by our youth. We tend to look for perfect solutions, but there are only trade-offs. That much we should have learned by now. Students must be prudently permitted to get on with their educations.

Spinning survival statistics can affect our peace of mind.

I’ve been reviewing recent CDC statistics to learn about surviving in this world heavily burdened by personal pandemic emotion. My emotional concern focuses on my age range which is a few years beyond traditional retirement age.

Consider this ominous presentation of COVID-19 DEATH RATES for infected individuals: 0-19 years – .003%; 20-49 years – .02%; 50-69 years – .5%; 70+ years – 5.4%. Using this data, the death rate for people in my age range, the oldest shown, is almost 180,000% higher than for people under 20. Ouch! I say. That type of presentation tends to lead someone to forsake all hope.

But turn that around and look at another, more relevant presentation of the same data, but in a format that compares COVID-19 SURVIVAL RATES for infected individuals: 0-19 years - 99.997%; 20-49 years – 99.98%; 50-69 years – 99.5%; 70+ years – 94.6%. Wow! I say, feeling a lot better. All ranges have percentage survival rates in the mid to high 90s. The youngest range is better off than I am for sure, but my range’s survival rate is almost 95% of those under 20. That’s a more valid comparison, and I like it better.

The second analysis shows us the actual reality that positive outcomes overwhelm the likelihood of something bad happening. We don’t get the same message from the first comparison. How could both analyses be telling the same story? That’s my point, they don’t tell the same story. One is very misleading.

The information used for both presentations is the same, but the comparison of survival rates gives us more valid and useful information. And as a bonus, it puts older citizens in a better frame of mind. This shows the power of spinning and presentation. Keep that in mind when eternal pessimists try to play with your pandemic emotions. Remember, the situation probably isn’t as bad as doomsayers want you to believe.

steve bakke small


Steve Bakke,
Fort Myers

Dear Doctor:

I was recently diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and was told to follow something called the low-FODMAP diet. Honestly, this is all so new that it's stressful and confusing. Can you explain what's going on?

Dear Reader:

First, you're not alone in feeling overwhelmed by a new and unexpected diagnosis. Not only are you getting a crash course on an unfamiliar medical state or condition, you're also being asked to master the details of a new treatment regimen. This can easily add to your stress.

Your diagnosis means that your medical history, along with the symptoms you've described to your health care provider, match those of a chronic disorder known as IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms typically include recurrent abdominal pain, which is accompanied by bloating, cramping, gas, constipation or diarrhea. Many people living with IBS find that episodes of diarrhea will alternate with periods of constipation. IBS is a chronic condition, which means that it is managed rather than cured. The cause is unknown. However, recent research points to a gut-brain connection. 

Diet is a first line of defense in managing IBS. The FODMAP diet your doctor recommended is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. The "ODMAP" of the acronym are certain sugars, contained in some foods. (Not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPs.)

For people with IBS, foods with these types of sugars are either not completely digested or are incompletely absorbed. The sugars also cause the foods that contain them to be osmotic, which means that they attract water. These factors can cause these foods to be fermented -- that's the "F" in FODMAP -- by bacteria in the digestive tract, leading to the gastric symptoms of IBS.

Foods to avoid include those with fructose, which means fruit, honey and anything made with high-fructose corn syrup. Stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries and apricots also contain polyols, a carbohydrate known as a sugar alcohol, which is directly referenced in the FODMAP acronym. Also, avoid dairy products that contain lactose. Low-lactose milk products such as aged cheeses and lactose-free yogurt are usually OK. Other high-FODMAP foods include wheat products, onions, garlic, lentils, beans and legumes, including soy and soy products. Some artificial sweeteners also contain polyols, and should be avoided.

Because each person's body responds differently to specific high-FODMAP foods, the diet is broken into two phases. The first phase asks patients to eliminate all high-FODMAP foods from their diet for a period of four to six weeks. In the second phase, the eliminated foods are gradually reintroduced. This allows problem foods to be identified.

Fine-tuning the FODMAP diet so that it is varied, interesting, nutritious and high in fiber is challenging. We suggest working with a registered dietitian nutritionist or certified nutritionist to craft a diet that is both effective and sustainable.

Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, and Elizabeth Ko, M.D.,

This month’s Quadrilateral Security Dialogue foreign ministers meeting in Tokyo signals that so-called Quad has arrived as a global diplomatic combination. The Quad is already an Indo-Pacific military power.

For Beijing, the Quad's formation and solidification is a nightmare -- and China's communist government has only itself to blame.

In 2007, the Quad, at the behest of Japan, held its first informal meeting. At that meeting, Japan said all four nations regarded China as a disruptive actor in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

This common concern should spur close cooperation to confront it.

For several reasons, India downplayed the initial meeting. Many Indians valued their nation's Cold War-era "non-alignment" policy. Tight military cooperation with the U.S. might betray that legacy. Australia, the U.S. and Japan have long-term bilateral and trilateral defense relationships. Indian and Australian military contacts are close, but India prized strategic autonomy and was suspicious of mutual defense commitments.

