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Items filtered by date: Thursday, 16 January 2020

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Puerto Rico last week, killing at least one person and leaving several others injured in the southern part of the Caribbean island, according to official reports.

Over the past several weeks, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in this same region. At least 300 homes were destroyed in the M 6.4 quake and 6.0 aftershock, the strongest to hit the island in 102 years. The only confirmed death is a 73-year-old man in the southern city of Ponce.

As of last Friday, two-thirds of Puerto Rico is still without power, and a quarter of the island is without running water. The earthquakes destroyed Puerto Rico’s main generating facility, the Costa Sur plant, which, until Tuesday, supplied about a quarter of the island’s power.

Officials have said that power will not be restored to the island’s three million people until this weekend, and it will take a year to fix the Costa Sur plant.

Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency after the series of earthquakes struck the U.S. commonwealth. Vázquez, who also activated the National Guard, said at a news conference Tuesday that the earthquakes sparked power outages and cut off drinking water to 300,000 people across the island.

Early Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed a federal disaster declaration request.

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Nearly 200 Puerto Rico National Guard members are assisting in the recovery efforts, many helping military police secure shelters, where some 2,000 people are staying. Maj. Gen. José J.

Reyes, adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard, said his engineers will be inspecting bridges for damage and deploying emergency teams and tactical vehicles.

Puerto Rico is still recovering from the disastrous effects of Hurricane Maria, a deadly Category 5 hurricane that devastated Dominica, St Croix, and Puerto Rico in September 2017. It killed at least 3,057 people and ripped out power lines and water supplies across the island.

The location of Tuesday’s 6.4 magnitude quake is within 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) of a M 5.8 earthquake on January 6. Over the past several weeks, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in this same region, beginning with a M 4.7 earthquake late on December 28 and a M 5.0 event a few hours later.

Since the M 4.7 event, over 400 M 2+ earthquakes have occurred in this region, 11 of which were M 4+, including Tuesday’s M 6.4 event and the January 6th M 5.8. The proximity of these events to the island of Puerto Rico, and their shallow depth, mean that dozens of these events were felt on land.

A famous tourist landmark and one of Puerto Rico’s most beloved natural wonders collapsed Monday after the M 5.8 quake shook the island, Guaynilla Mayor Nelson Torres Yordan told reporters.

Punta Ventana, which translates as Window Point, was a stone arch shaped like a round window located in Guayanilla along the island’s southern coast. Monday’s M 5.8 earthquake destroyed the natural formation.

The UPRM Meteorological Laboratory shared a photo on Twitter of Punta Ventana before and after the earthquake, showing where the soaring arch once stood before its tragic collapse.
A colonial church constructed in 1841 also “totally collapsed,” during the earthquake, according to Yordan.

The strongest quake, the M 6.4 event which struck nine miles from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico on January 7 at 12:24 am, also shook other Caribbean islands: the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Caribbean Netherlands, Saint Barthélemy, Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla.

© Environment News Service (ENS) 2019. All rights reserved.

Published in Environment

Marine Corps Sgt. Ashtyn Hammer says she grew up on the back of a horse.

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Now she spends her days riding and caring for them, as a member of the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard — the only remaining mounted color guard in the Corps.
How does it feel to be a member of the last mounted color guard in the Marine Corps?

It's such an incredible opportunity, and I'm so grateful to be able to represent the Marine Corps in a way that's incredibly special to me. I grew up on the back of a horse, so being able to ride horses while in the signature dress blue uniform is like a dream come true. I'm honored to be one of the few Marines that get the prestigious honor to be a part of the team and present the colors while on horseback.

What's it like going from working on attack helicopters to working with horses?

Working on attack helicopters was a challenging, yet rewarding field. ... Working with horses has its own unique challenges. It's just as rewarding and is very dear to my heart. It's super cool to me that I went from working on some of the best warfighting technology and equipment we have today to working with what was considered the peak of maneuver warfare [horses] from over a hundred years ago.

How do people react when people see the mounted color guard?

Well, as someone who has seen them in action as a civilian — from before my time in the Marine Corps — it is a mesmerizing experience. I was competing at the [Colorado Professional Rodeo Association] finals in Grand Junction, Colorado, when I saw them. Everyone was transfixed on their every move as they entered the arena. Before the announcer could even ask people to stand for the national anthem, everyone was already standing, hats removed and hands over their hearts. You could hear each step the four palomino mustangs took ... as they headed to the center of the arena. After the national anthem played, the mounted color guard started to exit the arena with every eye still on them, showing every ounce of respect with hats still removed until they were completely out of the arena. It is still one of my
favorite memories, and I believe that those people who get to witness the Marine Corps' last remaining mounted color guard have experienced similar moments.

