Sponsors of a Confederate Heritage license plate praise judge’s ruling, but wish it had gone further.

ORLANDO – A federal district judge’s ruling striking down parts of Florida’s law governing specialty license plates is a welcome victory for both free speech and for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, says the non-profit organization’s spokesman.
But without a ruling against the Florida Legislature’s ability to vote down license plates that lawmakers consider controversial, not enough has changed to enable the Sons of Confederate Veterans to get a “Confederate Heritage” specialty license plate, said John Adams, vice president of the Florida division of the non-profit group.
“I certainly applaud the judge’s fairness in handling this,” Adams said. “I think the decision was the right decision. But I hoped he would have gone a little bit further, because the judgment as it stands leaves the Legislature with room to do what it always does, which is discriminate.”
Federal District Judge John Antoon II issued an order knocking down parts of the Florida statute governing the procedure for applying for, and getting approval for, specialty license plates. The judge ruled that aspects of the law were an infringement on the free speech guarantees provided by the First Amendment.
Antoon ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by the Sons of Confederate Veterans two years ago, after the Florida Legislature and the Florida Division of Motor Vehicles refused to approve the organization’s proposed “Confederate Heritage” license plate.
When the non-profit initially applied for the license plate, Adams said, he had expected it to be a routine matter.
“I had no problem with the system as it was, except that once you had jumped through all these hoops, the legislators were capable of shooting down what you’ve done,” he said, noting that Sons had fulfilled all the requirements of getting a specialty plate, including demonstrating they had 30,000 potential buyers and submitting a financial and marketing plan for it.
The problem, he added, was Florida lawmakers thought the idea was too hot to handle.
“When you spend $120,000 to $150,000 getting this, and then turn around and have the Legislature boot you as a political football, that’s the issue that we had,” he said. “Well, we’ve still got that issue.”
The judge struck down the process established by the Department of Motor Vehicles, including the schedules and fees for getting a special themed license plate. But the judge did not strike down the part of the law giving lawmakers final approval over the content of each new specialty plate.
“The DMV is now out of this, and they were not partisan,” Adams said. “They were just checking the list and making sure everyone was doing what they’re supposed to do. What got struck down was the DMV’s process. We were hoping that the judge would throw out where the Legislature must approve it. Instead what he did was he got rid of the part where the DMV has all of these requirements.”
That forces Sons, he said, to go back to square one and ask state lawmakers to approve the new plate – which he expects won’t be an easy task, largely because of political correctness.
“We were told as much,” he said. “The chairman of the (legislative) committee said the tag was too controversial to even spend the time reviewing it. They thought it was going to take up too much discussion. The legislature didn’t even bother raising any issues about it. They were just terrified about it. Political correctness is the problem.”
Adams said that’s a shame, because his organization’s mission – and activities – are totally misunderstood.
“We’re a historical preservation non-profit,” he said. “We do real controversial things like clean up cemeteries, and survey and get headstones for soldiers who don’t have any marker. We have for years, close to 20 years now, funded the restoration of Confederate flags in Tallahassee, since it can cost $20,000 apiece to restore them. We’re a benevolent historical organization trying to restore a battlefield or do research for museums.”
Doug Guetzloe, the political consultant who worked with the Sons of Confederate Veterans on behalf of the heritage license plate, said the non-profit has unfairly gotten a bad deal from lawmakers.
“It’s a historical organization and it’s in virtually all states as a source of great pride,” Guetzloe said. “Opponents look at the word ‘confederate’ and they think slavery, and say it’s racist. The so-called mainstream media likes to characterize the confederate cause as racist, and it’s not.”
Guetzloe noted that in addition to supporting the Confederate Heritage license plate, he also supported a Martin Luther King Jr. specialty license plate for Florida. He also praised the judge’s ruling, saying it will likely force lawmakers to approve the Confederate plate in the near future.
“This was a huge victory for the First Amendment,” Guetzloe said. “The judge really got it right. He knocked out the entire process. I think the Florida Legislature will reverse itself and approve the plate now that the judge has knocked down that process.”
Adams said he does expect to keep fighting for the specialty plate, even if it has been a uphill battle so far.
“I think free speech does belong to everybody,” he said. “I don’t know if I will use the court case to build on that idea, but I’ll use the court case for whatever advantage I have with the Legislature now.”

