Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Love is in the air (or not)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Greta Zandstra stars as Corie and Chaz Pofahl stars as Paul in Barefoot in the Park performances at CPCC's Pease Auditorium.
  • Greta Zandstra stars as Corie and Chaz Pofahl stars as Paul in Barefoot in the Park performances at CPCC's Pease Auditorium.

At a first glance of Neil Simon’s play Barefoot in the Park, one might think it’s better to stay single than to fall in love (and god forbid, get married). But the show - which captures arguments among newlyweds and may have you questioning the common sense behind vows like “’Til death do us part” - also reveals that tying the knot means change. And change, as we all know, isn’t always a bad thing ... even though it may seem like it at first. CPCC's Summer Theatre kicks off its performances of Barefoot in the Park on Friday, July 2. Tickets are $17. Dates/times are as followed: July 2-3, 8 p.m.; July 6, 7 p.m.; July 7-8, 7:30 p.m. July 9-10, 8 p.m.; July 11, 2:30 p.m. CPCC’s Pease Auditorium, 1201 Elizabeth Ave. For more information, call 704-330-6534 or click here.

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Obama to tackle immigration reform, finally

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 1:28 PM

For the better part of the past decade, our country’s broken immigration system has been the subject of intense debate, making headlines and raising blood pressures nationwide; however, this issue, which has captivated the media and provoked state officials, has seen little progress federally. After the 2007 immigration reform bill failed, it seemed that politicians with federal ambitions knew it was in their best interest to tread lightly when it came to immigration; the subject barely made its way into the 2008 presidential debates. Preoccupied with health care debates and economic troubles, the Obama administration has been quite quiet on the immigration front.

This is no longer the case. Like a stressed-out parent no longer able to look the other way when it comes to their trying offspring, President Obama has acknowledged the need for a change in the steps being taken to immigration reform — namely, making some. The straw that broke the camels back? Although the law is not set to become active until the end of July, 20 states have at least one legislator aspiring to implement laws similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial anti-illegal immigration measure that some say encourages racial profiling.

SB 1070 has created animosity between Arizona and other states; here in North Carolina, Durham recently approved legislation designed to boycott the Copper State by no longer sending public officials to events there. The bill was passed unanimously save for City Council member Eugene Brown, who stated that immigration reform is a federal and not a state matter, and is “sure as hell not Durham’s responsibility,” as reported by Spanish-language newspaper Mi Gente.

Simmer down, Mr. Brown. President Obama has heeded your call.  An article in the Huffington Post reports that:

[The Obama] administration has spent the last several days consulting with key stakeholders in the immigration debate as well as alerting members on the Hill that the Department of Justice's lawsuit (against Arizona) will likely be announced soon.

On Monday night, officials met with a wide range of immigration-reform and union leaders to discuss steps forward on comprehensive legislation.

According to an official briefed on that meeting, the president talked through various concerns about the current failures of immigration law, as well as the focal points for implementing a new set of reforms. Obama talked about building off of the legislative framework put out by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). He also reaffirmed his opposition to Arizona's new law -- which would grant broad powers to law enforcement officials to detain and even expel illegal immigrants -- and stressed that the Department of Justice was continuing to review the legislation.

Immigration reform at the federal level will serve to create uniform legislation and quell more radical policies. Whether states like Arizona, which have taken immigration issue into their own hands, will react favorably to federal involvement remains to be seen.

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Sue Myrick freaks out, says Hezbollah in Mexico

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 12:47 PM

A few weeks ago, Jon Stewart noted that no matter how tough or depressing the news can be sometimes, “South Carolina is always there for us” to provide some comic relief. Well, that’s how we feel about Rep. Sue Myrick. Oil continues to gush into the Gulf, the Supreme Court nixes handgun bans in the world’s most violent advanced country, and school and library budgets are shredded nationwide, but "Wild Sue" comes through every time.

