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Items filtered by date: July 2021

Friday, 27 August 2021 15:29

Island Hoppers Songwriters Fest

After a one-year hiatus, the annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is returning to Southwest Florida Sept. 17 – 26.

The Island Hopper Songwriter Fest (IHSF) is a 10-day music festival featuring performances by the greatest singer-songwriters from Nashville and nationwide. The festival is broken up into three locations with the first weekend kicking off on Captiva Island (Sept. 17 – 19), then moving to downtown Fort Myers during the second weekend (Sept. 20 – 23), and ends with a weekend on Fort Myers Beach (Sept. 24 – 26).

IHSF is produced by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, BMI, iHeartMedia and Cat Country 107.1, and was recognized as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society. It is an award-winning festival. The 2017 Island Hopper Fest received three SunSational Awards through the Florida Festival & Events Association (FFEA), and the Southeast Tourism Society named Island Hopper one of their “Top 20 Events.”

The diverse lineup is what makes IHSF different from almost any other festival. Along with seeing big-name headliners, you can also meet the songwriters behind the big hits. Their names aren’t always in bright lights, but if you’ve listened to chart-topping songs from Garth Brooks, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan or Carrie Underwood – then you’ve heard their music. These AMA-, CMA- and Grammy-winning songwriters are the heart and soul of country music, and we’re bringing them to the heart of Southwest Florida so they can perform the songs they love.

The lineup of songwriters changes every year, but performers say IHSF is among their favorite festivals to perform at. So you can expect to see plenty of familiar faces alongside new ones. So far, more than 50 songwriters have been scheduled for the festival with performances at 15 different venues, however only a few artists are scheduled to play certain location, the website still says to check back in late summer! Late summer? HELLO... there are about 3 weeks left to summer, when will this schedule be posted? 

Meanwhile..... Most shows are free with the exception of the headliner shows.

This year’s headliners are Michael Ray. Three No. 1 songs – “Kiss You in the Morning,” “Think a Little Less,” and “One That Got Away” – plus “Get to You” and “Her World or Mine,” brings his tally to five Gold-certified singles. The poignant “Her World or Mine” from his sophomore album Amos also produced a video that has captured more than 23 million YouTube views since its debut less than a year ago. Now, two hit albums into that all-too-rare blend of critically acclaimed and commercially successful career, He is scheduled to be at Pinchers at the Marina at Edison Ford located at 2330 W First Street, Fort Myers on Thursday, September 23rd at 7pm... tickets required!

The other headliner is Jimmie Allen, signed to BBR Music Group’s Stoney Creek Records, he has already made history as the first Black artist to launch a career with two consecutive No. 1 hits on country radio – the first being his debut single “Best Shot” – which claimed the No. 1 spot for three weeks – and second being his latest single “Make Me Want To” off his debut album Mercury Lane.

He is scheduled to be at the Pink Shell Beach Resort located at 275 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach on Sunday September 26th at 4:30pm... tickets required!
Nervous Nellie’s received a special event permit for the use of Bayside Park for their Island Hopper Songwriter’s Festival event.

Nervous Nellie’s is one of six locations on Fort Myers Beach artists will be performing, they will have a an outdoor bar and stage set up on their property.

Their event will run on September 24th from 6 pm- 10 pm, September 25th from noon until 10 pm and September 26th from noon until 5 pm.

Venue locations:


The Green Flash, Twee Waters, RC Otters, Key Lime Bistro, Doc Fords Rum Bar, Mucky Duck and South Seas Resort!

Downtown Fort Myers, 

City Tavern, The Barrel Room, Pinchers Downtown, Social House and Twisted Vine.

Fort Myers Beach, 

Pierside Grill, Pink Shell, Cabanas, Matanzas, Nervous Nellie's and Yukatan.

There are a lot of artists listed on the website for the three weekend of events at :

but none say who is playing where, other than the headliners mentioned above.

There is also an app that you can download to your phone, and although it doesn’t have any more info. hopefully it will soon.

But Remember!! You can’t go wrong when you attend these shows! Call the venues directly and get their show times.

small smiley face with sunglasses1


Published in General/Features
Friday, 27 August 2021 15:25

All American Baseball!

I need a distraction! The world is going to hell in a hand-basket and I just would like it all to stop, if even for just a few hours! Enter Baseball!!!

I grew up watching The Red Sox, ...Carl Yazkrempsi, Carlton Fisk, Rico Petrocelli, and the like, at home with my dad or listening to it on the radio at my dads barber shop on the weekends, there was no TV there.

I have to be honest, I haven’t watched a pro game since the whole MLB/Atlanta fiasco a few months back, but I have been going to watch our local Twins affiliate. the Mighty Mussels, play live!

