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Bond blasts Bush as NAACP meets

The Spokesman-Review

The NAACP is needed now more than ever because the Bush administration has done little to support blacks, the civil rights organization’s national chairman said Sunday as its 98th annual convention opened.

From the administration’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina to the war in Iraq and immigration issues, Bush has seen his presidency questioned, Julian Bond, board chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told an audience of about 3,000.

Bond noted that the Supreme Court, which includes two justices nominated by Bush, upheld rulings that school systems could not voluntarily use race in assigning students to schools.

“The Bush court removed black children from the law’s protection,” he said.

The possibility that New Orleans’ heavily black Lower Ninth Ward, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, will never be rebuilt is comparable to a “lynching” because the work of generations was wiped out in a single day and black landholders are being dispossessed, Bond said.

A message seeking comment was left Sunday night with the White House press office.


Lake muck yields high arsenic levels

Scientists have found elevated levels of arsenic and other pesticides in thousands of truckloads of muck scooped from the bottom of Lake Okeechobee.

State water and wildlife managers are taking advantage of a drought by removing life-choking muck from the 730-square-mile lake, Florida’s largest. Its removal over several months will return the bottom to a more natural sandy base and create better habitat for plants and wildlife.

But the plan could create new pollution headaches on shore.

Arsenic levels on the northern part of the lake bed were as much as four times the limit for residential land, according to new tests from the South Florida Water Management District.

The Sun-Sentinel conducted independent tests that found even higher levels, making the muck too polluted for use on agricultural or commercial lands, the newspaper reported Sunday. The district declined to comment on the independent tests.


Man in tree garb robs bank branch

A bank robber went to new lengths Saturday morning, disguising himself as a tree.

Just as the Citizen Bank branch opened, a man walked in with leafy boughs duct-taped to his head and torso, and robbed the place.

“He really went out on a limb,” police Sgt. Ernie Goodno said Sunday.

Police said the leafy man didn’t say anything about having a weapon, just demanded cash, and was given an undisclosed amount.

Although the branches and leaves obscured much of the man’s face, someone who saw images from the bank’s security camera recognized the robber and called police.

Officers said James Coldwell, 49, was arrested early Sunday at his Manchester home and charged with robbery.

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