Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Extremist Randall Terry meets with John Boehner's staff

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 1:05 PM

What would you say if you found out that, while she was Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi directed her chief of staff to meet with a political extremist who has supported violence against those he disagrees with — an activist who, in fact, predicts “violent convulsions” if his group's demands aren’t met? Would you think Pelosi supported a terrorist organization? Fortunately, that didn’t happen under Pelosi.  The next speaker, John Boehner, didn't hesitate to have his staff meet with an extremist.

After the recent election, Boehner’s chief of staff met with Randall Terry, practically the prototype of a right-wing nutcase and one of the most notorious anti-abortion extremists. Terry has been arrested numerous times for actions against abortion doctors and patients, and was the founder of Operation Rescue, which in turn was the forerunner of Flip Benham's illustrious Operation Save America, now based in Concord. Terry, in advance of the meeting with Boehner's staff, told his supporters that “We have Pro-Life DEMANDS for Mr. Boehner & House GOP! We Must Play Hard Ball: They Must Fear Pro-Lifers!!” They must also apparently use as many exclamation points as possible, but that’s another issue entirely. The point here is that the next Speaker of the House of Representatives allowed his staff to meet and consult with a man whose record of breaking the law and support for anti-abortion extremists is a matter of record, and who recently wrote, “If the government of this country tramples the faith and values of its citizens, history will hold those in power responsible for the violent convulsions that follow.” As Alternet noted in their report on the meeting, “Bin Laden is anti-abortion. Maybe he should ask for a meeting with the Speaker's chief of staff too.”

Randall Terry, right, enjoying himself at a rally
  • Randall Terry, right, enjoying himself at a rally

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Um, happy birthday Civil War?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Lawd, it's the Civil War's 150th birthday ... for the next four years (which was the length of the war). You know what that means: Every redneck and old-money Southern family south of the Mason Dixon Line and east of Texas' western border is ready to fly their Rebel Flag, hold a ball and generally mis-remember the war's details.

From The New York Times:

The Civil War, the most wrenching and bloody episode in American history, may not seem like much of a cause for celebration, especially in the South.

And yet, as the 150th anniversary of the four-year conflict gets under way, some groups in the old Confederacy are planning at least a certain amount of hoopla, chiefly around the glory days of secession, when 11 states declared their sovereignty under a banner of states’ rights and broke from the union.

The events include a “secession ball” in the former slave port of Charleston (“a joyous night of music, dancing, food and drink,” says the invitation), which will be replicated on a smaller scale in other cities. A parade is being planned in Montgomery, Ala., along with a mock swearing-in of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy.

In addition, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and some of its local chapters are preparing various television commercials that they hope to show next year. “All we wanted was to be left alone to govern ourselves,” says one ad from the group’s Georgia Division.

That some — even now — are honoring secession, with barely a nod to the role of slavery, underscores how divisive a topic the war remains, with Americans continuing to debate its causes, its meaning and its legacy.

Read the rest of this article, by Katharine Q. Seelye, here.

Slavery, and the country -- ours -- built upon its back, cannot be forgotten. A very brief history:

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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Charlotte needs 'Hangover Helpers'

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 12:54 PM

We've all been there: You throw, or attend, an amazing party, drink too much, smoke too much, dance too much and stay up way too late. But, by morn, despite the fact that the party is definitely over, its sticky remnants remain. Enter the 'Hangover Helpers.'

According to the Associated Press, a couple of University of Colorado graduates have come up with this ingenious business model. These folks show up the morning after your party with breakfast, Gatorade and the fortitude to clean up your mess. Brilliant!

And now, who's going to take up this banner and run with it in the Q.C.? (Quick, now: New Years Eve is just around the corner.) To supplement the business, might I suggest you also offer coffee and breakfast delivery for the greater Charlotte population ...

What would you pay to clean up this after-party disaster ... especially if you're hugging the toilet with a hangover? (Note the dudes with black eyes.)

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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End of Don't Ask Don't Tell may be in sight

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 12:52 PM

This week could mark the beginning of the end for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) in the U.S. military. The Pentagon will release a report this afternoon that, according to early reports, will show that the vast majority of troops (70 percent of soldiers under 30) either are in favor of repealing DADT or don’t really care one way or the other. The release of the poll data by the Pentagon is the first step in this week’s DADT “process.” Later this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen will urge the Senate to join the House of Representatives and vote for repeal. The Pentagon’s report will also report to Congress on ways to go forward with implementing a repeal.

