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Items filtered by date: August 2016
Friday, 30 September 2016 09:47

Zika and the GM Mosquitoes Part III

Well here we go again, the
more research I do the scarier this
Zika Virus/ GM mosquito correlation
All the news seems to be
focused around the information
that the Zika virus in pregnant
women can be devastating, Why?
because we've had more than 4,200
cases of pregnancies in Brazil
where developing fetus
is missing part of the
brain or has a small head
which is described as microcephaly.
But as I have previously
reported Zika has
been around for a while.
The virus named for the
forest in Uganda where it
was first reported in the
Rhesus monkey in the
late forties.
The first major
outbreak in humans was
in Micronesia on the island
of Yap in 2007 where 3500 of
the five thousand inhabitants were
infected, there were no birth were
A much larger outbreak
was reported in French Polynesia
in 2013 and 2014 where 30,000
people were affected, again no
fetal abnormalities were identified,
when they saw it was happening in
Brazil they went back and found
17 cases of microcephaly out of
30,000 infected people.
So when we look at that, in
truth, the first explosion of microcephaly
cases that have been tried
to be linked with Zika happened in
And ......Brazil happens to
be where they started testing these
genetically modified mosquitoes
from the company Oxitec.
So originally, it appeared
that these genetically modified
mosquitoes actually spreading the
Zika virus, but I don't think that is
actually the problem, the problem
is the genetically modified mosquitoes
inserting the genetic coding
which is meant to disrupt the reproduction
of the female mosquitoes
and it is disrupting the reproduction
of human fetuses. That is
what appears to be happening.
Now remember that no
connection to microcephaly and
the Zika virus has ever been even
considered up until this outbreak in
Brazil, and even now the medical
community is being very cautious
in stating that there's no evidence
that the Zika virus is causing this
microcephaly in newborns. A report
from New England Journal of
Medicine states "no flavivirus has
ever been shown differently to
cause birth defects in humans and
no reports of adverse pregnancy or
birth outcomes were noted during
previous outbreaks of Zika virus
disease in the Pacific Islands"
Again, the first birth defects
were reported right where these
mosquitoes were released in Brazil.
So let's look at how these
mosquitoes work, the male mosquito
is engineering by Oxitec, to
have what they call a "self-limiting"
gene, by inserting the gene
into the target organism it prevents
the insect from surviving into
adulthood . The pest control gene
produces a protein called tTav
(tetracycline repressive activator
variant) whereby the gene ties up
the processes of the other genes so
they can't grow so basically, it kills
the offspring of the female mosquitoes.
So I wondered how do they
breed these male mosquitoes if
they have a gene that makes them
die, well on the Oxitec's website it
says they have an antidote to it;
Tetracycline! Which they call 'tetO'
The tetO antidote is given
to the insects in raring facilities
that binds to the tTav protein and
disables it and acts like a switch to
turn off the tTav gene, preventing
the protein from working. "So in
the presence of the antidote, the
Oxitec insects are able to survive
and reproduce in the rearing facility."
The website goes on to state
that "when the males are released
into the wild their offspring's can't
access the antibiotic in the quantities
needed to survive so they die
before reaching adulthood"
So without the Tetracycline
antidote, "the tTav protein is produced
which simultaneously binds
(at the cellular level) to transcriptional
machinery, (writing code to
keep you alive) making the transcriptionist
scenery unavailable for
other essential gene expression.
The inhibition of the essential gene
expression leads to cell death and
the death of the insect before it
reaches adulthood." ( but, remember
in previous articles, I talked
about how Tetracycline could be
readily available due to it being
given to agricultural food producing
animals and also used as a pesticide
for the citrus groves)
The website goes on to say
that "it's a gene variant that has
been optimized only to work an insect
cells". Just makes you wonder
if they tested on pregnant women
before they started releasing these
mosquitoes Into the Wild?
So let's step back a bit, we
had an explosion of cases of birth
defects right around a place where
male mosquitoes were released
into the wild that were engineered
to give female mosquitoes birth defects.
FROM CNN.com: Sanjay Gupta
writes "Brazil is getting a lot
of attention because the
country has seen a significant
increase in microcephaly.
Previously, there may have
been only 140 cases the
whole year. In Brazil, there
were 4,200 cases in just a
few months, and 51 children
have died. " but when Sanjay
is asked "How serious is the
Zika virus?" he answers:
"For those who aren't
pregnant, most will either
have no symptoms or mild
ones, and it's not serious at
all. Eighty percent of those affected
never know they have the
disease. (that's 4 out of 5) In fact,
what typically happens is that once
you get it, you become immune.
You are essentially now
vaccinated against the virus, because
your body has built up antibodies
and the next time will fight
SO..... when you look at all
the facts it seems the correlation is
pretty strong.
Now the FDA has approved
the release of GM mosquitoes to
fight Zika in Florida, just last
month! And with about 43% of all
antibiotics used in food producing
animals being Tetracycline, I don't
see how these "self-limiting" mosquitoes
will be able to avoid running
into the antidote and thus
reproduce at will.
These are interesting times
we are living in folks!
Don’t worry....new subject next
Alfredo DiPasquale

