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The EARS WA4IWLetter

MAY 2000


Accompanied by the TARC Vice President Jim Frey, W8ISZ, I attended the first Annual West Central Florida Section Club President's Conference 06 May up in St. Petersburg. Presidents/representatives from clubs in 9 of the 10 WCF counties were there, and it was an informative workshop. Jim and I agreed that the WCF officers are really dedicated to making WCF a great section. How these guys can find the time for all that they've done and all they plan to accomplish is truly amazing!

We learned that the ARRL is bringing its "Big Project" into fruition. This project involves corporate sponsorship, from the "biggies" such as MicroSoft, to spread the word about amateur radio into schools around the country. Typically, the thrust is in ham radio modes that emphasize the visual relationships between radios and computers, such as APRS, SSTV, RTTY, PSK31 and Packet. This has apparently been successfully tried on a small, pilot scale at selected schools. No argument but that we sorely need young people in our hobby, and this seems like a much more up-to-date approach than "Archie" comic books could ever be. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP , is on the right track to breath new life into the organization.

WCF officers seek to establish a Speakers Bureau that would make knowledgeable "live entertainment" available to radio clubs in the section, AND speakers who could spread the word about ham radio to clubs or functions not involved in our hobby. Let me know if you have both the hankering and ability to give such a presentation. It was asked that each club have a Public Information Officer who, obviously, would keep the community informed of the activities of the local club. Any volunteers for that opportunity to assist in publicizing EARS to the local residents?

Means to increase club membership were discussed One club gives a free one-year membership to every non-member who gains a new license or upgrade at one of their VE sessions. I picked up a neat, compact folder that attractively describes the background and activities and invites anyone to the Gulf Coast ARC up in New Port Richey. Either, or both, of these could prove effective in our search for new members.

Speaking of membership, if any of you non-ARRL members should decide to join the national organization, do it through EARS as our club will receive a $5 rebate on new ARRL members. We receive a $2 rebate on ARRL renewals done through the club, but that $5 offer is even more attractive!

An Official Observer program will be up an running full scale throughout the WCF within a few weeks. It was emphasized that the OOs do not intend to act as "police", but that their goal is to assist operators in complying with Part 97 regulations. OOs hope to notify operators of irregularities before those "irregularities" come to the attention of the FCC. It was noted that the WCF OO Program has the full support of the Tampa FCC Field Engineers if need be.

How many of you have "visited" the WCF Internet site? How many of you knew there was such a site? Having the wherewithal, you just might find it worth your time to take a look. The intent of that site is to broaden the communications links within the WCF. Try http://www.wcfarrl.org and see what you think.

Have the efforts of the WCF officers been worthwhile? Well, we learned that movement is stirring for an East Central Florida Section. How 'bout that!

73 de Jack, W4JS


The next EARS meeting will be held 19 May at the Englewood United Methodist Church, 700 East Dearborn St. Officers' meeting will be held in the church's library at 6 pm. The business meeting will start at 7:30 pm in Room 400. The program will be a show-ing of slides taken by Jack, W4JS, highlighting some of his travels in Jakarta/West Java, Cairo/Aswan/Sinai and Bataan/Corregidor.


The formal EARS weekly net has closed down after a problematic session 14 April. Net Controls Don, KD9SJ, and Don, WA4IWL, were frustrated by a recalcitrant repeater that could only hear "south of the border". At 7:30 PM Friday, an informal roundtable session, open to anyone interested, now holds forth on the WB0GUX Repeater, 146.700 (-). That activity will prevail until further testing of the K8ONV Repeater has been finalized.

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Minutes of the Meeting

April 21, 2000

President Jack Sproat, W4JS, called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm with the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. There was one guest present; John Harsock, K3HXC, from Venice.

Introductions of all attendees followed. There were no new members present, and no new upgrades. Ken Anderson, W4JQT, made a motion to forego reading of the minutes of last month's meeting, provided a correction was made to the minutes, correcting the callsign of guest Bob Moore to N2RM. Seconded by Bruce Robideau, K2OY. Motion carried.

