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TNA’s new Managing Editor Steve Berman: In his own words

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Some people are politics junkies. Others are addicted to news. I am more of a “why” kind of guy.

I grew up in a fairly non-political family. My parents were blue-collar, and I started out in a blended family. My dad was a widower with three boys, my mom was a divorcee with two girls, and together they had my brother and me. I was the baby—born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1964, when the Vietnam War was ramping up and the space race was white hot.

I don’t believe my mother ever voted for anyone but a Democrat her whole life. She’d vote a straight blue ticket, and she always voted. She divorced my dad when I was just four, and married my step-dad, Danny, when I was eleven. We moved to seacoast New Hampshire after that, where I did most of my growing up.

Although my mother, father and stepfather were all blue-collar workers, they believed in hard work and education. My dad was a tool and die maker at General Electric for 40 years. That position no longer exists—it’s been replaced by desktop CAD and numerical control machines. He used to do trigonometry in his head. My step-dad was a welder at the same GE plant, also for four decades—he ran the welding school in the marine steam turbine division.

All five of my mother’s children attended college. Of my six siblings, four graduated college, including myself. My oldest brother Roy had a degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern—he passed away last year. My brother Barry had a great career as an electrician, and eventually an inspector for the MBTA in Boston; he retired recently.

My two sisters both went to the University of Massachusetts, and my brother Jay and I graduated from the University of New Hampshire.

My mother and father were both full-blooded Jews, and ensured we had a Jewish education. My stepfather was Italian, but converted to Judaism at 50 years old to marry my mother (including the, err, anatomical bit). We were generally non-observant Jews, but I had seven years of Hebrew, which I can still read and understand.

The first presidential election I voted in was 1984. I voted for Reagan. My mom voted for Mondale, whom I couldn’t stand.

By the time I left college, I was fairly non-political (but left-leaning), very technical, and confident that I could do whatever I put my mind to. I remember Bill Clinton giving a speech literally in the field behind my condo in 1992. When the whole Gennifer Flowers thing erupted, I remember thinking “well, he’s dead.” I voted for Perot that year.

Then I moved to Central Georgia, where I observed the great lamentation and gnashing of teeth at Clinton’s election. I couldn’t understand why they so despised the man—after all he was a southerner like Jimmy Carter, right?

As I began to learn about politics and people, I realized that the “why” of ideas mattered far more than the “who” or the “team.” I began to realize that political contests are many times just popularity contests. I realized that the people we end up with in elected office, at the local, state, and federal level, are deeply flawed, and usually not the most competent person to do the job.

I learned that the biggest embedded self-interest group in America is the government itself, made up of a million people drawing paychecks funded by our taxes.

And I learned that the news we see, both online and on the boob tube, is generally presented to us in a way to influence our thinking, not to educate us to make our own decisions.

In 1995, I started a small company to sell Internet service in Warner Robins, Georgia. Less than a year later, I left my job at Robins Air Force Base to run that company full time. We started it with $52,000 in scraped-together capital, and sold it five years later for $2.5 million.

Then I spent about 15 years in various positions at a software company, incubating a payment services company, and helping to sell both to a multinational public corporation. By then, I’d had it with corporate life.

My experience with helping political campaigns, taught me it’s a dirty business filled with lots of charlatans and featherbedders, and you had to be careful to choose honest, competent people. Just like the news, just like business, just like government, it’s best to know “why” than just to blindly root for a team.

One day at my corporate job, the executive I reported to made an offhand remark that I could have another career as a writer after he read a motivational piece I wrote for my employees. So in 2014, I began pursuing that. I probably should have started in 1992.

What can I say? I’m a late bloomer.

I wrote a diary at RedState, and published on my own blog. I began writing for the local newspaper (I still do). I wrote for a year at Bizpac Review. Then I was offered the opportunity to be a featured contributor for Erick Erickson’s new website, The Resurgent. I was there the day the site debuted.

I’ve been cited by the New York Times, had pieces picked up by Fox News and RealClearPolitics, and published in The Stream.

Instead of simply cheerleading or spinning the news, I think it’s vital to know why things happen. I think it’s important to read news and trends from smaller outlets, by sometimes unknown writers.

I believe we learn more about the human condition by reading Flannery O’Connor on raising peafowl, or Adam Serwer on Robert E. Lee (Serwer is a senior political editor at The Atlantic) than the daily fare served up by the New York Times or Washington Post.

Why people believe what they believe is far more important than what some celebrity or senator thinks about the latest Trump tweets.

Of course, it’s important to keep up with news and events. Failing to do so is like putting one’s head in a gas oven that won’t heat up looking for the pilot light, while breathing in the gas.

But going deeper and to the edges of that coverage, and getting to the “whys” is the main reason I took on the responsibility of editing The New Americana. As a news aggregator, my goal is to do more than simply regurgitate the latest news and reactions, but to give that news a context and a vibrant canvass for you, the reader, to form educated and intelligent opinions.

