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U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts routine boat safety checkups

With hazardous winds striking the Oregon coast this weekend; hurling wind gusts up to 65 mph and rolling throughout the county with ease, it’s clear to see how important safety and preparedness is when traveling in such conditions.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary conduct free vessel safety inspections Saturday in the parking lot of the Cascade Farm And Outdoor store in Coos Bay.

Certainly, it was no surprise that safety and awareness was at the forefront of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Vessel Safety Check event, which took place  Saturday at the Cascade Farm and Outdoor store on Ocean Boulevard. The event offered free inspections of boats of any size brought in by their operators. Trained examiners from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 51 Coos Bay inspected each boat to see if it met Oregon and Federal U.S. Coast Guard boating laws for equipment.

Richard Gutierrez, a vessel examiner for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, said having been a member with the organization for about 17 years and has seen his fair share of common oversights when it comes to boat safety.

“Some of what we see on boats are flares out of date, navigation lights out of order and life jackets not being present,” said Gutierrez.

He notes it’s essential to keep these things in mind when operating a boat and to have your vessel checked out at least once a year.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Richard Gutierrez with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary places a sticker on the stern of a boat during a free vessel safety inspection Saturday in the parking lot of the Cascade Farm And Outdoor store in Coos Bay.

“It’s about being proactive,” said Gutierrez. “It’s important because it’s for your own safety and to save the lives around you.”

Of the items to check for when equipping your boat for a positive safety check, include making sure you have fire extinguishers, life jackets, proper ventilation, a sound-producing device, a proper working fuel system, a pollution placard as well a few more things. Upon inspection from their member’s, the Coast Guard examiner will issue a decal to those meeting the requirements to be displayed on their boats.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics, 77 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. In the same report, it was recorded that about 13 percent of deaths that occurred that year the operator did receive some sort of a nationally-approved boating safety certificate.

In addition to checking for the required safety equipment, the USCG examiners will also make recommendations on items they encourage every boat owner to carry. A marine radio, an anchor, a first aid kit as well as discussion items like accident reporting and nautical charts are also vital to safely operating a vessel.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Stan Forderer talks with U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary inspectors Nancy Turtle, left, and Cindy Hughes during a free vessel safety inspection Saturday in the parking lot of the Cascade Farm And Outdoor store in Coos Bay.

Gutierrez mentioned if attending an event is hard for community members, they do offer at home inspections and will in most cases meet boat owners where their vessels are located throughout Coos County.

Along with inspections, the USCG also hosts various educational events all through the year including teaching third graders about water and beach safety at The Boys & Girls Club of Southwestern Oregon. They also conduct eight-hour boating safety education courses that will certify boaters for their Boater Education Card, which is required for all motorboats operators who have a vessel that is over 10 horsepower. The cost of such training is $15 and pre-registration is required.

Ed Glazar, The World 

A surfer catches a wave at Sunset Beach as a low pressure system batters the coast Saturday bringing high winds and surf.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Massive waves crash over rocks Saturday at the mouth of Sunset Bay as a low pressure system moves northeast causing a high wind warning along the coast and east of the Cascades.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Matilda Orendorff, 7, watches the surf from Bastendorff Beach Park with her mother's boyfriend Mark Brown as waves crash against Coos Head.

Amid trade fight, Trump says China will do the 'right thing' (copy)

WASHINGTON — Amid global fears of an escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China, President Donald Trump suggested that Beijing will ease trade barriers "because it is the right thing to do" and that the economic superpowers can settle the conflict that has rattled financial markets, consumers and businesses.

But fostering more uncertainty, the president's top economic advisers offered mixed messages Sunday as to the best approach with China, which has threatened to retaliate if Washington follows through with its proposed tariffs, even as Trump emphasized his bond with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade," Trump wrote. "China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!"

But Trump did not explain why, amid a week of economic saber-rattling between the two countries that shook global markets, he felt confident a deal could be made.

The president made fixing the trade imbalance with China a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, where he frequently used incendiary language to describe how Beijing would "rape" the U.S. economically. But even as Trump cozied up to Xi and pressed China for help with derailing North Korea's nuclear ambitions, he has ratcheted up the economic pressure and threatened tariffs, a move opposed by many fellow Republicans.

The Trump administration has said it is taking action as a crackdown on China's theft of U.S. intellectual property. The U.S. bought more than $500 billion in goods from China last year and now is planning or considering penalties on some $150 billion of those imports. The U.S. sold about $130 billion in goods to China in 2017 and faces a potentially devastating hit to its market there if China responds in kind.

China has pledged to "counterattack with great strength" if Trump decides to follow through on his latest threat to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods — after an earlier announcement that targeted $50 billion. Beijing also declared that the current rhetoric made negotiations impossible, even as the White House suggested that the tariff talk was a way to spur China to the bargaining table.

The new White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Sunday that a "coalition of the willing" — including Canada, much of Europe and Australia — was being formed to pressure China and that the U.S. would demand that the World Trade Organization, an arbiter of trade disputes, be stricter on Beijing. And he said that although the U.S. hoped to avoid taking action, Trump "was not bluffing."

"This is a problem caused by China, not a problem caused by President Trump," Kudlow said on "Fox News Sunday."

But he also downplayed the tariff threat as "part of the process,"  and suggested on CNN that the impact would be "benign" and said he was hopeful that China would enter negotiations. Kudlow, who started his job a week ago after his predecessor, Gary Cohn, quit over the tariff plan, brushed aside the possibility of economic repercussions.