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Does prayer help control anger? A local pastor believes this is definitely the case.

Prayer, a new study indicates, helps people control bouts of anger and aggression.

ORLANDO – Scott Smith admits that sometimes he gets very angry. But he knows what he needs to do to cope with that anger. He looks to a higher authority, and prays for guidance.
And it works.
“When I stop and I pray, it’s almost like God is telling me ‘That’s not who you are, that’s not who I created you to be,’ ” Smith said. “Prayer doesn’t change the other person so much as it changes me. It gives me the opportunity to pause and reflect.”
Smith is the pastor of the Community of Faith United Methodist Church in Davenport, where he’s provided spiritual guidance to parishioners, including some with hot tempers and anger management problems.
“That’s when you say things and do things that are stupid, that you regret later on, that you do in anger,” Smith said. “That’s the kicker — how to help people recognize the emotional response and how to learn to step back from it. Prayer can help, but before prayer you have to have some kind of self-recognition. How many times have you been cut off on U.S. 27? There’s a deeper issue of why are they getting angry. Are you really angry about being cut off, or is there a deeper issue?”
According to a new study published in the online journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers found that praying after getting very angry can help prevent someone from becoming aggressive. Prayer, it was found, could enable people to cope with and even soothe their temper.
Smith said he’s definitely seen instances where this is true.
“I would agree with you that prayer helps you with anger,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with anger. Anger is actually a good emotion. There are things we need to get angry about. We need to be angry that kids are living in cheap motels on U.S. 192.
“But the key to anger,” he added, “is how do we respond to anger? I think we have to talk about how prayer can help us in how we respond to anger.”
Most importantly, he said, prayer can be an alternative method, when someone is ready to blow their fuse, of counting to ten, taking a deep breath, and taking the time to reflect on what it is that made them explode in the first place.
“In my own life, if I pray before I do something, I get a better response,” Smith said. “One of the things we’re doing at our church is passing out red dots on the days leading up to Easter. It’s a reminder for us to stop and to pray. I’m trying to remind myself that when that person cut me off on (U.S.) 27, maybe I need to keep in mind that I want to get home and I need to get there safely.”
Smith said he’s known some parishioners who have serious anger control issues, and it takes more than spiritual guidance to help them.
“We try and help people who have a tendency to fly off the handle, and counsel them on what is causing this,” he said. “One of the main things we do is refer people to counselors. If you’re a hothead and are always flying off the handle, there’s a reason for that. There’s something in that moment when they got so mad, they hit their spouse.”
By seeking counseling and guidance, he said, “What you’ll discover as you look deep into yourself, is there’s a lot of baggage you’re carrying into this.”
He recalled the example of one parishioner who was constantly yelling at his children.
“He wasn’t angry at his kids, he was angry at his boss, but he couldn’t yell at his boss, so he yelled at his kids,” Smith said. “One of the techniques we told this guy to use is every time you pull into your garage, if you’re angry at your boss and had a horrible day at work, take everything out on a tree. Yell at the tree, so when you go in the house it’s just you and not the anger. He said that was a great visual reference.”
Most of all, Smith said, prayer enables him to cope with the challenges that life throws at every one of us on a daily basis.
“Over the course of a day, as I pray to God, it allows me the ability when anger comes to respond in a positive way,” he said. “I need to pray so when I get angry, I have the capacity to respond in the right way.”

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A big waste of money that washes drown the drain? Stylists say shampoo has a good rep for a reason.

