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Save the Manatee Club is carrying out mission

Letters to the Editor
Published January 13, 2006

Editor: This is in response to a letter published in the Citrus Times on Dec. 21.

Thank you to Tom McGill of Merritt Island who wrote in response to my guest column about Rosie the Manatee for not making it a personal attack on me, as he sometimes does with Save the Manatee Club (SMC) staff members.

Mr. McGill did use his response as an opportunity to attack SMC, whose board of directors I co-chair, saying we only spend a tiny bit of our funds raised on manatee research.

The club has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for numerous research projects, including studies investigating human-manatee interactions, manatee distribution and physiology.

Further, SMC donates to the rescue effort, including the purchase of several vessels donated to the state. The organization has also lobbied successfully and obtained substantial funding for increased law enforcement, education programs and public awareness signage.

It was SMC who fought to get the manatee license plate bill adopted. The millions of dollars in revenue generated though the voluntary purchase of the plate are dedicated to the state's manatee conservation efforts including research and management programs, saving tax dollars.

Just to clarify, Save the Manatee Club receives no money from this fund or from any government sources whatsoever.

Save the Manatee Club is a prestigious science-based organization. We are a public interest group protecting one of America's most cherished living natural resources and for all Americans and tourists from around the world to enjoy.

I am proud to serve an organization that has accomplished so much for manatee research.

-- Helen Spivey, Homosassa, co-chair, Save the Manatee Club

Looking for clarification on how to define victory in Iraq war

Editor: After listening carefully to President Bush explain the war during the past week or two I still wonder, what will victory look like?

I don't want to be what Bush calls a "defeatist." This may be the new label to replace "liberal" on the negative side of the label spectrum. Let's see where this whole thing seems to be going.

The shock and awe war was started, we understood, to hunt down Osama bin Laden and eliminate those weapons of mass destruction. And Bush declared, on May 29, 2003, "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found the biological laboratories. For those who say we haven't found manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong . . ." At that point all we needed to do was declare victory and go hunt bin Laden.

But earlier that month, under the banner of "Mission Accomplished," we had already celebrated our national victory with just a few items to mop up; as for those remaining insurgents, our president taunted them, saying "Bring'em on!" That was on May 1, 2003, and we had suffered 138 U.S. fatalities (over 2,000 less than today).

Now we are fighting to establish a constitutional democracy in Iraq. We may be succeeding, at least voter fraud is now being reported and we may soon see the Iraqi version of the hanging chad. But how will we ever help them understand how to elect a president who loses the popular vote by half a million votes? Still, we are the experts on democracy and are certainly doing our best to create a democratic Iraq. Will this be victory?

Some think that this war is for oil, probably because major oil companies were on the ground at about the same time as our troops. If that is the case, we will recognize that we have a victory when we control the oil fields. Perhaps we can use the same model we had when we controlled the Panama Canal: keep what we want under armed protection and let their country take care of itself. Could this be why some of Bush's advisers talk about "permanent bases" in Iraq?

Most often Bush calls this a "war on terror." Victory, therefore, will mean the end of terrorism. No more will people hijack planes from American airports to fly into buildings. There will be an end of events like the Oklahoma City federal building being blown up and those deadly packages from Ted Kaczynski which caused the death and maiming of unsuspecting Americans. Of course none of these events originated in Iraq or involved Iraqis. Some of our friends, the Saudis, were involved, however.

All of this is puzzling. The WMD arguments have been put to rest; faulty "intelligence", says Bush, so probably we didn't find them after all. Still, he considers this a "good" war. Osama bin Laden is back in the hills somewhere, too hard to find. The war continues.

Not wanting to be called a "defeatist" I await the further clarification of the victory we seek.

-- Rodney M. Cole, Beverly Hills

[Last modified January 13, 2006, 01:45:18]

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