Monday, December 31, 2007

Barbour to Appoint Rep. Roger Wicker to Lott's Senate Seat

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2007 at 4:00 AM

AP - Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on Monday announced his choice for Trent Lott's replacement in the Senate: Rep. Roger Wicker, a conservative congressman.

Barbour said it was important to select a person with Lott's "conservative values" and who would be able to work with Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, also a Republican.

"I am a mainstream conservative in the mold of Trent Lott, Thad Cochran, Haley Barbour and (U.S. Rep.) Chip Pickering and I believe the vast majority of Mississipians share this philosophy," Wicker said at a news conference. "At the same time, I hope my constituents and colleagues view me as a pragmatic problem-solver."

Wicker will serve until a state-mandated special election is held Nov. 4. He is expected to be a candidate in that race. The winner will serve out the remainder of Lott's term, which runs through 2012.

Wicker, 56, had been mentioned as a possible successor since Lott's resignation earlier in December after serving one year of a six-year term.

Wicker was elected to the U.S. House in 1994 to succeed the late Rep. Jamie Whitten. He has been re-elected six times from the 1st District in north Mississippi. Wicker was resigning from the U.S. House.

Lott served 16 years in the U.S. House before moving to the Senate in 1988. Lott announced in November that he would resign before the end of the year. He resigned Dec. 19 after Congress wrapped up its work for the year.

Lott, 66, said he wants to spend more time with his family and to pursue other job opportunities, possibly teaching. He ruled out any health concerns, but said it's time for a younger voice to represent Mississippi in the Senate.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Memphis Animal Coalition Meeting Sunday

Posted on Sun, Dec 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

An animal advocacy coalition formed to address concerns about the Memphis Animal Shelter's high rate of euthanasia will meet at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 30th at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library.

The group, which previously called itself Change Our Shelter, has decided on a new name -- the Memphis Animal Coalition (MAC). It was named for Mac, a dog that was put to sleep by shelter employees despite the fact that rescuer Lisa Trenthem was at the shelter and ready to adopt it. Employees said the dog was sick with allergies and could not be adopted out although Trenthem said she'd take the dog to vet immediately.

Since its formation in October, the group has had several talks with Director of Public Services and Neighborhoods Keenon McCloy about the shelter's policy on not adopting sick animals, as well the shelter's sparse hours (it's only open for adoption 26 hours a week).

As a result, McCloy has announced that the shelter will look into expanding the shelter's hours and begin implementing a disclaimer/waiver that would allow adoption of dogs and cats with certain medical issues.

For more on the Memphis Animal Coalition, read Bianca Phillips' story here.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bringing in the New Year in Memphis? A Few Suggestions ...

Posted By on Sat, Dec 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Next year is going to be a great year. It has to be, because 2007 was disappointing at best. Sure, some good things happened. But somehow the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, a very brief Police reunion tour, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows really can't get rid of the Virginia Tech shootings, the never-ending war in Iraq, and Barry Bonds' continuing major-league career. Even locally, 2007 delivered a fractious mayoral election, and The Pyramid is still waiting for someone to pay its rent.

So, what exactly is it that's going to make '08 so great ...

Check out the Flyer's guide to New Year's from this week's issue.

Ernest Withers Tribute in "NY Times Magazine"

Posted By on Sat, Dec 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Ernest C. Withers had not been a Memphis police officer very long when he saw the limits of his power. In 1948, he became one of the first nine black police officers hired by the city. They were allowed uniforms, patrol cars and guns, but they were barred from patrolling white neighborhoods or arresting white people. Their job was to keep the peace in black Memphis, particularly inside the thriving and jiving Club Ebony, Club Paradise, Club Handy, Currie’s Club Tropicana and other night spots ...

Each year the New York Times Magazine does a cover story honoring significant people who died during the year. Read the rest of Hank Klibanoff's tribute to one of Memphis' finest -- Ernest Withers.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Nominees for Blues Music Awards Announced

Posted By on Mon, Dec 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The nominees for the 29th annual Blues Music Awards, presented by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation, are out, with Bobby Rush, Watermelon Slim, and Bettye LaVette leading the way. All three are nominated for the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award, as well as album of the year for LaVette's The Scene of the Crime and Watermelon Slim & the Workers' The Wheel Man and acoustic album of the year for Rush's Raw. Additionally, Rush is up for acoustic artist of the year and soul-blues male artist of the year; LaVette is up for contemporary-blues female artist of the year; and Slim is up for band of the year, contemporary blues album of the year, contemporary-blues male artist of the year, and song of the year for "The Wheel Man."

