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On the Other Hand — The plagues of Michigan
Written by Nancy Spencer   
Sunday, September 08, 2013 12:00 AM | Updated ( Tuesday, September 10, 2013 2:12 PM )

I know you guys are going to think I’m a big whiner. The last two times I have gone to Michigan, bugs were involved.

We spent Labor Day weekend by the lake and no, it wasn’t fishflies — it was sand fleas.

I know, I know; I shouldn’t be such a baby but I was the only one they bit. I’m serious. I had like a hundred (perhaps a light exaggeration) bites from my knees down and no one else had a single nibble.

I even doused myself with insect repellent and they were still biting me. I put socks on. The little buggers just chewed a ring around my ankles above the socks.

The bites just look like little red dots until you get the skin’s reaction to the sand flea slobber. Yes, I said slobber.

Sunday morning the itching started. I’m not sure how many of you have had poison ivy but the sensation is similar. No matter how much you scratch, you still itch. Itch — scratch. Itch — scratch. It becomes maddening ­— all-consuming.

I can remember a summer from long ago when Kristen Macwhinney Ulm and I were at our cottage with our parents. We took the John boat to the beach a lake over and sunned ourselves and swam and had a wonderful afternoon.

We made our way back to the cottage and had supper and when we were settling in for bed, the itching started. You know, the slobber thing.

Kristen, who is a bit taller than I, had, and this is no exaggeration, more than 100 bites on her legs; we counted them and gave up at more than 100. (We had lain in the sand for hours that afternoon and the sand fleas had a feast!)

I had quite a few, too, but she got it much worse.

Guess where this said cottage was. Give up? Michigan!

This past weekend I put up with the itch and went about celebrating.

On Monday, I was pretty much over the whole thing and ready to set my legs on fire. I showed them to Jill and she pretended to be concerned but I saw the humor in her eyes.

She quickly set about leafing through a file she keeps with helpful hints such as what to put on insect bites. She found one that recommended Crest tooth paste. It didn’t just say tooth paste, it was very specific.

Jill dug around and came up with several travel tubes of the stuff and I quickly slathered up. In no time, the itch was gone. It was replaced with a pleasant tingling and minty freshness. Why had I not said something Sunday?

When we got home Monday I quickly went to the drug store and bought some cortisone cream. Ice packs worked nicely, as well. Monday night after work, I iced the tops of my feet and they haven’t itched since. The rest took a little longer.

I guess the moral of the story is: Michigan bugs have it out for me.

Letter to the Editor
Written by Information submitted   
Saturday, September 07, 2013 12:24 AM


September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Gold in September stands for kids with cancer. An opportunity is available to you to raise awareness and support for these special kids.

An organization called CureSearch holds an event called CureSearch Walk to raise money and awareness. This is a nonprofit organization that funds life-saving research through the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). There are more than 200 children’s cancer centers across the U.S. Some of these centers include Nationwide Children’s in Columbus, Toledo Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s Hospital. CureSearch is a research organization that is strictly dedicated to research of children’s cancers. Ninety-six percent of all money raised goes directly to research. Several individuals who partner with CureSearch are the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation and major league baseball player Craig Breslow’s Strike 3 Foundation.

There are several walks to be held in the next few weeks. Today, one is being held in Toledo and one is taking place on Sunday in Fort Wayne. Dayton is hosting a walk in mid-September and Columbus will offer one on Oct. 4 in conjunction with an evening at the zoo. For a complete list of walks or to donate, please log on to

In memory of my granddaughter, Alivia, who passed at the age of 3 in 2011, I have donated to CureSearch. Won’t you join me in raising money and raising awareness for the need to find cures for children’s cancers?


Betty Shobe


Another year ...
Written by Nancy Spencer   
Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:26 AM

A birthday gift to myself this year is to rerun this column originally published on Sept. 1, 2012.

Another year has passed and another candle was added to my cake. I don’t mind. I still enjoy birthdays and look forward to them. The alternative is just no good. Not reaching the next birthday, I mean.

Scant foreign support for US strikes on Syria
Written by Lara Jakes   
Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:26 AM


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is poised to become the first U.S. leader in three decades to attack a foreign nation without broad international support or in direct defense of Americans.

Not since 1983, when President Ronald Reagan ordered an invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada, has the U.S. been so alone in pursing major lethal military action beyond a few attacks responding to strikes or threats against its citizens.

It’s a policy turnabout for Obama, a Democrat who took office promising to limit U.S. military intervention and has cited the 2011 withdrawal of troops from Iraq as one of his administration’s top successes. But over the last year he has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that his government’s use of chemical weapons in its two-year civil war would be a “red line” that would provoke a strong U.S. response.

So far, only France has indicated it would join a U.S. strike on Syria.

