Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
When an envelope arrives bearing the words "extremely urgent," it probably means one of two things:
a They want your money.
(b) It's urgent to the sender, but not necessarily to you.
A mass mailing to hundreds of thousands of voters this week belongs in the latter category. The recipients have one thing in common. They signed petitions in favor of Florida Hometown Democracy, a ballot initiative that would require voter approval of land use changes.
A new law allows people to revoke signatures within 150 days of signing petitions. Opponents of Hometown Democracy have launched a campaign with mail, a toll-free line and Web site.
They hope to convince enough people to change their minds to kill the antigrowth initiative. The clock is ticking.
Bess DeBeck, 68, a retired teacher and an independent, recently signed a petition outside the Countryside library branch in Clearwater.
She received the "extremely urgent" letter, and was extremely confused.
"Is it true?" DeBeck asked. "I don't know which side to believe."
The letterhead bears the name of "The Honorable John Thrasher," a former House speaker.
Writing on behalf of a group called "Save Our Constitution," his pitch is that Hometown Democracy is the work of "big developers," when they are the actually targets of the initiative.
Thrasher's letter blasts Hometown Democracy as "deceptive," tricking voters into signing something that will cause higher taxes and utility bills while ruining Florida's "scenic beauty."
It's certainly worth debating whether Hometown Democracy will have a devastating effect on Florida's economy. But it's not pushed by "big developers."
Nowhere in his three-page letter did Thrasher find space to list his occupation.
He's a highly paid lobbyist for Southern Strategy Group, which represents progrowth businesses like Disney, Associated Industries of Florida, the firm directing the revocation drive, and St. Joe Co., a "big developer" if ever there was one.
Thrasher argues the amendment would shift control of land use to "electors," which he defines as "special interests and their slick lawyers (who) will rig the system to put our future in the hands of their cronies."
The "electors" Hometown Democracy refers to are voters.
Vikki Rosenbaum of Palm Harbor also signed a petition, and has no intention of revoking it. She was offended by the tone of Thrasher's letter.
"They make it sound like you were an idiot if you signed it, like you made a mistake," she said.
She said she's fed up with developers and their politician friends and that the public deserves a stronger voice in saving what's left of Florida.
'"It seems like we don't have a say in anything any more," Rosenbaum said.
Pinellas County has been a reliable source of signatures for Hometown Democracy. So far this year, 42,533 signatures have been sent to Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark.
Bess DeBeck's signature is one of those. The Clearwater resident read Thrasher's letter closely, then made up her mind.
"I believe I'll keep my name on the petition," she said.