If that’s not enough incentive to goose the Senate into the 21st century, maybe a new survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, will convince the codgers to get moving. Pew’s survey confirms what poll after poll has shown in the past few years, namely that a majority of Americans (this time, by a 58 percent-27 percent margin) favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. The survey also shows that nearly every group except the far right of the GOP favors repeal. Read the details of the survey here. And here’s hoping enough Republican senators will listen to the Pentagon, rather than their Tea Party backers, and the rest of the party’s rearguard that wants the country to go back to the “golden age” of the 1950s, when gays (and women and blacks) knew their place. We’re not counting on GOP senators being able to read the writing on our culture’s wall, but there’s always hope.

Cartoon courtesy Chan Lowe, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Cartoon courtesy Chan Lowe, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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Tiny, sustainable houses gain popularity

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Most of us have too much space and too much stuff, both of which lead to too much responsibility. Think about it: You have to manage your stuff. First, you have to get a good price for it — then you have to find a place for it, care for it, keep it from falling apart, store it and, eventually, dispose of it. Multiply those responsibilities by all of the possessions in your life and you're not going to have much time for anything else other than stuff-management. That's not even counting all of the energy and resources that went into creating, packaging, shipping, storing and selling your stuff before you bought it. It's this type of realization that has helped spur the tiny house movement, where people are building and living in houses smaller than most of the rooms in our houses.

You know what happens when you live in a tiny house? You get rid of your stuff, and buy less stuff going forward. You also begin to realize that life isn't about stuff, and that possessing a lot of stuff is one of the most effective ways to steer you away from your life's purpose. It's also a great way to live for those looking to detach themselves from the grid and live more sustainable lives that are closer and more in-tune with nature.

Because living small is contrary to the way most American's choose to live, the movement is getting a lot of press. Click the links to read articles from the Associated Press, The New York Times, Virginia Living, Better Homes and Gardens and more. If you're interested in learning more, there are several examples of tiny houses in North Carolina, click here, here, here and here for descriptions and pictures. There's even a man in Charlotte, Ryan Mitchell, who's put together a website, "The Tiny Life," that aims to teach people about tiny-house living.

On top of all of the other benefits of tiny living, tiny houses are much cheaper than "normal" houses: Blueprints can often be purchased for a couple hundred dollars — or less — for DIY'ers, or the houses can be built for you for a few thousand; they can even be built out of repurposed cargo containers. Couple that costs-savings with the fact that you won't need much furniture, your utility bills will diminish or vanish, the reality that your home won't require much land ... and you're looking at a significant savings.

But, this movement is about much, much more than money. It's about learning to live more sustainably, about reconnecting with what's important in life.

Check out this video, "Living Like it's 2050: A Transition Farm in North Carolina," which includes a tiny cob house, built out of clay and straw.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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Best bets in Charlotte comedy, Nov. 30-Dec. 5

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 10:23 AM

As the headline suggests, here are a few of the best places to find comedy events in Charlotte — from stand-up to improv to sketch comedy and more. For a complete listing of all comedy visit www.CharlotteComedyLIVE.com.

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Charlotte Comedy Theater's Stand-up Showcase at 9 p.m.

Check out this fun night of stand-up comedy.  Limited to the first 15 comics who sign up.  E-mail cycomics@gmail.com for more information.

Courtyard Hooligans ~ 140 Brevard Court, Charlotte ~ Free

Wednesday, Dec. 1

Open Mic at 9 p.m.

Do you have some new material to work out? Sign up at 8:30 p.m.  Karaoke to follow.

Jackalope Jacks ~ 1936 E. 7th St., Charlotte ~ Free

Thursday, Dec. 2

The Chuckleheads Improv Comedy at 8 p.m.

The Chuckleheads Improv troupe perform and they need your suggestions for this fast-paced, high-octane comedy show.

The Comedy Zone Fort Mill ~ 900 Crossroads Plaza, Fort Mill ~ Free

Friday, Dec. 3

Mimi Gonzalez at 8 p.m. & 10:15 p.m.

Mimi Gonzalez is a road-tested, high-octane comedian who takes the audience on a wild ride from the profound to the profane.

