South Carolina has the 9th highest rate of firearm murders.
68% of the murders in the state are done with a gun.
So, being the smart southern folks they are, South Carolina wants to continue to loosen gun restrictions and call it an "anti-crime" measure.
“It puts criminals on the defense,” said state Rep. Thad Viers, R-Horry, a co-sponsor of the bill and the owner of about 25 firearms and a concealed weapons permit. “Criminals don’t know if you’re carrying or not.”
First some recent history of gunlaw in the sate: 2006 - passed legislation that says gun laws can't be voided during a state of emergency 2008 - passed legislation allowing people to keep guns in their vehicle when parked on State House grounds 2008 - passed legislation concealing from the public the list of the 1 in 50 South Carolinians with concealed weapons permits 2009 - passed legislation allowing folks to keep guns in their cars while droppoing off their kids at school
Now: state Rep. Thad Viers (Republican) has co-sponsored a bill that would let gun owners bring their weapons into restaurants, day-care centers and churches.
After all, if god didn't want us to have guns in churches, he wouldn't have created Thad Viers.
Sometimes when I stay up late working, I like to turn on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. As far as late shows go, he's far more entertaining than Jimmy Fallon, who I find mostly insufferable.
Earlier this week, I happened to catch this conversation by chance between Bob Geldoff and Craig Ferguson. Around the 3:30 mark, they start getting into a music conversation. And around the 7 minute mark they get into a conveersation that I'd been having with myself for the past decade. I've simulataneously held both Geldoff's and Ferguson's takes on contemporary music at the same time.
Overall, the whole segment felt like two old friends who witnessed the rise of punk who were having a real converstation that we were allowed to eavesdrop on.
GELDOFF: You're shifting to this amazing period, and it doesn't seem like anybody's got anything to say about it.
FERGUSON: I do think that... in my darkest moments I think that... but I think maybe out there there are young people doing it but I just don't know about it because I'm an old codger. ... but I'm sure there must be someone out there doing it.
GELDOFF: But where? ... I've got four girls and they turn me on to stuff... but it isn't that articulated rage against or determining your own future or shaping it...
overheard by Hanne Blank. drawn by Kelly Froh (click on strip to see larger version) Look for a brand new Said What? comic in Wednesday's B: The Paper. Available free around town. You can also follow this strip and others at MutantFunnies.com. ---------------------------------------------------- Overhear something amazing? Post them in the comments section (with your email address) or email your Overheards (using this format) to: MobtownshankATatomicbooksDOTcom. It could end up as a comic strip.
AQUARIUS: Outlook good. PISCES: Ask again later. ARIES: Ask again later. TAURUS: Better not tell you now. GEMINI: Ask again later. CANCER: Cannot predict now. LEO: Cannot predict now. VIRGO: Ask again later. LIBRA: Signs point to yes. SCORPIO: As I see it, yes. SAGITTARIUS: Yes - definitely. CAPRICORN: You may rely on it.
Last year, corporate giant General Electric (GE) made $14.2 billion in profits globally. $5.1 billion of those profits came from its operations in the United States.
GE also received an additional $3.2 billion in tax benefits.
So what did this corporation pay in taxes last year? Nothing.
That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.
Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.
Saturday, March 24 10AM. 935 St. Paul St. Charm City Circulator
US Uncut is a non-violent, non-destructive organization of civil disobedience direct actions which protest the cut in public services while the biggest corporations in America are paying little to no taxes.
They are protesting Bank of America because: "Bank of America is the 5th largest corporation in the US, and yet they pay less in taxes than the average American household. Before one more teacher is laid off, before one more firefighter is given a pink slip, before one more valuable government service is cut, close the loopholes. END corporate tax avoidance."
Basically, while we see our public services cut, Bank of America isn't paying its fair share.
So this group will meet today at the St. Paul St. address and take the Charm City Circulator to a Bank of America to protest.
If you read this notice too late to catch the bus but still want to join up, email this address to find out where in Baltimore city these folks are.
Fans of The Signal, Batlimore's consistently excellent local arts show on NPR affiliate WYPR, will notice something odd about the show's schedule starting today.
