Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Leon County commissioners unanimously approve formal apology for past slavery, racism. (GANNETT/Tallahassee Democrat)

From Tallahassee Democrat/GANNETT: 

Leon County commissioners unanimously approve formal apology for past slavery, racism

Arianna Otero. 
Tallahassee Democrat    Leon County commissioners have apologized for the county's history of slavery and racism.

Commissioner Rick Minor shared how the resolution was necessary, explaining that the pain experienced in the past transcends generations.

"We all have the opportunity to close that terrible chapter of our history, not to forget about it ... and start the healing process," Minor said.

Proctor said he looks to memorialize the apology by submitting it to the Meeks-Eaton Black Archives.

February 20, 2024

At their Tuesday meeting, commissioners unanimously voted on the resolution, which was first brought up at their annual retreat last month.

The resolution serves as both an apology and works to "affirm Leon County's commitment to advancing equality and ensuring protection of the fundamental rights of individuals regardless of race, color, religion or national origin."

Commissioner Bill Proctor, who pushed for the resolution, shared that the legislation made him emotional and that it was a "significant statement of the bicentennial year of our county and a statement to the future ... that we recognize what our county has been."

The county's apology comes after Tallahassee's First Presbyterian Church unveiled a plaque apologizing for that church's history of racism.

First Presbyterian Church will dedicate plaque acknowledging racism on Jan. 21, 2024.

Commissioner Nick Maddox acknowledged how people need to look back on moments they “don't want to think about” but how those moments still shape them.

"[You] can't erase history as a commissioner ... what you can do is know that you've done something that just might not have been right, take responsibility for it, and apologize," Maddox said.


ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: What's that smell? | St. Johns County neighbors say odor 'smacks you in the face'. (First Coast News)

Ask Dr. ROY HINMAN, M.D., owner of the facility.  A Republican megadonor, Dr. H. may be reached at Island Doctors, which he owns.  Dr. HINMAN's flak catcher, Heather Neville, was married to controversial St. Augustine Vice Mayor TODD DAVID NEVILLE, who DeSANTIS named chair of the audit committee of the Florida State Board of Administration. Also, you can and should report air, water, wetland and ocean pollution to National Response Center, get case number. Follow up. Ask questions. Demand answers. Expect democracy.  

From First Coast News:

What's that smell? | St. Johns County neighbors say odor 'smacks you in the face'

Some people blame a nearby biomass composting company. A company representative says the smell is coming from elsewhere

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla — Some people in the central part of St. Johns County say they are dealing with a stinky situation.

Last summer, First Coast News reported on a story about one woman who said her neighborhood along Carter Road off County Road 214 has a foul smell.

Tuesday,  a different group of people in a nearby neighborhood had the same complaints.  They took those concerns to the St. Johns County Commission Tuesday morning.

Linda Hansen described the odor, "it smells foul. It’s worse than human feces or stagnant water."

"I had to shut the window it smells so bad," Jessie Fox said. 

His wife, Joy, told First Coast News, "It's a smell that would smack you in your face."

They live in the Morgan’s Cove neighborhood off of CR 214, near the interstate. They and other neighbors are tired of the odor they smell in their neighborhood.

Hansen said the smell makes her feel "nauseated. It shouldn't be affecting our lives like this."

Mr. Fox also is concerned about his family's health as well as his property value. "It is a bit emotional for me. This is the first house I've eve bought." 

His wife, Joy, said the smell would "go away for a couple days, a week or two, and then it stared happening again at night."

Hansen has contacted state agencies with her concerns.  She, the Foxes, and others believe the odor is coming from Indianhead Biomass Services which is less than a mile away. It’s a company that takes treated human waste and mixes it with organic material to make composting dirt.

After speaking at the St. Johns County commission meeting, Hansen she received an email from someone at Indianhead Biomass Services, inviting her to see the facility. 

"What Indianhead is doing is so great," Heather Lane Neville said. She has done land planning and contract work for Indianhead.  She believes in what the company is doing.

Indianhead Biomass Services was spotlighted for its work at a national composting convention earlier this month. 

Regarding the odor some neighbors smell, Neville said, "I don’t think these people aren't smelling something. I just don’t think it’s Indianhead."

Tuesday afternoon, when First Coast News was in the Morgan's Cove neighborhood, there usually was no foul odor. However, every once in a while, with a breeze, there was a strong smell which could be compared to porta pottie.

ccording a letter from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to Indianhead Biomass Services this past fall, the agency sent investigators to check on the 70 odor complaints it had received about Indianhead.  The DEP letter said odor was detected some of the time but not all the time.

It appears the DEP told Indianhead it needed to work on odor control. 

