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January 28, 2014

Warhol\’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Portrait shot of Dennis Hopper, famous for his role in the 1969 film Easy Rider, amongst the Warhol Polaroids donated to USI by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Image: Andy Warhol.

Opening night, January 23, 2014, of the Andy Warhol exhibit of Polaroids and screen prints at the University of Southern Indiana.
Video: Miharris & Acphillips.

Evansville, Indiana, United States — This past week marked the opening night of an Andy Warhol exhibit at the University of Southern Indiana. USI’s art gallery, like 189 other educational galleries and museums around the country, is a recipient of a major Warhol donor program, and this program is cultivating new interest in Warhol’s photographic legacy. Wikinews reporters attended the opening and spoke to donors, exhibit organizers and patrons.

The USI art gallery celebrated the Thursday opening with its display of Warhol’s Polaroids, gelatin silver prints and several colored screen prints. USI’s exhibit, which is located in Evansville, Indiana, is to run from January 23 through March 9.

Full interview with Kristin Wilkins, curator of the exhibition at the University of Southern Indiana.
Audio: Jkthom.

The McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries at USI bases its exhibit around roughly 100 Polaroids selected from its collection. The Polaroids were all donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, according to Kristen Wilkins, assistant professor of photography and curator of the exhibit. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts made two donations to USI Art Collections, in 2007 and a second recently.

Kathryn Waters, director of the gallery, expressed interest in further donations from the foundation in the future.

Since 2007 the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program has seeded university art galleries throughout the United States with over 28,000 Andy Warhol photographs and other artifacts. The program takes a decentralized approach to Warhol’s photography collection and encourages university art galleries to regularly disseminate and educate audiences about Warhol’s artistic vision, especially in the area of photography.

University exhibits

Kristen Wilkins, curator of “Andy Warhol: Photographs and Prints from the University Collection” at the University of Southern Indiana, January 23-March 9, 2014.
Image: Snbehnke.

Wikinews provides additional video, audio and photographs so our readers may learn more.

Wilkins observed that the 2007 starting date of the donation program, which is part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, coincided with the 20th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death in 1987. USI was not alone in receiving a donation.

K.C. Maurer, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Andy Warhol Foundation, said 500 institutions received the initial invitation and currently 190 universities have accepted one or more donations. Institutional recipients, said Mauer, are required to exhibit their donated Warhol photographs every ten years as one stipulation.

While USI is holding its exhibit, there are also Warhol Polaroid exhibits at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York and an Edward Steichen and Andy Warhol exhibit at the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. All have received Polaroids from the foundation.

University exhibits can reach out and attract large audiences. For example, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro saw attendance levels reach 11,000 visitors when it exhibited its Warhol collection in 2010, according to curator Elaine Gustafon. That exhibit was part of a collaboration combining the collections from Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which also were recipients of donated items from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.


Each collection donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program holds Polaroids of well-known celebrities. The successful UNC Greensboro exhibit included Polaroids of author Truman Capote and singer-songwriter Carly Simon.

“I think America’s obsession with celebrity culture is as strong today as it was when Warhol was living”, said Gustafon. “People are still intrigued by how stars live, dress and socialize, since it is so different from most people’s every day lives.”

Wilkins explained Warhol’s obsession with celebrities began when he first collected head shots as a kid and continued as a passion throughout his life. “He’s hanging out with the celebrities, and has kind of become the same sort of celebrity he was interested in documenting earlier in his career”, Wilkins said.

The exhibit at USI includes Polaroids of actor Dennis Hopper; musician Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran; publishers Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine and Carlo De Benedetti of Italy’s la Repubblica; disco club owner Steve Rubell of Studio 54; photographers Nat Finkelstein, Christopher Makos and Felice Quinto; and athletes Vitas Gerulaitis (tennis) and Jack Nicklaus (golf).

Wikinews observed the USI exhibit identifies and features Polaroids of fashion designer Halston, a former resident of Evansville.

University collections across the United States also include Polaroids of “unknowns” who have not yet had their fifteen minutes of fame. Cynthia Thompson, curator and director of exhibits at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said, “These images serve as documentation of people in his every day life and art — one which many of us enjoy a glimpse into.”

Warhol’s photographic legacy

Warhol was close to important touchstones of the 1960s, including art, music, consumer culture, fashion, and celebrity worship, which were all buzzwords and images Wikinews observed at USI’s opening exhibit.

He was also an influential figure in the pop art movement. “Pop art was about what popular American culture really thought was important”, Kathryn Waters said. “That’s why he did the Campbell Soup cans or the Marilyn pictures, these iconic products of American culture whether they be in film, video or actually products we consumed. So even back in the sixties, he was very aware of this part of our culture. Which as we all know in 2014, has only increased probably a thousand fold.”

“I think everybody knows Andy Warhol’s name, even non-art people, that’s a name they might know because he was such a personality”, Water said.

Hilary Braysmith, USI associate professor of art history, said, “I think his photography is equally influential as his graphic works, his more famous pictures of Marilyn. In terms of the evolution of photography and experimentation, like painting on them or the celebrity fascination, I think he was really ground-breaking in that regard.”

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The Polaroid format is not what made Warhol famous, however, he is in the company of other well-known photographers who used the camera, such as Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Walker Evans, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Helmut Newton.

Wilkins said, “[Warhol] liked the way photo booths and the Polaroid’s front flash looked”. She explained how Warhol’s adoption of the Polaroid camera revealed his process. According to Wilkins, Warhol was able to reproduce the Polaroid photograph and create an enlargement of it, which he then could use to commit the image to the silk screen medium by applying paint or manipulating them further. One of the silk screens exhibited at USI this time was the Annie Oakley screen print called “Cowboys and Indians” from 1987.

Wilkins also said Warhol was both an artist and a businessperson. “As a way to commercialize his work, he would make a blue Marilyn and a pink Marilyn and a yellow Marilyn, and then you could pick your favorite color and buy that. It was a very practical salesman approach to his work. He was very prolific but very business minded about that.”

“He wanted to be rich and famous and he made lots of choices to go that way”, Wilkins said.

USI exhibit

Cquote1.svg It’s Warhol. He is a legend. Cquote2.svg

—Kiara Perkins, USI student

Kiara Perkins, a second year USI art major, admitted she was willing to skip class Thursday night to attend the opening exhibit but then circumstances allowed for her to attend the exhibit. Why did she so badly want to attend? “It’s Warhol. He is a legend.”

For Kevin Allton, a USI instructor in English, Warhol was also a legend. He said, “Andy Warhol was the center of the Zeitgeist for the 20th century and everything since. He is a post-modern diety.”

Allton said he had only seen the Silver Clouds installation before in film. The Silver Clouds installation were silver balloons blown up with helium, and those balloons filled one of the smaller rooms in the gallery. “I thought that in real life it was really kind of magical,” Allton said. “I smacked them around.”

Elements of the Zeitgeist were also playfully recreated on USI’s opening night. In her opening remarks for attendees, Waters pointed out those features to attendees, noting the touches of the Warhol Factory, or the studio where he worked, that were present around them. She pointed to the refreshment table with Campbell’s Soup served with “electric” Kool Aid and tables adorned with colorful gumball “pills”. The music in the background was from such bands as The Velvet Underground.

