Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New curfew is all about uptown's fear of young blacks

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 12:17 PM

The Charlotte City Council has a lot of important issues on its plate, and its members are elected to take care of them. Sometimes, though, like all legislative bodies, they waste their time on issues over which they have very little control, in order to give voters the impression that they’re doing something valuable.

Yesterday, council wasted time galore, as it finally took up Councilman Patrick Cannon’s illusory solution to uptown violence during big events: tightening the curfew on teenagers. Council voted 9-1 to approve the new curfew hours, which go into effect December 15. Kids 12 and under will now have a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., every day; kids 13 to 15 will have to be off the streets from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., every day.

Cannon, who is African American, came up with this latest brainstorm following a late-night uptown shooting in May during the Speed Street celebration, which was heavily attended by young African Americans. The problem here is that both the shooter and the victim were in their 20s, which makes the new curfew’s relevance to the May incident — on a scale of 1-10 — about, ohh, 1. In addition, Councilman Michael Barnes, who cast the lone vote against the new curfew, rightly pointed out that the current curfew is very rarely enforced anyhow, and the new curfew ordinance doesn’t require stricter enforcement. Barnes’ argument was confirmed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Vicki Foster who told the Charlotte Observer that police mostly use the curfew ordinance during “special events.” “We don’t do random enforcement,” said Foster. Mayor Foxx also expressed doubts about a tighter curfew, saying that it won't fix what he described as "deeper issues" with the city's youth.

As we’ve said before, the two most obvious factors in Charlotte’s occasional uptown melees are aggressive young black guys and aggressively ill-tempered cops. Both of those were factors in May — along with the city having let the Transit Center become a collection of problems waiting to happen. The powers that be, however, chose to place almost exclusive blame for everything on the parents of young kids that were out past curfew — those parents’ poverty and political powerlessness always make such easy targets, don't you know, and it's been some time (if ever) since Cannon has had to deal with those circumstances. Again, however, the curfew and its enforcement had ZERO to do with the shooting, as both men involved in it were well past curfew age.

The underlying reason for the “tough” new curfew, it seems to me, is that the white uptown business establishment completely freaks the hell out every time a large group of young African Americans comes uptown all at once — as if those kids have a right to congregate in public spaces like regular citizens and such. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

I’ve often thought council meetings could use a good dose of truth serum. If the serum was working yesterday, you’d have heard a more honest appraisal of what the city’s leaders see as the real problem: “Who do these kids think they are, crashing our nice uptown? Heck, we've spent oodles of money trying to make the area attractive to wealthy tight-asses, and those damned black kids are ruining a perfectly good, neat-o fantasy of what a city’s core should be. This insult to our white bread world shall not stand!"

Oh my God! Get these black kids out of here!
  • Oh my God! Get these black kids out of here!

Are world leaders giving up on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 10:44 AM

In reading about the climate talks currently taking place in Durban, South Africa, I couldn't help but think of something Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace's international executive director, said when he visited Charlotte in early October: The governments of the world lack the political will to protect the planet and all of us from the dangers of climate change while making no attempt to hide being in bed with the industries that cause it.

On Oct. 4, Naidoo spent two days in Charlotte, visiting the dangerous coal-ash ponds that drain into the area's drinking-water reservoir and talking with local citizens during a speech at the International House. I recorded most of the speech for a Creative Loafing story. Today, I'm going to do something I thought I'd never do: share those private working notes with you. Keep in mind that this recording wasn't made to be shared. You can sometimes hear me scribbling notes or turning a page in my notebook; it's also not complete and it includes some background noise. But, if you weren't able to meet Naidoo when he was in town, you might be interested to hear him, in his own words, describe the challenges he faces on a global level when it comes to convincing the world's leaders to do something. Listen to his speech here:

Kumi Naidoo Charlotte Speech Sept 2011 by RhiannonFionn

According to Naidoo's assistant, he is currently in Durban where climate talks are happening. I can't help but wonder what he thinks of the reports coming out of the meetings suggesting that the Kyoto Protocol — signed in 1997 by most countries, though not the U.S. — may be on its last legs.

According to the United Nations, the Protocol "sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions." The goal was to reduce emissions by 5 percent between 2008 and 2012. The UN also states, "Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

It's those same countries — the ones most responsible for climate change — that want out of the agreement, mostly because the United States hasn't been willing to play along at all.

Here's a snippet from one of the reports, entitled, "Kyoto protocol may suffer fate of Julius Caesar at Durban climate talks" from The Guardian; the subtitle is "How many nations secretly conceal a dagger and intend to join the countries in Durban hoping to kill Kyoto off?":

Just one day into the Durban talks and, as we expected, we are witnessing the assassination of the Kyoto protocol. Canada has let the cat out of the bag with its environment minister, Peter Kent, saying: "Kyoto is the past" and suggesting that formally pulling out of the treaty is an option.

If Canada — once Kyoto's friend, now its undisguised enemy — were to withdraw it would probably be a death blow to the only international treaty that obliges by law rich countries to reduce emissions. The world can just about live with the US outside the treaty but to have Canada formally outside too, really signals the rich countries' diplomatic flight from the treaty that the world signed up to only 15 years ago. Japan and Russia are set against the treaty, leaving the EU as the only rich grouping of countries which is hedging its bets.

Read the entire article here.

Here's another snippet from MSNBC, entitled, "Kyoto Protocol in its death throes, 200 countries gather for climate talks":

"The South Africans are desperate to ensure that the COP does not fail, but they will not be able to deliver much," said Ian Fry, lead negotiator for the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, which could be erased by rising sea levels.

Fry blamed the United States, which has not ratified Kyoto, for blocking progress and said: "The EU seems to be going weak at the knees and will opt for a soft continuation of the Kyoto Protocol with a possible review process in 2015 to think about new legal options."

...

China is unwilling to make any commitments until Washington does while Russia, Japan and Canada say they will not sign up to a second commitment period unless the biggest emitters do too.

Emerging countries insist Kyoto must be extended and that rich nations, which have historically emitted most greenhouse gas pollution, should take on tougher targets to ensure they do their fair share in the fight against climate change.

Read the entire article here.

Here's Naidoo talking to me and others in our community about his work and the importance of working on climate change issues at the local level:

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Today's Top 5: Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Nov. 29, 2011 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Boom Chick at The Evening Muse

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Taboo Tuesday Open Mic at Crown Station Pub

Million Dollar Quartet at Knight Theater

Trivia Night at Lebowski's Neighborhood Grill

New Works by Chico Harkrader and Pat Scull at Redsky Gallery

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Don't diss the Dysfunctionals

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 11:51 AM

As anyone who follows Saturday Night Live can tell you — from painful personal experience — sketch comedy is hard to sustain over the long haul. Achieving the hilarity objective is so difficult when the same writers must go after it week after week on a deadline. It helps a little when the current news supplies juicy targets for venting venom. Watching topnotch performers gleefully violating the norms of faithful imitation, intellectual discourse, and fair play is classic TV. That wild element can be far, far better in a nightclub or a live theater setting.

So hail to the Dysfunctional Figurines, Charlotte’s newest sketch comedy contenders. Hamstrung by their reluctance to lampoon local or national figures, they’ve already delivered two full evenings at the new CAST complex on 28th Street within the past four months at a consistently high level.

Common to both Etch-A-Sketch in July and Sketch-A-Rama earlier this month, ace comedienne Julie Janorschke-Gawle and writer/performer Tom Olsen have done the most to establish the tone of the troupe. Gayle Taggart was the third enduring Figurine at Sketch-A-Rama, not figuring often as the wellspring of the comedy. Usually — and capably — performing secondary or non-comic roles, Taggart hasn’t really shined since the second segment of Etch-A-Sketch, when she was the persuasive bride-to-be in “Red Velvet Cake, Please.”

Adding edge and spice to the troupe, newcomers Lee Thomas and James Walker II are familiar enough to Charlotte theatergoers. Thomas specializes in lovably cuddly roles, so his Father Paul in “The Blackenator Saves the Catholic Church” was a perfect fit. Watching him as the stoned Kaleo in a series of “The Way I See It” monologues was a welcome change of pace, but by the third monologue, the welcome was wearing out.

Walker brings a raw street presence to the table, perfect for the charlatan Blackenator and two other title roles, the outrageously irrepressible “Pick-Up Artist” and the aggressive UPS Man in “What Can Brown Do for You?” Like Thomas, Walker was playing roles that highlighted his strengths, giving the duo incentives to return for the next Figurines comedy potpourri.

