Vacation Home – Villas In Florence Wed, 10 Aug 2022 17:23:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Vacation Home – Villas In Florence 32 32 A bird in hand: How a Smithsonian zoologist spent the pandemic tracking nectar-stealing orioles | Smithsonian Voices Wed, 10 Aug 2022 17:23:39 +0000

While most nectar-eating birds stick their head directly inside the flower, which coats their head in pollen, the orchard oriole sometimes pierces the base of the flower with its beak to drink the nectar without covering itself in pollen. . As a result, he gets the sweet reward without having to do the pollination work.
Gary Graves

Every day in the summer of 2020 and 2021, Smithsonian research zoologist Gary Graves stepped out into his garden in the Ozark Mountains to face a familiar crime scene: the vibrant orange blossoms of his trumpet vine littering the ground, the flowers full of holes and jagged. The author: a small herd of chestnut and yellow orchard oriole. It documented the extent of daily vandalism, as did forensic analysis.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History closed and few museum staff were allowed entry. At the time, Graves was in the middle of a project studying vulture microbiomes, but the pandemic put that project on hold. Unable to conduct his regular research at the museum, Graves traveled to his vacation home in the Ozarks to telecommute, about a thousand miles west of DC.

During the summer months, he noticed a persistent pattern of birds stealing nectar from the flowers in his garden. He quickly recognized this behavior as unusual and unstudied and decided that his next research project would be to characterize this behavior occurring in his own backyard.


A curator and research zoologist in the museum’s bird division, Graves moved to his vacation home in the Ozarks during the pandemic. Here he came across a new research project in his own backyard.

Marc Robin

“The museum banned me from doing research trips and I couldn’t get permission to do field research, so I was stuck in my backyard,” Graves said. “But then I thought, ‘Here’s something I can do.'”

What makes nectar theft particularly unusual? After all, the sole purpose of nectar is to be consumed by animals. However, not all sips of nectar are created equal. Graves describes three different types of nectar consumption: legitimate pollination, nectar stealing, and nectar stealing.

The first follows the common story of pollination – an animal co-evolves with a flowering plant in a way that results in a mutually beneficial scenario. The animal, such as a bee or a hummingbird, pollinates the flower and receives nutritious nectar from the plant as a reward.

“And it’s a nice clean story,” Graves said. “But in every system there are always free riders and cheaters.”

These free-riders and cheaters are the nectar-stealers and thieves. Nectar thieves are those who take the nectar without pollinating the flower but otherwise cause no harm. The anatomy of flowers usually matches their co-evolved pollinator like a lock and key, helping pollinators live up to their namesake while enjoying their sweet nectar treat. Nectar thieves circumvent this pollination system, taking the reward without fulfilling their end of the bargain.


The smallest North American oriole species, the orchard oriole divides its time between the eastern half of the United States, where they breed and lay their eggs in pouch-like nests, and Central America.

Dan Pancamo, Flickr

“So a nectar thief is like a shoplifter, but a nectar thief is someone who takes a hammer to a jewelry store.”

This ruinous behavior can eventually stop the reproductive potential of the plant. Thieves tear flowers entirely or provide an easy shortcut to the nectar reward, such as a borehole through flower petals, to deter legitimate pollinators from doing their job.

Since the plant cannot fight back, the only defense it has is to evolve in some way to minimize or circumvent the effects of the oriole’s nectar flight.

According to Graves, avian nectar theft is not as well known in North America as it is on other continents. Observations of the trumpet vine have interesting implications in the broader field of pollination biology. So Graves took the opportunity to document it himself during the lockdown.


Due to its colorful flowers, the trumpet vine attracts both gardeners and a range of pollinators like ruby-throated hummingbirds. But the garish plant also attracts its fair share of sleazy thieves and nectar thieves.

Gary Graves

Every morning, Graves went out to assess the damage: how many flowers did these birds spoil? What method of destruction did they use? Have their methods changed? He wrote it all down on a spreadsheet and did it for over 40 days in 2020 and 2021. Now his article describing the chaos method appears in the journal Scientific reports.


