THE BEST BEACHES IN A BEACHIE WORLD

David Thoreau wrote, “The seashore is a most advantageous point from which to comprehend the world. The waves forever rolling to the land are far traveled coming home and leaving again.”

There’s nothing wrong with the beaches of Southern California, nor the beaches of Thailand or Belize. In the summer, Brighton Beach and Jones Beach are great playgrounds for the teens of New York.  Here, according to some experts, are the best beaches in the world, all year round.

Seychelles

One of the most photographed beaches in the world, the pale pink sands of Anse Source d’Argent unfurl across the island of La Digue, one of the 115 components of this archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The sands sparkle against a backdrop of towering granite boulders, worn by time and weather. The turquoise water is relatively shallow and protected from the ocean’s waves by a reef.

Maldives

Whether your dream beach trip consists of spending a few pampered nights in a four-star resort or swimming among tropical fish some 79-feet underwater, the Maldives are the sort of islands where either—or both—can come true. Straddling the equator southwest of Sri Lanka, the 1,102 islands that make up the Maldives form 2 atolls. The soft air enveloping the archipelago blends into a beautiful palm-fringed haze.

Bora Bora, Tahiti

This is one of the magical islands that make up French Polynesia in the South Pacific. Just 18 miles long, this lush little slip of land lies in a protected lagoon edged by white sandy shores, the best being at Matira Point. Bora Bora boasts the nickname the “Romantic Island,” a moniker easy to appreciate with its isolated beaches, intimate hotels, and quiet atmosphere.

The Hamptons, New York

One of the hip spots for the air-kissing, well-heeled set, the Hamptons boast some of the prettiest beaches on Long Island. The unspoiled shoreline begins around Southampton and runs east to the end of the island at Montauk. Windswept dunes and waving grasses border the Atlantic Ocean.

Lanikai Beach, Hawaii

Half a mile of sparkling sang, palm trees swaying over a white beach, lush tropical plants, and endless sunshine make Lanikai one of Hawaii’s most scenic beaches. The shore is protected by a nearby coral reef, which keeps the surf relatively calm. The water is always deep green and postcard-perfect. Only 10 miles from Honolulu.

Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

The most popular beaches on this island in the North Atlantic are Surfside and Children’s. The waters here are relatively calm, and there’s plenty of sand to use for sunbathing or castle-building. Madaket Beach is known for its rougher surf and not-to-be-missed sunsets. Quidnet Beach provides great views of Sankaty Head lighthouse.

Fraser Island, Australia

Perched on the sunny Queensland coast 161 miles northeast of Brisbane, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and home to a wonderful beach. This World Heritage site is an ecologist’s dream, with 642 square miles of unspoiled natural paradise. Rain forests with 1,000-year-old trees sprout from the sand. Lodgings here accommodate a wide range of tourists, from the backpacking ecology lover to pampered resort fans.

St. Bart’s

Among the thousands of islands in the Caribbean Sea, St. Bart’s stands out with its blend or French chic and island relaxation. With beautiful secluded beaches, fine French cuisine, and gracious hotels, this tropical playground is popular with the jet set. The eight-mile island is edged by 20 beaches and small coves for swimmers and sunbathers, with sparkling water and white sand.

Landkawi, Malaysia

The name “Landkawi” translates into “the land of one’s wishes,” a welcoming concept that somewhat belies the island’s historic origins as a reputed refuge for pirates. Langkawi has since become a modern hideaway for the traveler seeking an escape. If your vacation wishes extend from uncrowded white sands and clear waters to lush green forests, you will find yourself content here. Datai Bay, located on Pulau Langkawi, is a heavenly retreat on the Andaman Sea.

Kauna’oa Bay, Hawaii

Located on the Kohala Coast of the Aloha State’s Big Island, Kauna’oa Bay is the quintessential Hawaiian spot. The quarter-mile, crescent-shaped beach has plenty of white sand, palm trees, and calm, clear, blue water. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, beachgoers here can snorkel or ride boogie boards. (Be careful while swimming, however, because there are no lifeguards on this public beach.) At night, nestle into the sands and peer out into the water to see if you can catch a glimpse of manta rays swimming.

