Thursday, November 13, 2008

Memphis Activists to Protest Prop 8

Make sure writers know every story needs a subhead!

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Memphis may be hundreds of miles from California, but distance won't stop a group of gay-rights activists from gathering in protest of Prop 8, the Golden State's recently-passed ban on gay marriage.

Groups across the country, including a crowd of 10,000 in New York City Wednesday night, have been protesting the ban. Many blame the ban's passage on the Mormon church, which encouraged its members nationwide to donate to California's "Yes on 8" campaign. Though protests in many cities are being held outside Morman temples, the Memphis action will take place in front of City Hall on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 12:30 p.m.

In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that people have a right to marry regardless of gender. Thousands of gay couples were married there after the ruling, but voters approved the gay marriage ban by a slim margin (52 percent to 48 percent) at the ballot box on Tuesday. Go here for more info.

-- Bianca Phillips

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bike Lanes in Memphis?

Posted on Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 4:00 AM

BikeMemphis is reporting that Shady Grove is now partially striped and signed for bike lanes:

"I have ridden the new lanes from Yates to Wolf River Blvd. twice -- I think the lanes are properly designed. Coming form someone who is mostly anti-bike lane, that is a huge compliment!"

BikeMemphis, who believes bike lanes can cause as many problems as they can solve, plans to write more on the subject soon.

In the meantime, we can't say there aren't ANY bike lanes in Memphis anymore.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Digger O'Dell Planted Himself

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Most Memphians no doubt associate the name Digger O'Dell with the fine plant nursery out on Highway 64. But in the early 1960s, another Digger O’Dell showed up in Memphis, and he made his livelihood by planting something quite different in the ground.


Read the rest of the story and more weirdness at Vance Lauderdale's blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Schools Get Graded

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 4:00 AM

The state's overall graduation rate for 2008 is up to 82.2 percent, but in Memphis City Schools, the graduation rate is still hovering in the mid-60s.

The Tennessee Department of Education released its 2008 state report card data this morning.

"Under Governor Bredesen's leadership, Tennessee's focus is on raising standards for student learning so all students have the opportunity to graduate well-prepared to pursue higher education or enter the workforce," Education Commissioner Timothy Webb said in a press release. "Our aggressive path of improvement means a better chance for students and a stronger workforce for Tennessee."

The 2008 graduation for MCS is 66.9, down from 69.6 last year. The state goal is 90 percent.

The 2008 graduation rate for the Shelby County Schools 96.1 percent, up 2.1 percentage points from last year.

In addition to graduation rates, the data identifies whether districts and schools met federal benchmarks set by the No Child Left Behind act, average scores on TCAP math, language arts, and writing assessments, and ACT scores.

A press release from MCS notes areas of progress for the district in K-8 math and reading scores, the number of highly qualified teachers in core courses, and 5th, 8th, and 11th grade writing. It also said graduation rates, ACT scores, and K-8 science and social studies were areas where the district could improve.

"While the district is moving ahead, in some areas, we have got to pick up the pace," Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash said in a written statement. "Our current reform initiatives are designed to achieve breakthrough results on these numbers and to get ahead of the curve on the new tougher state standards coming to Tennessee school districts in the next several years."

Transgender Beating Victim Found Dead in North Memphis

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Memphis police identified the body of transgender woman Duanna Johnson lying in the street near Hollywood and Staten Avenue early this morning.

Police believe Johnson was shot some time before midnight on Sunday. No suspects are in custody at this time.

Johnson was the victim of a Memphis police brutality case this summer when a video of former officer Bridges McRae beating her in a jail holding area was released to the media.

The video led to the eventual firing of McRae and Officer James Swain. It also led to the formation of a Stop Police Brutality Memphis, a coalition of human rights activists who lobbied the city council for more sensitivity training for Memphis Police officers.

A statement from the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center: "Duanna bravely confronted the Memphis Police Department officers who brutalized her while she was in police custody. At great personal cost, Duanna was the public face of our community's campaign against racism, homophobia, and transphobia. There was no justice for Duanna Johnson in life. The Mid-South Peace & Justice Center calls for justice in the investigation and prosecution of Duanna's murder."

For more on Johnson's beating, read the Flyer story. --Bianca Phillips

Johnny Cash's America

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Johnny Cash's America is a two-disc CD/DVD combo that packages the titular television documentary with its unusually purposeful soundtrack disc.