The consequences of a theft of nectar: ​​cut flower petals litter the garden of Graves.

Gary Graves

The main finding Graves described was that the orioles wreaked havoc on the plant’s reproduction while they were there. Birds bored holes and stole nectar from over 90% of the plant’s flowers, and the plant did not bear fruit until the orioles left the area on their fall migration. Extending the blooming season beyond the bird departure date may be the only way for this population of trumpet creepers to reproduce.

Findings aside, Graves believes the main take-home message from the paper is that the opportunity for scientific discovery is everywhere. You don’t have to travel great distances or have fancy equipment to make remarkable scientific discoveries – the next discovery might be hiding in plain sight in your backyard. But like all good detectives, scientists must have a curious eye.

Related stories:
How the pandemic has changed scientific exploration
Get to know the planet’s pollinators and other natural history programs in June
Meet one of the curators behind the Smithsonian’s 640,000 birds

DC’s Lightning survivor had raised money for refugees Mon, 08 Aug 2022 02:11:00 +0000

All day, the large leafy tree had been a source of shade and comfort for Amber Escudero-Kontostathis.

Amid around 90-degree heat, she had spent hours soliciting tourists outside the White House for donations to help refugees in Ukraine, her family said. As she finished her Thursday shift last week, a storm gathered overhead, thickening with clouds, rain and thunder.

This Thursday was his 28th birthday, his family said. So while Amber waited for her husband to pick her up for a celebratory dinner, she once again sought refuge against the same tree, huddled with three others under its outstretched branches, according to her family and authorities.

Three people died after a lightning strike Thursday near the White House

One was Brooks Lambertson, a rising young bank vice president from Los Angeles. There was Donna Mueller, 75, a retired teacher, and her husband James Mueller, 76, who came from Wisconsin to Washington to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. And there was Amber, a young woman from California whose trips to the Middle East to teach English had sparked the desire to help those affected by war and poverty in this region.

They were strangers brought to this exact location on the east side of Lafayette Square, at this exact time for different reasons – business, vacation, a passion for helping.

Just before 7 p.m. it was there – under a leafy tree about 100 feet from a statue of President Andrew Jackson – which lightning struck.

The experts recorded a lightning in the area like six individual electrical surges that reached the same point in the space of half a second. If the electricity had hit the tree first, experts say, it would have sent hundreds of millions of volts through it before passing through and over the bodies of those gathered below.

“It shook the whole area,” an eyewitness later recounted. “Literally like a bomb went off, that’s how it sounded.”

Strike left all four seriously injured. The Secret Service and the US Park Police – who keep the park in front of the White House under constant surveillance – raced to help.

On Friday morning, police announced that the elderly Wisconsin couple had died. Later that night, the Los Angeles banker also died, police said.

Amber would be the sole survivor.

What happens when lightning strikes – and how to stay safe

Lightning stopped Amber’s heart, her brother Robert F. Escudero said. Two nurses, who were visiting the White House on vacation and saw the Secret Service running to help him, immediately began performing CPR on him and managed to restore his pulse, he said.

The lightning caused severe burns to the left side of his body and arm, his family said. It’s on the side of her bag, carrying the iPad she used to sign people up for refugee donations.

Her parents rushed to Washington from California and her mother documented her fight to recover on Facebook. The thunderbolt initially made Amber unable to breathe, her mother, Julie Escudero, wrote. But on Friday, nurses were able to remove her from the ventilator.

The lightning also damaged his short-term memory. She was scared and confused about what had happened to her. “We certainly don’t want her to remember the incident at this time,” her mother wrote on Facebook. But every time she wakes up, her mother writes, she asks what happened to her, will she die and will she be able to walk? His family said one thing that particularly worried him was his fundraising work for refugees.

She had majored in international studies in college and had traveled to Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, according to her brother and her work profile. She spent a year teaching English in Jordan and soon after started fundraising for non-profit organizations. She started working in Washington last year for a group called Threshold Giving and has focused in particular on fundraising for the International Rescue Committee, a global relief agency.

