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On last night's show we had the grim job of reporting that the missing couple from South Carolina were found in a North Carolina swamp — dead — after a car accident. We still don't know if the crash was a single car, a vehicle defect, a hit and run accident, an illness, etc., but the family of the victims were very hard on the South Carolina police. I am not sure that was entirely fair — the South Carolina police did not find the victims, but it also did not happen in their jurisdiction. It happened in North Carolina.
What I DO find extremely troubling is that there was a 911 call on Thursday morning (the day the couple left home for their trip) reporting an accident right where the car was found. Apparently a very poor (to put it gently) attempt was made to investigate the reported accident and the car was not discovered on Thursday. The family doing its own investigation found the couple. It is not suggested that the couple would have been saved, but if the call had been fully investigated on Thursday, the family would not have endured the incredible extra pain of days looking for the couple. I wonder, what is up with the North Carolina law enforcement? I would like to hear their explanation.
Here is a question for you: It is rumored that the British report on the crash that killed Princess Diana is coming out Wednesday and it is going to say that the CIA was spying on Princess Diana the night of her death (August, 1997.) Do you believe the CIA was doing this? E-mail me at email@example.com
Yesterday in the blog I asked for your views about cruises and whether, in light of some of the health problems, you would take a cruise — I have posted e-mails responses below and I did not pick and choose. I simply posted as I read them, so don't read any agenda into the selected e-mails and their content:
E-mail No. 1
These cruise stories, I believe do have an impact on our desire to participate. I've been widowed, in the recent past, and since relocating to Florida, have considered going on a cruise. However, have great concerns about passenger safety. I'm far less likely to book a cruise, unless other members of my family are on the same cruise, and even that is no guarantee.
There does not seem to be an effective deterrent to crime. Our society has lost their moral values. Whether it's on a cruise ship or in our communities, individuals bent on crime do not seem deterred by threat of incarceration or how society perceives them or any type of guilt or punishment that is measurable. It seems quite the opposite. Is this due to drug use? What is lacking in our society? Is it the decline of the solid family structure? Is it the decline in participation in formal religious structure?
Or have individuals been raised in such an indulgent, promiscuous society that the only thing that matters is their own selfish wants and needs?
Participation in cruises and tourism are bound to decline as crime rates impact them, at least from my own perspective.
E-mail No. 2 — a second email on the topic from Nancy Hagen:
For what it's worth, cruise lines, as well as all places serving the public, especially in the food chain, need to tighten up their health standards.
Sad to say, but if the public had access to the areas where food is handled for serving to the public, from where it's grown to kitchens in the best restaurants, we'd all opt out and go to chugging food supplements in pill form.
All these outbreaks of food related mass illnesses may also give terrorists the idea of the vulnerability of the U.S. to future outbreaks.
E-mail No. 3
Cruise ships are a disaster waiting to happen. Can't believe so many people find them enjoyable. I was so excited to go on my first cruise — from Vancouver, B.C. up the inland passage to Alaska. It was fun. Lots of interesting things, fun side trips, great little towns, great food, etc. But the hassle of getting off the ship (you can wait for hours and we did) ruined the experience.
Took another one, can't remember where, and it was not good. Too much food, nothing else to do that made any sense, too many people jammed into too little space, dinner "companions" that were obnoxious. (Flirted with my very attractive husband to the detriment of normal conversation.) Have friends who got on one of these "sick ships" on their first cruise. They won't go again — and I won't either.
Maybe husband will! (heh heh)
E-mail No. 4
Regarding your question as to whether all these cases of Norovirus would discourage me from going on a cruise — No! As a matter of fact I’m going on one in February. I think a BIG part of the problem is that people board the boat knowing they are sick (and having the symptoms — diarrhea, vomiting, etc.) instead of cancelling/postponing their vacation. Travel insurance should cover that and besides, what kind of fun could you possibly have if you're that sick? People are very selfish sometimes.
E-mail No. 5
Yes, all that is going on with the cruise ships lately have me never wanting to take a cruise. I used to thing that would be the best vacation, but now, I'm not so sure!