Published in General/Features

In my interview with Grant Cardone,
he reinforces this idea and
takes it one step further, pointing
out that you need at least $1 million
in the bank just to remain part
of the new middle class. You can
watch the interview here:
"The entire middle class is built on
a comparison," says Grant Cardone.
"Some other country, some
other neighbor, somebody else is
doing better or worse off. But if
you look at the facts today ... the
voting class of America is the middle
Grant Cardone Believes The Middle
Class Is a Trap
"The truth is, the middle class is a
trap," says Grant Cardone. "The
average middle class person makes
somewhere between $40,000 and
$115,000 per year. I know people
in New York City where you live
and Miami where I live, and at
$115,000 there's a good chance that
there's no money left over to save
at the end of the year."
[close X]Grant Cardone sees the middle
class as the focus area for politicians
because this segment of the
population are the ones paying for
so much of what drives America
today - from student loans and
housing to cars and other goods.
The middle class is the economic
purchasing power in our country
and despite Grant Cardone's mom
reinforcing how lucky he was to be
part of the middle class, he quickly
discovered it's not all it's cracked
up to be.
Getting Out of the Trap by Shifting
Your Thinking to a 10X Mentality
So if you need at least $1 million
to be part of the new middle class
and you're likely to get trapped
there, then what's the solution to
the new middle class trap? Grant
Cardone wants to share with people
the mistakes he's made and
what he got right.
"Operating in increments is the
way our parents teach us. Even as a
child they teach us you have to
walk before you can run. Actually,
that's not true. A baby stumbles
along quite fast. You can run before
you can walk," he says.
"Google uses The 10X Rule. They
don't think in increments, they
want to multiply their revenue by
10X. Twitter, on the other hand,
tried to grow in increments, it
couldn't grow fast enough so it gets
killed in the marketplace."
Grant Cardone understands that
you can't become wealthy and retire
unless you deploy a 10X mentality
in everything you do. "You
have to start in increments - I'm not
saying that you don't. A job is an
increment. Income is an increment.
But at some point in your career,
you need to invest. You need your
Benjamin's that you've worked so
hard to earn and save to start having
babies; because when the babies
start multiplying that's how
you create wealth. You can't just
create wealth on the back of hard
work," Grand Cardone explains.
Learning from Grant Cardone
Grant Cardone build a $350 million
real estate empire, in addition
to creating customized sales training
programs for Fortune 500 companies,
writing 5 books including a
New York Times best seller, If
Your Not First, You're Last. He
shares his wealth of insights to
more than 22 million members. In
other words, he's looked for all the
ways he can operate his business at
10X and practices what he teaches.
I sincerely enjoyed interviewing
Grant Cardone and appreciate just
how hard he works to share what
he's learned with his audience. If
being a millionaire is the new middle
class and you must operate at a
10X level to be successful, then the
question we should be asking ourselves
is how do we get to $10 million
or more to ensure we have the
kind of financial freedom we all
While this may feel like a daunting
question at first, refer back to
Grant Cardone's main point. It's not
about earning that kind of money,
it's about getting your money to
multiply. That's the place where
most of us lack focus. What keeps
us in the middle class trap is going
paycheck to paycheck or operating
our business with an incremental
growth mentality.
To break out, we need to think different;
we need to find ways to
grow exponentially, not incrementally.
Only by breaking the incremental
mindset can we put
ourselves onto an entirely new
growth trajectory. That's why
Google obsesses with 10X Moon
Shots while companies that struggle
focus on the next quarter's sales
Bill Carmody

Published in General/Features

The aircraft carrier USS
Gerald R. Ford, seen here in a
combination model and live shot
photo, is the first in the US Navy's
next generation of warships, the
Ford class. USS Gerald R. Ford is
expected to be commissioned in
2017. The next Ford class ship, the
John F. Kennedy, is due in 2020.
The Ford-class design is the first
major aircraft carrier update since
the Nimitz-class was commissioned
in 1975.
The Gerald R. Ford was
launched from dry dock into Virginia's
James River in November
The USS John F. Kennedy
(CVN 79) will be the second carrier
in the Navy's new Ford-class.
It is currently under construction at
Newport News Shipbuilding in
Virginia and will be commissioned
in 2020.
To put the Gerald R. Ford's
massive size into perspective, the
finished carrier measures 1,106
feet long and 250 feet high.
The completed USS Gerald R.
Ford holds a number of welcome
quality-of-life upgrades for sailors
over the previous Nimitz design,
including quieter sleeping quarters,
numerous recreation areas and
gymnasiums as well as better air
The Ford itself will cost
U.S. taxpayers $12.8 billion in materials
and labor. This doesn't take
into account the $4.7 billion spent
in research and development of the
new carrier class. And, seriously,
we're talking about a lot of labor.
Each part built for a Fordclass
carrier starts its life as a fullscale
3D model inside Huntington
Ingalls Industries' Rapid Operational
Virtual Reality (ROVR) system.
It it the first U.S. carrier to
be designed using such computerized
The Gerald R. Ford also
uses augmented-reality technology
to give its crew more insight into
the ship's systems and improve efficiency.
The building of a 90,000-ton warship
always begins with a single
Newport News Shipbuilding held
the Commemorative First Cut of
Steel Ceremony for the John F.
Kennedy on Feb. 25, 2011.
Newport News Shipbuilding estimates
that 4,000,000 pounds of
metal will be required just to weld
the ship together.
For further perspective on
the size of this carrier consider that
the propellers are larger than a typical
house and will help the new
class of ship reach speeds of 35
miles per hour-not bad for a 22.5-
million pound sea vessel.
The new Ford-class carriers
were designed to require significantly
less plumbing. The
Kennedy, for example, has onethird
fewer valves than warships in
the older Nimitz class.
The Navy is already preparing
for combat and sailors from the
ship's Combat Systems department
have scheduled practices loading
dummy RIM-162 Evolved Sea
Sparrow Missile into the NATO
Sea Sparrow Missile System
launcher. The same day, Gunners
Mate 1st Class Ernest Quinones
and Gunners Mate Darius Bloomfield
also prepped one of the Ford's
.50-caliber machine guns during a
general quarters drill, while a team
of Fire Controlmen aboard the Gerald
R. Ford fed dummy ammunition
into the ship's MK-15 close-in
weapon system during a maintenance
check. This advanced practice
will insure the ship goes into
the Line ready for full combat duty.
Much of the ship is completed.
Newport News Shipbuilding's
crane, "Big Blue," moved the
island, aka the air traffic control
tower, onto the Gerald R. Ford in
January 2013.
The heaviest piece of the seaworthy
puzzle weighs in at 1,026 metric
tons (2.26 million pounds). The
gallery deck to flight deck bridge is
the heaviest component piece of
the USS Gerald R. Ford.
It measures 128 feet wide
by 128 feet long and houses the
ship's firefighting, jet fuel and catapult
In the past, major military vessels
were built in one piece from the
ground up. Today, the shipbuilding
process is modular. Like the flight
deck bridge, workers recently put
the final piece of the Gerald R.
Ford's stern and the 680-metric-ton
lower bow unit into place.
In May 2012 workers Finished
off the keel, joining the lower
bow unit to the keel of the USS
Gerald R. Ford.The upper bow unit
alone weighted 787-metric-tons.
The catapult unit for aircraft launch
weighs over Two million pounds. It
was amazing to watch
the forward end ofone of the aircraft carrier's catapults
put into place by a massive
1,050-metric ton gantry crane.
On a more personal note,
The USS Gerald R. Ford has
hosted a number of important dignitaries
from the private and public
sectors. In June of 2016, Captain
Richard McCormack gave a tour of
the ship's bridge to New England
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
and his wife.
Susan Ford Bales visits the
USS Gerald R. Ford during the
building process in 2011.
Adding to the authenticity
and lineage, the daughter of the
late president, helped a shipbuilder
position part of the vessel's main
deck. Ms. Ford-Bales also helped
test the carrier's new anchor-handling
The anchor on the Gerald
R. Ford weighs a massive 30,000
pounds; its chain is 1,440 feet long.
It took 200,000 gallons of
paint to coat the warship. As the famous
old sailor adage goes: "If it
moves, salute it; if it doesn't, paint
it." And indeed, painting was a key
part of the process at Newport
News Shipbuilding and required
between 120 and 170 workers to
get the job done.
The new, self-healing coating
on the Gerald R. Ford was formulated
to resist heat and UV rays.
The Newport News Shipbuilding
yard. employs approximately
20,000 people and is the
only designer and builder of aircraft
carriers in the United States.
It will have taken a team of
approximately 5,000 people, Roes
included, to build and assemble the
Workers at Newport News
recently inactivated the USS Enterprise
(CVN 65).While observing
the completion of the USS Gerald
Ford, the USS Theodore Roosevelt
(CVN 71), was seen at the shipyard
undergoing refueling and complex
overhaul (RCOH) at a neighboring
The new Ford carrier class
will require 30 percent less maintenance
than these older Nimitz design
ships, resulting in long-term
cost savings for the government.
Roughly 1,600 sailors
began working and living aboard
the ship starting in August 2015 as
part of the testing process.
The ship is all American
and will feature shopping on the
high seas. Sailors can obtain many
of the comforts of home in the Gerald
R. Ford ship store using their
Navy Cash debit card.
It's not all hardship, sacrifice
and trough-made meals aboard
the Gerald R. Ford; sailors can still
get their Starbucks fix at Mac's
coffee shop, located inside the
ship's store.
All revenue from the coffee
shop goes to support the ship's
Sailors, of course, have the
opportunity to participate in regular
religious services aboard the
Gerald R. Ford.
An aircraft carrier may hold
as many as 40 different religious
services per week while at sea.
Each chaplain-led service is tailored
to the specific traditions of
the many faiths aboard the ship.
The ceremonial christening
of sea vessels in the United States
dates back to the launch of the
Constitution (Old Ironsides) in
In those days, a bottle of
fine Portuguese wine was broken
on a vessel's bowsprit.
To christen the Gerald R.
Ford, the President's daughter
Susan broke a bottle of Americanmade
sparkling wine on the ship's
"When USS Gerald R. Ford
joins the Navy's fleet in 2016, she
will reign as America's queen of
the sea for 50 years," said Newport
News Shipbuilding President Matt
Mulherin during its 2013 christening
"She will stand as a symbol
of sovereign U.S. territory wherever
she sails. She will represent
her namesake-a man who embodied
integrity, honor and courage."

