A couple of day ago I reblogged an article from NBC News out of central Florida about a 6th grade student who was arrested because she refused to stand or to pledge allegiance on the morning of February 4th of this year. Their headline was a bit of a tease to draw readers into the story. As it turns out there is more to the storyline. If you wish to read the whole story it was published on 2-19. The original story gives us quite a few facts about events that went on that morning.
Today I have a question for you, I would like to know what you think about this subject matter. This student in Florida was arrested on charges other than not giving any respect to Our Flag. As most folks here in the U.S. know that some NFL football players started a trend by not standing for Our Nation’s Anthem. The players are adults, fining or arresting them is a separate question than the one I am asking today, today I am talking about, asking about our Children and Grandchildren. If children whom are in Public Schools choose not to stand or salute Our Nation’s Flag should they be arrested, sent to ‘Reform School’, shot? Or, do we as a Nation, we as a People show mercy through our strength? Are we still the World’s Melting Pot? Melting Pots are not only about skin color they are also about things such as different religions, cultures, different foods, way of dressing and countless other things. Yet what we cannot become and still remain a Melting Pot, a true Democracy is if we insist that everyone else be exactly like us or should we, arrest all their kids at school? I am just saying, what is ‘the’/’our’ End Game gonna be? Where is ‘The Mark’, that crosses over our personal Line-in-The-Sand when it comes to the Government and our own children?
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Sixth-grader arrested in Florida after refusal to participate in Pledge of Allegiance led to confrontation
He was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence.
By Tim Stelloh
A sixth-grader in Florida was arrested after his refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance escalated into a confrontation with police and school officials, authorities said.
The unnamed boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence on Feb. 4, the Lakeland Police Department said in a news release.
A local news outlet, Bay News 9, reported that the confrontation began after the student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, near Tampa, called the flag racist and described the national anthem as offensive.
Citing a statement provided to the Polk School District by the boy’s substitute teacher, the station reported that the teacher asked him, “why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.”
“They brought me here,” the boy replied, according to the statement.
After the teacher told him he could “always go back,” she called the school’s office “because I did not want to continue dealing with him,” the station reported.
The district did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday, but a school spokesman told the Ledger, a local newspaper, that students are not required to participate in the pledge.
The spokesman, Kyle Kennedy, told the newspaper that the teacher, Ana Alvarez, wasn’t aware of that policy and would no longer work with the district.
The boy’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, disputed the school’s claims, telling NBC News that her son “is not a disrespectful kid.”
“What I do know is when she asked my son about it, he responded to her enlightening her on his reasonings,” Talbot said. “It wasn’t just that the flag is racist. I don’t teach my children that the flag is racist.”
After the confrontation began, the school’s dean of students tried unsuccessfully to calm the student down, asking him to leave the class 20 times, police said.
“The school resource officer then intervened and asked the student to exit the classroom and he refused,” the department said. “The student left the classroom and created another disturbance and made threats while he was escorted to the office.”
The Lakeland Police Department said in a statement that the boy was not arrested for refusing to stand for or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. “This arrest was based on the student’s choice to disrupt the classroom, make threats and resisting the officer’s efforts to leave the classroom.”
Talbot denied that her son made any threats and said the school “didn’t handle it the way they should have handled it.”
She told NBC News her son was overwhelmed with the situation, and she transferred him to another school.
“I want my son to know, I don’t care what any other parent say or any other parents do, that I’m going to stand up for him,” Talbot said.
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News, based in California.
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Counting All Votes For An Honest Election Should Be All That Matters
Well, another election has come and gone here in the U.S., well, not really. The Election was one week ago today yet there are still questions and acquisitions flying all over from Republicans about the counting and the recounting of people’s votes. For those of you who know me you know that I am a registered Independent. The reason for this is because quite honestly, both the Democratic and the Republican parties disgust me with their platform and voting records. We the people (at least with me) did not vote for Mitch McConnell (even though he is one of my home state Senators) nor did I cast a vote for Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi. Yet it is these folks and others like them who tell all of the Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen how they are going to vote on every issue. This is why you have cases like the current one where when you have 51 Republican Senators and 49 Democratic Senators on basically all votes in the Senate on any Bill tends to be passed or failed at a 51/49 ratio. As a citizen I am sick of this garbage, I just want all parties to work toward the middle and to quit the partisan BS. This is why I am an Independent voter.
The reason for the first paragraph was just s you wouldn’t think a was some staunch Democrat who was just looking for a chance to slam the Republicans. For the purpose of this article I am just going to speak of the current election cycle issues in the state of Florida. In the state of Florida the current Republican Governor who will be out of Office soon because of term limits went up against the current Democratic Senator in an attempt to unseat the Senator. Also, for the position of the new Governor a Republican Congressman went up against the current Mayor of the States Capitol who was the Democrat. In both of these cases as last Tuesday night was closing out the Republican candidates were looking like they were going to win, but my very very narrow margins. The issue was that in the states largest counties not all of the votes had been counted yet, there were still many thousands left uncounted. So as the days have worn on these other ballots were being counted and being they were in areas that were heavily Democratic the vote count flipped over to where the Democratic candidates have overtaken the Republicans. Now the Republicans like Donald the habitual liar Trump and the other Florida Senator Marco Rubio are crying foul, saying the election commissions are cheating but they have shown no proof of any foul play. The current Governor (the Republican candidate for the Senate) has even ordered the State Police to investigate even though the State Police have told him there is nothing to investigate. Even a Federal Judge in Florida has chastised the Republicans for spreading fake news, fake conspiracy accusations.
