News of the Times; Telling Stories From Around the Nation

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 08:30 AM

Some stories in the news say more about the times we live in than others.  And a story doesn't have to be large in scope to be large in significance in revealing priorities, character, problems, and outlook.

Here are seven recent news stories, and one letter to the editor, from relatively small papers that struck me as symbolic of life in America, in 2006.

1.  Twenty-First Century Priorities:
The Wyoming legislature is considering one bill to make it illegal to feed wildlife, another bill to make it legal to shoot anyone the shooter "reasonably believes" is about to do him harm, and a third bill doing away with the requirement of a license to carry a concealed weapon for certain people.
[perhaps these can all be combined into a single "omnibus" bill that prohibits feeding any living thing not related to the feeder by blood, and allows the shooting of any living thing not related to the shooter by blood]

2. Can't Get Enough of that Marketing Thing:
An AP report from Salt Lake City, headlined "Utah looks for new 'brand,'" says that Utah is devoting several millions of dollars to developing a new "state slogan" to draw tourists.  The current "Utah! Where Ideas Connect," was "unveiled in August 2001 by then-Gov. Mike Leavitt. But it's not getting much use nowadays."  Past slogans (some official, some not) have reportedly included:
Utah, the Friendly State
Utah, Land of Color
Utah, the Unique
Ski Utah
Utah, A Pretty, Great State
Utah, The Greatest Snow on Earth
[Slogan probably rejected out-of-hand: Utah! You Don't Have to be Mormon, But it Helps]

3. State Prayer Breakfast Speaker Specializes in Converting Muslims to Christians
The Idaho State Prayer Breakfast, scheduled for March 4, 2006, will feature a speaker (Hormoz Shariat),  whose ministry reportedly seeks to convert Muslims to Christianity.  After organizer Dave Baumann, who chose Shariat to speak at the event, told The Idaho Statesman that "[Muslims] would like to kill all Jews and kill all Christians. They try to convert by the sword. Christians don't do that," the  president of the Idaho Prayer Fellowship apologized "to the Muslim community and to anyone who was offended by comments made in The Idaho Statesman on our behalf...The spirit of the Idaho State Prayer Breakfast is intended to be one of peace and unity and encouragement of all to pray for the state of Idaho and its government and business leaders."  Nevertheless, Hormoz Shariat will still attend the event, but "is expected to talk about his own "walk of faith" to Christianity and would not say anything disparaging to Islam."

4. Converting from Physical Impairment to Drug Impairment
Idaho legislators are reportedly debating whether to convert the state's school for the deaf and blind, with its 40-acre campus,  into a drug abuse treatment facility. If the plan is approved, blind and visually-impaired students would move into their local public school classrooms with yearly Braille summer camps, while deaf and hearing-impaired students would get specialized daily education at five or six regional locations.  The spur is said to be the declining enrollment of the blind and deaf, and the accompanying increase in per-student cost to educate.  No one seems to doubt that they can fill the facility once its converted to drug rehab.

5. Ohio Still Debates "Critical Analysis of Evolution," (a.k.a "Intelligent Design")
An AP story from Columbus Ohio reports that members of the Ohio State Board of Education are still grappling with the state's prior decision to require the teaching of "Critical Analysis of Evolution,"
with one current Board member saying that the Board "must reopen a debate on language in Ohio schools' science curriculum that allows critical analysis of evolution or face a vote on its removal." A prior a motion to remove the requirement of teaching Critical Analysis of Evolution was defeated 9 to 8, but two members of the Board were absent from that January meeting.

6. Chrisitians Feel Persecuted in America
From a letter to the editor of a West Virginia newspaper:

Partial-birth abortion, pornography, sexual relations between grown "men" and children, ad nauseum seems to be the main agenda of the ACLU. I have no interest in such things and deeply resent them being rammed down my throat as protected activities. The (letter) writer in Sunday's News referred to "fundamentalist" beliefs. I take that to mean nasty old Christians.
Christians may be maligned, belittled, even persecuted, but the true Church will prevail. I guess you can call me a far right "Fundamentalist" since I believe that filth is filth and try to live by the admonition of the biblical patriarch, Joshua, who said: "...As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".

7. West Virginia Considers Bill to Compensate Landlords for their Meth-Making Tenants
An AP story from Charleston, W VA reports that "Landlords whose tenants operate meth labs could get up to $5,000 from the West Virginia Crime Victims Compensation Fund to clean up their property under a bill the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed on Monday."

8. Working With the Public Now Dangerous Enough That Maine Considers "Panic Button" Law
The Bangor, ME Daily News reports that Maine is considering "a bill that is intended to help make working conditions safer for Mainers whose jobs require that they work past the typical quitting time of 5 p.m." by requiring the installation of "panic buttons" that employees could push to alert police that there is an emergency on the premises.  Testifying before the Legislature's joint labor committee, Ned McCann of the AFL-CIO testified in favor of the bill, saying that the issue has become more pressing as work-related violence, particularly for convenience store clerks, has risen. "It's now the most dangerous work in America, more dangerous than driving a taxicab in New York City," McCann said.


Thanks for sharing the new stories and all are useful.

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