Published in Technology

Fla., — The four pillars of comprehensive
airman fitness are mental,
physical, social and spiritual.
How airmen strengthen each pillar
is their own decision, but one senior
noncommissioned officer thinks
a way to reinforce all of these concepts
is found at the top of each
American state’s highest point.
Most recently, Air Force
Chief Master Sgt. Dean Werner,
the emergency management program
manager for the Air Force
Civil Engineer Center, led a hike
Aug. 4-6, adding to his list of
mountains climbed.
“I led a group of 10 airmen
to the summit of Granite Peak,
Montana, which is considered the
most difficult of the 50 state highpoints
to conquer, except for
Mount Denali, Alaska,” Werner
The climb consisted of
tackling 28 miles in three days
while gaining more than 7,000 feet
of elevation.
“The purpose of the challenge
is to boost the mental, physical,
social and spiritual health of
our service members through
climbs of each American state’s
highest geographical point,”
Werner said. “Hikes and climbs
offer a chance to interact with
other airmen, expand one’s comfort
zone, and tackle a peak that often
looks too big to climb- just like big
life problems we each face from
time to time.”
Although the Forest Service
estimates only a 10 to 20 percent
success rate for this summit, six of
the 10 airmen in Werner’s team
made it to the top.
Assessing Risks
“Risk management was
definitely a large part of our success,
as there are many very dangerous
areas during the climb,” the
chief said. “We assessed the risks
as a team, and as four of our team
members realized their experience
level did not match the mountain
requirements, they made sound decisions
to … safely head back
down the mountain.
“Part of this challenge is to
push yourself past your comfort
level,” he continued, “and even
those who made the decision to
turn around definitely pushed
themselves past that level and still
gained valuable experience to push
a little further next time.”
The team had some close
calls with falling rocks and picking
the correct route on the final push
to the summit, but they all returned
safely to the trailhead with no injuries,
Werner said.
Trekking up mountains can
be tough, but the chief said he is
drawn to the sport specifically because
of the physical challenge it
“Between the elevation
gained, the limitedamount of oxygen and the risks involved,
mountains provide me with
what I use to cope with the other
challenges in my life,” said he explained.
“When you challenge
yourself with a difficulty you
enjoy, sometimes that makes other
difficulties less challenging. From
2011 to 2014, I went outside the
wire many times in Afghanistan
and have since struggled with how
that affected me. When I conquer
the challenge of a tough summit,
my faith tells me I was brought
there for a reason: to enjoy that
summit that was given to me in
that moment.”
When at the summit of a
mountain, Werner said he feels
there are more important things in
life than dwelling on difficulties.
Exhilaration and Appreciation
Werner said reaching the
summit of a big mountain gives
him a lot of satisfaction when he
looks down and sees what he went
through to get to the mountaintop.
Climbing a mountain like that is a
brutal workout, he added, but when
he reaches the top, he does not feel
fatigue or pain -- just exhilaration
and appreciation.
This climb was not the first
time Werner has taken on a mountain.
He also has climbed Tanzania’s
Mount Kilimanjaro and
Aconcagua in Argentina.
“My first big mountain was
Mount Kilimanjaro, and I climbed
it while on leave from
Afghanistan,” Werner said. “Having
never climbed a mountain over
15,000 feet before, I didn’t know
how tough it would be, so I dedicated
lots of time to conditioning.
“My remote camp in
Afghanistan didn’t have any roads
or trails to run on, since our camp
was only 200 meters by 200 meters,”
he continued. “I did all of my
training on a treadmill, mostly running,
doing interval training, and
once each week setting it a max incline
of 15 percent and walking
with a backpack. I also did a lot of
weightlifting and pushups to prepare,
as I set a goal of doing 1,000
pushups during the five-day
Werner said he looks forward
to his next climb and that he
encourages airmen to try this activity
if they are looking for a challenge.
“Mountains, and especially
team climbs with fellow airmen,
give team members a great chance
for camaraderie and confidencebuilding,”
Werner said. “I would
like to see airmen take advantage
of this activity, as the healing powers
of the outdoors, and especially
mountains, are very beneficial.
After a climb, airmen will understand
that their climb gave them
something that other avenues of assistance
for life difficulties could
not have. Even if an airman without
those difficulties climbed with
this program, they will realize that
their adventure gave them a level
of personal growth and confidence
few other means could.”

