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Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Southern Weather Radar


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  • Writer Login


    Ron Taylor

    Ron Taylor
    Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.
    Number of posts: 91
    Email address: email
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    By Ron Taylor:


      Southern World

      Reflections on Cairo in calmer times

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Feb 1, 2011
      Reflections on Cairo in calmer times

      The last time I was in Cairo, I had dinner with a young Egyptian man who had lived for a time in Atlanta and studied with his wife at Georgia State University.  He pulled out his cellphone and showed me several photos of their beaming boy, then about 3, born soon after they moved back to Egypt.  The proud papa beamed, too …

      Now fathers in Cairo patrol the dangerous darkness with sticks and swords and baseball bats — this in a country where almost nobody plays baseball — to protect family and property from looters … Watching revolution on CNN is more fun when you don’t know some of the people caught in the crossfire.

      Dew Drops

      Defending God’s carbon footprint

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Jan 21, 2011
      Defending God’s carbon footprint

      Want clean air and water?  Well, you’re probably going to hell.  While many Christian evangelicals have embraced the environmental cause, the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, headquartered in Burke, Virginia, refuses to throw in with what it calls the Cult of the Green Dragon.   In a promotional video for the group, reports The Tennessean, Christian radio host Janet Parshall says the Green Dragon is “deadly to human prosperity, deadly to human life, deadly to human freedom. And deadly to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  So, put that in your filtered water.

      Southern Poverty

      An icy night with Big Al

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Jan 10, 2011
      An icy night with Big Al

      I never learned to ice skate, so I cut through a dimly lit parking garage in the middle of an awful, freezing night to rest my legs from the slipping and sliding on my way from the late shift at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to my snow-covered car.  I felt the presence before I saw it, then I glimpsed the shadow moving toward me, growing bigger and bigger.  There are times throughout life we have to prepare to die, and I suppose I was as ready then as I’ll ever be. Out of a deep, dark corner the man came.  Then, he shouted, “Hey, man, what’s up?”  It was Big Al, My Personal Wino.

      Sprechen that there Deutsch

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Dec 3, 2010
      Sprechen that there Deutsch

      Germans trapped in Tennessee are finding that not even economic wheeling and dealing can save them from America’s education system.

      Volkswagen agreed to put a $1 billion Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in part, because local officials promised the German auto maker that children of  employees transferring from Germany would get at least one hour of schooling a day in their native language.  Now, the state Department of Education says no state or federal money can be spent on such instruction and that the program, therefore, can be offered only after school hours or weekends.

      Unforgiving Thanksgiving

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Nov 24, 2010
      Unforgiving Thanksgiving

      The Worship Center Christian Church in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, gave away 2,000 Thanksgiving turkeys in three hours last week, but that wasn’t enough to meet the demand from needy families.  People were still stopping by hours later after all the turkeys and bags of nonperishable food were gone, according to The Birmingham News.

      While some economic indicators were beginning to point to a recovery at last, many families in the South were still suffering hard times headed into the holiday season …

      In Montgomery, Alabama, the nationally syndicated radio hosts of the Rick & Bubba Show do their part to help feed the poor not by handing out turkeys but by seeing who can throw a frozen turkey the farthest.

      Getting your MRI from the TSA

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Nov 23, 2010
      Getting your MRI from the TSA

      Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino may have put the best spin yet on full-body scans at the airport:  Why not add a “medical application?” “After all, it would be quite a feat if we could somehow combine two of our major national concerns – the spiraling cost of health care and the fight against terrorism – into one tidy solution,” he wrote.

      Fla. drunks go green with Chinese scooters

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Sep 29, 2010
      Fla. drunks go green with Chinese scooters

      Dew Drops: For the owners of Sunset Scooters in Clearwater, Florida, the demand came first: People convicted of driving under the influence who had lost their driver’s licenses streamed into the store looking for legal transportation. Then, Doug Vitello and Gary Parr found the supply: A Chinese-made electric scooter with a maximum speed of 20 mph and pedals, like a gas-powered moped, that was legal to drive without a license.  They advertised with a sign in the window:  “DUI SCOOTERS.”

      Todd Rosenbaum, executive director of the Northwest Florida chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told the St. Petersburg Times, “Certainly, if people need transportation, electric bikes are a good option. But calling them DUI scooters sends the wrong message to the community. It’s telling people the DUI is not a big deal. It is a big deal.”

      Another political lie, or splitting (no) hairs?

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 14, 2010
      Another political lie, or splitting (no) hairs?

      State Republican Party Chairman John Thrasher told GOP nominee Rick Scott that “we will be the first party to elect a bald guy to governor” of Florida.  Not so, says the Truth-O-Meter at PolitiFact Florida, operated by the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald.

      PolitiFact checked with the curator of the official portraits exhibit at the Museum of Florida History and learned that the first bald governor of Florida was, in fact, Harrison Reed, the state’s 15th governor, who served from 1868 to 1873.  PolitiFact even turned up a passage in a book describing Reed as “a little man, slightly built, with a big, bald head and a bushy beard.”  So, PolitiFact declared that Scott would not be Florida’s first bald governor.