Without widespread backing from allies, “the nature of the threat to the American national security has to be very, very clear,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Charles Brower, an international studies professor at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.

“It’s the urgency of that threat that would justify the exploitation of that power as commander in chief — you have to make a very, very strong case for the clear and gathering danger argument to be able to go so aggressively,” Brower said Friday. “He needs partners, and he needs to be able to make that clear to have the legal justification.”

Obama is expected to launch what officials have described as a limited strike — probably with Tomahawk cruise missiles — against Assad’s forces.

Two days after the suspected chemicals weapons attack in Damascus suburbs, Obama told CNN, “If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it; do we have the coalition to make it work?” He said: “Those are considerations that we have to take into account.”

But lawmakers briefed on the plans Thursday indicated an attack is all but certain and Obama advisers said the president was prepared to strike unilaterally, though France is prepared to join the effort.

The U.S. does not have United Nations support to strike Syria, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged restraint. “Diplomacy should be given a chance and peace given a chance,” he said Thursday.

Expected support from Britain, a key ally, evaporated as Parliament rejected a vote Thursday endorsing military action in Syria. And diplomats with the 22-nation Arab League said the organization does not support military action without U.N. consent, an action that Russia would almost certainly block. The diplomats spoke anonymously because of rules preventing them from being identified.

France has said it is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria because the use of chemical weapons cannot go unpunished.

“Presidents always need to be prepared to go at it alone,” said Rudy deLeon, who was a senior Defense Department official in the Clinton administration.

“The uninhibited use of the chemical weapons is out there, and that’s a real problem,” said deLeon, now senior vice president of security and international policy at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress in Washington. “It can’t be ignored, and it certainly creates a dilemma. I think (Obama) had to make the red-line comment, and so Syria has acted in a very irresponsible way.”

The nearly nine-year war in Iraq that began in 2003, which Obama termed “dumb” because it was based on false intelligence, has encouraged global skittishness about Western military intervention in the Mideast. “There’s no doubt that the intelligence on Iraq is still on everybody’s mind,” deLeon said.

Both Republican George H.W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton had U.N. approval for nearly all of their attacks on Iraq years earlier. Even in the 2003 invasion, which was ordered by Republican George W. Bush, 48 nations supported the military campaign as a so-called coalition of the willing. Four nations — the U.S., Britain, Australia and Poland — participated in the invasion.

The U.S. has relied on NATO at least three times to give it broad foreign support for military missions: in bombarding Bosnia in 1994 and 1995, attacking Kosovo with airstrikes in 1999 and invading Afghanistan in 2001.

Only a few times has the U.S. acted unilaterally — and only then to respond to attacks or direct threats against Americans, such as the 1993 missile strike that Clinton ordered in retaliation against an Iraqi plot to assassinate the elder Bush.

Protecting the legacy of America’s sportsmen
Written by Rob Portman   
Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:25 AM



There is no greater friend of conservation and no greater protector of the natural treasures of our country than America’s sportsmen. Every year, sportsmen pump billions of dollars into the economy. At the same time, they provide the money through taxes and fees that fund wildlife officers and conservation efforts in national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and on private land.

Despite all these contributions, there is still much that we need to do to protect the rights of sportsmen and to ensure that our nation’s natural resources remain open and available to future generations of those who love the outdoors. The Sportsmen’s Act—legislation I am cosponsoring in the United States Senate—is designed to do just that.

Countless Ohioans enjoy hunting and fishing, but not all of them have access to private land where they can partake in these activities. It’s not surprising that access to public lands is the number one issue for America’s sportsmen, and loss of that access is the number one reason people stop hunting and fishing. Reports by the Department of Interior have found that large amounts of public land have inadequate access for sportsmen.

The Sportsmen’s Act helps to address that problem. This legislation would protect the public right to engage in recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting on public lands. It requires that all lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service remain open to outdoorsmen. And it provides legislative support to Executive Order 13443, which directs federal land management agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting on federal lands, and ensures sound scientific management of wildlife and their habitat.

This legislation also removes some of the regulatory barriers that make taking advantage of our public lands so difficult. It removes the arbitrary limitation that allows firearms to be transported across national parks but not bows. It codifies that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the ability to regulate ammo and fishing tackles, leaving that authority to state fish and game agencies and the Fish and Wildlife Service where it has always resided. And it requires that 1.5 percent of annual Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars be made available to secure access to existing federal public lands that have restricted access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational uses.

We must ensure that the lands we have available for public use are open to the American citizens they are meant to benefit.

As generations of Americans know, our nation has no greater resource than our natural treasures. If we don’t keep them open for everyone to enjoy, we risk having a generation that doesn’t appreciate how precious they are and the importance of good stewardship.