More Flyer music coverage.

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Timely Tips For Dealing With Bands For The Holidays

Things Every Fan Should Know!

Posted By on Mon, Dec 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The following comes to us via the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, who plays Beale Street on occasion.

BAND CLAIRVOYANCE: When requesting a song from the band, just say "play my song!" We have chips implanted in our heads with an unlimited database of the favorite tunes of every patron who ever walked into a bar and all* songs ever recorded, so feel free to be vague, we love the challenge. If we say we really don't remember that tune you want, we're only kidding. Bands do know every* song ever recorded, so keep humming. Hum harder if need be... it helps jog the memory, or just keep repeating your request over and over again if a band tells you they do not know a song you want to hear, they either forgot that they know the tune or they are just putting you on. Try singing a few words for the band. Any words will do.

It also helps to scream your request from across the room several times per set, followed by the phrases, "AW COME ON!" and, "YOU SUCK!" Exaggerated hand gestures expressing disapproval from the dance floor are a big help as well, such as the thumbs down or your middle finger. Put-downs are the best way to jog a band's memory. This instantly promotes you to the status of "Personal Friend Of The Band." You can bet your request will be the next song we play.

Entertainers are notorious fakers and jokesters and never really prepare for their shows. They simply walk on stage with no prior thought to what they will do once they arrive. We don't actually make set lists or rehearse songs. We mostly just wait for you to yell something out, then fake it. An entertainer's job is so easy, even a monkey could do it, so don't let them off the hook easily. Your request is all that matters.

Once you've figured out what genre of music the band plays, please make your requests from a totally different genre. The more exaggerated the better. If its a blues band playing, yell for some Metallica or Slayer or Pantera. Likewise, if its a death-speed metal band, be sure to request Brown-eyed Girl or some Grateful Dead. Musicians need to constantly broaden their musical horizons, and its your job to see that it happens....immediately.

TALKING WITH THE BAND: The best time to discuss anything with the band in any meaningful way is at the middle of a song when all band members are singing at the same time. Our hearing is so advanced that we can pick out your tiny voice from the megawatt wall of sound blasting all around us. And we can converse with you in sign language while singing the song, so don't worry that we're in the middle of the chorus.

Musicians are expert lip readers too. If a musician does not reply to your question or comment during a tune, it's because they didn't get a good look at your mouth in order to read your lips. Simply continue to scream your request and be sure to overemphasize the words with your lips. This helps immensely. Don't be fooled. Singers have the innate ability to answer questions and sing at the same time. If the singer doesn't answer your questions immediately, regardless of how stupid the question may seem, it's because they are purposely ignoring you. If this happens, immediately cop an attitude. We love this.

IMPORTANT: When an entertainer leans over to hear you better, grab his or her head in both hands and yell directly into their ear, while holding their head securely so they cannot pull away. This will be taken as an invitation to a friendly and playful game of tug of war between their head and your hands. Don't give up! Hang on until the singer or guitar player submits. Drummers are often safe from this fun game since they usually sit in the back, protected by the guitar players. Keyboard players are protected by their instrument, and only play the game when tricked into coming out from behind their keyboards. Though difficult to get them to play, it's not impossible, so keep trying. They're especially vulnerable during the break between songs.

HELPING THE BAND: If you inform the band that you are a singer, the band will appreciate your help with the next few tunes, or however long you can remain standing on stage. If you're too drunk to stand unassisted, simply lean on one of the band members or the most expensive piece of equipment you see. Just pretend you're in a Karaoke bar. Simply feel free to walk up on stage and join in. By the way, the drunker you are, the better you sound, and the louder you should sing. If by chance you fall off the stage, be sure to crawl back up and attempt to sing harmony. Keep in mind that nothing assists the band more than outrageous dancing, fifth and sixth part harmonies, or a tambourine played out of tempo. Try the cowbell; they love the challenge. The band always needs the help and will take this as a compliment.

Finally, the microphone and PA system are merely props, they don't really amplify your voice, so when you grab the mic out of the singers hand be sure to scream into it at the top of your lungs, otherwise no one will hear what a great singer you are. Hearing is over-rated anyhow, and the crowd and the sound guy will love you for it.