Here is my take on this situation, I just want the real winner to be declared the winner, whether it be a Democrat or the Republican. I want honesty! As is typical of him the President has been crying and demanding that the votes stop being counted and that the Republicans be declared the winner, whether they were or not. People like our President do not care one little bit about honesty, only winning. Do not get me wrong on this, as I said I am not a Democrat. I believe without a doubt that if the tables were turned that there would be many Democratic politicians doing the exact same thing that these Republicans are doing. With these folks honesty seems not to matter at all. I will close with this last thought. I am not a big fan of early voting, I believe the time limit should be cut way down except for military personnel stationed overseas. Also, I believe that these early votes should be tallied before election day and once the polls have closed in their State put those votes out first, not last. Thank you for your time, I appreciate you reading.
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On Thursday night, two days after Election Day, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) stood on the steps of the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and unleashed a nuclear bomb aimed at the very foundation of democracy. Scott suggested there was “rampant fraud” in the state. “No ragtag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C.” was going to steal the election from Floridians, the governor said.
When Scott made his comments, Florida hadn’t even hit the deadline to submit unofficial election results to the state. Scott asked the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate his allegations, but the agency quickly said there was nothing to investigate.
That hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from continuing to insist that there was fraud in the state. There is no evidence of fraud to support his claim.
Scott’s election night lead over Nelson has shrunk significantly, and the margin is now so slim that the state is in the midst of a legally required recount. But election experts say there’s nothing unusual or nefarious about vote tallies changing days after an election. Instead of letting election officials count the ballots as usual, the comments from Scott and Trump amount to an effort to undermine normal election processes.
Steven Huefner, a law professor at Ohio State University, wrote that it was “beyond unseemly” and “downright destructive of public trust in our elections” for election officials to attribute changing vote totals to nefarious actions.
Florida allows voters to cast ballots by mail and accepts them until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Election officials then have to verify signatures on the ballots in addition to determining whether provisional ballots cast on Election Day can count. That process can take time, which is why Florida and other states give counties time to conduct what’s called a canvass and review the votes. In Florida, the deadline for counties to submit unofficial results to the state was Saturday and the deadline for official results is Nov. 18.
“Results on election night, it’s actually never been final on election night. Ever in the history of our country. There’s always been this continuation of calculating the results and all that,” said Amber McReynolds, the former top elections official in Denver who is now the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, a group that advocates for voting by mail. “This is not new. Florida’s doing exactly what other states are doing right now. California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.”
Charles Stewart, the director of the MIT Election Lab, noted that, in addition to trying to deal with mailed-in ballots, counties also had to tally their early votes. Florida law doesn’t allow officials to count early votes until after the polls have closed. Different counties may also tally at different speeds because of the equipment available, the kinds of ballots they receive and staffing, experts say.
Scott has complained that Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward County, refused to turn over information about how many ballots still needed to be tallied. He secured a court order on Friday requiring her to hand over the information.
Ned Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, has studied the way that vote totals change during a canvass after Election Day. Those shifts tend to benefit Democrats and are a “relatively new phenomenon,” he said, because more people are voting by mail and Congress passed a law in 2002 requiring officials to offer provisional ballots.
“Both of those things have the effect of having ballots eligible to be counted but not available for counting on election night,” he said. “For demographic reasons, groups that tend to vote Democratic Party ― students, younger voters, more mobile voters ― you’re more likely to get caught up in the need for a provisional ballot if you’re just a more transient population.”
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Usually, shifts in vote counts after Election Day go unnoticed because they aren’t enough to overcome the initially reported margin of victory. But in Florida, the changing tally is getting scrutinized because the margin separating the candidates is so thin, Foley said. A similar process is playing out in Arizona, where election officials are still counting the ballots in close races for U.S. Senate and secretary of state.
California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.Amber McReynolds, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute
Trump tweeted Monday that Florida shouldn’t consider any of the votes tallied after election night, a move that would disenfranchise military voters whose ballots can be accepted until Nov. 16. Scott’s campaign is also suing in state court to block officials in Broward County, a key bastion of Democratic votes, from officially counting any ballots that weren’t tallied by the state’s Saturday deadline for unofficial results.
Foley said the allegations of fraud and election stealing in Florida were particularly worrisome because there could be shifts of tens of thousands of votes during a presidential election. The allegations in Florida could serve as a prelude for a candidate to undermine the results in 2020. A key part of democracies, he said, is that the candidates accept the results of elections as legitimate.
“Every election has a winner and a loser, and the loser has to accept defeat,” he said. The loser “has to think that, even though they really wanted to win and thought they should have won ― or maybe even thought the vote-counting process was inaccurate in some respects ― that we can accept it.”
The talk of fraud got the attention of the chief state judge in Broward County, who urged lawyers for both campaigns who were in court Monday to “ramp down the rhetoric” about voter fraud.
Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in elections, wrote in Slate that that kind of questioning of election results could lay the foundation for a constitutional crisis.