Published in Lifestyle

In several races that could
play a big role in which party
gains control of the Senate in November,
Senate Democrats are
counting on the Hispanic vote to
help them win. But a sizable number
of Hispanic voters don't seem
to know who these Senate Democratic
candidates are.
Consider this from a recent
poll by Univision News on Hispanic
voters: In Florida, nearly 6
in 10 Hispanic voters did not recognize
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D),
who is challenging Sen. Marco
Rubio (R) for the seat. (Rubio has
a seven-point edge over Murphy,
46 to 39, among Latino voters.)
In Arizona, 4 in 10 did not
recognize Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick
(D), who is challenging Sen. John
McCain (R). (Kirkpatrick leads
McCain by 15 points. But as my
colleagues Ed O'Keefe and Scott
Clement point out, that's a much
smaller edge than Hillary Clinton's
50-point lead over Donald Trump
in the state.)
In Nevada, nearly 4 in 10
Hispanic voters (38 percent) did
not recognize Catherine Cortez
Masto, who is Senate Minority
Leader Harry M. Reid's (D) handpicked
successor for the seat. (Although
more than 4 in 10, 41
percent, also did not recognize the
Republican candidate, Rep. Joseph
J. Heck (R).)
So in at least three states where the
Hispanic vote is expected to be
higher than the national average —
and a critical puzzle piece for Senate
Democrats to take back control
of the chamber — Senate Democrats
have yet to lock down their
vote. That's a fairly big hill for
Senate Democrats to climb with a
little more than seven weeks to go.

Published in Politics

A massive sinkhole (40 feet
accross) at a fertilizer plant in
Mulberry, Florida, has caused
about 215 million gallons of radioactive
water to drain down into
Floridians’ aquifer system, according
to a local television station
The aquifer system supplies
drinking water to millions of
Florida residents, based on facts
available on the St. Johns Water
Management District's website.
Additionally, water that escapes
from the aquifers create springs
used for recreational activities like
snorkeling and swimming.
The fertilizer company
Mosaic wrote on its website that it
discovered a sinkhole 45 feet in diameter
at its New Wales facility
after noticing water levels had
dropped in a stack of radioactive
waste product known as phosphogypsum
in late August.
Phosphogypsum is a waste
product resulting from the processing
of phosphate to make fertilizers,
according to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
The byproduct is often stored by
industrial plants in mountainous
piles known as phosphogysum
"Based on the nature of the
water loss and what we've learned
so far," the sinkhole damaged the
liner system at the base of a
phosophogypsum stack, Mosaic
said on Thursday.The pond on top of the cell
drained as a result" and "some
seepage continues."
The fertilizer company
added that it believes the sinkhole
reached the Floridian aquifer, and
WFTS reported that the company
told the station about 215 million
gallons of contaminated water
used to process fertilizer drained
had into the hole.
After learning of the water
loss, "Mosaic immediately implemented
additional and extensive
groundwater monitoring and sampling
regimens and has found no
offsite impacts," the company
said. Additionally, Mosaic "began
pumping water out of the west
cell" of the affected phosphogypsum
stack "into an alternative
holding area on site to reduce the
amount of drainage."
The company has also "begun the
process of recovering the water"
drained through the sinkhole "by
pumping through onsite production
wells," it said.
The Florida Department of Environmental
Protection (FDEP)
"confirmed that Mosaic immediately
took steps to investigate and
initiate corrective action," according
to FDEP Deputy Press Secretary
Dee Ann Miller.
As required by their state
permit and federal requirements,
Mosaic notified both EPA and
DEP of a water loss incident at
their New Wales facility," Miller
told ABC News today. "Mosaic
continues to regularly update the
department and EPA on progress."
Miller added that along
with reviewing daily reports, the
FDEP "is performing frequent site
visits to make sure timely and appropriate
response continues in
order to safeguard public health
and the environment."
Miller elaborated and said
the company is updating state and
federal agencies.
“Along with reviewing
daily reports, DEP is performing
frequent site visits to make sure
timely and appropriate response
continues in order to safeguard
public health and the environment,”
Miller wrote in an email.
“While monitoring to date
indicates that the process water is
being successfully contained,
groundwater monitoring will continue
to ensure there are no offsite
or long-term effects.”
Nevertheless, the Polk County
phosphate plant is still running.

