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The Live Wire, Nov. 9: Your Child Left Behind, Unemployment Deadlines and Conan’s Return

| November 9, 2010

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Feed Flagler Update III: We’re Up to $325

The drive is on to raise thousands of dollars for Flagler County’s food pantries and to pay for the Nov. 24 Thanksgiving meal for some 2,000 people in the second annual Feed Flagler celebration. The effort is also designed to stock families’ and food pantries’ shelves well beyond Thanksgiving, which is what makes this necessary and particularly worthy. There’s also a challenge on: several companies and government agencies are competing to out-raise each other, with Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston leading the way: By Friday, she’d raised $1,733.09. She may be over the $2,000 mark by now.

Please do your part. We’re doing ours. We started our own fund-raising through FlaglerLive, seeding it with an initial contribution and further contributions from Hollingsworth Gallery’s JJ Graham, David Millonig in Pensacola, Nancy Nally in Palm Coast and Darrell Smith in Flagler Beach, and Palm Coast Bible Church’s $100 on Monday. Today’s contributors: thank you Inna Hardison and Anthony Mike Kales.

If you’d like to donate but would prefer to remain anonymous, just send us a note here and we’ll leave your name out of it. Thank you all. Keep it coming.

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Conan–That’s Team Coco in French–Is Back

When Ed Gibbon Jr. referred top NBC executives as “the most savage of mankind” (in The Decline and Fall of the American Empire), he wasn’t kidding. Look at what happened to Conan O’Brien. On Monday, Conan returned–on TBS, freed of Network television’s constrictions and newsprint-like Jurassic mentalities. Here he is in his new glory.

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Florida Unemployment Deadlines

More like an X than a flag in this case

The Florida labor department (also known as the Agency for Workforce Innovation) today issued a reminder to unemployed Floridians of upcoming deadlines that may impact unemployment claims. Under current law, the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), Extended Benefits (EB) and Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) programs will conclude over the next several weeks. Initial state unemployment claims, which include up to 26 weeks of benefits at a maximum of $275 per week in Florida, are not affected by the upcoming expiration of the extensions.

To receive additional weeks of unemployment compensation available through the federal EUC program, beneficiaries must exhaust their regular state claim by November 20, 2010.

The EB program, which provides additional compensation to beneficiaries who have exhausted all EUC to which they are entitled, ends December 4, 2010. Due to federal funding limitations, EB will not be paid for any weeks of unemployment after the week ending December 4. This includes EB accounts that may have a balance remaining. More information on important dates related to the EB program is available here.

Unemployed Floridians should also be aware that the final week for payments of FAC – the extra $25 a week available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – will be the week ending December 11, 2010. FAC payments have been received as separate checks or Electronic Funds Transfers. Unemployment Compensation Hotline: 1-800-204-2418.

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Real Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

From Stetson University: Internationally acclaimed author and media critic Dr. Jack Shaheen, a former CBS News consultant on Mideast affairs, will present his documentary film Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. The event, to include the screening, a short talk and Q&A, will be held in the Stetson Room of the Carlton Union Building, 131 E. Minnesota Ave.

The presentation, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Stetson Values Council and Women and Gender Studies program. This year’s Values Council theme is “Change: What? Why? How?” A Pittsburgh native, Shaheen is a committed internationalist and devoted humanist. His lectures and writings illustrate that damaging racial and ethnic stereotypes of Asians, blacks, Native Americans and others injure innocent people. He defines crude caricatures, explains why they persist, and provides workable solutions to help shatter misperceptions. Shaheen, an Oxford research scholar, is the recipient of two Fulbright teaching awards; he also received St. Bonaventure University’s Lenna Award, which brings individuals of national and international stature to the university. He holds degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Missouri. He has appeared on national network programs including CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, Nightline, Good Morning America, 48 Hours, and The Today Show.

Shaheen has given more than 1,000 lectures in nearly all the 50 states and three continents. Recently, he was hosted by the Central Intelligence Agency; he also shared thoughts with students at the U.S. West Point Military Academy and at the Marine Command and Staff College. He is the author of five books: Nuclear War Films, the TV Arab, Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture, the award-winning book and DVD Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, and GUILTY Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11. His writings include 300-plus essays in publications such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, to chapters on media stereotypes in dozens of college textbooks. “Damaging media stereotypes do not exist in a vacuum,” Shaheen says. “Continuously repeated, they denigrate peoples, narrow our vision and distort reality.”