The big hit of the evening, Wikinews observed from the long line, was the Polaroid-room where attendees could wear a Warhol-like wig or don crazy glasses and have their own Polaroid taken. The Polaroids were ready in an instant and immediately displayed at the entry of the exhibit. Exhibit goers then became part of the very exhibit they had wanted to attend. In fact, many people Wikinews observed took out their mobiles as they left for the evening and used their own phone cameras to make one further record of the moment — a photo of a photo. Perhaps they had learned an important lesson from the Warhol exhibit that cultural events like these were ripe for use and reuse. We might even call these exit instant snap shots, the self selfie.


Children enjoy interacting with the “Silver Clouds” at the Andy Warhol exhibit.
Image: Snbehnke.


Kathryn Waters opens the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI.
Image: Snbehnke.


At the Andy Warhol exhibit, hosts document all the names of attendees who have a sitting at the Polaroid booth.
Image: Snbehnke.


Curator Kristin Wilkins shares with attendees the story behind his famous Polaroids.
Image: Snbehnke.


A table decoration at the exhibit where the “pills” were represented by bubble gum.
Image: Snbehnke.


Two women pose to get their picture taken with a Polaroid camera. Their instant pics will be hung on the wall.
Image: Snbehnke.


Even adults enjoyed the “Silver Clouds” installation at the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI.
Image: Snbehnke.

Many people from the area enjoyed Andy Warhol’s famous works at the exhibit at USI.
Image: Snbehnke.

Katie Waters talks with a couple in the Silver Clouds area.
Image: Snbehnke.


Many people showed up to the new Andy Warhol exhibit, which opened at USI.
Image: Snbehnke.


At the exhibit there was food and beverages inspired to look like the 1960s.
Image: Snbehnke.


A woman has the giggles while getting her Polaroid taken.
Image: Snbehnke.


A man poses to get his picture taken by a Polaroid camera, with a white wig and a pair of sunglasses.
Image: Snbehnke.


Finished product of the Polaroid camera film of many people wanting to dress up and celebrate Andy Warhol.
Image: Snbehnke.


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June 6, 2012

Study suggests successful depression treatment lowers youths\’ risk of drug abuse

Study suggests successful depression treatment lowers youths’ risk of drug abuse

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A new study by Duke University in the US suggests depressed adolescents who respond to treatment within twelve weeks are at a reduced risk of drug abuse later in their lives.

The research followed about half of a pool of 439 adolescents who had received treatment for major depression and volunteered for Duke University research. At the five-year study’s conclusion the participants were aged 17–23. None of them had previously misused drink or drugs.

Alcoholism risk was unaffected by depression treatment, unlike drug abuse

Of those who had experienced a reduction in depressive symptoms within twelve weeks of treatment, ten percent went on to have drug abuse problems. Of the remainder, a quarter became drug abusers. Alcohol use problems, however, were equally prevalent regardless of treatment outcome.

The study was run by Dr. John Curry, a professor of neuroscience and psychology. Curry noted that the results for those treated successfully held true “whatever they responded to — cognitive-behavioral therapy, Prozac, both treatments, or a placebo”.

The study has called for major depression disorder treatments to take possible alcohol and drug use into account. Said Curry, “When the teenagers got over the depression, about half of them stayed well for the whole five-year period, but almost half of them had a second episode of depression… what we found out was that, for those who had both alcohol disorder and another depression, the alcohol disorder almost always came first”.

He also said the study had “a take-home message” in “that alcohol use disorders are very prevalent during that particular age period and there’s a need for a lot of prevention and education for college students to avoid getting into heavy drinking and then the beginnings of an alcohol disorder”.

Curry, alongside Dr. Susan Silva, a co-author, want more research using larger groups. They also say work towards a comparison with non-depressed individuals is needed.



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March 23, 2011

Gene mutation produces autism-like traits in mice

Gene mutation produces autism-like traits in mice

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Diagram of a synapse

By causing the mutation of one specific gene, researchers have produced mice with two frequently encountered behavioral traits of persons diagnosed with autism. Autism commonly affects the ability to interact socially and is associated with repetitive behavior. The finding was reported in the March 20 online edition of Nature.

Using mice, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Duke University mutated one of the genes associated with autism, known as shank3, a gene that controls the production of the shank3 protein present in the brain. Mice that were given this mutation exhibited repetitive behavior and avoided social interactions with the mice around them.

According to MIT Professor Guoping Feng: “Our study demonstrated that Shank3 mutation in mice lead to defects in neuron-neuron communications.”

3D rendering of the shank3 gene

Shank3 protein are found in synapses within the brain. Synapses allow brain cells (called neurons) to communicate with each other. The mutation in the mouse gene interfered with this communication, apparently producing the subsequent autism-like traits. Researchers believe their work demonstrates the important role of shank3 in the functioning of brain circuits that determine behavior.

While hundreds of genes have been linked to autism in human patients, only a small percentage have been linked to shank3. Professor Feng hypothesizes that disruptions of other genes that act on the production of brain proteins affecting synaptic communication may also be related to autistic behavior. If this disruption is real, Feng claims that treatments could be developed to correct synaptic function for any defective synaptic protein in an autistic patient.

Feng continued; “These findings and the mouse model now allow us to figure out the precise neural circuit defects responsible for these abnormal behaviours, which could lead to novel strategies and targets for developing treatment.”

About one in 110 children in the U.S., and at least one in 100 in UK, have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, for which there is currently no effective cure.



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November 21, 2009

Central Michigan quarterback sets passing record, becomes finalist for award

Central Michigan quarterback sets passing record, becomes finalist for award

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

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Central Michigan University senior quarterback Dan LeFevour has become the all-time leader in passing yardage in Mid-American Conference history.

LeFevour broke the MAC career record by reaching a total of 12,000 yards as his team won a 35–3 victory over Ball State University Wednesday night. He surpassed the record of Byron Leftwich, who had achieved a total of 11,993 passing yards during his career at Marshall University from 1999 to 2002. LeFevour has also achieved MAC career records for passing yards, total offense (14,861 yards), completions (1,083), and attempts (1,628), and ranks third in touchdown passes (96).

LeFevour has also been named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is awarded to the top quarterback in college football. Thaddeus Lewis from Duke University, Colt McCoy from University of Texas, Zac Robinson from Oklahoma State University, and Tim Tebow from University of Florida were also selected to be finalists from a previous list of ten candidates. The award will be given on December 11 at the Tremont Grand Meeting & Banquet Facility in Baltimore.



This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

February 6, 2009

Denny\’s Super Bowl free \’Grand Slam Breakfast\’ brings 2 million diners

Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Lighted sign of a Denny’s Diner restaurant in Dallas, Texas

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today’s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

A Halloween pancake at a Denny’s restaurant in Tokyo

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter’s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

Denny’s Diner in Bangor, Maine, inspired by 1960 culture.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over Superbowl XLIII prior to kickoff in Tampa, Florida, February 1, 2009

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

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Wikipedia Learn more about Denny’s, Grand slam (baseball) and Super Bowl XLIII on Wikipedia.

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June 2, 2008

US Senator Kennedy has brain tumor surgically removed

US Senator Kennedy has brain tumor surgically removed

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Ted Kennedy

Today, United States Senator Ted Kennedy underwent surgery for a brain tumor at Duke University Medical Center. Kennedy, 76, was diagnosed with malignant glioma, a common but dangerous form of cancer, after suffering a seizure on May 17.

Kennedy has met repeatedly with friend and medical advisor Dr. Lawrence C. Horowitz to plan a course of treatment. The first, of the major phases of that treatment has now been completed, and it is expected that chemotherapy and radiotherapy will follow.

