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One Man's Opinion: Sea Turtles, See Babies
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One Man's Opinion: Sea Turtles, See Babies

One Man's Opinion: Sea Turtles, See Babies

One Man's Opinion: Sea Turtles, See Babies

The summertime highlights of my childhood were often spent on the beaches of Jekyll Island. In addition to hundreds of sand castles, thousands of miles of beach walks and bike rides...my family has very strong and singular memories of assisting sea turtles. During evening beach walks we would often note sea turtle mama's depositing their eggs near the sea wall, or struggling to make their way back out to sea. Nearing five decades later, I am thrilled to know that a corps of volunteers, now mark and protect those baby turtle eggs and nests, and the work of Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Center is known nationwide.

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One Man's Opinion: Sea Turtles, See Babies

There are state and federal laws protecting these endangered turtles and their offspring, as well as regulating any beachfront lighting, by kilowatt and brightness, as well as the hours which any artificial light can shine toward the beach...potentially blinding or causing misdirection of a mother sea turtle during nesting season. 

Georgia and other states also have strong statues against leaving animals in a closed vehicle, as well as protections against other potential kinds of animal abuse. Our General Assembly just passed a statute giving limited protection to individuals breaking into vehicles they do not own to free or give air/relief to an enclosed dog or pet. 

And yet, at the same time many states give limited or almost no protection to the rights of our own unborn children. In many respects, endangered sea turtles are being given greater priority than the survival of our own species. I do not consider myself to be pro-life. I support safe, and legal access to abortion under limited circumstances. I would oppose over-turning both Roe vs. Wade (despite its flawed legal reasoning), and Casey vs. Planned Parenthood, the now more relevant Supreme Court decision on reproductive rights regulation by the states made in 1992. 

Abortion rights are an intensely personal issue and decision, which I believe are best left in the hands of a pregnant woman, in consultation with her physician, her partner, her family and her God. 

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One Man's Opinion: Sea Turtles, See Babies

The United States is approaching a zero-birth rate in terms of population growth. Traditional families are fewer, as are the average number of children. Millenial and Gen-X adults are waiting longer to start families, and if you subtract out birthright citizenship, which is still responsible for a disproportionate share of our new population, we are likely already losing more American lives each year to illness, suicide and death than we are bringing into this world domestically. 

And yet, instead of encouraging adoption, birth control and foster care, we have the New York state legislature passing a statute allowing for ending the life of a newborn after it leaves the womb. In Virginia, the Governor there embraced legislation from his own Democratic Party which would have also legalized infanticide, if the now born fetus was determined to 'not be viable.' Republicans in that state were able to block passage of that bill. 

In many states, from either end of the spectrum, there will be prospective laws which push the envelope to either extreme. I have often found myself in these discussions and debates, which can quickly devolve into heated and emotional arguments very quickly. I have found it easiest to end such discussions with a simple question. How many of these children are you planning to adopt? At the very least there are a few moments of stunned silence. 

I'm not suggesting abortion should be banned. In addition to allowances for rape, incest or threats to the health and life of the mother...there are other circumstances, including more severe birth defects and real household safety threats, which may well warrant that safe and legal choice. But I think that most Americans, and virtually every mother who I have ever spoken to who has successfully birthed a child...that procedure should be limited, also giving protection and rights to the unborn at beyond the mid-term in a pregnancy. Our hospital neo-natal intensive care units routinely give care and save the lives of fetuses born many months premature, under-weight and with numerous medical challenges. 

If you have ever met or seen one of those miracle babies, you would likely better appreciate extending to them at least some of the same protections we give to baby sea turtles, placing at least as much value on every human life. And that isn’t just baby talk to me.

