PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Experts can't agree whether rip currents, shifting waves or something else is to blame for the rash of more than 40 drownings along the Florida Panhandle's sugar-white beaches in the past three years.
He was originally for the war in Iraq, he said, and argued with Willie Nelson about it. "He's a tyrannical bully," he told Nelson, "and we got to take him out."
"No," he says Nelson objected, "he's our president, and we got to stick by him."
Susan Leong stopped at nothing to find the man who stole her dog. She called police, she offered a $1,000 reward, she even hired a private investigator.
This week, thanks largely to her own persistence and sleuthing, Leong has her dog back. It's now pink, the result of an odd attempt by the thief to disguise it, but it's still her pet.
Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey, hey
In August, five men were arrested after 150 animals from a wholesale pet business were found dead in a Mount Vernon, N.Y., warehouse.
The animals, which included rabbits, lizards, snakes, guinea pigs and hamsters, died from starvation and dehydration after the pet business owners failed to feed them for approximately a week.
The landlord who subleased the warehouse had the building padlocked after the pet business owners had failed to pay their rent. However, prosecutors say, the owners failed to contact authorities or make any attempt to gain access to the animals. Some of the animals were so desperate for food that they were feeding on the carcasses of other pets when authorities discovered them.
Still, the five men arrested can only face misdemeanor animal cruelty charges and up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine for all those animal deaths. The men could only face more serious felony charges and punishment if prosecutors had evidence that they intended to kill the pets.
The Georgia Court of Appeals has ordered the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit filed by the Atlanta Humane Society against a former employee who complained about conditions at the animal shelter. The society filed the suit in Cobb County Superior Court against Barbara Harkins, whose criticisms were aired by WSB television in 2001. In a recent ruling, the appeals court said that Harkins, who was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, had a right to speak out on a matter of public concern.
Since when was adding a layer of middlemen a way to save money?
The idea is that government will pay private companies to manage park resources, and those companies will in turn hire and pay workers to do it. Think about that. If the government wants to lop 20 percent off the budget for parks, that means these outside companies will have to try and take the jobs currently being done by professional, trained park employees, and do them on 80 percent of the current budget.
And, since these outside companies are, unlike the government, profit-making enterprises, some of that 80 percent will have to be set aside for their profits, which means less than 80 percent of the money will go into maintaining our parks.
The government has already spent $16 million on the outsourcing study, to which they will add another estimated $110 million over the next three years, according to a CPAL report. Note that that’s not $16 million spent on doing the outsourcing itself; just on the study to see what privatization might save. The conclusions that these very well-paid contractors came to: privatization could save taxpayers a whopping $600,000. Total net cost to the taxpayer: $15.4 million.
These parks belong to us, the American people, not to the White House, not to the timber companies, not to local municipalities, and not to the mining industries. What’s more, it’s our money being spent—or misspent—to maintain them. It is our right to enjoy these parks, and our responsibility to protect them.
The Bush Administration announced that it hopes to speed up the transition to self-government in Iraq. What do you think?
"It makes sense for Bush to pull out. If his own father had exercised the judgment to pull out, the U.S. wouldn't have been there in the first place."
I mean, look at George W. Bush -- he knows nothing about any issue. He doesn't seem to have a single complex thought in his head or shred of curiosity. I mean, he claims he doesn't even watch the news or read newspapers. But people find something kind of charming and trustworthy about his manner -- and that's all they need.
I believe that George W. Bush is stealing my country, that he is absolutely stealing the environment from our children, stealing the breath from my children's lungs and stealing the Bill of Rights, selling off the sacred places, and trashing all the things I value about America. Our reputation across the globe, the love and admiration that other peoples and nations once had for America, the safety of our nation, the security of our children, the economy, the ability of our children to educate themselves for the future -- it's all being liquidated by this president for his wealthy friends and contributors. And I am so furious at this man for stealing the thing I love most, which is America, my country.