“I am pleased to report that Senator Kennedy’s surgery was successful and accomplished our goals,” said Dr. Allan Friedman, the chief of neurosurgery at Duke, who performed the surgery. “After a brief recuperation, he will begin targeted radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital and chemotherapy treatment,” Friedman added.

In talks with the press, the senator has focused on his future beyond surgery. In a prepared statement issued by his office, Kennedy stated, “after completing treatment, I look forward to returning to the United States Senate and to doing everything I can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president.”

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December 3, 2007

Al Sharpton speaks out on race, rights and what bothers him about his critics

Al Sharpton speaks out on race, rights and what bothers him about his critics

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Monday, December 3, 2007

People call me because they know I will come. If nothing else you write, I have never fought a case where they didn’t ask me to come. People have this picture like I’m sitting up in bed at night with a walkie-talkie. ‘You hear anything? Oh, let’s run! It’s Virginia today!’
Image: David Shankbone.

At Thanksgiving dinner David Shankbone told his white middle class family that he was to interview Reverend Al Sharpton that Saturday. The announcement caused an impassioned discussion about the civil rights leader’s work, the problems facing the black community and whether Sharpton helps or hurts his cause. Opinion was divided. “He’s an opportunist.” “He only stirs things up.” “Why do I always see his face when there’s a problem?”

Shankbone went to the National Action Network‘s headquarters in Harlem with this Thanksgiving discussion to inform the conversation. Below is his interview with Al Sharpton on everything from Tawana Brawley, his purported feud with Barack Obama, criticism by influential African Americans such as Clarence Page, his experience running for President, to how he never expected he would see fifty (he is now 53). “People would say to me, ‘Now that I hear you, even if I disagree with you I don’t think you’re as bad as I thought,'” said Sharpton. “I would say, ‘Let me ask you a question: what was “bad as you thought”?’ And they couldn’t say. They don’t know why they think you’re bad, they just know you’re supposed to be bad because the right wing tells them you’re bad.”

Sharpton’s beginnings in the movement

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

David Shankbone: You grew up around so many great American musicians and singers like Mahalia Jackson and James Brown.

Al Sharpton: I grew up in the black church. I started preaching at four as a wonderboy preacher. The church that I grew up in, Washington Temple Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn, was a hot spot for gospel singers. It was probably a mega-church before there were mega-churches. Bishop F.D. Washington, who was the bishop of the church, had about 5,000 members in the late fifties and early sixties. All the gospel greats would come to the church. Because I was the wonderboy preacher, and I had my own little church celebrity, I got to know all the gospel singers. It began my early dealing with the entertainment world, through the gospel singing. In 1964 when the World’s Fair came to New York, Mahalia Jackson had me preach and she sang there that night. Then I did a few other cities with her.

All the gospel greats would come to the church. Because I was the wonderboy preacher, and I had my own little church celebrity, I got to know all the gospel singers.
Mahalia Jackson in 1962.

DS: What was that like touring with Mahalia Jackson?

AS: It was fascinating to me. Here I am a little kid, I’m not even ten years old, and Mahalia Jackson was arguably the preeminent gospel artist of that time. It was quite a charge to me. A lot of times now I land into LaGuardia Airport and you see the circular, which was the New York pavilion of the World’s Fair, and that’s where I preached when I was nine years old. I think about that a lot flying in, that night with Mahalia Jackson. Now that’s wow, 47-years ago.

DS: Did you keep in touch with her throughout her life? Did she have a presence in yours?

AS: Not as closely as James Brown. We would run into each other. She died when I was still very much in my teens. Madame Ernestine Washington, who was the first lady of the church I grew up in, she was a gospel singer. I knew a lot of the gospel greats. James Brown and I got close in my teen years. What happened was when I was around 12 or 13, Martin Luther King had come to the church and I got totally mesmerized by Adam Clayton Powell, who was the Congressman in Harlem and a preacher, so I wanted to get involved politically. The church that I was in was Pentecostal; I’m now Baptist. But it was Pentecostal, and it wasn’t that involved in social justice, although Bishop Washington was. Bishop Washington said he didn’t want me to get involved with the more militant groups, because at that time you had the Black Panthers and a lot of others. So he brought me to Reverend William Jones, who was head of Operation Breadbasket, SCLC, in New York, who later became my pastor after Bishop Washington died. Reverend Jones converted me Baptist from Pentecostal. They knew who I was because of my preaching as a little boy. I became the youth director in New York of SCLC Operation Breadbasket. King had just gotten killed; this is 1969 and he had gotten killed the year before. I met King, but I didn’t know him. I was 12, 13 years old. But I got to know Dr. Abernathy, who succeeded him—

DS: Ralph Abernathy?

AS: Ralph Abernathy. The Director nationally of Operation Breadbasket was Jesse Jackson, who was in his late twenties, early thirties. It was interesting, because Jesse Jackson’s age and my age gap was the same as his and King’s. Jackson at that time had a big afro and a medallion. He became a hero to me. Adam Clayton Powell, who had been my hero, had retired and moved so I became a protégé of Reverend Jackson. We became close.

James Brown: a father to Sharpton

What I do functionally is what Dr. King, Reverend Jackson and the movement are all about; but I learned manhood from James Brown. I always say that James Brown taught me how to be a man.
Image: David Shankbone.

DS: Are you still close to Reverend Jackson?

AS: Yeah, we talk. In 1971, when Jackson left SCLC over whatever their problems were with each other—that’s when he left to form Operation Push—I also left the SCLC in protest because I was close to Reverend Jackson. I took my youth division with me and formed National Youth Movement, which was my organization. Jesse didn’t have an organization here in New York. When I formed it, maybe about a year, six months later, a young guy joined the organization from Georgia — he would come up here thinking about going to college — named Teddy. Teddy’s father was James Brown. Teddy got killed in a car accident in upstate New York. He and I were the same age, sixteen. James Brown came to New York and the disc jockeys here told him about this young preacher his son liked. He decided he’d do a memorial concert for his son for my youth group. He talked to me, he liked me, and of course this was, like, The Icon. He became like the father I didn’t have after my parents separated, and I became like Teddy, his ambitious young son. He had other kids, but they were not as old as Teddy and they didn’t have the ambition, so we started a father-son relationship.

DS: How did James Brown’s death affect you?

AS: Oh, I don’t think anything has affected me more.

DS: He was such an icon, but then to also have had this deeply personal relationship must have had an extraordinary impact on you.

AS: James Brown was the father I never had. I traveled with him; he financed my youth group. I met my wife — we’re no longer together — when she was his background singer. He put my kids in private school. I styled my hair after him; he actually styled my hair after his. What I do functionally is what Dr. King, Reverend Jackson and the movement are all about; but I learned manhood from James Brown. I always say that James Brown taught me how to be a man.

DS: What was one lesson that he taught you?

AS: Determination. Don’t be afraid to listen to your inner ear. James Brown changed music; he changed the beat of music. I learned from him to trust your inner ear, go by your own beat. I remember in the 1970’s when disco became popular he refused to water down his music, and it ended up his music became the basis of funk and rap and all that. I watched him deal with adversity and go to jail. When he was in jail I went and saw him every month, and I went and preached for him. He never gave up, he was very determined. He taught me how to take adversity and use it to your advantage.

James Brown.

DS: There is so much anger at injustice, and that anger can fell a person’s ability to right wrongs, or can steer them down a bad path. You have been able to take your anger and use it productively. When you come across a young person who is angry at the world around them, what kind of advice do you give them?

