National Parks Require Restoration

The National Park System protects more than 400 natural, historic, cultural, and recreational sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.

In 2016, as the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th anniversary, many of these cherished places are showing signs of age: crumbling roads and bridges; neglected historic buildings; eroding trails; and deteriorating electrical, water, and sewage systems. Decades of congressional underfunding, combined with the inherent challenges of maintaining aging infrastructure and diverse properties, has led to an estimated $12 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects, and the price tag for addressing high-priority assets is nearly $2.4 billion.

The NPS needs reliable resources to satisfy its congressional mandate to protect and conserve these scenic, natural, and historic places in perpetuity. Parks with poorly maintained infrastructure or closed facilities can detract from visitors’ experiences—and from spending in the gateway communities, many of which depend on park-related revenue. In 2015, NPS sites recorded 307 million visits, and park guests spent almost $17 billion in nearby cities and towns. That spending supported 295,300 jobs and contributed $32 billion in economic activity nationwide.

The NPS needs guaranteed annual funding to address its maintenance needs so that future generations can enjoy and learn from our national treasures.

With a substantial number of our Congress-critters considering themselves well above the rest of us – economically, socially, culturally – there is little surprise at the trend for decades of offering short shrift to essential costs of maintaining our national park system. After all, with pundits, politicians and, now, a president accustomed to gilt-edged resort life and recreation, there isn’t motivation for them to care about the rest of us enjoying our nation’s natural beauty as key to recreation.

By the same token, ain’t a lot of reasons for the rest of us to re-elect these useless corporate class pimps.

Ohio village makes over $5K in fines for public urinating

peeing dweebs

Authorities in Ohio were able to net their village at least $5,280 during the summer via 32 citations for public urination, records show.

The Sandusky (Ohio) Register said its analysis of police reports in the village of Put-in-Bay revealed 32 people were cited during the summer for public urination.

Karen Goaziou, Put-in-Bay clerk of courts, said the offense carries a fine of $80 to $150, plus an $85 court fee. She said those who choose not to contest the offense are automatically fined $80 plus the $85 court fee, meaning most pay a total $165.

Don Dress, Put-in-Bay police public relations officer, said the public urination offense was put on the books around 2000 due to offenders previously being charged with the more serious offense of indecent exposure. He said the frequency of citations led to the lesser offense being implemented.

Well, that’s up to kindly moral standards. Try it out in some of the alleys near popular pubs, say, in Boston or Glasgow.

White House says no alien visits — to this administration

Dick Cheney’s baby picture

The White House has responded to two petitions asking the US government to formally acknowledge that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose to any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings.

“The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” said Phil Larson from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, on the website. “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

5,387 people had signed the petition for immediately disclosing the government’s knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings, and 12,078 signed the request for a formal acknowledgement from the White House that extraterrestrials have been engaging the human race…

These petitions come from an Obama Administration initiative called ‘We the People’ which has White House staffers respond and consider taking action on any issue that receives at least 25,000 online signatures. Regarding these two petitions, the White House promised to respond if the petitions got 17,000 more signatures by Oct. 22.

Larson stressed that the facts show that there is no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth. He pointed out that even though many scientists have come to the conclusion that the odds of life somewhere else in the Universe are fairly high, the chance that any of them are making contact with humans are extremely small, given the distances involved…

Regarding any evidence for alien life, all anyone has now is “statistics and speculation,” said Larson. “The fact is we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.”

Whether or not this will appease or satisfy any conspiracy theorists or UFO believers is yet to be seen, but it is gratifying to see the White House respond in such a no-nonsense manner.

Well, sort of gratifying. They picked a couple of the easier petitions to answer.

Take a look at some of the tougher petitions – those actually demanding political change.

Boy who fled Vietnam War returns as commander of warship

Cmdr. H. B. Le, the first Vietnamese-American to command a United States Navy destroyer, had just stepped ashore on a formal port call, making an emotional return to Vietnam for the first time since he fled as a young boy on a fishing boat at the end of the war in 1975.

A youthful and smiling man of 39, he bore the weight of the symbolism of cautiously warming military ties between Vietnam and the United States in the visit over the weekend…

Stepping ashore was awesome,” he said after landing from his destroyer, the Lassen, which was anchored in Da Nang Harbor. “To be able to return to Vietnam after 35 years and to be able to do it as commander of a United States naval warship was an incredible honor and a privilege.”

He was returning to a very different Vietnam from the one he fled at the age of 5 with his parents and three of his siblings. Most people in this young nation, like Commander Le himself, have no memory of the war.

In the last decade or more, Vietnam has opened its economy, increased trade with the United States and risen from postwar poverty even as the Communist government maintains control of the news media and political expression…

“Gradual and steady,” said Carlyle B. Thayer, an expert on the Vietnamese armed forces at the Australian Defense Force Academy, describing the evolving relationship. “The Americans see a glacier moving, and they call it progress…”

And it is progress. Sometimes, too fast – sometimes, too slow – for some.

RTFA. Interesting stuff.

Go to a bowl game. Visit the city next door. Get murdered!

The deadly violence that has taken a nasty hold on Juárez has caused Sun Bowl officials to cancel a long-standing tradition of taking representatives from teams in the annual classic to visit that city.

And officials say the practice may never resume.

We just think it’s not safe” to travel to Juárez, said Sun Bowl President John Folmer. “We used to take them over for bullfights, but, we’re still going to do everything we can to help them experience the culture.

“But what a tremendous disappointment it would be if something happened to one of our guests,” he said…

Juárez has been in the grip of a drug cartel war that has been responsible for many of the city’s 1,300 homicides since January.

I love the part where Juarez officials say the shooters try not to kill tourists. That’s reassuring.