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Fear of train wrecks, DeSantis; education must be improved; Fox fake news; Biden did well

NewsFear of train wrecks, DeSantis; education must be improved; Fox fake news; Biden did well

Reducing political polarization can help our children

On Feb. 28, I attended the Indian River County School Board meeting. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statement of intent to have two of the School Board members removed caused a standing-room-only turnout of concerned citizens.

I’m very proud of how this community showed up with thoughtful and articulate statements on a full spectrum of issues and positions. I’m also grateful to each and every member of the school board for their service to our community and their thoughtful comments afterwards.For me, the main takeaway from the meeting was that the polarizing of our politics is causing great stress to our children, teachers, parents, support staff and community. The numerous personal accounts of bullying were particularly disturbing.I will be respectfully asking the governor to reverse his intention to make elections of school board members partisan, and to support our communities in their election decisions. The freedom of home rule is particularly critical now for the safety and well being of our children.

Indian River County NAACP President Anthony Brown speaks at a school board meeting on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Vero Beach. “When you objectively look at the recent attacks on education in Florida,” Brown said, “One must admit they all appear to be racially motivated, at a minimum, or have racial undertones.” Brown, along with other members of the public, spoke on a variety of issues concerning the school district, some with support of Indian River School Board member Peggy Jones and Brian Barefoot who were recently targeted by Gov. Ron DeSantis for not supporting parents rights.

Repugnant to teach sexual, gender ideology to children

First, I would like to commend TCPalm education reporter Colleen Wixon for her excellent reporting March 1 on the Indian River County School Board meeting the night before. Over the last couple of years, the monthly school board meetings often have been contentious, but Wixon’s reporting has always been fair and objective.

Secondly, Indian River County NAACP President Anthony Brown, in his comments reported by Wixon, once again indicated he believes in the adage that “the enemies of my friends are my enemies.” Mr. Brown, who often has been useful in helping heal racial tensions in our community, is misguided in aligning the need for honest, legitimate education to be taught to students on the evils of slavery and segregation with the so-called “woke” educational agenda.

The Parental Rights in Education Act, which the Florida Legislature passed and Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed into law, bans classroom education on sexuality and gender ideology in kindergarten through third grade and requires sex education in other grades to be age-appropriate.

As a journalist for 40-plus years, I often reported on the African-American community. I am convinced most African Americans in Indian River County are more supportive on banning classroom education on sexuality and gender ideology in kindergarten and third grade than many in the white community.

Discrimination in all forms is repugnant. Foisting sexuality and gender ideology on the young is indoctrination and not education, and that too is repugnant.

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Be prepared in case there’s train wreck in town

Does Florida East Coast Railway report the contents of the tank cars running through Vero Beach? 

The cargo runs within feet of residents and businesses. What happened in Ohio is great cause for concern. Do we have a derailment plan? Is there a plan to protect the population of Vero Beach? Is there a report from FEC when hazardous material is being transported?

I am concerned, living just feet from the tracks. .

I wrote to a county commissioner, and the response was not what I or we wanted to hear. 

Unfortunately, FEC is not required to notify the county if it is transporting hazardous materials through the county by rail. Similarly, trucking companies do not notify the state or local authorities when transporting hazmat-type substances. Both the railway and the trucking industry have state and federal safety guidelines they must follow. There are inspectors and regulators who deal specifically with the special hazmat licenses and permits that are required to transport such material.

Are we to wait for a hazardous situation to occur before creating a plan to protect the public? Do fire and police have to test the contents to find a way to protect the residents? Change is now a priority; not later.  

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Trump action had no connection to train wreck

When looking at the root causes of the derailed Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, Ohio, we have to eliminate non-facts to find the truth.

Blaming Donald Trump is the first non-fact, thanks to social media. The regulations relaxed by Trump would NOT have been required on the derailed train in East Palestine. The rule that trains must be equipped with electronically controlled pneumatic brakes only applied to certain “high-hazard flammable trains.” A high-hazard flammable train is defined by the Department of Transportation “as carrying at least 20 consecutive cars or 30 interspersed cars loaded with flammable liquids such as crude oil.”

This train was a MIXED FREIGHT TRAIN containing only three placarded Class 3 flammable liquids cars. This means even if the rule had gone into effect, this train WOULD’NT have had ECP brakes.

The Ohio train had five derailed tank cars of vinyl chloride, a flammable gas. Trains carrying flammable gases like vinyl chloride were excluded from the definition of a high-hazard flammable train. Also, residents were ordered to evacuate because of a possible explosion by local authorities. Then the local authorities chose to deliberately rupture five tanker cars filled with vinyl chloride. This created hydrogen chloride and phosgene gas, a toxic gas.

The bottom line is that President Barack Obama’s ECP brake mandate rescinded under the Trump administration wouldn’t have prevented this disaster.

Rupert Murdoch, right, and his son James Murdoch arrive at his residence in central London in this July 2011 photo. Sang Tan | Associated Press

Fox News: Here’s what’s wrong with American politics

In a stunning deposition, Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch admitted some Fox Network News anchors knew guests were making false allegations against Dominion Voting Systems. 

However, these broadcasters, dubbed the Liar Choir, continued promoting the lies because, as one said, he didn’t want “to p*** off the audience” — right-wing MAGA supporters who believe the Big Lie.

FNN is adored by a contingent of adults who watch its hosts habitually, to their detriment. In recently relespansed evidence from Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox, Murdoch called Donald Trump’s allegations of election fraud “really crazy stuff.” Tucker Carlson said flatly: “Sidney Powell is lying.” Not to be outdone by her disingenuous colleague, Laura Ingraham emailed: “Sidney is a complete nut.” 

Fox News knew the allegations against the accuracy of Dominion Voting Systems’ machines were likely untrue, but it doubled down on the lies, hosting the batty Powell and the corruptible Rudy Giuliani. Thus, Fox News played a pivotal role in propagating the “Big Lie” (that Trump lost a fraudulent election) and the Capitol insurrection provoked by that lie.

FNN knows its audience’s aversion to objective political analysis, and it takes advantage of this behavior daily. However, there’s no excuse today for being uninformed. Middle school students are taught not only how to surf the web, but also how to determine what’s biased twaddle versus factual information.   

I have no confidence Fox viewers are willing to recognize their beloved, cynical hosts are little more than corrosive propagandists. Viewers refuse to acknowledge Fox News has done irreparable damage to the principle of a legitimate free press. But political partisans aren’t interested in facts. They’re only interested in divisive hogwash that reinforces their narrow-minded biases.

Want to know what’s wrong with American politics? Reread this paragraph.

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Cronkite rolling over in his grave over Fox’s ‘journalism’

After more than 30 years of using prevarication as their main business model, Fox News (loose usage of the word “News”) hspans finspanlly been exposed for its mspannipulspantion of their favored viewers.

Fox has not shared this important and damaging information with their viewers on air so, in case you are a Fox devotee and have not been informed of this lawsuit, here are the facts:

Dominion Voting Systems has sued the Murdoch family’s financial empire for some of the Fox commentators’ usage of “guests” who were touting the voting fraud lies and accusing Dominion of nefarious actions in the vote count. These commentators include Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson.

There has always been the slant toward sensationalism in Fox’s choice of stories to share, but this abject lying and catering to an uninformed public goes beyond despicable. Rupert Murdoch recently testified that their business plan is not Red or Blue, but GREEN! No need for facts when there are profits to be considered, apparently. Why upset their favored viewers with the truth and risk them going to Newsmax or OAN for their “fix.” 

Some of his commentators’ emails have shown that, in private, they had no use for the fools invited to spread their nonsense on air, but went ahead and gave them the platform to spew their crazy conspiracy theories about voter fraud anyway. That includes Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. Murdoch has admitted he could have stopped this practice, but didn’t.

Those debunked conspiracy theories have caused death and personal injury to our citizens and have threatened our democratic way of governing. Fox and owner Murdoch should be held responsible for such dastardly anti-American activities and pay the price for the damage they have caused.

Walter Cronkite would be appalled to see what has happened to, what Fox calls, journalism.

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Keep religion out of certain places in United States

At a recent Stuart Commission meeting, it was startling to hear several speakers state we are a Christian nation.

Our founding fathers specifically wanted religion and government to remain separate because they had experienced required conformity to the Church of England. Citizens who did not pay their taxes to the church were imprisoned and the rule of law was dictated to by a self-protecting religious clergy.

Our Constitution was designed to protect the religious minority from a potentially oppressive majority. We are not a Muslim nation, or a Hindu nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Christian nation. Today, radical Christian national dominionists, who preach that the Constitution should be replaced by the Bible, the Supreme Court by evangelical clergy and that only Christians should be allowed to vote, harken back to the religious oppression our forefathers fought against.

Consider the following quotes from four prominent presidents:

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”: John Adams, 1796.

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute”: John F. Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1960.

“We establish no religion, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate”: Ronald Reagan, Oct. 26, 1984.

“I’ve always been fully committed to separation of church and state”: Jimmy Carter, Jan. 9, 2012.

For these reasons, Humanists of the Treasure Coast support separation of church and state in all matters. What may be a religious or non-religious majority today, may become the minority in the future as evidenced by decades of decline in institutional religions and a growing trend in non-religion.

Keep religion out of government and in churches, temples and synagogues where people are free to practice whatever faith they choose.

Worried when it comes to DeSantis

Those of us who love democracy and have studied history fear the rising popularity and support for Gov. Ron Desantis.

Another side to questions about Biden’s actions

In response to my previous letter, Frank Fuchs of Fellsmere writes Feb. 26, that President Joe Biden shot down a spy balloon that “compromised all our military facilities in its path.” He acknowledged that under ex-President Donald Trump, three spy balloons went undetected and were not shot down. Obviously, these Trump-era spy balloons compromised us much more.

The one shot down reportedly was the size of “three school buses.” Biden chose to have them come down in the sea, rather than hurt or kill Americans.

Mr. Fuchs then changes the subject to the tragic evacuation from Afghanistan under Biden’s administration. While we all wish that hadn’t cost the lives of our personnel, he neglects to state the under-reported cause of that calamity: It was Trump’s direct negotiations with the Taliban that excluded the elected government of Afghanistan.

These behind-the-scenes deals set an unrealistic timeline for U.S. pullout and discredited the Afghan authorities. Trump was the first president to negotiate directly with terrorists, thus emasculating the weak but official government of Afghanistan, and undercutting that nation’s ability to assist in the evacuation.

Mr. Fuchs and I do have one thing in common: We both have grandchildren serving in active military duty overseas.

What would Biden critics have said if balloon crashed into home?

In respanding Pspantricispan A. Perrone and others criticisms of the decision by President Joe Biden to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon over the ocean, one thought kept coming into my head: “Are you kidding me?”

Perhaps they missed the photo of the balloon that showed a large piece of surveillance equipment the military estimated to weigh over a ton. And perhaps they’re not familiar with Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity, which dictates that should the balloon have been shot down over the continental United States, it would have possibly crashed into someone’s house and done who knows what damage. Of course, should the president have chosen that option, one can only imagine what his antagonists would have written then.

I want to emphasize that it is Ms. Perrone’s right to criticize the president, any president, which she does frequently, but maybe she, and others, should maybe think it through a little. It’s a right, I should mention, some Florida Republicans want to eliminate.

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