      Radical Islamophobe may have to pay

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Sep 10, 2010
      Radical Islamophobe may have to pay

      Pastor Terry Jones may be billed by the Gainesville Police Department for the security it has been providing for his media circus.  Before Jones put on hold his plan to burn 200 Qu’rans on the lawn of his Dove World Outreach Center in the hometown of the University of Florida, City Manager Russ Blackburn told the Gainesville Sun, “We definitely plan on sending him a bill.” The expense could be far more than Jones is making on the “Islam is of The Devil” book, T-shirts and coffee mugs Dove World sells. The Gainesville city manager estimated that security for a volatile Qu’ran burning would have cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Even though Jones canceled — then un-canceled, then re-canceled — the stunt, Gainesville police and other law enforcement agencies have steadily beefed up security around Dove World, swarmed by TV trucks, reporters, protesters and sight-seers. Jones may have some […]

      Mystery Monkey reappears, still running

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Sep 10, 2010
      Mystery Monkey reappears, still running

      The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay, a rhesus macaque on the run for more than a year, popped up in the Pinellas Point neighborhood on Labor Day and was photographed admiring himself in a mirror.  The St. Petersburg Times speculated that, with no fellow macaques on the run with him, he has become lonely.

      Florida’s Mystery Monkey — no one is sure where it came from — has become an international celebrity.  It has more than 80,500 friends on Facebook in America.  A recent entry on his behalf:  “Enjoyed all of the fan fare today over the picture in the paper of me admiring my great looks but why print the exact address of where the picture was taken? Are you trying to get me caught? Snitches get stitches!”  Now, there’s also a Korean Facebook page devoted to him.

      Dew Drops: Campaign re-financing

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Sep 5, 2010
      Dew Drops:  Campaign re-financing

      What if campaign money was spent instead on something worthwhile?  How many people could have been helped, for instance, by the $70 million spent by Republicans Rick Scott and Bill McCollum in the Florida governor’s race?  According to calculations by the St. Petersburg Times, $70 million would have paid for any of the following:

      • School lunches for each of Hillsborough County’s 87,448 elementary school students for 356 days.
      • Four years of in-state tuition for 3,486 students to attend the University of Florida …

      Dew Drops: Bad Dog Days for dogs

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Aug 25, 2010
      Dew Drops:  Bad Dog Days for dogs

      JoJo, a lab mix, was tied to a pickup trailer hitch and dragged.   Katie, a lab, and Petey, a Boston terrier, were stung to death by honey bees.  Grace, an Australian sheperd, was pumped full of pellets from a 12-gauge shotgun.  Fox, a sheriff’s department canine officer, died of heat stroke.   An old, ailing Chihuahua was smothered to death by a pillow in Florida.

      Dog Days are supposed to be when dogs lie around in the shade, waiting for autumn and some relief from the heat.  The time of dreaded July and August heat has been marked as Dog Days since Ancient Rome, but this year seems to be a particularly cruel time for some dogs in the South.

      South will lead way with plug-in stations for electric cars

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 25, 2010
      South will lead way with plug-in stations for electric cars

      Beginning in October, Tennessee and Northwest Georgia will see the first of a new kind of filling station aimed at answering the 220-volt question of the electric car age:  Where do I plug this sucker in?   According to the Chattanooga  Times Free Press, 1,535 public battery charging stations will be scattered across the area at interstate highway rest areas and welcome centers and at malls and big-box stores.

      Tennessee’s effort is part of its tie-in with Nissan, makers of the Leaf electric car, which is opening a lithium-ion battery plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

      Coyote lust on the rise

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Aug 2, 2010
      Coyote lust on the rise

      Clanton, Alabama, residents spooked by odd-dog sightings, have discovered that at least one of them was a “coydog” — half coyote, half dog.  Animal Control Officer Bobby Tucker, who trapped the creature, believes it was the offspring of a coyote and a German Shepherd, according to the Clanton Advertiser, and he thinks there are other “coydogs” out there.

      “There are a lot of elderly people in the area concerned with seeing them,” Tucker told the Advertiser. “We don’t know a lot about them or what they’re capable of.”  This particular “coydog” was euthanized after Humane Society officials decided it was too aggressive toward humans to be socialized.

      Oil spills into Florida politics

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jul 13, 2010
      Oil spills into Florida politics

      The BP oil spill could decide who wins Florida’s U.S. Senate race, and Gov. Charlie Crist, one of the candidates, wants to let Florida voters decide whether to ban offshore drilling forever in a constitutional amendment.  To that end, Crist has called a special session of the legislature beginning July 20 and is pushing his former Republican allies to approve the referendum.

      “The rightness of this is so clear, especially dealing with what we’ve experienced in the past 80 days or so in the Gulf of Mexico,” Crist said in announcing the special session.  But Senate President Jeff Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican, called the move “political contrivance.”

