Archive for » August 3rd, 2017«

Yemen is humanitarian catastrophe. US officials don’t want you to know why

A boat carrying 140 Somali refugees was traveling from Yemen to Sudan in the dark, early hours of March 17 when suddenly an Apache helicopter appeared overhead. Hovering over the bodies huddled on the deck below, it opened fire, killing 42 people on board.

“I knew too well that my daughter was between life and death when she went on this journey,” Sahara Osman, the mother of one of the victims told Al Jazeera. “But I have never heard of missiles raining on civilians on a boat.”

Last week, a United Nations investigation accused the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen of firing those missiles. But are the coalition countries alone to blame? After all, the United States supplies billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment used in the fighting. In 2016, for example, the United States sold $3.5 billion worth of Apache helicopters to the United Arab Emirates, a coalition member that has naval forces in the area where the missiles were fired in March. The U.S. regularly makes similar weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, all of whom are coalition members.

Since 2015, Human Rights Watch has documented 81 apparently unlawful coalition strikes in Yemen and found U.S.-supplied weaponry at 23 of those sites, including the March 2016 Mastaba market attack which killed at least 97 civilians, and the October 2016 attack on a funeral service in Sana, which killed at least 100 people and wounded more than 500.

PSJ commission hears business proposals

Future commercial properties took center stage at the Tuesday meeting of the Port St. Joe City Commission.

Future commercial properties took center stage at the Tuesday meeting of the Port St. Joe City Commission.

The commission heard from two individuals wishing to start a business in the city.

The first, Randy Carver, presented his proposed business, seeking advice on the next steps forward.

Carver, a pharmacist from Albany, Georgia, and his wife are looking to start a mini-golf business in Port St. Joe.

The city currently has multiple regulations on the books that prohibit such a business and Carver was seeking the commission’s opinion on the matter.

The commission, minus Commissioner David Ashbrook who was not present, unanimously agreed that the city manager and city attorney should look into the current regulations to see what could be done to allow for the possibility of the Carver’s opening a business.

Citing lack of activities for the youth of the city, multiple commissioners voiced their approval and excitement for the project.

A stipulation was added that the rule changes would not impact the U.S. Highway 98 tourism corridor.

Carver said that while visiting the area last year, his family fell in love with the town and quickly bought a home in St. Joe Beach.

Nearing retirement, Carver stated that he and his wife thought that a miniature golf business would be perfect for the community and profitable for the family.

The commission also approved, for a six-month period, the selling of boats off of the Duren property between Second and Third Streets, with the ability to remove the sale if deemed unsightly by the commission.

The proposed sale is the beginning of an effort to open a high quality boat dealership and maintenance facility somewhere in the vicinity of St. Joseph Bay by Mark Bankord.

Bankord, originally from the Chicago area, has been visiting the Gulf Coast area for nearly 40 years, moving gradually east away from the growing crowds until he reached Port St. Joe.

“You’ve got the most spectacular bay, in my opinion, in all of the Gulf of Mexico,” Bankord told the commission.

Bankord said that he was surprised by the lack of boat sales in the idea, citing the draw of the bay for boaters and recreational fisherman.

The sales lot will be a precursor to a permanent location yet to be determined.

According to Bankord, no maintenance will be performed on the lot, with the makeup of the boats being a mix of new and used boats with a value of at least $30,000.

Avenue D sidewalk

When asked by a local resident about the progress of sidewalk work on Avenue D had stopped, John Grantland, the city’s Public Works director said that originally the job had been delayed due to rain and is now being juggled with other responsibilities.

Grantland added that the city is currently working to replace a lift station in the vicinity of the city’s schools before the school year begins.

The director added that the completion of the sidewalk is still a priority to the city.

Meeting schedule

The upcoming weeks will be busy for city staff and officials and normal meeting dates have been changed.

The City of Port St. Joe will host a budget workshop at noon on Aug. 8 at City Hall.

Second, there will be the joint meeting of city and county officials to discuss the 10th Street ballparks.

That meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. ET on Aug. 10, at the county Emergency Operations Center building.

The city will also host a workshop with State Rep. Halsey Beshears (R-Monticello) on medical marijuana among other subjects at noon on Aug. 14, at 2775 Garrison Avenue.

Immediately following that workshop, the city will host a special meeting in place of the regular meeting that was scheduled for Aug. 15.



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New-boat sales surge in Missouri after sharp decline

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –  Missourians are buying new boats in record numbers, fueling a rebound from a decline in 2009 and 2010.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association says new boat sales hit $339 million last year, after dropping below $200 million after the Great Recession. That’s a 9 percent increase in Missouri sales in one year and represents 5,900 new boats in the state, The Springfield News-Leader reported. The state now ranks 16th in the nation for the sale of new boats.

Thom Dammrich, president of the marine association, said the sale of new boats, marine products and services is up across the U.S. Those sales reached $36 billion nationwide in 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2015. About 247,800 new powerboats were sold last year, up 6 percent from 2015.

Ed Thomas is typical of many new boat buyers. He has a second home on Table Rock Lake and has purchased progressively bigger boats in Springfield as his two children have grown. On Memorial Day, Thomas picked up his newest and biggest boat _ a sleek 25-foot, $16,000 Malibu inboard that’s specifically designed for wakeboarding and wake surfing _ at The Ski Shack.

“As our kids got older and bigger they wanted to do more,” Thomas said. “We’ve worked hard to create an environment where our kids want to be with us.”

A 16 percent increase in new sailboats last year was driven by a 23.4 percent increase in the “20 ft. or less” category. Used boats also sailed off lots and dealer slips last year, with 981,600 used boats valued at $9.2 billion, an increase of 2 percent from the year before.

“We think this trend is going to continue through 2018 and into 2019,” Dammrich said. “The economy is gining strength. Consumer confidence is 13 percent higher than it has been in recent years. New home sales are going up. All of these things correlate highly with new-boat sales.”

Hot sales also are growing for special-purpose boats designed for wakeboarding and wake surfing, as well as aluminum-hulled pontoon boats, he said.

Although the recession began in December 2007, boat sales hit the lowest point in 2009 and 2010. Ski Shack owner Greg Mustain said people had a “fear factor” caused by economic uncertainty and held off buying new boats during 2009-2010.

“It was almost impossible to sell a new boat back then,” he said. “But consumer confidence changed and the economic outlook is rosier than it was even a year ago.”

Optimism also reigns at the MarineMax dealership at Indian Point. General Manager Terry Perciful said he doesn’t expect to have trouble selling a luxury 40-foot yacht, noting that people at Table Rock are looking for comfort in their boats.

“People will keep their boat for two or three years, then move up to something bigger,” he said.

Information from: Springfield News-Leader,

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