And one extra special:

The Pink Sands of Bermuda

Bermuda has both magnificently large and refreshingly small beaches. Some are private, reserved for resort guests, but many are open to visitors. Bermuda’s finely pulverized sand takes on its characteristic pink hue from the calcium carbonate remains of coral reefs and the beautiful turquoise waters. For a glorious walk, stroll between South Shore Park and Horseshoe Bay in Southampton Parish.

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CURRENT EVENTS – MARCH, 2019

Here is our first review of current events this year. With all the hooting and hollering about the “wall,” immigration and investigations, there hasn’t been much happening. Just lots of talk.

I think we’ll see a little more happening from this point on.

Mueller Report Goes Semi-Pubic

After two years and $25 million, the special counsel turned over his findings to the attorney general who summarized the report in a letter to Congress.

Overall results were not too impressive. Wrongdoers identified: Russians – 24, biased FBI – 4, Trump election/administration officials – zero!

There were a handful of Trump partisans indicted for activities before the campaign and had nothing to do with the Trump election or presidency.

The Democrats in Congress will scream they want the whole report and all the documents. Not likely! You can’t identify every person interviewed. That would create a false illusion.

The primary reason for the appointment of the special counsel was to determine if the Trumpers colluded with the Russians to get him elected. The answer appears to be the Russians did try to influence the election, but the Trumpers won it on their own, contrary to the constant push by the Clinton people to pursue that narrative.

On the question of obstruction of justice, neither the AG nor Mueller felt there was enough evidence to indict.

It all adds up to much ado about nothing.

The IG Wins the Race for Slowest

We are still waiting for the Justice Department’s inspector general to release his report. He’s been working on his investigation of the actions of the FBI for longer than Mueller. We’ll see if he is as critical of the FBI misconduct as public comments have indicated and may explain why Mueller didn’t come up with more.

The Feds Tell Us Growth is Slowing

The Fed Chairman predicts a 2.1% growth rate for the year, down from the 3.2% rate predicted by the White House. The Trump economy is still strong but the trade winds seem to be telling us there are rain clouds ahead.

Adding to the dark spots on the horizon are short-term interest rates are higher than long-term rates. That inversion is a troubling sign.

Truth Will Be Told

We constantly hear from one side of our polarized national debate that any attempt to examine the voting registrations or issue photo ID’s would only suppress the vote. Time to face the facts.

Judicial Watch just signed an historic settlement agreement with California and the County of Los Angeles compelling them to begin removing as many as 1.5 million inactive and potentially invalid names from their voter registration rolls.

This massive voter registration roll “cleaning” will take place as the result of a 2017 federal lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch and represents another major victory for the integrity of our elections.

California is only the third statewide settlement achieved by private plaintiffs under the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA)—and Judicial Watch was the plaintiff in each of these cases! The other statewide settlements were with Ohio (2014) and Kentucky (2018).

The House Works on Priorities

The newly elected House of Representatives has made it clear its priorities for this session will be on the six investigations currently getting underway to examine and expose the actions of the Trump administration.

They don’t seem to think there is any value in exploring some solutions or meaningful action on our $22 trillion debt problem, developing a coherent policy on energy, infrastructure or immigration.

Why waste our time and money on the issues above when we can worry about Ivanka Trump’s security clearance?

American Interference in Canadian Affairs

Did you think Russia’s attempt to influence the American election in 2016 was an isolated incident? Not by a long shot!

This has been going on for a long time in a lot of different places.

An independent Canadian researcher, Vivian Krause, has spent over 10 years documenting the attempts by American anti-fossil fuel activists, in the courts and at elections, to block our access to Canadian tar sands oil and construction of pipelines.

They succeeded to the disadvantage of overall American and Canadian interests.

Green New Deal is the Road to Bankruptcy

You’ve probably seen plenty in the news about the Green New Deal, a radical big-government proposal introduced in the House of Representatives by the Socialist Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and eagerly endorsed by virtually every Democrat running for president in 2020.