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News

  • As lies go, it wasn’t a very ambitious one.  But Avery Niles’ false claim, under oath, that he received an associate’s degree in criminal justice cost him his job on Wednesday.  Niles, who was the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice commissioner, offered to resign effective Sept. 1. He submitted his resignation to the DJJ board, which was meeting to deal with the brewing controversy stemming from Niles’ testimony in a 2017 lawsuit filed by a former department administrator.  In a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp announcing his resignation, Niles wrote, in part: “I am very proud of the work that was accomplished during my tenure and will forever be grateful for this tremendous opportunity.”  He continued, “I want to thank you for allowing me to serve in the capacity of Commissioner, and if there is any other opportunity for me to continue my service with your administration, please let me know.” But the DJJ board chose not to accept Niles’ resignation, voting instead to fire him immediately. Kemp approved the decision, the DJJ said in a statement.  Niles, one of the many Gainesville-based appointees of former Gov. Nathan Deal, had led the DJJ since 2012. He had previously served 25 years with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.  RELATED: » Kemp promises to reform how GA treats sexual harassment victims » Tight job market leaves Georgia’s youth jails chronically understaffed Niles’ tenure at the DJJ was marked by problems often unrelated to the commissioner. Staff shortages at juvenile justice facilities nationwide are not uncommon, and that problem only grew worse in 2018, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found. The department’s own weekly staffing reports, obtained by the AJC, found that six of the state’s seven long-term youth detention centers, or YDCs, were dealing with greater shortages in juvenile corrections officers than experienced in 2017.  A spokesman for the DJJ has said Georgia would like to stop placing 17-year-olds in adult prisons for certain less serious crimes, but it lacks the staff to care for them. Georgia is among only a handful of states that still incarcerate juveniles in adult penitentiaries.  The DJJ has also dealt with accusations that it mishandled claims of sexual harassment by staff from other employees, a widespread problem in Georgia government agencies, according to a separate AJC investigation.  The DJJ wasted no time in erasing Niles from its website, removing his photo and a link to his bio within an hour of his dismissal. 
  • The brother of a woman shot by her husband at a medical clinic in Potts Camp, Mississippi is honoring his sister’s life. Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, state representative candidate Carl Robinson shot and killed his wife – Latoya Thompson – before turning the gun on himself inside the Williams Medical Clinic. The couple had been married since 2014, but court records show Robinson, 43, and Thompson, 33, had filed for divorce in April.  According to legal records, the two filed a joint complaint for divorce April 26. At the time, only one lawyer was involved.  That changed Tuesday morning. Records show that Thompson hired her own attorney and that she changed her mind about a previous agreement she signed about child custody, support and other details July 15.  Now, Thompson’s brother said his family is remembering her for her love of life and passion for singing. “She was a singer, she was our little songbird. Ever since she was a kid, she was always singing something. Beautiful smile, beautiful spirit,” said Kevin Thompson. Thompson said his sister loved her family, especially her 3-year-old son.  His last memory with her is from Saturday, when he traveled in town for their grandmother’s funeral in Lamar, Mississippi. “She was just real happy this weekend, and that’s what I take from all of this,” Thompson said. Three days later on his way home, Thompson found out his sister was shot by her husband.  Investigators said Robinson shot Thompson inside the clinic, where she worked as a receptionist. He then killed himself. Three staff members tried to help Thompson after she was shot.  According to Marshall County officials, staff attempted to perform CPR on Thompson to resuscitate her, but she died before she could be airlifted to a hospital. Robinson was running for state representative in Mississippi, officials confirmed. According to Robinson's campaign Facebook page, he was running in District 5 for the upcoming election. “I was mad at what happened to my sister. I was sad at the fact that I lost my sister, and I was numb because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Thompson said. Thompson said he knew her husband, but he did not know the specifics about their relationship. “I knew he had a temper like most of us did. I didn’t know to what extent,” he said. “You may know someone is off but never think they would go to this extent.” Thompson said his focus now is being there for her 3-year-old son. He said he will include Robinson’s family in the child’s life. “We are going to work together to make sure he has the best of both. It would be unfair for us to shield him and hold onto him,” he said. He said a memory he will hold close to his heart is their last conversation – when she told him that she loved him. Funeral arrangements have not yet been planned.