I'm not scared of Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. They can never hurt America in any fundamental way. As Teddy Roosevelt said, American democracy will never be destroyed by outside enemies -- but it can be destroyed by the malefactors of great wealth who subtly rob and undermine it from within. And I see that process happening today. And just as there were a lot of people who denied that the Mafia existed at that time, today there's a huge lobby that is denying the fact that our democracy is really threatened by corporate control.
There is no stronger advocate of free-market capitalism than myself. As a small businessman who is founder and operator of a bottled water company, I believe in and understand the free market a lot better than Sean Hannity ever will. But in a true free-market economy, you can't make yourself rich without making your neighbors rich and without enriching your community. What polluters do is make themselves rich by making everyone else poor. They raise standards of living for themselves by lowering quality of life for everyone else. And they do that by escaping the discipline of the free market. Show me a polluter and I'll show you a subsidy, I'll show you a fat cat who's using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market and forcing the public to pay his costs of production.
I'll give you another example of how pollution is a form of corporate subsidy. When General Electric dumped PCBs into the Hudson River, it was avoiding the costs of bringing its product to market, which was the cost of properly disposing of a dangerous processed chemical. But when it avoided the cost, the cost didn't just disappear -- it went into the fish, it made people sick, it put people who depend on the river for their livelihood out of work. I now have 1,000 commercial fishermen, my clients, who are now permanently out of work. It dried up the river's barge traffic because the shipping channels are now too toxic to dredge. It forced local towns along the Hudson to invest in expensive water filtration systems. Every woman between Oswego and New York has elevated levels of PCB in her breast milk. And everybody in the Hudson Valley has PCBs in our flesh and our organs. All those impacts impose costs on the rest of us that should, in a true free-market economy, be reflected in the prices of G.E. products when they make it to the market. But what G.E. did -- which is what all polluters do -- is use political clout to escape the discipline of the free market and force the public to pay the costs of its production.
In Rolling Stone, you use the term "corporate fascism" to describe what's happening under Bush. Do you think that's excessive rhetoric?
No, I don't. When I was growing up, I was taught that communism leads to dictatorship and capitalism leads inevitably to democracy. And I think that's the assumption of most Americans. Certainly if you listen to people like Sean Hannity or any other voices of the right, there's an assumption that capitalism in any form is beneficial for democracy. But that's not always true. Free market capitalism certainly democratizes a nation and a people. But corporate capitalism has the opposite effect. The control of the capitalist system by large corporations leads to the elimination of markets and ultimately to the elimination of democracy. And we desperately need to understand that point in our country -- that the domination of our country by large corporations is absolutely catastrophic for our democratic process.
Corporations don't want free markets, they want profits. And the best way to guarantee profits is to eliminate the competition; in other words, eliminate the marketplace, through the control of government. And that's what we're seeing today in our country. There is no free market left in agriculture. The free market has almost been eliminated in the energy sector. These are two of our most critical sectors, and the marketplace has disappeared. We're seeing the same process underway in the media industry now. So there's very little consumer choice and Americans aren't getting the benefits and efficiencies that the free market promises us.
Under Bush we're seeing the complete corporate domination of the various departments of government. The Agriculture Department, which was created to benefit small farmers, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of big agribusiness and the principal instrument of their destruction. The Forest Service is being run by a timber industry lobbyist, Public Lands by a mining industry lobbyist. Virtually all Bush's Cabinet secretaries, department deputies and agency heads come from the very industries that those agencies are supposed to be regulating.
The same thing happened in Germany, Italy and Spain during the fascist takeover in the 1920s and '30s -- you had industrialists flooding the ministries and running the ministries, and running them in many ways for their own profit. If you read the American Heritage Dictionary definition of fascism, it says "the domination of a government by corporations of the political right, combined with bellicose nationalism." Well, we're seeing that today.
