Beck rails against ‘worshipping idols’

ORLANDO, Fla. – Glenn Beck is a man people either love or hate. The radio and television host, who has become a powerful voice for conservative Americans and an annoyance for progressive politicians, was welcomed by thousands of fans Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

Nearly 8,000 roaring fans attended Glenn Beck’s American Revival at the University of Central Florida Arena. They came from several southeastern states to listen to the Fox News Channel personality.

Supporters say he speaks for the millions of Americans who have been alienated by President Obama and his administration. Beck, who supports smaller government, is a comfort for Americans who feel the government has overreached with Obama’s recent signing of the controversial health-care bill.

Critics have accused Beck of spreading fallacies and inciting extremist rhetoric. But his main messages in Orlando were: Learn the Constitution, question authority and believe in God.

“Worshipping idols, that’s the problem with Americans. We’re worshipping cars. We’re worshipping homes. Stop worshipping the almighty dollar,” Beck said.

The audience whistled, clapped and stamped their feet in approval. They furiously roared when images of Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were projected on the arena’s big screens.

Robin Hess of Winter Springs, Fla., said Beck “doesn’t try to incite violence.” Instead, he informs people about the problems in Washington and the importance of removing the progressives from office, said Hess, a self-proclaimed conservative Republican.

Beck warned the audience that the budget deficit and the “socialists” in the White House will ruin the country. “If we don’t face the truth right now, we’ll be dead in five years – this country can’t survive,” he said.

Paparazzi fight for photo; one arrested, one hospitalized

LOS ANGELES – A battle by a pair of paparazzi at Los Angeles International Airport ended with one of them in the hospital and the other in jail.

Airport police spokeswoman Sgt. Belinda Nettles said Saturday that 42-year-old Stefan Saad was arrested on suspicion of felony battery after the Friday night scuffle with another photographer as the two tried to get a spot on an airport curb for a shot of British singer Pixie Lott.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Web site said Saad was released Saturday after posting $50,000 bail. Nettles said the second paparazzo was treated at a local hospital. His name and condition were not released.

Author of banned book speaks out

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – One of Latin America’s most prominent contemporary writers accepted an honorary doctorate Friday on this island where the government recently banned his novel from public high schools.

Carlos Fuentes called dropping “Aura” from the curriculum an arbitrary decision that amounted to an “antidemocratic, anticultural” act.

He spoke to reporters briefly before addressing dozens of professors and students at the University of Puerto Rico.

The author of “The Death of Artemio Cruz” and “The Old Gringo” said that even at age 81, he is still working on several books – including one about Colombian guerrillas that he struggles with because current events constantly render it outdated.

Fuentes also urged journalists not to wait until they encounter a totalitarian government to defend freedom of the press.

“We take it for granted,” he said.

His visit comes six months after Puerto Rico’s education secretary announced a ban on five books – including “Aura” – because of “coarse” language.

Fuentes said that while he has a certain responsibility as a writer to speak out against injustices, it is not his main job.

“A writer’s responsibility lies with language, to maintain the vitality of language,” he said.