Published in Environment

Monopoly utilities want to
extinguish the independent rooftop
solar market in America to protect
their socialist control of how we get
our electricity. They have engaged
in class warfare and tried to sabotage
net metering, a billing method
that gives individual homeowners
fair credit for power produced on
their own rooftops. They
would like to deny us Americans energy
choice and maintain their monopoly
Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014
re¬election campaign took in more
than $1.1 million from the state’s
utility companies. Back when Dr.know how Tallahassee has an
in¬group and an out¬group?” said
Kreegel, (a physician in Punta Gorda
who left the House in 2012.) “I
didn’t know I was on the outside
until I went against the public utilities,
and then — holy hell.” Kreegel
isn’t alone. Other state lawmakers
and lobbyists say that anyone who
has attempted to expand the rooftop
solar industry has been ostracized
and seen their proposals go nowhere.
The reason, some lawmakers
say, is that Florida’s largest utility
companies have invested heavily in
state political campaigns to fend off
competition from rooftop solar
power. An analysis of campaign
records by the Florida Center for Investigative
Reporting shows that the
utility companies have sunk $12 million
into the campaigns of state lawmakers
since 2010. That money
comes from the bills paid by customers
of the state’s four largest utilities
— Duke Energy, Gulf Power,
Florida Power & Light, and Tampa
Electric, or TECO. Those donations
include contributions to every member
of the Senate and House leadership.
The recipient of the most utility
money since 2010 is Gov. Rick
Scott’s 2014 re¬election campaign,
which took in more than $1.1 million
through two political action
“Why don’t we have a bigger
solar industry in Florida?” asked
Mike Antheil, a West Palm Beach
lobbyist who represents solar companies.
“The answer is simple.
Every kilowatt of solar you produce
on your roof is one less kilowatt that
the utilities can sell you.” The state’s
largest utilities declined to comment
on specific questions. In an email,
Duke Energy spokesperson Sterling
Ivey said the company could not
comment “since there is pending/
proposed legislative bills that we are
actively monitoring.” Cherie Jacobs,
a spokesperson for Tampa Electric,
or TECO, said: “We participate in
the political process, we support
both parties, and we support candidates
who focus on building the
economy and on creating jobs.” FPL
spokesperson Alys Daly wrote in an
email that the company supports
“customers who want to install their
own solar panels, and we take special
care to serve the specialized
needs of our solar customers.” With
little support in Tallahassee, a coalition
of conservative and liberal
groups hopes to make Florida friendlier
to rooftop solar energy with a
2016 ballot initiative. Before that
happens, though, Florida’s four
largest power companies may see
their influence grow. There’s proposed
legislation circulating in Tallahassee
now that would stop
homeowners from selling extra energy
created from solar back to utility
companies, perhaps the biggest
blow yet to Florida’s fledgling solar
Big Energy’s Campaign Cash
Only a small portion of the
$12 million spent since 2010 by
electric companies on political campaigns
went directly to candidates.
Instead, most of the utility money
went to political action committees
and political parties. Half of the
money, $6.68 million, went to the
Republican Party of Florida. The
second¬largest recipient of electric
company money, the Florida Democratic
Party, took in $1.8 million.
Donations of this type allow
the utilities to avoid state campaign
contribution limits, which cap donations
to Florida legislative candidates
at $1,000 per election cycle.
Conservative political action
committees top the list of those receiving
contributions, with the
Florida Conservative Majority, Freedom
First Committee, and House
Republican Campaign Committee all
receiving over six figures each from
the utilities.
Among the politicians who
have received power company
money, Gov. Scott tops the list. The
utilities gave $15,444 directly to
Scott’s campaign fund. They also
gave $600,000 to Scott’s Let Get to
Work PAC. The utilities handed another
$670,000 to the RGA Florida
PAC, which in turn gave $500,000 to
the Let’s Get to Work PAC. That
puts the electric company contributions
to Scott, both directly and indirectly,
at $1.1
Paige Kreegel was a state representative
in 2009, he had an idea that he
thought simply made sense. Florida,
the Sunshine State, should become a
model for solar power.
As chair of the state House’s
Committee on Energy, Kreegel was
in a position to change Florida laws
that have restricted the growth of
energy¬producing rooftop solar panels
on homes in Florida. As a selfdescribed
free¬market Republican,
Kreegel saw the issue as getting
government out of the way of a
growing industry. But Kreegel soon
discovered that his fellow committee
members wouldn’t even discuss
solar energy, and the fact that he
brought it up made him an outcast in
Tallahassee. When he walked the
halls of the Legislature, other lawmakers
would turn around and shut
their doors. “Youmillion. In the Legislature, all 16
state senators and representatives
who make up the legislative leadership
have received utility money. In
total, they have pulled in more than
$200,000 from utilities and their interest
groups. Those donations to the
leadership allow the power companies
to keep pro-solar bills from getting
anywhere, said state Rep.
Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, a
supporter of the rooftop solar industry.
“We in Florida are stuck in the
stone age. This is probably the most
byzantine energy legislation in the
country,” Dudley said. Dudley has
filed legislation that would have increased
renewable energy in the
state, including solar, but none of his
ideas have made it to the House
Taking on the utilities has
made him an outcast, Dudley said.
He was talking with an acquaintance
at an event last year in St. Petersburg
when a utility lobbyist walked up
and said, “Oh my gosh, do you know
who this is? The devil’s holy man,”
Dudley recalled. “It was loud and
unpleasant, and it became very uncomfortable.”
As for Kreegel, the former
state representative initially had support
from the state’s utilities. That’s
because Kreegel opposed mandates
that required a percentage of the
state’s energy come from renewable
power, including solar. But he lost
that support when he worked to remove
restrictions on rooftop solar,
which Kreegel says is a big reason
he’s now out of politics. In 2012,
Kreegel ran in the Republican primary
for the U.S. House seat in Fort
Myers vacated by Republican
Trey Radel,
who resigned
after being arrested for
attempting to purchase cocaine from
an undercover police officer in
Washington, D.C. Supporting solar
power back in 2009 caused him to
be labeled a nonconformist, Kreegel
said, and he didn’t get support of the
Republican Party. He finished third.
“The whole point was that government
shouldn’t be impeding in good
business,” Kreegel said of his idea to
support solar. “But I learned you
don’t go against the utilities.”
Failed Reforms
The Florida law that has restricted
the growth of the rooftop
solar industry has been on the books
for nearly a century. It was written to
give utilities a regional monopoly on
power production, avoiding a tangle
of power lines strung up by competing
companies. The law didn’t affect
the solar industry
until the last several
years, when the
price of solar panels
made it cost¬efficient
enough for
rooftop solar to
compete with utility
With ample sunshine,
only two
other states, California
and Texas,
have more
rooftop solar power potential
than Florida, according to the
U.S. Department of Energy. Yet the
state ranks 13th in installed solar capacity.
The average home solar array
now costs $15,000 to $30,000 and
can pay for itself in 10 to 20 years,
said Ray Johnson, president and
founder of the U.S. Solar Institute,
an Oakland Park, Fla., school that
teaches technicians how to install the
panels. (Daly, the FPL spokesperson,
claimed in an email that solar is not
cost effective and instead pointed to
the utility’s “highly efficient system
and low electric rates.”) The problem
is that few homeowners want to
pay up front for the system, Johnson
said. In about half of the states, solar
companies can install panels for free
and then sell the power to the home
or business owner at a rate lower
than local utilities, paying for the
system over time.
These third¬party sales are
generally illegal under the Florida
law that gives utility companies a
local monopoly on supplying power.
Since Kreegel’s unsuccessful attempt
to expand solar power in
2009, other lawmakers have tried as
well, only to watch their bills languish
in committee. State Sen. Jeff
Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, submitted
a bill last year that would have given
a tax break to businesses and homeowners
who installed solar.
The law would have meant
the property tax value of the home or
business could not increase as a result
of the value of the solar panels.
His bill never received a
hearing in Senate committees. This
year, Brandes has filed a new bill
that would allow businesses that produce
extra energy from solar cells to
sell that energy to neighbors, but it
faces an uphill climb in the Legislature.
“Here’s how the power companies
control the Legislature: They
ask the chairman of committees to
never meet on the issue,” Brandes
said. more next issue.............
Submitted by
Keith Wehunt