As some media are reporting, the cost of the Green New Deal is conservatively estimated at $7 trillion PER YEAR. To put that into perspective, the government spent a total of $4.1 trillion last year, which was a record. The Green New Deal would increase federal spending by more than 70 percent and lend to dangerous hyperinflation.

The Green New Deal will:

a. Eliminate all coal, gas and nuclear energy
b. Replace air travel with high speed rail
c. Provide Medicare for all at a cost of $3.2 trillion or more per year
d. Mandate healthy food, free college, housing subsidies and a minimum wage for all, working or not

Sounds like kindergarten politics.

Effects of the Federal Tax Cuts

Last year’s tax cuts were supposed to add growth and increase the economy. It did, but it was short lived. Most of the corporate savings we now see went into stock buybacks, not into expansion.

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USC AND HOLLYWOOD LEAD THE SCANDAL DU JOUR

The college admissions fraud scandal that erupted last week captivated the country—given how it hit straight at the heart of intersecting debates about class, wealth and privilege, and how thoroughly it seemed to lay waste to myths about American academia.
Dozens of people were charged in a scheme that involved wealthy parents paying bribes to get their children into elite universities, like Wake Forest, Yale, Stanford, USC and UCLA.

Also accused were top coaches and university sports officials whom federal prosecutors said accepted millions of dollars in exchange for help getting the students “recruited” as athletes, even if they didn’t play sports.

The actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, as well as Ms. Loughlin’s husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were among the 32 parents accused. So were financiers from ritzy Bay Area suburbs, a vineyard, owner from San Francisco and executives from coastal Orange County.

And the man at the center of it all, William “Rick” Singer, ran his entrepreneurial business from Newport Beach, after working as a basketball coach and college counselor in Sacramento.

So what is it about the Golden State that allegedly fueled this kind of scheme?

Jerome Karabel, a UC Berkeley sociologist who has written extensively about college admissions, said: “On a broader level, the case reveals a fundamental ‘crisis’ in American society.

“As America has become more and more unequal, affluent parents have become increasingly desperate to pass on their advantages to their children and to avoid downward mobility at all costs. Elite colleges are seen as insurance against downward mobility.

“California is an epicenter of enormous wealth; and, basically, where you have major concentrations of wealth, you have the possibility of corruption.”

Mr. Karabel said that the alleged scheme appeared to stem less from the parents’ desire to make sure their children learn than from “parental anxiety” in a society where being rich is the best way to stay rich; and if you fail, there’s less of a safety net.

The parents of affluent children commonly hire private college admissions counselors who sometimes edit or rewrite—or even write—student essays for them and coach them intensively through the process. These techniques are not illegal. In 2016, Jia Tolentino wrote about her years supporting herself by charging wealthy families $150 an hour to write or rewrite their teens’ essays. In a more extreme example, the counseling company Ivy Coach charged one woman $1.5 million to smooth her daughter’s path to an Ivy League college.

The admissions advantage given to athletes also helps rich kids nab coveted spots at elite schools. “The popular notion that recruited athletes tend to come from minority and indigent families turns out to be just false; at least among the highly selective institutions, the vast bulk of recruited athletes are in sports that are rarely available to low-income, particularly urban applicants.” Football and basketball players are far outnumbered by those in sports that aren’t found in most urban public schools; fencing, crew, equestrian events and the like. Once admitted, the report said, these students underperform.

Wealthier parents have also gamed the part of the college application in which students show that they have engaged in meaningful community service, often by sending their children on high-priced trips to villages in developing countries, where they help build playgrounds or coach kids’ soccer in between their recreational tourist activities. At the more ambitious end, Richard Weissbourd, lead author of a Harvard University report on problematic college-admissions policies, said he knows of wealthy parents who shelled out money to start a nonprofit school in Botswana just so their daughter could claim on her college application that she had created it; another family did the same with a clinic in Bali.

But colleges cannot claim to be the hapless victims of parental manipulation of the admissions process. Despite their supposed belief in a system of merit-based admissions, the reality is that they have created and tolerated a lopsided system that, despite some efforts to the contrary, continues to benefit the rich over potentially more deserving students with lesser means.