      God’s bodyguards

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jul 13, 2010
      God’s bodyguards

      Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a bill allowing concealed guns in church, but the folks tucking pistols into their Sunday best won’t be just any believer wandering in off the street.  No, Louisiana’s packing worshipers will be trained professionals, a “security force” for God, as it were. The new law authorizes people already qualified to carry concealed weapons to bring them to church and other houses of worship  if they have  passed eight hours of “tactical” training and cleared background checks.  The law also requires pastors or other leaders of houses of worship  to announce verbally or in weekly newsletters or bulletins that there will be individuals armed on the property as “members of the security force.” The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Henry Burns, a Haughton Republican, had argued that churches, mosques, synagogues or other houses of worship in crime-ridden or “declining neighborhoods” needed the added protection to ward […]

      Anderson Cooper becomes N.O. tourist attraction

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jul 4, 2010
      Anderson Cooper becomes N.O. tourist attraction

      Tourists are flocking to Woldenberg Park in New Orleans to watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper report his nightly “AC360” take on the BP oil spill.  Referring to Cooper as “the blue-eyed heartthrob of CNN fame,” the Times-Picayune reported that about 40 people showed up one recent evening to watch Cooper tape his introduction for the cablecast.

      Cathy Parnell and her husband, from Peachtree City, Georgia, took time out from their New Orleans vacation to track down Cooper. “I knew he was here because I watch him every night and I recognized the bridge,” Cathy Parnell told the Times-Picayune.  Her husband added, “She just kept saying, ‘That’s the bridge, that’s the bridge.'”

      Bingo chaos returns to Alabama

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jul 2, 2010
      Bingo chaos returns to Alabama

      The renewed fight over electronic bingo divided judges and candidates for governor in Alabama and put 16 protesters, including two Greene County commissioners and a state senator, in jail.  The state Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday afternoon for troopers and police to begin removing 825 bingo machines from Greenetrack casino.

      Greene County Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr. had issued an injunction Tuesday against a move by Republican Gov. Bob Riley’s anti-gambling task force to raid Greenetrack.  The Supreme Court lifted the injunction on Thursday and removed Hardaway from any further jurisdiction over the case.

      The Democratic nominee for governor, state Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks, joined 10 members of the Legislative Black Caucus and more than 100 casino workers, now out of work, in a protest outside the casino …

      Gregg Allman gets new liver, Al Gore gets hot

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 25, 2010
      Gregg Allman gets new liver, Al Gore gets hot

      You know you’re old when … Gregg Allman returned to Jacksonville, Florida, this week not to play music in the town where the Allman Brothers Band got its start but to get a liver transplant.  Meanwhile, KnoxNews.com dubbed Al Gore the “hottest bod” on the political scene after he made the National Enquirer over rumors he had tried to seduce a Portland, Oregon, masseuse.

      Nikki Haley crushes runoff opponent like a palmetto bug

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 23, 2010
      Nikki Haley crushes runoff opponent like a palmetto bug

      Unless Democrat Vincent Sheheen can prove he had sex with her, Republican Nikki Haley likely will become South Carolina’s first woman governor.  Haley survived claims by two men that they had “inappropriate physical” relationships with the married, family-values state representative to slam her runoff opponent, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, nearly 2-1.  With all but one county reporting Tuesday night, she led 65 percent to 35 percent.

      A poll just before the runoff election showed Haley with a 55-34 percent advantage over the Democrat’s nominee for governor, State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden, South Carolina, attorney and environmentalist who worked to create a conservation land bank that has preserved thousands of acres in South Carolina.  Of course, in South Carolina’s bizarre politics in a particularly bizarre election year, a lot can change between now and November.

      More ragged comments from South Carolina politicos

      by | 16, Add your Comment | Jun 17, 2010
      More ragged comments from South Carolina politicos

      South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts of “raghead” fame has declared himself a proud “redneck” and called his Republican colleagues “hypocrites” for not admitting they wouldn’t be pushing for him to resign if he had called only President Barack Obama “raghead.”  “They make much worse racial and religious statements in private company, some that would even make me or you blush,” Knotts said in a speech from the well of the Senate.

      The Lexington County Republican Party voted last week to censure Knotts and asked for his resignation after Knotts referred to both President Obama and State Rep. Nikki Haley, a Republican candidate for governor also from Lexington, as ragheads in a Podcast interview.  Haley is Indian-American.

      Giving some honest perspective to the matter, Knotts told his fellow senators, “If all of us rednecks leave the Republican Party, the party is going to have one hell of a void.”

      When something crazy happens, blame the voting machines

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jun 14, 2010
      When something crazy happens, blame the voting machines

      Vic Rawl, the former judge and legislator from Charleston who lost by nearly 20 percentage points to Alvin Greene, the unemployed military veteran who didn’t campaign, wants a recount in South Carolina’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.  The Post and Courier reports that state Sen. Phil Leventis sent a letter to the state election commission asking that the voting machines used for the election be impounded and an audit conducted.

      At Florida school, the future is now

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jun 9, 2010
      At Florida school, the future is now

      Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida, is switching from traditional texbooks to e-readers and is negotiating with Amazon.com to supply all 2,100 students with Kindles by next school year.  Principal Keith Mastorides told the St. Petersburg Times he was inspired to make the switch after campus surveys revealed a desire to integrate more technology with classroom instruction. John Just, assistant superintendent for the district’s management information systems, told the Times that Kindle officials said that no other high school had embarked on such an effort. Schools elsewhere have used e-readers, but mostly on a per class basis.  The e-readers wouldl be fully loaded with all the textbooks students need, minus all the paper.  Just said Clearwater is prepared to spend about $600,000 on the project. More oddities and entities: In case they come to collect our debt: The Iberville Parish public school system in Louisiana plans to offer online Mandarin […]

      Haley whips guys in erotic S.C. governor’s race

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jun 9, 2010
      Haley whips guys in erotic S.C. governor's race

      Despite claims the married, family-values Republican had affairs with two political aides, state Rep. Nikki Haley screwed three men out of any likelihood of becoming governor but fell just a hair short of winning the GOP nomination without a runoff in Tuesday’s South Carolina primary.