“If President Trump is ahead in his re-election bid on the night of the election, only to lose that lead as more ballots in larger — mostly Democratic — counties are counted through a normal process in the days and weeks after Election Day, it seems reasonable to be concerned that he will contest such a legitimate vote,” Hasen wrote. “We don’t know if he would even vacate his office in such a scenario, triggering the possibility of a real constitutional crisis.”
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DAILY BEAST NEWS AGENCY)
(TO ME, AS AN INDEPENDENT VOTER, IT IS REPUGNANT HOW THE REPUBLICANS TRY TO DISALLOW THE POOR PEOPLE FROM VOTING AND WHEN THEY DO VOTE THEY TRY TO NOT ALLOW THEIR BALLOTS TO COUNT, DISGUSTING LEVELS OF DISHONESTY!)
HERE WE GO AGAIN
Republicans Freak Out as New Ballots Threaten Florida Senate Win
New ballots in Broward County have conspiracy theorists—including the state’s top elected officials—calling for an investigation of Democrats.
As the Republican margin in Florida’s U.S. Senate race narrowed and the contest headed toward a manual recount, everyone from elected Republicans to online conspiracy-mongers began screaming foul on Thursday night.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is clinging to a roughly 34,000-vote lead over Sen. Bill Nelson (D), held a press conference at the Florida governor’s mansion in which he called on law enforcement to launch an investigation and announced that he and the National Republican Senate Committee were bringing a lawsuit against officials in Broward County, where many votes are still being counted.
In other words, the state governor used his state-funded official residence to launch legal action against his own state’s election officials about an election he was a candidate in.
That was merely the formal legal tip of the brewing Republican pushback.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had a social media meltdown, claiming in a long series of tweets that Democratic lawyers had come to Broward to “change the results of the election.”
Florida’s gubernatorial race is also tightening. The race between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis had appeared to be over on Tuesday night, when Gillum, the Democrat, conceded. But as the counts continued, particularly in Broward County, the gap between the candidates narrowed so much that it passed the 0.5 percent automatic recount threshold on Thursday afternoon, Politico reported.
The late swing toward the Democrats—powered by South Florida—is so pronounced in the election for Florida’s agriculture commissioner that Democrat Nikki Fried has now moved into the lead after she trailed her Republican rival on Election Night.
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As of Thursday night, officials in Broward County—where around 1.2 million people are registered to vote—gave no indication of the number of ballots still to count.
Rubio was hardly the only conservative propagating remarkable theories online about how the election was literally being stolen from them, before the party’s conspiracist-in-chief weighed in Thursday evening:
Donald J. Trump
Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!
That came after far-right activists on Twitter had circulated a hashtag, “#StopTheSteal,” to organize opposition to counting ballots in Florida. Ali Alexander, a self-described philosopher and Republican activist who runs a PAC that’s bankrolled by the billionaire pro-Trump Mercer family, urged his fans to protest in Broward County.
“Protest everything,” Alexander tweeted. “Disrupt everything.”
Ali Alexander @ali
Who else lives in Broward? We need 10 patriots to start. Where are they counting? Periscope everything. Protest everything. Disrupt everything.
In his Thursday press conference, Scott revved up his party’s grassroots, calling for a law-enforcement investigation and accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election.
“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election,” Scott said.
Scott also sought to tie Nelson’s recount effort to Hillary Clinton, pointing out that Nelson’s election lawyer, Marc Elias, also worked for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and helped arrange financing for the Fusion GPS “dossier” on Donald Trump. Right-wing media quickly picked up on the Elias connection, with Breitbart devoting top placement on its homepage to a video describing Elias as a “Lawyer Tied to Clinton Campaign & ‘Pee Dossier.’”
Much of the attention online has focused on an unclear video that purports to show ballots being transported in private cars, which Scott supporters say would violate chain-of-custody rules. Rubio and a number of right-wing blogs have promoted the video, which was shot by failed congressional candidate Tim Canova.
This video,posted by an Independent Cong candidate in 18 (who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders in 16) purports to show BrowardCounty ballots being transported from polling places in private cars.
Has anyone in local media looked into this claim or asked elections dept about it?
Caught On Video: Concerned citizen sees ballots being transported in private vehicles & transferred to rented truck on Election night. This violates all chain of custody requirements for paper ballots. Were the ballots destroyed & replaced by set of fake ballots? Investigate now!
Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections didn’t respond to a request for comment about the video. Canova, a former Democrat who came in third on Election Day with an independent challenge against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), has also disputed the results of his own election defeat.
The Republican anxiety in Florida comes as they face worsening odds in another late-counting Senate race, this time in Arizona. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took a thin lead in the Arizona race on Thursday as more votes were counted.
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As midterm elections loom, candidates’ every move (including their history) is being watched. It’s no shock, then, that former Rep. Ron DeSantis, the GOP candidate for Florida’s gubernatorial race, has been facing backlash this month for his 2011 book, “Dreams from our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama.”
One of the book’s many racist rants centers on the argument that first black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, a highly esteemed intellectual, was mistaken in his claim that the Constitution was fundamentally flawed due to its silence on the abolition of slavery.
DeSantis criticizes Marshall’s castigation as one that “overshadows the numerous and long-lasting political achievements embodied in the structural foundations of the government that have nothing to do with the institution of slavery.”
