DIPSHIDIOT DO AS I SAY NOT DO

DIPSHIDIOT DO AS I SAY NOT DO

A server filmed a viral video of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts maskless. Then she was fired.

DIPSHIDIOT DO AS I SAY NOT DO NEBRASKA GOVERNOR

A server filmed a viral video of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts maskless. Then she was fired.

If she hadn’t picked up the dinner shift for a co-worker who had contracted the coronavirus, Karina Montanez would not have seen Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) posing maskless for photos and cradling a baby at a sports bar on election night.

When the 25-year-old server saw the governor remove his mask in the back of DJ’s Dugout, an Omaha-area restaurant, to talk and take photos with other maskless people, she pulled out her phone and started filming.

“Hey, Pete, where’s your mask? Where’s your mask, Pete?” Montanez said in a Snapchat video she later posted to Twitter. “What are you doing, Pete? We’re in a pandemic, Pete.”

HERE IS THE VIDEO

The video went viral this week, leaving critics slamming Ricketts for refusing to issue a mask mandate in the state as coronavirus cases surge. But Montanez faced her own blowback: She was fired on Tuesday from the bar, for violating the company’s social media and cellphone policy, according to the owner.

Montanez told The Washington Post she felt she had no choice but to film Ricketts when she saw him taking off his mask and not practicing social distancing.

“It was a slap in the face,” Montanez said. “You’re supposed to be taking care of us and you’re out here acting like a celebrity, while people are fighting for their lives and are in hospitals dying right now.”

Taylor Gage, a spokesman for the governor’s office, told KPTM Ricketts had only removed his mask for photos and while eating, noting “the state does not require people to wear masks when seated in bars or restaurants.”

RICKETTS TYPICALLY DENIED ANY WRONG DOING

Addressing the video at a news conference on Tuesday, Ricketts also denied he had flouted any coronavirus guidelines.

“Oftentimes when I’m taking a picture, depending on the preference of the person taking the picture, I’ll remove my mask to take the picture and put it back on when the picture ends,” Ricketts said, according to the Daily Beast.

The episode comes as Nebraska, like the rest of the nation, is in the midst of the most devastating period of the pandemic. There have been nearly 14,000 new cases in Nebraska in the past week, an increase of 14 percent, according to The Post’s coronavirus tracker. Almost 1,000 people are hospitalized for the virus, setting a state record for hospitalizations. There have also been 90 new deaths over the past seven days, a 63 percent spike in covid-19 fatalities in the state — one of the highest in the United States.

But like other GOP governors, Ricketts has resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate. On Tuesday, he maintained a mask mandate was inappropriate and would “breed resistance” as he urged people to voluntarily wear a face covering.

NO ONE IN GROUP WEARING MASK

In the 17-second video shot on Nov. 3, a maskless Ricketts is shown talking and laughing among a group of about 10 people, only one of whom appears to be wearing a mask, at the restaurant in Bellevue, Neb. Ricketts was attending an election-night party for state Senator-elect Rita Sanders (R), according to the Lincoln Journal Star. The governor is also shown being handed a baby.

Montanez, a single mother with fibromyalgia, said she’s fearful of contracting the virus and was horrified at the governor’s behavior.

Montanez said she was surprised when her video suddenly blew up nearly two weeks later. Democratic state Sen. Megan Hunt drew more attention to the scene on Tuesday when she posted a photo of Ricketts that night at DJ’s with more than 20 people bunched together to celebrate Sanders’s win.

Not long after that post, Montanez said she got a call at around 4 p.m. from her boss. When Montanez heard him say the words, “your Ricketts video on Twitter,” she stopped him midsentence and guessed she had been fired, which turned out to be correct.

EMPLOYEE FIRED FOR TAKING VIDEO

In a statement to KPTM, DJ’s Dugout CEO Sunni Renner said Montanez was fired because “the employee recently posted a video to social media, which was taken while that employee was actively on duty for DJ’s Dugout and constitutes a violation of DJ’s Dugout’s written social media and cellphone policies.”

Montanez is now left scrambling to figure out how to provide for her 4-year-old daughter, Mila, and where she can find work in a pandemic to help pay for her return to school in two weeks to study psychology. Democratic state Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue has reached out to help the single mother find legal assistance or any additional help, the Journal Star reported.

Montanez said she has been encouraged by the kind words of many who have offered help in the aftermath of a video she initially thought would not rise past the level of “funny troll” status.

“If you see something wrong, you have to stand up for yourself,” she said.

DAWG SAYS: I TAKE IT WHISTLEBLOWERS ARE ONLY PROTECTED WHEN IT FITS A NARRATIVE


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LARGE LIZARDS TAKING OVER FLORIDA GLADES

LARGE LIZARDS TAKING OVER FLORIDA GLADES


This dog-size lizard is spreading through the southeastern U.S.
Argentine tegus are breeding in multiple states after escape or release from captivity; biologists are concerned since they’re voracious omnivores

LARGE LIZARDS TAKING OVER FLORIDA GLADES

Deep in the Everglades, a voracious invader with attractive spotted scales is taking over. The Argentine black-and-white tegu, a large lizard that can grow up to four feet in length, has already proliferated widely throughout South Florida. But it’s not stopping there. These invaders have started popping up throughout the southeastern United States, posing a potential threat to native species and farmers.