At first I was just covering the games for articles in the paper, but the live action, watching these kids play their heart out to make it to the “Bigs” has rekindled my enthusiasm for the game, don’t know that I will be watching the pros any time soon but I do enjoy going to the games... at this level anyway! It’s a great distraction !

The Mussels are home again playing a 7 game series with the Marauders, last Tuesday's game was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for this Friday.

On Wednesday they played a doubleheader (a makeup game for postponed game on 8-12 at Bradenton)

The Marauders won the first game, 7-0, in the second game, Jesus Feliz’ hit a long home run which highlighted a 12-hit output for the Mighty Mussels Wednesday, as they took the second game of the doubleheader 12-1 at Hammond Stadium.

The Mussels, now 48-45, rallied for eight runs on seven hits in top of the seventh, matching their highest-scoring inning of the season. The entire inning occurred after midnight, as a two-hour and 41-minute rain delay caused Game 2 to end at 1:05 a.m.

Feliz’ home run left the bat at 104.4 miles per hour and cleared the left field wall by a large margin.

As we go to press both teams prepare to go at it again at 7pm Thursday. On Friday the two will play another doubleheader with the gates opening at 4pm, and the early game starting at 4:30pm. .... second game, no earlier than 7:30pm. (makeup game for last Tuesday’s PPD game)

There are only 4 weeks left in the season, with 3 home stands left, including this one, the Mussels will go on the road to Daytona for a six game stretch next week and then they are back home for their final two weeks of the season, Tuesday, Sept. 7th against Palm Beach and then on Sept 14th against Tampa.

The Mussels find themselves 15 games out of first, (to the Tampa Tarpons) but only 10 games out of second, (to the Bradenton Marauders) to make it to the playoffs the Mussels need to go on a winning streak to take second place from the Marauders and they can help themselves right now by winning the next 5 games....viola.. only 5 games out! but even if they pull that off, they will have to win 3 games for every 2 wins for the Marauders for the final three weeks of season and the Mussels face first place Tampa for their last week home stretch, and they are formidable!

So put the madness of the world on pause for a few hours and come on out to root for your Minor League Baseball home team, The Mighty Mussels, it's a good old
fashioned, all American fun time!

Home games are held at CenturyLink Sports Complex, (Hammond Stadium)
14400 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers, Florida 33912

Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased online at:
or at box office on game-days with very little wait!

You'll be glad you did!

Published in Outdoor

In my opinion… as a retired FBI Agent with 30 years of experience, investigating major, criminal cases… there is more than enough Probable Cause to Indict both Barack Hussein Obama and Impeach and Indict Joe Biden for Treason, Espionage, Sedition, and a multitude of other crimes relating to the biggest conspiracy to overthrow our Constitutional Republic, our America…in the history of America!!


Obama said himself that he is a Muslim, who was not born in the USA, when he ran for the Senate.  His wife said the same thing but that matters not. The Forensic Evidence alone, that he provided to prove his birth place, was proven to be Counterfeit and a Fraud, by every Forensic Lab that examined them including the most respected Italian Art experts who examined his latest, phony Birth Certificate.  He was not qualified to be President…in more ways than one.



His Selective service Card was proven to have been altered, his Social Security card is a fake that belonged to someone else…and that’s not possible because the Social Security Commission will not issue duplicate cards to anyone other than the ORIGINAL owner. Barack Hussein Obama is a Fraud from the word…go. He “changed” his religion to Christianity but never denounced his allegiance to Allah. That is completely unacceptable to Islam and is meaningless…he must denounce his allegiance to Allah…but never will.  Read their book…the Quran…I did!


He surrounds himself with Weatherman criminals, murderers, like Bill Ayers, his wife Bernadine Dorn…cop killers, murderers and thieves.


Obama said he wants to change America, fundamentally, to a Socialist Society…a Muslim Islamic Socialist Nation. That is Treason when a President wants to eliminate our Constitution. He wants a Muslim nation and that is not possible with our First Amendment which separates Church and State. Islam is a one leader ideology of Church and state, an Ayatollah (Obama).


Now, how to complete Obama’s plan? Obamas’ efforts to get a 3rd term failed. But he had a plan…run his 3rd term from his basement…he freaking said that and now he is doing it. Get a puppet elected to be a Shadow President that is pretty much brain dead and control his every move. But who could possibly be that stupid?


Enter Joe “Obiden”…the “Howdy Doody” of Washington!


Obama is following the Cloward- Piven doctrine to a “T” to bankrupt and destroy your country and if they are not stopped, they will succeed! They were ,by his words, his favorite Professors at Columbia!