      However, the heat is likely to last through the June 22 runoff and probably into November, if Haley wins and goes on to the general election.  One of the men claiming an “inappropriate physical relationship” with  Haley, political blogger and consultant Will Folks, continued to sound like a spurned lover.

      South Carolina’s sleazy, sex crazed race for governor

      by | 11, Add your Comment | Jun 3, 2010
      South Carolina's sleazy, sex crazed race for governor

      When South Carolina Republicans go to the polls on Tuesday to nominate a party candidate for governor, many of them will be choosing between State Rep. Nikki Haley, a Lexington account executive, and Will Folks, a political consultant who isn’t on the ballot but has mounted a campaign to prove he had sex with Haley.

      But Haley, who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Gov. Mark Sanford’s immediate past wife, Jenny Sanford,  claims the only person she has had sex with the past 13 years is her husband, Michael Haley, father of her two children.  She calls the accusations “disgusting politics.”

      South shines in ‘most corrupt’ survey

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 20, 2010
      South shines in 'most corrupt' survey

      Alabama and Louisiana — and, oh yeah, South Carolina — may feel slighted, but Tennessee is the most corrupt state in the nation, according to a survey by The Daily Beast.  And it wasn’t the Tea Party Convention or the birthers or the guns-in-bars law or even the notoriously corrupt politics in Memphis that earned Tennessee the title.  The Beast focused instead on a stolen car and drugs ring in Cocke County that involved a former cop and 22 other citizens of the area — and the collective high rankings in fraud, embezzlement, counterfeiting and racketeering.

      Some readers may take issue with Alabama ranking a mere 12th, behind No. 11 Georgia, no less.  And does any Southerner really believe that Louisiana, the state that gave us Gov. Edwin Edwards, deserves to be a mere No. 19?

      Come visit our oily beaches

      by | 1, Add your Comment | May 19, 2010
      Come visit our oily beaches

      BP is leaking $70 million to four Southern coastal states to promote tourism while oil floats toward their shores from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  Florida planned to use its $25 million share to begin an advertising blitz this weekend. Florida officials claim it will be the biggest promotion since the 9/11 terrorist attacks made everybody want to stay home.

      Applying lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana plans to use its $15 million share to tell would-be visitors that, while the coast may be threatened with tar balls and grease, the rest of the state is doing just fine.  Also getting $15 million each are Mississippi and Alabama.

      Baton gets airport screener arrested

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 11, 2010
      Baton gets airport screener arrested

      Southern oddities and entities:

      How would TSA screeners react if they were the ones being subjected to the full body screenings coming to America’s airports?  Not very well, if a test at Miami International Airport is any indication.  The Sun Sentinel reports that security officer Rolando Negrin snapped after weeks of jokes from colleagues about the size of his genitals exposed by the body scanner.  He was arrested after hitting a fellow officer with his baton — the one he wore at his side — in a parking lot …

      BP’s scummy scum scheme

      by | 2, Add your Comment | May 3, 2010
      BP's scummy scum scheme

      Alabama Attorney General Troy King said BP was circulating settlement agreements among coastal Alabamians in which they would give up the right to sue over the Gulf oil spill in exchange for payment of up to $5,000.  BP told the Mobile Press-Register it simply was trying to round up 500 fishing boats in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to deploy booms and that the contracts had included a standard right-to-sue waiver, as well as a confidentiality clause.

      A BP spokesman told the Press-Register the waiver has been removed and will not be enforced.

      Obama brings global interest to Asheville

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 28, 2010
      Obama brings global interest to Asheville

      President Barack Obama enjoyed the food and the golf and the old books in Asheville, North Carolina, during his visit last weekend.  But Bill Cecil, president and CEO of the Biltmore Estate, told the Asheville Citizen-Times about one particular Obama fascination: “He also probably spent 10 minutes looking at the globe in the library and talking about all the changes in nations’ names from the 1890s.”

      The president and First Lady Michelle Obama also took time to anoint two Asheville restaurants:  12 Bones Smokehouse and Corner Kitchen.

      Taking your gun to the airport: Use it or lose it

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 28, 2010
      Taking your gun to the airport:  Use it or lose it

      Southern oddities and entities:

      Mohamed Atta had only a box cutter when he helped hijack American Airlines Flight 11 and crash it into the World Trade Center.  Soon, Georgians will be allowed to carry guns inside the terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport under a law passed by the state House 120-37 Tuesday evening and headed for Gov. Sonny Perdue’s signature.

      Getting your gun very far into the terminal could be difficult, however. The law allows you to take your piece only up to federally controlled security checkpoints. Beyond that, you may have to shoot your way in, and there’s still a chance TSA agents will make you take off your belt and shoes.