BONUS TIP: As a last resort, wait until the band takes a break and then get on stage and start playing their instruments. They love this. Even if you are ejected from the club, you can rest assured in the fact that you have successfully completed your audition. The band will call you immediately the following day to offer you a position.

See you at the next gig!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

New Target Slated for Ridgeway and I-240 Development

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 4:00 AM

PRNewswire - Weingarten Realty Investors announced today Target will be the anchor store for its Ridgeway Trace development in Memphis. Weingarten Realty recently sold 10.1 acres to Target to develop a store which is expected to open in March 2009.

Ridgeway Trace is located at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and I-240 and will be the first retail development of this size in east Memphis in more than 30 years.

The 26-acre project will include an additional 150,000 square feet of retail space with a mix of "lifestyle tenants and national retailers." The center could include a national bookstore and a national home electronics retailer.

Ridgeway Trace is scheduled to open in spring 2009, with the development being handled from Weingarten's Atlanta regional office.

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Time to Fish or Cut Bait for Bass Pro/Pyramid Deal?

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 4:00 AM

"Bass Pro has had enough time," said Commissioner Joyce Avery. "Either they make their decision or let's go with something else."

"Something else" could be the Ericson Group's proposal for a $250 million indoor amusement park. The plan includes a "Disney-esque" theme park, a shopping mall at the foot of The Pyramid, improvements to Mud Island, and a 300- to 400-room hotel. Under the proposal, which would rival the Graceland expansion, Ericson would buy the property, pay off The Pyramid's existing debt, and do so without public tax dollars ...

Read the rest of Mary Cashiola's column on the various Pyramid schemes being tossed around in the public arena in this week's Flyer.

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Andy Wise is Now on WMC-5's Side

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The Flyer just received the following press release from WMC-TV:

December 21, 2007 -- The Mid-South's premier newscast and best known investigative reporter are joining forces in an unprecedented move: Investigative reporter Andy Wise is leaving WREG to join WMC-TV and Action News 5.

Wise is a long-time consumer investigative specialist who is instantly recognizable to Mid-South viewers as a no-nonsense, hard-hitting reporter. With Wise joining "The Action News 5 Investigators" there can be little doubt that WMC-TV5 has cornered the market for television investigative reporting.

"For generations, Mid-Southerners have trusted the tradition of broadcast journalism at Action News 5. They grew up watching it. Their parents grew up watching it. Now in the age of HDTV, I am thrilled to be a part of producing ground-breaking segments for WMC-TV and wmctv.com that will set a new standard for consumer protection in this generation," said Action News 5's Andy Wise.

Got that, people? Andy Wise will take his hard-hittin' investigative mojo over to Joe Birch's place. You've been warned.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tennessee Ranks 34th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tennessee ranks 34th in the nation in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

Tennessee currently spends $10 million a year on tobacco prevention programs, which is 31 percent of the minimum amount of $32.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, Tennessee ranked last in the nation, spending nothing on tobacco prevention.

The report's key findings for Tennessee include:

-- Tobacco companies spend more than $406 million a year on marketing in Tennessee. This is more than 40 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

-- Tennessee this year will collect $511.5 million from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 2 percent of it on tobacco prevention.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature approved a plan proposed by Governor Phil Bredesen to allocate $10 million for programs to keep kids from smoking and help smokers quit, a historic move for a state that has no history of spending money on tobacco prevention. Bredesen also proposed and the legislature approved a new smoke-free workplace law and a 42-cent increase in the state cigarette tax.

Said William V. Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: "Despite this progress, Tennessee still spends less than a third of the CDC's recommended minimum for tobacco prevention. It's critical that Tennessee build on its progress because tobacco companies are spending huge sums to market their deadly and addictive products. Tobacco prevention is an important investment that protects kids, saves lives and saves money for taxpayers by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

Nine years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, the report finds that the states this year have increased total funding for tobacco prevention programs by 20 percent, to $717.2 million. But most states still fail to fund tobacco prevention programs at minimum levels recommended by the CDC, and altogether, the states are providing less than half what the CDC recommends.

Only three states -- Maine, Delaware and Colorado -- currently fund tobacco prevention programs at CDC minimum levels.

