The 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion in this country did not pass without notice in Orlando.
First up, on the pro-choice side of the ring, was the Jan. 21 event at the First Unitarian Church of Orlando on East Robinson Street. Aside from the program starting a bit late (the better for grazing upon the Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies), the speakers ran long, though the seats were all full (about 60-70 attendees). The tenor of the event was more politicized than it has been in past years, and Mayor Buddy Dyer wasn't even there this time.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando's president-CEO Sue Idtensohn, who wasn't feeling well and left early, was hot on several issues, but spitting mad at the notion that Scott Roeder, who is accused of killing abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, could be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder.
Later, an enthusiastic State Rep. Scott Randolph of Orlando square-rooted pro-choice politics in Florida: Get Democrat Alex Sink elected or we're all going to be sorry.
Not to be outdone, the anti-choicers had their day in the sun Jan. 23 at Crane's Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. The fifth annual Silent No More/Operation Outcry, held under the auspices of Operation Rescue, was low-key and appeared to be attended more by people belonging to the groups involved than spectators, though the sunny blue skies were splendid for sitting and watching, and they had a band singing sweet Jesus songs as the sun sank in the west.
Signs were in place for men who regret lost fatherhood and women who regret abortion; exhibits included a collection of children's shoes never worn and a makeshift chapel for lighting votive candles.
And thus passed another anniversary.
On Jan. 20, WFTV Channel 9 News reported that pocket-sized State Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, was holding the keys — or the wires — to tomorrow, sitting on a "new proposal" that would bring overhead gondolas into our mass-transit equation. Gondolas!
See, with SunRail just around the bend in 2010, commuters would clearly need some other way to get to other places once they've arrived in the middle of nowhere, the news outlet reported, so Soto was proposing a series of connecting gondola lines that would carry small clutches of eight or so folks down Highway 50, from I-4 to State Road 417 and from the East-West Expressway to the Beachline, all at the very specific cost of between $20 million and $100 million. And that would, of course, be totally awesome. What commuters would do once dropped from the sky was not made immediately clear in the story.
Well, in fact, according to Soto's office, it wasn't really a story at all.
Soto had just returned from his self-funded economic development sojourn to Medellín, Colombia, with county mayoral hopeful Linda Stewart — so he was totally sober — when Channel 9 apparently approached him for some low-hanging fruit to garnish a slow news day. (We do realize the irony here, thanks.) It just so happens that Soto caught the gondola buzz while enjoying Medellín's MetroCable line, a project that city kicked off in 2004 at a cost of 65 billion pesos (or about $32 million) and one that has thrived in connecting various sectors of their mountainous terrain and complementing other forms of transit there. Soto, according to someone at his office, thought it was "really freakin' awesome."
Unfortunately, even though people are "freaking out" about it, there is no actual proposal in the works, his office confirms. "It's just an idea, it's a thought."
Breaking: Soto thinks!
The Haitian immigration situation is more than a little confusing right now, but luckily the feds were in town last week to clear it all up for us. The deal is this: Haitians lucky enough to be in the U.S. before Jan. 13 get to stay, even if they sneaked in illegally, but those fleeing the earthquake-wracked country now are SOL.
Those already here can apply for Temporary Protected Status, an 18-month pass that will let Haitian nationals stay, work or go to school.
"It doesn't make a difference how you arrived," said Kathy Redman, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for all of Florida except Miami, speaking at a press conference at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Orlando. But those who escaped after the Jan. 13 quake are still being rounded up and shipped back by the U.S. Coast Guard. Ouch.
"Right now, there's nothing for them," she said.
The government doesn't know how many people are eligible, but is prepared for up to 200,000. They've got 180 days to apply. Anyone with a felony conviction or two misdemeanors, here or in Haiti, is not eligible. Nor is getting protected status cheap: Most will pay $470, but those under 15 or over 65 can get by for $130. Anyone who makes less than the federal poverty level or who can document big bills like medical expenses can apply for a fee waiver.
Proof of Haitian-ness and American residence is flexible. Baptismal certificates, some bills and receipts all count.
"At the very last resort, we will be looking at affidavits," Redman said. "We want to be as forgiving as possible."
Nor should illegal immigrants worry that their information will later be used to round them up and deport them, she added. "We haven't done that in the past." In fact, though it doesn't lead to citizenship, Temporary Protected Status is often extended for years on end, she noted.
Did you know that President Obama is launching a massive campaign to identify every single American so he can take their guns, stamp them with the number of the beast, force them to get government health care and issue them official Socialist Party identification cards? It's true. He's calling it the "census," and if you believe the mainstream media, which we don't, it happens every 10 years. And it's mandated in the Constitution. Yeah, right. We may have dropped out of school after eighth grade, but we're pretty sure there's no "spying" clause in the Constitution.
Anyway, Obama's jackbooted thugs are coming to Orlando Jan. 30 to indoctrinate freedom-loving Sunshine Staters. They'll be at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Eatonville from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in a big blue van called the "Representation." They want you to fill out your census forms, which you'll be seeing in the mail in mid-March, so they are touring the country, on your tax dollars, to make sure you do. The Obamastapo is calling this re-education program the Census Road Tour, and we heard they take you inside the van and scan your brain to make sure you don't agree with Glenn Beck. Then they ask for your savings account numbers so they can give all your money to fat- cat bankers.
So be on the lookout for the Census Bureau's Road Tour, because Big Brother Obama is coming and he wants to know who you are and what you're doing at all firstname.lastname@example.org
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