E-mail No. 6
My mother-in-law has offered to take all of her daughters and daughters-in-law on a cruise next spring and I am the only one that has declined! The idea of getting away with "just the girls" (no husbands, no kids) is very appealing, but I'm just too afraid to go with them. I love my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law and have tried to get her to take everyone on a "safe" vacation. But she won't reconsider. I told her, "People go on cruises and never come back! Please don't go on a cruise!"
I have never been on a cruise before and have no desire to since all of the negative publicity.
Needless to say, I declined the offer and will say a prayer for their safe return.
E-mail No. 7
I am going on a cruise in February on Royal Caribbean ship "Brilliance of the Seas." This is a 10 day cruise to the Panama Canal. I am concerned but I am not canceling my trip. I am oxygen dependent, (from 50 years of smoking) and just became aware of the fact that I can travel with oxygen. My traveling has been limited to 3-6 hours for the past year and I am so excited to be able to go on a cruise that it would take more than this to cause me to cancel. My sister is going with me and we have been putting some ideas together to help with hand sanitation.
My husband became ill on an Alaskan cruise in 1997. He became ill the last night on the ship and spent the next day in the ER of a Vancouver hospital for some IV fluids and TLC at the total cost of $250 American dollars. He won't cruise anymore but I will. He became ill but I didn't. Go figure that one.
When you have 3500 passengers on board it is a gigantic task to keep everything fastidiously clean. I think they try their best. We have go on 3 cruises in the past and have enjoyed them immensely. My feeling is that they should go back to the smaller ships and they probably could eliminate some of the problems. Anyway I plan to have a great time.
E-mail No. 8
Does the White House really call it a "Christmas" Party? I can’t believe in this day and age they aren’t calling it a "Holiday" Party. If they can do it, why can’t everyone else?
ANSWER: I called it that in the blog… I don't know what the White House calls it. Judge me by my actions not my words… I have profound respect for all religions. I did not mean to exclude or promulgate an agenda.
E-mail No. 9
Let's see: Cram myself in with hundreds of people. Expose myself to a powerful debilitating virus. Pay money to do this. This does not sound relaxing. I have a "never-been-used album called "Our Cruise" that I found at a flea market. I've decided to keep it BLANK — far more humorous to show to my friends.
E-mail No. 10
I am suspect about all the illness occurring on these ships. It has happening so frequently that you wonder if the cruise ship operators are taking the problem seriously. They have to be losing a lot of money over these incidents. Also, I don't think they quite realize what a public relations nightmare they have on their hands. To answer your question, I am hesitant to go cruising for a vacation. I'm sure these cruises are expensive and if I am going to drop that kind of coin on a vacation, I refuse to run the risk of being ill because cruise lines don't know how to store and serve food probably. After all, it's not like you can jump ship in the middle of the ocean and go to a restaurant on land if you are concerned about the food, can you?
Keep up the good work.
E-mail No. 11
Not anymore. Probably the only good thing to come out of Katrina was that the powers that be confiscated the cruise ship on which we were to travel in October for use in the Katrina relief efforts. Now, you could not pay us enough to travel on one of the vessels. My husband is a stroke survivor and I am sixty years old and not as quick as I used to be. Perhaps we should just stick to land or air or take a charter boat just offshore. I really don't feel safe anymore.
E-mail No. 12
I've not taken any cruises in the last few years because of the viruses. I will continue to avoid cruising until the CDC advises the public why this is happening and, hopefully, they've been eradicated.
E-mail No. 13
That must have been a fun dinner with all your co-workers.
I don't know if you do this but would like you to consider this suggestion. At the end of the year, in your blog, would you share with us the top ten interviews you did for the year and what made them special for you?
Personally, I would love the intellectual stimulation you must get on your job.
That's all. Take care, good care.