Colleges could start fixing this by eliminating the admissions preference for children of alumni, by demanding strong academic performance from all applicants, including athletes, and by forbidding students to use paid professional help to complete their applications. Students in better-funded schools would still have advantages, but not by as much as they do when they hire private outside counselors. Applicants should have to sign a statement that their essays represent solely their work and that they understand their admission will be revoked it it’s found otherwise. Applicants would still lie here and there, and it is not clear what meaningful enforcement there could be. But at least students—and their desperate parents—might hesitate if they knew they’d be committing fraud.

The most interesting facts in this fiasco to me is that since 1988, when the college population crossed the 10 million mark, college attendance has risen about 40%–about the same increase as college applicant have risen.

The competition is focused on the elite schools. In our generation, almost any school was acceptable and provided a decent education.

The second fact, and the irony of it, is the comment by David Marcus, a Pulitzer Prize education writer, who said, “The CEOs of Fortune 500 companies come mostly from state universities, not the so-called ‘elite’ schools.”

Morality is in alarming decline everywhere.

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THE STATE OF MY STATE

OMG! I work up Monday morning and found out I’m 88 years old. That’s a big number! I don’t know how it happened or what to do about it.

As was my usual bent in my school years, I must have skipped the class on how to be 88. With no training, I guess I’ll just have to keep shuffling along.

I have a degree from the University of Connecticut. Not sure how I got that either because I spent more time trying to espouse my liberal ideas to solve the problems of the world, railing against the unjust civil rights in the South and playing pick-up basketball.

Today, I have no political party to represent me. I’m a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. I don’t like either party and they don’t like me. At the same time, I can’t remember when I liked a sitting president.

• I’m in general good health, except for my back, which makes walking difficult and keeps me uncomfortable—and now a neck ache.

• Experimenting with pot at my age has been a real trip (pardon the pun) but hopefully I can find the right dosage to alleviate the back discomfort.

• I go to the gym four times a week for an hour or so and it makes me feel alternately good and exhausted.

• I miss traveling and friends who left along the way.

• I sleep okay. I just wish it was more at night and less during the day.

• I yearn for the good ol’ days—no passwords, no tech devices continually breaking down and spending hours with tech support people to remedy.

• Each year has been harder for me to deal with the California cold.

• Sorry I never learned to type.

• I’m starting to have dropsy, physically and mentally, too.

• Today they call me Scooter Man, because I stopped driving last August.

• If only it had a heater and a radio, in addition to the four wheels, I’d be all set.

• I was a teenage socialist concerned about civil rights and the inequality of wealth.

• Today, I’m still concerned about those two issues, but I’m convinced:

o Capitalism is the best and only economic system that works.

o Socialism is the enemy of the achievers and the motivated.

o The only way to alleviate the wealth inequality is to bring the bottom up, not the top down.

o I do not believe climate control will kill you, but we’re the only one’s trying to fix it.

I preceded ET and made my escape into the wild blue yonder, leaving the spaces outside of NYC. All in all, getting old hasn’t been easy, but neither was growing up.

Life has been an interesting adventure and I’m glad I had the chance to live it. Although not quite done, I’d like to do more, write more blogs and enjoy the passing scene.

Better quit here before I forget what I was writing about.

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MY PERSONAL ADVENTURE IN THE POT BIZ

As most of you know, I’ve had back problems for several years. After two surgeries and more than half a dozen epidurals, I have kept searching for products to relieve the discomfort in my back and help my walking.

As I approach my 88th birthday, I have decided I can’t do any more surgeries or even epidurals. The relief from either procedure is only short-lived so I have to find another way to treat the problem.

The over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and so-called pain killers have been ineffective. I tried an opioid called Tranadol, which has helped more than anything, but a couple of my doctors have said there may be a potential problem using Tranadol and the interaction with one of my other meds.

So I said, “Me, time to try marijuana.”

Before I relate my experience with trying to find a pot solution to overcome my back pain, I have to give you a brief, simplistic intro into the cannabis world.

