Read about important Crossroads Charlotte events, information and activities.
Some stories that caught our eye this week:
1. So long, farewell to Eastland Mall. Shoppers and neighbors visit one last time.
2. Change has come to South Carolina. A century had passed since a black candidate was elected to the legislature. Now, Tim Scott has been nominated for a congressional seat.
3. A billboard on Billy Graham Parkway with an athiest message doesn't sit well with some. Vandals spray-painted the words "under God" on the sign.
4. "Undead NOT Unread" is a new slogan to show support and love for public libraries.
5. Charlotte Chamber of Commerce members took a recent trip to Boston to learn "best practices first hand". No details or explanation of the costs incurred, the most ever for such a trip, are being revealed.
When a coalition of about 60 participants met Tuesday (June 29) at the Urban League of the Central Carolinas to discuss The State of Ethnic Charlotte, the numbers from the report weren’t pretty.
The SOEC details the disparities in health, education, economics and social justice between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and American Indians in Cabarrus, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Union and York County, S.C.
UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute gathered the data from the 2008 Census and the American Community Survey. Here are some of the facts for Mecklenburg County:
• Hispanics are the largest population living below the poverty line.
• Black teens have babies 8.5 times more than whites.
• American Indians are denied mortgage loans more than any race.
• The unemployment rate for blacks is 2.3 times higher than that of whites.
John Hofmeister, 62, a past-president of Shell Oil Company and founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy, is in Charlotte this week to do some consulting work and to promote his new book, "Why We Hate Oil Companies."
Wednesday morning (June 29), he took a break to speak to a friendly crowd of about 50 at Queens University. This is his second visit to the school this year.
During his talk, Hofmeister declared that the federal government, which he accused of playing politics with energy, has had plenty of time to solve America's problems and all it has managed to do is alienate energy companies, limit oil production and generate thousands of pages of legislation that doesn't get close to solving our energy problems.
That's why, he says, it's time for an independent energy agency that will both regulate all energy companies and look out for the environment. It should function, he says, similarly to how the Federal Reserve functions in its role as a banking industry regulator.
In his experience, Hofmeister says, that energy companies aren't interested in lower prices, encouraging conservation or protecting the environment. Instead, he says, those companies, "will look out for themselves, that's their job."
Without an independent agency to consolidate the myriad agencies, commissions and committees currently regulating the industry, he fears the "politically risky" environment will only further stifle innovation and that a severe energy crisis is imminent.
Travel, whether to another city, another region, or another country, often provides insight into other cultures and our own. This is an occasional series on what we can learn when we go somewhere else.
As far as I know, I don’t have any Russian ancestry. I can trace my family tree through quite a few countries — Italy, Great Britain, Scotland, France, Germany — but not Russia, although that's the first question most people ask when they find out I just spent two weeks on a cruise ship with my grandmother, aunt, and uncle traveling from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
“Are you…Russian?” they ask, apologetically, as if being Russian is something of which I ought to be ashamed.
“No, I’m not Russian,” I say. “It’s where my grandmother wanted to go, and she’s 89 years old, so what she says goes!”
“Oh,” they respond, puzzled. “Why would she want to go to Russia?”
Why not? I think.
The truth? I didn’t know much about Russia when I set foot in the former USSR. I didn’t live through the height of the Cold War, but I know the nearly 50 years of tension is still more than a faint memory to many Americans. It seems obvious, given recent headlines about Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the recent arrests of alleged Russian spies in the U.S., that our country is still pretty suspicious of Russia and its government’s global intentions.
What’s not so obvious to many Americans is that while we lived in fear of Russia, Russians saw America as an equal threat — second only to Russia itself. While the United States was creating bomb shelters and holding drills to practice survival skills in the event of nuclear war, Russians were in a daily struggle for survival within their own country.
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