Published in Technology

A divided Federal Reserve
left its policy rate unchanged for a
sixth straight meeting, saying it
would wait for more evidence of
progress toward its goals, while
projecting that an increase is still
likely by year-end.
“Near-term risks to the economic
outlook appear roughly balanced,”
the Federal Open Market
Committee said in its statement
Wednesday after a two-day meeting
in Washington. “The Committee
judges that the case for an
increase in the federal funds rate
has strengthened but decided, for
the time being, to wait for further
evidence of continued progress toward
its objectives.”
The decision extends U.S.
central bankers’ run of getting cold
feet amid risks from abroad and inconsistent
signs of economic
strength. Now the focus may shift
to December as the Fed’s likely last
chance to raise interest rates in
2016 -- a move that depends on
how the economy, inflation and
markets fare in the months surrounding
a contentious presidential
“The statement is much more
hawkish than I thought it would
be,” said Stephen Stanley, chief
economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities
LLC in New York, who
said he expects a rate increase in
December. “That just tells you they
are revving up the engines.”
Three officials, the most since December
2014, dissented in favor of
a quarter-point hike.Esther George, president of the
Kansas City Fed, voted against the
decision for a second straight meeting.
She was joined by Cleveland
Fed President Loretta Mester -- in
her first dissent -- and Eric Rosengren,
head of the Boston Fed,
whose previous dissents called for
easier policy.
Policy makers see two rate
hikes next year, down from their
June median projection of three.
The Fed said that the labor market
will “strengthen somewhat further,”
adding the qualifier “somewhat
further” to similar language
from the July statement.
“Although the unemployment rate
is little changed in recent months,
job gains have been solid, on average,”
the Fed said in its statement.
“Household spending has been
growing strongly but business
fixed investment has remained
The target range for the benchmark
federal funds rate remains at 0.25
percent to 0.5 percent, where it’s
been since a quarter-point increase
in December 2015 that ended
seven years of near-zero rates.
The Fed repeated that it “continues
to closely monitor inflation indicators
and global economic and financial
Gradual Pace
The FOMC reiterated that borrowing
costs will probably rise at an
“only gradual” pace. Policy makers
also reiterated that they expect inflation
to rise to their 2 percent
goal over the medium term.
Because November’s FOMC meeting
comes within a week of the
U.S. presidential election and isn’t
followed by a press conference
with Chair Janet Yellen, economists
have viewed the Fed’s December
meeting as a more likely
candidate for an increase.
The latest decision could embolden
Republican presidential nominee
Donald Trump to unleash additional
attacks on Yellen. The billionaire
businessman said last
week that the Fed “is being totally
controlled politically” and might
stand pat on rates for the rest of
Yellen, a former economics professor
at the University of California
at Berkeley, was appointed Fed
chair by President Barack Obama
and served as President
Bill Clinton’s
top economic adviser.
The decision comes
as Fed officials become
more convinced
that the
economy is experiencing
a new normal.
Long-Term Rate
Policy makers scaled
back their median
projection of the
long-term interest
rate to 2.9 percent
from 3 percent in
June. The estimate
shows how high officials
think rates can
climb, so its downgrade suggests a
shallower hiking cycle.
Fed officials also cut their median
growth projection for 2016 to 1.8
percent from 2 percent, mirroring
the drop in the longer-run forecast,
based on median estimates. Inflation
is projected at 1.3 percent in
the fourth quarter, down from a
forecast of 1.4 percent in June.
Policy makers again projected that
inflation will reach the 2 percent
target in 2018.
Most economists in a Bloomberg
survey had expected the committee
to stay on hold, assigning just a 15
percent chance of a hike this
month. Fed watchers saw a 54 percent
probability that the Fed will
raise rates at its December 13-14
Yellen is scheduled to hold a press
conference at 2:30 p.m. in Washington.
It will be her first public remarks
since a speech last month,
when she said that the case for an
interest-rate increase “has strengthened
in recent months.”
Payroll Gains
Nonfarm payrolls have climbed by
182,000 jobs on average so far this
year, although the most recent report
showed a cooling to 151,000
job gains along with moderating
wage increases. Other figures have
shown declines in August retail
sales and industrial production, as
well as drops in sentiment at service
companies and manufacturers.
Inflation is still running below the
Fed’s 2 percent goal. After picking
up earlier in the year, annual gains
in the headline personal consumption
expenditures price index
slowed to 0.8 percent in July. Core
inflation, which excludes food and
fuel costs, is firmer though still undershooting
at 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, inflation expectations
have stayed relatively low. A gauge
of market-based expectations
watched by the Fed is projecting a
pace of price gains of about 1.5
percent in the period five to 10
years out.
The Fed repeated on Wednesday
that “market-based measures of inflation
compensation remain low.”