“The first thing she said to me when we FaceTimed was, ‘I have to go back to work on Saturday,'” Robert Escudero said. “She is worried about raising funds for refugee children. She asked me, ‘Who will get the money for them if I’m not there?’ »

A friend created a GoFundMe page to raise money for her medical bills. So her brother said he promised Amber that he would work with Threshold Giving in the coming days to also create a way for people who find out about her survival story to donate to refugees.

The only thing her family has yet to discuss with her is the fate of the others who were with her that night under the tree.

“She’s starting to realize there were others and she wants to know how they’re doing and what she did wrong,” her mother said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “She cares so much about other people, it will be difficult for her.”

On Sunday, many signs of the fatal lightning strike were still visible in Lafayette Square.

One tree had streaks of charred bark, cracks, and a large gash in the main trunk where the wood remained twisted like a bruise. People passing by Lafayette Square stopped in front of the tree to look at the scars.

One of them was Cal Vargas, a childhood friend of Lambertson, who died. He brought a wreath and a bouquet of white flowers to place at the foot of the tree. Vargas and Lambertson had been friends since kindergarten and grew up together in Folsom, Calif., where they shared a passion for sports and the Sacramento Kings.

“He was an amazing person,” Vargas said calmly. “Always had a smile on his face, always looked on the bright side.”

Earlier on the day the lightning struck, Lambertson, 29, had arrived in Washington on a business trip from Los Angeles. He was spending time before a dinner reservation when he got caught up in the storm, Vargas said.

In a phone interview, Lambertson’s father, whom The Washington Post does not identify by name to protect his privacy, said his son was “probably the best human being I know.” He said his son’s kindness, generosity and humility “showed in everything he did, in all his interactions with people”.

He worked at City National Bank as vice president managing sponsorships for the company. He had done marketing for the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, and graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, according to a bank statement.

The elderly Wisconsin couple, who also died that day, were celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary, family members said.

Donna Mueller, 75, and her husband, James Mueller, 76, had been high school sweethearts before getting married. James had owned a drywall business for decades while his wife worked as a teacher, according to one of their daughters-in-law, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her privacy.

The couple lived in Janesville, Wis., about 70 miles west of Milwaukee, and had five adult children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. “Both would do anything for their family and friends,” relatives said in a statement.

The chances of a person being killed by lightning are extremely rare. Over the past decade, only an average of 23 people in the United States have died each year.

Multiple deaths are even rarer. Before last week’s strike, the last time three people died in a single incident was more than 18 years ago, on June 27, 2004, when three people in Georgia were struck under trees in Buford Dam Park, said John Jensenius, specialist at the National Lightning Safety Council.

Because lightning tends to strike large objects, experts warn that taking shelter under a tree during a thunderstorm is very dangerous. When a tree is hit by the electric charge, the tree’s moisture and sap easily conduct the electricity, carrying it to the ground around the tree, experts say.

“When lightning strikes a tree, the charge does not penetrate deep into the ground, but rather travels along the surface of the ground,” Jensenius said. “This makes the whole area around a tree dangerous, and anyone standing under or near a tree is vulnerable.”

For this and other reasons, Amber’s survival seemed miraculous, her family said. If it hadn’t happened right in front of the White House where Secret Service agents are stationed. If the two nurses who revived her weren’t on vacation and hadn’t seen what had happened.

On Saturday night, Amber was finally able to take a few steps on her own, her family said. She was supposed to start a master’s program in international relations this fall at Johns Hopkins University – the latest step in her work to help refugees and those suffering abroad.

“She’s an amazing, strong-willed person. And she has such a heart for others,” her brother said. “So the goal now is to get her walking again by the time classes start in a few weeks. .”

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

]]> Here are the Barbiecore summer and vacation picks at Amazon Sat, 06 Aug 2022 10:00:00 +0000

You may have noticed an influx of hot pink lately everywhere from home decor to clothing.

Barbiecore trend makes pink the unofficial color of the season thanks to buzz from new live-action Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, due out in 2023. But the color that stands out is huge right now, even attracting the attention of several celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens, Hailey Bieber and Ariana Grande. And there are so many holiday-ready pieces waiting for you on Amazon.