In the past, The Signal used to air conveniently at noon on Fridays and again at 7PM on Friday evenings. This noon timeslot has been very beneficial to the community as their events calendar is frequently a good source for plans-making for the weekend. Unfortunately, by 7PM on Friday, our plans can already be frequently underway.
I can't tell you how many times I've spoken to someone after the Friday noon show and they've asked, "Did you hear that thing on The Signal?"
However, under some new scheduling changes, the Signal has been pushed out of it's Noon on Fridays timeslot to make room for more Midday with Dan Rodricks (which until this change ran 8 hours a week and now runs 10 hours a week).
I've talked to numerous friends who work in radio throughout the country, and they unanimously agree that bumping a show from a Friday at noon timeslot to a Saturday at 1PM timeslot is not a positive move for the show.
Why is WYPR doing this? Do they think it's more important that Baltimore get a full 10 weekday hours of Dan Rodricks than 1 hour of Baltimore arts? Does Dan?
If you care about Baltimore arts and The Signal, contact WYPR and let them know you want the show back on on Fridays at noon. After all, WYPR's tagline is "YOUR NPR News Station".
The Republican Governor of Maine, Paul LePage is so anti-worker, he has ordered a mural of workers in the Department of Labor building removed because it is, he claims, biased against business owners.
Conference rooms in the building are also going to be renamed, removing the names of former labor leaders.
According to Maine DOL Acting Commissioner Laura Boyett, "We have received feedback that the administration building is not perceived as equally receptive to both businesses and workers -- primarily because of the nature of the mural in the lobby and the names of our conference rooms."
See, Republicans are pro-jobs (after all, taking down murals of workers from the Maine Department of Labor is bound to require some work), they're just against celebrating the workers who would fill such jobs, especially at the expense of poor, oppressed captains of industry.
After living in Japan for four years and feeling relatively at ease with myself and my place within the culture, I came back to America to take care of some family business. As days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, I found myself missing what I had left behind in Japan -- things like the relationships that I had worked on so hard for the past few years and an enjoyable job working with elementary and junior high school kids.
That’s not to say that life in Japan as a foreigner is all roses – far from it. You can chalk up certain feelings to "cultural differences", others to simply not understanding language, or any number of reasons. Despite this, living in Japan changed something in me, the result of which was feeling uneasy living in America again. Reverse culture-shock is probably the easiest way to classify it. Between 2007 – 2010, I attempted to come back once a year and while the first trip back felt like I was coming home, subsequent ones felt more like regular vacations and once I was back in Osaka, I was home.
PLANS FOR RETURNING I lived in Florida for about four months after returning in August of 2010, then moved to Baltimore in December 2010. The family business I returned to America for, compounded with Florida itself being a wasteland seemed like a good enough excuse for whatever ennui it was I was feeling at the time. I figured a move to a city and living around my peers would help alleviate stress and boredom, and while it did, it didn’t change the underlying uneasiness that I felt living in America again. I came to the realization that I needed to go back to Japan and continue with the life I had there instead of trying to play catch up for four years with friends in America.
So, I interviewed with a couple of teacher-dispatch companies to continue teaching in elementary and junior high schools and had job offers coming in. I did my visa paperwork, got my working visa in the beginning of March and found a very inexpensive flight into Tokyo before I was set to start working.
EARTHQUAKE HAPPENS Then the earthquake hit.
My first thoughts went to where the quake and tsunami had struck and how many friends and acquaintances I had there. I had lived in Osaka for the previous four years, which is about an eight hour drive southwest from Tokyo. The affected areas were places I had never been to, but had friends from nonetheless. It was a long three or four days as I waited to hear back from Johnny, a singer of a hardcore punk band in Sendai. Finally, through a Facebook post, I found out that he was scared, but alive.
As I watched the events unfold via The Washington Post and NHK TV, I started thinking about the effects this is going to have not on just the immediately affected areas, but on the country and Japanese society as a whole. Here were tens of thousands of people whose homes were washed away, along with most of their personal history. These two things always struck me as very important facets of any Japanese person’s self-worth.
