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Bill Macfadyen: Best of Noozhawk 09.16.11

What were you reading on Noozhawk this week? Here's your weekend recap, and a peek at what's ahead

1. Mona Charen: Without Swift Change, Financial Crisis Is Inevitable

National Review magazine’s Mona Charen, whose syndicated columns are published on Noozhawk, definitely struck a nerve this week with her review of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ new book, Keeping the Republic: Saving America by Trusting Americans.

In the book, Daniels paints a chilling picture of what’s ahead if the United States continues to spend money like there’s no tomorrow. Essentially, there will be no tomorrow, he says, unless we push a know-it-all government out of the way, regain control of our finances, and allow Americans to be Americans again.

Among my favorite passages is Daniels’ response to a reporter’s question about how he eliminated the $700 million deficit he inherited when he took office. “Prepare to be dazzled,” he says. “We spent less than we took in.”

Daniels’ book is a compelling read, with actual specifics on steps we need to take now to reignite the American spirit that made our country the envy of the world. And can do so again.

2. Goleta Family Raising Funds, Awaiting Adoption of Russian Child with Down Syndrome

On Sept. 13, Noozhawk reporter Lara Cooper brought us the touching story of Gentry and Luis Zuzunaga, who are in the process of adopting an adorable Russian girl given up by her biological parents because she has Down syndrome.

The Zuzunagas have raised more than half of the estimated $40,000 they need to complete the adoption of little Maria, and bring her home to Goleta to join their family of five.

Maria turns 4 on Saturday, which should be a happy day. In Russia, however, special-needs children are placed in mental institutions at age 4. Happy birthday, right?

Click here to help the Zuzunagas with the adoption costs.

3. Santa Barbara County Soon May Let Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Apply for Permits

On Sept. 14, Noozhawk reporter Giana Magnoli returned to a topic that’s all-too familiar to our readers: medical marijuana dispensaries.This time it’s not another chapter in the city of Santa Barbara’s excruciating saga, however. Santa Barbara County is preparing for the expiration of its dispensary permit moratorium at the end of the year and is trying to decide how to proceed.

4. After Losing It All, Former Drug Addict Looking Forward to Renewed Life

On Sept. 12, Lara Cooper opened our six-week investigative series, Prescription for Abuse, by chronicling the travails of Lisa W., whose descent into drug addiction cost her dearly. Thanks to the Sheriff’s Treatment Program at the Santa Barbara County Jail and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s Bethel House, Lisa has her life back on track and is reconnecting with her family and her future.

5. Santa Maria Man Dies in Goleta Car Crash, 3 Passengers Injured

Late on the night of Sept. 9, a driver racing east on Hollister Avenue lost control of his car and crashed into the corporate headquarters of Cottage Health System at 6550 Hollister Ave.

Sheriff’s deputies and Goleta police quickly arrived on the scene, only to observe two injured passengers running away. Inside the vehicle, they found the driver, a 20-year-old Santa Maria man, dead behind the wheel and his brother critically injured in the back seat. The three injured men were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment.

The cause of the crash is under investigation and authorities believe alcohol was a factor.

The Week Ahead

On Monday and Tuesday, Noozhawk will resume Prescription for Abuse with Week Two of the series. Our reporters will be taking a closer look at addiction and we’ll also be introducing the Noozhawk-sponsored Santa Barbara Teen News Network, whose students produced more than two dozen videos featuring many of our sources in the series. You’ll be impressed with their work.

The Prescription for Abuse project is the result of a partnership between Noozhawk and USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. In addition to sbTNN, the project is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Mosher Foundation, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Zona Seca and KEYT.

Reporters Lara Cooper and Giana Magnoli, and I, will be on KEYT’s In Focus at 6:30 a.m. Sunday on Channel 3. The show’s host, Scott Hurst, graciously invited us up the hill to tape the show and discuss what we’ve discovered about the misuse and abuse of prescription medications in Santa Barbara County. We had a lot of fun on the show, and Lara and Giana did a terrific job.

Meanwhile, former Noozhawk reporter Ben Preston, who left last year to get his master’s in journalism from Columbia University, will be attending the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York City. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College, Ben will be filing reports from the conference on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and the value of college in America.

We know how important education issues are to our readers and both of these topics are timely ones for our community. The STEM session will be moderated by Kumar Garg, a senior Obama administration policy analyst with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The college session is hosted by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Noozhawk needs and welcomes your support. Just as you might subscribe — or formerly subscribed — to a favorite newspaper to keep up with your community news, please consider becoming a voluntary paying subscriber to Noozhawk, for as little as $5 a month, or becoming a member of our Hawks Club.

Click here to make a donation online, or mail your check to Noozhawk, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102. Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to set up recurring credit-card transactions through our PCI-compliant payment gateway. Personal contributions to Noozhawk are not deductible as charitable donations.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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