Published in Politics

Trouble is brewing in
New England for gun manufacturers.
The Massachusetts attorney
general has launched an
innovative investigation of major
firearm makers based on her
state’s expansive consumerprotection
The probe targets at
least two companies—Glock
Inc. and Remington Outdoor
Co.—and possibly others. The
investigation came to light because
of lawsuits the gun companies
recently filed seeking to
block or narrow the Massachusetts
safety investigation, calling
it overly intrusive. The
defensive litigation stated that
Attorney General Maura Healey
is demanding that Glock and
Remington surrender a wide
range of internal documents, including
safety-related complaints
from customers.
Glock is Austria-based
and controlled by its founder,
87-year-old Gaston Glock. Beginning
in the mid-1980s, the
company’s pistols revolutionized
the handgun market with
their large ammunition capacity
and lightweight, mostly plastic
frame. Remington, 200 years
old and based in Madison, N.C.,
is part of Freedom Group,
which, in turn, is owned by a
New York private equity firm by
the name of Cerberus Capital
Since the Glock was introduced
in America 30 years
ago, critics have said its design
makes it more likely than other
handguns to fire accidentally.
For example, the Austrian
gun fires with relatively little
pressure from the shooter’s
index finger, and it has an unconventional
safety mechanism
built into its trigger, which some
detractors say is ineffective.
The company has responded
that with proper training and
careful technique, users will
avoid accidental discharges.
Remington has had
safety issues of its own. The
company recently recalled two
lines of rifles manufactured from
2006 through early 2014 because
of accidental discharges.
The recall notice stated to owners
that “any unintended discharge
has the potential for
causing injury or death. Immediately
stop using your rifle until
Remington can inspect it to determine
if the XMP trigger has
excess bonding agent used in
the assembly process, which
could cause an unintentional
The Boston Globe, which
broke this story on Sept. 1, reported
that, in her court filing responding
to Glock’s suit, Healey
argued that the manufacturer’s
pistols are “prone to accidental
discharge” and that the company
may have been warned
about the problem by customers
but still failed to act.
“Responding to Glock’s
lawsuit,” the Globe added,
Healey referred to “news stories
about a sheriff's deputy accidentally
firing a Glock pistol in
San Francisco’s Hall of Justice,
a Los Angeles police officer
who was paralyzed from the
waist down after his 3-year-old
son accidentally fired his Glock
pistol, and a Massachusetts
man who was dancing at a July
4th party when his Glock handgun
fired while it was in his
Guns, it's worth noting,
are one of the only products not
regulated by the federal Consumer
Product Safety Commission.
Paul Barrett