While Barbie pink is inherently bright and bubbly, in 2022 Barbiecore encompasses all shades, from bubblegum to pastel florals. And if pink isn’t your thing, you can always channel the bombshell blonde look with other dazzling colors like vibrant purple or sunny orange.

Whether you’re enjoying a summer getaway or heading overseas, these Barbie-inspired vacation picks on Amazon are sure to make you the center of attention.

Barbiecore Amazon Vacation Picks

  • R.Vivimos fluid midi dress, $31.99
  • Fame Recovery Cloud Cushion Slides, $24.99
  • Vakaer Acrylic Pouch, $58.99
  • The Drop Dakota Belted Mini Shirt Dress, $49.90
  • Suuksess Wrap Push Up High Waisted Bikini, $31.95 (original $34.95)
  • Hotouch cotton button-up top, $27.99
  • Free People Dani Tank Top, $20
  • Freie Liebe Straw Pouch, $19.89 (original $21.99)
  • Moshengqi Brazilian Bikini Swimsuit, $25.99
  • Steve Madden Paislee Flat Sandals, $33.99 (original $79.95)

If you want to get into the Barbiecore trend, start with this airy midi dress in hot pink. It’s light and loose, making it perfect for today’s heat index, and it’s also fun and flirty. The dress has a deep V-cut and a three-tiered ruffled skirt that will be cute to wear to dinner after hitting your hotel pool (and beyond). Plus, it comes in multiple shades of pink, so you can channel Barbie in different hues.

Cute accessories are a must-have on any holiday, and this acrylic purse is just the one lurking on Amazon. Although it is not hot pink, the bag has a unique charm that still adheres to the retro trend. Use it to store your phone, hair ties, hotel room key, etc.

Even though pink is the star of the show, you might want to mix it up with other Barbiecore-approved colors, like bright purple. And this wraparound bikini swimsuit might just be what you’re looking for. It has over 14,500 five-star ratings from shoppers who appreciate its flattering yet comfortable fit. The two-piece has a wraparound design and small cutouts on the side – another big trend this summer.

Another ultra-popular resort piece on Amazon is this two-piece from FancyInn. It comes in tons of vibrant colors including pink and yellow, however, this tangerine orange option is truly the ultimate eye-catcher. It has ruffles on the short sleeves and a cropped top and a high slit along the pant leg, allowing the breeze to flow through as you walk. And right now it’s on sale with a double discount.

There are so many more stylish Barbiecore fashion choices in Amazon’s Holiday Looks section. Browse the rest below.


Buy it! R.Vivimos fluid midi dress, $31.99;


Buy it! Fame Recovery Cloud Cushionaire Slides, $24.99;

Buy it! Vakaer Acrylic Pouch, $58.99;


Buy it! The Drop Dakota Belted Mini Shirt Dress, $49.90;


Buy it! Suuksess Wrap Push Up High Waisted Bikini, $31.95 (original $34.95);


Buy it! Hotouch cotton button-up top, $27.99;


Buy it! Free People Dani Tank Top, $20;


Buy it! Freie Liebe Straw Pouch, $19.89 (original $21.99);


Buy it! Moshengqi Brazilian Bikini Swimsuit, $25.99;


Buy it! FancyInn 2-Piece Jumpsuit, $34.19 with coupon (Origin $39.99);


Buy it! La Blanca Island Goddess Ruffle One-Piece Swimsuit, $120;


Buy it! Steve Madden Paislee Flat Sandals, $33.99 (original $79.95);

Do you like a bargain? Sign up for the PEOPLE’s Shopping newsletter to stay up to date with the latest sales, as well as celebrity fashion, home decor and more.

Maryland sisters killed in fire while vacationing in the Hamptons Thu, 04 Aug 2022 18:33:00 +0000

Two Maryland sisters were killed when a massive fire engulfed the Southampton vacation home their family had rented for a summer getaway, police said.

Jillian Wiener, 21, and Lindsay Wiener, 19, were sleeping in a second-floor bedroom when the fire broke out inside the Noyack residence on the South Fork of Long Island on the night of Wednesday, according to WUSA. Their 60-year-old father, Lewis Wiener, was awakened by the sound of breaking glass around 3.30am and immediately tried to warn his family of the danger.