AS: The challenge is to learn that your anger can fuel you in achieving things that can eradicate what you’re angry about; or your anger can consume and defeat you. I’m known for fighting racial bias, police misconduct, and things against poor people. I can either be strategic to say this is Plan A, B and C to get racial profiling off, or hate crime laws passed, or close the Navy base in Vieques, and I’m going to use my anger, my real, heartfelt anger to fuel me to get up at five o’clock in the morning to do Plan A, B and C; or I can be someone so angry that I never get to a strategy, I never get to Plan A, B and C. But then the police are not challenged, and the hate crime laws are not written, and Vieques is still open. So the question one has to ask one’s self—I tell young people all the time, and most of the National Action Network leadership in our chapters are younger than me—you have to make a choice at some point in your life: are you going to do something about what angers you, or do you want to just be angry? Because I learned a long time ago that those in power don’t care that you’re angry, they care if you use that anger to do something about it. You have a choice. I used to like boxing. My father was a boxer and I used to watching boxing matches all the time. If you go into the ring just mad you’ll get knocked out. Or you can go into the ring and have training, and have a fight plan, and use your natural anger to fuel your fight plan; it’s according to what you want to be. But the one with the fight plan that uses his anger to drive the fight plan is the one who ends up champion. The one without one just ends up angry and laying knocked out. It’s your choice. I’m not saying I came to that out of brilliance; I came to that out of trial and error. I used to be angry with no plan. Just recklessly angry.

DS: What would you do?

AS: Just mad, just react. And achieve nothing. You’ve got to say that life is about stated goals, benchmarks, and what you want to achieve at the end of life. Because everybody comes to an end. What was the purpose of your life and what did you achieve? So if my goal was to build a social justice network, and to change things, at the end of life in the social justice arena, did I do that? It won’t matter if I was angry or happy, it will matter if I have achieved that. That’s what I learned from James Brown. You got to decide what your purpose is, not others. Much of the media criticism of me assumes their goals and the impose them on me. Well, those might not be my goals. So they will say, “Well, Sharpton has not won a political office.” But that might not be my goal! Maybe I ran for political office to change the debate, or to raise the social justice question.

DS: Which you see today. Dennis Kucinich or Tom Tancredo, they’re not there because they think they are going to win; they are trying to frame the issues.

AS: Right. And if they are there to frame the issue, then they are successful. One of the things I learned from James Brown is don’t let others determine your success. Your success is based upon your goals, not the goals they impose upon you.

Criticism: Sharpton is always there

DS: A lot of the criticism that is lodged at you is that you always seem to pop up around hot button issues, or where there is some race issue. My interview with you came up during my Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and I’d like that dinner to inform our discussion because it illustrated many of the typical perspectives about you. My brother-in-law made that point, that there you always are around the controversial race issue. I responded with, “Well, what was he saying? Was he wrong about what he said? Why do we focus on Sharpton and not the issue he is talking about?”

AS: Your answer is right, but let me give you something even deeper than that. If you asked the average critic, “Where is he?” Jena, Imus, whatever. You know what they won’t recognize? Not only was I there, but I created it into being an issue. There was no Jena until we went into Jena. There was nobody else fighting Imus. The misconception is these these issues got hot and then I came in; no, I came in and I made them hot. There was nobody in Jena; nobody heard of Jena until we went down there. Nobody ever questioned Imus but us, which is why Imus came to our show. The reason why this becomes important is because not only are you right, ‘Do you disagree with him,’ but do you begrudge him being in front of an issue that he helped create? So who is supposed to be in front of it? I create an issue and then somebody else is supposed to lead it? Last Friday we had a huge 50,000 person march in Washington against the Justice Department . We went out there organizing with our chapters, got 150 buses from around the country paid for. Who is supposed to lead the march? You got people saying, “There he is leading the march.” Well, he organized it. Who is supposed to lead the march? And the thing that gets me is, you get blamed for stuff you did not do. A lot of people think I led the Duke case. I never went to Duke; I never went to North Carolina. Never ever. They asked me to come, but I said unless I talk to the victim I’m not going. So you get criticized for what you do organize and lead, and you get criticized for stuff you had nothing to do with, just because people assume you were there. And it’s crazy!

Nadine Strossen
Image: David Shankbone.

DS: Nadine Strossen, the President of the ACLU, brought up in our interview that their critics intentionally distort their work to serve their own purposes. For instance, many people believe the ACLU works to keep religion out of the school, yet they have consistently fought for the right for religion to be in schools. She debated Falwell and Robertson on these issues, and they will still say that the ACLU is fighting to remove God from the public sphere.

AS: She’s right! That’s not their position!

DS: When you come across people who intentionally misinform the debate in order to scuttle your goals, what do you do?

AS: The only thing you can do is straighten the record out, but you come to expect it. The advantage I have is that I grew up in the movement and watched people from Reverend Jackson to James Brown. James Brown as the dominant father in my life; Jackson as the dominant teacher, who had to deal with the same misconceptions and controversies. When it came my time, I almost expected it because that is what they are going to do, which is to try and change the debate. What you learn is you don’t let them change the premise. Because if you start with the wrong premise, you arrive at the wrong conclusion. I’ll give you an example. A guy says to me the other day in an airport, “I admire you, but I’d like to see you on more than civil rights issues.” I said, “Let me ask you a question: what do I do?” He said, “Well, you lead a civil rights organization.” So what am I supposed to do? That’s like getting on a plane and telling the pilot I’d like to see you do more than fly the plane. That’s what I do—I’m a civil rights leader! What is a civil rights leader supposed to do?

DS: That’s the same response Ingrid Newkirk gave in an interview when I told her people say she cares more about fighting for animals than for humans. She responded that’s what PETA does: give a voice to those who do not have one. She said that criticism is like telling a homeless shelter they care more about the homeless than people who live in mansions.

AS: That’s exactly right! I tell staff here and all the other cities where we have offices, don’t complain when people come in here with problems because that’s what you do. That’s like a nurse saying, “Why do sick people come here?” Because you work in a doctor’s office! Why do people who are in trouble go to a lawyer’s office? Because that’s what lawyers do. That’s what I do: civil rights. So in many ways, what they consider criticism is complimenting my job. An activist’s job is to make public civil rights issues until there can be a climate for change. So when people get angry at me for raising these issues and making them public, well, that’s my job! That’s what I’m supposed to do. If I could not get the public’s attention on an issue, then I’m not a good activist.

Tawana Brawley to Megan Williams

DS: Are you tired of hearing Tawana Brawley always paired with your name?

AS: No. You know what happens? It has been so long—twenty years—that when a lot of people back up on that, others realize how ludicrous it is. They say, “Wait a minute, you have to go back twenty years to criticize him? And He believed in a girl that you don’t believe in?” So, twenty years later now and the same thing happened to Megan Williams in West Virginia. Was that a hoax? When you look at the span of my career, from Howard Beach before Brawley to Sean Bell now, if all you can do is go to one case twenty years ago, then most people would say that is a little shaky. I mean, come on. Because if I was a hoaxster, then why haven’t we seen other hoaxes in twenty years? And why didn’t the jury say they thought it was a hoax? The jury said they didn’t believe Pagones should have been labeled, the same jury that hit us with defamation. That jury said there was no conspiracy to lie, which is why they only awarded him $65,000 from me. If they thought it was a hoax, I would have been indicted for conspiracy and I would have been charged with a whole lot more money. In many ways, I learn to just sit back and laugh, because if you have to go back to 1987 in 2007, that means I have a pretty good record.
Cquote1.svg I disagreed with the grand jury on Brawley. I believed there was enough evidence to go to trial. Grand jury said there wasn’t. Okay, fine. Do I have a right to disagree with the grand jury? Many Americans believe O.J. Simpson was guilty. A jury said he wasn’t. So I have as much right to question a jury as they do. Cquote2.svg

—Al Sharpton on Tawana Brawley.