Published in Politics

“Our planet is most certainly
at a crossroads,” declared
Zhang Xinsheng, president of the
International Union for the Conservation
of Nature, Thursday at the
opening ceremony of the IUCN
World Conservation Congress.
“This unique gathering of
top minds holds the key to innovation,
inspiration and most importantly,
action,” he told delegates
from 192 countries gathered in
Honolulu for the triennial event,
the first ever held in the United
“The path we take as a
global community, and how we
choose to walk down that path in
the next few years, will define humanity’s
opportunities for generations
to come. These decisions will
also affect the boundaries of those
opportunities,” said Zhang. “As we
all know, there are limits to what
our Earth can provide, and it is up
to us to make the decisions today
that will ensure those resources are
still here tomorrow.”
A report released at the
conference today indicates that
many of the world’s gorillas may
not be here tomorrow.
The Eastern lowland gorilla,
called Grauer’s gorilla, Gorilla
beringei graueri, is newly
listed as Critically Endangered due
to illegal hunting for bushmeat, according
to the latest update of the
IUCN Red List of Threatened
Hunting has made the
Grauer’s gorilla population plummet
by 77 percent since 1994,
falling from 16,900 individuals to
just 3,800 in 2015.
Gorillas are divided into
two species – Eastern and Western
– each with two subspecies. The
Eastern gorillas include the subspecies
Eastern lowland gorilla,
Gorilla beringei graueri, and
Mountain gorilla, Gorilla beringei
The Western gorillas include
the subspecies
Western lowland
gorilla, Gorilla gorilla
gorilla, and the
Cross River gorilla,
Gorilla gorilla
Both species and all
four subspecies are
now listed as Critically
Endangered on
the IUCN’s Red List
of Threatened
“To see the Eastern
gorilla, one of our
closest cousins,
slide towards extinction
is truly distressing,”
said Inger Andersen,
IUCN director general.
“We live in a time of
tremendous change and each
IUCN Red List update makes us
realize just how quickly the global
extinction crisis is escalating,” said
Andersen. “Conservation action
does work and we have increasing
evidence of it. It is our responsibility
to enhance our efforts to turn
the tide and protect the future of
our planet.”
The new designation for
the world’s largest living primate
follows a report earlier this year by
the Wildlife Conservation Society,
WCS, and Fauna & Flora International,
FFI, showing the collapse
of Grauer’s gorilla numbers due to
illegal hunting and civil unrest.
“We are grateful that IUCN
and the Species Survival Commission
Primate Specialist Group have
accepted our recommendations to
upgrade the listing of Grauer’s gorilla,”
said Andrew Plumptre, lead
author of the revised listing, titled,
“Critical Endangered status will
raise the profile of this gorilla subspecies
and bring attention to its
plight. It has tended to be the neglected
ape in Africa, despite being
the largest ape in the World.”
Few Grauer’s gorillas exist
in captivity and if this ape becomes
extinct in the wild it will be lost
forever, warns Plumptre.
The WCS and FFI surveys
documented that Grauer’s gorilla
has declined by at least 77 percent
over the past 20 years using three
methods of estimation. Other
methods estimated up to a 94 percent
decline at specific sites where
they have been monitored over
A decline of 80 percent
over the time span of three generations
leads to a listing of Critically
Endangered status. Twenty years is
considered to be the duration of
one generation for these gorillas,
as they are a long-lived ape.
The scientists who surveyed
the Grauer’s gorilla population
say the main cause of the
decline is hunting for bushmeat,
which is taking place around villages
and mining camps established
by armed groups deep in the
forests in eastern DR Congo.
The mines are set up in remote
areas to provide the financing
for weapons to continue the armed
struggle by these groups. Being
deep in the forest to avoid detection,
they are also in the areas
where gorillas have tended to survive
because of the remoteness and
distance from villages and roads.
There is no agriculture in
these sites, so the miners/rebels
can only subsist off bushmeat. Gorillas
provide more meat than most
species per shotgun cartridge and
can be tracked easily because they
are mainly terrestrial and move in
a group, making them vulnerable
to hunting.WCS DRC Project Director
Deo Kujirakwinja, who has established
the data collection across
most of Grauer’s range, said, “The
data used to estimate this decline
came from park rangers of the DR
Congo protected area authority
ICCN as well as local communities
which are entered in software
called SMART (Spatial Monitoring
And Reporting Tool). It shows the
value of such monitoring databases
once established and it is vital they
continue to be supported to allow
us to continue to monitor the gorillas
in future.”
Only one site, the highland
sector of Kahuzi-Biega National
Park, has shown an increase in gorilla
numbers over the past 15
years and only where resources
have been invested to protect these
apes from hunting.
These results have just been
accepted for publication in “PLoS
One,” an open source and peer reviewed
scientific journal.
Today’s IUCN Red List update
also reports the decline of the
Plains Zebra, Equus quagga, due to
illegal hunting.
The once widespread and
abundant Plains Zebra has moved
from a listing of Least Concern to
Near Threatened. The population
has reduced by 24 percent in the
past 14 years from around 660,000
to a current estimate of just over
500,000 animals.
In many countries Plains
Zebra are only found in protected
areas, yet population reductions
have been recorded in 10 out of the
17 range states since 1992. The
Plains Zebra is threatened by hunting
for bushmeat and skins, especially
when they move out of
protected areas.
Three species of antelope
found in Africa – Bay Duiker,
Cephalophus dorsalis, White-bellied
Duiker, Cephalophus leucogaster,
and Yellow-backed Duiker,
Cephalophus silvicultor, – also
have been moved from a listing of
Least Concern to Near Threatened.
While the populations of these
species within protected areas are
relatively stable, those found in
other areas are decreasing due to
continued illegal hunting and habitat
“Illegal hunting and habitat
loss are still major threats driving
many mammal species towards extinction,”
says Carlo Rondinini, coordinator
of the mammal
assessment at Sapienza University
of Rome “We have now reassessed
nearly half of all mammals. While
there are some successes to celebrate,
this new data must act as a
beacon to guide the conservation of
those species which continue to be
under threat.”
This update of The IUCN
Red List brings some good news
for the Giant Panda and the Tibetan
Antelope, demonstrating that conservation
action can deliver positive
Previously listed as Endangered,
the Giant Panda, Ailuropoda
melanoleuca, is now listed as Vulnerable,
as its population has
grown due to effective forest protection
and reforestation.
The improved status confirms
that the Chinese government’s
efforts to conserve this
species are effective. Still, climate
change is predicted to eliminate
more than 35 percent of the
Panda’s bamboo habitat in the next
80 years and as a result, the Panda
population is projected to decline,
reversing the gains made during
the last two decades.
To protect this species, it is
critical that the effective forest protection
measures are continued and
that emerging threats are addressed.
“The Chinese government’s
plan to expand existing
conservation policy for the species
is a positive step and must be
strongly supported to ensure its effective
implementation,” says the
Due to successful conservation
actions, the Tibetan Antelope,
Pantholops hodgsonii, has been
moved from a listing as Endangered
to Near Threatened.
The population underwent a
severe decline from around one
million to an estimated 65,000-
72,500 in the 1980s and early
1990s. This was the result of commercial
poaching for the valuable
underfur, called shahtoosh, which
is used to make shawls. It takes
three to five hides to make a single
shawl, and as the wool cannot be
sheared or combed, the animals are
killed. Rigorous protection has
been enforced since then, and the
population is currently likely to be
between 100,000 and 150,000.
Other conservation successes include
the Greater Stick-nest Rat,
Leporillus conditor, endemic to
Australia, which has improved status,
moving from Vulnerable to
Near Threatened. This is due to a
successful species recovery plan,
which has involved reintroductions
and introductions to predator-free
areas. This unique nest-building rodent
is the last of its kind, with its
smaller relative the Lesser Sticknest
Rat, Leporillus apicalis, having
died out in the 20th Century.
The resin created by the rats to
build their nests is so strong that
they can last for thousands of years
if they are not exposed to water.
The Bridled Nailtail Wallaby,
Onychogalea fraenata, has
also improved in status, having
been moved from Endangered to
Vulnerable. Endemic to Australia,
this once common species had a
steep population decline during the
19th and early 20th centuries due
to the impacts of invasive species
and habitat loss. A successful
translocation conservation program
establishing new populations
within protected areas is enabling
this species to begin to recover.
On Saturday, IUCN, its
Species Survival Commission, and
nine Red List partner institutions
forged a new commitment to support
the IUCN Red List.
The institutions include:
Arizona State University; BirdLife
International; Botanic Gardens
Conservation International; Conservation
International; Nature-
Serve; Royal Botanic Gardens
Kew; Sapienza University of
Rome; Texas A&M University and
the Zoological Society of London.
These organizations will
jointly commit more than US$10
million over the next five years towards
achieving an ambitious
strategic plan that aims to double
the number of species assessed on
the IUCN Red List by the year
The IUCN Red List now includes
82,954 species of which
23,928 are threatened with extinction.
© Environment News Service
(ENS) 2016. All rights reserved.
Giant pandas are native to centralwestern
and south western China.
(Photo by momo)

Published in Environment
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