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More about political 527 contributors

It has been reported that Peter Lewis and Stephen Bing have contributed millions of dollars to Democratic-leaning 527 groups such as Who are these men, and how much have they given to these 527s?

Lewis of Cleveland, Ohio, is board chairman of Progressive Insurance Corp. According to the Center for Public Integrity, since August 2000 these were his contributions to 527 committees: Joint Victory Campaign 2004, $7,750,000; America Coming Together (nonfederal account), $2,995,000; Voter Fund, $2.5-million; Marijuana Policy Project Political Fund, $630,000; Young Democrats of America, $450,000; Punk Voter Inc., $50,000.

Bing of Los Angeles is a producer and head of Shangri-La Entertainment Corp. These were his contributions to 527 committees since August 2000, according to the Center for Public Integrity: Joint Victory Campaign 2004, $6,964,846; Voter Fund, $971,427; New American Optimists, $900,000; Iowa Senate 2002, $328,000; Gore/Lieberman Recount Committee, $200,000; Americans for Progress & Opportunity, $150,000.

The 527 fundraising groups take their designation from the section of the tax code under which they were created.

Saffir _ and Simpson

Can you explain the specific differences between the various categories of hurricanes?

You're referring to the Saffir-Simpson scale of potential damage, developed in 1973 by Herbert Saffir, a construction engineer, and Robert Simpson, then-director of the National Hurricane Center.

It has five ascending classes, called categories, ranging from 1 through 5:

+ 1 (weak): sustained wind speed 74-95 mph; likely storm surge 4-5 feet; minimal damage to trees, shrubbery, mobile homes

+ 2 (moderate): wind speed 96-110 mph; storm surge 6-8 feet; some damage to roofs, considerable damage to trees, mobile homes and piers

+ 3 (strong): wind speed 111-130; storm surge 9-12 feet; trees blown down or stripped of leaves, mobile homes destroyed, some damage to other buildings

+ 4 (very strong): wind speed 131-155; storm surge 13-18 feet; extensive damage to windows, doors, roofs, boats as large as oil barges and freighters, and possible flooding

+ 5 (devastating): wind speed greater than 155; storm surge more than 19 feet; catastrophic damage potential with small buildings overturned or blown away, severe structural damage to other buildings.

Carter's Navy record

Former President Jimmy Carter recently wrote a sharply critical letter to Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., about Miller's verbal attacks on the Democratic Party. In the letter, Carter said he served in the Navy from 1942 to 1953. Can you break that down? It seems like he would have spent from 1942 to 1946 at the Naval Academy, and then four years on active duty paying the government back for his free education.

The Naval Historical Center reports that Carter was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1943 after studying mathematics for a year at Georgia Tech. He graduated from the academy in June 1946 as ensign.

He was stationed at Norfolk, Va., and assigned to the USS Wyoming and USS Mississippi for two years. He then began a six-month course at the U.S. Submarine School in New London, Conn., completing it in December 1948.

He then was assigned to the USS Pomfret, based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and sailed on a simulated war patrol to the western Pacific and Chinese coast before returning to Pearl Harbor and then to California.

In February 1951, Carter was assigned to the precommissioning detail for USS K-1, which was commissioned in November 1951. In October 1952, he was detached from K-1 for duty with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, assisting from November 1952 to March 1953 in the design and development of nuclear propulsion plants for naval vessels.

He was preparing to become the engineering officer for the USS Seawolf's nuclear power plant when his father, Earl Carter, died in July 1953. Carter resigned from the Navy and was discharged in October 1953. Total service: seven years, four months, eight days.

For more information: www. and /documents/jec/jcnavy.phtml.

Have a question about the news? Colin Bessonette will try to get an answer. Call (404) 222-2002 or write to him at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, P.O. Box 4689, Atlanta, GA 30302, or e-mail him at q&