Originally created 11/12/06

Across the Southeast



Coast Guard cutter Bertholf christened

PASCAGOULA, MISS. - The first large Coast Guard cutter to be built in 35 years was christened Saturday, more than a year after Hurricane Katrina damaged it in the shipyard during construction.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff marked Veterans Day by helping christen the 418-foot, 4,300-ton Bertholf, which the Coast Guard calls a "national security cutter." It is about a third larger than the class of ships it replaces.

The Coast Guard ordered the Bertholf and seven other deep-water cutters from Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin as part of a multibillion-dollar program to replace an aging fleet.

Rescue operations aren't the only use for the new high-endurance ships. The Coast Guard says they play critical roles in fighting terrorism, drug smuggling and illegal immigration.

Mr. Chertoff said the Bertholf's crew "will have to man the line of defense for a critical new era, where our ports and our shipping lanes are threatened by an ideology of hatred and an enemy that wants to bring the war to America's shores."

Mississippi native irked over comment

GULFPORT, MISS. - Lisa Balius, who lives in Georgia but was born and raised in Mississippi, was furious Friday after learning of derogatory comments a New York congressman had made about her native state.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., was quoted in The New York Times as saying that "Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?"

The Times story was about how New York's influence in Congress will grow after Democrats won control of the House and the Senate in Tuesday's elections.

Mr. Rangel, 76, said he wants New York to get more money from the federal government, especially considering the amount its residents contribute.

Ms. Balius found out about Mr. Rangel's remarks Friday morning and immediately wrote a letter to him and pointed out all the good things about the state.

"It just infuriated me," she said. "I hate when people talk about Mississippi when they know nothing about it."

Christian theme park thrives in Orlando

ORLANDO, FLA. - In a small theme park not far from the Magic Kingdom, Jesus is the star attraction.

Each afternoon at 4:30, barring heavy rain or lightning, an actor portraying Jesus stumbles along a path to the top of a makeshift mountain where Roman soldiers nail his tortured body to a cross.

The park - providing a daylong dose of sermons, music and theatrics designed to reinforce evangelical teachings - is one of the most obvious signals that Christian entertainment has entered the mainstream.

The park began as an experiment in 2001 to lure some of the 50 million visitors who travel to Orlando each year.

- Edited from wire reports