Of course the first people who start talking about this connection are going to be derided for it. Even though Rush Limbaugh calls feminists "Nazis." The right wing for years has tried to discredit anyone who believes in the idea of community as a "communist" or a "pinko." But it's time that people started telling the truth about what's going on in this country. And start realizing that democracy is fragile, that corporate cronyism is as antithetical to democracy in America as it is in Nigeria.
The other day I got something in the mail from a farmer -- small farmers in this country understand better than anyone how markets are being stolen and democracy is being eroded. He sent me a quote from Mussolini that said fascism should really be called "corporatism" -- because it's the control of government by large corporations.
Another farmer sent me my favorite quote. This one was by Lincoln, in 1863, during the height of the Civil War, when he says, "I have the South in front of me and the bankers behind me -- and for my country, I fear the bankers most." Lincoln, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Eisenhower and all of our great leaders have warned our nation that the greatest threat to our democracy is from large corporate interests.
The dog's alleged owner, Robert M. Lamano, 25, of East Lake Road, Woodstown, was charged with four disorderly charges and one indictable charge on animal cruelty against the dog, police said.
A court date for the case is scheduled for Nov. 24.
NEWSWEEK: You claim that Bush has the worst environmental record of any president in history. That’s a bold statement.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. : All of our major environmental statutes are being eviscerated. This is the first administration in history to not voluntarily list a species under the Endangered Species Act. The Superfund Program [created to eliminate health and environmental threats posed by hazardous waste sites] is now bankrupt because the administration doesn’t want polluters to have to clean up after themselves but wants the tax payers to pay for it. The Clean Water Act is being altered so that it will no longer protect most water in the United States. The fundamental compromise in the Clean Air Act, which was the requirement that old sources at some point upgrade to remove pollutants at the same level as new plants, has now been compromised.
I have eaten the same grits, loved the same mountains and sung the same hymns as Zell Miller, and I've concluded the Georgia senator -- who doesn't want to dance anymore with the one who brung him -- has twisted history to suit his histrionics.
I am a native Georgian who thinks it's the Republican Party that has forsaken its roots: equal rights, civil liberties and government that stays out of our personal lives. If the Democratic Party is the captive of the "loony left," as Miller claims, the Republican Party has sold its soul to the radical right and divorced itself from the First Amendment to marry church and state. Institutionalizing such extremism, the Texas GOP even has a plank in its platform pledging to dispel "the myth" of church and state separation.
Having grown up in the South, I wanted no part of the segregationist party that ruled Georgia through the Talmadge dynasty of my childhood and, later on, the pick-ax politics of Lester Maddox. When my husband's career took us to Colorado, I took a position as press aide to one of the nation's last liberal Republican governors, the late John Love. Later I was elected as a Republican to the state Legislature, just in time to bump up against the Coors' funded Reagan revolution in the West.
"Isn't this the party of Abraham Lincoln?" I'd ask my GOP colleagues as I marched with Democratic women for equal rights and abortion rights. No, came the answer, this is the party of Phyllis Schlafly and the cookie-baking Eagle Forum.
"Isn't this the party of Teddy Roosevelt?" I'd ask, as I watched my environmental initiatives shot down by my own party. No, came the answer, this is the party of James Watt, the GOP interior secretary who was finally forced from office after opening wilderness areas to energy exploitation.
"Isn't this the party of Dwight Eisenhower?" I asked as Republicans spent billions on a flawed Star Wars defense system that only kept safe the pocketbooks of the military-industrial complex.
But if privatization is such a good idea, why do the private insurance companies need such big subsidies to enter the Medicare market? The bill includes $12 billion for what Kennedy calls a "slush fund" to subsidize the private insurers. That's not capitalism or competition. It's corporate welfare.
"They've created a huge bias in favor of private plans," says Jeanne Lambrew, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a professor at George Washington University. "How can you call it choice or competition when private plans have such a large financial advantage?" And a bill that is supposed to expand drug coverage may cause at least 2 million seniors to lose their coverage from their former employers, Lambrew said.