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Today's Top 5: Monday

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Nov. 28, 2011 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Cult Movie Monday: Plan 9 From Outer Space at Actor's Theatre of Charlotte

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Mic Night at Flying Saucer

Trivia Night at Mellow Mushroom

Find Your Muse Open Mic at The Evening Muse

Karaoke at Dixie's Tavern

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Protecting kids from predators

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 9:56 AM

While headlines about coaches molesting children grab attention, it also begs the question —how do you protect children from sexual predators?

Most of the time, the abuse comes from someone whom a child and a parent trusts. Take Bernie Fine at Syracuse, for instance. The 65-year-old was fired by the university following an ESPN report about a now 39-year-old man who says he was abused by the coach as a seventh grader.

Bobby Davis was a seventh grader helping out around the Syracuse basketball court when he claims the abuse began.

Now 39, he says he made a recording in October 2002 of a phone call with Fine's wife, Laurie.

He says he did so so his allegations of molestation against Bernie Fine would be taken seriously.

"I know everything that went on, you know. I know everything that went on with him," the woman identified as Laurie Fine tells Davis, "Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted."

Davis gave a copy of the tape to ESPN and recently to police. ESPN says a voice expert confirms the woman's voice on the audiotape matches Laurie Fine's.

How do you keep kids safe and give the the courage to come forward when the abuse happens? According to MSNBC:


The facts are that about 90 percent of sexual molestation is committed by a person known to the child. They are not strangers. They are family members, teachers, coaches, babysitters, religious instructors and others who are in a position of knowing, caring for and being an authority figure for your child.

Pedophiles are often drawn to areas where they work with children because they want to be around them. This is the biggest reason it is crucial to educate your kid about the possibility, the danger signs, the places to turn to and the necessity of trusting their own judgment (and you will shape that judgment) about sexual predators.

Experts say parents have to teach children that it is OK to say no and be rude if they're being approached by an adult to do something they're not comfortable with.

It's also important to know local laws.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

HuffPost 'Occupies' Y'all Street

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Two weeks ago, Huffington Post reporters Jason Cherkis and Sara Kenigsberg were in Charlotte talking to the Occupy group camped out at the Old City Hall on East Trade Street.

The two journalists were on the road reporting on smaller Occupy movements across the South for a series that begins today at the HuffPost website. Cherkis was writing the story. Kenigsberg was capturing it all on film.

The duo's first installment is a piece on Occupy Gainesville, in Florida. Keep up with this series, because their dispatch from Charlotte will be coming soon.

Here's a little nugget from the story. It's on one of Occupy Gainesville's more famous members:

The camp is located in a plaza renamed after Bo Diddley. There is a stage with Diddley's iconic image painted on the wall, and a grassy quad. Occupy Gainesville took over the space in mid-October. On the second day, law enforcement authorities tried to enforce a curfew on the plaza. When that didn't clear out the camp, they told the demonstrators they could only sleep on the pavement.

The activists have spent a fair amount of time strategizing on how they can one day occupy the grass. For now, they have set up two tarp pavilions, some tables and a library and food area on the grass. A painted bed sheet marks their spot along with a number of American flags, and the sleeping bags on concrete.

Ellas Anthony McDaniel, Diddley's son, showed up on the Occupation's second night. He said he was just curious about what these activists were doing on land named for his father. He ended up getting arrested.

Gainesville cops tried to enforce the curfew while McDaniel was there. An officer had to drag him off what's called the "speaker's stand," a slab in the park inscribed with the First Amendment.

McDaniel told HuffPost he didn't think the First Amendment had a curfew.

"I didn't come to the Bo Diddley Plaza to commit a crime," he says.

McDaniel is now an Occupy member and a regular at the general assemblies.

Read the whole story and watch the video here.

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Weekender, Nov. 25-27

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 2:30 PM

Check out these events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area this weekend— as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Friday, November 25
A Tuna Christmas
Carolina Actors Studio Theatre
CAST has staged performances of its seasonal A Tuna Christmas for the past four years and for good reason: The comedy paints the holiday picture in a wacky way. Two actors play more than 21 characters, all of whom are experiencing Christmas Eve chaos in the “third smallest town in Texas.” Radio personalities Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie are reporting on the Yuletide happenings — including the vandalism of the town’s annual lawn displays and a production of A Christmas Carol that’s about to get scrooged (er, screwed) due to unpaid electric bills. All these plot twists, and there’s still room for one more shocker: Aliens!