In an analysis by Conduit For Action published 7-6-18, the 4 steps to the Cloward –Piven strategy are;


  1. Overload and Break the Welfare System
  2. Have Chaos Ensue
  3. Take Control in the Chaos
  4. Implement Socialism and Communism through Government Force

How do I know that what Obama and Obiden  are doing is Treason? Remember that Aiding and abetting our enemies by an elected official is Treason, punishable by death. By Islam’s own admissions, they are at war with the US and the rest of the Infidel world. Iran, ISIS, Taliban, and dozens more Arab countries have stated AND acted on their statements to destroy America!

They are at war with the US!

Would any of the following benefit (aid and abet) our enemies…

1.      Shutdown of the Keystone Pipeline and prevent America from being energy independent as it was under President Trump…

2.      Forcing the US to buy petroleum products from Muslim OPEC Nations.

3.      Stop installing Border walls on the southern Border which walls are paid for and awaiting installation.

4.      Open our Borders to allow millions of non US Citizens to enter and stay in the US contradicting Immigration and Naturalization laws pertaining to same.

5.      Overwhelm our law enforcement Agencies on the Southern Border to the point that Covid infected aliens and thousands of illegal aliens are entering and remaining in our country.

6.      Fail to enforce Federal laws regarding friends and relatives of elected officials beginning with Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden who has violated numerous Federal and local laws, such as the Federal Firearms Act, Illegal use and abuse of controlled substances, participating in a Hobbs Act scheme with his father and others to fraudulently obtain money from the Ukraine.

7.      Withdraw from Afghanistan and LEAVE hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars of valuable, high tech, weapons, tanks, heavy armor, machine guns ,ammunition, radio equipment for the FREAKING TALIBAN to use against us! What? C’mon man, Biden, even you can’t possibly be that F------ stupid. TREASON…TREASON…TREASON!

8.      It’s not too late, send in strike forces to retrieve those munitions, you moron!

There is no benefit whatsoever to the US by shutting down the Keystone. As an Engineer by trade and having established the FBI and EPA Environmental Crimes Program for the Western District of NY, I can attest that to move product by ANYOTHER means is in no way Environmentally safe nor economically better to anyone except those with vested interest in Railroad Transportation, like Warren Buffet, for example, a large contributor to Democrat candidates like Joe Biden.

Forcing the US to buy oil from OPEC benefits our enemies…period!     

Open Borders aids and abets our enemies, allowing terrorists to enter untouched…


Handing them high tech weapons and munitions…if there is Treason…handing our enemies munitions to use against US… is Treason!


Intentionally preventing our lawmen to enforce the laws they swore to enforce is criminal negligence in the least and Treason if the purpose is to destroy our Rule of Law…which it is!


Only a moron would not realize that opening our borders is Treason…how does it benefit any US citizens or America?


Allowing 20% of the illegals who are reported to be infected with Covid 19 into the US is, criminal negligence and Treason…it benefits our enemies as a Biological Attack would…how is that any different?


People…things are going to get much worse as Obama and Obiden move closer to taking over America. 


Do you really believe that the disruptive withdrawal from Afghanistan was totally unexpected, a surprise? Think about that.


This President didn’t know that the Taliban would move right in. He didn’t know that their President loaded trucks with US cash and fled? Is our intel really that piss poor?

In O'Bidens own words...."C’mon man…"

This is another way to put us deeper in debt, spending billions to “help” people who refuse to help themselves…a ploy at the expense of Americans stuck there and thousands who helped us. It's Obama,…

That’s right, Obama, he’s running things and don’t forget it… Obama didn’t care about the Embassy in Benghazi and the Americans there…(Remember Sec. of State Hillary Clinton's "What does it matter?")

How is this different?

Published in Politics

The TPI Hospitality FMB team has announced its groundbreaking ceremony for the Margaritaville Beach Resort is officially set for 3 p.m., on Friday, Aug. 13, at 1160 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach.

After years of delays caused by issues out of TPl's control, the 254-room Margaritaville Beach Resort will be located at the foot of the Matanzas Bridge. The development will consist of four buildings that will include the resort, restaurants, and retail shops on both sides of Estero Boulevard. A pedestrian walkway will be built over Estero Boulevard, linking the two sides of the resort. Construction is set to begin on Monday, Aug. 16.

Friday the 13th 2021 will mark 17 years since Hurricane Charley hit in August 2004. The powerful storm devastated parts of Southwest Florida and Fort Myers Beach, which was the impetus for the TPI­FMB economic reinvigoration project.

"Many of you will recognize that on Aug. 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley swept through, leaving behind in its wake, enormous physical and economic damage on this part of the island," said John Gucciardo, spokesperson for TPI Hospitality. "We are so proud to be part of the long overdue revitalization of this part of the island, and hope that we can be a catalyst for future prosperity for all."

Since the property is currently an active construction site, access to the actual groundbreaking ceremony is limited to invited guests only; however, the general public will have access to the public beach in front of and on either side of the construction area.

"We hope to see many of our loyal supporters there that day to share this momentous occasion with us," Gucciardo said.

Casual-Luxe island lifestyle coming to Southwest Florida

For more information, visit, or

Published in Business

China launched the core of its space station in April, and sent three astronauts up in June. But although the space station probably won’t be complete until late 2022, there is already a long queue of experiments from across the world waiting to go up. Scientists in China told Nature that the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) has tentatively approved more than 1,000 experiments, several of which have already been launched.

Before April, the International Space Station (ISS) was the only space laboratory in orbit, and many researchers say Tiangong (or ‘heavenly palace’) is a welcome addition for astronomical and Earth observation, and for studying how microgravity and cosmic radiation affect phenomena such as bacterial growth and fluid mixing.

However, others argue that crewed space stations are costly, and serve more of a political than a scientific purpose.

“Increased scientific access to space is of scientific benefit globally, no matter who builds and operates platforms,” says Julie Robinson, chief scientist for human exploration and operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC.

“We need more space stations, because one space station is definitely not enough,” adds Agnieszka Pollo, an astrophysicist at the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Warsaw who is part of a team sending an experiment to study γ-ray bursts.


The ISS was launched in 1998, as a partnership between space agencies from the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. It has housed more than 3,000 experiments since then, but China is barred from it because of US rules that prohibit NASA from using funds for collaboration with China.

Although most experiments slated for Tiangong will involve Chinese researchers, China says that its space station will be open to collaboration from all countries, including the United States.

In June 2019, the CMSA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which promotes collaboration in space, selected nine experiments—in addition to the 1,000 that China has tentatively approved—to go up once the space station is complete. Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA in Vienna, says these involve 23 institutions in 17 nations.

China previously launched two small space labs—Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. These hosted more than 100 experiments, circling Earth for a number of years, but are no longer in orbit.

The space station offers brand new facilities, and China is encouraging experiments not attempted in space before, says Tricia Larose, a medical researcher at the University of Oslo, who is leading a project planned for 2026. “They’re saying, yes, build your hardware, make it brand new, do something that has never been done before, and send it up to us.”

Even though most projects approved so far are led by Chinese researchers, many have international collaborators, says Zhang Shuang-Nan, an astrophysicist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing, who advises the CMSA.


The first section of Tiangong to arrive was a core module known as Tianhe (‘harmony of the heavens’). In late May, a cargo ship named Tianzhou-2 (‘heavenly ship’) was sent up and docked, delivering fuel, space suits and experimental equipment. In June, three Chinese astronauts—or ‘taikonauts’—aboard Shenzhou-12 (‘divine vessel’) also docked, entering the 17-metre-long chamber that will be their home for the next three months.

Over the next year or more, the CMSA will send another eight missions to Tiangong. Two will deliver the Wentian (‘quest for heavens’) and Mengtian (‘dreaming of heavens’) modules, which will mainly house scientific experiments.

These will be “the playrooms of scientists”, says Paulo de Souza, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, who develops sensors used in space.

The space station will have more than 20 experimental racks, which are mini-labs with closed, pressurized environments, says Yang Yang, director of international cooperation at the CAS Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization in Beijing. Outside, there will be 67 connection points for research hardware facing Earth or the sky, says Yang. A powerful central computer will process data from experiments before beaming them back to Earth.


The experiments being sent up to the new space station encompass numerous fields. Zhang is the principal investigator for HERD (High Energy Cosmic-Radiation Detection facility), which is a partnership involving Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Germany, slated for 2027. This particle detector will study dark matter and cosmic rays, and will cost some 1 billion to 2 billion yuan (US$155 million to $310 million), says Zhang.

Zhang and Pollo are also involved in POLAR-2, which will study the polarization of γ-rays emitted from large and distant explosions, with the goal of clarifying the properties of γ-ray bursts, and possibly even gravitational waves.

Larose plans to send up 3D blobs of healthy and cancerous intestinal tissue, known as organoids. She wants to find out whether the very-low-gravity environment will slow or stop the growth of the cancerous cells, which might lead to new therapies.

Other projects from scientists in India and Mexico will study ultraviolet emissions from nebulae and infrared data from Earth, to study meteorological conditions and what drives intense storms.

Despite many of the projects being partnerships between Chinese and Western scientists, geopolitical tensions have made collaborations more difficult, notes Larose. She says Norway has yet to sign a bilateral agreement with China that would give her project the green light. Merlin Kole, an astrophysicist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, who is also working on POLAR-2, adds that stricter adherence to export regulations means there is added bureaucracy around sending electronic hardware to China.

But Di Pippo says that tensions have so far had no impact on the progress of projects selected by UNOOSA, adding that the agency is discussing plans with the CMSA to send more experiments to Tiangong by the end of next year.


Some scientists have argued that crewed space stations are a waste of money—the cost of Tiangong has not been made public, but the ISS cost some €100 billion (US$118 billion) to build and maintain for its first decade.

“You’d get a much bigger scientific bang for the buck with robotic missions,” says Gregory Kulacki, an analyst on China security issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Within China, as within the United States, there has been a tension between scientists who want to do the best science they possibly can and who prefer robotic missions, and governments who want to use human space-flight programmes largely for political purposes.”

But other researchers point out that although satellites offer an alternative for some observations, for many experiments, particularly those requiring microgravity, crewed space stations are essential. They provide a home for long-term observations, data-processing capacity and access for astronauts who can perform maintenance tasks and run the experiments.

Furthermore, as well as housing experiments from researchers, Tiangong is intended to test human space-travel technologies to support China’s space-exploration goals, says Zhang.

With current ISS funding running only until sometime between 2024 and 2028, it’s also possible that Tiangong will eventually become Earth’s only space station in operation.

Tiangong is projected to operate for at least a decade, and China already has plans to launch other spacecraft to work in tandem with it. The China Survey Space Telescope, or Xuntian (‘survey the heavens’), is a two-metre optical telescope that will rival NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and will periodically dock with Tiangong for refuelling and maintenance. Set to launch in 2023, it will have a larger field of view for peering into the deep Universe than does Hubble.


Published in General/Features
Wednesday, 04 August 2021 18:58

Extreme Tolerance Leads To Intolerance

I’ve been offering comments about tolerance and intolerance for several years, all the while thinking my approach was somewhat original. A little research and my prideful feelings were suddenly threatened.

lmost 2,500 years ago, Plato proposed the possibility of tolerance inevitably leading to intolerance. I gave up reading that dissertation after getting tangled up in a Platonic discussion of “benevolent dictatorships.”
Karl Popper’s 1945 book “The Open Society and its Enemies” dealt with unlimited tolerance and the inevitable destruction of tolerance by intolerance. The “Stand to Reason” website dealt with the subject “When Tolerance is Intolerant” in 2013. In 2017, a Psychology Today article, “Is Teaching Tolerance the Solution or the Problem,” offered the idea that “the only difference between tolerance and intolerance is political correctness.” Humbly, I must admit my lack of originality.

What brought me back to the topic is our society and its politics. No serious observer can avoid uttering the word “intolerance,” often doing so quietly so as not to “stir the pot.” We’re in the middle of stringent conflict and hard feelings. This follows a perfect storm of disagreement formed by two presidential impeachment hearings, 2020 election issues, and a world-wide pandemic. Garnish for this toxic “societal soup” is a generous sprinkling of subjective suffixes, i.e. “isms” and “ists,” along with a laundry list of “phobias.”

Recently, the use of “phobia” seems to be growing exponentially. It has saturated our society as an emphatic expression of disdain associated with an accusation of something close to evil. A friend observed that perhaps this is a result of the gradual corruption of society’s use of another word – intolerance.

I decided to pick up on that theme after reading scathing opinions about the various phobia labels being assigned to republicans and conservatives. I’m not going to debate those opinions, however. Rather, I’ll focus on the concepts of tolerance and intolerance, and the recent proliferation of the terms associated with “phobias”, “isms” and “ists.”

It wasn’t long ago that the term “phobia” simply reflected extreme fear of things like flying, insects, heights, or small spaces, etc. A related term, but one used more exclusively to describe interpersonal feelings or relationships, was “intolerance” – and the “flip side” of intolerance is “tolerance.”

Retreat in time a couple decades and you would find that tolerance was a feeling about a person, group, organization, opinion, policy, etc. It reflected feelings that while not enthusiastic, were more positive than negative. Tolerance of something meant one would not take a stand against it. Tolerance was true acceptance, but not necessarily agreement or approval.

By contrast, in recent years, the definition of tolerance evolved and expanded – now, not only is acceptance required to qualify as tolerant, but also agreement, approval, and often vocal endorsement. A willingness to just peacefully accept something is no longer enough to be considered tolerant.

Individuals once praised as patiently “tolerant” are now criticized for their “intolerance.” These recently labeled intolerant folks never really wavered in their traditional liberal views or attitudes, yet have earned a “bigot badge” in progressive minds.

Perhaps a progressive pundit decided that a term like “phobic” might serve their purpose better than “intolerant.” The pundit may have considered it an understatement and confusing to call these formerly tolerant bigots merely “intolerant.” Hence, many formerly acceptable societal attitudes are now assigned “phobic,” and even “racist” labels.

Author and educator Ibram X. Kendi writes that a traditional civil rights goal, one that earned liberal backing, was racial neutrality in attitudes. This ideal of “colorblindness” is now declared to be racist.

It’s becoming inescapably true that if tolerance is taken to a radical extreme, it can easily morph into a new and insidious form of intolerance - one in which mere acceptance is no longer adequate. Is this more than just a gradual shift in attitudes? Is it an attempt to materially disrupt and reconstruct our society?

Steve Bakke,
Fort Myers

Published in Politics

By associating caffeinated sugar-water and a target scent, researchers teach bumblebees to stay on task

The modern supermarket offers a rainbow cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. Peppers, avocadoes, strawberries, cucumbers—they’re all made possible by bees. But “there just aren’t enough pollinators in the natural world” to take care of our global crop load, says Sarah Arnold, an ecologist at the University of Greenwich. So farmers release commercially reared bees by the thousands onto their fields, where the insects buzz along diligently and pollinate billions of dollars’ worth of crops every year. As bees dip into flowers to find food, their fuzzy little bodies pick up powdery pollen that gets spread when they visit the next flower, and the next, and the next.

But commercial bees sometimes stray from farm fields to peruse nearby wildflowers. Now, scientists have found that—like for many humans—a jolt of caffeine helps bees stay on task and get the job done more efficiently. Arnold and her colleagues showed that feeding bumblebees caffeine while exposing them to a target floral scent encourages them to seek out that smell when they leave the nest. The caffeinated bees visit the target-scented flowers more quickly and often than those without that extra boost. The findings could be applied to industrial agriculture to train bees to stay more on track, the team reported Wednesday in Current Biology.

Pollinators had already been known to learn which flowers to visit by being exposed to scents inside the nest, says Jessamyn Manson, an ecologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved with the new research. And previous studies had shown that bees like to visit artificial flowers that produce caffeine, Arnold notes—but how the caffeine itself might impact bees’ actions was unclear. Other research shows that tethered honeybees exposed to a target scent while eating caffeine stick out their tongues in response for longer periods of time, but those bees were unable to freely choose which flowers to visit.

To investigate more deeply, Arnold and her team set up three groups of bumblebees. One got caffeinated sugar water and a blast of strawberry-flower odor. Another received plain sugar water and the odor, and yet another got just the plain sugar water. None of the bees had previously encountered any type of flower or floral scent. Each group was released from its hive and into a laboratory arena dotted with robotic flowers, some of which puffed out the same strawberry smell and others that released a completely different “distractor” floral scent. All of the fake flowers contained reservoirs of sugar water (without caffeine) for the bees to lap up upon selection.

The caffeinated bees showed a clear preference for the faux strawberry flowers, with 70.4 of them visiting the target blossoms right away. Just 60 percent of the noncaffeinated but odor-primed subjects made a beeline for the plastic strawberries first, and the bees that received neither caffeine nor the priming scent visited the strawberry flowers a little under half of the time, an expected result because they had never “learned” which plants to try in the first place.

Bees exposed to both caffeine and odor formed a “super strong association” between the two, Arnold says, suggesting that a bee might think: “When I had that odor in the past, I got this really nice [caffeinated] sugar and I remember that really clearly.” With each consecutive flower visit, these bees’ pace also increased faster than that of the noncaffeinated bees—indicating that caffeine might additionally enhance their motor skills.

Though the positive association was strong, it eventually wore off: After visiting dozens of flowers the caffeinated bees started investigating the distractor flowers too, and Arnold points to the laboratory setup as one cause. “Finding plastic flowers that are just a few inches apart from each other … it’s quite an easy task for the bees to solve,” she says. “The bees would sooner or later try out the distractor flowers and realize that they’re equally as rewarding.” But in a field of strawberry plants, real-life “distractor” flowers would be much farther away, and it might take the bees longer to stray from their task. In an agricultural setting, caffeine could be supplied alongside priming scents for specific plants in commercial hives, Arnold says. Farmers could place the caffeinated hives in their fields for the bees to pollinate more efficiently.

Manson says this strategy might be more applicable to farms in the United Kingdom than to those in the United States; U.K. farms tend to be smaller, and it is easier for the pollinators to wander off if untrained. U.S. crops pollinated by bees are often planted in huge fields that are harder to stray from, or grown in greenhouses from which bees cannot escape, she adds.

Whatever industrial application the new findings might lead to, Manson says these experiments’ use of caffeine as a priming stimulant is particularly revelatory. Humans actively seek out caffeine, “and I expect pollinators do, too,” she says. “It’s delicious and awesome.” But because this study had caffeine given in the nest rather than being doled out as a reward at the flower, she says, the experiment is a “strong demonstration” of how caffeine can help teach bees which plants to pollinate.
Tess Joosse.