In a country where most families are comprised of no less than three generations under the same roof, taking away that home base could undoubtedly lead to some families being broken up. After all, why should grandma take up valuable space in public relief housing in the area when she could just be sent to a senior care center in another part of the country? What about the older Japanese whose children had moved out who simply put, don’t have enough time left to rebuild their lives to some semblance of what was taken from them?
The will to rebuild is something that I was never worried about being taken away from the Japanese. After all, the traditional wisdom in Japan is if you’re buying another person’s home, you tear it down and rebuild your own home on the land. Some families with enough means forgo adding on to their house in favor of razing the whole thing and starting from scratch. It’s something that I never fully understood, as an American.
For the younger Japanese who lost their homes, would they soon begin to flood into Tokyo and descend on the job and housing markets there? Or would they remain in the areas that were devastated by the tsunami and work on rebuilding? When you displace 500,000 people, their presence is pretty obvious, even in a city as large as Tokyo.
At this point, I was still committed to going back, feeling that Osaka itself would be unaffected by the damage the earthquake had wrought.
DISASTERS CONTINUE Then the problems began at the nuclear power plants in Fukushima and I had to start thinking a lot harder if I was going to return to Japan.
I studied film criticism in college, so science (aside from science fiction, natch) was a bit out of my realm of understanding – I wasn’t sure if the reports I was seeing in papers about the ability of radiation from these plants to spread were accurate or not. I started getting calls from family members asking if I was still seriously considering returning. Most of them were saying it was time to cancel my plans. Friends had the same concerns.
But what do they know? Fukushima is so far from Osaka! There’s no way anything could happen that would affect me. Judging from news reports, the ability of radiation to make its way the hundreds of kilometers from Fukushima to Osaka was nigh impossible. Radioactive spinach and milk? Name me two foods I am any less likely to ever eat, I dare you!
My flight was going in to Tokyo, so I decided to check in on friends there to see how things were going. One friend is an incredibly rational and well-read person who I would rarely have hesitation about taking advice from.
“What are things like there? I’m reading all this stuff about Tokyo being a ghost town, no food on the shelves, power outages and all that.”
“The aftershocks are kind of annoying, but past that, there’s really nothing to worry about here. There’s still food at my grocery store, people are still going to work and going about their daily lives,” he told me.
“So, no worries about any of the radiation-related news?”
“I guess I’d be worried if I knew what I was supposed to be worried about. The news isn’t telling me much of anything I can use, so I’m just going about my life. Things seem fine, man.”
We have a friend in common who works for a pretty big game/character goods company. After the earthquake and news of the reactor shutdowns, he got on the first plane he could to Hong Kong. He’s still there. I asked him about it and his view was on the better safe than sorry side of things.
I talked to my friends in Osaka, seeing how things were there. According to them, it’s just business as usual with no real fear of the problems the news predicts Tokyo as facing. One did mention something that gave me pause; “I’ve seen a lot of families with big suitcases coming out the train stations lately.”
It turns out these families are “refugees” from Tokyo. People who don’t feel safe there anymore.
CONTINUING WORRIES When I came back to Japan, I was going to stay with a couple in Osaka. One of them works for Ikea in their Osaka branch. I got a message from a mutual friend telling me that Ikea is making them leave Osaka, preferably for Hong Kong. They ended up going to Okinawa, small islands that make up the southernmost part of Japan.
Then I read an interesting article about H&M shuttering its Tokyo store and moving its business down to Osaka – including a couple thousand employees. The same article mentioned other companies moving their executives to Osaka, renting out office space and looking into continuing operations in this safer area, as news coming from Fukushima was getting neither better or worse, day after day.
As I mentioned before, I feel like roots are very important for most Japanese people, and to see entire companies up and moving shop made me realize something big is happening in Tokyo. I don’t know if these companies will be permanently moving operations, but this is certainly out of the ordinary and is going to have some pretty large effects on the society as a whole.
