This is one of my favorite stories since starting the Sept. 11 anniversary assignment. It’s about people who don’t believe the government’s story of how 9/11 happened. The guys in the North Texans for 9/11 Truth group were especially helpful to me.
One of the things that has surprised me while doing this assigment over the past three months is that so many people feel the government isn’t telling the whole truth about 9/11. Most of the people who feel this way are just regular folks, people I meet while traveling. They’re not members of any group or activists of any sort.
Dallas, for instance, was one of those places. I had never been and when I was assigned to go, was skeptical whether I would like it. As it turned out, I loved the city.
Same with Homeland. It’s a tiny little town in Polk County. It’s halfway between Tampa and Orlando, Old Florida all the way.
Here’s a 9/11 story out of Homeland.
I don’t have children, and at my age, probably won’t. I’m ok with that – I’ve always been lukewarm about the idea of children. My husband is also ok with not having kids. Our lives are happy and full. I do respect the incredibly difficult job parents have and am in awe of my friends who work and raise happy, healthy kids.
It’s not to say I don’t have a maternal instinct. I do, just not for babies. I love animals. Yes, I’m one of those people, always talking about my pets.
So this will be my one post about the pets. Indulge me here, people.
Earlier this year, our cat Cookie died. It was devastating. I knew I didn’t want to get another cat, and even the sight of little kittens at the pet store made me cry. Our house seemed empty. Marco, my husband, was sad, I was sad, and our other cat, Luna, seemed depressed too.
We have been talking about getting a dog for a few years. Then, when Cookie died, my husband and I decided we would adopt a dog later in the year, when I was finished with the Sept. 11 assignment. We began researching breeds and really liked the Tibetan Spaniel.
So we found a breeder and OF COURSE she had the perfect, cutest puppy available RIGHT THEN. On my recent trip to Vermont for the yoga vacation, I picked him up on my way home.
His name is Dino. He’s a loving, awesome little dog that is calm for 22 hours a day and a wild animal for the other two. We love him. Our house no longer seems empty.
For more information on the Tibetan Spaniel breed, go here.
No matter what I write about or what big stories I cover, I will always consider myself a police reporter. Doing the “cops” beat is usually reserved for the young, the inexperienced, the unlucky. I did it for several years, first at a few papers in New England, then at the St. Pete Times.
I loved it. Still do. I jump at the chance to write a good crime story. For me, writing about crime is a way to explain a part of the world that most of us will never experience firsthand. I try to treat victims with respect and the accused without bias.
Florida is an especially great place to be a crime reporter. Florida is never boring. (Wouldn’t that be a great state motto?)
So here’s my latest crime story. It was actually written by my friend and AP colleague Bert Mohr in Mississippi, but I did half of the reporting from Polk County.
If you don’t have time to read it, the story can be summed up like this: Man allegedly kills Catholic priest in Mississippi, then tries to take his ex-wife and two kids to Disney in Florida with priest’s car and money.
Someday I’ll post my favorite crime stories from my Times days (the one about the 350-pound drag queen stealing wedding dresses from consignment shops will be on that list).
Part of my job this summer is to explore the ways in which the U.S. has changed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. For certain people, life has changed for the worse. Like for the Sikhs, who are often mistaken for Muslims because they wear turbans and long beards as symbols of their faith.
The Sikhs have nothing to do with anything. It’s a separate and distinct religion, one of peace. Yet people have been verbally harassed, beaten and even killed because ignorant people think they are terrorists.
Rana Singh Sodhi (pictured above) spoke to me at length from his restaurant in Mesa, Az. in June. His brother was killed five days after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Here’s the story.
And here’s a memorial to Rana’s brother, Balbir. The monument sits outside the gas station in Arizona where he was shot and killed.
Also, a big thank you to the person who wrote a long comment on this article. It’s in the comments section under “Contact Me.”
I keep changing the format of this blog because I just can’t make up my mind on the theme. Sorry for the confusion.
It’s difficult to be a journalist in Florida without covering some angle of the Casey Anthony trial.
I wrote my first story in August of 2008. Then again in Dec. 2008 when the remains of Casey’s daughter were found in Orlando.
Now, in the past week, three more stories. And a video! It’s impossible to get away from this news.
Today’s story looks at why people are so frustrated by the jury’s verdict:
“..for the public, that may be one of the most frustrating parts of the case: Despite all the speculation and theories, they will never know how or why Caylee Anthony died.
“I think we know as much as we ever will know,” said Beth Hough, a 27-year-old administrative assistant from Chicago who followed the trial. “We don’t know exactly what happened, but if we did, it would help people to finally just move on and to end the story.”
That’s what’s missing: an ending. And because we’re so used to neatly packaged, hour-long TV crime dramas where the bad guy is usually put behind bars, the fact Anthony could be convicted only of lying to police has left people unsatisfied. And they have been vocal about their dismay, turning to Twitter and Facebook to vent their frustration.
How do foreclosures affect condo associations? Here’s one story I worked on with another AP writer.
The Inlet House condo complex in Fort Pierce, Fla., was once the kind of place the 55-and-older set aspired to. It was affordable. The pool and clubhouse were tidy, the lawns freshly snipped. Residents, push-carts in tow, walked to the beach, the bank, the beauty parlor, the cinema and the supermarket. In post-crash America, this was a dreamy little spot. Especially on a fixed income.
But that was Inlet House before the rats started chewing through the toilet seats in vacant units and sewage started seeping from the ceiling. Before condos that were worth $79,000 four years ago sold for as little as $3,000. And before the homeowners’ association levied $6,000 assessments on everyone — and then foreclosed on seniors who couldn’t pay the association bill, even if they didn’t owe the bank a dime.
I should have posted this on July 4, but I was too busy grilling and playing with our new puppy (more on that later). Here’s a story about the American flag and how it’s taken on a new symbolism since Sept. 11.
And, I would highly recommend the Martinsburg-Shepherdstown area of West Virginia. Gorgeous, with lots of good restaurants. It’s a place I would like to bring my husband and our new puppy. (More on that later, I promise. With photos).