Moreover, in 2007, India carefully avoided the appearance of actively countering China. Economic cooperation with Beijing had potential benefits. Plus, New Delhi and Beijing were trying to peacefully resolve their border disputes in the Himalayas.

What a difference 13 years make, especially a baker's dozen scarred by Chinese imperialist territorial expansion, intellectual theft, military buildup and lawless behavior. China's fake South China Sea islands bristle with weapons and violate the Philippines' and Vietnam's maritime zones. Beijing recently announced its new hypersonic missiles can smash Guam, a sovereign American territory. Human rights organizations accuse Beijing of genocide against Turkic Uighurs and ethnic Tibetans.

That border settlement in the Himalayas? Today, Indian and Chinese military forces clash in the mountains as China builds a transportation network capable of supporting a sustained ground offensive driving south into the subcontinent.

In the last 13 years, it looks as if India's leaders have learned that China's dictators interpret avoiding the appearance of opposing them as recognition of their power and a form of appeasement.

But the U.S. had a learning curve. American optimism regarding China's future has turned to pushback pessimism. The militarization of the South China Sea and the demonization of the U.S. by Chinese military leaders soured the U.S.-China relationship. The last straw: Beijing's deceit allowed COVID-19/the Wuhan virus to become a global pandemic.

Which takes us back to this week's Tokyo conference, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo representing the U.S.

In his in initial remarks, Pompeo said the Quad's democracies have chosen to cooperate. Then he bluntly rebuked the Chinese Communist Party for covering up the epidemic's outbreak. "The regime's authoritarian nature led its leaders to lock up and silence the very brave Chinese citizens who were raising the alarm. ... As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP's exploitation, corruption and coercion. We've seen it in the south, in the East China Sea, the Mekong, the Himalayas, the Taiwan Straits."

Today, Indian military forces routinely participate in Quad military exercises in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. Indian naval forces enter in the South China Sea. Indian ships have exercised with Japanese air and naval forces in the East China Sea between Japan's home islands and Okinawa. Much to the chagrin of Chinese admirals, Indian, U.S., Japanese and Australian forces conduct coalition exercises in the Indian Ocean.

In December 2018, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told Indian media that the U.S. and India had "overcome hesitations of history" and made it "clear there is no contradiction between strategic autonomy and strategic partnership."

India knows it confronts a powerful, hostile China that seeks domination. One against one, India is at a disadvantage. But as a combination, the Quad can penalize Chinese economic and criminal mischief, and punish Chinese military adventurism.


sm no smile face with sunglasses




The banyan fig tree Ficus microcarpa is famous for its aerial roots, which sprout from branches and eventually reach the soil. The tree also has a unique relationship with a wasp that has coevolved with it and is the only insect that can pollinate it.

In a new study, researchers identify regions in the banyan fig's genome that promote the development of its unusual aerial roots and enhance its ability to signal its wasp pollinator.

The study, published in the journal Cell, also identifies a sex-determining region in a related fig tree, Ficus hispida. Unlike F. microcarpa, which produces aerial roots and bears male and female flowers on the same tree, F. hispida produces distinct male and female trees and no aerial roots.

Understanding the evolutionary history of Ficus species and their wasp pollinators is important because their ability to produce large fruits in a variety of habitats makes them a keystone species in most tropical forests, said Ray Ming, a plant biology professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign who led the study with Jin Chen, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Figs are known to sustain at least 1,200 bird and mammal species. Fig trees were among the earliest domesticated crops and appear as sacred symbols in Hinduism, Buddhism and other spiritual traditions.

The relationship between figs and wasps also presents an intriguing scientific challenge. The body shapes and sizes of the wasps correspond exactly to those of the fig fruits, and each species of fig produces a unique perfume to attract its specific wasp pollinator.

To better understand these evolutionary developments, Ming and his colleagues analyzed the genomes of the two fig species, along with that of a wasp that pollinates the banyan tree.
"When we sequenced the trees' genomes, we found more segmental duplications in the genome of the banyan tree than in F. hispida, the fig without the aerial roots," Ming said. "Those duplicated regions account for about 27% of the genome."

The duplications increased the number of genes involved in the synthesis and transport of auxins, a class of hormones that promote plant growth. The duplicated regions also contained genes involved in plant immunity, nutrition and the production of volatile organic compounds that signal pollinators.

"The levels of auxin in the aerial roots are five times higher than in the leaves of trees with or without aerial roots," Ming said. The elevated auxin levels appear to have triggered aerial root production. The duplicated regions also include genes that code for a light receptor that accelerates auxin production.

When they studied the genome of the fig wasp and compared it with those of other related wasps, the researchers observed that the wasps were retaining and preserving genes for odorant receptors that detect the same smelly compounds the fig trees produce. These genomic signatures are a signal of coevolution between the fig trees and the wasps, the researchers report.

Ming and his colleagues also discovered a Y chromosome-specific gene that is expressed only in male plants of F. hispida and three other fig species that produce separate male and female plants, a condition known as dioecy.

"This gene had been duplicated twice in the dioecious genomes, giving the plants three copies of the gene. But Ficus species that have male and female flowers together on one plant have only one copy of this gene," Ming said. "This strongly suggests that this gene is a dominant factor affecting sex determination."

University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign