Jan 132017
 
Who's More Anti-American, Russia Today or the US Director of National Intelligence?

by Thomas L. Knapp……. Someone should take US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper aside for a talk. He desperately needs to be told that when you’re deep in a hole, the first step toward getting out is to stop digging. Clapper’s been in such a hole since 2013, when he got caught lying to Congress about the National Security Agency’s surveillance of and data collection on Americans. Oops. On January 6, he fired up a backhoe and dug himself six feet deeper when his [continue reading…]

 January 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #201, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Jan 132017
 
Book Review: Don’t Read This Poetry Book

Book Review by Kirby Congdon……. Don’t Read This Poetry Book by Edgardo Alvarado-Vazquez Key West, Fl: Seastory Press, 2016 www.seastorypress.com ISBN 078-1-936818-36-5 This collection of drawings, obituaries and poems is a compendium, just now published in 2017. The flippant title suggests reticence about being in the public eye. However, as we get into this collection we become more aware of the depth of Mr. Vazquez’s life. There are references to Berlin, to the avantgarde artist, Keith Haring,  to the poet Rilke, to family, the Spanish [continue reading…]

 January 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #201, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Jan 132017
 
And Now for a Little, Very Little, Peace and Quiet

by Kim Pederson……. It’ everywhere, it’s everywhere! No, I’m not talking about Chicken Man. That’s “he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere!” I’m talking about noise pollution, one of the banes of living in developed societies that can drive you not just literally but actually crazy. You likely know what I’m talking about and if not, here’s the definition: noise pollution is “disturbing or excessive noise that may harm the activity or balance of human or animal life.” So what does noise pollution–generated outdoors mostly by machines, transportation [continue reading…]

 January 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #201, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jan 062017
 
Oceanside Marina Part Two:  The "Condo Wars"

Just as we were wondering whether Pritam Singh’s soon to open “175-room Hotel” on Stock Island was legal, The Blue Paper received an interesting tip. Pritam Singh is suing 7 of his neighbors for alleged unlawful vacation rental use of their condos at Oceanside Marina. He wants them to rent long-term. The $100 million question is whether there is in fact any difference between those old condos (2003) and the new ones recently built by Mr. Singh at that very same marina. They look like [continue reading…]

Jan 062017
 
New Boss(es), Same as The Old Boss(es)

by Thomas L. Knapp……. Donald Trump ran for president in part on a promise to “drain the swamp” that is Washington, DC. He positioned himself as a political outsider, beholden to no one and capable of bringing sweeping changes to a federal government set in its ways. But as Inauguration Day approaches, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the fundamentals aren’t going to change much. While Trump’s cabinet picks do reflect the usual party line changing of the guard, they’re hardly “outsiders” by any conventional definition. [continue reading…]

 January 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #200, Thomas L. Knapp 5 Responses »
Jan 062017
 
There's No Place Like...a Hermetically Sealed Climate-Controlled Lucite Cube

by Kim Pederson……. If you are/were 77 years old, you might be feeling a little wear and tear, too. But unluckily you are not an object of affection that spurs thousands of people to send in hundreds of thousands of dollars so that your “materials” can be studied and repaired and then preserved “in a special temperature-controlled display case.” That honor goes to Wizard of Oz Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. Created in 1939, the slippers have become, sadly, a [continue reading…]

 January 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #200, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jan 062017
 
Social Engineering for Fun and Profit

by Ray Jason……. I rowed ashore at twilight because I wanted my little gift to be more dramatic. My time in the islands was ending, and this little Indio family had made my weeks anchored off their simple homestead so exquisite, that I wanted to leave them a memento of my visit. As I stepped out of my dinghy, the littlest child was her normal enthusiastic and inquisitive self. At four years old, the entire world just seemed to her to be one gigantic magical [continue reading…]

 January 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:44 am Island Voices, Issue #200 1 Response »
Jan 062017
 
Asphalt and Ambrosia

by Kirby Congdon……. In an essay, “A Few Questions for Poetry,” printed in The New York Times Book Review for the 1st of January, 2017, Daniel Halpern of Ecco Press tries to provide an answer to his headline. The phenomenon of poetry is a tradition that is useful, like a vitamin pill that is good for you. The poet W.S. Merlin is quoted as saying that poetry “addresses individuals.” Mr. Halpern suggests that in the “owners’ hands” there is a sense of sanctity within the “experience [continue reading…]

 January 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:43 am Issue #200, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 302016
 
Oceanside Marina: Bait & Switch

He is renowned for his real estate prowess, selling 100-million-dollar hotels in Key West as if they are going out of style: Parrot Key Resort on Roosevelt Boulevard in 2014 sold for $100,000,000 and only 1 year later, in March of 2015, The Marker near Key West Bight sold for $96,250,000). Pritam Singh, dubbed the Donald Trump of the Keys, is now ready to unveil his latest creation: Ocean’s Edge Key West on Stock Island (the old Oceanside Marina). People will say, “It’s a true Pritam Singh”: A high [continue reading…]

Dec 302016
 
GUEST COMMENTARY: PEER Follows Up on FKAA's Fake Environmental Assessment

by Margaret Blank……. Keys media generally serves to downplay the failings of FKAA officials. FKAA documents reveal that Toppino has done over $20 million with the FKAA in the last ten years – $12.4 million of that on the Cudjoe Regional project alone, despite public reports of only $1,000,000 in FKAA contracts. Not only that, Toppino benefited heavily from questionable bid shuffling on the now-failing Big Coppitt project, the details of the bidding process closely guarded from the public. If you want to know how [continue reading…]

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #199, Margaret Blank 4 Responses »
Dec 302016
 
About That Foreign Meddling in US Presidential Elections ...

by Thomas L. Knapp……. So we had an election and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won it. If I had all the ink that’s been spilled on why and how Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I’d be an ink tycoon. Much of what passes for analysis focuses on alleged “foreign meddling” in the election. There certainly was some of that. There always is. But some meddlers get more attention than others. Mainstream anti-Trump opinion leaders claim that the Russian government, at the [continue reading…]

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 12:42 am Issue #199, Thomas L. Knapp 1 Response »
Dec 302016
 
The Treachery of Perceptions

by Kim Pederson……. Merriam-Webster announced recently that its “Word of the Year” for 2016 is “surreal.” MW chose this word because…well, let them explain: Surreal is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year because it was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than it was in previous years, and because there were multiple occasions on which this word was the one clearly driving people to their dictionary. The MW editors also note that there were three major look-up spikes for surreal in 2016: one [continue reading…]

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 12:32 am Issue #199, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Dec 302016
 
End Game

by Kirby Congdon……. The consistency of science lets us extract from the vast multiplicity of the universe the common sense of reason that we need to stay sane. At the same time, we, as individuals, try, through control or persuasion, to be exceptions to the norm. We do this by either avoiding any risk of death or, with elaborate fantasies, deny it. On top of that one side of us wants everything to remain the same so that, in effect, we remain in a second childhood, [continue reading…]

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 12:30 am Issue #199, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 232016
 
In Search of the Hospital District Subsidized "Primary Care Clinic"

by Martha K. Huggins, Ph.D……. Be Compassionate and Giving; Welcome the Stranger.  The sacred texts of major world religions—Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism—talk of the inherent goodness of the poor and extol followers to welcome the stranger and assist the needy.  Capitalism– in most of the modern world–elevated to that of a religion, considers poor people risky, a nuisance, and fiscally dangerous: Mere ‘things’ requiring “risk management.” Contracts are written and legal opinions delivered, to protect corporate wealth and its very well-paid executives [continue reading…]

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 1:12 am * Featured Story *, Issue #198, Martha Huggins 45 Responses »
Dec 232016
 
Capital Punishment: Can we Cut it Out Already?

by Thomas L. Knapp……. The Hill reports that capital punishment is fading away in America. Government employees have ceremonially killed fewer prisoners this year (20) than in any year since 1991, and fewer criminals (30) have been sentenced to death than in any year since the option became available again in 1976 (after a US Supreme Court ruling resulted in a four-year national moratorium). There seem to be several reasons for the precipitous decline, ranging from difficulty getting the drugs used in executions (manufacturers and [continue reading…]

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #198, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Dec 232016
 