There are two main elements in all marijuana. THC is the psycho-active part. The CBD is the curative part. There are all kinds of products and combinations of THC and CBD available. The retail dispensaries are very friendly and helpful but, frankly, limited in their knowledge of what to prescribe and how to effectively use the product.

It’s all quite confusing—you have to expect a lot of trial and error.

First, I tried the oil 1-to-1. Difficult to open the bottle. Not sure how much of the dropper to fill. Trying to hold the liquid under my tongue for 30 seconds to one minute was very hard. No one indicated how often in a day to repeat usage.

Next, I was recommended to a supplier who had no storefront but came to your house. He told me all about cannabis, creams, oils, edibles, and vaping. He also was insistent that my problem would be better served, contrary to most opinions, with higher doses of THC.

“Okay,” I said, “let’s try the oil for starters.” The dropper would only hold half so I took two half droppers. An hour later, I was feeling some relief but was higher than a kite. I couldn’t finish a sentence I started and couldn’t follow my trainer’s instruction at the gym because I couldn’t remember what he said.

I felt out of control, and I didn’t like it. My supplier said I’d get used to it after a few weeks. Gabriele is still laughing about that day. Didn’t think I wanted to stay high for three or four weeks.

Next stop—a local retail dispensary. They said a cream is the only way to go. Pretty even amounts of THC and CBD. Worked okay but you needed someone else to rub in on your back. I couldn’t reach.

Gabriele uses it on her arthritic hand and it works quite well for that.

As my search continued, I visited my local health food store, where they sell CBD products made from hemp and have no THC in them. Friendly people but pretty much the same confusion about what to buy and how to use it.

Everything I learned was still somewhat confusing; too many diverse opinions, no clear facts.

Somewhat exhausted with all the mixed information, I sought out an MD whose specialty was cannabis. He didn’t take Medicare; and after a long tutorial on what’s in cannabis and all the ills it treats, we finally got to my question: What should I take and how?

His recommendations:

A. 1-to-1 THC/CBD oil from a specific manufacturer
B. Swish around mouth before swallowing
C. 3 to 4x a day
D. Will make your sleepy (does it ever)
E. Will encourage more snacking and gaining weight
F. Over next 2 to 3 months, he will monitor all and adjust the dosage.
G. Okay to use Tranadol occasionally—I didn’t care if I got addicted.
H. Hemp products are inferior to plant products.

Here I am, four weeks into the new round. Having some relief but constant back pain, napping too much and feeling a bit foggy most of the time.

Coach/trainer Julie suggested I take a break from the gym for two weeks and try taking the pot at night.

So, I’m taking the pot at night and the Tranadol during the day. It’s working pretty well on my lower back, but now I have a new problem in the neck, so we’ll have to see where we go from here.

It’s an adventure and takes a lot of patience!

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CANNABIS, OH CANNABIS, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

Marijuana’s new crop of consumers has been less than anticipated. Nobody said it’d be easy, but nobody anticipated it’d be quite this hard to get Californians to buy legal weed. That’s been the dominant takeaway from the Golden State’s first year of legalized recreational marijuana sales.

The N.Y. Times recently reported on how the promised flourishing cannabis economy and corresponding tax windfall haven’t materialized.

Actually, sales fell! About $2.5 billion of legal cannabis was sold in California in 2018, which was half a billion dollars less than the year before, when just medical marijuana was legal, the sales tracking firm GreenEdge found.

A report from Areview Market Research and BDS Analytics recently estimated that spending growth on legal cannabis will speed up this year, hitting almost $17 billion worldwide, and ballooning to $31.3 billion in 2022.

In its annual State of Cannabis report, the cannabis delivery platform Eaze highlighted that the market is rapidly expanding beyond young men—even if, as Peter Gigante, the company’s head of policy research, noted, one in five people surveyed admitted to buying from an unlicensed source in the last three months.

“I think there’s a lot of focus on getting consumers into the legal market,” he said.