      Threatening to ‘slap the dog water’ out of his opponent

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 21, 2010
      Threatening to 'slap the dog water' out of his opponent

      Candidates for county commissioner in Bradley County, Tennessee, are catching the violent talk wave in today’s uncivil politics.  Candidate T. Stacy Hayes declared at a commission meeting Monday that he had been threatened with physical harm.  He later told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the threat came from his opponent, incumbent Jim Smith, and that Smith had threatened to whip his daddy, too.  Still later, another candidate, J. Adam Lowe, remembered that he, also, had been threatened by Smith.

      Smith told reporters he never told Hayes that he was “going to whip him and his daddy.”  However, he did admit to some pretty harsh words to candidate Lowe.

      Obama taking weekend break in Asheville

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Apr 21, 2010
      Obama taking weekend break in Asheville

      President Barack Obama will visit Asheville, North Carolina, this weekend for a little rest and relaxation, and locals are full of suggestions for stuff he should do.  Citizen-Times.com columnist Jason Sanford suggests the president stop off at Bruisin’ Ales beer store for some of the city’s award-winning craft beer and catch the Blue Ridge Roller Girls at one of their roller derby bouts.

      For a Friday night stroll, Sanford suggests the drum circle in Pritchard Park, then dinner at either of two farm-to-table restaurants, Table or The Marketplace.

      Outlawing fake pee

      by | 10, Add your Comment | Apr 15, 2010
      Outlawing fake pee

      Southern oddities and entities:

      Tennessee State Sen. Doug Jackson, a Dickson Democrat, has gotten approval from a Senate committee for his bill to make it illegal to sell fake urine.  The aim of the bill is to prevent people from using fake urine to falsify drug tests.  However, the bill apparently doesn’t outlaw the sale of real urine.  The legislation also provides an exception for making fake pee for “bona fide educational, medical, and scientific purposes.”

      Who would sell fake urine, you may ask.  One company, QuickFix, advertises “premixed laboratory urine” that “provides a non toxic testing medium that mimics the characteristics of normal human urine.”

      School technology: Love it or leave it

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Apr 9, 2010
      School technology:  Love it or leave it

      Palm Beach, Florida, school administrators want to lift limits on cellphone use by students and embrace cellphones as part of classroom instruction.  Valdosta, Georgia, school administrators want to ban cellphones, declaring them instruments of cheating, pornography and “beat-ins.”

      Southern schools are clearly divided on how much technology to let students play with.  In the global scheme of things, that may not be good news.  In India, the place where our outsourced service calls land, some schools are handing out iPods and iPhones equipped with reading, writing and arithmetic apps …

      Trash-talking back to the Tea Baggers

      by | 8, Add your Comment | Apr 8, 2010
      Trash-talking back to the Tea Baggers

      The Mid-South Tea Party in Tennessee is demanding an apology from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen after the Memphis Democrat likened tea baggers to Ku Klux Klansmen “without hoods and robes” and said Sarah Palin, in black leather at a John McCain rally, was “dressed like Elvis in the comeback event in Hawaii.”

      What apparently set off Cohen, a Jewish attorney who once told the New York Times he votes “like a 45-year-old black woman,” was the incident before the House health care reform vote …

      More prom nightmares

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Apr 6, 2010
      More prom nightmares

      Southern oddities and entities:

      Oxford High School in Calhoun County, Alabama, disciplined 25 students for the way they dressed for this year’s prom.  Some were suspended; some were spanked.  Erica Deramous told the Anniston Star that she was not trying to make a statement, disobey school policy or flaunt herself but just wanted to enjoy her senior prom.  She was suspended for three days anyway. Her mother said Erica was told her dress was too short and cut too low in front …

      In other prom cruelties, Constance McMillen, the Itawamba County, Mississippi, teen whose desire to take a same-sex date to the prom resulted in school officials canceling the event, apparently was punk’d when she attended a private prom over the weekend.

      Monkey see, monkey run

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Apr 2, 2010
      Monkey see, monkey run

      Southern oddities and entities:

      The “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” has been on the lam for more than a year and has almost 65,000 friends on Facebook. According to the St. Petersburg Times, that’s more Facebook friends than Florida U.S. Senate candidates Marco Rubio (37,000) and Gov. Charlie Crist  (10,000) combined. Latest status update on behalf of what Stephen Colbert has called the “junkie monkey:” “Enjoyed another beautiful day of freedom. Lounging in the trees feeling the warmth of the sun and coolness of my banana daiquiri. Well it’s time for some late night monkey mayhem.. gotta go, zoom-zoom…”

      A family deals with health care terror

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Mar 30, 2010
      A family deals with health care terror

      Betsy Snyder normally writes about kids and mothers in her “Little Rock Mamas” blog carried by ArkansasOnline.  This week, she wrote about being afraid to walk outside her house.  Her husband is U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, one of the Democrats who voted for the health care reform bill.  Capitol Police intercepted the death threat.  “The piece of mail mentions looking for him in D.C. or in Little Rock, where we make our home, where our family is,” Betsy Snyder wrote.

      Betsy Snyder is a United Methodist pastor on leave to take care of her infant triplets.  She also has a 3-year-old son …

      For these scary times: Guns and poses

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 25, 2010
      For these scary times:  Guns and poses

      In the name of stopping health care reform, someone severed a gas line at the home of a Virginia congressman’s brother.  Others shattered windows at congressional offices in Kansas, New York and Arizona.  Tea baggers picketed the offices of the attorney general in Arkansas and Tennessee to demand they sue the federal government.  Still others phoned death threats to their representatives.  It was enough to make a person want to carry a gun to church, and the Georgia Senate has voted to let you do that.