"I don't think there's any trade war in sight," Kudlow told Fox.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he didn't expect the tariffs to have a "meaningful impact on the economy" even as he left the door open for disruption. He allowed that there "could be" a trade war but said he didn't anticipate one.

Another top White House economic adviser, Peter Navarro, took a tougher tack, declaring that China's behavior was "a wakeup call to Americans."

"They are in competition with us over economic prosperity and national defense," Navarro said on NBC's "Meet the Press." ''Every day of the week China comes into our homes, our business and our government agencies. ... This country is losing its strength even as China has grown its economy."

Trump's latest proposal intensified what already was shaping up to be the biggest trade battle in more than a half century.

Trump told advisers last week that he was unhappy with China's decision to tax $50 billion in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a U.S. move to impose tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods. Rather than waiting weeks for the U.S. tariffs to be implemented, Trump backed a plan by Robert Lighthizer, his trade representative, to seek the enhanced tariffs.

The rising economic tensions pose a test to what has become Trump's frequent dual-track foreign policy strategy: to establish close personal ties with another head of state even as his administration takes a harder line. The president has long talked up his friendship with Xi, whom he has praised for consolidating power in China despite its limits on democratic reforms.

Further escalation could be in the offing. The U.S. Treasury Department is working on plans to restrict Chinese technology investments in the U.S. And there is talk that the U.S. also could put limits on visas for Chinese who want to visit or study in this country.

For Trump, the dispute runs the risk of blunting the economic benefits of his tax overhaul, which is at the center of congressional Republicans' case for voters to keep them in power in the 2018 elections. China's retaliation so far has targeted Midwest farmers, many of whom were bedrock Trump supporters.

Trump warns Assad: 'Big price to pay' for fatal Syria attack

Missiles struck an air base in central Syria early today, its state-run news agency reported. Although the agency said it was likely "an American aggression," U.S. officials said the U.S. had not launched airstrikes on Syria.

SANA reported that the missile attack on the T4 military air base in Homs province resulted in a number of casualties.

The missile attack followed a suspected poison gas attack Saturday on the last remaining foothold for the Syrian opposition in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. At least 40 people were killed, including families found in their homes and shelters, opposition activists and local rescuers said.

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," President Donald Trump tweeted earlier Sunday. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"

Despite Trump's tweeted threat of repercussions for the suspected chemical attack, Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood said in a statement, "At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria."

The U.S. launched several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base last year after a chemical attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people. Israel also has struck inside Syria in recent years.

The suspected poison gas attack Saturday on the besieged town of Douma came almost exactly a year after the U.S. missile attack prompted by the Khan Sheikhoun deaths.

In response to the reports from Douma, Trump on Sunday blamed Syrian government forces for what he called a "mindless CHEMICAL attack." In a series of tweets, Trump held Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad's chief sponsors, responsible.

The Syrian government denied the allegations, calling them fabrications.

First responders entering apartments in Douma late Saturday said they found bodies collapsed on floors, some foaming at the mouth. The opposition's Syrian Civil Defense rescue organization said the victims appeared to have suffocated.

The developments come as Trump has moved to dramatically scale back U.S. goals in Syria, pushing for a quick military withdrawal despite resistance from many of his national security advisers. Trump has given no formal order to pull out the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria or offered a public timetable other than to say the U.S. will withdraw as soon as the remaining Islamic State fighters can be vanquished.

But Trump has signaled to his advisers that, ideally, he wants all troops out within six months.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Assad heard Trump's signal that he wanted to withdraw from Syria and, "emboldened by American inaction," launched the attack. In a statement, McCain said Trump "responded decisively" last year with the air strike and urged Trump to be forceful again to "demonstrate that Assad will pay a price for his war crimes."

Trump was briefed about Saturday's attack by his chief of staff, John Kelly, officials said. Trump's homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, noted the timing of the suspected chemical attack — almost a year to the day of the U.S. missile strikes.

"This isn't just the United States. This is one of those issues on which every nation, all peoples, have all agreed and have agreed since World War II, it's an unacceptable practice," Bossert said.

Trump was to meet with his senior military leadership today, the same day his new national security adviser, John Bolton, assumes his post. Bolton previously has advocated significant airstrikes against Syria.

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday deemed Saturday's attack a "likely chemical attack" and reiterated Trump's threat that consequences would be coming for those responsible.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the assault on innocent lives, including children," Pence tweeted. "The Assad regime & its backers MUST END their barbaric behavior."

Trump's decision to single out Putin in a tweet appeared noteworthy because Trump long has been reluctant to personally criticize the Russian leader. Even as the White House, after some delay, imposed tough new sanctions on Russia in the wake of its U.S. election meddling and suspected poisoning of a former spy on British soil, Trump left it to others in his administration to deliver the rebukes to Moscow.

Last month, Trump called Putin and, against the counsel of his advisers, congratulated the Russian president on his re-election and invited him to the White House. On Sunday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, urged Trump to "ramp up the pressure and the sanctions on the Russian government, because, without the support of Russia, I do not believe that Assad would still be in office."

Trump also invoked Iran in his series of tweets, further challenging Tehran while signaling he may scuttle its nuclear deal with the West. The president has often laid some blame on his predecessor, Barack Obama, for Assad's continued grip on power after years of civil war.

Obama said in 2012 that Syria's use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" that would change his decision-making on intervening in the war and have "enormous consequences." After such an attack in 2013 killed hundreds outside Damascus, American ships in the Mediterranean were poised to launch missiles. But Obama pulled back after key U.S. ally Britain, as well as Congress, balked.

He opted for a Russian-backed proposal that was supposed to remove and eliminate Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.

"If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!" Trump tweeted from the White House.