ANSWER: Darla, at first I thought this would be really fun…. but then I realized that I am not sure how I would characterize top ten. Most newsworthy? Most famous? Most personal? Most unusual? Unfortunately so many of our interviews are about topics that are rather distressing. News can be very distressing… if I were to select 10, I would think about those I found fun, and not distressing… I do love interview Jack Hanna and his animals… going to the set of 24… going to NASCAR… interview Bret Farve… Sharon Osbourne, etc. But I could go on and on since each interview has a special importance to me, even the ones that may be about distressing topics. I will say one thing, the most bizarre was John Mark Karr.
E-mail No. 14
I have been on two cruises, and I could not be forced to do it again — for a lot of reasons! I think they are like Las Vegas, and people seem to either love cruising or hate it.
The cruises I experienced were both corporate trips, so my husband's company was picking up the cost of everything. The ship was chartered, and it was one of the "top five cruise lines in the world" according to the various travel magazines. It's not the way I choose to travel because I prefer to go somewhere of interest, plant myself there for a couple of weeks, and become familiar with life in that place. That's not what cruises are all about.
Anyway, I don't drink, gamble, or have any interest in endless "eatathons," so that aspect is boring. It was a Norwegian line, but the crew seemed like a multinational cast of criminals. There were several thefts. One guy's expensive watch disappeared. At first I brushed it off as people having too much to drink while sitting in the sun, but when my one decent, expensive suit disappeared out of the closet, I started to think again. I was annoyed, and I made it known. It turned up just before I was to depart (in Nice) with no explanation.
My fake pearl earrings went missing too, but I let that go. Besides all that, I felt seasick most of the time. There is nothing that could make me get back on any cruise ship ever again.
Santa Monica, CA
E-mail No. 15
We live in Myrtle Beach, very near Conway. We too are NY transplants. I feel so badly for this family, how horrible, and especially at this time of the year. Our sympathy to them. They, The Guays; were out of Horry County at the time of the accident, I hope the North Carolina police investigate why they didn't search for the car as it was reported by a 911 caller! I'd hate to think that the police in Horry had to be told by NYPD to do something. Thank goodness the family had the resources to hire a helicopter. Our sympathy to the whole family, God bless them.
Myrtle Beach, SC
E-mail No. 16
If you get that many people in a somewhat confined area, bacteria/virus contamination is going to be wide spread, and more often in the cold and flu season. If the ship is traveling where the weather is cooler and the heat is on, bacteria spreads at a quicker rate. It only takes one ill person working with food in the kitchen to get the cycle going. Believe it or not, some people still do not wash their hands properly, and this is a big contributor to the spread of bacteria/viruses. My daughter was one a cruise about eighteen months ago and the same type of situation occurred. Though it was summer and warm, the ship could only use part of their power, so it got very warm and the bacteria spread rapidly, the ship had to be towed in due to the power issues. To your question, a cruise, train, airplane, are all prime places for this type of situation to occur. I think the reason it is so news worthy, is the fact that the total number of individuals on a cruise ship is much higher. Would I go on a cruise now? No, not between November through February. If 1/2 of the people became ill, there would not be enough medical supplies to help them. Better odds with a plane or train.
E-mail No. 17
I was appalled at the attitude of the daughter of this couple. I know her loss and that of her family is great, but to blame and diss the Horry County Police Dept. for not looking in NC is just plain stupid. People disappear all of the time and they do not garner the kind of attention that these people expected to have placed upon them. Also, the county's police dept. cannot be expected to, or are they allowed to go out of their jurisdiction for something like this.
To the lady who lost her parents, "I'm very sorry for your loss, it is tragic, but grow up, the world cannot hold your hand during life." To be so very obnoxious at a time like this is uncalled for.
North Myrtle Beach, SC
E-mail No. 18
I unfortunately still think that her [Princess Diana] untimely death never would have happened if the paparazzi were not chasing them down all the time. I mean if there were no paparazzi following them, there would have been no need for the excessive speed through the tunnel.
Las Vegas, NV
E-mail No. 19
RE: Disappearance of Wayne and Dianne Guay
You miss asking the Deputy Chief of the South Carolina Police Department one very important question in regard to the disappearance of Wayne and Dianne Guay. That basic question is who is the family suppose to report a missing person to if it isn’t your local police department? The FBI said that they could not get involved in the investigation with out the invitation of the local police department where they lived.