  • A Mableton man is accused of hiding his 5-year-old son from his wife — who has a temporary protection order against him — before leading deputies on a three-hour manhunt, authorities said. Quantavious Carrol, 27, faces 10 charges after the Thursday chase, which ended with deputies using a Taser on him, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Deputies tried to pull over Carrol’s vehicle, which also had a passenger inside, near Upper Riverdale Road and Tara Boulevard, the release said. Carrol, who allegedly knew he violated the restraining order, drove away from the traffic stop on I-75 North. While driving, he’s accused of throwing a stolen handgun of the window. The gun was stolen out of Gwinnett County, the release said. The chase continued onto I-285 and ended on Fairburn Road, where Carrol got out of the vehicle and ran away, the release said. The passenger was blocked inside the vehicle and was captured by deputies. His charges have not been released. Carrol continued to run, and deputies found him after searching for about three hours, authorities said. He allegedly fought with deputies after they located him, which is why a Taser was used. The 10 charges against Carrol include fleeing police, obstruction, not having car insurance, theft by receiving and multiple driving citations, records show. He remains held at the Clayton County jail without bond. The 5-year-old has been reunited with his mother, the release said. In other news:
  • An Indiana man has been charged with endangering the welfare of children after authorities said he took kids to Kentucky and forced them to sell candy for him. >>Read more trending news Shawn Floyd, 54, of Indianapolis was arrested last week in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a statement. The 12 children involved in the case were taken into protective custody. Floyd is accused of taking 12 Indiana children to Kentucky and forcing them to sell candy for profit, the statement said. The children were allegedly made to sleep in one hotel room with three adults, and had to purchase their own meals and water, according to the statement. The youngest child was 11, the office said. Kentucky labor law requires a person to be at least 14 years old to be employed. Beshear's office was notified July 12 of about 25 solicitor permits issued in Bowling Green, mostly for minors. The office had also received previously reports of Floyd possibly being involved in human trafficking in several Kentucky counties, the statement said. 'I want to commend the work of the Bowling Green Police Department and our human trafficking investigator,” Beshear said. “Their actions prevented any further possible exploitation or suffering for these children. When it comes to preventing such crimes, it requires cooperation across agencies and promoting awareness of such actions in every community.” Floyd has a pretrial conference scheduled for Sept. 4 in Warren County, Kentucky, WANE-TV reported. Online records show Floyd has bonded out of Warren County Regional Jail. Anyone who has information on people being exploited for commercial sex or labor can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (or text 233733) for immediate assistance.
  • A California family is mourning the loss of their 9-year-old daughter and warning others about the dangers of underwater pool lights. >> Read more trending news  McKenzie Kinley, who was just shy of her 10th birthday, was killed Sunday after she was electrocuted in her family’s backyard pool in Citrus Heights, according to news reports.  The child was killed after touching an underwater light fixture that was not sealed and was under repair, KOVR-TV reported. “As much as we know, she grabbed the pool light, and it electrocuted her,” the girl’s father, Cliff Kinley, told the news station.  Sacramento County rescue crews rushed to the scene, but were not able to save the child. “Thank goodness it didn’t get anyone else, because there were four other children in that pool,” Kinley said. Kinley said the family is talking about the tragedy to warn other people about the potential dangers in backyard pools. “If nothing comes from losing my daughter, at least this could save others,” the child’s mother, Lisa Moore, told KOVR. The family started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
  • A former Atlanta attorney and his son were sentenced to nearly six years in prison Tuesday for a banking and investment scam that netted them more than $15 million, authorities said. Donald Watkins and his son Donald Watkins Jr. were convicted earlier this year  of deceiving former NBA star Charles Barkley and using the name of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support the scam. Watkins was sentenced to five years in prison, while his son got 27 months behind bars, The Associated Press reported. The elder Watkins was also ordered to pay $14 million in restitution.  During the trial, witnesses including Barkley testified about losing more than $6 million in investments and loans to the former attorney. Barkley said he was friends with Watkins, who split his time living in Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Other athletes who lost money in the scheme included former NBA player Damon Stoudamire and former NFL players Takeo Spikes and Bryan Thomas. Rice testified that Watkins used her name to promote an energy business without her permission, the AP reported. She declined to get involved, but Watkins included her name in emails to investors anyway, she said. As a lawyer, the senior Watkins once served in Montgomery as a city council member. He helped defend HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy in a fraud that nearly bankrupted the company, now known as Encompass Health. He has also worked on various civil rights cases. Watkins reportedly only had a net worth of few thousand dollars despite portraying himself as wealthy, the AP reported. He attempted to purchase a major league baseball team and the the St. Louis Rams before the team left for Los Angeles.  In other news: