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July 3rd, 2011
03:09 PM ET

Letters to the President: #895 “Fireworks”

Reporter's Note: President Obama has to be a pretty responsible citizen. The rest of us? Well, I suppose it is kind of optional.

Dear Mr. President,

I was watching that annual demonstration of fireworks danger on video the other day; you know, the one where they usually blow up a watermelon or a mannequin with firecrackers to show how dangerous they are? And it occurred to me that there is a basic flaw in this display. Because every year when I see it, the first thought I have is: Wow, wouldn’t it be fun to do that!

Usually I try to be a level headed fellow, but I have to admit, I love fireworks and I love places where normal people can set them off. And I hate laws against them.

Yes, I know that they can hurt people and I know that plenty of very well meaning folks have raised alarms about the dangers of fireworks, especially around children. I respect their point of view. I just don’t share it. I love the sizzle of the fuses, the swoosh of the rockets, and the skull rattling clatter of a big string of firecrackers lighting up the night. I love the smell of the burnt powder filling the air and the blue smoke trailing out over a twilight field.
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July 3rd, 2011
01:03 PM ET

Prosecution, defense offer closing arguments in Casey Anthony trial

(CNN) - As Casey Anthony alternately cried, glared and shook her head, prosecutors in her capital murder trial told jurors in closing arguments Sunday that evidence in the case points to only one conclusion - that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

"When you have a child, that child becomes your life," prosecutor Jeff Ashton told the seven-woman, five-man jury. "This case is about the clash between that responsibility, and the expectations that go with it, and the life that Casey Anthony wanted to have."

Defense attorney Jose Baez, however, told jurors, "I probably think you have more questions than you have answers." And the central one, he said, remains how Caylee died.

Just after 6:30 p.m., before the prosecution could offer its rebuttal to the defense's closing presentation, Orange County Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. dismissed the jury for the day.

"I want all of you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," Perry told the jury. "It's been a long day, (and) it will be a long day tomorrow."

Jurors are expected to start deliberations Monday - even though it is the Independence Day holiday - to decide if Anthony, now 25, is guilty of killing Caylee. She is charged with seven counts, including first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and misleading police. If convicted of first-degree murder, she could receive the death penalty.

Casey Anthony has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and denies harming her daughter.

Prosecutors allege that the Orlando woman used chloroform to render her daughter unconscious before putting duct tape over her nose and mouth to suffocate her. She left Caylee's body in the trunk of her car for a few days before disposing of it, they allege.

In his closing, Baez attacked the state's case, saying it does not constitute the kind of evidence that jurors need to make a decision in such a serious matter. Prosecutors' allegations are based on "fantasy (computer) searches, fantasy forensics, phantom stickers, phantom stains (in the trunk) ... and no real, hard evidence," he said.

Updated: 8:28 p.m.

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