The Assistant Police Chief was clear about is that after they leave his county, and state he washes his hands of the problem, i.e. not my problem. Greta you didn't seem to see any problem with his position.
This is an obvious and huge hole in the safety net to protect our citizens! If we take anything else away from this story you should understand not to leave your county or state because no one will follow-up if you’re missing and you left town, not even Greta.
E-mail No. 20
The allegation by the BBC that the U.S. Secret Service was spying on Princess Diana is ludicrous and outrageous. Having an inside track with the U.S. Secret Service I can say (off the record), unequivocally that the U.S. Secret Service possesses neither the manpower, resources, finances, or anything else to engage in domestic surveillance in Great Britain let alone the USA. The duties and responsibilities of the U.S. Secret Service is to investigate counterfeiting, identity theft, credit card fraud, and money laundering. I seriously doubt that Princess Diana was a qualifier under any of these criteria. The other major duty of the U.S. Secret Service is to protect the sitting President, his family, a few other top cabinet officials, former presidents, and their spouses. I seriously doubt Princess Diana could be linked to any plot against any of our leaders! The allegation by the BBC that the U.S. Secret Service would be spying on Princess Diana again attests to the lack of credibility of the BBC and its reporting. It once again points out that the BBC is a reckless and irresponsible bunch of people reporting a bunch of hogwash. They don't even know what they are talking about! They didn't say in their reports that the CIA was the culprit in their allegations. They said that the U.S. Secret Service was spying on Diana and had her phone tapped. Not a shred of truth to the allegation! Once again we have the BBC touting a bunch of crap and reporting the same!
The U.S. Secret Service was created by President Lincoln prior to his assassination to stop counterfeiting of U.S. currency following the U.S. Civil War. Counterfeiting was undermining the fragile and recovering economy. They came into existence on July 5, 1865, to replace the incompetence of the private Pinkerton Firm who was unable to stop the counterfeiting. Congress refused to allow the Secret Service to protect president's until the turn of the 20th century following the assassination of President James Garfield. Congress was very suspicious of giving this kind of power to the Secret Service, and the President's, and they fought it for many years until a couple of assassinations occurred. The duty for protection evolved very slowly and over a period of many years. Today their main focus is protecting the President, and his family, and this taxes their small numbers to the limits at times. The U.S. Secret Service is the OLDEST federal law enforcement agency in the United States and it is also the smallest and most elite of all of the federal law enforcement agencies.
I can assure you that the U.S. Secret Service would have absolutely NO interest in Princess Diana's private life, her telephone conversations, or anything else. Once again the BBC has it all wrong which is becoming commonplace these days!
Anonymous in Ohio
E-mail No. 21
I have been watching your shows lately with the tragic people who have been stranded such as the family in the car and now the mountain climbers. I think it would be good if you brought up location beacons. Boats and planes use them, and they even have them for people to carry, they are called personal locator beacons, (PLBs).
Finally, an interesting article:
• Judge rejects request to stop 'Borat' DVD release
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge rejected a request by two South Carolina fraternity brothers to halt the DVD release of the hit spoof movie "Borat."
West Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph S. Biderman also refused to order the removal of a scene that includes the two men, who claim they had been duped into misbehaving on camera.
Biderman issued his two-page decision on Friday after hearing arguments the previous day.
The fraternity brothers filed a lawsuit Nov. 9 claiming they were tricked into making racist and sexist remarks to British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
In one scene of the mockumentary, Cohen as rowdy Kazakh journalist Borat hangs out with the men in a motor home and watches the Pamela Anderson-Tommy Lee sex tape.
The fraternity brothers claim the filmmakers got them drunk before getting them to sign release forms agreeing to appear in the film. Their names do not appear in the lawsuit.
The film "made plaintiffs the objects of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional and physical distress," the lawsuit claims.
A trial date for the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, has not been set.
Louis Petrich, an attorney for 20th Century Fox and One America Productions, said he was pleased about the judge's decision.
Calls to the plaintiffs' attorney, Olivier Taillieu, were not immediately returned.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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