DS: How would 2007 Al Sharpton have handled the Tawana Brawley case differently than 1987 Al Sharpton?

AS: I probably wouldn’t have made it as personal in terms of personal attacks on the Attorney General, but I would still have fought the case. I would have done the same case, I would have stood up the same way, and I do it the same way now. When we are approached—phone rings every day here with cases—we are not the investigator. We are there to make sure there is a fair investigation. And I would have done the same thing then I do now. Not long ago a writer said to me, “How can you believe a girl is apprehended by four white men with the N-word written on her and all of that?” I told him, “Let me tell you a story I heard that sounds even worse. I heard of a guy who was grabbed and brought to a police station and they stuck a pole up his behind, and no cop would stop them and turn them in.” He said, “That’s ludicrous!” And I said, “That’s Abner Louima, and it happened!” I fought that case, and those cops went to jail. So in my world, who decides what the most bizarre story in the world is? We hear these every day! He says, “I never thought about it like that.” Megan Williams right now is Tawana Brawley. What are we talking about? I’ll give you another example. Five young black kids were arrested and charged for raping a white female in Central Park. I defended them. Thirteen years later we find out that they did not do it. The DNA cleared them. One of them works for us now. So how do you know? Only by continuing to fight for what you believe in.

DS: You are saying that when you become involved you are fighting to ensure that there is a fair investigation into whatever has happened, and that sometimes you are paired with the fact that not everything turns out in favor of the person being investigated?

AS: That’s exactly right. You get the downside, like the Brawley jury didn’t believe her. I’ll give you one worse. Amadou Diallou was killed, forty-one bullets. The jury said they weren’t guilty. He’s still dead. So on paper was I wrong about Amadou Diallo? He’s dead, forty-one bullets killed him, but the jury said that those cops were right, so when do we decide? My comeback always is: I disagreed with the grand jury on Brawley. I believed there was enough evidence to go to trial. Grand jury said there wasn’t. Okay, fine. Do I have a right to disagree with the grand jury? Many Americans believe O.J. Simpson was guilty. A jury said he wasn’t. So I have as much right to question a jury as they do. Does it make somebody a racist? No! They just disagreed with the jury. So did I. I happened to not believe a fifteen year old girl could have made all that up and guess the names of the people who admitted they were together. I just don’t believe that. Now, what happened? I don’t know. But I don’t believe that. So, we’ll just disagree.

Sharpton and the African-American media

DS: Earl Ofari Hutchinson recently wrote a relatively laudatory column about you in The Huffington Post. In it he said, “When Sharpton toppled Jesse Jackson from the top spot as black America’s main man, the notoriety, and the hostility, that that title carries with it, insured that he’d take the heat for whatever went right or wrong when blacks took to the streets in protest.” What do you think happened to Jesse Jackson’s place in the black community? Hutchison is a prominent black man saying you toppled Jackson.

AS: Well, that’s a hard thing for me to comment on. When I was growing up Reverend Jackson was a hero to me and a mentor. I’d rather not get into that. I’ll let Earl and others give their opinions. I’ll stay out of that. That’s difficult for me to answer.
Cquote1.svg The main thing [black columnists] write about is criticism of black leaders. If you read their columns you understand what their job is. ‘White leadership is never at fault. Government is never at fault. It’s black leaders.'” Cquote2.svg

—Al Sharpton

DS: Clarence Page again in reference to this wrote, “‘gangsta‘ culture punishes those who don’t ‘Stop Snitching,’ to quote a popular inner-city T-shirt slogan, even when the victims are innocent neighbors. A lot of us black Americans would like to take back our streets. We could use a little more help from our leaders.”

AS: We could use a little more help from Clarence Page, again. When I had the campaign against these lyrics—I had the “It’s Not Snitching, It’s Saving” campaign—Clarence was totally silent. We’ve taken that head on, and had rappers attack us. David Banner said “Al Sharpton can suck my so-and-so.” Jay-Z has a record out, and he’s a friend of mine! He says, “Don’t tell me Al Sharpton not to say ‘bitch‘!” They don’t attack Clarence Page they attack me because I’m attacking them. Just look at the rappers attacking me. So somebody should ask Clarence Page why they are attacking me if I’m not out there fighting them.

DS: You are saying that black columnists, whether it be Clarence Page or Juan Williams, who seem to have made their names by attacking a lot of the work done at the grass roots. How can you change that?

AS: I don’t think you can. That’s their role. If you go back to the sixties it was Carl Rowan who used to attack Martin Luther King. You have blacks who understand that one of the ways to get a job in the mainstream media is to attack black leaders.

DS: Such as Juan Williams?

AS: Oh, Juan Williams who works at Fox? Juan Williams works for Rupert Murdoch and wants to ask me about accountability? I mean, really. He works for Rupert Murdoch and wants to ask me about accountability. I think he was mad because a Republican donated some money to the National Action Network. And you work for Rupert Murdoch. Because we are on The Word Network we should have gone to a rally for The Word Network. It’s ridiculous. Again, what do they do? The main thing they write about is criticism of black leaders. If you read their columns you understand what their job is. “White leadership is never at fault. Government is never at fault. It’s black leaders.” What’s ironic is the ones they do praise—Bill Cosby does my radio show maybe once a month. Real close with me. They praise Cosby, but never talk about the fact that Cosby and I work together on these very issues. And Cosby supports what I do. How do they reconcile that? Because they understand that part of their compact with the right wing is that they’ll beat up on Al Sharpton, or Jackson, or whoever, because they are black.

Why the need for an Al Sharpton?

DS: At Thanksgiving we were talking about the different voices for different communities, and I said that there is no Latino “Al Sharpton”—the Cubans used to have Jorge Mas Canosa, but nobody has taken his place—nor is there an Asian “Al Sharpton”. With the black community it seems like Americans are always looking for the voice. Do you think that your visibility has been externally imposed?

AS: No, I disagree with that. I’m glad you had that discussion. Do you know why I disagree with you? In the Latino community you don’t have an Al Sharpton, you have La Raza. Every community does have an organization or institution. So number one, that’s not true. Second, in the black community—

DS: But there’s no one voice. It seems like the others never have a singular voice.

AS: Yeah, but that one voice is always the head of some group. Believe me, if I could not prove that we could deliver the bodies to these protests, the press wouldn’t cover me. The only reason the press covers me is we create the issue. The press ignored Jena until we put 40,000 people down there. So if we have the organizational muscle, they aren’t doing me a favor. The white media didn’t create me, they covered me. When I went to Howard Beach, there were hundreds out there and they threw bananas at us and all. The press didn’t contact me and say, “We’ll tell you what, Sharpton, you go out there and we’ll cover you.” No! I created the drama like King did in Selma, Alabama. So what they are really saying is, “Let’s be selective because if we don’t like Sharpton let’s not cover Sharpton because we want somebody else.” Usually even the black critics that criticize charismatic leadership are blacks without charisma who can’t do it themselves. We’ve always had charismatic leadership, whether it was Mandela in South Africa or King in the south. The question is what you use the charismatic leadership for; what’s wrong with that?

