Monday, May 18, 2009

Craigslist CEO Shopping for an Apology From McMaster

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Mon, May 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM

e484/1242661731-mcmaster_resized.jpgCraigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster spent his whole weekend fuming over S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster's continued threats of criminal prosecution for adult services found on the website.

Buckmaster had agreed to concessions last week after lengthy negotiations with three other attorneys general, but McMaster (pictured) said it wasn't enough and continued to call on the popular classifieds site to remove all user-generated ads that offered sexual services.

Throughout the weekend, Buckmaster updated a post on a host of other web classified pages that host personal "entertainment" services, including the Post and Courier.

Today, he called on McMaster to apologize for targeting Craigslist, while suggesting that the attorney general shouldn't throw around words like "criminal," particularly in the run-up to a contentious gubernatorial campaign.

"Have you fully considered the implications of your accusations against Craigslist?" Buckmaster wrote. "What's a crime for Craigslistis clearly a crime for any company."

Of course, it's quite possible that all Buckmaster has succeeded in doing is making McMaster's job easier when he does, in fact, go after the state's larger personal ad providers.

Another interesting fact comes from a chart that Buckmaster posted on Sunday showing overall growth in Craigslist postings in South Carolina. What is interesting about the chart is the relatively modest growth in Charleston posts compared to Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and Columbia.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Colbert to MUSC Grads: Fail … Carefully

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Fri, May 15, 2009 at 2:12 PM

522f/1242411065-colbertcenter_resized.jpgWith the Comedy Central cameras off, one of Charleston’s most popular favorite sons settled in behind the podium at the commencement for graduates at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Stephen Colbert, whose father was academic vice president at the university in the early ’70s, did not bring his famous alter-ego: the excitable faux talk show pundit of The Colbert Report. Instead, he provided sentimental memories of his dad and the times they spent on campus.

Colbert did make one reference to the character that has launched a thousand fan sites; a failed, comedic presidential campaign; and a New York Times bestseller.

“Traditionally commencement speakers dole out advice on life and careers to students,” he said. “But I’ve made my career as an aggressively ignorant blowhard with a dismissive attitude toward knowledge in general and to science in particular. So, clearly I have no business in giving you any advice.

And yet, he did. But first he summed up the student experience, gross medical mysteries and all.

“In the last four years you’ve gone from ‘I don’t want to see that,’ to ‘Hey, come look at this,’” he said.

There’s also that introduction to the requisite cadaver.

“That was awkward I have to imagine,” Colbert said. “But you got used to it. Pretty soon you were calling him Ricky. Making him your Facebook photo.”

There’s those relationships that just will never be the same.

“Your pick-up line may be ‘I love you baby,’” he said. “But inside you’re thinking, ‘Proximity to you triggers the release of phenylethamine from my hypothalamus which in turn triggers extra cellular dopamine and suffuses me with a sense of arousal and well being, reinforced by my evolutionary response to your facial symmetry, part of a hard-wired drive to produce adaptive offspring, baby.’”

He gave a shout out to pharmacists.

“How would you have graduated without them?” he asked, prompting laughter and cheers from the pharmacy graduates. “Who was your favorite study partner? Ritalin? Adorale? Provigil? Anyone have a whole study group? Besides giving me an honorary degree, I’m hoping you can also give me an honorary prescription pad. I heard if you mix OxyContin and Cialis, it gives you heat vision.”

By the end, Colbert got back to the advice.

“Whenever I honestly, sincerely give young people advice … the most common thing I say is go make mistakes. The best thing I ever did was to give myself permission to be wrong,” he said. “I can’t really give you that advice. It’s irresponsible for me to tell graduates of a medical college to go out and make as many mistakes as you can.”

So he encourage the students to, instead, lower patient expectations.

“When they walk into the examination room for the first time maybe you should be wearing the gown,” he said. “When they call you doctor, giggle.”

And if that doesn’t work?

“You just tell them at your graduation, Stephen Colbert reminded you that you are humans and, as such, you always have the right to fail,” he said.

Colbert received an honorary degree. Below are additional photos of the sash and degree presentations, as well as Colbert's guiding of a choral "Happy Birthday," to celebrate his recent 45th.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Local Air Force Base Delivers Swine Flu Aid (W/Pics)

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 4:54 PM

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Story By Lindsay Frost

With rising concerns of the spread of the H1N1 virus, also known as the Swine Flu, the U.S. military is using the Charleston Air Force base to ship out 30,000 protection kits to Central America. The military is targeting specific countries in need, including Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

8c42/1242160040-090508-f-7859s-003_resized.jpgThe U.S. has worked with officials to identify countries threatened by the virus and those in need of supplies. The C-17 Globemaster aircraft that left the Charleston Air Force base May 8 is scheduled to deliver about 5,000 kits to the six countries over the next few days. Local officials will distribute the necessary equipment to response units in the event of an outbreak of the virus.

