Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today is World AIDS Day

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 at 9:22 AM

It's been 30 years since the discovery of the AIDS virus in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the South includes the largest number of people in this country living with or dying from HIV/AIDS.

Four out of ten (40%) Americans living with AIDS reside in the South.

In Mecklenburg County, an average of seven new HIV/AIDS cases is reported daily, according to The Regional AIDS Interfaith Network, or RAIN. Most of those cases affect African Americans.

African Americans are disproportionately impacted by HIV. African Americans comprise 68% of all new reported HIV cases in 2007, despite representing only 28% of the county's total population

From 1999 to 2007 HIV cases increased by 57%

Mecklenburg County has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in North Carolina

North Carolina was ranked 8th out of the top 15 states with new AIDS cases among African Americans


That's why today, which is World AIDS Day, is such a red letter day.
Mecklenburg County HIV/AIDS Council has a host of events schedule for World AIDS Day, as well as free testing centers.

• December 1

World AIDS Day Kick off: Reflection and Celebration
Uptown Charlotte’s Marshall Park
12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Featuring…Gospel choir, Rock Band, Consumer and Provider guest speaker, spoken word, and our Red Balloon release
In honor of World AIDS Day we ask that you wear a red ribbon or red attire.

• Thursday

The VOICES Project
Actor’s Theater
650 E. Stonewall St.
Doors open at 6p.m., event starts at 7p.m.
Produced and hosted by RAIN, The Actor’s Theater of Charlotte, and the Mecklenburg County Health Department

The Red Pump Awards
7 p.m.
Award Honoree: Joanne Jenkins
Harvey B Gantt Center

The RED and REASONS Affair — Bar Crawl
The Belfast Mill and surrounding bars in the Courtyard
10p.m. until 2a.m.
Admission $5 donation all night with great drink specials
21 and older with proper I.D.
In honor of World AIDS Day we ask that you wear a red ribbon or red attire.

FREE and CONFIDENTIAL HIV testing
9 a.m. — until
5501 Executive Center Dr.

• Friday

FREE and CONFIDENTIAL HIV and Syphilis testing
8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Carolinas CARE Partnership
7510 E. Independence Blvd. Suite 105
Rapid testing with 15 minute results

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Repeal of Racial Justice Act isn't racist — yeah, right

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 3:38 PM

On Monday, the N.C. Senate voted to repeal the 2009 Racial Justice Act, which allowed judges in death penalty cases to consider statistical evidence of historic racial bias. The repeal now goes to Gov. Perdue's desk. Thus, the 1950s Retread Squadron, also known as the GOP majority in the N.C. General Assembly, continues its battle to drag our state back to that less-kind, far-from-gentle, not to mention systemically unjust, decade which Republicans and their ignorant, fundamentalist, ill-tempered base view as a golden age.

Ah yes, those were the days — when women couldn’t terminate a pregnancy without risking prison, when blacks and the poor could be kept from voting at the whim of a local political boss, when the disabled had the good taste to stay out of sight, when gay men and lesbians had to hide who they were for fear of arrest or worse, and the state could execute black men till the cows came home without having to worry over lousy liberals wailing about some candy-assed notion like “justice.”

One thing you can say about the Retread Squadron is that it's confident. These people apparently don’t mind throwing away what African American votes they might have had a chance to garner in the 2012 elections, nor the votes of independents who may not trust Democrats but don’t want to vote for obvious racists, either.

The Charlotte Observer’s editorial department today said Gov. Perdue shouldn’t veto the new bill, but should work toward doing away with the death penalty altogether. You can read the paper's take on the situation here. I think Perdue should do both: veto the bill, which was designed specifically to appeal to the Retread Squadron's sad base of supporters’ worst instincts — and work on moving the state toward halting capital punishment in North Carolina.

One useful measure would be to do the same as Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, who announced a reprieve for his state's death-row inmates for the duration of his term. Then let the next governor be the one to reinstate capital punishment, if he/she thinks it's politically viable. One thing’s for sure: this latest hateful move by the legislature’s GOP is another indication that these guys are truly nasty pieces of work.

Supporters of repeal of Racial Justice Act celebrate
  • Supporters of repeal of Racial Justice Act celebrate

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Everything is OK

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 11:54 AM

This video's message is funny when you've got a megaphone in your hand, but it's something I've said for years: Those in power want everyone to just settle down and stare at their screens and shiny things, because, according to them, everything's fine. It's fine! Go back to your regularly scheduled programming and don't ask any questions.

Check out more of cveitch's "Everything is OK" video series here.

Thanks to OccupyMyThoughts for sharing this video with us.

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Happy Birthday, Mark Twain, King Daddy of American lit

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 11:53 AM


Today is my wife’s birthday. In my house, that’s significant, in yours not so much. Luckily, it’s also the birthday of Mark Twain, the Missouri-born author who, despite a slump in his critical reputation in the years immediately following his death, is now generally regarded as the King Daddy of American literature. Funny how time changes perspective, huh?