      South seceding from health care reform

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Mar 23, 2010
      South seceding from health care reform

      Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli followed through with his vow to sue as soon as President Barack Obama’s signature was dry on the health care bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Richmond.  Thirteen other attorneys general filed a similar lawsuit in Pensacola, Florida.

      Meanwhile, a Florida House committee approved an amendment for the November ballot that would prohibit Floridians from being forced to buy health insurance …

      Health care: It’s all over but the reconciliating

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 22, 2010
      Health care:  It's all over but the reconciliating

      It was quite a weekend.  Georgia Tech lost to Ohio State.  Duke beat California.  Tiger Woods gave his first post-scandal interview. And, oh yeah, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate health care bill 219-212.

      In the heat of the health care argument someone in a protest group shouted the N-word at Georgia Congressman John Lewis, and someone, not immediately identified, in the House chamber shouted “baby killer” at devoted anti-abortionist Bart Stupak, D-Michigan.  On the floor of the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said not only “no” but “hell no.”

      So, tell us what you think about it all.

      Santa dead, too; Fla. demands ‘family’ films

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 19, 2010
      Santa dead, too; Fla. demands 'family' films

      Southern oddities and entities:

      • Bank robberies won’t be as much fun without David Christopher Cotton, the leprechaun shot dead by police on St. Patrick’s Day in Gallatin, Tennessee.  Authorities say he was also Santa Claus during a Dec. 22 bank robbery in suburban Nashville.  But costumed robbing is not dead.  Two men dressed as pizza deliverymen took a safe at gunpoint from a house in Seminole County, Florida.
      • Florida’s effort to lure back filmmakers with a $75 million tax incentive was in disarray after a House committee approved  a bill that would disqualify movies and TV shows that contained “nontraditional family values” from receiving any of the tax credit.

      Leprechaun shot dead; body found in bed frame

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Mar 18, 2010
      Leprechaun shot dead; body found in bed frame

      Dew Droplets Southern oddities and entities making news

      • A man dressed as a leprechaun and another man were shot dead in an exchange of gunfire with police after a St. Patrick’s Day bank robbery in Gallatin, Tennessee.   Police said they weren’t sure if the leprechaun was killed by police or his partner or by a self-inflicted gunshot, according to The News Examiner

      A greener St. Pat’s Day

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 16, 2010
      A greener St. Pat's Day

      In Savannah, Georgia, which has the nation’s second biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade and is ranked by jaunted.com as one of the top cities for celebrating the holiday, SavannahNow.com has suggestions for making the celebration eco-friendly, suggestions worth considering wherever you’re wearing green and drinking in the streets.  Among them:

      • Bring your own 16-ounce cup and have vendors refill it; or ask vendors to refill the first plastic cup you buy.  (Risky, perhaps, in a jostling crowd, but you could avoid plastic altogether by bringing your own stein, we suppose.) …

      Mississippi lesbian getting plenty of prom offers

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Mar 15, 2010
      Mississippi lesbian getting plenty of prom offers

      Hotel-condo developer Sean Cummings, who is spearheading the post-Katrina effort to rejuvenate New Orleans’ riverfront, is among business and cultural leaders rallying in support of Constance McMillen, the 18-year-old Mississippi senior whose challenge to the Itawamba County School Board’s policy against same-sex dates resulted in cancellation of her school’s prom.

      The Clarion-Ledger reported that Cummings offered to transport Itawamba Agricultural High School students by bus  to one of his properties for a prom free of charge.

      Greening of the South

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Mar 12, 2010
      Greening of the South

      One of the ironies of Barack Obama’s presidency is that the South, the red island that rejected his election so vigorously in 2008, may wind up being the place that makes a cornerstone of his agenda work.  The South is becoming a major player in the shift to the Green energy economy that Obama advocates.  Georgia Tech researchers, for instance, have recorded significant advancements in both wind and solar technology.  Two Virginia  firms are among the first companies to apply for federal permits to set up offshore wind turbines.  North Georgia carpet mills are leading the way in recycling industrial waste for energy.

      Racism bad for tourism in Tennessee

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Mar 9, 2010
      Racism bad for tourism in Tennessee

      Some potential visitors are telling Tennessee tourism officials they won’t visit the state after the CEO of the Tennessee Tourism Association sent out an e-mail comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to a chimpanzee.  “And I can’t say I blame any of them,” Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development told The Tennessean. “We certainly feel this was inexcusable and unacceptable.”

      So inexcusable that the tourism association on Monday removed Walt Baker as CEO and severed ties with his marketing firm …

      Trying to save Catholic souls in Tennessee

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Mar 5, 2010
      Trying to save Catholic souls in Tennessee

      What if the Devil and the Pope made a pact to take over the world with a Eucharist wafer?  That, according to WBIR.com in Knoxville, Tennessee, is the theme of “The Death Cookie,” one of the booklets handed out at Pigeon Forge High School by a member of Conner Heights Baptist Church.  “It says that our Eucharist is of the devil,” Father Jay Flaherty of Holy Cross Catholic Church told WBIR.

