A Year of Foolishness in High Places: When Progress Didn’t Come and the People Didn’t Awake

December 31, 2010

(Counterpunch) It is hard to face the close of 2010 with an admission. I was wrong. For more than twenty years as an environmentalist and writer, I harbored the expectation that progress would come. But I did not believe it would come because we had somehow persuaded decision-makers it was time, finally, to abandon the Chamber of Commerce values that crashed the economy into a ditch. I believed that once in the ditch—an inevitability, from witnessing so much bad policy and bad results the past two decades—that people would awake. Rise and Sing!

I was wrong. I had been right about the threats. I started looking in the early 1970s in Florida, through a watery lens of water only a few feet deep covering hundreds of square miles in Florida Bay, the tail end of the Everglades ecosystem. By the late 1980’s, the magnificent efflorescence of nature had been severely injured by repetitive algae blooms. Even then, scientists were chasing changes happening faster than baselines could be anchored with facts. My small layman’s window on marine life in two feet of water, hosting crustaceans and shrimp and sea grass billowing out in glorious creatures from rays to sharks and tarpon and the whole coral reef, encapsulate the whole realm: oceans and a warming planet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Skullduggery in Ghost Town: Steve Shiver’s Twice-Told Tales

December 16, 2010

(Counterpunch) Up there in wintry Maggie Valley, North Carolina, the former county manager of Miami-Dade, Steve Shiver, is scrambling to salvage an amusement park investment that has taken down hundreds of local debt holders and $5 million in equity. It’s called Ghost Town and once sported live shoot-em up’s, a little tourist railroad up the mountain, and the goodwill of a town that desperately depended on the attraction for its economic wellbeing.

According to local reports, a new investor has been brought in to breathe life into Ghost Town, its 288 acres and a collection of amusement park rides gathering snow and ice in the freezing winter. The investor, Clint Walker, has a record in penny stock trade manipulation and an SEC violation tied to other Florida operators. The new scheme appears to rely on using a shell corporation and floating stock to attract new investors to the new venture resonant with the name of an old venture—owned by Miami businessman Allen C. Harper—called American Heritage Family Parks. Read the rest of this entry »