DS: Shane Johnson is an African-American blogger who was protesting your Washington, D.C. Department of Justice march. Clarence Page, who is one of your critics within the African-American community, wrote a column about it. He wrote, “Why do we black folks get so much more agitated about occasional white-on-black insults than about the black-on-black assaults that constantly terrorize certain neighborhoods?”

AS: My answer is why doesn’t Clarence Page do something about it when we everyday deal with that. That is dealt with every day and every way. Not only have we dealt with black on black assaults, not only do we do crime rallies, not only do we denounce it, we’ve even been the ones to go as far as to march on black rappers about the N-word, misogyny and violence to women that a lot of them glorify. Clarence Page and them don’t do that, we do. My critics were totally silent when we were marching on the rappers, the records companies and all of that this summer. But when I do a Justice march, they criticize. Well, where were they when we were marching on some of these rappers who glorify violence? That’s why they have no credibility in our community. Because we are marching on the record companies that glorify violence; we are marching on black on black violence. They are not. They wait for us to do an issue that is race-based, and act like that’s all we did. We spent half this year fighting lyrics in records, the glorification of violence, drugs in our community. I’m the one who painted the crackhouses, saying get them out of our community. Where was Clarence and them then?

DS: Is getting your message out that you do more than just race-based issues a challenge you have difficulty overcoming? That’s all that people hear and see you do.

AS: Well, that’s one of the challenges, but part of the problem is guys who are critics won’t tell the truth. If you were to ask them, they know we’ve marched against record companies. They won’t cover them, because they know—particularly a lot of black columnists—because that’s the way they can be heard: to be against whoever is out there. They did it to Jesse before me, and they did it to King before him. You know, one of the ways you can get covered if you are black in the mainstream media is to attack the guy that is up front. Make him the boogeyman. I accepted that going in.

Al Sharpton and Presidential Politics

DS: Recently a poll came out that showed sixty-one percent of the black Americans surveyed said values between poor and middle-class blacks are moving too far apart to be viewed as a common black experience. Only 41 percent expressed that view in a similar 1986 poll. Do you think the black experience is no longer defined by race, but by socio-economic status?

But do you know what nobody ever talks about? I’m the only black who ran for President who had to run against another black: Carol Mosley Braun [above]. Jesse never had to face a black; Shirley [Chisholm] never had to face a black. Obama hasn’t had to face a black. The real question is: why did Sharpton get so many more votes than Carol Mosley-Braun, who on paper was a much better candidate?

AS: No, I think it was always divided on socio-economic status. I think that there is a growing socio-economic difference that brings the contrast more to light, but that all comes together around the question of civil rights. There’s no difference. There’s any number of polls that show that most blacks, no matter what their class, say that there is still bias in America. Whether you are a kid in Jena from a poor family, or a college professor at Columbia with nooses hanging on your door, you still have a race problem. You may have a difference in views about values, but both of you still feel there is bias at whatever class level you are at. That is why they were shocked when I ran for President and the black elite—the Bob Johnsons who own BET and Earl Grey—were some of the biggest contributors to my campaign. Because they said we still have to have somebody out there fighting race. Let me give you the schizophrenia of the political animal. When I ran for President, I won every black district in Washington D.C. I then won the black vote in South Carolina, when I never was from the south. But do you know what nobody ever talks about? I’m the only black who ran for President who had to run against another black: Carol Mosley Braun. Jesse never had to face a black; Shirley [Chisholm] never had to face a black. Obama hasn’t had to face a black. The real question is: why did Sharpton get so many more votes than Carol Mosley Braun, who on paper was a much better candidate? Former U.S. Senator, former ambassador, and she never got anywhere near my vote. It shows that blacks vote based on who they think supports their interests. Now you are talking about Obama has to fight Hillary for the black vote; I had to fight Carol Mosley Braun for the black vote, and beat her everywhere. I think that is the analysis they don’t want to give. They’ll say Sharpton didn’t get the votes that Jesse got, but they never mention there was a black woman—the only black woman who ever served in the U.S. Senate—running against Sharpton! They forget that now.

DS: What did you learn about national politics from your Presidential run?

AS: I’ll tell you, I will be completely candid with you. I learned these guys are not that smart. I expected them to be a lot smarter, a lot more difficult to debate, and I learned a lot of them only have the value system of win, win, win. They don’t believe in anything. Obviously I ran to put forth a political position and to make visible a constituency. And obviously many of them didn’t; but I thought they had some core beliefs. Most of them didn’t have core beliefs.

DS: Is there one moment that sticks out in your mind?

AS: Probably, but let me get back to that. I also learned that once most Americans and I talked, that we didn’t disagree that much. When I was campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire—totally white communities—that the more we talked not only did they get more comfortable with me, I got more comfortable with them. Because people really don’t disagree on fundamentals as much as the disagree on the stuff we’ve been programmed to disagree on with each other.

DS: The way it’s presented in the media.

AS: Correct. People would say to me, “Now that I hear you, even if I disagree with you I don’t think you’re as bad as I thought.” I would say, “Let me ask you a question: what was ‘bad as you thought’?” And they couldn’t say. They don’t know why they think you’re bad, they just know you’re supposed to be bad because the right wing tells them you’re bad.

DS: It seems the media—both liberal and conservative—has to follow a narrative.

AS: Exactly. So even my worse criticism—Brawley—tell me what is wrong with a civil rights leader believing a 15 year old girl who came to him. I didn’t tell her the story, she told me. What was wrong about that? “I guess nothing. Did you know she was lying?” A jury didn’t know. She said that I didn’t know what her story was. So in your worse scenario, the lack of discourse is what separates most Americans. I learned that more than anything in the campaign. When I would meet with a lot of the handlers and DNC officials about the campaign, and everything was geared toward polling and focus groups, and not core beliefs, that’s when I got this thing that took me, as one who is a true believer—I mean, I’ve been prosecuted, stabbed, 9 days in jail in Vieques for what I believe, jail twenty other times—at the end of the day people have to say I believe in what I do. I don’t know if there are a lot of people in national politics that have core beliefs that they would go to jail for, or even be willing to die for. I just don’t feel that way about those people. Ultimately, I only respect people who are willing to put it all on the line.

DS: Was there a moment that sticks out in your mind during the campaign with anyone in particular?

AS: Not really.

DS: What about during the debates?

AS: You could see people change. Remember when I ran in 2004, and when the debates started in 2003, most of the people on the stage, including Kerry and Edwards, were pro-war. I was the first one—even before Dean—who came out against it. Then Dean came out and joined the race later. I saw them go from, “We got to fight terrorism, we got to go to Iraq,” almost to my position in a matter of four or five months, which I considered questionable. It also validated why you need public pressure. I remember I went to the first huge anti-war march in Washington, the A.N.S.W.E.R. march. I was the first Presidential candidate that would go.

On Barack Obama

DS: Who are you supporting for President?

AS: No one yet. The question is, who is going to support a strong social justice agenda? When I sit and look at the Democratic debates, with all these hangmen nooses, and all these hate crimes, and they don’t even bring it up, how can I support them when they’re not supporting us? If I was on that stage it would be on the agenda.

DS: The Post reported back in April that you have a conflict with Obama. What do you think is behind that story?