Published in Environment

1st Lt. Amber English won a gold medal and set an Olympic record in shotgun skeet shooting Monday, July 26, 2021 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The match came down to the wire, but Army Reserve 1st. Lt. Amber English won a gold medal in the women’s skeet shooting event Monday at the Tokyo Olympic games.


English, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic shotgun teams, prevailed by one target over the reigning Olympic champion Diana Bacosi of Italy. She set an Olympic record by hitting 56 of 60 targets in the event.

A logistics officer, English joined the Army in February 2017 and attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

She then completed Quartermaster Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Lee, Virginia, according to her Army Marksmanship Team biography.

English was an accomplished world-class shotgun shooter before she joined the Army, and she quickly earned membership in both the Army Marksmanship Unit and the Army World Class Athlete Program, allowing her to continue training for her Olympic dream while advancing her Army career.

She earned a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2018.

The logistics officer comes from a family of shooters — her father and uncle both competed for the United States in running shotgun target, and her mother and aunt shot rifle in college, her biography says.

It was her father’s tragic 2016 death that motivated her to join the Army, she said in a Team USA feature last year.

“That was a huge hurdle,” she said, “and I took the alternate spot last time. I knew I had to completely change everything I was doing in my life – I joined the Army, moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado down to Fort Benning, Georgia and surrounded myself with a seriously winning atmosphere, so it paid off.”
“I’m very, very glad,” English told the Associated Press after her victory. “This has been a long time coming.”

Published in General/Features
Wednesday, 04 August 2021 12:29

UFO Report Opens More Questions

UFO report: Government can't explain 143 of 144 mysterious flying objects, blames limited data
The Department of Defense established the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force in August to investigate mysterious flying objects.

The U.S. government report makes no explanations for 143 of the 144 cases of unidentified flying objects reported by military planes, according to a highly anticipated intelligence report released last month.

That report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, was meant to shed light on the mystery of those dozens of flying objects, spotted from 2004 to 2021, but instead said it didn't have adequate data to put all but one of them into a category.

That one UAP — shorthand for "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" — was a large, deflating balloon, the report said.

"The others remain unexplained," the report, which was required by Congress, added.

While the report explicitly stated that "unusual" activity had been reported on multiple occasions, it also did not rule out that those incidents were the result of errors or "spoofing."

The report stated"In a limited number of incidents, UAP reportedly appeared to exhibit unusual flight characteristics. These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis."

The report makes no reference to aliens or even vaguely hint at an extraterrestrial explanation for the reported sightings, but makes clear that much of the phenomena may be beyond the existing means the government has to identify such objects. Hmmmm.

Last month, speaking about the upcoming report, officials said the government had not ruled out the possibility that the flying objects seen by U.S. military planes were highly advanced aircraft developed by other nations.

These officials also said that the objects did not appear to be evidence of secret U.S. technology, but didn't definitively rule that out, either.

However, the report said these "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (UAP) represented safety of flight issues and potential operational security issues. Parts of the report have remained classified so we are not privy to all that's in there.

“There is a wide, wide range of phenomena that we observe that are ultimately put into the UAP category. There is not one single explanation for UAP, it’s rather a series of things," the senior U.S. official said.

The Department of Defense established the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force in August to investigate and "gain insight" into the "nature and origins" of unidentified flying objects. Earlier that year, the Department of Defense declassified three videos taken by Navy pilots — one from 2004 and two from 2015 — that showed mysterious objects flying at high speeds across the sky.

Three videos had leaked years earlier, but Pentagon officials said they declassified the footage to "clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos."

"The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as 'unidentified,'" Pentagon officials said in a statement at the time.

According to the report, there were 18 incidents reported in which the UAPs that were seen featured some sort of "unusual movement patterns or flight characteristics" including propulsion or other technology that wasn't evident and that could be advanced. Eleven of the incidents reported were near misses with military planes, the report said.

"Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion," the report said, in describing those incidents. "In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems processed radio frequency (RF) energy associated with UAP sightings," the report added.

"There was some clustering of UAP observations regarding shape, size, and, particularly, propulsion" and that "UAP sightings also tended to cluster around U.S. training and testing grounds." the report said
All videos of the incidents that have so far been released remain unexplained, the report said. So the conclusion they have reached is that Unidentified Flying Objects, are unidentified... Wow, great work!
"The limited amount of high-quality reporting on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP. The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF) considered a range of information on UAP described in U.S. military and IC (Intelligence Community) reporting, but because the reporting lacked sufficient specificity, ultimately recognized that a unique, tailored reporting process was required to provide sufficient data for analysis of UAP events," the report said.