Life is best when we know why we believe what we believe. It’s my mission at The New Americana to make it the place you go with your morning coffee and throughout the day for high quality, deep content. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy preparing it for you.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Eric Dixon

    June 8, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    This is excellent

  2. Marc

    June 8, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Hallelujah! I’ve been reading you on The Resurgent and am glad you are here.

  3. Pat Nicklaus

    June 8, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Welcome, Steve. Looking forward to reading your thoughts, rants and inspirations!

  4. Terry Hedden

    June 8, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I anticipate hearing truth without an agenda.

  5. Henry Davis

    June 9, 2017 at 5:03 am

    AMEN AMEN AMEN, Steve. You could not have hit it on the head any better. Thanks and Good Luck. Blessings will follow you.

  6. David L

    July 19, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Steve,

    I too was very pleased to find that you came on board to run the website. I’ve been a fan of your material on the Resurgent, as well as your blog. I’m the one who suggested recently, you get on the Hewitt show. I think I read that JD made some guest appearances recently too.

    I was contacted by a member of the Federalist, Tricia Morris, and had a nice chat. I mentioned to her that I could supply a steady stream of links for Information Security, as I follow them very closely. I’ve even written a few blog posts for
    https://GrahamCluley.com, and am in the list of contributors. I was invited to do so, but do to other issues, I’ve not been active lately.
    I also suggested several software solutions that leadership should use, to protect yourselves, as well as the organization.

    Anyways, thanks for all the hard work. It really shows and I hope inspires others to help spread the word.

    PS. I voted in my first presidential election in 80 for Reagan of course, I was just eligible by several months. I’ll never forget the look of astonishment on my bosses face, (he also was president of the school board) besides owning a glad shop, and was firmly a liberal. It was funny when he asked me what I thought I was doing there? Not knowing, I blurted out “peanut picker has got to go!” while standing in a long line. He promptly let me know that was a no, no, but, the cat was out of the bag ? and of course, Michigan went for Reagan in a big way. You know, Auto industry.

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News

Latest wave of terrorism can be contained, defense officials say

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Latest wave of terrorism can be contained defense officials say

Spate of drive-by shootings sparks concerns of copycat attacks, but defense officials believe phenomenon will not spread outside Samaria • As hunt for Givat Asaf killers continues, IDF official says it is “only a matter of time” before they are caught.

 Defense officials said over the weekend that the ‎latest wave of terrorist attacks can probably be ‎contained, and that while ‎copycat drive-by shooting attacks are a matter of ‎concern, it is unlikely they will spread outside ‎Samaria. ‎

Meanwhile, the hunt ‎for the terrorists who carried out ‎the shooting attack that killed two Israeli soldiers in Givat Asaf on Thursday continued ‎on Sunday.

”It’s only a matter of time before we get our hands ‎on the cell’s members,” one IDF officer said.‎

A source familiar with the operation told Israel ‎Hayom that military activity was focusing ‎on thwarting future terrorist attacks, protecting ‎Jewish settlements and roads in the region, and ‎conducting raids and arrests.‎

The recent spate of terrorist attacks has prompted ‎the IDF to increase deployment across Judea and ‎Samaria, setting up 120 roadblocks in the area. Dozens of Hamas members suspected of terrorist ‎activity were arrested across the West Bank over the ‎weekend, the IDF said. ‎

The Diplomatic-Security Cabinet was expected to ‎devote most of its meeting Sunday to the uptick in ‎Palestinian violence. ‎

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also currently the ‎acting defense minister, has ordered the IDF to ‎expedite the demolition of the homes of the ‎terrorists involved in last week’s ‎attacks, as well as step up military ‎counterterrorism activities across Judea and ‎Samaria.‎

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud ‎Abbas is slated to visit Jordan on Monday, where he ‎will discuss “recent developments in the Palestinian ‎arena” with King Abdullah. ‎

An Israeli defense official told Israel Hayom that ‎Abbas has instructed Palestinian security forces to ‎crack down on the armed factions in the West Bank to avoid further escalations. ‎

As part of these measures, Abbas’ security forces ‎barred Hamas operatives in the West Bank from ‎marking the terrorist group’s 31st anniversary over ‎the weekend. ‎

In the Gaza Strip, which Hamas ‎rules, the event was marked with mass rallies.

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China is farming cockroaches by the billions

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China is farming cockroaches by the billions

It is a bit staggering to look at the history of China and see how many people have died as a result of disasters, famine, genocide, and war over the past two millennia. To be fair, death and suffering are common elements in every nation’s history. But, China’s perpetually massive population ensures that the scale of its tragedies dwarfs that of any other nation.

There are several tragic events throughout China’s history that have a death toll which exceeds the present-day population of most countries. Famine, in particular, has claimed the lives of countless people in China, and until fairly recently, were a regular occurrence there. Nearly two centuries of back-to-back famines in China ended in 1961 with the Great Chinese Famine, which caused more people to die of starvation than are currently alive in Canada.