What do you hope to accomplish with the mounted color guard?

Coming from a unit that not many people had heard of, I want to help broaden the public's knowledge. ... The mounted color guard is an incredible recruiting tool that has limitless potential, which I look forward to expanding. I believe the mounted color guard is one of the best ways to interact with the public and create phenomenal relationships and connections with prominent members of the community throughout the United States. I just hope that I can have a small part in getting the word out that such a special unit exists.

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I can't wait to come to a town near you!

Shannon Collins

Published in Outdoors
Friday, 17 January 2020 07:55


The saga of U.S. Iran relations in its current context roughly spans my lifetime. After coming to power during the 1940s, the pro-western Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, gained status as an absolute monarch in 1953 with the help of British and American spy agencies. He continued to rule with U.S. support until overthrown in 1979 during the Iran Revolution.

On November 4, 1979, a government supported student seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran led to the 444-day hostage crisis. Ultimately, a financial settlement was reached with the release of frozen Iranian funds. The Shah first fled to the U.S. and ultimately died in Egypt in 1980.


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Some of the more prominent Iranian leaders during recent decades. Can you name them?



Now, in 2020, democrats are accusing President Trump of reckless behavior dealing with Iran? Let’s take a closer look.

First consider Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear “agreement.” This was Obama’s intended legacy for creating peace in the Mideast. A closer look helps us understand how the agreement was full of wishful thinking.

The U.S. wasn’t even involved in direct monitoring of compliance. And because of lengthy dispute resolution procedures, “anytime monitoring” didn’t really exist. Also, Iran was permitted to continue developing missile technology, the nuclear warhead delivery system, and uranium enrichment could continue at agreed levels. And, believe it or not, Iran had the right to declare some military sites “off limits” to inspection. What could go wrong there? I could go on and on.

Iran received cash in the agreement, possibly up to $150 billion. Democrats have claimed that some of this should be considered separate from the agreement because it was their own frozen funds. Also, former Secretary of State Kerry says these billions went into their economy, not to further international terrorism. If you gain reassurance from that, I’ve got a bridge……
Perhaps the most damning piece of information about that deal is that while Obama signed it, he never submitted it to the Senate for approval because of bipartisan opposition. Leading democrat senators Schumer and Mendendez joined republicans in opposing the probably ineffective agreement. And finally, Iran wasn’t required to sign the agreement. Can you believe it?

This was never an official treaty or agreement, perhaps no more binding than a blank piece of paper. No, Trump didn’t open the gates to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, they were open all along.

Let’s connect that nuclear agreement to something happening in recent weeks. While writing this article, I recalled reading about the late General Suleimani being mentioned in the Iran nuclear deal. I quickly found an interesting article by Con Coughlin in the July 2015 UK Telegraph.

Coughlin wrote that he had found, in an annex to the agreement, that Qassem Suleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, “has been granted an amnesty and taken off the list of proscribed Iranians – together with a number of senior members of the Revolutionary Guards. Thanks to Mr. Obama’s scandalous capitulation to Tehran, Mr. Suleimani has overnight gone from being one of the world’s most wanted terrorists to the White House’s newest best friend.”

I probably don’t need to explain that General Suleimani organized many terrorist activities, including the recent attempt to break into and burn the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. How can democrats keep straight faces while claiming Trump endangered national security by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal or in his decisions relative to recent aggressive military and terrorist actions by Iran?

The President showed patience and restraint following the Iran attack on Saudi oil facilities. He refrained from retaliating after Iran shot down our drone. Only when American lives were lost did he take measured retaliation. And only after our embassy was attacked and partially burned did he order the fatal attack on General Soleimani, the terrorist leader of the attempted embassy burning.

Bottom line, Trump didn’t back down. Our president is now publicly backing an Iran citizens’ uprising, and warned Iran leaders not to harm these freedom seekers. I believe if other more reticent presidents had been in charge, there would have been dancing in the streets in opposition to the U.S., “the great satan.” These demonstrators are praising the U.S. while condemning the mullah regime. What’s wrong with that?