Al Parmentier, KF4JIL, gave the Treasurer's Report. Our balance for the month barely changed. Income for the month was $69, expenses were $63, for a net gain of $6. Balance on hand was $5060.79. A motion to accept the Treasurer's Report was made, seconded and carried.

Correspondence for the month included a letter from Lemon Bay High School requesting our support for "Project Graduation". The club has supported this activity in the past, as it promotes a safe and alcohol free graduation for the Seniors. A motion was made for the club to donate $100 to the project. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.


Jack, W4JS, informed the members that Al Parmentier, KF4JIL, had resigned as Treasurer but he will continue to serve as Circulation Manager for the newsletter. Under the rules of our Bylaws, the president has the right to fill vacancies for the term remaining, subject to approval and ratification of the members. Jack has prevailed on our former Treasurer, Howard White, KD4MMY, to fill the remaining term. A vote was called for, seconded and passed unanimously, confirming Howard's appointment.

The President also reported that Don Spencer, WA4IWL, has resigned as Net Manager, and asked for a volunteer for that position. George Shreve, KA4JKY, stated that he would take that position while he was here during the winter months.


SUNSHINE - No report; it seems as though everyone is healthy, but if you know of any member who should be sent a card, please let Gene or Marcia Fowler know of the situation. Their number is 475-3299.

TRAINING - No reports.

TESTING - At the April 15 session, five Amateur Extra and five General Class licenses were awarded. Remember that we have test sessions the third Saturday of each month by appointment only.

EOC - Frank Maren, W4VV, reported that meetings are held at the Charlotte County Administration Building on San Casa Drive the last Thursday of every month at 9AM. Members should plan to attend and get some hands-on experience with the equipment. Plans are under way and equipment is on order to establish a new transmission site at Fire Station No. 4 in Rotonda.


NEW BUSINESS - Jack, W4JS, commented on the problems experienced with the K8ONV repeater the night of the 14 April net. Consequently, it was agreed that we would return to the WB0GUX, 146.70(-) repeater with an informal round table until the "bugs" are worked out of the K8ONV repeater.

A motion to adjourn at 8:30 PM was made, seconded and carried. There were 30 members and one guest present at the meeting.

PROGRAM - Keith Herve, WL7CKY, presented an interesting talk on how cellular phone operate.

Vic Emmelkamp, KF4VHX



The EARS VE Team offers ARRL VEC license exams at 9:30 am the 3rd Saturday of each month at the Chamber of Commerce building, 601 South Indiana Avenue, Englewood. Two-day advance reservation is required--no walk-ins.

Candidates must bring:

(1) Original license and a copy of that license.

(2) Original CSCE's and a copy of each CSCE.

(3) FCC Licensee ID No. or Social Security card.

(4) Two forms of identification.

(5) A check in the amount of $6.65 payable to "ARRL VEC", or cash in the above amount.

For further information and reservation, contact Jack Sproat, W4JS, at 475-1929


The April EARS VE session fell on the "magic date" of 15 April, when the new FCC regs went into effect. Ten applicants showed up to trade in their "exam" CSCEs or proof of prior licensing for "instant privileges" CSCEs. EARS members George Shreve, KA4JKY; Jerry Meckenberg, K2JWE; Larry Yacobelli, W4ERN; returning EARS member Mario Mazzarella, KU4BA, and Hal Cole, KA1IKO, from Nokomis, received Amateur Extra CSCEs. EARS members Marcia Fowler, KA1GCV; Bob Benkovich, KF4YOW; Al Parmentier, KF4JIL; George Kelce, K0DGF, and Art Komarek, WB9VQD, received General Class CSCEs. We hope that they're all now making use of their new or expanded HF privileges!!

-- "RYE" WIT --

"Do radios have brothers?" "No, they only have transisters."

"What must you know to teach a dog tricks?" "More than the dog." (Wit and Witticism, National Federation of the Blind, 1997)

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03 June Ft. McCoy ARC Hamfest at Ft. McCoy Community Center. TI: 147.380 (Tone 123.0), Info: Tom, W4BTB (352)526-2448 (From April 2000 CyberSKIP Digest)


Remember, there are two easy ways by which EARS members can provide financial assistance to the club.

o ARRL Membership Renewal - When you get your notice to renew your ARRL membership, submit your renewal and a check payable to EARS to the Treasurer. EARS will submit payment to ARRL, from which the club receives a $2 rebate. Only about one-fifth of our ARRL members now renew in this manner. Can we make it 100 percent?

o EARS Booster Fund - Some time back "Boost-EARS" notices were in the newsletter whenever someone contributed to the EARS Booster Fund. Those contributions can be either in cash or as equipment which has resale value on the current market. Any Boost-EARS out there?