      Conner Heights pastor Jonathan Hatcher couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Our goal,” he told WBIR, “is not to spread nor to start violence, not to spread hatred, but to share the Gospel.”

      Bingo, it’s a labor issue

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 3, 2010
      Bingo, it's a labor issue

      Reverend Al Sharpton planned to join a march in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday in support of electronic bingo.  Reverend Jesse Jackson announced Wednesday that he also will be there. Civil rights pioneer and former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford said the march will be to show support for workers laid off from casinos closed under threat of raids from Governor Bob Riley’s anti-gambling task force.

      Meanwhile, the Alabama Senate voted against bringing up a bill for debate that would allow voters to decide …

      Is GOP pushing America toward socialism?

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 26, 2010
      Is GOP pushing America toward socialism?

      Since Republicans began accusing Barack Obama of socialism during his 2008 presidential campaign, the Democratic Socialists of America say their membership has increased 64 percent.  “Suddenly there are more people who want to know what it actually is,” says Fred Hicks, head of the Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, in Louisville, Kentucky.

      “This is a wonderful gift the Republicans are giving us,” Frank Llewellyn, the national director of the DSA, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “We’ve had more attention in the last 12 months than in the last 12 years. But most people don’t have a clue what socialism is.”

      Marvin Williams, head of the Central Indiana chapter of the DSA, told the Courier-Journal he noticed an increase in younger attendees at a November state convention.  He says some of them were drawn by concerns about “red-baiting” tactics used by conservatives.

      Chants of ‘Whadda we want? Bingo!’

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 24, 2010
      Chants of 'Whadda we want?  Bingo!'

      The Alabama Senate postponed a vote on electronic bingo gambling, but supporters won a shouting match in front of the capitol, rolling out country music stars Tracy Lawrence, John Anderson and Darryl Worley and drowning out speeches by Governor Bob Riley and First Lady Patsy Riley,who tried to rally the anti forces.

      Worley, one of the developers of Country Crossing, which shut down under threat of raids from Riley’s anti-gambling task force, said he asked God whether he should speak at the rally: “He spoke to me and said, ‘You go down there and speak your heart,’ I believe Country Crossing is a good thing.”

      God had Governor Riley deliver a different message to the anti-casino religious groups gathered at the capitol:  “Not here. Not in Alabama.”

      Gambling on a vote in Alabama

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 19, 2010
      Gambling on a vote in Alabama

      Will the Alabama Senate vote on an electronic bingo bill in time to prevent a showdown between the attorney general and Governor Bob Riley’s anti-gambling task force?  The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a bill that could stop the governor’s task force by regulating, taxing and expanding electronic bingo casinos in Alabama.

      Attorney General Troy King declared this week that he has the authority to “intervene into the controversial and irresponsible activities of the task force,”  which has forced two of the state’s biggest casinos to shut down under threat of raids.  Greene County, in turn, has threatened to use deputies to stop any raid against the one big casino still open.  King said “the task force’s pending armed confrontation with Greene County authorities” left him no choice but to consider intervening. The head of the task force, John Tyson Jr., was unimpressed.  “It is the duty of the Task Force on Illegal Gambling to enforce the criminal law of Alabama,” he said. “We will do just that. … The work of the task force will continue.”  The two men have a history: King defeated Tyson for attorney general in 2006.

      Not a Margaritaville kind of winter

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 17, 2010
      Not a Margaritaville kind of winter

      While most Southern states are bearing up under the unusual cold and snow, Florida is chilling in a bad way.  Beach bars and hotels are serving far fewer sunbathers and snowbirds, golfers are staying away, and fishing and boating trips are down, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

      Stunned iguanas have been falling out of trees, and now the cold is killing off endangered manatees.  Nearly 200 have died, and hundreds of others stressed by the cold are taxing statewide facilities that care for the marine mammals.

      Last year, the Tampa Bay area had one day in which the temperature did not reach 60 degrees.  This year, there have 18 such days. “I’ve lived here most of my life, and I can’t remember seeing this type of cold,” Jeff Hollis, who oversees three golf courses for the city of St. Petersburg, told the Times.

      Valentine’s food for thought

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Feb 12, 2010
      Valentine's food for thought

      With both Valentine’s Day and snow moving into the South, here are a few things in the news to think about — all, oddly, involving food.

      When Connie Taylor of Byron, Georgia, went to make potato salad, she discovered that the 5-pound bag her boyfriend had bought at Freshway the day before contained not one but two heart-shaped potatoes.  According to macon.com, the Idaho Potato Commission reports at least two single heart-shaped potato finds in recent years, but there’s no record of a previous double-whammy.  “Maybe we’ll have a ribeye and a baked, heart-shaped potato on Valentine’s Day,” she told a reporter but said she’s leaning more toward pickling them to save.

      Cheryl Freeman of Loris, South Carolina, had no magic Valentine potatoes when she walked inside Food Lion late one recent evening to buy milk and bread, the Southern staples for snowy weather.  Nobody, she says, mentioned the store was closing, but “when I got up to the front I thought I saw people leaving in a car in the parking lot” — and the door was locked.  She didn’t have her cellphone with her, but, while trying unsuccessfully to find a phone in the store, she set off the burglar alarm.  That brought police and rescue.