AS: I think it’s trying to get a double shot. Hurt him with people that like me; hurt me with people that like him. Say that Sharpton has a problem with him so the Obama people say, “Oh, why is Al messing with Obama?” The people that are in the debates, where he has to contest with Hillary, “Oh, you have a problem with Al Sharpton.” I don’t have a problem with Obama. I talk to Obama, I talk to Hillary, I talk to John Edwards. I have a problem that none of them are forcefully raising the social justice agenda. Why? That’s what I do. I’m a social justice leader. That’s what I do. And I think if you went to a union leader, he’d say, “I like their issues on this, but what about labor?” and I think if you went to a woman leader, “What about gender divided?” Why do people expect me not to be concerned about civil rights? That’s what I do.

DS: Why do you think Obama is not dominating the black vote?

AS: I don’t know. I think one, they don’t know him as well. They are just learning him. I think he’ll do alright, but I think the strategic mistake his handlers made—I don’t think it was him—is they sold him as beyond race. The antithesis to the civil rights guys. The problem with that is the blacks say, “Okay, you aren’t standing up for us, then fine.” So you can’t come back later and say he’s the black candidate when he said no he’s not. A lady at The New York Times called to do a story and I made her change the whole thing. She said, “I want to do a story on Obama and the civil rights generation and the conflict.” I said, “You’ve got a problem. Obama and I are the same generation. We are only six years apart. How do you count generations?” She said she hadn’t thought about that. You could do that with Jesse, but Obama is 46 and I’m 53; that’s not a different generation. Why don’t you talk about that every generation has had blacks on the inside and blacks on the outside. Ed Brooke was in the Senate like Obama when King was alive. Ed Brooke was elected and sitting in the Senate when King was alive, and he was a Republican from Massachusetts. Then we had Carol Mosley-Braun, then we had Obama. Ron Brown was chairman of the party when Jesse Jackson was the outsider. This new thing is that you guys don’t do research. There’s always been blacks inside the system and blacks outside. That’s not generational, that’s functional.

The Iraq War

DS: Do you think there should be conscription?

AS: I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s debatable to me.

DS: Do you consider our military a volunteer army?

AS: Yeah. I think that a volunteer army—I’m against drafts, even when Charlie Rangel came out with it. Even understanding the reasoning, to make rich as well as poor go, I just think the rich will find a way to get around it and there will still be a disproportionate amount of poor.

DS: Which you saw in Vietnam, and many national leaders now found ways not to go.

AS: Exactly right. I was in high school at the time of the Vietnam War, there was a draft, and the rich kids didn’t go. They found a way around it.

DS: How has the war affected you?

AS: I think it has affected me in that I have seen and actually preached at soldiers’ funerals. I’ve seen the families suffer for absolutely no reason. There never was Weapons of Mass Destruction, there never was eminent danger, so I have seen it up close and personal in terms of families losing their sons. I’ve also seen resources that we could have used to provide training and jobs in this country just sent over there arbitrarily. I also watched when Katrina happened the way people who were relocated around the country couldn’t vote at home, but Iraqis could vote from America in the elections in Iraq. I think it brought out the glaring contradictions of American democracy as practiced by people like the Bush administration.

DS: Are you optimistic for the future?

AS: Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind as I sit here today that the world will be better, America will be better, and that those like us—no matter how controversial—will be redeemed in history. There is no doubt in my mind. Whether we live to see it physically or not, I have no doubt in my mind.

Sharpton as a symbol

DS: I interviewed documentary filmmaker Kira Nerusskaya, who is one of the leading voices in the fat acceptance movement. She is what she calls a “BBW”. A Big Beautiful Woman. Your name came up in that interview and she called you “Reverend 9-1-1” and mentioned that fat people don’t have their own “Al Sharpton”, someone they can turn to when they are being hassled at work because they are a drain on their insurance, or when fat people are discriminated against or harassed. When you hear that you have become a symbol that transcends your community, what do you think?

AS: I thought you were going to say she is disappointed that I’m not as fat as I used to be. On one level I think it is flattering. It is something you never think about when you jump into this. Again, I joined the movement way before I was old enough to understand all of that—

DS: When you were ten, when you were preaching—

AS: Yeah, exactly. People say now I’m living by ambition or whatever else they accuse me of, but what was I living by when I was ten years old? Twelve years old when I joined Breadbasket. It’s also frightening because it makes you all the more a target for every critic. There’s not a month that goes by that we don’t have a serious death threat. Every criminal justice guy is trying to topple you. So you become a target as much as it is flattering, so I always remember the upside and the downside of it.

DS: It’s interesting that you have become that to other people.

AS: It is, but I’ll tell you what else is interesting that she said—and I don’t know if she intended to say it this way or not—when she said I’m “Reverend 9-1-1”. What a lot of people don’t understand, particularly in the white community, is I’m projected as an ambulance chaser. But I’m more the ambulance. People call me because they know I will come. If nothing else you write, I have never fought a case where they didn’t ask me to come. People have this picture like I’m sitting up in bed at night with a walkie-talkie. “You hear anything? Oh, let’s run! It’s Virginia today!” People call us. Jena all the way to Florida all the way to Jasper, Texas, all the way to Sean Bell. Every victim calls us. On my syndicated radio show now if we get a case I make the victim get on and say, “Now, you asked me to get involved in this?” That’s what I did with Jena. Now nobody remembers because nobody knew what Jena was then. We respond to a person coming in, which is why it’s absurd when black conservatives, “Who put Sharpton in charge?” The victim! Who put me in charge of Jena? The people involved with Jena asked me to come. What gives you the right to tell people not to have who they want to represent them. Could you imagine? I’m leading the march on Jena, asked to come in by the parents of the kid in jail, and they’re going to sit on MSNBC that night and ask, “Well, why is Al Sharpton leading it?” Because the parents of the kid asked me to lead it! Duh! So at least let’s be straight-up about it.

DS: Do you think the criticism is more because you are successful for bringing attention to it?

AS: If I was not able to bring public attention, they would care less. And let’s face it: some of them are very cynical and know they can get a lot of play criticizing me. I was talking about it at the rally this morning—we have rallies here every Saturday. You have one guy, I can’t think of his name, a sportswriter from Kansas City who made a career out of criticizing me about Imus. He did every talk show. “Sharpton’s wrong!” Nobody ever said, “Wait a minute, you a sportswriter, what are you speaking for? What are you talking about it?” It’s ludicrous.

I hate to admit it. I always thought I would probably get killed before now. After I got stabbed in 1991 I was sure that if I got to forty, I would never make it to fifty. Now I’m fifty-three, which is probably why I work as hard as I do.
Image: David Shankbone.

DS: Why do you think that happens?

AS: Because they know that there is a market for it. They know they can get air time for it.

DS: Did you ever do a DNA test to see if you were related to Strom Thurmond?

AS: No, I just accepted the documents; I never did the DNA.

DS: Do you keep in contact with Essie Mae Washington-Williams?

AS: I only met her one time. Because again, I don’t know that we are related. I know that my great-grandfather was a slave of the Thurmonds, I don’t know that there was any blood. When they came and told me I went down to South Carolina to Edgefield, and visited the cemetery. The cemetery at the First Baptist Church of Edgefield is all Sharptons—of course the white Sharptons—and Thurmonds. While I was there, a man came up and said, “You know, the plantation that your great-grandfather worked on is still intact. A doctor bought it and he didn’t change anything. He told me if you’d like to see it we can go over there.” It’s on Sharpton Road in Edgefield. [Sharpton shows Shankbone the photos of him at the plantation]. I look at it to remind me of how far we’ve come. [Sharpton shows Shankbone photos of civil rights leaders and his family]. This is the last time James Brown was on stage at the Apollo, to do my fiftieth birthday in 2004.

DS: Did you ever think you’d reach fifty?