Access to the ARRL Web site was disrupted 24 April by an unknown cyber-vandal. Anyone trying to access the ARRL site was shunted to another site, apparently in Canada, and greeted by an obscene message and the comment "Pirate radio for life, baby".

The ARRL's "arrl.org" domain name was illegally modified at Network Solutions--which registers domain sites--and redirected to the bogus site. Network Solutions was notified of the illegal change and they replaced the correct settings.

The site was not "hacked" fortunately, such that no files were lost and the ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service wasn't affected.

(From ARRL Letter distribution list, 25 April 2000)


145.130 (-) WB4NJV SERC/Venice

146.700 (-) WB0GUX Englewood (T)

146.730 (-) WB4NJV Sarasota ERC (A)

146.745 (-) K4IB Charlotte Co. CD

146.775 (-) K0DGF Englewood (T)

146.865 (-) K8ONV Englewood

146.910 (-) W4IE Sarasota ARA (A)

146.925 (-) WA9NLA Pt. Charlotte

147.015 (+) WB9JTK Pt. Charlotte

147.255 (+) WA3DUX Peace River

444.625 (+5 mc) K0DGF Englewood (T)

444.700 (+5 mc) WA4ISB Venice

(T) = 77 Hz PL tone (A) = Autopatch


The big rush for upgrading on 15 April, when the new license structure became effective has slowed the license processing significantly. The ARRL/VEC hired on extra help in an effort to handle the mass of paperwork. The ARRL/VEC had some 250 sessions registered for 15 April, with some sessions anticipating as many as 135 attendees. Some 300 new license upgrades were issued in the West Central Florida Section. Therefore, those now enjoying privileges with new CSCEs had better sit tight for a month or so, until the FCC can finalize processing and get the new tickets into the mail. (From The ARRL Letter, Vol 19, No 16)

In all of 1999 there were about 2500 General Class upgrades and 2000 upgraded to Extra Class. Based on study materials sold prior to 15 April, one guess is that more than 15,000 hams will upgrade under the new regulations. (From 01 May 2000 W5YI Report)


The FCC reports many newly minted General class licensees are asking if they can operate in the Advanced class subbands now that the new rules are in force and there are no new Advanced class licenses being issued. The answer is "Absolutely Not!"

Bill Cross, W3TN, of the FCC's Public Safety and Private Wireless Division stated that "No privileges changed for any license class". Advanced class privileges still exist for holders of Advanced and Amateur Extra class licenses only. If Generals wish to operate beyond the limits of the General subbands, they must now upgrade to Amateur Extra.

Also of note, General class operators may hold only Group C (1x3) or Group D (2x3) callsigns, as it was under the old rules. Generals are not entitled to apply for or hold Group B (2x2) callsigns under the new rules. To apply for upgraded VE privileges or for a vanity callsign reflecting their new license status, a licensee must first have been issued an upgraded license grant by the FCC. Interim privileges conveyed by a CSCE are insufficient for those purposes. (From ARRL Letter, Vol 19, No.16)


Over in Delray Beach, FL, KR4GR was cited for broadcasting, transmitting music, failure to identify and obscenities on the 75-meter band. (From 01 May 2000 W5YI Report)


FOR SALE: Alpha 91-B 1500-watt linear amplifier. Asking $2000, which is well below original cost. Call Dick Dean, N4RD, at 475-2697.

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Amateur Radio callsign license plates have been available to Florida hams since the 1950s, however, if you haven't gotten one already you may miss your chance. The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles has already assigned the following Specialty License Plate "prefixes" to the following groups:

Prefix Group

AA-AM, followed by 0-9 Barry University

K0-K9 Orlando Magic

KA-KZ, followed by 0-9 Keep Kids Drug Free

N0-N9 Univ. of North Florida

NA-NZ, followed by 0-9 Large Mouth Bass

W0-W9 Univ. of West Florida Only the group WA-WZ, followed by 0 through 9 remains blocked out for amateur radio plates.