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FedEx Announces Lower Earnings

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

In a bad sign for Memphis and the U.S. economy, FedEx today reported lower quarterly earnings than a year ago. "High fuel prices and weak U.S. economic growth year over year have impacted our business," said Frederick W. Smith, FedEx chairman, president, and CEO. "We continue to benefit from solid international growth, which helps mitigate softness in U.S. industrial production. While we see challenging near-term economic trends, we remain confident about long-term prospects in all our business segments."

The company earned $1.54 per share for the second quarter ended November 30th, compared to $1.64 per share a year ago.

Revenue was $9.45 billion, up 6 percent from the previous year. Operating income of $783 million was down 7 percent, net income of $479 million was down 6 percent, and operating margin of 8.3 percent was down from 9.4 percent.

Total combined average daily package volume in the FedEx Express and FedEx Ground segments grew 8 percent year over year for the quarter, due to growh in ground and international priority shipments.

For the third quarter, FedEx expects earning to be $1.15 to $1.30 per share, compared to $1.35 per share a year ago. The capital spending forecast has been reduced from $3.5 billion to $3.1 billion, "with additional reductions possible as management continues to review the timing of capital outlays," the company said in a press release.

Following the announcement of earnings, FedEx stock was lower on Thursday by just over $1 to $93 a share, which is near its 52-week low of $91.

--John Branston

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Memphian's PhotoBlog Featured on NPR

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Lindsay Turner, a 20-something Memphis Midtowner is participating in National Public Radio's Project 365, and shooting a "photo-a-day" of her life in the Bluff City.

Today, a number of her photos are posted in a slideshow at NPR.org. You can check it out here.

And for more of Lindsay's work, check out her blog, Theology and Geometry on the Flyer's newly expanded blogroll.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Huckenfreude" -- Republican Religious Pandering Comes Home to Roost

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 4:00 AM

As former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee continues to rise to the top among Republican presidential candidates, the nation's pundits are working overtime to try to explain the phenomenon.

Arianna Huffington takes her shot at it on Huffington Post: With Mike Huckabee's continuing surge, the Republican Party now has an Iowa front-runner whose religious beliefs are virtually identical to those of George Bush. He's anti-choice, born-again, against gay-marriage, and gets political advice directly from God.

So why is the Republican establishment suddenly in a state of near-apoplexy about Mike Huckabee? Shouldn't they be happy? They've been cultivating evangelicals and fundamentalists for 30 years. Now they finally have a candidate who's truly part of the movement. So what's the problem?

Actually, that is the problem. The evangelical crowd was fine when it was just a resource to be cynically exploited every few years in demagogic anti-gay get-out-the-vote campaigns. But now the holy-rolling monster the GOP's Dr. Frankensteins have created has thrown off the shackles, fled the lab, and is currently leading in Iowa. And the party doesn't know what to do.

It's actually fun to watch the consternation. Ross Douthat has dubbed this feeling "Huckenfreude," which he defines as "pleasure derived from the outrage of prominent conservative pundits over the rising poll numbers of Mike Huckabee ..."

Read the rest at Huffingtonpost.com.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

MLGW Says Give "The Gift of Comfort"

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Need something for the person who has everything? MLGW suggests giving them the "gift of comfort."

"It's a way to help someone in need," MLGW spokesman Chris Stanley says of the utility's Gift of Comfort program. "Basically its a gift certificate so you can help pay someone's utility bill."

To give the gift of comfort, donors need to know the person's name and address, and need to fill out a form that can be found on MLGW's website. The gift shows up as a credit on the recipient’s bill.

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In the Galleries in Memphis This Week ...

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

In her exhibition at Clough-Hanson Gallery, "The Solid Matter of a Celestial Body," Jillian Conrad leaps from high to low art and from the utilitarian to the metaphysical as she messes with the meaning of art and asks, "What is real?"

In the first moments of viewing Conrad's Flat Earth Projections, we see every nuance of color, every chasm, every mineral vein of what could be a stone, a mountain face, or a meteor hurling through space before it burns itself out in the atmosphere. As we adjust to the darkness in the small room in which Flat Earth Projections are placed, we realize the crispest, most detailed artworks in the show have no substance. Conrad has magnified pieces of road rubble and projected their images on the wall ...

Read the rest of Flyer art critic Carol Knowles art review here.

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