DeFede: Tomorrow's Rich and Powerful Corporate Pig? God Bless My .357 Magnum
Jim DeFede seems to be like an ostrich with his head in the ground regarding Micky Arison ("Why's Everybody Always Pickin' on Me?" July 4). First, why pick on Micky Arison and Carnival Cruise Lines? We've sailed on almost every cruise line and they all hire foreign staff. They also have many American employees on each ship, as well as thousands in their offices, and create thousands more jobs for Americans through travel agents, suppliers, people who manufacture the supplies, and so on.

As for the service staff earning small salaries and depending on tips, doesn't every waiter, busboy, maid, and porter in the U.S. have the same pay plan? The ones who earn small salaries by our standards still make five times what they would earn in their own countries -- plus free room and board, the opportunity to travel (which they couldn't otherwise afford), and still they're able to send money home to their families. They aren't locked up on the ship, and 90 percent of them renew their contracts to remain on-board.

As for most ships being registered in foreign countries, Mr. DeFede should be criticizing our government's bureaucracy. Instead of U.S. bureaucrats charging a fair price to register the ships and collect millions of dollars, they have highly inflated registration prices and collect nothing.

Lastly, Mr. DeFede has called Mr. Arison a "greedy corporate pig." Mr. DeFede should be ashamed. Mr. Arison's father Ted started with an old, dilapidated ship, and then with the help of his son grew it into the largest, most profitable cruise company in the world. Isn't this the American dream, and doesn't everyone in our country have the ability to succeed with hard work, intelligence, and diligence?

I do not know the Arisons, but I, being involved with many charities, know how charitable that family has been to a multitude of worthwhile causes. Maybe Mr. DeFede should, instead of writing one-sided, prejudicial stories, dedicate his writing to projects that help people in our country to better themselves. He may one day be famous, too, and possibly own a large publishing company.

Herschel G. Levy
South Miami

I would like to thank Ray Martinez and New Times for reporting on one part of my long struggle to restore a better quality of life to my neighborhood ("To Protect and Unnerve," June 27). Quite often New Times is willing to give a forum to those who can't get the established media to give them a real "tell it like it is" opportunity to discuss issues that are vital to our community. That's what makes the publication interesting, and that's what makes it a regular "must read" for all of us who want a more livable South Florida.

I would like to comment on a few aspects of Mr. Martinez's article. First, for my own protection (and others'), I would like to clarify and correct the New Times accounts of incidents in which I was forced to use a firearm to defend myself.

In the first incident, the very large "disheveled man," in addition to trying to kick out the driver's side window of a slowing vehicle, had also attempted to jump onto the hood of a fast-moving car, almost diverting it into the service station where I was attempting to buy gas. This man had displayed behavior which clearly threatened the lives of others (including his own) before I even considered use of a firearm.

I was on foot trying to get 911 telephoning help from within the station when the subject approached and verbally threatened me. He then diverted his path and followed toward me as I retreated to my car. Not having a clear or timely path of escape because of my handicap, I grabbed my gun from an unzipped bag in my front seat and pointed it at him.

I ordered him to stop moving and put his hands up. Had he done that, there would have never been a shot fired. Instead, as several witnesses can attest, he backed me 150 feet down the length of the station, repeatedly threatening to kill me, before I fired a warning shot. Subsequent shots were intentionally fired low to disable rather than kill this still-charging man.

In the few moments before the second incident, I was not following slowly behind the subjects. I did want to see if they resembled the three people who had just been reported casing cars, but in this county, following closely and slowly behind anyone on foot in the dark is a very bad idea -- and especially if you want to see their faces. When the incident occurred, I was at normal speed trying to give the subjects a wide berth, with the intention of going on several blocks, turning around, and repassing them as they faced me.

When they blocked my vehicle and put a gun to me, I strongly believed that I had been set up for a hit. My auto is widely known to various young hoodlums, and that sudden convergence led me to believe I would surely be killed; I waited for the bullet. When the movement of my dog diverted their attention a second, I exited the vehicle firing. Only some weeks later, after investigation revealed other similar incidents in the vicinity, did I conclude that these teenagers perhaps were only trying to hijack my car (no great comfort you may be sure.)

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