Part of that will certainly involve tailoring products especially to new consumers, who may not have been willing to try out cannabis when it wasn’t legal. So who are those new consumers? Here are some of the stats from Eaze’s report, which was based on data from 450,000 buyers and about 4,000 survey respondents.

25 percent

That’s how much the number of baby boomer—or age 50 or older—consumers grew last year, making them one of the fastest growing demographics for cannabis use.

$95.04

That’s how much baby boomers spent each month, on average—the most of any age demographic. (By comparison: Generation X-ers spent $89.24, millennials spent $72.94 and members of Generation Z spent $62.35.) Millennials are still the biggest group of Eaze customers, though.

38 percent

That’s the percentage of cannabis consumers who are women. Mr. Gigante predicted that by 2022 it’d be 50-50.

Female and baby boomer cannabis consumers, the report found, are driving a surge in CBD oils and more wellness-oriented products.

In fact, the report found, the share of consumers who primarily use CBD products are baby boomer women: 21 percent.

Although no actual numbers were apparently available, the expected tax revenues were off substantially. That is one of the primary reasons so much cannabis is purchased on the black market. There are no 25% taxes.
There may be other reasons as well. Next week I’ll tell you about my personal experience with the cannabis community.

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IS THIS AN EMERGENCY?

President Trump declared a state of emergency regarding illegal immigration across our southern border. I’m not at all sure if a “national emergency” was ever really defined except to give that power to our presidents.

To my way of thinking, an emergency is when our nation is attacked, or when I accidentally cut myself and might bleed enough to pass out, or when someone tells me in the car that they must go now and there’s no bathroom in sight.

Emergencies are not usually long-term, well-known situations that, while thorny, are well understood. Which brings us back to President Trump and the budget deal that didn’t give him the cash he wanted for the border wall.

Is the emergency that several hundred thousand illegal immigrants cross the land border with Mexico, or that Congress didn’t provide the money that the president wanted to build more wall?

I’ve got an answer: Neither! These aren’t emergencies, they’re failures…of Congress.

As I recall, illegal immigration has been a point of contention for at least thirty years and resulted in the McClellan Act in the 1980s that granted amnesty and was supposed to fund border security that would end illegal immigration. Amnesty we got; border structures to stop illegal immigration, not much.

By the time we got to the end of the 1990s, we had up to a million immigrants a year jumping the border. We started building more wall and fence in the mid-2000s, and it does work.

But the real thing that dropped illegal immigration to “just” a few hundred thousand people a year was the financial crisis. When the opportunity faded, so did the desire to go through the hassle of entering the country illegally.

None of this falls under the strict definition of an emergency, except for the creation of caravans of thousands of illegals funded by wigged-out, open-border liberals.

Immigration is important, no doubt, and should be dealt with. That’s the job of Congress. Or rather, it was. Now the job is to posture until the next election while banking pay that puts them in the top 10% of wage earners and building up a pension. Awesome!

This covers both sides of the aisle.

You might not know it, but we have 31 other states of emergency already in place. They cover everything from an emergency declared on September 14, 2001 by reason of certain terrorist attacks, to Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Burundi, which was declared in 2015.

In fact, many of our current states of emergency have to do with blocking property transfers of people we don’t like in places like South Sudan, Venezuela, Libya, Somalia, and, of course, North Korea.

We even have a declared emergency against transactions with terrorists that interfere with the Middle East Peace Process. Hmm! Does that include sending aid to Hamas, the terrorist group that runs the Gaza Strip?

Again, these efforts might be important, but that hardly makes them an emergency. Just as with the border wall funding, presidents declare most of these things as emergencies because they can’t get them passed in Congress.

I feel the pain of the presidents. We can’t get much of anything passed in Congress, and they should all be fired for it. But that doesn’t mean that we should allow any one or any group to bypass the legislature and take unilateral action. That will end badly, to say the least. We definitely have a crisis, whether it’s an emergency or not is maybe somewhat academic.

Something needs to be done to start dealing with the situation. If the president can get enough barriers built to control all the illegal entries, maybe we (Congress) can start to deal realistically with the rest of the illegal immigration problem.

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