Watch the trailer:


Watch the full documentary:


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In Defense of NPR

James Wolcott iN Vanity Fair: “he big male bags of air have been puffing at NPR from the outside, trying to blow the house down. And blowhards don’t come any blowhardier than Newt Gingrich, who, upon being elected Speaker of the House following the Republican takeover of 1994, pronounced his intention “to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” putting it on a starvation diet that would have wiped dozens of smaller stations off the airwaves that depended on grant moneys from the C.P.B. and reduced others to skeleton crews, recounts This Is NPR. This animus against public radio first gained rhetorical traction on the right during the “Reagan Revolution,” as so many ideologically driven crusades did, when NPR was christened “Radio Sandinista” for what the contra-backing Reaganites considered its slanted-left Nicaragua coverage. Gingrich railed against the elitism of NPR, proclaiming that the popularity of Rush Limbaugh represented the real face of public broadcasting, but as usual Gingrich’s grandiosity was greater than his grip on political reality, and his plan fell as flat as his Speakership after the first flush of giddiness. In This Is NPR, Gingrich is quoted as graciously conceding in 2003 that he no longer considers the network an enemy within. “NPR is a lot less to the left … or I’ve mellowed. Or some combination of the two.” Or a third alternative: in the era of Sarah Palin Superstar, bashing NPR no longer gets the primitive, tribal juices going on the right, not with such a bumper crop of Muslims and illegal immigrants for Tea Party panderers to sink their gums into. Mosques are so much easier to hobgoblinize—to borrow one of the late William F. Buckley Jr.’s coinages—than the rest stop on the dial bringing home Morning Edition, the witty quiz show Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, Ira Glass’s This American Life, and the midwestern opry of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, that church social for the socially awkward. Not to mention Car Talk. Everybody loves Car Talk, even me, and I don’t drive.” The full defense.

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Your Child Left Behind

From the Atlantic: “Imagine for a moment that a rich, innovative company is looking to draft the best and brightest high-school grads from across the globe without regard to geography. Let’s say this company’s recruiter has a round-the-world plane ticket and just a few weeks to scout for talent. Where should he go? Our hypothetical recruiter knows there’s little sense in judging a nation like the United States by comparing it to, say, Finland. This is a big country, after all, and school quality varies dramatically from state to state. What he really wants to know is, should he visit Finland or Florida? Korea or Connecticut? Uruguay or Utah? […] We’ve known for some time how this story ends nationwide: only 6 percent of U.S. students perform at the advanced-proficiency level in math, a share that lags behind kids in some 30 other countries, from the United Kingdom to Taiwan. But what happens when we break down the results? Do any individual U.S. states wind up near the top? Incredibly, no. Even if we treat each state as its own country, not a single one makes it into the top dozen contenders on the list. The best performer is Massachusetts, ringing in at No. 17. Minnesota also makes it into the upper-middle tier, followed by Vermont, New Jersey, and Washington. And down it goes from there, all the way to Mississippi, whose students—by this measure at least—might as well be attending school in Thailand or Serbia.”

And Florida? Don’t ask. See the charts and comparative analysis here.

Click on the image for larger view.

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2010 Election: $4 Billion of Ad Candy

campaign finance ad candy spending $4 billion floridaFrom the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting: “Americans spent $1.8 billion on Halloween candy this year. And if that orgy of vapidness and empty calories doesn’t impress you, try out this testament to excess and senselessness: Between $3 billion and $4 billion has been spent on political advertising for the midterm elections this year. If money spent on false or misleading ads were taken out of the equation, that figure would be more like … oh … $345.62. But Advertising Age doesn’t compute it that way, so what we basically have is $4 billion worth of ad candy. Much of it empty mental calories aimed at providing sweet morsels for supporters who’ve already made up their minds. What this election cycle has confirmed is that politics isn’t about policy or governing. It’s about personalities, dumbing-down issues and overstating talking points. It’s become a game. No longer government by the people, for the people. But rather, entertainment by the masses, for the masses. And if that’s where we’ve arrived as a society, well … be proud, Florida. Because we’ve got the best show around.” The full story.


Calling God Long Distance

A funny one from Mort Sahl for those who still remember Menahem Begin and Ronald Reagan:

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A Few Good Links


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