Neville said actions had been taken since that letter. "To my knowledge, yes. We're in compliance. We’re doing several things. There are bio filters which is putting wood chips on top.  We're putting an attenuation wall that we're putting in and constructing. And we're also installed a windsock." 

Neville said when complaints come in, she or someone from Indianhead will try to learn more about the complaint.  

"It can be hot, cold, the wind is blowing from whatever direction, and they're (those who complain about an odor) are saying, 'It's Indianhead.' And I'll drive out to the neighborhood, and I don't smell it."

She said there are other things in the area that could cause odors, such as a waste water treatment plant, a bio land site, the swamp or construction. 

Neville told First Coast News she has reached out to a neighbor who has concerns about the odor.

Neighbors such as Jesse Fox still believe the odor is from Indianhead, and want someone to do something about it.

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: DeSantis takes state plane to Indiana, South Carolina to push congressional term limits Watchdog says governor is “wasting taxpayer resources … "(Orlando Sentinel)

Wretched excess by Boy Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS. From Orlando Sentinel: 

DeSantis takes state plane to Indiana, South Carolina to push congressional term limits

Watchdog says governor is “wasting taxpayer resources … as he tries to remain relevant to a national audience”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis poses for a photo during a campaign stop in Gilbert, S.C., June 2, 2023. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis poses for a photo during a campaign stop in Gilbert, S.C., June 2, 2023. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)
Steven Lemongello poses for an NGUX portrait in Orlando on Friday, October 31, 2014. (Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel)

User Upload Caption: .

Trump’s G.O.P. Is a Confederacy of Fakers (Thomas L. Friedman column, The New York Times)

Is our TRUMP-loving GQP is a clear and present danger to our collective security, NATO, and the Rule of Law?  You tell me.  From The New York Times:


Trump’s G.O.P. Is a Confederacy of Fakers

Donald Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham in front of several American flags in January 2023.
Credit...Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Donald Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham in front of several American flags in January 2023.

Opinion Columnist

I’ve got a suggestion for the next Trump-G.O.P. fund-raising scheme. You know how sports memorabilia stores sometimes sell basketballs autographed by an entire N.B.A. team? Well, I was imagining that Donald Trump could sell white flags at $1,000 a pop that say, “We surrendered Ukraine to Russia,” autographed by him and the House and Senate MAGA sycophants he’s assembled to deny Ukrainians the weapons they need to stave off Vladimir Putin’s onslaught.

For an extra $500, you could get a white flag autographed solely by Trump and J.D. Vance and emblazoned with Vance’s immortal words, “I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine.” Or one signed by House Speaker Mike Johnson, big enough to sum up his worldview: I was for Ukraine aid until I was against it, but I could be for it again if Trump is not against it. This is a matter of principle for me. Either way, it’s all Biden’s fault.

And then the ultimate collector’s item. For an extra $1,000, a giant white surrender flag, made from the softest Sea Island cotton, signed by Lindsey Graham, that says: “I gave up the principles of John McCain and a free Ukraine because Trump told me to. But I got a round of golf at Trump’s West Palm Beach course. Can I still be on ‘Meet the Press’?”

The last gift comes with a pair of Trump’s new branded tennis shoes, guaranteed by Trump and personally tested by Graham, to be the fastest shoe on the market to run away from any ally or foe — or anything principled that you’ve ever said.

The possibilities are endless, because Trump’s G.O.P. has become bottomless. It now manifests an infinite willingness to engage in any form of crow eating, bootlicking, backtracking and backstabbing to stay in his good graces, no matter how crackpot, selfish or un-American his demand. Trump decides to just dump Ukraine? Bye-bye, Zelensky. Trump decides to toss aside months of bipartisan work to forge a grand bargain on immigration reform? Gone — no questions asked!

I’ve never seen so many people in one party behave with so little respect for themselves or the nation’s interests at one time.

Let’s take a look at Ukraine. I’m not for an endless war in Ukraine. We should always be probing for the possibility of a negotiated settlement between Kyiv and Moscow. This year has shown America and Europe two things: The West cannot and will not just keep pouring money into Ukraine to fund a stalemate, and an outright victory by Ukraine or Russia seems more remote than ever.

But the way to get a decent negotiated settlement is not by cutting off aid to Kyiv cold turkey, the approach that many House Republicans and some Senate colleagues are essentially advocating. That is not only shameful but also strategically insane. The only way to get a deal now or down the road — a deal that is in Ukraine’s interest and in the interest of the West — is by reaffirming our military and economic assistance to Kyiv while doubling down on diplomacy to end the war.

Yes, it’s a tricky business; ending wars always is. There will have to be some hard compromises by both sides. For me, that means, at a minimum, Ukraine comes out of this war with a clear pathway to membership in the European Union. If Ukraine, with its advanced army, giant agricultural breadbasket and flourishing young tech sector, can one day be admitted into the E.U., it makes a whole-and-free Europe closer to becoming a reality and the E.U. much stronger as a player on the world stage — promoting democracy, free markets, pluralism and the rule of law. That’s good for us.

And if the price of that is that Ukraine has to cede some of its Russian-speaking eastern provinces and has to rely for now on informal U.S. and European security guarantees and continued arms — instead of formal NATO membership — we’ll deal with it. Because a Ukraine in the European Union, even without some of its eastern provinces, would become a real powerhouse.

Putin’s Russia, not so much. Putin might be aiming to put a nuclear weapon into space and spending over $100 billion on the Ukraine war, but as his infrastructure on the ground crumbles, more and more Russians are freezing at home this winter.

“Cities are freezing. Who is guilty?” said Boris Nadezhdin, the long-shot presidential candidate who tried running against Putin. The Financial Times recently quoted him as saying, “The huge amounts of money that have been spent and planned for the special military operation could have been invested in improving the quality of life of my fellow citizens.”

No decent deal for Ukraine will be possible if we let Trump and his party just pull the plug on aid to Kyiv now. As my New York Times colleagues in Ukraine reported last week, the Ukrainian Army is now “engaged in a desperate fight to hold back the Russian onslaught. … Across the entire 600-mile-long front, Ukraine is short on ammunition without renewed American military assistance, and it is struggling to replenish its own depleted forces after two years of brutal fighting.”

And have no doubt, if we did just surrender Ukraine, Putin’s next destination could be the Baltic States or Poland. But both are in NATO, which means we are obligated under Article 5 of the NATO treaty to defend them with our own soldiers and treasure. So surrendering Ukraine now could be one of the most expensive things we could do.

As Alexander Gabuev, the director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, recently observed about Putin in The Financial Times: “With no checks on his capacity to make fatal mistakes, an aging Russian ruler surrounded by sycophants may embark on more reckless moves in coming years than anything we’ve seen so far. If the Kremlin believes that no major Western power has the resources and will to fight for minor allies like the Baltic States, it may be tempted to test NATO’s Article 5 commitment to collective defense.” Especially when Trump’s rhetoric “creates a dangerous illusion that America would not intervene if Putin uses military force to divide NATO,” he added.

We are watching two schools of U.S. foreign policy play out over Ukraine. One is the classic U.S. great-power approach, led by a president who grew up in the Cold War and built on a bedrock of American values and interests that have served us well since we entered World War II: We and our allies will negotiate with Putin, but only from a position of strength, not weakness. And our strength derives not just from our money and weapons but also from the fact that Biden has been able to assemble a Western coalition on Ukraine that amplifies our and our allies’ strength tenfold.

Trump, by contrast, often behaves as if he learned his world affairs not at Wharton but by watching World Wrestling Entertainment. So much of what he does is purely performative; it’s about looking strong, about talking tough and about fake body slams, in which everyone is fooled except our rivals.

For example, Trump tore up the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, claiming it was a giveaway by Barack Obama. But he did it with no diplomatic plan to secure a better deal and no strategic plan or allies to confront Iran if it exploited Trump’s move by pushing ahead toward a nuclear bomb. So Iran, which, under Obama, was being kept about a year away from having enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb, is now just a few weeks away. That’s what performative diplomacy gets you.

And that was before our allies had truly gotten to know how little Trump knows or values the Western alliance. A second time around, no one would trust him, so Trump’s “America First” strategy would almost certainly end up an “America Alone” strategy. If you think helping Ukraine is expensive today, try defending America against Russia, China and Iran — all by ourselves.

 am afraid of what this future holds, my fellow Americans, because Trump is a fake, Lindsey Graham is a fake and the G.O.P. has become a cult with no coherent platform other than what side of the bed Trump woke up on, meaning it’s a fake. None of them will fight for anything any longer — other than staying in Trump’s good graces by saying whatever he tells them to say.

They are all trapped in a performative doom loop that has nothing to do with acting on our real interests. It’s only about performing for Trump and for his base to get more clicks, to get more donations, to get more votes, to get elected and then perform again for more clicks. Rinse and repeat — the actual world be damned.

It is all fake. Only our enemies are not fake.

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Thomas L. Friedman is the foreign affairs Opinion columnist. He joined the paper in 1981 and has won three Pulitzer Prizes. He is the author of seven books, including “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” which won the National Book Award. @tomfriedman  Facebook

A version of this article appears in print on Feb. 21, 2024, Section A, Page 19 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump’s G.O.P. Is a Confederacy of Fakers