But the Constitution, as a founding document that influences every aspect of how we live, should not be interpreted as a whole, but rather picked apart and scrutinized. It should be viewed through a lens that takes into account the social and political context of our time. An integral part of our history and progress as a nation is the ability to recognize past wrongs and atrocities, not excuse them.
Continuing to place people who hold outdated, racist beliefs in positions of power only perpetuates the collective amnesia that America suffers in regards to its racist history. Works like DeSantis’ book are modern-day propaganda, spinning the events of our country’s past to try to forge a sense of nationalism in the face of evil.
Books like DeSantis’ are dangerous to everyone.
With each one comes the resurgence of a vicious cycle in which those who are skeptical about the existence of racism are confirmed in their beliefs, feeling empowered to be ignorant in a world where ignorance can be one of the most dangerous forms of violence for minorities.
What message does it send to the rest of the country — especially the staggering number of women and people of color running for office — when we elect people who have shown us with their actions and words that they do not care about all of their constituents?
Though the argument could be made that DeSantis’ book is several years old and that the candidate may have changed, this is only one of several racially charged controversies DeSantis has been involved in leading up to and during his gubernatorial run. Less than 24 hours after clinching the Republican nomination, he warned voters not to “monkey this up” by choosing his opponent, Andrew Gillum, whose election would make him the first black governor of Florida.
DeSantis’ racially insensitive comments directly layer into the very platform he is running on — including his stance on immigration and sanctuary cities. He has made it publicly clear that he would punish any Florida city that adopts sanctuary policies preventing officers from cooperating with the federal government on immigration. He also strongly supports building a border wall. Ironically, had similar ideas been held by our country’s earlier legislators, DeSantis’ family would not have been able to immigrate.
DeSantis is keenly aware of the current political climate and the demographic of his voters. His selective ignorance about racism is a key strategy in his gubernatorial run. It depends on the votes of those who claim to be skeptical that racism exists to place him in a position of power — a position that would endanger minority communities across Florida.
The election of DeSantis would not only confirm the belief that racism isn’t real, it would also confirm that Florida is actively accepting and promoting bigotry with no consequences. This kind of environment further emphasizes that, so long as you’re a person of color, your voice will not be heard and you will likely never have a chance to make a change. It establishes a level of hostility that opens the gates for racism and hatred to fester like a disease, plaguing our country more and more each time bigotry is voted into office.
Pride in our country and the recognition that discrepancies in power and resources exist are not mutually exclusive ideas.
This election season, ask more of your fellow voters. Encourage those around you to elect candidates who will work in the best interests of all their constituents, not just the ones who are mirror images of themselves.
Ask that we, as a country, think critically about the entirety of America’s past and use that history as a stepping stone toward a more progressive, more equal future.
Ben Crump is a nationally known civil rights attorney and advocate and is the founder and principal of Ben Crump Law.
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Hurricane Michael flattened towns where survivors remain in disbelief
“I looked over at my husband and I took his hand and I said we’re not going to make it,” Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson recalled thinking amid the hurricane.
by Natalie Valdés / / Updated
Mexico Beach is ground zero with every home leveled.Natalie Valdes / NBC News
LYNN HAVEN, Fla. — For a grueling 55 minutes, Mayor Margo Anderson didn’t know if they were going to survive Hurricane Michael.
She rode out the storm in the police headquarters building here with about 40 other people, including police officers, their families and their pets.
The group went room to room, dodging falling debris until the eye came through. Then, silence.
“I looked over at my husband and I took his hand and I said we’re not going to make it,” said Anderson. “We are not going to make it.”
Fortunately, all 40 people sheltered inside survived. Once the storm passed, they crawled through blown out windows to get out of the demolished building. The first time she went back inside the building, it was almost too much to bear.
“I have normally a very low, calm voice and I can feel myself just talking about it and I’m short of breath,” she said.
What Anderson lived through in Lynn Haven echoes the destruction seen by those throughout the area. The death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to 19 Sunday as searchers continued to make their way through the devastated parts of the Florida Panhandle. Residents have been left in disbelief, unsure of what’s next.
Four miles south of Lynn Haven is Panama City, Florida. Along the main road through town, every business has either some damage or is completely destroyed.
A local auto shop owner in Panama City was so worried about looting that he spent the night in his destroyed building armed with a shotgun.
Meanwhile, Mexico Beach, just 24 miles away from Panama City, is considered ground zero for hurricane damage — every home there was leveled by the wind and rain. Search and rescue teams from Tennessee, Indiana and Florida are on the ground searching for 250 people who chose to stay behind and are currently unaccounted for.
“We continue to go through that list to assure that we account for everyone,” said Michael Pruitt, PIO for FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Incident Support Team.
Those without any insurance are in dire straits. Kelly Mitchell said her grandparent’s beach house is beyond repair. It was a place where generations of family members came together to enjoy the peacefulness of a small town coastal community of just about 1,000 people.
“I know it’s just a big house but it has a lot of memories for us,” said Mitchell. “There’s a five foot of storm surge inside and it’s totally mud and sand and everything in the house is just destroyed. ”
Mitchell and her daughter Abby Golden made their way from Blountstown to Mexico Beach for one thing.