Myrick recently positioned herself in the vanguard of Muslimophobic Paranoiacs by claiming that Muslim interns in Congress were part of a terrorist cell or some such hogwash, and writing an introduction to an equally paranoid-without-basis book on, yes, Muslim terrorists infiltrating D.C. Now, Myrick has topped off her career of crazy. Sue is asking Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano to convene a task force — and make it snappy — to look into the possible presence of Hezbollah terrorists operating with Mexican drug cartels on the U.S.-Mexico border ... OK, have you finished laughing yet? Sue’s evidence? Well, you see, she has a couple of photos of captured MS-13 gang members, and they have these tattoos, and one of them reads "Hezbollah," and the other one is “MS-13,” written in Farsi. Myrick says, “Farsi implies a Persian influence that can likely be traced back to Iran and its proxy army, Hezbollah." Yeah, and I know a woman with her name tattooed on her butt in Russian, so she's probably a spy for Putin, right?

Sue got her neat tattoo photos because of her relatively new position on the House Intelligence Committee, a position that, she says, has made her privy to top-secret intelligence reports that, well simply scare her to death and make her want to yell, "Wake up, America!" That's great, Sue, but, as we’ve said here before, there's one more glaring fact that stands out: Other, more senior members of the Intelligence Committee have seen the same documents and reports you see, but you don't see them getting all bug-eyed and trying to scare the bejesus out of the public.

Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler spoke about Myrick’s request yesterday, saying, "At this time, DHS does not have any credible information on terrorist groups operating along the Southwest border." But, of course, Sue does have information, at least in her perpetually fearful mind — those tattoos are evil! — and that’s what matters to Sue. In fact, being scared of something — anything — has long been one of her hobbies. Throughout her political career, Myrick has seemed to almost need to be riled up or panicky about something.

I am not saying that Myrick is insincere — just the opposite, which is actually scarier. Myrick has always been what philosopher Eric Hoffer called a "true believer." She truly believes all the wacked-out stuff she comes out with. She always has. If the goal of terrorism is to make us walk around in fear all the time, then we know of one congresswoman who gave terrorism its victory some time ago. And to my mind, that's one of the best reasons to get her out of Congress.

Will someone please calm this woman down?
  • Will someone please calm this woman down?

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Competing for clean air

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 10:42 AM

*wild applause*

New Dominion Bank and the recruiting firm Sherpa don't have much in common, but the two Charlotte companies have been in a heated competition since June 1.

The winner will have added the least pollution to the city's air this summer.

The competition began when two Sherpa employees - Kori Renn and Heather Tatum - decided they wanted to step up the company's involvement in Clean Air Works!, a Charlotte-based program helping 116 businesses improve air quality.

Employees gain points for carpooling to work and to lunch, using public transit, swapping old light bulbs for energy-efficient ones, refueling cars after 6 p.m. and using reusable grocery bags.

Combined, the companies' actions have saved 2,985 miles in vehicle usage - by carpooling to work or walking to lunch - and 1,941 grams of nitrogen dioxide, a chemical that adds to the formation of ground-level ozone and can have adverse affects on the respiratory system, Dory said.

An average commute for a Charlotte resident - about 24 miles round-trip - creates 15 grams of nitrogen, according to Mecklenburg County air quality emissions.

Read the rest of this Charlotte Observer article, by Danielle Kucera, here.

Here are some easy ways you, too, can go green:

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Preserving God's creation

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 10:40 AM

If we choose to think of the Earth as a gift from God, will that help spur environmentalism?

At two Qcity churches this summer, the focus is on green.

No, not money. Rather, the environment.

Earlier this month at Mt. Moriah Primitive Baptist Church, the theme for vacation Bible school was “Go Green for Jesus.” And currently at First Baptist Church-West, a six-week summer program is centering on water conservation with the theme, “Streams of Living Water.”

The idea, organizers say, is to reinforce a biblical concept: that the Earth belongs to God and is therefore worth preserving.

Organizers from both programs acknowledge that mixing Christianity and conservation is, for some, a new concept in the African American church.

“It is hard incorporating this idea into the black church because it is new,” said Carolyn Ingram, Mt. Moriah’s vacation Bible school director.