Lewis and his wife, Alisa Wiener, 52, who were both sleeping on the first floor when the fire broke out, were able to flee the house. Their 23-year-old son Zachary Wiener also escaped by jumping out of a second story window, Southampton Town Police Lt. Susan Ralph told the East Hampton Star.

When Lewis realized his daughters were still inside the burning rental, he tried to save them, “but the flames kept him out,” Ralph added.

Firefighters from North Sea, Southampton, East Hampton, Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor all responded to the scene and successfully located the sisters. They were rushed to hospital by ambulance, but both women eventually succumbed to their injuries despite efforts to resuscitate them.

Their neighbors said the family decided to take a short vacation in the area before their children head back to college for the next school year. Jillian would have been a senior at the University of Michigan while Lindsay was to return to Tulane University as a sophomore.

They were also alumni of Bethesda’s Holton-Arms School for Girls, with Jillian graduating in 2019 and Lindsay in 2021.

The school remembered the couple as “warm and committed members of the Holton community who have had a positive impact on both their classrooms and the wider community,” according to a statement obtained by WTOP.

The three surviving family members suffered non-fatal injuries from smoke inhalation and were being treated at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.

Thursday, the cause of the fire remained uncertain.

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Approves Overhaul of Vacation Rental Regulations Wed, 03 Aug 2022 00:53:14 +0000

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a series of sweeping changes to local regulations for vacation rental homes during a four-hour meeting Tuesday on the long-simmering issue.

In a 4-0 vote, the council passed rules that will expand the areas where rentals are prohibited, set caps on rentals in other areas, change policies governing rentals on the coast and allow applications of pending permits to continue throughout the process.

The council also approved a new vacation rental license program that will standardize requirements for all vacation rental license holders outside of cities.

Some of these requirements include quiet hours from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. – a one-hour increase from the current 10 p.m. start time – a guest cap set by the number of rooms, standards of parking and other rules such as outdoor burning limits such as campfires.

Some of the new rules, such as guest caps and parking requirements, will not apply to vacation home owners who acquired their license under the county’s existing rules. Other standards, including new quiet hours, will apply to all rentals in county-governed areas, said county planner Gary Helfrich.

Public reaction to the proposed regulations has been mixed. Some full-time residents felt the county should do more to regulate existing rentals, while a few residents involved in the vacation rental industry said they agreed with the rules outlined in the new program. and others felt they were too restrictive.

The changes are intended to address residents’ concerns about the impact of vacation rentals on noise, public safety and the housing stock — issues that have long dominated the county’s vacation rental debate and have recently driven the council to extend a moratorium on the issuance of permits for new holiday rentals. .

Sonoma County resident David Applebaum said the changes favor vacation rental owners.

“This is an opportunity to start from scratch, to be bold,” Applebaum said. “Instead, we pamper the owners of these vacation homes.”

The board backed a request from Supervisor Lynda Hopkins who asked county staff to investigate higher fees and tougher penalties for vacation home owners who violate county rules and to explore ways to limit light pollution.

Hopkins called the current $100 violation fine a “slap on the wrist” for rental operators with nightly rates in the four figures. She suggested the county raise its fee to $1,000 and allow the ability to revoke a license for up to five years.

The council also approved a measure that limits permits to the ‘natural’ human owner of the property, meaning a company cannot apply for a permit.

Approved regulations are to take effect in 30 days and will apply to unincorporated Sonoma County.

In 2021, there were approximately 2,459 local short-term rentals in the county. Of those, about 1,485 were in county-governed unincorporated areas, according to a recent economic study commissioned by the county.

Rentals help support a local tourism economy valued at around $2 billion a year, and vacation rental owners pay lodging taxes that help support local services.

The county already prohibits vacation rentals in neighborhoods intended for medium- and high-density housing. Tuesday’s council vote extends that restriction to low-density (R1) areas, which typically include residential areas that aren’t in a town center but are still connected to utilities like sewers, staff said Tuesday. from the county planning department.

