Imported Folio

Cost and Casualties

Child welfare professionals believe our role is to prevent continued abuse of children. In our effort to keep children safe, we often remove those alleged to be maltreated from their homes and families. We then require their parents to complete case plan tasks designed to remedy the harm that brought the children into care. We determine if and when it is safe for the children to be reunified with their families. Sometimes, when parents are unwilling or unable to complete court-ordered tasks, we permanently sever the parent/child relationship, and place the children for adoption into new, permanent families. Thousands of …

Read More »

Luxury Trips, Junkets and Safaris, oh my!

With convicted ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff out of prison and making the rounds promoting his book, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” it seems fair to say that not much has changed. Abramoff bought influence in Washington by plying members of Congress with gifts and vacations and promises of jobs for top aides. A recent report in USA Today documented how the money is still flowing for legislators, just from a slightly different source. Although gifts from lobbyists were banned in 2007 and privately funded travel reined in by the U.S. Congress, there were …

Read More »

Published November 22, 2011

It was just after 7 a.m., and James and Mary Ann Stephens were already up and dressed and taking advantage of the Ramada Inn’s free continental breakfast. It was a Sunday morning, the first of the couple’s Florida vacation, 360 miles south of their tiny hometown of Toccoa, Ga. They fixed two cups of coffee and took a muffin each, along with a complimentary copy of The Florida Times-Union. As they walked down the breezeway back to their motel room, Mr. Stephens later recalled, a tall, skinny, young African-American man came walking toward them. Suddenly a pistol was pointed at …

Read More »

A handful of As for your everloving Qs

Are you tired of listening to people telling you how to live your life? How many times have you been told what fork to use, or what slacks to wear? How many times do you have to be told drinking mercury is bad for you before you stop doing it? Don’t fret, gorgeous reader, I can help. Hi, my name is Johnny Gazpacho, and I am well-schooled in the blunt art of personal reformation. Sure, there are plenty of people who will tell you how to talk to a friend about his lousy personal hygiene, or what slacks to wear …

Read More »

Vote of No Confidence

All the Republicans in Tallahassee like House Bill 1355 a lot, but a New Smyrna Beach teacher and her students do not. With apologies to Dr. Seuss, the bill approved by the legislature in May imposes a new set of voting rules that are producing some decidedly Grinch-like outcomes. The new law restricts how third-party groups can register voters, bars voters from changing their addresses at the polls, and reduces from 14 to eight the number of days early voting is offered. The law’s Republican backers say the changes were needed to prevent voter fraud, though instances of fraud are …

Read More »

Author Paul Kendel’s spiritual awakening came in the crosshairs of a combat zone

Staff Sgt. Paul M. Kendel was deployed to Iraq in May 2005. Within months of his arrival, he experienced the horror of losing eight of his fellow National Guardsmen to IEDs. He witnessed the insanity of religious intolerance, as Sunni and Shi’ite civilians urged American infantrymen to shoot their rival neighbors on the streets. But nothing prepared Kendel for the decree from the high command: an order to shoot and kill all dogs on sight. The family dog is the equivalent of a home security system for many Iraqis, and soldiers’ attempts to catch suspected insurgents off-guard were invariably quelled …

Read More »

All Things Being Equal

There’s an interesting choice of words in Micah 6:8. “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God?” I find the translation and emphatic differences fascinating: We are to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. I pretty much understand the requirement to walk humbly with God. Humility means acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers. We walk humbly with God because we know that we may well be wrong … even about the things we’re most surely convinced we’re right about. I’m not always good at …

Read More »

Dead Issue

Rep. Brad Drake, a Republican from the small Panhandle town of Eucheena, is “sick and tired of this sensitivity movement for criminals” — and weary of death penalty protests. While the nation’s appetite for state- sponsored killings has diminished in recent years — particularly following the execution of Troy Davis, whom many believed was wrongly convicted, Rep. Drake feels no ?such compunction. In fact, he’d like to add some literal firepower to the state’s Death Row options, implementing firing squads — or what he calls “a 45-caliber lead cocktail” — as an alternate method. He’d also like to fire up …

Read More »

Heavenly Hams

Supergroups have come and gone in indie rock history, but few have gelled as organically as Mister Heavenly. Comprising hell-raising Man Man frontman Ryan Kattner (aka Honus Honus), Islands & the Unicorns singer/songwriter Nick Thorburn, and tough-as-nails Modest Mouse (and The Shins) drummer Joe Plummer, the trio traffics in effortless 1950s pop tinged with a hint of ruined romance — hence the title of their debut album, “Out of Love” and their self-coined micro-genre “doom-wop.” (The band is occasionally joined on bass by actor Michael Cera, though he’s not expected to join this leg of the tour.) The back-and-forth of …

Read More »

Where Babies Come From

When we were in the process of adopting our first child, a newspaper reporter once asked me why we would opt for a foreign adoption when there are so many American children in need. The question shocked me. I was so enthralled with our Vietnamese child — as yet unmet — that the immediate answer was: Because that’s where my daughter is. November is National Adoption Month, and as we edge into a season marked by family celebration, it’s a question worth exploring. The answers aren’t easy, nor are they particularly satisfying. First, let me state that while I love …

Read More »