Hams that already have callsign plates are safe, however, those that do not can only get one if their callsign hasn't already been printed on a Specialty License Plate. If you're in the latter category, take the time to write your State Senator and Representative and tell them your feelings on the issue. For your Senator's name, go to: www.leg.state.fl.us/citizen/findleg/senate/counties/ index.htm l. For your Representative, go to: www.leg. state.fl.us/house/members/memcounty.html .

(From WCF Bulletin 9 April 28, 2000)


Say you have a new car or pickup truck and you want to install a HF transceiver. You know you would have to run the power cables directly to the vehicle battery, but you don't want to drill a hole in the firewall. An alternative is to install an extra battery in the back seat or bed of the vehicle. This works well if some precautions are taken.

After running power cables from that battery to the transceiver, you will most likely experience some RF distortion on the received and transmit signals. The best way to remedy this feedback is to run a #12 or 10 stranded wire from the negative terminal of the battery to the frame of the vehicle. This will stop the feedback.

If you want to keep the rear battery charged up during motion, run a power cord from the vehicle's cigar lighter to the rear battery terminals. Use Radio Shack part number 270-1523 and 270-1527 for this purpose. As there's no reverse current relay in the circuit, you will have to pull the cord from the lighter socket when the vehicle is not in motion; otherwise the rear battery could run down the vehicle battery. (From "Suppressing RF Feadback in a Mobile Unit", Glen Kessinger, W4AUN, The Experimenter, The Official Technical Newsletter of the ARRL West Central Florida Section, Issue #1 - May/June 2000)


Last August a few of the EARS members participated in the International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend, operating from the Boca Grande Lighthouse on the south tip of Gasparilla Island. A good time, albeit a bit wet and windy, was had by all and the QSL requests poured in--not only for the lighthouse but also for the rather rare IOTA QSO.

This year the "weekend" will fall on 19 - 20 August. Forty stations in eleven countries have already confirmed participation in this year's event. Those who intend to operate from a lighthouse, lightship or maritime light are invited to send the details to Mike Dalrymple, GM4SUC, who has been masterminding this event. EARS/K8ONV will be added to that list in the near future. (Thanks to Bruce, K2OY, for the info.)

-- PSK31 UPDATE --

(Ed note: A glance at the Packet Cluster just about any time will show DX operating in the PSK31 mode. In a year's time PSK31 has enjoyed widespread use around the world. Steve Ford, WB8IMY, brings us up-to-date in his article "PSK31 2000" in the May 2000 QST. Highlights are presented in the following.)

Despite QSB, QRN and a signal too weak to hear, the PSK31 text flowed across the computer monitor. Such are the advantages of this digital mode which has gathered a devoted following with astonishing speed. In the past year a lot has happened and there's more to come.

Peter Martinez, G3PLX, developed the PSK31 software which could run on a 486-100 computer--considered "out-of-date" these days. Peter's current Version 1.08 is available at the "official" PSK31 Internet site of: http://aintel.bi.ehu.es/psk31 .html. A type-ahead buffer was added by Al Williams, WD5GNR, in his program at http://www.al-williams.com/wd5gnr /pskgnr.htm. Al's program will only work with Windows 95, 98 or NT.

Bob Furzer, K4CY, brought out a stand-alone PSK31 package with his Logger. It's available for downloading at: http://www.mv.com/ipusers/innermedia/logger/ LoggerFul lRelease7.02.exe. With PSK31 contests coming along, it was inevitable that someone would add PSK31 capability to a digital contesting package. Wayne Wright, W5XD, did just that to his WriteLog software. See it at http:// www.contesting.com/writelog/.

DigiPan is a new program that makes PSK31 tuning much easier and less precise, by displaying a spectrum of all the signals heard. You click your cursor on the signal chosen and text starts to appear. Download it at: http:// members.home.com/hteller/digipan/.