The council also agreed to set caps that would limit rentals to 5% to 10% of existing housing stock in other low-density residential areas. The intent behind the move is to prohibit or limit rentals in areas where they could be “harmful” to neighborhoods, according to a county staff report.

County staff should study these areas, gather community feedback, and submit recommendations to council.

Sonoma Valley and Guerneville both have high concentrations of vacation rentals in R1 zones, but the new ban is not expected to have much impact on Sonoma Valley due to exclusion zones already in place, a said Helfrich.

Guerneville, where the local economy relies heavily on seasonal tourism, is a different story.

“The impact would be greatest in the community of Guerneville,” Helfrich said.

Hopkins, who represents West County, in turn said she supports a more nuanced approach to zoning restrictions, particularly in Guerneville. She explained her goal was to ensure neighborhoods that historically host vacation rentals aren’t disrupted and to protect other neighborhoods that don’t have that history from being overrun by rentals — a suggestion backed by his fellow board members.

Yoon cancels travel plans and stays home for vacation Mon, 01 Aug 2022 02:30:49 +0000

President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a meeting of the Central Headquarters of Disasters and Security Countermeasures on measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic at the government complex in Seoul last Friday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk-yeol has decided not to travel to provincial areas for this week’s vacation and will instead stay in Seoul to consider how to navigate the current political unrest, government officials said Monday. ruling party and the presidential office.

The decision came as Yoon’s approval ratings were unusually low – below 30% in some surveys – for a president with less than three months in office, amid worsening economic conditions and unrest within of the ruling party, people’s power, are getting worse.

Yoon is taking five days off from Monday for vacation.

“I understand that President Yoon and the first lady have decided not to go to the provinces during this holiday,” said an official from the presidential office.

Another official said: “In the current situation, holidays are not holidays.”

While at home, Yoon is expected to listen to the opinions of people from various walks of life, according to officials.

Yoon’s approval rating dipped below 30% following the embarrassing disclosure of a controversial text conversation with the ruling party leader.

Last week, PPP leader Kweon Seong-dong apologized after a text message conversation he had with Yoon was caught on camera, in which Yoon was seen slandering the head of the suspended party Lee Jun-seok.

“President Yoon thinks the confusion in the party should be resolved quickly,” said another presidential official, adding that Yoon’s top priority was how to appease public opinion. (Yonhap)

Christopher Meyer, British ambassador to the US during 9/11, dies at 78 Sat, 30 Jul 2022 01:27:00 +0000

Christopher Meyer, a British diplomat who, as ambassador to the United States, served as an intermediary between Prime Minister Tony Blair and the George W. Bush administration after the September 11 attacks and the build-up to war in Iraq in 2003, died in July aged 27 78.

His death was confirmed in a tweet by British Ambassador to the US Karen Pierce, but no cause was given in official UK statements. British media reported that Mr Meyer suffered a stroke at a holiday home in Megeve, France.

On September 11, 2001, Mr. Meyer was having lunch at the British Embassy in Washington with his former boss, former British Prime Minister John Major. They were discussing Mr. Meyer’s conversation the night before with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about challenges for the West in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Then Mr. Meyer and Major learned that the first plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and watched the rest unfold under a locked down security level. “This world we were talking about before was nothing like what we faced the next morning,” Mr Meyer later told The Daily Telegraph.

“It was a hairy time,” added Meyer, who began his tenure in Washington in late 1997 under President Bill Clinton’s administration. “It was a very emotional moment. I felt suffocated.

Over the next 18 months, Mr Meyer was at the heart of a transatlantic war council between the Blair government and the Bush administration as Britain became the main US partner in the invasion of Afghanistan after September 11 and the escalation of the war in Iraq. . Blair broke with many European leaders in support of US claims – contradicting UN weapons inspectors – that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

In 2002, Britain released its own intelligence report reinforcing the Bush administration’s line that Iraq appeared to have biological and chemical weapons that could be deployed in as little as 45 minutes. Claims about Iraq’s weapons program were proven wrong after the invasion, which sparked years of war, civil conflict and regional instability that left at least 150,000 people dead, according to groups monitoring war losses.