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Steve Bakke,
Fort Myers

Published in Politics

Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday announced the state will purchase 20,000 acres spanning a 150-mile swath of Everglades between Fort Myers and Miami to ensure it is never used for oil drilling.

“This will permanently save the land from oil production,” DeSantis said during a news conference at Everglades Holiday Park near Fort Lauderdale.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein said the acquisition would be the state’s largest land purchase “in more than a decade.”

Valenstein said the state has 75 days to complete the acquisition, which will cost $16.56 million “if we’re able to secure it in a short period of time, reaching up to an option price of $18 million through the year.”

The money will come from several sources, including DEP’s Florida Forever funds, other state agencies and local governments, such as the South Florida Water Management District (SoftMud).

All 20,000 acres are held by Kanter Real Estate LLC, owned by Miami real estate developer Joseph Kanter, who originally proposed a “new town development” for the consolidated parcel, mostly in southwest Broward County.

In 2016, however, Kanter applied for a permit to drill an exploratory well 11,800 feet deep on the land to ascertain if oil could be extracted there. The DEP rejected the application.

If February 2019, a three-judge panel of the First District Court of Appeal ruled the DEP “improperly recast factual findings to reach a desired outcome” in upholding its rejection of Kanter’s permit – essentially opening the door for drilling.

DeSantis said the ruling forced the state to consider purchasing the land.

“This is guaranteeing the heart of the Everglades is under public ownership and secure for future generations,” he said, noting the land sustains more than 60 endangered species.

DeSantis said with the state funneling $2.5 billion into Everglades restoration and water quality as part of his four-year environmental plan, and the federal government committing billions more under the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, the money is well spent.

“My thing is, we’re putting all this effort in there. I don’t want some type of accident causing all these problems and then putting us backwards,” he said.

SoftMud Board Chair Chauncey Goss, who also attended Wednesday’s conference, praised the acquisition.

“This is a great day for Florida’s Everglades,” he said. “This is a really bold action to stop oil and gas drilling in one of the most pristine ecosystems in the world. This is an announcement that is going to be recognized nationally and internationally as an important step in restoring our Everglades.”

Environmental groups quickly endorsed the acquistion in statements.

“We applaud Gov. DeSantis for his swift action in protecting these lands,” Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg said. “This is yet another demonstration of his commitment to restoring

America’s Everglades and ensuring we achieve more now for Florida’s environment.”

Kanter’s project is among at least five pending oil drilling permit applications in the Everglades or nearby, including Trend Exploration’s request to drill in the Caracara Prairie Preserve in Collier County.

John Haughey
The Center Square

Published in Environment
Friday, 17 January 2020 07:48

Hilarious Democratic Debates

To the Editor,­

Really enjoyed the debates! was actually enjoyable if you watched it a a comedy....LOL

Bernie Sanders: A blithering buffoon blubbering his case for socialism, corruption, and globalism. He has about worse odds of winning the election as me finding an ad-free Youtube video.

Elizabeth Warren: "Calm down! No need to get angry!" Uncle Leo from Seinfeld called--he wants his eyebrows back. Her odds are even worse.
About as likable as the Impossible Whopper...

Joe Biden: He’s the kind of guy that would lean in and sniff a person and not even have the common courtesy to introduce yourself. He’s got little girl issues and Trump will absolutely destroy him in the debates.

Pete Buttigieg: I already feel dirty just spelling his name. America wasn't built on soy. You are about as likable as a leaky gas pump.

The other two won’t be even around in a month! Vote Trump 2020!

Isabelle Detmer

Published in Sun Bay Editorials
Friday, 17 January 2020 07:47

Comparing Watergate To Trumps Impeachment

To the Editor,

People keep comparing Watergate to Trumps impeachment. Really?

Nixon had agents break into a hotel room to steal documents. Trump attempted to resurrect an investigation into a case of national crime (alleged crime because there are no laws against having your son hired by foreign companies ..... but there should be!) that borders on the edge of espionage and election meddling.(The Steele Dossier). Biden actually bragged about having the prosecuting attorney of Ukraine fired or else funding would be held back and this is what they impeaching Trump for?

Also, I would think surveilling a candidate of the opposing Republican Party during an election while your former Secretary of State is running for President in the Democratic Party is closer to Watergate than Trump investigating corruption in Ukraine

Georgie ‘Hughie’ Braden

Published in Letters To The Editor
Friday, 17 January 2020 07:43

Democratic Socialism Is A Lie

To the Editor,

Democratic Socialism is a lie!