Broadcast as part of the A&E network's Biography series in October and created by local writer/filmmaker Robert Gordon (It Came From Memphis; the Muddy Waters biography Can't Be Satisfied) in partnership with Los Angeles filmmaker Morgan Neville, Johnny Cash's America takes an unconventional look at a well-worn subject ...

Read the rest of Chris Herrington's review.

Friday, November 7, 2008

E.W. Scripps to Cut 400 Jobs

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 at 4:00 AM

From The E.W. Scripps Co., which is set to report Q3 earnings today, is cutting some 400 jobs company-wide. This has now been confirmed. E&P reported it first yesterday afternoon.

The restructuring is expected to save about $15 million.

Word of the job cuts officially came Friday as Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Co. reported a third quarter loss from continuing operations of $21 million, or 39 cents per share. That compares to earnings of $16.6 million, or 31 cents per share, during the July-Sept. quarter a year ago.

Scripps' statement didn't say where jobs are eliminated but said employees were notified Thursday. The Knoxville paper, for example, is losing 50 spots. The company notes newspapers are dealing with "rapidly changing business conditions."

Scripps operates daily and community newspapers in 15 U.S. markets. Its dailies include the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

The Scripps earnings report broke down the losses as follows:

Local, down 16 percent to $27.3 million

Classified, down 28 percent to $33.6 million

National, down 31 percent to $5.9 million

Preprint and other, down 12 percent to $24.8 million

Online, down 12 percent to $9.1 million

The Flyer reported last week that The Commercial Appeal is cutting 27 positions.

Save the Earth and Eat Local This Weekend

Posted on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Too much alcohol may increase your chance of developing high blood pressure, which could in turn, lead to kidney disease. But unless you're slamming back the wine at tonight's Sip Around the World Wine Tasting, your kidneys should be fine. And you’ll be raising funds to help other people's kidneys at the same time since the shindig benefits the National Kidney Foundation. The party starts at 7 p.m.

Speaking of drinking, there'll be none of that at the Bartlett Municipal Center on Saturday night when recovery comic Kurtis Matthews takes the stage. Matthews doesn't make light of addiction (cause it's not funny), but he has been known to make addicts laugh. Check him out at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.

Ever noticed how factories and processing plants always set up shop near poverty-stricken neighborhoods? Yea, the Sierra Club folks noticed too. Each year, the Sierra Club holds an Environmental Justice conference to tackle issues of pollution in low-income, residential neighborhoods. This year's day-long event will be held at the First Unitarian Church of the River on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Leave it to Playhouse on the Square to hold a fund-raiser in acts. Tomorrow's Curtain Up: A Taste of Playhouse gala begins at the piano bar inside the Midtown theater where Renee Kemper entertains during Act One. Then the party moves to the scene shop for live jazz in Act Two. The finale brings Venus Mission on the main stage. Curtain Up begins at 7 p.m. and runs through 11 p.m. on Saturday night.

Though the beloved downtown farmers market is closed for the season, local farmers haven't stopped growing. Sample gourmet dishes created with locally grown produce at the first installment of the Memphis Farmers Market Dinner Tour. The dinner begins at the Majestic Grille on Sunday at 6 p.m.

For more weekend fun, check out the Flyer's searchable online calendar.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Local Home on HGTV

Posted on Thu, Nov 6, 2008 at 4:00 AM

It's amazing what you can do with a little concrete.

Local concrete artist Bernhard Meck's Midtown home will be featured on an episode of HGTV's "Look What I Did!" tomorrow night.

The HGTV show features home projects that were done without a design consultant or a contractor.

"It's about the WOW! factor when people see the results and ask, 'You did this yourself?'" says the show's website. "It's an extravagantly themed wall mural and mosaic tiled patio that tell complete stories, a backyard roller coaster for the grandkids, a personal water park with a series of pools and grottoes connected by caves and channels."

For more, visit Mary Cashiola's In The Bluff blog.

White Out?

What's up with the Euro-American Conference?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 6, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Will there be a gathering of various White Power tribes in Memphis this weekend? It's anybody's guess, at this point, though former KKK Grand Wizard, Neo-Nazi, and member of the Louisiana state legislature David Duke says it will happen.

The fate of the conference has been uncertain since Whispering Woods Hotel and Conference Center, the Olive Branch facility where the conference was scheduled to take place, pulled the sheet out from under the group on Tuesday, citing concerns for the safety of guests and employees.

According to some local media reports, Duke said he would be in town yesterday, but he is apparently still a no-show. Fox 13 is reporting that the conference may have relocated to Germantown. Duke's website suggests that the exact details will not be revealed until shortly before the event commences. If it commences.