To celebrate Twain’s birth (he would have been 176 years old today, and probably even grouchier than he was in his actual “golden years”), we’re reprinting excerpts from a column I wrote three years ago about lessons learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Enjoy the day, and in case you’re wondering what to read by Twain that’s not Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, try Roughing It, The Innocents Abroad, Pudd'nhead Wilson, or the "War Prayer," written in response to the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902, which Twain bitterly opposed. OK, here’s the excerpt:

There's a book I've read and re-read probably six or seven times, and it never fails to entertain, delight and inspire. What follows are quotes from the book, along with lessons that can be taken from them. Thank God for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

"We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't often that we laughed — only a little kind of a low chuckle." (Chapter 12)
Some of life's finest moments are the simplest and are to be enjoyed, going with the flow without over-analyzing everything.

"All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around, they're a mighty ornery lot. It's the way they're raised. All kings is mostly rapscallions." (Chapter 23)
Rulers and politicians may be necessary, but don't ever think they're all honest, or even always mean well.

"H'aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?" (Chapter 26)
The idea of "communal wisdom" is too often an exercise in delusion.

"Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me without hooks." (Chapter 3)
What passes for mainstream religious truth is often a lie, or at least very disappointing.

"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." (Chapter 1)
Get all you can out of a great book, but don't think you're going to find everything you need in it.

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Banktrack says BofA and Wells Fargo are killing the climate

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 11:34 AM

It seems Charlotte's Bank of America is on all of the wrong lists these days. First, the S&P drops the bank's credit rating and now an international coalition of civil society and environmental organizations lists the bank as one of the top three environmental killers.

Bank of America is turning into that dude you don't want to date — dirty with bad credit. CEO Brian Moynihan's week really must suck.

According to the study, which you can read in full at Banktrack.org, "coal financing as coal-fired power plants are the biggest source of man-made CO2 emissions and the major culprit in the drama of climate change."

Need proof the climate is changing? Think about that 70 degree Thanksgiving we just had.

More from the study:


The organizations examined the portfolios of 93 of the world's leading banks and looked into their support for 31 major coal-mining companies (representing 44% of global coal production) and 40 producers of coal-fired electricity (which together own over 50% of global coal-fired generation capacity). The total value of coal financing provided by these banks since 2005 (the year the Kyoto Protocol came into force) amounts to 232 billion Euro.

The study identifies the top twenty "climate killers" in the banking world. Among the top twenty are banks from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, China, Italy and Japan. The top three banks fueling climate change worldwide are JP Morgan Chase (EUR 16,5 bio.), Citi (EUR 13,7 bio.) and Bank of America (EUR 12,6 bio.).

Coal-fired power plants are not cheap to build. Typically, a 600 Megawatt plant will cost around US$ 2 billion. Power producers therefore rely heavily on banks to provide and mobilize the necessary capital for coal plants. "Our figures clearly show that coal financing is on the rise," notes Tristen Taylor of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg. "Between 2005 and 2010, coal financing almost doubled. If we don't take Banks to task now, coal financing will continue to grow," he warns.

Wells Fargo is ranked 19 on the list.

Local activist occupies City Council

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Activist Steven Navarro spoke in support of Occupy Charlotte at Monday's Charlotte City Council meeting. I've met him a few times down at Old City Hall, where the Occupiers are camping and where he's camped more than once. He's a Ron Paul supporter, a veteran and an interesting conversationalist full of hard facts and bright ideas.

Monday, Navarro urged Council to "... stay the course on how (they've) treated this spontaneous uprising ... and support them in every way ..."

Click here for a transcript of his speech and here to watch more of his Occupy Charlotte videos.

By the way, anyone can speak at a city council meeting. Click here to find out how to sign up, and here for meeting agendas, minutes and video from past meetings.

You only have three minutes to talk, which is why Navarro is talking fast, so keep that in mind if you decide to speak up, too.

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Theater review: Million Dollar Quartet

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 10:20 AM

MDQ-Photo6.jpg

If you’ve seen the TV promos for Million Dollar Quartet ballyhooing the current run of the show at Knight Theater, I should let you know that the film clips of the show are not from the touring production. The actor portraying Johnny Cash, whom I can fairly positively identify as Lance Guest, is from the original Broadway cast. So you’re being misled: the promo is underselling this very fine touring version.

For those of you who remember The Man in Black — and that would be most of us, right? — Guest looked more like a pudgy Rob Lowe (or a slightly slimmed Richard Masur) than the raw-boned troubadour of “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” With low notes that warm your toes, bass baritone Derek Keeling not only sounds more like Cash, he has that lean hungry look.

Better yet is the extraordinary Cody Slaughter as Elvis Presley. His upper range wails about a third higher than the original Pelvis, but when he goes down low, he is right in the pocket. He’s got the moves of The King, and the facial resemblance is so striking it’s eerie. Compared with the understudy my wife Sue and I saw on Broadway — or Eddie Clendening, whom we sampled in the Tony Award broadcast — Slaughter delivers far more voltage. Up in New York, E was upstaged by the sensational Jerry Lee Lewis of Levi Kreis. Here, Slaughter is at least the co-star of this legendary summit meeting of four Sun Records immortals on December 4, 1956.