‘I’ll be with you no matter what’: Read Blair’s secret memo of support for Bush

Mr Meyer underwent emergency heart surgery just before US-led forces entered Iraq in March 2003 and did not return as ambassador. He later came out as a skeptic of claims about the Iraqi arsenal and said he had pleaded privately to slow the march to war. But the growing ties between Blair and Bush proved to be a “great accelerator”, he told the Telegraph in 2003.

“My presence in Washington wouldn’t have made the slightest difference,” he said. “In my experience of the first Gulf War, Kosovo and the war in Afghanistan, when war breaks out, diplomacy takes a back seat.”

Mr. Meyer has worked his way glamorously through the often stuffy corridors of international diplomacy. He was an astute storyteller, favored red (and sometimes green) socks, played tennis with Rice, and enjoyed throwing lavish parties with his multilingual wife Catherine. Their friends included Hollywood power couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas.

“Cool kids are drifting away,” wrote The Washington Post of the Meyers’ farewell party in early 2003.

Having left the diplomatic corps soon after, he had even more to say. His 2005 book “DC Confidential” was full of asides – about camping with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and rafting with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld – but went the extra mile with some British officials. Blair, he writes, was “seduced” by American power, and many of his envoys were political “pygmies” who failed to impress their American counterparts.

Christopher John Rome Meyer was born in Beaconsfield, northwest London, on February 22, 1944. A few weeks earlier, his father, a Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant, had been lost on a mission from the World War II over the Aegean Sea. His mother joined the war effort and Mr Meyer was sent north from Leicester to live with his grandmother, seeing his mother at weekends.

Mr Meyer joined the UK Foreign Office a year after earning a degree in the history of the University of Cambridge in 1965. Postings in Europe and London followed, including analysis of the Soviet Union in the Foreign Office and as spokesman for Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe from 1984 to 1988 .

Meyer was in the United States for six years until 1994, on a one-year sabbatical at Harvard University and then in various envoy roles, including trade policy. He left diplomacy in 1994 to become spokesman for Major’s conservative government from 1994 to 1996.

He was given the post of ambassador to the United States – one of the crown jewels of British diplomacy – at a time when America was riding an economic wave and Britain was rebranding itself as “Cool Britannia”. . Above all, Mr Meyer had to keep his hand on the tiller, with tasks such as keeping London abreast of the latest developments in the revelations about President Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

He did his duty. Clinton was time-limited from another run for the White House. Mr Meyer wondered how Bush – then a possible candidate – would fit in with Blair. He then sought out Texas Governor Bush in 1998 at the Governor’s mansion in Austin and had a 40 minute conversation. “Bush admitted that apart from Mexico he knew little about international affairs and would do well to broaden his experience,” Meyer wrote in an official report of the meeting.

Between 2003 and 2009 he was Chairman of the UK Press Complaints Commission, which deals with complaints about media intrusions on privacy, including the royal family. Then he hosted several television series, including 2006’s “Mortgaged to the Yanks”, chronicling post-war American loans to Britain, and “Getting Our Way”, a 500-year history of British diplomacy based on its 2009 book of the same name.

He kept a running commentary on global affairs and UK politics on his @sirsocks Twitter account. He was knighted in 1998.

“DC Confidential”, however, made the most noise. A former deputy prime minister, John Prescott, called Mr Meyer a ‘red-socked fop’ and joined others in calling for him to be punished for telling insider stories about UK leaders . But audiences loved his stories, including the way Major sometimes complained about the media coverage before he even put his pants on.

“If the shakers of society are divided between insiders and outsiders, Sir Christopher Meyer is more of an insider than a scampi warm in his shell,” wrote British author Jasper Gerard in The Sunday Times.

His first marriage, to Françoise Winskill, with whom he had two sons, ended in divorce. In 1997, while briefly ambassador to Germany, he married Catherine Laylle Volkmann, a former half-French, half-Russian commodities broker. At the time, she was part of an international campaign for the right of divorced and separated parents to have access to their children when crossing borders.