The creatures, native to South America, are omnivorous, eating just about anything with nutritional value they can fit in their mouth. They’ll chomp on the eggs of ground-nesting animals such as birds and reptiles, including endangered sea turtles. They’ll snack on doves and other small animals. They’ll snag strawberries and other fruits and vegetables that grow low to the ground.

Native range of the black-and-white tegu
(Salvator meriana

And they’re extremely hardy, making their spread difficult to control or reduce once the species becomes established.

While tegus have been breeding in South Florida for more than a decade—after escaping captivity or being released by pet owners—they’ve only recently spread to at least two counties in Georgia. And during the past few months, the reptiles have been spotted in four counties in South Carolina, where biologists suspect they may be reproducing as well. There have also been isolated reports of their presence in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, as well as established populations in Central Florida and the state’s panhandle.

THEY CAN MAKE GOOD PETS BUT END UP RELEASED

For those who like to keep exotic animals, intelligent and docile tegus make for sought-after pets. Most in the U.S. are the product of American breeders, but between 2000 and 2010 alone, more than 79,000 live tegus were imported from South America, says Amy Yackel Adams, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey studying the animal. While only a tiny minority of the animals escape or are released, biologists believe the problem is worsening.

If many more animals are released, “there is the potential for a very large population in the wild,” Adams says.

A 2018 study conducted by the USGS used information about tegus in South America to predict their possible expansion in the U.S. According to Adams, “the entire southeast portion of the United States is at risk. Much of this area has a climate that is suitable for tegus.” As of yet, there are no official estimates of how many tegus live in the U.S.

Tegus do best in upland forests and grasslands, especially in areas that receive substantial seasonal rain, such as Florida’s hardwood and subtropical pine forests. As climate change causes tropical and subtropical climatological zones to shift north, the range suitable for tegus in North America may also widen, Adams says.

VERACIOUS EATER OF OTHER CRITTERS EGGS

Researchers are most concerned about tegus’ predatory, egg-eating habits. In Venezuela, they’re known for sneaking into chicken coops to steal eggs, earning them the name el lobo pollero, “the chicken wolf.” U.S. poultry farmers should be on guard.

If tegus continue to disperse across the Southeast, Adams says, they could threaten many animals that nest or live on the ground, including the Eastern indigo snake, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Adams also worries that they might eat the eggs of gopher turtles—another threatened species—American alligators, American crocodiles, and more.

Can they be stopped?

Tegus are hardy, able to withstand colder temperatures than some other reptiles because they can elevate their body temperature as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit above the ambient temperature. If it gets too frigid in winter, they can bromate, the reptile version of hibernation, becoming sluggish and hiding out in burrows they’ve stolen from gopher tortoises or other burrowing animals.

They can recover quickly from threats, such as hunting. “In the 1980s, the tegu was the most exploited reptile in the world,” says Lee Fitzgerald, a professor of zoology at Texas A&M University. During that time, some two million tegu skins were exported from Argentina each year for the leather trade. “Yet nowhere were they hunted to local extirpation,” Fitzgerald says.

To curb tegus’ entrenchments and further spread in the U.S., wildlife officials and others in states where tegus have taken hold are searching for solutions.

WILDLFE OFFICIALS HAVE TRAPPED HUNDREDS

This year alone in South Florida, traps set by the USGS captured more than 900 tegus near Everglades National Park. But according to Adams, there’s no sign of a decline in tegu numbers in the area. Before they can revise their plans for tegu removal, the USGS needs to understand the group living down in the glades. To do this, they have radio-tagged the lizards and are tracking their habits.

In Georgia, state biologists have been working to trap tegus in Toombs and Tattnall Counties, west of Savannah, and report that they’re finding fewer of the animals. Daniel Sollenberger, a herpetologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, says the state may have caught the tegu problem in time.

“We’ve been trapping them for a couple of years now,” Sollenberger says. “We brought in around a dozen last year and about a half a dozen this year. It could be that there are fewer of them now, at least in that location.”

Part of the solution in Georgia has been to engage state residents in awareness campaigns, encouraging them to report tegu sightings. The Georgia Reptile Society has a Tegu Task Force, to which residents can submit photos of suspected tegus for identification. Once they identify a tegu, the society’s volunteers trap the animal and bring it to a rescue facility. They are then given to people who want them as pets.

THEY CAPTURE AND TRY TO REHOME THEM

“We do everything we can to get the animal, capture it, and try to rehome it,” says Justyne Lobello, president of the Georgia Reptile Society.

“We want to help take them out of the habitat as humanely as possible. It helps that we have a long waiting list of people who want one as a pet.”

Nonetheless, the best way to fix the problem is by preventing their spread to the wild in the first place, experts say. Some states such as Alabama have enacted laws barring the animal’s import, and others may follow suit. Meanwhile, a few biologists have cautioned against owning these animals at all.