      Under the O, uh-oh

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 9, 2010
      Under the O, uh-oh

      Alabama Governor Bob Riley, who sent his anti-gambling task force against casinos that allowed electronic bingo, is now sending his economic Rapid Response Team to assist the hundreds of people put out of work by the casino shutdowns.  “Although these casino operations are illegal, we will offer any and all assistance possible to any Alabamian who is without a job,” Riley said.

      Meanwhile, Alabama Senate leaders said they planned quick action on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide the gambling issue on the November ballot.

      Tea teed

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Feb 5, 2010
      Tea teed

      Former Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo kicked off this weekend’s first-ever National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, by attacking the president as that  “committed socialist ideologue … Barack Hussein Obama.”  But most of the conventioneers were waiting to hear Sarah Louise Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate who is delivering the keynote address Saturday night …

      No alcohol was served at the convention’s opening party, according to Tennessean.com blogger Jennifer Brooks.  For entertainment:  Ray Stevens.  Yes, he’s still alive, and singing against “ObamaCare.”

      Whoa Dat!

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Feb 2, 2010
      Whoa Dat!

      The National Football League is backpedaling on its threat to take legal action against New Orleans merchants using the “Who Dat” slogan on Saints souvenirs they sell.  The Times-Picayune reports that NFL general counsel Gary Gertzog sent a letter to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell declaring that the NFL does not claim exclusive rights “now or at any time in the future” over the expression, “Who Dat,” “Who Dat Nation,” the colors black and gold or “any combination thereof” or the fleur-de-lis.

      Louisiana’s Democratic State Central Committee had urged Republican Governor Bob Jindal to sue the NFL over the issue, and U,S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) threatened to have his own Who Dat shirts printed and dared the league to sue him.

      Meanwhile, in honor of the Saints upcoming Super Bowl appearance against the Indianapolis Colts, the St. Tammany Parish animal shelter is offering all black-and-gold animals for adoption at half the regular adoption fee.

      Dew Drops: Florida, N.C. on fast tracks

      by | 7, Add your Comment | Jan 28, 2010
      Dew Drops:  Florida, N.C. on fast tracks

      President Barack Obama is bringing the beginnings of a national high-speed-rail network to Tampa, Florida, with the announcement Thursday that the state will get at least half what it requested to open fast-train service between Orlando and Tampa by 2015.  Rail backers say the project will bring 23,000 jobs to Florida over four years and create 600 permanent jobs.  The train would allow commuters to travel the 85 miles between the two cities in less than an hour … Florida had requested $2.6 billion but will get only $1.25 billion. North Carolina was expected to receive $520 million for a Charlotte-Raleigh connection.

      Dew Drops: Pro-lifers get Kentucky win

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jan 26, 2010
      Dew Drops:  Pro-lifers get Kentucky win

      The Kentucky Senate passed a bill 32-4 that would require doctors to show a woman an ultrasound image of her fetus and explain how it is developing before performing an abortion.  The patient would be allowed to “avert her eyes,” according to the report by Courier-Journal.com.  The bill now goes to the House, where similar bills have died in the past.

      The Texas Senate last year backed off a bill that would have required that women seeking abortion be given both an ultrasound picture and a recording of the fetus’ heartbeat but did pass …

      Dew Drops: Friends defend Elizabeth Edwards

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 22, 2010
      Dew Drops: Friends defend Elizabeth Edwards

      If Elizabeth Edwards snapped a few times on the campaign trail, her friends understand, because they also knew John Edwards, who finally confessed this week to being the father of a love child, after leaving the country to help the poor and wounded in Haiti. Elizabeth Edwards was depicted in the recently released book Game Change as a condescending, angry woman, who called her husband “hick” and pitched temper tantrums in front of staff.  “I think what was going on in her head is a struggle with every fiber in her being to believe her husband and hold on to whatever hope she could that he was telling her the truth,” Jennifer Palmieri, a confidante of Mrs. Edwards who served as spokesman for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards’s presidential campaign, told Politico.com. “It created unbelievable turmoil in her that came out in lots of different ways.”

      Dew Drops: Did the Devil make God do it?

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jan 20, 2010
      Dew Drops:  Did the Devil make God do it?

      Even some conservatives cringed at remarks made by televangelist Pat Robertson and radio talker Rush Limbaugh regarding the earthquake in Haiti.  The Republican governor-elect of Robertson’s home state of Virginia, Bob McDonnell,  said he had not heard Robertson’s remarks “but from what I know of them, I disagree with those comments.”  Conservative firebrand Pat Buchanan called Limbaugh’s remarks “deeply insensitive.”

      Robertson attempted to clarify his remarks.  While he did not retreat from his argument that Haiti’s founders made a pact with the Devil during the slave rebellion of 1791, he noted on his Web site that he “never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath.” Furthermore, he said, his “humanitarian arm” had shipped millions of dollars worth of medications to Haiti and had sent disaster team leaders “to ease the suffering” — the pact with the Devil thing notwithstanding.

      Limbaugh, whom God recently sent to the hospital with chest pains, showed no signs of retreating from his remark that the Obama administration would use its earthquake aid to Haiti to “burnish their, shall we say, ‘credibility’ with the black community — in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.”

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