Duke is calling the conference, "the first organized response to this Obamination." Abomination. Get it? We'll keep you posted as things develop -- or not.

Chris Davis

Marijuana Legalization Talk Tonight at Rhodes

Posted on Thu, Nov 6, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Terry Nelson worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years, serving in the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Department of Homeland Security. During his career, he participated in the seizure of more than 230,000 pounds of cocaine. Nelson retired from law enforcement in 2005 and soon after joined Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) because he believes the ongoing "War on Drugs" simply isn't working. Nelson will give a presentation tonight at 8 p.m. in the Orgill Room of Clough Hall at Rhodes College.

Flyer: Why do you think marijuana should be legalized?

Nelson: I want to be clear. We're not for drug use because all of us have seen how it destroys families and everything else, but we're for crime and violence reduction. We think that by legalizing we can reduce crime and violence in our country by about 80 percent because most of the crime and violence occurs in the distribution network.

If you arrest a kid who's 18 or 19-years-old and give him a prison sentence because he doesn't have the money to fight it, he’s going to have that felony record for the rest of his life. He's going to be marginalized in society. He won't be able to vote in some states and won't be able to get a decent job. So we want to deal with the crime and violence issue and deal with the drug issue separately. Drug use is a social issue, not a criminal issue.

How would you approach the drug issue?

The drug problem is best addressed with education, and when that fails, treatment. Jail is not the answer for an addict because it won't fix his problems, it will compound them.

Education is the key, and programs like D.A.R.E. don't work because police teach those programs, and they lie to the kids. The cops tell these kids, whose older brothers and sisters or even parents smoke marijuana, that if they smoke, they'll lose their mind and things of that nature. And they know it's a lie.

What do you think would be the benefits of legalization?

There would be less crime and violence, and we'd have a more humane society. And our police could get back to doing police work. I could go out on any street in Memphis on any night and bust two kids with marijuana, but what have I accomplished? I just screwed them up, but I haven't done any good for law enforcement. I took myself off the street for about 4 hours when people are really committing crimes. Our police officers need to focus on police issues. Lets focus on real crime, crime against people and property and leave people who are just hurting themselves alone.

Why do think the federal government won’t recognize that the "War on Drugs" isn't working?

They just don't have the political guts. In 1995 at the Hoover Institute, chiefs of police from all over the nation attended a seminar, and around 90 percent said the "War on Drugs" wasn't working.

Unanimously, they voted for a panel to be established to study it, but the federal government ignored all of this. I was at the National State Legislators Conference about 2 months ago, and 82 percent of the staffers, state Senators, and congressman that came by our table agreed with us.

Why do you think marijuana has not been legalized?

It's all about the money. There's a lot of money made off of the drug war. The pharmaceutical companies make money off of drug-testing kits. There is money from helicopters being made and sold to police squads. The military also uses a lot of their budget for the so-called "War on Drugs." And there are countless so-called criminals who have to pay to get themselves out of jail.

--by Shara Clark

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Vance Lauderdale is an Athletic Supporter

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 4:00 AM

“The planes of his face are hard and clean-hewn as are those on a freshly minted coin. It is the face of a Roman emperor -- harsh and imperious ... his body was that of a master gladiator, the neck falling sheerly into massive shoulders ...”

No, that is not a description of ME, but thank you for thinking so. Instead, Commercial Appeal sports editor Walter Stewart was writing in 1958 about Gaylon Smith, widely regarded as the greatest athlete in the history of Rhodes College ...

Read the rest at Vance Lauderdale's Memphis magazine blog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Addressing MPD

Posted on Tue, Nov 4, 2008 at 4:00 AM

The City Council's public safety and homeland security committee voted today to send a police residency resolution to the full council.

The resolution would allow police officers to live within 20 miles of the Shelby County line.

"The police department has said that one third of the new hires have said that if they were required to live in the city of Memphis, they would not have applied," said Council member Jim Strickland. "I think crime is important enough to make this exception. That's why I'm voting for it."

For more, visit Mary Cashiola's In The Bluff blog.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fulmer to Step Down as U-T Coach

Posted on Mon, Nov 3, 2008 at 4:00 AM

According to The Tennessean of Nashville and other news sources, University of Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer has succumbed to nonstop criticism and will resign his position in a press conference Monday afternoon.

Disaffection with Fulmer's somewhat mundane offense and especially with his W-L record this year (3-6 overall; 1-5 in the Southeastern Conference) has mounted game by game, and calls for his departure lately have become a crescendo among Vol fans.

More on this story as it develops.

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