At Mt. Moriah, students learned about recycling, solar power, wind power and water conservation issues. The theme and curriculum were developed by nationally based Urban Ministries, which has developed a package of lesson plans for churches conducting summer Bible schools.

Biblical references for the curriculum begin in the book of Genesis, with believing in God and taking care of his creation, and end in the book of Revelation, where students are taught to prepare for the future by being responsible now.

The thematic verse for the program is Psalms 24:1 -- “The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.”

Read the rest of this article, by Michael Gentry, here.

Mother Clare Watts discusses mixing Christianity with environmentalism: "We weren't given permission to plunder and destroy ... we're supposed to be the caretakers."

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We're fat

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 10:36 AM

I'm sure this is no surprise to you, but North Carolinians are fat. (Myself included.) In fact, North Carolina is the 10th fattest state in the nation. Eek.

North Carolina fell to No. 10 in the nation this year for the number of people who are overweight or obese, after placing 12th last year.

Most of the other top-10 states were also in the South, although Michigan was the exception, tying with North Carolina.

The report, issued for the past seven years by the advocacy group Trust for America's Health, notes the higher poverty rates are associated with increased prevalence of obesity. Healthy foods typically cost more, plus poor neighborhoods may not be safe for outdoor activities.

Read the rest of this News and Observer article here.

And, check the report on America's fattest states here.

It's not just that we're a fatty state, we're a fatty nation. From January of this year:

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Today's Top 5: Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, June 30, 2010 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

A Year With Frog & Toad at CPCC's Halton Theater


Twilight: Eclipse Movie Release Party at Mez and Epicentre Theaters

Evelynn Rose, Only Thieves and Dear Kavalier at Milestone

Romancing the Eye exhibition at Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

Pop Life at Luna Lounge

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The FDA hears you, kinda

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Because of public concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urging meat producers to lay off the juice. "The juice" in this case is antibiotics.

They pump — literally, antibiotics are in the animal's food and water — their livestock full of the drugs so that they can grow bigger, fatter, seemingly healthier meat products for us to consume. (And, let's be real, so they can make more money, faster.) The problem is this: that practice is one of the things that has led to antibiotic resistance in both livestock and humans.

Essentially, the bacteria the antibiotics are intended to fight are evolving and becoming stronger, making it more difficult to fight them off. Enter methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and resistant strains of tuberculosis and pneumonia. These antibiotic-resistant bacterium are killers because our drugs aren't evolving fast enough to combat them. Scientists believe that inaction on the matter could hurdle us back to a time when we didn't have any antibiotics at all.

The FDA now admits that antibiotic use in meat production poses "a serious public health threat." They'd like to see meat producers only use antibiotics when the animals actually need them, instead of using them to prevent problems they don't already have.

It's akin to the warnings from our physicians to avoid using antibiotics unless we actually have a bacterial infection.

Makes sense, right?

Of course, right now, the FDA is only suggesting the change, not mandating it, which has public health advocates, like Keep Antibiotics Working, frustrated.

On the other side, meat producers are not thrilled about the FDA telling them how to do their jobs. They swear antibiotics are necessary to keep the animals healthy (and to get them as big and profitable as possible, as fast as possible).

Here's a peek at the science behind the issue:

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Kagan hearings: GOP trashes a U.S. hero

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Hollow, desperate, and kind of confused.  That was the impression left yesterday by Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, who turned Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings into a bitchfest about the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In the late 1980s, Kagan was a clerk for Marshall, who was the Court’s first African-American justice. Marshall played a historic role in the civil rights movement as the lead attorney in the Brown v. Board of Education case that ended legal segregation in public schools.

Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee’s GOP members laid into Marshall as if he was an infamous outlaw rather than a hero of U.S. history. The overall argument was that Marshall was an “activist judge,” Kagan has expressed admiration for Marshall, and therefore, she is just like Marshall and, well, they’ve got a problem with that. (Never mind that the current Roberts court is a strikingly activist court for conservative views; I guess judicial activism is OK with Republican senators if it’s coming from the right.)