“We came down here mainly to get pictures that my grandmother who would have been 100 years old had painted in the house,” said Mitchell. “We wanted to salvage that and we were able to pick those up.”
In Lynn Haven, Anderson is working hard to check on her community, riding around otherwise impassible roads in a golf cart.
“We are all together. We have a hashtag. Lynn Haven Together And Strong. And that’s what we are,” said Anderson. “We have hope for the future and we’re going to get through it. People here are devastated. Our town has been catastrophically affected.”
Anderson organized the first distribution center in her city where residents can get a hot meal, water and ice. Volunteers have been working around the clock serving homemade casseroles, hot dogs, burgers, and even cupcakes. Everything has been donated from neighboring cities where people have power, can cook or can reach open grocery stores miles away.
“There’s a lot of good people here,” said Mara Harrison. “They just want to help.”
Harrison has lived in the Florida Panhandle all her life and she’s never seen devastation like this.
Across the street from the volunteer distribution center, her husband’s dentist office barely stands. But Harrison is more concerned about her neighbors who can’t leave their pummeled homes.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t have the means to leave and those are the people we need to help,” she said.
Anderson said 80 to 90 percent of the homes in Lynn Haven are destroyed. The Mexico Beach city manager said 95 percent of the homes in Mexico beach are uninhabitable.
Residents in Lynn Haven aren’t waiting for help. Although FEMA arrived Sunday to begin the process of providing transitional sheltering assistance to residents, volunteers continued to serve hot meals.
“Who’s going to help? People just don’t know they need to,” Harrison said as she prepared hot dogs and hamburgers for a long line of hungry neighbors. “They have no idea it’s like this.”
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No Food, No FEMA: Hurricane Michael’s Survivors Are Furious
Miles and miles of Florida are obliterated, and residents have been left to fend for themselves with little help from the government.
PANAMA CITY, Florida—Hurricane Michael’s sudden transformation into an unprecedented storm haunts everyone on the Florida Panhandle who lived through it. “It was raw power,” says Panama City resident Walter McAlster, “you felt you were in it, not outside and didn’t know if you would live through it. You knew that everything was going to change the landscape forever.”
And it did, in the space of three hours.
The destruction is everywhere, at every corner, as far as the eye can see. Mexico Beach, where the hurricane’s eye wall slammed into Florida with 140 mph winds, is flattened. Panama City, gem of the Emerald Coast, looks like a bomb has been dropped on it. It is now a desolate landscape of toppled power poles, transformers, electrical lines, severed trees, and metal roofing, twisted and tangled into a sea of debris. Nearly all homes, businesses, stores, banks, schools are severely damaged or destroyed, skeletal remains with blown out windows or crushed facades. To residents, it is unrecognizable.
There is so much rubble that the official death toll of 14 is expected to rise as search-and-rescue teams inspect thousands of buildings, looking for the missing. A team from the Miami Fire Department found a body in a Mexico Beach home on Friday. About 1,700 workers have checked 27,000 homes, Gov. Rick Scott said after meeting with emergency responders on Saturday evening.
The debris has rendered most roads and streets virtually impassible for evacuees and first responders. Electric poles bent at 90 degrees and power lines strewn like spaghetti cover most lanes. Nearly all transformers were destroyed. Vehicles dodge ruined trees, split like toothpicks or uprooted by the power of the storm.
Driving across the Apalachicola National Forest reserve that borders the coast was like touring a cemetery: endless rows of decapitated trees, leaning perfectly aligned like fallen prisoners who had been executed. Electrical poles 30 feet high have been split in half, their power lines strewn across the macadam. It went on like this for 60 miles.
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Since the storm, there’s been no electricity and no water in Panama City. Emergency disaster relief was yet to be seen in strength as of Saturday morning and residents were growing more frustrated and desperate.
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Chantelle Goolspy sat in her car making phone calls to get help. Goolspy and many of her neighbors live in a public housing area in downtown Panama City that was badly devastated.
“We’re in need of food, water, anything, we’re not getting any help. The whole street needs help,” Goolspy told the Red Cross. “FEMA referred me to you. That person told me to call 211.”
Down the street, Barbara Sanders stood outside her daughter’s unit, where she had come to stay during the hurricane.
“We’re not getting any help,” she said. “We need food. It’s just crazy.”
Sanders said that not a single relief agency had come by to check on them. Only the police had come and it was to tell everyone to leave. “They told us there’s nothing they can do and it’s gonna take a long time to rebuild,” Sanders said.
Just then a pick-up truck arrived with water. It was the first help this neighborhood had received and it turned out to be two brothers—Chris and Brendon Hill, from Louisiana—who had decided to come and help.
In neighboring Panama City Beach, city manager Mario Gisbert wasn’t going to wait for federal emergency assistance. Volunteers from Florida and other states brought water, set up a food kitchen for police, and prepared 1,500 meals for locals. A local church is preparing to distribute meals at 15 stations in Panama City.
“The American people are helping us,” Gisbert said. “FEMA will eventually come into the game and get the accolades in six months.”
Federal, state, and local officials were hunkered down at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) set up at Gulf Coast State College in Lynn Haven, trying to get urgently needed food and water to residents. The EOC turned down The Daily Beast’s request to speak with the EOC chief, Mark Bowen, and city officials. Spokesperson Catie Feenie said the focus was on “coordinating some patrols who are in life-saving mode” for the 60,000 residents who had not evacuated before the hurricane, like Goolspy and Sanders.