The Comedy Zone Fort Mill ~ 900 Crossroads Plaza, Fort Mill ~ $10

Saturday, Dec. 4

Celebrity Jon Reep at 7:30 p.m.

You probably know him from Dodge's popular ad campaign as the "Hemi Guy." Seen on Last Comic Standing and on Comedy Central.

McGlohon Theatre ~ 345 North College St., Charlotte ~ $25

Sunday, Dec. 5

Funny First Sunday at 9 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.)

Nick Lewis & DS Sanders. With band and after party.

House of Jazz ~ 8630 University Executive Park Drive, Charlotte ~ $15 at the door

To join Debbie’s mailing list (just one e-mail a week, I promise), e-mail DebbieMillwater@gmail.com with the Subject Line “Subscribe.”

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Today's Top 5: Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 10:05 AM

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

Mimi Gonzalez at Lake Norman Comedy Zone

mimi-gonzalez

Abstract Thinking exhibit at Hidell Brooks Gallery

My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm Home For The Holidays at Booth Playhouse

Ben Kweller with Julia Nunes at Visulite Theatre

Holiday Lights at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

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Monday, November 29, 2010

WikiLeaks does us all a favor

Posted By on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 3:34 PM

WikiLeaks’ release of a quarter-million State Dept. cables is a welcome, up-close look inside the foreign policy bubble. You want "transparency in government"? You got it. The leaks will probably be the center of media reporting for the rest of the week — accompanied by the usual Chicken Little-style panic and anger from the right wing. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the chair (come January) of the House Homeland Security Committee, is especially freaked out. King says WikiLeaks “presents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States," and wants the group to be classified, and prosecuted, as terrorists and spies. Never mind that re-classifying whoever you don't like as a "terrorist" has been the standard method of despots for over 100  years. And never mind that the cables were “released” after the involved newspapers let the White House know about the various topics of interest in the cables, and even made some changes and deletions requested by the government. Hopefully, Rep. King will soon switch to decaf.

To see the most complete coverage of the leaks, including links to worldwide reactions, and an interactive map that directs readers to leaks regarding specific countries, go to the Guardian UK website. The Guardian is a British newspaper that is one of the publications to which WikiLeaks released the cables. Meanwhile, here are a few of our own reactions:

At the Fox Nation site, nearly every comment on the story by their readers was "This guy (Wikileaks honcho Julian Assange) needs to be eliminated, he's a traitor, Pres. Palin will put an end to these leaks [this is not a joke], blah blah blah." Then I noticed the Fox Nation "mission statement," sitting right there on the site’s front page, which says it is "for those opposed to excessive government control of our lives, and attempts to monopolize opinion or suppress freedom of thought." Hmm, I guess their idea of freedom of thought only applies to those with whom they agree. Reminds me of late-'70s gay Brit singer Tom Robinson, who sang that the right's version of "freedom" actually means "freedom from the likes of you.”

Media outlets have already pounced on the leaked information that the U.S. uses its diplomats as spies; that some elements of the Pakistani government are in cahoots with some elements in the Taliban; and the Afghan government is utterly corrupt. People, those items aren't news, they're things that were already either well-known, or simply assumed by most foreign policy observers. The fact that most of the American media are reacting to these “revelations” with wide-eyed wonder is itself a revelation of how lame and incurious most mainstream U.S. media really are about foreign relations. The fact is that, no matter what else you may think of the group or its leader, WikiLeaks is basically doing what our formerly competent news outlets used to do.

Some of the leaks should actually please the “hatriots” who are bitching about WikiLeaks, since those leaks make a better case for some controversial U.S. policies than do the politicians who created them. For instance, as TalkingPointsMemo reports, the leaks reveal that the leaders of nearly every country in the Middle East want the U.S. to attack Iran; North Korea supplied Iran with long-range missiles, not just, as was reported, missile parts; and Iran used the Red Crescent — the Middle Eastern version of the Red Cross, to oversimplify a bit — to smuggle spies and weapons into war zones. You'd think that the war hawks in Washington would be pleased to know that leaked diplomatic information confirms their “Axis of Evil” view of Iran. That, of course, can’t happen until the hawks are cured of Anti-liberal Kneejerk Syndrome.

One more reaction: U.S. diplomats must really like gossiping about foreign leaders. Examples can be found at the TalkingPointsMemo article linked above, but here are a couple of samples: Qadhafi gets Botox and travels with a "voluptuous blonde" Ukrainian nurse; Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi might be in business together; and the First Lady of Azerbaijan has had so many facelifts, she resembles her own daughter, except that she can’t move her face.