Common PSK31 frequencies are 14.070, 28.120, 10.140, 3.580 and 3.610.

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Contest/Special Event Times/Dates Bands/Modes QSO With Exchange
CQ-M International DX

Contest (Russian)

2100 GMT 13 May

2100 GMT 14 May

160 - 10 Meters


Anyone, Anywhere R/S/(T) + Serial Number
Nevada QSO Party 0000 GMT 13 May

0600 GMT 14 May

160 - 6 Meters


Nevada Stations Only R/S/(T) + State
Oregon QSO Party 1400 GMT 13 May

0400 GMT 14 May

160 - 10 Meters


Oregon Stations Only R/S/(T) + State
A. Volta RTTY Contest 1200 GMT 13 May

1200 GMT 14 May

80 - 10 Meters


Anyone, Anywhere R/S/T, Serial # and CQ Zone
Armed Forces Day 1200 GMT 13 May

1300 GMT 14 May

80 - 10 Meters


U. S. Military MARS Stations R/S/(T) + QTH
CQWW WPX Contest 0000 GMT 27 May

2400 GMT 28 May

160 - 10 Meters

CW Only

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/T + Serial Number
Memorial Day CW Sprint 2300 GMT 29 May

0300 GMT 30 May

160 - 6 Meters

CW Only

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/T, State and Power Out

From May 2000 Worldradio, May 2000 CQ and May 2000 QST.


Plans are starting to fall into place for EARS participation in the 2000 ARRL Field Day, 24-25 June. The Contact Person for this year's Field Day is Jim Hanushek, N4JBZ. Call Jim in the evenings at 475-5811 or via e-mail at jimbo@ewol.com if you can help set up, operate, take down or "do anything".


While the 50th Anniversary of Armed Forces Day will be celebrated 20 May, to avoid conflict with Dayton's Hamvention, U. S. Military MARS stations will be active the weekend of 13-14 May. This annual event features the traditional military-to-amateur crossband communications and message receiving test.

Military-to-amateur crossband QSOs will include SSB and the digital modes RTTY, PACTOR, AMTOR, GTOR and CLOVER. Participating Military stations will transmit on selected MARS frequencies and listen on designated Amateur frequencies. (This is good practice in using "split" and, sometimes, the Military station will transmit on upper sideband and listen on lower sideband--which takes a bit of thought/action.) Among the stations participating are WAR from Ft. Detrick, MD, AIR from Andrews AFB, NAV from the Navy/Marine Corps HQ MARS station in DC, and NMH from the USCG T&IS Command in VA. Further details and Military frequencies can be found on pg. 66 of the May 2000 QST.

Last year's Armed Forces Day crossband activity was the final one for a number of MARS stations as bases are being closed nationwide. Join in this annual activity to show your support of our Military, and while there's still the opportunity.


"Contesting" editor John Dorr, K1RA, has an interesting article (" Poor Man's Contesting") in the May 2000 CQ. This article is a follow-up to his March article that posed the question "Is serious contesting limited to the rich and famous?" That query resulted in a number of responses, generally inquiring as to what degree of contesting a ham could do on a limited budget.

If John Q. Ham had the proper real estate and the financial wherewithal, to go out and build a large contest station from scratch would probably cost at least $100,000. We're looking at 10 top-of-the-line transceivers, 10 full-bore amplifiers, 500' of Rohn 45, some 10,000' of RG213, computers, hardware and fittings. Of course a new room might have to be added to the house, or a separate ham shack built and furnished. OK, so some guys may be able to do that but, in reality, virtually all big contest stations have been built up over the years through gradual acquisition of equipment.

What are the options for a basic, barefoot station to be competitive in a contest? First off, by staying in the "low-power" category in the appropriate contests, that station is only competing against other low power stations. That's an advantage over a "high-power" station of 400 watts competing against a 1500-watt station in the same category. Another invaluable tool is the use of the DX Packet Cluster spotting network. Even though they're busy "tuning and pouncing" many contesters will post good DX or other multipliers on the Cluster. If your landscaping is cooperative, perhaps you can install wire beams in the trees. Another option is phased verticals, either free-standing or hanging in those trees. Operator attitude is another important factor. Don't get discouraged--hang on until you get that QSO!