“We’re telling everybody to save [food and water] because it will be days before we’re ready to do that,” Feenie said.
At a press conference in Panama City on Saturday evening, Gov. Scott stressed the same point.
“Everybody just needs to help each other right now,” he said.
Meanwhile, some 17,000 utility workers are busy restoring power to 245,000 Florida homes and businesses without electricity.
Officials said schools have been closed indefinitely, but word hadn’t gotten out. Goolspy’s 13-year son, Antoine, was hopeful he could return soon. “I don’t want to repeat my seventh grade because without education you can’t get ahead,” he said, adding he couldn’t wait to take a shower, too.
Word about not getting water or meals had not yet reached rural communities inundated by the hurricane’s rains and storm surge. In Gadsden County, outside Tallahassee, where the storm killed four people, county commissioner Anthony Viegbesie said he had not seen a single relief agency.
“This is a community that lives on agriculture. Without electricity, the wells don’t work,” he said. “We survive primitively.”
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VA Treachery, Fraud, Malpractice And Lies (Part 2 Of 2)
Toward the end of part one I was speaking of the Ratings Board for the VA and how crooked they are and have been. In the guidelines for how the VA Ratings Board is supposed to conduct themselves it is stated that if their own Doctors agree with the Vet like their Neurosurgeon did in October of 2012 concerning the MRI I was finally able to get, that the Board would have to side on the side of the Veteran. Those guidelines also say that if the Veteran goes to civilian Doctors and those Doctors in writing agree with the Veteran that it is “reasonable to believe” that an active duty injury “could have caused” the veterans issues that they are trying to get a disability increase on then the Board has to side with the Veteran. As most any and all Veterans who have received negative answers at these Boards of Inquiry know, the VA personnel who are being paid by the VA, they pay no attention to those guidelines. As I said yesterday in part one, poop flows downhill, you know that these actions have to be being dictated to them from higher up in the VA chain of command. Otherwise why would these underlings be going against the very guidelines that they are told to uphold?
From about August of 1984 up until the heart attack I had while living in Ocala Fl in March of 1999 I suffered with not only my legs, hips and low pack being in constant pain, I suffered horribly with chest, neck, left shoulder and hand pain from the un-diagnosed heart pains. In 1999 I was working on a dedicated account for J B Hunt and I had another heart attack while at a company safety meeting. I was 42 at the time and my boss didn’t figure it was something serious so he pointed me in the direction of the hospital and I drove myself there. It was a Saturday morning and it was flu season and the ER was full of Mom’s and kids. When I was able to finally get up the ramp and into the building I went to the check in window, told them what was going wrong with me, they thought that I was lying just trying to get in front of the line. They did check my blood pressure though and as normal it was about 110/70.They had me sit in the waiting room for 5 1/2 hours before they finally called my name. When they finally did an EKG they freaked out because of them seeing the heart attacks. 3 days later they did a 4 way by-pass as all my arteries were 100% closed. At that time it seems that even the heart Doctors were unaware that the body in attempts to save itself will grow small veins around the blockages and into the heart. Trouble is that my blood would close these just about as fast as the new ones could grow. Literally your body is in a race against itself as it tries to keep some blood going to the heart. This was the first time that I ever got a hospital to do an EKG, ever. Over a span of 14 1/2 yrs I was never able to get a VA Doctor to do that simple 30 second test. How many yrs of my life did their ignorance, arrogance, and laziness shave off of my life span? This also doesn’t include the fact that during this time I had no quality of life at all. I couldn’t play any kind of games with my kids and my whole life revolved around working (being a long haul truck driver) and when I wasn’t working about the only thing I ever did was to sleep.
After my insurance ran out three months after the heart operation I had to rely on the VA system for my meds because I had no other way to afford them. The company I was working for would not let me come back to work so I did the only thing I could do, I had to lie my way into jobs with small companies or starve and go homeless. In January of 2002 I was able to get on with a company in Knoxville Tn that I stayed with until January of 2004 when my health made it impossible to do my job, so I had to quit. As was very normal with the VA system they change who they get their medications with quite often so even if you are getting the same medication from one supplier for a few months the VA would then change and you would get the same medication (supposedly) but the pill would look totally different. It also was and sometimes still is common to get a medication bottle that just says the name of it and to take it once or twice a day or to take at bed time or before breakfast, but that would be all that was on the bottle. About the first of January 2004 I got one such bottle that simply said take it twice a day but not what it was supposed to be for, this was not uncommon. I tended to follow what the bottles said so I started taking it two times a day, about twelve hours apart. Within a few weeks I was feeling so wore out I could hardly function at all. I had to quit my job because I thought I must be having trouble with my heart again. In mid February 04 I was able to get a heart-cath done through the VA in Johnson City (Mountain Home) Tn. When these are done a Cardiologist always has to be present, this day I had a young Doctor named Israel Garcia as the supervisor. I remember the name because of what he did. Before the test he was looking over the medications that I was on and he came across one that he said I did not need to be taking because it is only used if the patient had a history of strokes and I had not had one. Thirteen days after he took me off the med I had a stroke, the very next day they put me back on it, I’m still on it. I have never been mad at the man because all people make mistakes, I don’t believe he meant to hurt me on purpose, I forgive him. Yet because of this stroke I was not able to work until April of 2009, this VA doctors mistake cost me a little over five years of work income for my family.