What about containing Medicare costs? Market principles would tell you that with its huge pool of patients, Medicare could extract a good deal from the drug companies. But the bill prevents the Medicare system from doing that. "If you're serious about cost containment, you don't block Medicare from using its enormous purchasing power to bring drug prices down," says Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
All these years we've been worrying about manatees, the lumbering, lovable, weed-munching icon of Florida bays and waterways.
Hacked by boat propellers, poisoned by red tides, annihilated by winter chills -- it's been a sad story.
But listen to this: ``The reality is the manatees are flourishing. They're doing great.''
This sunny and surprising announcement comes from a fellow named John Rood, quoted in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Rood is not a biologist; he's a developer and broker of apartment buildings in Jacksonville.
In a sane place, someone so stunningly clueless would have no say in the future of an endangered species. But this is Florida, and Rood sits prominently on our Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He even chaired a manatee task force.
If you're wondering how he got on the wildlife commission, the answer is simple: Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him as a political favor.
Miller said Senate Democrats are "standing in the doorway" and blocking nomination. "And they have a sign: Conservative African-American women need not apply," the lawmaker said. Miller added that if they still try to do so, their "reputation will be shattered and your dignity will be shredded. Gal, you will be lynched," he said.
The lawmaker concluded his remarks by pounding his desk and repeatedly saying that the nominees deserve a vote.
Paper's opposition abundantly clear
Don't you think, in the name of intellectual honesty, your newspaper should run a disclaimer on all HOPE stories? Something like this: To Our Readers: There would have been no HOPE if this newspaper had had its way.
You fought the lottery tooth and nail from the first day I mentioned it in 1988. And now, you're going after HOPE like a vulture picking apart roadkill.
Miller, a Democrat, is Georgia's senior U.S. senator.
Paper's opposition abundantly clear
Don't you think, in the name of intellectual honesty, which the Republicans I suck up to and admire have never bothered with, your newspaper should run a disclaimer on all HOPE stories? Something like this: To Our Readers: There would have been no HOPE if this newspaper had had its way. Even if you may have had valid reasons for opposing it, by opposing my ideas, you are evil demon spawns from hell.
You fought the lottery tooth and nail from the first day I mentioned it in 1988. And now, you're going after HOPE like a vulture picking apart roadkill, Just like Republicans, whom I suck up to and admire, picking apart any social program that may benefit the less fortunate.
ZELL "Zig Zag" MILLER
Miller, a Democrat with his lips firmly attached to the GOP's backside in hopes of landing a cushy job after retiring from the senate, is Georgia's senior backstabbing U.S. senator.
"Democratic leaders are as nervous as a long-tailed cat around a rocking chair when they travel south."
SEN. ZELL MILLER, Georgia Democrat
Displaying the Ten Commandments seems more important to some folks than actually living by them.
Look at Cherokee County, where Christian pastors and 200 followers assembled on the courthouse steps Friday to urge the placement of a Ten Commandments monument in the public building, a step that would glaringly violate the constitutional separation of church and state that keeps America from turning into Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.
Led by the Rev. Daniel Becker, the crowd contended that exhibiting the Commandments will announce to the world that Cherokee is a Christian community. If modeling their Christianity is so important to them, perhaps they should heed Christ's advice: "Clothe yourselves with charity."
Had the protesters spent time inside the courthouse, they could have talked to Cherokee County juvenile judges despairing over where to place abused and neglected children rescued from violent or unstable homes in the middle of the night. Cherokee is among the metro counties that have no emergency children's shelter. The Cherokee child welfare office investigates 190 to 220 cases each month and takes about 17 children into state custody. If the county's 74 foster homes are full, those children sometimes end up at a shelter in another county.
Wouldn't the demonstrators have accomplished more if they had marched for a shelter rather than a symbol?