Special Event For those of you who don’t quite find the visuals of a live classical concert pleasing comes a twisted action-oriented alternative. Charlotte Symphony’s Cirque de la Symphonie Acrobatics mixes a full symphony (conducted by Jacomo Rafael Bairos) with limber aerial artists willing to tumble, flip and dangle in mid-air for the sake of entertainment. More...

Art Who doesn’t love variety, especially when it comes to art? During the closing reception for Charlotte Artery’s fall exhibit Momentum, folks can take a final glimpse at new works — by Julie Benda, Sharon Dowell, Teresa Hollmeyer , Paul Keysar, Bev Nagy, Isaac Payne, Terry Shipley, Natalie Abrams, Diane Pike, and Pamela Winegard — in multiple mediums and styles represented. More...

Saturday, Nov. 26
Daniel Tosh
Ovens Auditorium
Comedian Daniel Tosh, known best for his mocking commentary on Comedy Central’s Tosh.O, released a CD/DVD called Happy Thoughts earlier this year. He also disclosed plans to end his career on his 38th birthday — which falls on May 29, 2013. At the bottom of his website, a countdown, titled “Daniel’s Groundhog Day Ends,” ticks away. Whether you buy into the propaganda or not, you have to give Tosh kudos for either sharing such an intricate plan (for his possible death or a rich early retirement) or taking some of us for fools. True fans won’t opt out on seeing him when he performs — not one, but two — shows at Ovens Auditorium. Better now, than never.

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Warning: Beware of Sharia turkeys!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Islam-Turkey-cropped-proto-custom_28.jpg
  • Chuck Kennedy / Shutterstock

I bet you thought the only things that could go wrong at Thanksgiving were eating yourself sick, or having to entertain that weird uncle who always shows up uninvited. Well you thought wrong! Now, you have to worry about Sharia turkeys.

That’s the word from the people who are scared shitless of Muslims — you know, Sue Myrick, the “Ground Zero Mosque” dolts, etc. They want you to know that if you eat a Butterball turkey, you’ll be helping terrorists take over America! No, I’m not kidding — the wingnuts have developed a fresh new strain of paranoia, just in time for the holidays.

According to Mother Jones, Pamela Geller, the rabidly anti-Muslim blogger behind much of the Ground Zero Mosque nonsense, is “warning” her followers that Butterball turkeys are “certified halal,” and thus will help to install Sharia as the supreme law of the land in the United States. Again, I wish I was kidding, but I’m not.

Saying that a food is “halal” is akin to judging foods to be “kosher”; they are both based on scriptural instructions regarding the proper preparation of foods; foods that are halal are prepared according to Muslim rules, and kosher foods are prepared according to Jewish rules. No biggie, right? We-e-l-l-l-l, that’s where you’re mistaken, Mr. or Ms. Inadvertent Terrorist! Geller writes, “In a little-known strike against freedom, yet again, we are being forced into consuming meat slaughtered by means of a torturous method: Islamic slaughter.”

In response to this imminent terrorist danger, Robert Spencer, a Geller disciple, started the Boycott Butterball Turkey Facebook page — that’ll show ‘em. Another Muslim-obsessed blogger writes, “Be advised: every single Butterball turkey sold in America this Thanksgiving has been sacrificed to Allah first.”
Geller urges everyone, in the name of all that’s holy, to contact Butterball now and tell them to quit selling these treasonous birds!

Non-Muslims in America and Europe don’t deserve to have halal turkey forced upon them in this way, without their knowledge or consent. So this Thanksgiving, fight for your freedom. Find a non-halal, non-Butterball turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday. And write to Butterball and request, politely but firmly, that they stop selling only halal turkeys, and make non-halal turkeys available to Americans who still value our freedoms.

Because as we all know, the very definition of American freedom is eating a turkey that no Muslim would want. If we don’t act now on this momentous issue, the next thing you know, Santa Claus will be forced to give up his sleigh in favor of a camel.

Boycott Butterball, or this is what Christmas will look like next month!!!
  • Boycott Butterball, or this is what Christmas will look like next month!!!

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