Now that’s partly because Martin Kaye isn’t quite as vulgar, backwoods, and rockin’ raucous as The Killer. Kaye is a sufficient monster at the keyboard, but he doesn’t do Jerry Lee’s signature shticks, the hands around the mic and right heel up on the treble keys, with quite the same élan. He righteously rocks, however, proven by the glow he conjured up on my Sue. An impassive critic is not supposed to shout out “my barn!” when the volume cranks back up on “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” but I must plead guilty. I did it again.

Continue reading »

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Today's Top 5: Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Nov. 30, 2011 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Anthony Hamilton at The Fillmore

Anthony_Hamilton.jpg

Time Stands Still at Duke Energy Theatre

Ledbury + Mr. Poole Shop Holiday Pop-Up at the old Asana space

Shaun Jones at The Comedy Zone Charlotte

Goth Nite Insurrection at The Money

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Best bets in Charlotte comedy, Nov. 29-Dec. 4

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 5:00 PM

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. 29
Tim Pulnick at The Comedy Zone Lake Norman at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.)
Pulnick brings a unique mix of high energy, quick wit and quirky antics to the stage. Most recently, he's appeared on the USA Network's Burn Notice, ABC's Charlie's Angels, and he's the voice of the offensive coordinator in the popular football video game Madden 2011.
Galway Hooker Pub ~ 17044 Kenton Drive, Cornelius ~ $10

Wednesday, Nov. 30
Wacky Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. (new start time with sign-up at 9:15 p.m.)
Hosted by Kevin Alderman. Free comedy and drink specials.
Jackalope Jacks ~ 1936 E. 7th St., Charlotte ~ Free

Wednesday, Nov. 30-Saturday, Dec. 3
Shaun Jones at 8 p.m. & 10:15 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m.)
Jones' comedy performances combine truth, originality, and a double twist of humor.
The Comedy Zone Charlotte ~ 935 N. Graham St., Charlotte ~ $10-$15

Thursday, Dec. 1
Laugh It Up Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.
Join hosts Chris "Funnyman" Robinson and 92.7's Fly Ty as they bring you hilarious comedy. This week Comedian Zooman from Comedy Central and BET's Comic View.
Skandalos ~ 5317 E. Independence Blvd., Charlotte ~ $10-$15

Friday, Dec. 2
Fresh Brewed Comedy Open Mic at 9 p.m. (Pre-show at 8 p.m.)
Check out the freshest open mic. Hosted by Ryan Van Genderen and featuring Blayr Nias.
Dilworth Coffee Concord ~ 350 George W. Liles Parkway NW, Suite 110, Concord ~ $5

Saturday, Dec. 3
Rated R: Improv Comedy by Charlotte Comedy Theater at 8 p.m.
Competitive short form improv where Charlotte's top improvisers compete against one another for audience affection.
Wet Willies ~ 900 Seaboard St., Charlotte ~ $10

Sunday, Dec. 4
Funny First Sunday at 9 p.m. (Doors open at 8 p.m.)
Allure ~ 1508 S. Mint St., Charlotte ~ $10

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Camp Lejeune: Male breast cancer rates expected to rise

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Will the bad news from Camp Lejeune ever end? Now, it seems, an inordinately high rate of breast cancer among males who lived on the base may soon spike.

In case you're not clued in, here's the summary: The water at Camp Lejeune, "the largest Marine Corps Base on the East Coast," according to its website, was contaminated for decades, and that contamination made people sick.

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency alerted the base to its polluted drinking water problem back in the early 1980s. The problem started in the 1950s and stems from degreasers, dry cleaning solvents and an estimated 70 other chemicals being dumped near drinking water wells. Learn more at "The Few, The Proud, the Forgotten," a website created by Marines for Marines.

In 2009, the U.S. Government finally stopped denying that water pollution on the base has caused grave illnesses in service members, their families and for others exposed to the tainted water. Last year, the U.S. Navy agreed to fund a study, at the urging of a bipartisan group of senators including N.C. Republican Richard Burr and N.C. Democrat Kay Hagan — nearly 30 years after the EPA sounded the alarm.

Some of those health problems include — in children and adults — brain cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and the more than 70 instances of male breast cancer that, according to this report, may represent only a fraction of cases:

Mike Partain was startled two years ago when he tracked down nine former male residents of Camp Lejeune, N.C., who shared an exceedingly rare trait.

A breast cancer diagnosis.

Partain, who was born at the base in 1969 and is himself a breast cancer survivor, would eventually find 73 other men who lived at Lejeune, drank its polluted water and were diagnosed with the disease.

His list may soon get much, much longer.

Federal scientists at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry confirmed last week that 184 male Marine Corps veterans with a history of breast cancer have been identified in Department of Veterans Affairs records.

...

Researchers are not done combing VA records — about 38 percent of the veterans on a VA cancer registry must still be checked. So that tally of 184 male breast cancer cases could substantially increase.

In addition, VA records would not reflect civilians, such as the family members of Marines who lived at Camp Lejeune.

In fact, about a dozen of the 73 people on Partain's list never served in the Corps.

Read the entire St. Petersburg Times article, by William R. Levesque, here.

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