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(Band/GMT for best chance of S5 or better signal)



BEARING 80 40 20 17 15 12 10
Macquarie Is - VK0MM

East Timor - 4W by many ops

Jan Mayen - JX7DFA

Chad - TT8JLB

Mayotte - FH/TU5AX

Bhutan - A52A

Willis Is - VK9WI

Wallis Is - FW/G3TXF & G3SXW

Mongolia - JT1Y/JU1Y

Now Active

Now Active

Now Active???

Now to 01 July

Now to 20 Aug

Now to 12 May

12 - 22 May

11 - 23 May

22 May - 06 June









































































Updated 07 May 2000, based on 08 May 2000 QRZ DX and 05 May 2000 The 59(9) DX Report.

Notes: NO = No opening forecast. ??? = Callsign not yet known. Long path bearings and opening times (if any) are underlined.

Solar Flux assumed at 185 and F-Index at 2 for all forecasts.


With only 4 days notice, four German DXers brought joy to the Deserving from 17-25 April when they put 7O1YGF on from Sanaa, Yemen. Yemen ranked as the 4th most Needed Country on the 1999 ARRL Hot 100 List. While they often seemed to favor bands lacking propagation to SW Florida, and they preferred Morse to Phone, all the local Deserving DXers managed a QSO with them Phone QSLs are via DK9KX and Morse QSLs are via DJ3XD. However, on 28 April it was reported there may have been a misunderstanding in their license. Stay tuned! (From 24 April QRZ DX, 21 April The 59(9) DXReport and 28 April Daily DX)

The much-anticipated operation from Bhutan was activated when A52A fired up 02 May. Bhutan ranked as the 2nd most Needed Country. With a permitted output of only 120 watts, their signals haven't been thundering into SW Florida, however, the local Deserving again have managed a QSO or two. This 15-operator/7-station junket ends 12 May. QSL to W0GJ (From 08 May QRZ DX and 05 May The 59(9) DXReport)


The TX0DX/Chesterfield Islands operation from 23-29 March gave out 72,654 QSOs on a "WFWL" (work first, worry later) basis. While French Navy charts and satellite photos indicated there was the required 350 km open-water separation from New Caledonia, some older charts showed an intervening reef. Enroute to the Chesterfields, with the use of GPS equipment the TX0DX team determined that the sea was at least 60' deep where the reefs were supposed to exist.

Both the ARRL DX Advisory Committee and the ARRL Awards Committee subsequently voted to add the Chesterfield Islands of New Caledonia to the DXCC list. Contacts made on and after 23 March 2000 are acceptable. Cards may be submitted after 01 October. (From ARRL DX Bulletin 16, April 14, 2000)


April's Solar Flux averaged 184.3, with the A-index being < 10 for 14 days. Neither SF values nor propagation were up to those of March. However, Cycle 23 is marching on, with a prediction that it will peak in mid-year with a smoothed sunspot number between 130 and 140. This will be slightly better than Cycle 20's maximum SSN of 110 (November 1968). January's mean SSN was 90.2 and a SSN of 111 is forecast for May.

The April propagation forecast ("Propagation" by George Jacobs, W3ASK, May 2000 CQ) follows:

During the daylight hours from just after sunrise through sunset, expect DX propagation to most areas of the world on 10 through 20 meters. For 2 to 3 hours after sunrise 20 meters should be optimum. Fifteen and 17 meters should be the best from late morning to early afternoon. During the late afternoon all five bands would be at their best for DX propagation.

From sundown to midnight, 20 meters is expected to be the optimum DX band with strong signal openings to most areas of the world. Good DX openings are also expected on 15 and 17 meters towards the northerly, westerly and southerly directions, with 30, 40 and 80 open in the opposite quadrants.

From midnight to sunrise, 20 to 40 will be the top performers with some good 80-meter openings still possible. High static and longer daylight hours reduce the potential for long-haul 160-meter openings..

Probable best DX days for remainder of month: 22 and 27 May should be "Above Normal"; 12, 21-22 and 23 May should be "High Normal".