The stroke hit my left side which is my dominate side and I still feel some of the effects to this day, but not major, I’m used to it. Reality was that the medication I had been taking was a muscle relaxer so my taking it every twelve hours just about stopped my heart, as you know, the heart is a muscle. Now I was in a situation where I could not work at all and my family lost our home and we had to move into a ‘state apartment’. I was unemployed until I decided to lie my way into another driving job in April of 2009. I had to lie to get employment because the only job that I could do that I knew how to do was to drive a truck and no company would have hired me if they knew that I was ill. I felt as a husband and a dad I had to try to get our family out of the base living conditions we were living in, just barely surviving. My health for many years had mandated that the only work I could do was if I was sitting down and not lifting anything, that is very limiting in the employment spectrum. The left side of my face is still numb and I still have a little bit of trouble with objects coming quickly from my left to my right. Also I could only be on my feet for about ten minutes at the most before the pain in my low back and legs would force me to sit down, now day’s I am lucky if I can get 2-3 minutes before the pain puts me down and I am forced to use the power wheelchair the VA gave me back in 2007 all of the time.
I was able to work from April of 2009 until June of 2013 when I simply had used up every ounce of pain fighting ability that I could muster. In 2007 I had another heart-cath done in Johnson City at the VA and it showed that all of my grafts from the 1999 operation were 100% closed. Yet they refused to even try to do a balloon surgery to see if any of those grafts could be opened because in their words “that operation would probably kill me”. Folks, I know I am not the wisest person in the world but I have a question for you. When all of a persons arteries and grafts are totally closed and the only blood getting to the heart keeping you alive are those little veins I told you about earlier that grow around the blockages in a race for time, what does a person have to lose? You are going to die from this condition guaranteed! Yet the VA refused to do anything except give me more medications.
As I told you earlier I went back to work in April of 2009 for a small local company. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would simply work as long as I could, expecting that one day I would simply go to sleep in a truck-stop somewhere and not wake up. I felt that the least I could do before I died was to give my family as much help financially as possible. Because I had been out of work for so long I didn’t even have the credits with social security to be able to leave them with even that check so I had to try to work as long as I could, hoping I could work long enough to get those credits. Social Security and VA disability pensions are a poor mans life insurance for their families they leave behind. Because of the VA’s methods of operation I was going to not be able to leave anything for my family, this is why I had to try going back to work even though I knew I shouldn’t do it.
In September of 2011 I was in Atlanta having a trailer washed out for a customer and was leaning up against the outside wall of the business, it was a hot day and they had the big outside door propped open beside me. When they finished the trailer washout I stepped away from the wall and blacked out. I fell face first into the big metal hinges of that door busting my forehead open about three or four inches. The workers revived me and to make a long story shorter, I was taken unconscious in an ambulance to the nearest hospital which turned out to be less that a half mile away. The first three days I was there I was unconscious and remember nothing of it. Once I was awake the heart Doctors told me that when I got to the ER my numbers were 50/20 and dropping fast and that both of my kidneys had completely shut down, they told me that I would have been dead in another five to ten minutes if I hadn’t gotten there when I did. I was also told that the VA had me on four times too much blood pressure medicine and that it was what had made me black out. Once again I was minutes away from the VA killing me. While I was out on that third day they did a heart-cath on me, it was after that when I woke up. There were two heart Doctors talking with me about the condition of my blood flow. I told them what the VA Doctors had told me about why they couldn’t/wouldn’t try to balloon them open, I remember they just looked at each other and wagged their heads in disgust. Within the hour they had me in surgery where they were able to balloon open two of the grafts from the 1999 surgery and they put stints in them at that time. This is why I am still alive today was because of the quality of the Doctors at the Gwinnett Medical Center just outside of Atlanta.
These Georgia Doctors gave me a new med list to give to the VA Doctors and to no surprise they got upset about the new list. One of the meds is a very expensive one for the heart that is actually required by law for them to give to me because of my particular condition. The condition being when a person has no arteries open and all the person has for blood flow are stints in old grafts they must give you this medication. It took them twelve months before they agreed to do it and then it was only after a new VA Doctor I had been assigned went up the chain of command to insist they do it. I am not saying that all people or all Doctors at the VA’s around the country are worthless or evil, but many are and it seems that the chain of command above the Doctors are in many cases just plain evil. I know that the VA system goes through a huge amount of Doctors, it seems like every time you go to one of their clinics you have been assigned yet another new Doctor. Could it be that in many cases when a good Doctor gets a job with them that they see how crooked that system is and they decide to find somewhere else to work?
