In the hierarchy of public lands, national parks by law have been above the rest: America's most special places, where natural beauty and all its attendant pleasures - quiet waters, the scents of fir and balsam, the hoot of an owl, and the dark of a night sky unsullied by city lights - are sacrosanct.
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In the Eisenhower era, when earnings over $400,000 were subject to 91 percent taxes and the world was a smaller place, you could count the truly wealthy on one hand: Getty, Dupont, Mellon, Rockefeller, though even those fortunes were being dispersed to children as the old robber barons died off.
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If the '80s were about Christian Lacroix ball gowns, the '90s give us wealthy women who either go to work or pretend to, and want office suits or slip dresses they can wear to dinner parties - ergo, the minimalism of Prada, Jil Sander, and others. But this is minimalism that comes at maximal prices.
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Directly after Rock Hudson's death came the fears that gay writers and actors and directors would be denied jobs; who knew if they would live long enough to finish a feature film or television series? And would the unions force directors to give blood tests and ban actors who tested positive?
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The fashion industry is often charged with having kept its blinders on as one Seventh Avenue company after another lost employees to AIDS. Consumers, it was feared, would shun the racks of designers whose names were associated with the disease. And to stand up against AIDS would, in many minds, confirm the business's stereotypical image.
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The story of mountaintop mining - why it happens, and what its consequences are - is still new to most Americans. They have no idea that their country's physical legacy - the purple mountain majesties that are America - is being destroyed at the rate of several ridgetops a week, by three million pounds of explosives every day.