Much of the blame for this tragedy can be placed on the astounding level of incompetence displayed by Mao Zedong’s Communist Party. However, in the decades since then the Party has put a lot of work into ensuring famines, especially of that magnitude, never happen again. The Party has actually been incredibly successful in that regard. For people living in China’s ever-growing urban areas even small-scale malnutrition is more or less unheard of, let alone famine.

To get an idea of how much the food security in China has improved, one need only look at how much food waste is currently being generated by Chinese urban areas. The amount of waste is so extreme that there aren’t enough landfills in the entire country to dump it all in. It was only a few decades ago that these urban areas were struggling to dispose of the corpses of the millions who had starved to death, yet now they struggle to dispose of the food waste created by millions of well-fed people who have more food than they can eat. The latter is definitely the better problem to have but a problem nonetheless, and it’s only going to get worse as the average income of Chinese citizens continues to grow.

The nauseating amount of food waste in the United States shows how wasteful a society can become when it’s so wealthy that food security is something most people don’t even think about. Fortunately, wherever there’s a problem there are entrepreneurs with clever (and profitable) solutions, and this is no exception.

Li Bingcai is one such entrepreneur, and he was so confident in his clever solution that he quit his job as a mobile phone vendor and invested equivalent to nearly $150,000 into what he believes will eventually become a large profitable enterprise. His belief is well-founded too, as his solution has proven to be incredibly successful.  According to Reuters, Li plans to increase the size of his operation tenfold in the near future.

So, what exactly is this seemingly incredible solution to China’s food waste problem? Has Li developed a method of turning food waste into an efficient biofuel? Has he found a way to recycle food waste into new food products, or created a system for distributing discarded food to under served communities? Not quite.

As with most entrepreneurial success stories, Li’s solution is simple – and just strange enough that most people wouldn’t have thought of it. The solution? Farm cockroaches, millions of them, and then feed them the waste. That’s it.

Li currently operates two farms in the province of Sichuan (the namesake of the heavily meme’d McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan Sauce) in southwest China where he raises 3.4 million cockroaches. But, he plans to eventually have twenty farms. He feeds his cockroaches the food waste generated by nearby cities. Once they’ve reached the end of their life, he then sells them as feed to fisheries and pig farms. He also sells them to pharmaceutical companies where they’re used as an ingredient in medicine, both real and fake.

I am sure many of us are unfortunately very familiar with how much cockroaches love to eat our leftover food – and how much of a nuisance they can be when they invade your home. However, it’s that voraciousness that makes these pests such an effective and efficient way to dispose of food waste, and Li isn’t the only person to discover this. In fact, his operation is minuscule compared to the likes of Gooddoctor, another Sichuan-based operation, which currently raises more than 6 billion cockroaches. Meanwhile, in the Shandong province on China’s east coast, Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Co. uses cockroaches to dispose of 50 tons of kitchen waste every day. The company is planning to open three more cockroach-powered, AI-assisted food waste processing plants next year with the intention of processing a third of the kitchen waste produced by the 7 million people living in Shandong’s capital, Jinan. Just like Li, both Gooddoctor and Shandong Qiaobin sell their cockroaches as feed and medical ingredients, but even more uses for cockroaches are currently being researched.

In other countries that generate a lot of food waste, such as the United States, solutions are more focused on reducing how much food is wasted rather than finding more efficient ways to dispose of it. The problem of food waste in these countries is less of a logistical problem caused by the amount of waste, like in China, and more of a moral problem caused by wasting so much food while nearly a billion people all over the world struggle to feed themselves. The United States alone throws out 133 BILLION pounds of food each year, worth about $161 billion according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

The Trump administration is making an effort with its “Winning on Reducing Food Waste”, but there’s more that can be done. That being said, the moral situation is even worse in China, unsurprisingly.

Food waste is different in the United States and other developed nations where the vast majority of people living there are well-fed. The moral question for these nations is, “We have more food than we could ever eat, so why aren’t we sharing it with less prosperous nations?” In China, however, this isn’t the case. While the quality of life for people living in China’s cities has improved immensely, especially when it comes to food security, the prosperity of Communist China hasn’t exactly been spread equally, and its rural population has been left behind. The numbers vary from province to province, but there are currently tens of millions of people in China who are struggling to feed their families, and malnutrition is fairly common in these areas.

So shouldn’t the moral question for China be, “Our fellow countrymen are starving, so why are we feeding our excess food to cockroaches?”

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Guardian headline omitting ‘terrorists’ sparks outrage in Israel

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Guardian headline omitting terrorists sparks outrage in Israel

Website of Britain’s left-wing Guardian paper says “Israelis and Palestinians killed in West Bank violence” without stating that the Palestinians were terrorist gunmen who deliberately targeted Israelis • Israel is fighting back against biased coverage.

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