“We quite frankly have a bit of work yet to do in order to truly assess and address the threat posed by UAP," the senior U.S official said Friday. “Not all UAP are the same thing.”

The Pentagon, the report said, would prefer to rely on a scientific and data-driven approach to collecting information on the UAP, instead of the anecdotal observations reported by military planes.

To that end, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Pentagon are making efforts to create a new collection strategy to standardize data reporting on UAPs, according to the report. The agencies said they will update Congress on their progress within the next 90 days, the report said.

Lawmakers from both parties demanded the government do more to investigate.

“The United States must be able to understand and mitigate threats to our pilots, whether they’re from drones or weather balloons or adversary intelligence capabilities,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. “ (Last months') rather inconclusive report only marks the beginning of efforts to understand and illuminate what is causing these risks to aviation in many areas around the country and the world.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on that committee, added: “This report is an important first step in cataloging these incidents, but it is just a first step.”

“The Defense Department and Intelligence Community have a lot of work to do before we can actually understand whether these aerial threats present a serious national security concern,” added Rubio, who pushed the government to conduct the UFO report.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said, “We should approach these questions without preconceptions to encourage a thorough, systematized analysis of the potential national security and flight safety risks posed by unidentified aerial phenomena, whether they are the result of a foreign adversary, atmospheric or other aerial phenomena, space debris, or something else entirely."

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Published in Outdoor





Florida saw a $14.1 billion decline in its $117 billion maritime trade industry as cargo tonnage moving through its 15 seaports fell by 8.4%, with exports down 20% and imports down 13.8%, during pandemic-skewered 2020.

But according to a report published Tuesday, Florida’s seaports – where nearly 40% of U.S.-manufactured good are exported, supporting 900,000 jobs nationwide – are poised for a robust rebound in the “emerging post-pandemic world.”

“Most of the declines in 2020 occurred during the first six months of the year at the height of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19,” the Florida Seaports Transportation & Economic Development Council (FSTED) maintains in its 110-page report, "Seaport Mission Plan: Navigating Beyond the Pandemic," an annual update required by lawmakers when they created the council in 1990.

“Fall 2020 saw robust recovery in many sectors,” the report states. “2021 is expected to see a near complete recovery in terms both of cargo volume and cargo value as post-pandemic markets and supply chains regain stability and consumer confidence returns in line with the relaxing of economic constraints.”

Cargo operations are rebounding, especially bulkbreak cargo, a trend that should accelerate, the report forecasts, although Florida’s cruise-line industry’s recovery may lag behind other sectors.

“Florida’s 158,992 cruise-related jobs, and $8.1 billion in economic activity were severely impacted” by the pandemic, which ships pier-side since March 2020.

Most operators resume cruises in August, but the report states it may take “a few years” to return to 2019 numbers when 18.3 million passengers cruised out of Florida ports.

Nevertheless, “the fundamentals of the industry remain strong,” the report said, noting a “combination of pent-up demand and widespread vaccinations” could accelerate recovery.

Although overall Florida maritime trade declined by 16.1% in 2020, the report notes cargo volumes actually increased in three of the 15 ports — up 54.5% at Port Manatee, 49.9% at Port Tampa Bay, 33.5% at Port Panama City.

Japan was Florida’s top trade partner in 2020, edging out China for the second straight year, according to the report, which cites South/Central America and Caribbean ports as most-linked to Florida in maritime trade.

Breakbulk cargo increased 8.8% to 7.8 million tons in 2020. Breakbulk shipping transports goods that cannot fit in standard-sized shipping containers, such as vehicles, steel girders, structural steel, manufacturing and construction equipment.

FSTED notes more than $3.3 billion in capital improvements are planned for Florida ports the next five years with 70.7% — $2.3 billion — tabbed for Atlantic coast seaports.

The capital plan is essentially the 2020-24 Five-Year Seaport Mission Plan developed by the Florida Ports Council (FPC), which abdicates on behalf of port managers and businesses.

According to a Martin Associates’ study published last September by the FPC, state seaports were projected to incur $23 billion in “lost” economic activity. resulting in the loss of 170,000 jobs nationwide in 2020.

“Florida’s 15 seaports are resilient, and we expect to see a near complete recovery in 2021,” said Michael Rubin, FSTED program administrator who was named FPC President/CEO this month. “With $3.3 billion in capital improvements at Florida’s seaports identified over the next five years, we expect our ports to continue playing a leading role in job creation and economic growth.”

According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, more than 37% U.S,-made exports head overseas from Florida. More than 6,000 Florida companies export more than $6.5 billion in goods to more than 170 countries, creating 2.5 million indirect jobs across the world – more than 900,000 in the U.S. – while directly employing nearly 66,000 Floridians, the chamber states.

John Haughey
The Center Square

Published in Business
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