Sens. Jeff Sessions (AL), Orrin Hatch (NV), John Cornyn (TX) and John Kyl (AZ) railed on and on about Marshall’s terrible legal legacy, with Kyl even saying that the late justice’s views were not “mainstream.” Oh really, senator? Liberalism isn’t mainstream in the United States? Obviously — very obviously — you need to get out a little more, and mingle with people outside your tight-sphinctered country club set. See a video recap of yesterday’s GOP Thurgood Marshall Telethon at the end of this blog post.

As TalkingPointsMemo reports, when they asked three of the GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee “which of Marshall’s opinions best exemplified his activism”  — yes, you guessed it — none of them could name even one case. Not too surprising, since the whole point of their anti-Marshall charade was to look good to the goobers who comprise their party’s current “base.”  Chances of Kagan not being approved for the Supreme Court are slim to none, and so, like male birds  trying to attract a mate, they preened, puffed up and did their little, meaningless dance.

One last thing to confirm the hearings’ absurdity: After the hearing yesterday, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Thomas Burr asked Sen. Hatch whether he would have voted to confirm Marshall to the Supreme Court. Hatch, who had just spent valuable time slamming the hell out of the former justice, replied, in classic politician fashion, "Well, it’s hard to say."

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Starving for a D.R.E.A.M.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM

I saw these three ladies, mentioned in the article below, last week when I was in Raleigh. They sat on the corner, holding their signs, not bothering a soul. Apparently, on another day, they attracted a crowd of supporters with their vow to starve themselves for a cause.

What are they starving for? A dream.

Technically they're undocumented immigrants. It wasn't their choice to come to America, their parents brought them to our country when they were children. Now this is the only place they've known as home. They've grown up here, graduated from high school here and they'd like to build a life here.

The point of their protest was to get Sen. Kay Hagan's attention. They're hoping she will support the D.R.E.A.M. (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors) Act, which has been circulating around Washington, in one form or another, for years.

The woman have been conducting their hunger strike on state land near the N.C. State Archives, and set up tents. They have subsisted on water, Pedialtye and Gatorade in the blistering heat.

One of the hunger strikers, Loida Silva, 22, took ill Sunday night.

The three are all illegal immigrants who have lived from North Carolina since childhood and graduated from North Carolina high schools, but faced barriers going on to college. All three women, who are part of the N.C. Dream Team, a group formed this spring that is pushing for the passage of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act).

They say they're angry and frustrated at the barriers in U.S. immigration laws that leave them with slim chances of going to college or getting jobs other than under-the-table work.

They had hoped to persuade Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat, to back federal legislation that would offer a path of legal residency to children living in the country illegally, but who have graduated high school and planning to go on to college or joining the military.

Critics of the DREAM Act, which largely has Democratic support in the Senate, say the legislation would encourage more illegal immigration and reward bad behavior by extending residency to illegal immigrants.

Read the rest of this News and Observer article, by T. Keung Hui and Sarah Ovaska, here.

I called Sen. Hagan's office this morning. One of her aides says the senator is aware of the protesters. When asked about the senator's position on the D.R.E.A.M. Act, the aide said he would e-mail her formal statement.

Here it is:

“I believe the DREAM Act should be considered in the context of comprehensive immigration reform. I strongly believe that the United States must take the necessary steps to fix the way we handle illegal immigration, and I am committed to achieving practical, bipartisan, comprehensive reform that will protect taxpayers and address the problem of illegal immigration at its core," says Sen. Hagan.

It's still not clear if she supports the D.R.E.A.M. Act specifically, but she didn't exactly say she didn't support it either. I suppose that's why the protesters starved themselves to the point of becoming ill.

On the campaign trail, way back in 2008, President Obama said he supported the D.R.E.A.M. Act:

Glenn Hutchinson, a professor at Johnson C. Smith, wrote a play, "Limbo," about this very topic. His point? These children are living in limbo, now what are we going to do about it?

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