The kits include virus protection and prevention equipment, including virus screening respirators, safety goggles, gloves, shoe-covers, disposable aprons and overalls, and infectious biohazard waste bags.

The supplies were donated from a Department of Defense warehouse in Albany, Ga., and are estimated to be worth $225,000. The shipment is in addition to 100,000 personal protection kits worth over $973,000 sent to Mexico City on May 2.

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May Is Bike Month: City Proclamation, Events, Playlist

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 2:11 PM

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Story by Lindsay Frost

City To Make Proclamation Tonight
Wake up, stretch out, put on your iPod, and hop on your bike. This month, the City of Charleston is recognizing a gold standard in fuel efficiency: peddling with your own two feet. Whether it be to get exercise, save money on gas, or take in the great outdoors, bike riding is a favored way to travel around Charleston. Mayor Joseph Riley has declared May Bicycle Month in Charleston, and he’s offering up a community action plan to promote bike use as a tool to help the environment and improve fitness.

The City Council will consider a resolution tonight that would adopt a bike-friendly city plan. If approved, the city will pledge to provide convenient bicycle access facilities, educational programs about bike safety and rules, and continue to encourage bicycle use as a major form of transportation. Riley hopes to enforce traffic laws monitoring road rules for both drivers and bicyclists.

Through the declaration of bicycle month, Riley is looking to encourage citizens to safely ride bikes and learn about the importance of bicycles as a major form of transportation.

Bike Month Events
Bike Month in Charleston not only provides educational programs about bicycling, but a number of events will be held in order to advocate bicycle use.

Gas prices are an issue for car drivers, especially when commuting to a job. In order to save money and get exercise, the city is sponsoring Bike to Work Day on May 15. People are encouraged to ride their bikes to work and several pit stops will be located throughout the city with refreshments available as well as bike safety checks. Pit stop locations include Savannah Highway, the West Ashley Greenway, King Street, East Bay Street, and Calhoun Street.

The weekly Farmer’s Market at Marion Square will also take part in bike month on May 16. The Market will include a free bike valet available for visitors, a bike safety course and maintenance clinic, and route maps for bicyclists. The Farmer’s Market will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Distance bike riding events along with the safety courses will take place throughout the month of May. May 17 will be the 2130 Lou Gehrig’s Ride. This is a 100-mile bike ride through the City of Charleston. A $15 donation will benefit ALS research. The ride will begin at Park Circle and cross the Ravenel Bridge to Mt. Pleasant and rural East Cooper and back, beginning at 6:45 a.m.

The final event is the National Ride of Silence. This ride is an annual event practiced nationwide for all ages to raise awareness for bike safety and cyclists killed on the road throughout the country. The ride will begin at Hampton Park on May 20.

For more information and a complete list of events regarding bicycle month in Charleston, visit coastalcyclists.org.

(Also, downtown real estate agent Kristin Walker is helping coordinate a three-mile chic ride on May 15.)

Five Tracks for the Bike Trek Playlist

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey — You really can’t go wrong with Journey, especially riding a bike in your own race over the streets of Charleston.

“Helter Skelter” by the Beatles — It is pretty much a rule that bike-riding songs have to be upbeat, and this Beatles song will make you want to ride for days.

“15 Step” by Radiohead — For those long trips across the countryside, Radiohead is your perfect companion.

“Galang” by MIA — For something a little more upbeat that will definitely keep you peddling, try some MIA.

“Boy with a Coin” by Iron and Wine — This group always embraces nature in their songs, so slow down and enjoy the outdoors with Iron and Wine.

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North Charleston Gets $400,000 EPA Grant

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 1:47 PM

3b2f/1242148307-cityhall_resized.jpgHere's the dirt: The City of North Charleston has a new pot of money to test the dirt.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $400,000 grant to the city to provide soil tests for former chemical sites around town. It's part of $2 million in competitive grants the agency distributed this week to South Carolina communities for similar work.

The money will be used to analyze soil at former industrial sites or locations where chemicals have been used in the past. The work will determine if there's been any contamination that would have to be cleaned up before the site is redeveloped, says Shannon Praete, the city's grant administrator. Half of the grant money can be used for any site in the city and the other half is set aside specifically for former petroleum sites, including abandoned gas stations.

Particular sites that will be tested will be identified after the city gets community input and determines properties that have the most potential for development. If a site is studied and found to require clean-up, the city can make another request for further EPA aid, Praete says.

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Greg Hambrick
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