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A Small Bridge over an American Rift

A Small Bridge over an American Rift

A Small Bridge in the American Rift

With Nevada’s recent tragedy commanding the national dialogue, debate about some of the broader issues has understandingly erupted. Regarding the tragedy itself, I defer to Mr. Rogers: “Look for the Helpers”. Regarding the debate surrounding gun rights, there are signs that there is at least some bipartisan support for reform within one of the nation’s most divisive topics.

  +  The US notoriously has the highest number of firearms per capita worldwide, roughly 89 per 100 people. These firearms are distributed between four in ten homes. “74% of gun owners say this right is essential, compared with only 35% of non-gun owners who say the same.”

  +  An exit poll from the 2016 election revealed a deep divide between gun owners and non-gun owners in the United States. Overwhelmingly, a majority of gun owners voted for Trump in nearly every state, while non-gun owners voted for Clinton. The poll demonstrated that gun ownership was a bigger indicator of how an individual voted than race, rural-urban divide, union membership or religion. While this isn’t a direct indicator of people’s stance on gun rights, it is indicative of a clear rift between the two groups.

  +  Despite this, the National Rifle Association, who has historically opposed increased gun legislation vehemently, has come forward and endorsed tighter restrictions on bump stocks, the gun attachment used by the Nevada shooter to operate semi-automatic weapons similarly to fully automatic. Historically, “the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has ruled that bump stocks do not violate laws that tightly limit ownership of machine guns, but the NRA is asking that to be re-evaluated. Several leading Republicans and a majority of Democrats have also since come forward to propose or endorse legislation to ban bump stocks.

  +  “For a generation, Republicans in Congress — often joined by conservative Democrats — have bottled up gun legislation . . . But in this week’s massacre in Las Vegas, lawmakers in both parties may have found the part of the weapons trade that few could countenance: previously obscure gun conversion kits, called “bump stocks,” that turn semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing in long, deadly bursts.”

  +  With an almost impossibly complicated topic, as explained by Vox, bipartisan calls for reform are welcome. “America doesn’t a gun problem; it has several of them.”

  +  Ignoring political and logistical feasibility (if only), here’s the legislation that experts believe could reduce mass shootings in the US.

There is no single solution to these tragedies, and the complexity often prevents any sweeping measures from coming to fruition. While formulating legislation around bump stocks, specifically, is only a drop in the bucket, it is something. Let’s continue to open the dialogue about gun control and the many other issues that contribute to tragedies like this, recognizing the many sides of debate, with calls for resolution.

Stepping Up for Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, pummeling the US territory and destroying critical infrastructure that left virtually the entire island without power, clean water or communication. Since then, people from all walks of life have found ways to lend aid amid blame and controversy.

  +  Concerns that Puerto Rico, which suffers from massive debt, couldn’t repay state disaster-response efforts delayed the deployment of assistance. On day 6 after first landfall, the federal government, under President Trump’s direction, committed to paying 100% of costs for 6 months.

  +  The timeline regarding Puerto Rico’s call for aid, which came a day after the hurricane, has also been called to blame in delayed deployment.. "’We cannot deploy personnel, equipment or other aid without a formal request from the impacted state,’ Jeff Caldwell, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said in an email. ‘We respect the EMAC process and will not self-deploy.’" In retrospect, Texas requested state-to-state aid the day Harvey made landfall and Florida made their request 6 days prior to Irma.

  +  After personal calls for aid from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz made their rounds in interviews, “Aid Is Getting to Puerto Rico. Distributing It Remains a Challenge.”

  +  Ports are at or near capacity for aid supplies, but “part of the reason for the distribution backlog is that only 20% of truck drivers have reported back to work since Hurricane Maria swept through”. Paired with fuel shortages and blocked or damaged roads, the major issue lies not in getting supplies to Puerto Rico, but getting it on the roads.

  +  The FCC has pledged $77 million to help restore and establish better communications infrastructure in both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

  +  On top of that, it’s given the green light for Google’s parent company to deploy 30 balloons over the island that will provide voice and data service to users’ phones for up to six months.

  +  A star-studded cast has also stepped up to help lend aid in various ways.

  • The Simpsons aired a photo at the end of their Season 29 premiere advocating support for aid organizations UNICEF, One America Appeal and Save the Children.
  • Rapper Pitbull sent his private plane to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to transport cancer patients to the mainland US for chemotherapy treatments.”
  • Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez are joining forces to bring relief to Puerto Rico, which is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis after being hit by two hurricanes back-to-back.”
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, the mastermind behind “Hamilton”, has released a collaborative charity song with an all-star lineup of Latin artists. All proceeds go to a hurricane recovery benefit for Peurto Rico, where Miranda’s parents were born. (Listen to it on repeat and rack up the proceeds . . .  plus it’s fantastic)
  • Elon Musk responded to a tweet asking if he could implement his vision of an independent solar grid for Puerto Rico by offering its potential. He’s now reportedly in talks with Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello.

Great American Beer Festival Puts Its Foot Down

In a major win for independent craft breweries, the Great American Beer Festival excluded a number of breweries owned by conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev, limiting the number of breweries a single company can submit.

  +  The GABF is considered by many to be the pinnacle of beer festivals in the U.S., selling out to roughly 60,000 attendees in less than a day and featuring nearly 900 U.S. breweries at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

  +  After tightening its rules to better serve independent craft breweries, “the Brewers Association has begun limiting the number of breweries that a single beer company can have on the floor at GABF.” This ultimately led to the exclusion of all but one Anheuser-Busch InBev breweries, including the popular Goose Island. Other conglomerates, like MillerCoors, also ad to play under the new rules.

  +  “The Brewers Association has long criticized big beer companies for a lack of transparency about the fact that once-independently owned breweries are now part of global conglomerates. In recent months, the organization has introduced a seal to identify breweries that meet its definition of craft.”

  +  So what sets a craft brewery apart from Big-Beer? Three words: small, independent and traditional. Here’s what exactly that means.

  +  Limiting conglomerates means more craft breweries can score a booth at the festival, which is a major win.

  +  Small, independent breweries are a major force in the US, accounting for $67.8 billion for the economy last year. In Colorado, that looks like over three billion dollars.

  +  Oh, and did I mention that Carver Brewing Co., Durango Brewing Co., SKA Brewing and Steamworks Brewing Co. are all in attendance, and have been historic medal-winners.

This week's good news, brought to you by:

Since 1950, Peanuts has been a household staple with its cast of memorable youngsters. Beginning as a humble Sunday funny, it’s grown to become wah, wah, wah wah, wah, wah wah ...

The Sincerest Pumpkin Patch

“I don’t see how a pumpkin patch could be as sincere as this one,” Linus famously ponders as he awaits the arrival of the fabled Great Pumpkin. He may have well been talking about our very own pumpkin patch, just down the line on the Peanuts The Great Pumpkin Patch Express.

Bringing the 1966 prime time classic to life, right here in Durango, the D&SNGRR hosts childhood favorites like Lucy, Snoopy and Charlie Brown himself. Board the train in your festive costumes and take the scenic ride to the pumpkin patch, where 1.5 hours of classic fall fun is in order.

Adults can enjoy wine and beer while the kiddos trick-or-treat, decorate pumpkins, test their mettle in the football kicking contest (don’t worry, Lucy won’t be pulling a fast one on anyone) and more. All can join round for a special reading of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown too, of course. It’s the most sincere way to honor the Great Pumpkin itself, and create memories along the way.

Cue the music, Schroeder.

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