Every day I was speaking with friends in Osaka and Tokyo; Japanese, American, English, New Zealanders who were providing me a fairly broad cross-section of beliefs that I could measure their responses to the situation against. The overwhelming feeling I was getting from everyone was neither one of fear nor confidence. It was simple uncertainty.
What I really wanted was for somebody to make this decision for me and say, “Yes, it is okay for you to go, things will be fine.” Instead, all I was hearing was lots of advice to wait and see. This was no good, because I knew that there was a large chance if I didn’t go back now, I wouldn’t go back again for a long time. And that’s not what I wanted.
Always in search of reliable advice, I turned to reading some of the messageboards for foreigners in Japan. The overwhelming trend I noticed was one of branding those who left the country as pussies. Now, there is a strange effect on foreigners in Japan; if you see another foreigner on the street, you ignore each other. Why? Because you’re real Japanese, not a real foreigner. You’ve lived here longer, jumped through more hoops and changed your personality enough to blend in with your workmates and score a Japanese partner. This is relatively common for anyone that has lived in the country for at least a year and as much as I hate it, I will admit that I have succumbed to it on many occasions.
So this "super gaijin" effect may be causing a lot of people to react with more pride than sense. While a lot of Japanese people do not have a place to return to, many foreigners do, and they are ignoring their safety on the pretense of being tough and being more Japanese than others.
Here I am, not changing my flight, thinking that life will be normal and fine as soon as I get back. After all, I put in my four years, speak fluent Japanese and know what I’m doing. I deserve to be there more than any other fresh-off-the-boat conversation school teacher!
I talk to my friends and they are still going out to drink, going to gigs, hosting bands on tour from other places and showing me that everything is fine and I think, “This is what I want. This is why I should be going back.”
Then I read a report about trace amounts of radioactive material being found in the water that supplies Tokyo with some of its drinking water. Now I am thinking, “Wait a minute. Things may not be okay.”
I call my airline to try and change my ticket to fly to Osaka instead of Tokyo and the person at the call center asks me, “Are you really sure you need to go?” First family, then friends, now this guy too!
I ask him why he’s asking and he politely tells me that they’re basically only running flights to Japan now because of their government contract and how they need to be flying over contractors to help recovery efforts. “Very few civilians seem to be going over now,” he tells me.
A person I have never met turns out to be the tipping point for me. I start asking about leaving later. He continues to try and persuade me to cancel my ticket, but he ends up finding a flight on Friday into Osaka. He tells me that I can still most definitely get my money back if I decide to cancel the trip before then.
I’m waiting to see what happens for a few more days. I can’t imagine it would be that much, but how long do I wait to return to where I feel like I’m supposed to be? And why do I feel like I’m supposed to be there? I could return in September with another job offer that I have, but I feel like I need to go now. Despite looking radiation, economic and social devastation in the face, I still feel like everything will be okay and back to normal.
Every time I try to justify returning to the country to myself, it becomes more and more difficult. In Osaka, everything is fine, the water supply isn’t contaminated with radiation, and people are still able to buy vegetables from the south. Tokyo and points north are a completely different matter, but that’s not where I’m going to be. But when I compare my feelings from the beginning of March about returning – optimistic, excited to have jobs locked down and places to stay until I was back on my feet – to the feelings I have now, I just can’t justify it. Now I feel nothing but insecurity about returning and anger at my inability to accept that things will be okay.
If I were still living in Osaka, would I have left the country after the radiation problems began? Probably not, because as I see myself like the Japanese, I’m hearty and I’ll stay there to help rebuild. But now that I’m back here and immersed in American society, I’m starting to question if I really am the super gaijin I was nine months ago when I left Japan. And when you start to question what you are, maybe you were never certain about it in the first place.
So here we are on Thursday, March 24th and my e-ticket still reads 7:01am Friday, March 25th. I’ve got a little under a day to figure out what I’m going to do. It’s one of the harder decisions I’ve had to make in the past year and at this point, who is there to say I’ve made the right choice but myself?
And by "myself", I don’t mean the irradiated mutant that spawned out of my used can of coffee who has the same beautiful hazel eyes as I do.