I am going to finish with one last kick in the privates that they are very guilty of, and that is they refuse to pay their own bills so you the patient ends up with all their medical bills laid against your credit. By their own rules they must pay those medical bills I have in Georgia, it has been almost seven years now and they have paid nothing. By their own rules in a life or death emergency and you could not get to the nearest VA Hospital then the VA will pay that bill. I have been told several times that they believe that I could have made it to the VA in Atlanta so they have steadfastly refused to pay the $70,000 dollars in medical bills I have there. Folks, what part of arrived unconscious in an ambulance from a half mile away, five minutes from death do these people not understand? You have to believe that they can’t be that stupid so the other alternative seems to be is that they are that crooked, at least it seems that way to me. Back in August of 2015 my wife and I bought a house in Kentucky just outside of Lexington. We chose here because it is one of only two VA Hospitals I have ever heard good things about and in this thirty months we have been here I have been an inpatient twice already and they do actually seem to give a damn here unlike the other hospitals of theirs I have had experience with. But now about that $70,000 dollars on my credit that I can’t get off. When we bought the house I was forced to use the VA Loan program because I couldn’t get anyone else to finance us, not even the Credit Union that we have banked at for many years. Even through this loan, because my credit score was only 668 because of those medical bills our rate of interest is much higher than it should have to be, meaning that every month we have to pay more out-of-pocket of our set incomes for the house payment, leaving less for life’s other expenses. Okay, I’m done gripping about them, I know this was a long story folks, but I guarantee you this, everything I have said to you is true. As I said early on, I do not believe that anyone at the VA has a personal vendetta against me, I am just one of millions of service connected disabled Veterans who have been and are being treated like this. What is your opinion of the VA now?
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I am going to use this first paragraph to try to qualify to you where I stand on a few issues facing every person in America and in deed I think in every country. Personally I am a fundamentalist Christian but by no means am I a perfect person and I do not expect anyone else to be able to be perfect either. Politically I consider myself to be a moderate conservative. In a perfect world I would probably line up behind the ‘Tea Party’ on most issues, but we do not live in a perfect world here in America nor anywhere else. I consider the Tea Party to be the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party so much so that the Conservative Republican base considers them to be extremist. Personally I believe that the Tea Party should be expelled from the Republican Party forcing them to run as a third Party. The Democratic Party has this same type of issue if you consider their Party to all be a bunch of liberals even to the point of people like Senator Bernie Sanders who is really an Independent as he is far to ‘the left’ of the Democratic platform. I believe that Senator Sanders who is a ‘Independent’ should split from the Democratic Party and that he should run as an Independent in the next Presidential election.
Here in the state of Kentucky registered Independents can not exercise our Constitutional right to vote in the ‘primary season’, this is how it was when we lived in the state of Florida also. Yet when the main elections roll around in November both Party’s vigorously court the ‘Independent’ voters. During the 2012 Presidential elections Republican Mitt Romney made the comment about ‘48%’ of the voting public whom he had no chance to woo over to his side of the divide and the American Media railed against him for that comment even though he was correct in that evaluation. There are about 48% of the Democratic electorate who would rather not vote at all than to vote for a Republican. There is a flip side to this equation though, there are about 48% of the voters who vote Republican that would never vote for a Democrat. This leaves about 4% of Independent voters that the election is all about, whoever gets the majority of us Independents wins the Presidency. The term that has been used a lot in the Media for this situation is the ‘polarization’ of America.
Here in America the people of our country gripe a lot about how the politicians in DC never seem to get anything positive accomplished and I believe this is a fair belief. The Democratic leadership forces their members to vote a ‘far left’ agenda and the Republican leadership forces their members to vote to a ‘far right’ agenda. This reality means that nothing constructive ever gets done. There is also the issue that each Party wants all the credit on a bill if it is something that is actually a positive issue, they both vehemently do not want to share any ‘credit’ with the other Party. Because of these Politicians being so pious and egotistical they are destroying America from the inside and it is obvious that they really don’t care about the American people as a whole.
I am going to use my Father-in-law as an example of non-thinkers, (sorry Dad). He is a Tea Party type of believer, he hates all Unions and believes that America would be better off if there were no Unions at all, he thinks they are destroying our Country. He hates the Democrats and he wants the Republican agenda’s to be made law. Yet he is like most folks who believe that the Congress is a do nothing Congress. He doesn’t want to compromise on the issues yet he wants the Congress to get off their butts and get our Country moving again. Where Dad and I differ is that even though I wish the Country was living in a true Christian manner I know that this is not going to happen until after the Tribulation. In the mean time we must compromise with each other by working toward the middle and get at least some things accomplished for the good of the people (the Country). By the way, to my wife and I Dad’s position on Unions is really flawed, this is because he retired from two different Union Factories. Because these two factories were Union he now survives financially from two different retirement checks he gets each month. If it wasn’t for those Unions he and his wife would be in the poor-house or having to live in our basement.
I call myself a moderate conservative because I know that the Tea Party agenda has no chance of happening. I want to make mention that I am not a fan of everything the Tea Party leaders want as not everything they want would be something that would qualify as “Christ like” policies. I believe that if the Politicians do not get off of their ‘high horses’ they are either going to destroy our Country or the people are going to rise up and destroy these pious bought and paid for frauds. Personally, I am a fan of the NRA even though I do not like some of their policies, for example I believe that ten-round clips are big enough as long as the amount of clips and bullets a person can own should have no limits. Personally I am for many things that the Democratic Party wants to pass into law just as I am for many things the Republican Party stands for. The issue is that I am also against many things that both Party’s want to pass into law. We as a people must wake up and learn to work with each other or we as a Country are going to implode.
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