Awapuhi Wild Ginger and Tea Tree Special are two of the shampoos used by hair stylist Luisa Valdes at the Lunatic Fringe salon in Altamonte Springs.

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS – In the world of hair styling, merchandise can be big business, racking up huge profits among people trying their hardest to look their best.
So what happens when one of the oldest products in the hair treatment world starts to get a bad rap, maybe even attract skeptics who think it’s just a big waste of money?
And what happens when the product in question is that centuries-old standby of hair cleaning, shampoo?
“Why most Shampoos are a waste of money” is a blog on the web site HairLossTalk, and this traditional product has attracted some harsh comments like “It’s the dirty little secret shampoo companies don’t want you to know—when you wash your hair with one of those nutrient-rich shampoos, most of the nutrients and active ingredients in the product don’t actually end up in your hair, they wind up down the drain … along with all the money you spent on the shampoo.”
So have woman and men been wasting their hard-earned dollars for more than a century on a product that, commercially, dates back to the turn of the century, when Kasey Hebert became known as the first maker of shampoo?
Local hair stylists say they’ve heard from the sketics, and think they’re … well, all wet.
“Yes, shampoo does work,” said Luisa Valdes, a stylist at the Lunatic Fringe salon at Uptown Altamonte.
Shampoo, she noted, is a well crafted hair care product used to remove the oils, dirt, skin particles, dandruff, environmental pollutants and other contaminant particles that gradually build up in people’s hair. Shampoo removes the unwanted build-up of these elements, she said, but don’t strip out so much sebum – the cause of people’s oily hair — that it leaves the hair unmanageable.
“It’s formulated to cleanse your scalp and cleanse your hair,” Valdes said. “It’s stripping what’s there, and cleaning your pallet.”
Before shampoo was invented, people tended to wash their hair with ordinary hand soup. Shampoo was designed to remove the aspects of soap that irritated the hair or left it looking unhealthy.
“There are natural oils that your skins produce,” Valdes said. “Your scalp has pores for that. It can go down your hair and makes it oily. There are shampoos that can strip that away.”
At Lunatic Fringe, Valdes said, she’s seen the impressive turnaround among clients who have gotten a shampoo treatment before their hair gets cut.
“I say absolutely it does work,” she said. “You definitely want to remove that buildup of oils.”
Ok, so using shampoo isn’t a waste of money. But how often should it be used?
“It’s all conditional,” Valdes said. “Some people think you should do it daily, and some people think you should do it weekly. It all depends on how active you are.”
The best approach, she said, is to shampoo your hair, then use a conditioner which can help ease combing and styling.
Lunatic Fringe has its own products, she said, like Awapuhi Wild Ginger, a lather shampoo.
“It’s a really harsh detergent for your hair, removing your oils,” she said.
Tina Jenkins Foote works at an organic hair salon, and she also stands by shampoo and insists that it works.
“I was once one of those skeptics before I became a stylist,” she said. “I had long hair and just wanted the cheapest pretty smelling shampoo.”
That turned out to be a mistake, she added.
“The result was long, straggly, tangly hair that I couldn’t get a comb through,” she said. “Later I decided short red hair would be fun. So I colored my blond hair a brilliant red. Loved it.”
But …
“After the first wash with my cheap, pretty smelling shampoo, my brilliant red was orange-ish,” she said. “After a week, a dull brown. So since I was in school at the time learning about professional hair care products, I decided to test it out. Colored my hair again, used professional shampoo for color treated hair — and my beautiful red lasted six weeks.”
At that point, Foote said, she became a convert. But the key, she added, is finding the right stuff to use.
” ‘Grocery store’ shampoos have a high pH level which strips the hair, then coats it with slippery silicone-type substances, making you think it’s healthy — but it’s not,” she said. “Sulfate-free shampoos are the best, since sulfates are a harsh ingredient that do nothing more than make your shampoo sudsy again, making you think your hair is cleaner because of all the bubbles.
“Not to mention,” she added, “the health risks of sulfates.”

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