Raid Encryption: This Should Be The New Normal

by Thomas L. Knapp……. “When government agents raid Uber’s offices,” Business Insider reports, “the company springs into action with an immediate response: it shuts everything down and encrypts all its computers.” That claim comes from documents filed by former Uber forensic investigator Samuel Ward Spangenberg, who’s suing the company for age discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and defamation. Merits of the lawsuit aside, the details of Uber’s raid response protocol are fascinating. They should be standard practice for every company which electronically stores and transmits sensitive information [continue reading…]

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #198, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Dec 232016
 
A Christmas Reverie

by Ray Jason……. It is a few dawns before Christmas in the year 2016. As someone who finds his spirituality in the Cathedral of Nature, I note that today is the shortest day of the year. Tomorrow the spheres will align so that the light will increase and the darkness decrease. May we humans one day also adjust ourselves to embrace the light and renounce the darkness. And it is in this spirit that I share this Christmas essay with you. My topic is one [continue reading…]

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:46 am Island Voices, Issue #198 No Responses »
Dec 232016
 
Scrooged??

by Kim Pederson……. I received my auto insurance policy billing schedule the other day and was surprised to see my premium going from $86 per month to $120. The policy premium climbed from $1150 for the year to $1446, which is about a 26% boost. When I expressed my surprise via email at the price change for the same insurance coverage next year as this year and asked why I hadn’t been notified about the hike and the reason for it, I received these responses: [continue reading…]

 December 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:44 am Issue #198, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Dec 162016
 
Could the City Take Back the Hospital?

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. “He put some superglue on the wound, a piece of gauze and taped it,” says Dan Schramm, who went to the ER at Lower Keys Medical Center last year for a deep gash above his eye. “The doctor didn’t even clean up the wound at all and later it got infected.” The whole thing took about “two minutes.” He says the hospital charged him $4,000 for the ER and he was billed another $800 for the doctor. Over the past [continue reading…]

Dec 162016
 
Judge Disqualifies Herself From Grinder Pump Case After Entering Order of Dismissal

by Naja Girard……. Circuit Judge Bonnie Helms disqualified herself last Friday, without explanation, from a case she had ordered dismissed just 2 days earlier. The case, a petition for declaratory judgment, was brought by Louise Delaney and Gail Kulikowsky, two Big Pine Key area property owners who are challenging Monroe County and FKAA over the agencies’ insistence that they sign over an easement for a portion of their yards and provide an expensive high-powered electrical connection so an onsite grinder sewage pump system can be installed [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Naja and Arnaud Girard, News 8 Responses »
Dec 162016
 
Servergate/Hackergate: The Case of the Investigatory Double Standard

by Thomas L. Knapp……. On December 9, US president Barack Obama ordered a “review” of — an investigation into — alleged Russian hacking aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. Supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lauded Obama’s order, which seems aimed at, well, influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. On December 19, the electors chosen by voters on November 8 will meet in their respective state capitals to choose the next president of the United States. Under the [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:43 am Issue #197, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Dec 162016
 
Trump on Military Spending: An Encouraging Sign

by Thomas L. Knapp……. As on most issues, president-elect Donald Trump has been all over the map on military issues throughout his campaign and post-campaign pronouncements. One day he muses about disbanding NATO, the next day he promises to “rebuild” the US military, which is already by far not just the most well-funded war machine, but the most well-funded enterprise of any kind on Planet Earth (the 2017 US military budget exceeds Wal-Mart’s 2015 gross revenues by about $100 billion). He’s hard to pin down. [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:43 am Issue #197, Thomas L. Knapp 6 Responses »
Dec 162016
 
DESPERATE MEASURES

by Ray Jason…….          It was my very first day in the Archipelago of Bliss, and I sat savoring a meal in a waterfront restaurant.  Even though the food was excellent, what was even better was the fact that I was not bouncing around while I ate it.  After two weeks of sailing here from Key West, it was sublime to be motionless. Before my fish sandwich arrived, a wrinkled, old fisherman rowed up to the restaurant dock in a small cayuco that was hand-carved [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:39 am Island Voices, Issue #197, Water World No Responses »
Dec 162016
 
Putting an End to Folly

by Kim Pederson……. Back in the fifteenth century, some believed that madness, depression, and stupidity were caused by something called “the stone of folly” or “stone of madness.” Said rock was purportedly inside the skulls of the afflicted personages, so, logically, the cure would be to open up the cranium and take the stone out (click this link for an “interesting” demonstration). Thankfully, as Jessica Parker tells us in her article “The Stone of Madness,” such operations were likely never done, except perhaps on stage [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #197, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Dec 162016
 
Dick Moody

by Kirby Congdon……. This past week I went to a showing of Dick Moody’s paintings at the new Gildea Gallery in midtown on southward near the Bank of America. Mr Moody has been a vibrant figure having designed a large, impressive, and contemporary shark for Key West on College Road. I saw, now, a new gift in his use of paint. He is an accurate and provocative professional doing pictorial scenes with a sense of humor on the side. Besides physically presenting in long, slim [continue reading…]

 December 16, 2016  Posted by at 12:36 am Issue #197, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 092016
 
Fight at Key West High / Student Arrested

IF PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE TO SURVIVE… Commentary by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Last week’s Blue Paper report on the re-segregation of Key West’s public schools has generated a lot of comments and questions.  What makes the new charter schools so appealing to mostly white parents? The video of a recent fight at Key West High speaks for itself. Academics are a great concern for parents and so is safety. We had previously received similar reports of kids ganging up on a lone student: Four kids [continue reading…]

Dec 092016
 
The DNC’s Epic Fail

by Alex Symington……. I, like millions of other good people in this dubious democracy, woke up November 9 to the news that Donald Trump had garnered more Electoral College votes than Hillary Clinton. There still is the issue that HRC had a surplus of popular votes greater than Obama had to defeat Mitt Romney, but never mind that annoying fact. The rapturous joy of Trump supporters was equaled only by the incredulity of the DNC and members of the Democratic Party. The tsunami of conflicting negative [continue reading…]

 December 9, 2016  Posted by at 1:18 am Alex Symington, Issue #196 6 Responses »
Dec 092016
 
Boeing's Iran Business: The War Party Versus American Jobs

by Thomas L. Knapp……. In June, US aerospace company Boeing inked an agreement with Iran Air to produce 109 passenger aircraft. Estimated value: $25 billion. The agreement represents the biggest business interaction between the US and Iran since that country’s 1979 Islamic revolution. On November 17, the US House of Representatives voted 243-174 to block the deal. The Senate seems unlikely to follow suit president Barack Obama would almost certainly veto the bill, but Boeing’s stock took a temporary 2% tumble on the vote. Why [continue reading…]

 December 9, 2016  Posted by at 1:16 am Issue #196, Thomas L. Knapp 1 Response »
Dec 092016
 
Soliloquy

by Kirby Congdon……. Soliloquy Each branch was poised on the silent air. No leaf stirred and no bird sang but one crow called and then was still. The sky was dull but light seeped through. The ocean’s line, drawn, was far and long as the sad surf’s sound still drew the earth’s edge as firm where oceans end out there under another world that only sound’s silence can comprehend.   – Kirby Congdon

 December 9, 2016  Posted by at 1:15 am Issue #196, Kirby Congdon No Responses »
Dec 092016
 
Amateur Night

by M.R. Willison……. Who are those scowling faces congealed from their resentful pasts? And smiling unctuous ones oozing from sanctimony? Or the tweeters and those who weave their fabrications into whole-cloth fantasy? They are disaster’s chorus who used to flutter at the screens but now have breached them by inattention and design to cluster at the incandescent source, to crackle their own and our skins, too in the game of power. The head conniver, having wrung concession from the prior prissy management convenes his random [continue reading…]

 December 9, 2016  Posted by at 1:14 am Island Voices, Issue #196 1 Response »
Dec 092016
 
Icelandic Pentameter

by Kim Pederson……. So I was thinking about some reasons to move to Iceland today. One, Donald Trump would not be president there. Two, they have polar bears. Oh wait. They eat people. Scratch that one. Two, they have Jacuzzis everywhere (better known as hot springs). Three, they have Norwegian roots, as do I. Four, they have the Icelandic Phallological Museum (better known as the Penis Museum). Five, according to the island’s official website, “thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a cool, temperate maritime [continue reading…]

 December 9, 2016  Posted by at 1:13 am Issue #196, Kim Pederson 1 Response »
Dec 022016
 
MONROE COUNTY'S SECRET ROADMAP TO RE-SEGREGATION

The controversy over Key West’s charter schools rocked the school board during last week’s meeting.  “How do we know this is not going to be another white-flight school?” asked longtime school board member Andy Griffiths about a new charter middle school.  Some fear an exodus of white students toward charter schools will leave the district run public schools with insufficient resources and failing grades. For others, the specter of re-segregation is simply intolerable. The numbers are telling: Key West’s Horace O’Bryant [HOB], the district run public [continue reading…]

Dec 022016
 
Showdown at the Southernmost House

By Arnaud Girard……. If you are like us you’ve probably always wanted to take a tour of the iconic Southernmost House. Well yesterday we were called on a tip to go there and report on a mysterious “big story.” Police cars were already parked at the gate but surprisingly we were allowed inside. Ah! Amazing sculptures and paintings, trompe l’oeil ceilings painted like the sky, infinity swimming pool suspended over the turquoise ocean view. Priceless. But what was going on?

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #195, Naja and Arnaud Girard 4 Responses »
Dec 022016
 
Homelessness...A Journey & Memoir...

by John Donnelly……. An individual chooses their shelter in accordance with the realties facing them. Affordable Housing is living where you can afford to live. In fact, ones’ only true residence is lodged between their ears. Mother Earth is our home. Tangential structures and morsels of food do not equate to the nourishment required to maintain a healthy “Self”, the “Thinker of the Thought”. No human power, bathroom towel, soup kitchen, principality or government will alleviate the so-called homeless issue. Successful civilizations thrived because they [continue reading…]

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:56 am Issue #195, John Donnelly 6 Responses »
Dec 022016
 
Hey, @RealDonaldTrump, Hands Off My Flag

by Thomas L. Knapp……. “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag,” writes US president-elect Donald Trump in one of his patented incendiary (pun intended) tweets. “[I]f they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” You’ve probably heard all the arguments for and against a flag-burning ban, most of them variations of the maudlin “my ancestor died for that flag” or the obvious (and Supreme Court affirmed) fact that flag-burning is a form of political expression protected [continue reading…]

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #195, Thomas L. Knapp 24 Responses »
Dec 022016
 
Will Trump Roll Back "Net Neutrality?"

by Thomas L. Knapp……. US president-elect Donald Trump will appoint a new Federal Communications Commission chair in January. That chair will likely be inclined to undo the FCC’s 2015 “Net Neutrality” power grab and, to at least some degree, let markets settle how bandwidth gets priced and who pays. Good. For the most part I’m no Trump fan, but Net Neutrality was a bad idea from the beginning — half crony capitalism, half stalking horse for a future Internet censorship regime, all economic nonsense. If [continue reading…]

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #195, Thomas L. Knapp No Responses »
Dec 022016
 
An Epistle to the Earthonians

by Ray Jason……. At the time, it was just an eccentric, utopian game. But now, a couple of decades later, I realize that it was a perfect metaphor for my deepest aspirations. I would find some nicely rounded, sea-worn rocks along the shore. My favorites were about the size of a mango and slightly flattened. On each one I would paint a short quotation from a wise thinker. Here are some examples that swiftly rise from my memory vault. Whitman’s “Question much and obey little.” [continue reading…]

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:50 am Island Voices, Issue #195 2 Responses »
Dec 022016
 
Open Letter: White Flight?

by Larry Murray……. Andy: In today’s Keynoter, you are quoted with regard to the proposed Collegiate Middle School: “How can we be sure that this will not result in one more white-flight school?” Very interesting comment that is likely to have the community talking and then some. When you say “ONE MORE white-flight school” (emphasis added), I assume you are referencing Poinciana School, Montessori Charter School and Sigsbee Charter School as existing “white-flight” schools. Correct? Or, are you referencing other schools? You cannot be identifying [continue reading…]

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:46 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #195, Letter to the Editor No Responses »
Dec 022016
 
Fidel's Beard On The Day Of His Death

by Edgardo Alvarado-Vazquez……. Fidel’s Beard on the day of his death (for Doña Olga, Don Fernando, su esposo y su hija Lourdes, the first people that taught me about Cuba and Fidel Castro) Today it finally snowed in La Habana as the flairs of your beard fell to the ground one white irresolute hair at a time. In Miami, the pots and spoons come out, reminiscences of other protests in a lethargic and weary Latin America. In La Habana, nothing changes a memento of an ongoing [continue reading…]

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:44 am Island Voices, Issue #195 No Responses »