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You noted that the "President's Message" was non-controversial--somewhat unusual for this old "activist". I devoted that space to show my heart-felt support for the guys and gals who are making something happen here in the West Central Florida Section. Their efforts are positive, but elsewhere negative actions are occurring which I just can't ignore.

We must keep in mind that Amateur Radio operates under a set of laws. In fact, all of our activities, such as driving our cars, flying an airplane, fishing, hunting, mailing letters and paying for goods where we shop also function under sets of laws. It is written in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution that we shall enjoy basic freedoms as long as we abide by such laws. Reciprocity therefore exists, of personal freedom in turn for respect for us by the governments for our obedience to them.

However, of late the executive branch of the government has been ignoring any semblance of respect for those who stand in its way. Take the case of blackmailing Smith & Wesson. In late January lawyers from the executive branch gave the CEO of S&W a list of gun-control demands. Agree to this or a class-action suit would be filed on behalf of thousands of federally subsidized housing projects. After two months, S&W capitulated rather than be drawn into bankruptcy. Note that this was not the judicial branch of the government or the legislative branch, which has sole authority to make all laws in this country. No president has the constitutional right to confiscate property which is legal to manufacture and sell. But a dictator does.

Last Thanksgiving, Americans cheered when a 6-year-old boy was fished from the waters offshore of Miami. His mother, her boyfriend and both the boy friend's parents had drowned when their homemade aluminum boat swamped during their escape from communist Cuba. Elian Gonzalez captured the hearts of all. As soon as Elian was released from the hospital, he was paroled by the INS into the care of his great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez in Miami. One typical news story dated 30 November 1999 stated "U.S. government officials said yesterday they will not intervene in deciding whether 5-year-old Elian Gonzalez ... should rejoin his father in Cuba or remain with relatives in Florida--a question they said can be answered only in state courts." Such a ruling came from the Miami-Dade Circuit Court, on the basis that Elian's return to Cuba would cause him "imminent harm".

Congress had passed a law stating, in part, that "Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States....irrespective of such alien's status, may apply for asylum". Elian's relatives in Miami followed the legal procedures in filing for such asylum. All in accordance with the law.

But Fidel Castro started making noises down Havana-way. Elian's father, one Juan Miguel Gonzalez, was located. As the New York Times put it, "if Castro had chosen for one to champion his crusade, he could not have done better than Juan Miguel. The Times also reported that Elian is Juan Miguel's illegitimate child. Juan Miguel was not married to Elian's mother when Elian was born. He was not married to her when Elian was conceived. Elian's parents were divorced in May 1991; Elian was born 06 December 1993.

In America a father's rights to visitation privileges--much less custody--with an illegitimate child remains a highly contentious and chronically litigated matter.

Regardless, on 12 April 2000, the INS suddenly revoked Elian's parole to his great-uncle. Lazaro had not violated any law to that point, and violated none afterwards. He did appeal the pending deportation of Elian and on 19 April, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that Elian's request for asylum would be heard on 11 May.

Elian's case is not without precedence. In the early 1980s, a young Russian named Walter Polovchak defected when his parents decided to return to the USSR. A legal battle ensued, the parents returned to the USSR, Walter stayed, and lives still in the USA. A "father's care" was not deemed necessary or pertinent to the ultimate decision in that case.

Before dawn on 22 April, between Christianity's holiest days of Good Friday and Easter, a scenario not unlike something from a WW II movie occurred over in Miami. While telephone negotiations were at the verge of agreement, armed INS stormtroopers broke down the door of a law-abiding family's home and kidnapped the 6-year-old child. Amendment IV of our Constitution states that "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...." The INS claims an "arrest warrant" had been issued for Lazaro Gonzalez, yet they kidnapped Elian.

Elian was flown to Andrews AFB outside Washington, DC. Cuban officials have had free passage onto the base, but no Americans have had that privilege. Elian has been denied legal counsel, in violation of Amendment VI of the Constitution, which states that all shall "have the assistance of counsel..." In contrast, Cuba's constitution says in part that parents' rights exist only "as long as their influence does not go against the political objectives of the state". That translates to mean that the state owns the children.

Of what value are laws that are ignored by those who initiated them, and who should uphold them? How can we place any trust in such individuals or institutions?

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