Teaching it as a cure all for all our illness is just another form of the
centuries old power play - “trust us we are the ultimate power, we are nice, we care.” Crap. A new description for this idea is "market

So level the playing field, and then, a committee of pre-selected
“correct” thinkers, will rearrange outcomes, to which they feel is most fair, based on whatever criteria the think most correct. Another power play.

Pietro Jones

Published in Letters To The Editor
Friday, 17 January 2020 07:41

Failed Iranian Policies

As tensions with Iran escalate, former Obama administration officials and their media allies have been working to push the narrative that the leading state sponsor of terrorism was somehow under control as a result of the Iran nuclear deal. In this alternate universe, 'they' would have us believe the relevant timeline for Iranian aggression against the United States that precipitated the killing of Qassem Soleimani starts in May 2018, when President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and ignited a conflict between the two nations.

This self-serving and distorted account of history not only ignores decades of hostile behavior by one of the world's leading rogue regimes but also years of aggressive and destabilizing actions by Iran over the course of the Obama presidency -- before the nuclear deal was signed, during negotiations, and after it was implemented. Far from keeping Iran under control, Barack Obama's deal further enabled Iran's malicious behavior and made the Democratic Party and the news media complicit in downplaying its bad actions.

A more appropriate Iranian timeline begins with the 1979 seizure of our embassy in Tehran and the detention of dozens of U.S. diplomats for more than a year. It continues in Lebanon, with Iran's April 1983 murder of 17 Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and the October 1983 slaughter of 241 U.S. peacekeepers as they slept in their barracks. Iran's gripe with these public servants? They served a multisectarian cause that obstructed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's subjugation of the Lebanese people. Regrettably, in President Ronald Reagan's withdrawal of U.S. forces from Lebanon, Iran and al-Qaida found a rationale for new terrorism. In 1996, Iranian agents attacked a U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Americans who had been working to maintain a no-fly zone against Iran's nemesis, Saddam Hussein.

During the 2006 to 2009 period in Iraq, Soleimani's Quds Force deployed explosively formed penetrator shells to Shiite militias in Iraq. These weapons killed hundreds of Americans and maimed thousands more. To be clear, Iran's actions were not designed to end foreign intervention in Iraq but to push America out so that Iran could dictate Iraqi politics. Although little known, another Quds Force attack in 2007 saw four Americans kidnapped from a meeting with Iraqi officials in Karbala and executed while in handcuffs. In Afghanistan, Iran provided weapons and logistics support to various insurgent groups, including the Taliban.

That brings us to the Obama administration. Just months into Obama's presidency, democratic protests broke out across Iran. Yet Obama remained mostly silent, refusing to offer clear, even rhetorical support for the demonstrators, fearing tough statements could endanger diplomatic overtures to Tehran. The regime predictably conducted a brutal crackdown against protesters. Obama, following through with his promise to "extend a hand," sent a series of letters to Iran's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reeking of desperation.

But Obama's overtures did not change Iranian behavior. Two years after our president had offered an outstretched hand to Tehran, seeking a new relationship, Iran attempted to blow up civilians in our nation's capital. In 2011, under the direction of Soleimani, the Quds Force plotted to blow up the Saudi ambassador at Washington, D.C.'s Cafe Milano restaurant. When the operations agent responsible for carrying out the attack told his Quds handler that the explosion might kill one hundred diners, he was told: "F--- 'em."

Yet that's not all. Both during nuclear negotiations and after the deal was signed, Iran helped Bashar Assad slaughter hundreds of thousands of his people in Syria. The Quds Force and its allies have played a special role in starving Sunni-dominated settlements. In Lebanon, Iran and its Hezbollah ally have blackmailed or bombed dozens of patriots opposed to Tehran's interference. The list of victims includes many security officials and, most notably, former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. In Yemen, Iran has helped fuel the civil war by supporting Houthi extremists.

Obama continued on his course of rapprochement at all costs. Desperate to reach a nuclear accord with Tehran, he ignored terrorist fundraising networks, such as Hezbollah's multibillion-dollar drug and weapons trafficking business, and tolerated Iranian plots against U.S. interests.