Why, I oughta . . . Rep. Peter King wants WikiLeaks to be treated as spies and terrorists
  • Why, I oughta . . . Rep. Peter King wants WikiLeaks to be treated as spies and terrorists

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Celebs to 'die' electronically for World AIDS Day

Posted By on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 1:57 PM

So, here's the deal: A bunch of celebrities are planning to "die" electronically — i.e. they won't use their social media accounts — this week until we little people donate a million dollars to their current charity of choice: AIDS research.

But wait, that's not all: They'll also get plenty of publicity through a series of sexy photo and video shoots. And, no doubt, people will be checking in with them electronically — and "friending" and following them — to make sure they're keeping their word. Keep in mind, most of these yahoos don't manage their own social media accounts, so they're not actually giving up anything.

Here's a better idea: All of those spoiled, rich folks should each donate a million dollars instead of begging money from average folks right before the holidays during horrid economic times.

Note: I'm not suggesting you withhold contributions to charities. I am, however, suggesting you donate to the causes of your choice for the right reasons, not because some pretty, famous chick tells you to.

Here's more on the fundraiser from The New York Times:

On Wednesday, Kim Kardashian is going to die a little. So is her sister, Khloé, not to mention Lady Gaga, David LaChapelle, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Serena Williams and Elijah Wood.

That day is World AIDS Day, and each of these people (as well as a host of others — the list keeps growing) will sacrifice his or her own digital life. By which these celebrities mean they will stop communicating via Twitter and Facebook. They will not be resuscitated, they say, until their fans donate $1 million.

“Dry your eyes, everybody,” Ryan Seacrest, the “American Idol” host and another participant in this cyberstunt, says in a videotaped “Last Tweet and Testament” that will be posted on his Facebook profile — and appended to a final post on Twitter — sometime after midnight on Tuesday night. “I don’t plan to be dead for too long.”

He adds, “Please buy back my life.”

Read the rest of the article, by Amy Wallace, here.

Learn more about World AIDS Day, which is Wednesday, Dec. 1, here.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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Senate to vote on Food Safety Modernization Act today

Posted By on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Most of us go to the grocery store expecting our food to be as clean and fresh as it's packaged to appear. But, as countless food scares have taught us, all isn't what it appears to be. We're living in a time when the federal government tells us, on one hand, that we're fat, then spends $12 million to help Dominos and Taco Bell peddle more cheese, when food manufacturers have figured out how to formulate food so it's addictive, when raw milk producers are assaulted at gun point by government goons and when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ignores contaminated food in favor of corporate profits. Even our pets are obese these days.

So, it should be no wonder that the bill on the U.S. Senate's floor today — the Food Safety Modernization Act — has a little opposition from corporate farms and some government regulators. The goal of the legislation is to impose "rigorous new safety protocols and stronger FDA oversight, particularly over fresh produce" according to an article in the San Francisco ChronicleBut, don't we want that? Don't we want to feel secure about our food supply?

In good news, all indications are the bill will pass with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, however, meat and egg products — which fall under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's purview — aren't included in today's bill. Also, small farms making less than half a million in annual sales (where at least half of their produce is sold at local — meaning within 275 miles — farmers markets, restaurants or grocery stores) will still be under state jurisdiction. Although, if food contamination is ever traced to their farms, they'll then fall under federal rule.

The fact that most small farms will be excluded from the new regulations means giant corporate farmers are squealing like pigs, never mind that most food contamination occurs at their operations. The real issue for them is money; they don't want the slow food movement cutting into their profits. Still, the legislation will only require corporate farms to be inspected by the FDA every five years.

I don't know about you, but the more I learn about America's food industry the more I want to meet, and patronize, local farmers. There are several that live within a few miles of Charlotte. You can take tours of their farms, meet the animals and ask the farmer's all of the questions you'd like. (Some suggestions: What does your livestock eat -- grain or grass? Do you inject them with hormones or antibiotics?)

The website LocalHarvest.org can help you find the local farms, restaurants, grocery stores and farmer's markets near you.

Here's one of my favorite local farmers, Art Duckworth of Apple Orchard Farm, installing a windmill on his farm, which is part of his farm's sustainability plan.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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