News Blips 

"Getting more people to buy porn was probably the last thing Bush had on his mind when he came up with his 'stimulus package,' but we'll take it."

Jillian Fox, spokeswoman for, one of the internet porn sites surveyed that found a spike in subscriptions in the weeks that taxpayers were getting stimulus checks. Source: PR Newswire

Fire Report Points to Cigs

In one of the final public reports on the Sofa Super Store fire, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said last week that it was likely that a cigarette started the Sofa Super Store blaze in June 2007, killing nine firefighters. The loading dock where the fire started was believed to have been a smoking area for employees. The report notes that it's still unknown who the culprit was. One of the city's independent investigators noted earlier this year that almost everyone who worked at the store smoked, but nobody admits to smoking that night. —Greg Hambrick

You're So Gay, South Carolina

South Carolina tourism officials backed out of an international media campaign last week that was touting South Carolina as a destination for gay tourists.

The ads claimed South Carolina is "so gay," hoping to flip what's often used as a homophobic taunt into marketing gold. The campaign also includes Atlanta, New Orleans, and Boston. The only problem is that South Carolina conservatives are so not gay — except for their shared disintrest in female strippers.

After criticism, the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism announced that it would not be paying the $5,000 bill for the ads, according to The State.

Recognizing the tourism dollars that come from a segment of the population with statistically higher rates of disposable income, many vacation spots already market to gays and lesbians, including Miami, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas. The gay tourism market is a $55 billion industry, according to a USA Today report last year. The story noted that Philadelphia saw a $153 return for every dollar spent in its marketing campaign, according to a gay travel survey.

Spending tourism ad dollars to bring in tourism revenue. Eh, who needs it? —Greg Hambrick


That's Charleston's ranking among top U.S. cities in Travel + Leisure magazine. Charleston Place was also ranked 31 among the U.S. hotels. Source: Charleston Regional Business Journal


That's the raise Maria Goodloe-Johnson received after her first year running the Seattle school district. The former Charleston County schools superintendent was praised for creating a new five-year plan for Seattle (similar to our Plan for Excellence) and for bringing in new staff (including some former Charleston employees). Glad we could help, Seattle. Source: The Seattle Times

City Taking Arson Threat Seriously

City fire officials are calling on downtown residents to report suspicious activity after a string of house fires that they believe may be arson. A fire last week at 21 Sires St. left one man with serious burns. Battalion Chief Raymond Lloyd, a fire investigator with the city, says the recent fires are similar to a handful of unsolved cases over the past few years. It's hard to identify suspects because starting the fires can be as easy as throwing a match or other flammable item onto a couch.

Most of the cases have been porch fires, he says. The department is suggesting that residents pull their furniture inside and to lock porch doors. Signs have been posted in the Cannon and Spring streets area asking anyone who sees anything suspicious to call local law enforcement. Those with arson tips can call the state's hotline at 800-92-ARSON. There's a cash reward if a tip leads to a conviction. —Greg Hambrick


That's the reduction in the Environmental Protection Agency's monetary value on human life. Down to $6.9 million from $7.8 million, the national number is used to weigh the impacts of a proposed rule — with a less valuable life meaning fewer environmental restrictions. Source: The Associated Press


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