What provokes a particularly contemptuous laugh about the contention that the Iran deal kept a lid on bad behavior by the Iranians is that at the time, its supporters argued that other issues, such as terrorism and human rights abuses, would be dealt with on a separate track. After striking a deal with Iran in 2015, John Kerry declared at the outset: "First, what we are announcing today is an agreement addressing the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program -- period -- just the nuclear program."

They said the two were unconnected when the deal was struck, and now they want us to believe that the collapse of the deal is what produced Iranian hostilities. The idea that the nuclear deal exclusively dealt with nuclear issues was a myth. The reality was that the issues were treated separately when it came to the U.S. restricting bad Iranian behavior, but they were not dealt with separately when it came to numerous concessions that enabled bad Iranian behavior. As a result of the deal, Iran received hundreds of billions of dollars of sanctions relief, which Kerry conceded might be used to finance terrorism.

The Iran deal was not disastrous because Obama accepted a weak inspections protocol, although he did. It was awful because, even if the deal were followed to the letter, it still enabled the regime to become a more powerful conventional threat by providing the mullahs with the money to pursue terrorism and the freedom to develop ballistic missiles. Furthermore, restrictions imposed by the deal would have started to sunset after 10 years, meaning the terror state still maintained its long-term ability to develop nuclear weapons.

The Obama administration and its allies ignored bad Iranian behavior to secure the nuclear deal and then downplayed subsequent Iranian bad behavior to defend the deal. And now........., they're attempting to blame Trump for bad Iranian behavior to distract people from recognizing the failed legacy of the deal.

small smiley face with sunglasses1

Published in Sun Bay Editorials
Friday, 17 January 2020 07:39

A New Years Gift!

Here's my 2020 New Year's gift to the Democratic Party. This is a teachable moment. I'm going to teach Democrats how real Americans think.

It appears to one on the outside looking in that Democrats live in a bubble. They believe the lies, fraud and "fake news" spouted by Democratic politicians, Liberal media such as CNN, MSNBC, PBS .... the mainstream media in general. They are never exposed to anything else, so they have no idea what real Americans think.

Just look at the makeup of the Democratic Party.

To me, "real Americans" are those born in the United States or those who came here legally who actually earn a living and pay into the system. These are the American voters who have earned the right to decide the direction of America. I call them the Silent Majority.

There were two teachable moments in the past week. Liberals have no clue how the Silent Majority thinks. The liberal reaction to both incidents is nothing short of a disaster for the Democratic Party. So let me explain to Democrats how real Americans think about these two life-and-death events.

First, we have the Texas church shooting. A hero shot the perp dead in seconds with one shot through the head. Bravo. Standing ovation. But if he had missed, six more churchgoers were already armed and ready to run toward the evildoer.

This is exactly how we must stop acts of evil and terrorism. The Second Amendment is there to protect good people. The way to protect churches and synagogues is with armed security, trained and armed volunteers, and parishioners in the audience legally allowed to carry guns.
Government can't save you. Police can't save you because they are not already there when violence happens. If it is to be, it is up to you and me.

We all need to take personal responsibility and learn to protect ourselves. The citizens are the true first responders. We must all understand that, now more than ever. This is the clear lesson real Americans who understand this man saved lives, learned from this incident.

Second was President Donald Trump's decision to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani with a missile strike. Soleimani was evil personified. The second most powerful Iranian, Soleimani coordinated the murder of hundreds of American soldiers, 600 that intel is absolutely positive of and who how many more we do not know for sure. He was planning many attacks against American interests in Iraq. President Trump blew him to hell.

The mullahs of Iran and bad guys across the world (think Kim Jong Un of North Korea) are now on notice. America is no longer a paper tiger. We will fight back. There is a new sheriff in town, and he's the fastest gun in the West... Literally.

New message sent: If you attack America or Americans, we will hunt you down, and you will die.

Real Americans support President Trump's decision 100%. We are high-fiving -- and we think any Democrat or Hollywood celebrity who defends evil Iran is a traitor to America.

Are you listening, Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Are you listening, Rose McGowan, Robert DeNiro and John Cusack?

So liberals, please accept this message as a New Year's gift.

Proceed with caution on the topics of good citizens with guns defending themselves from bad guys and America defending itself from evil murdering terrorist regimes. Real Americans believe in peace through strength.

Get this wrong and your Democratic Party will cease to exist as a viable political party.

You're welcome!

small smiley face with sunglasses1

Published in Sun Bay Editorials

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