For a decade her ex-husband had refused to let their two sons return to Britain after a holiday in his native Germany. A German court ruled that the children should remain in Germany, but as young adults they were reunited with Laylle. In 1999, she created the organization Pact (Parents and Abducted Children Together), recruiting Hillary Clinton as honorary president.

Complete information about the survivors was not immediately available.

Laylle’s court battle was also what brought her closer to Mr Meyer. A “swirling courtship,” he later said. They married at a registry office the day before he left for Washington to serve as ambassador.

“I think of two people standing, hand in hand, on the highest diving board,” he told the Daily Mail in 2005, discussing his marriage and his arrival in Washington in less than 24 hours. “We close our eyes, jump and hit the water. It was sink or swim.

]]> Clatsop County Residents Challenge Ordinance Opening All Rural Residential Neighborhoods to Vacation Rental Business | New Thu, 28 Jul 2022 07:00:00 +0000

North Coast Neighbors United says the proliferation of short-term rentals is worsening housing shortages and harming local communities

A local group of Clatsop County residents has filed a referendum petition challenging a new ordinance that clears the way for vacation rental licensing in all rural residential communities. North Coast Neighbors United has until September 20 to collect 742 valid signatures from Clatsop County voters to place the ordinance on the ballot.

“As communities across Oregon and around the world grapple with the negative impacts of vacation rentals on residential neighborhoods and amid a historic housing shortage, Clatsop County has moved in the opposite direction. and opened the door to license rentals in every rural residential neighborhood,” said Cove Beach resident and co-petitioner Jeff Davis.

County commissioners approved Order 22-05 in June. The ordinance amends county land use zoning regulations to include short-term rentals as a permitted use in 16 residential areas.

Although not permitted until now (except in Arch Cape), short-term rentals have exploded in rural Clatsop County since 2018, with some coastal communities now seeing 30% of licensed residential housing stock as vacation rental companies.

In March, the Clatsop County Planning Commission reviewed the proposed ordinance and rejected it, voting instead to recommend the county ban short-term rentals in most rural residential areas. A 2019 housing study commissioned by the county also recommended that existing homes be kept for residential use and that commercial uses be prohibited or strictly curtailed.

“Every home that is converted to short-term rental is a home that is no longer available to local residents at any cost,” said co-petitioner Dr. Clare Hasler-Lewis of Surf Pines. “Meanwhile, short-term rentals are bringing noise, litter and traffic to rural residential neighborhoods that don’t have the capacity or resources to handle it. The county has ignored advice from its own planning commission and housing study, as well as appeals from hundreds and hundreds of residents who have written letters and testified at town hall meetings over the past two years. Order 22-05 is just bad policy for residents of Clatsop County, and voters deserve a say in the matter.

Charles Dice, Falcon Cove resident and chief petitioner, says the group’s members and supporters transcend geographic and political differences.

“We are landlords and renters, housing advocates, business owners and retirees from cities and rural areas of Clatsop County,” he said. “We are Republicans, Democrats, Independents and everything in between. First and foremost, we are your neighbors, united in our commitment to protect our North Shore residential neighborhoods because the neighborhoods are for families, not vacation rental businesses.

Facts about Order 22-05 and short-term rentals

Order 22-05 amends the Clatsop County Land and Water Use and Development Code (LAWDUC) to include short-term rentals as a Type I permitted use in 16 zoning designations. Read the prescription.

The 2019 Clastop County Housing Strategies Summary Report recommended area restrictions and caps on short-term rentals to protect the supply of housing available to residents. See Housing Strategy #10: Limit Short-Term Rentals in Residential Areas, p. 11.

In March 2022, the Clatsop County Planning Commission reviewed the proposed ordinance (what became Order 22-05) and rejected it, voting instead to recommend the county allow rentals at short term only in commercial areas and rural coastal residential area of ​​Arch Cape. Compare the planning commission’s recommendation with the county’s proposal (p. 4)

In December 2021, the Clatsop County Southwest Coastal Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommended keeping existing zoning ordinances in place for all residential areas in the county. Read the final draft. See page 26 for a discussion of short term rentals.

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