AS: No. I hate to admit it. I always thought I would probably get killed before now. After I got stabbed in 1991 I was sure that if I got to forty, I would never make it to fifty. Now I’m fifty-three, which is probably why I work as hard as I do. I work 17, 18 hour days. Rachel [Noerdlinger, his assistant] will tell you 20, but she’s lying because she feels I overwork. I feel every day I live is a day I never expected to live, so I try to do everything I can. I think that part of the problem with a lot of civil rights leaders is that this is the first generation that actually lived to be gray. What do gray civil rights leaders do? Because in the era before us, they were all dead by now.

DS: Who are some up-and-coming civil rights leaders under thirty?

AS: Some are in my organization. You’ve got Tamika Mallory, who heads the Decency Initiative here in New York. You’ve got Mark Coleman in Atlanta. You have Jerry Moffet in Phoenix. I could name you fifteen to twenty in various degrees who have a lot of potential. Who will become national? I have no idea. I tend to work with all of them. We have thirty-three chapters, offices in seven cities, and 90% of them are under forty years old. Most of the people who marched with us in Jena and Washington were under forty years old. There’s a resurgence of activism among young people, and I think a lot of it is they went through this era of blacks making it as CEOs and blacks making it in management, and now that era is over. Richard Parsons is gone soon; Obama is not dominating the black vote. So a lot of these people are saying that it’s not happening. They are going back to that we have to struggle as a unit.

DS: At Thanksgiving my brother-in-law’s brother made the point that we in white America don’t remember history, and that when we come across people who do remember history and we are always shocked. “Why don’t you get over it and move on?” But that doesn’t take into account that there is a long history of racial problems that have set people behind in the race by half a mile, and suddenly it’s supposed to be, “You’re equal, it’s a fair race now.”

AS: “Get over it!” Yeah. People are set back half a mile because they were given a disadvantage, not because they fell a half a mile. Then you tell us to “catch up” and forget that the race was unfair in the beginning. You’re right.

DS: One sees this problem with history with the Christian Zionists in the right wing. They have an entirely different perspective on history. They don’t view Thomas Jefferson and George Washington—who were secular—as our founding fathers. When they talk about America’s founding fathers they mean Cotton Mather and the Puritans.

AS: I think you have to be determined to not allow people to dismiss history. You have to use every forum to put history into perspective. People have a reason they want you to forget history, because history does not back up their point. One of the things Martin Luther King III and I talked about is that his father died one of the most controversial figures in the history of America, but you would think now forty years later he was revered by white America. He wasn’t! The New York Times would write editorials about him telling him to keep his nose out of the Vietnam business. “Who do you think you are?” When he died—that’s when I joined the movement—we had to fight to get him a national holiday. But today you read stories that guys like us aren’t Dr. King. Well, in Dr. King’s time they didn’t have him as Dr. King, but that’s the benefit of distorting history. If you can erase history, erase why there are racial gaps across the board—health care, education, income—if you can erase how that all started, then you can make guys like me look extreme. But if you look at history and how we got here, we’re really very reasonable to say some of the things we have said.

DS: Then the focus is on gangsta culture and instead of looking at how that came about, it is talked about as if it is a phenomenon that just happened?

AS: Nobody is looking at that, and the fact that if you didn’t have gangsta culture, we’d still be in the back of the bus. Should we have stronger family ties? Of course. Should we stress education? Of course! Should we stress responsibility? Of course! But people who had self-contained families that were very responsible still had to sit in the back of the bus and couldn’t check into a hotel. Let’s not act like gangsta is what caused racial inequity in our society. It’s like saying you’ve got cancer, but you’ve also got a head cold, so the reason you’ve got cancer is you’ve got a head cold. No, you have cancer and a head cold. You take Tylenol for the head cold, but you’ve still got to deal with the cancer. What they are trying to act like is taking head cold medicine is going to solve cancer. It’s a bunch of crap! If every black in America had strongly family ties, and there were no out-of-wedlock births, which I strongly advocate and preach, it still wouldn’t solve the racial inequality in the social fabric. Let’s be honest about that.

Blacks and whites and talking about race

DS: At the end of the Thanksgiving discussion, I said that if a black person was sitting at the table with us, we would never have had the entire conversation. We talked about that. Do you think there is a nervousness amongst the races to engage each other?

AS: A lot of the nervousness is that white America is uncomfortable with having to deal with the guilt and history of racism, and they certainly don’t want to admit it is still here, and black America in large part has for so long has had to try and act like it’s not there to get along. It’s almost like our silence will get us access so that we don’t offend you. And those of us that are offensive have to then carry the burden of trying to push the envelope. That’s why Bill Tatum, who publishes the Amsterdam News, said if we didn’t have a guy like Al Sharpton we’d have to invent one. Because every generation has to have somebody who pushes the envelope. We just do.

DS: I think it was Lani Guinier who used to talk about the problem is the races too afraid to talk to each other about race.

AS: I think Lani Guinier did talk about that. You have to not only have blacks, but you have to have whites and white leadership that want to have that dialogue. Most of them don’t want to have it. We have to create that dialogue and hopefully some of the things we are doing creates the climate for that dialogue. What I have found is that many people in America, particularly the white people, don’t really want peace, they want quiet. “Just shut up and don’t talk about it. Fine, there may be a problem, but let’s not talk about it.” That’s not peace, that’s quiet. You’ll never have peace until you have real dialogue and look at the difference between the life of a white and life of a non-white in this country, and how we close the gap. That’s how you get peace. So people don’t want racial justice; they want racial quiet. But racial quiet in the absence of racial justice is to allow for things to go forward unfairly. In the long wrong, that leads to explosions because people hold it in as long as they can and then they explode. The way to stop the explosions is to deal with the problem.

DS: Would you say what sums up the problem with dialogue as you see it is that white people are too afraid to offend black people by asking questions about their perceptions, but that black people become too offended by white people’s ignorance?

AS: I think that’s a fair statement. I think that’s a very fair statement. I wish I had said it. That hit it right on the head. Really.

Don Imus, Michael Richards and Dog The Bounty Hunter

DS: When you think about Imus, Michael Richards and Duane Chapman, it’s starting to seem almost like a rehearsed play. They have these racist explosions, and then they come to you seeking absolution. How do you feel about playing this?

The critics say, “Why do they go to Al Sharpton for absolution?” What nobody ever asks is, “What did Sharpton do?” I made Imus go on my radio show and told him he should be fired. I never talked to the “Bounty man” [above]. And I told Michael Richards I’m not meeting with him.” – Sharpton on those seeking absolution from him for racist remarks.

AS: That’s a great question, because if you name Don Imus, Richards, Bounty Hunter, they all three came, and none of them got absolution from me. The critics say, “Why do they go to Al Sharpton for absolution?” What nobody ever asks is, “What did Sharpton do?” I made Imus go on my radio show and told him he should be fired. I never talked to the “Bounty man”. And I told Michael Richards I’m not meeting with him. So, despite what they designed to happen with me, I never cooperated with the design. Imus only went on my show thinking if he did he would get past it; I used it for the basis to get him fired. He got everything but absolution. Why do they come? Because of my visibility. Right now, National Action Network is the only civil rights organization in the country that can put tens of thousands of people in the street. I think we proved that if nothing else this year from Sean Bell to Jena to Washington. He thought if he did he would get past it; I used it for the basis to get him fired. You go where you think if you can get this group not to fight me, you get a pass. If somebody is accused of anti-Semitism, they go to the Anti-Defamation League. Does that make Abe Foxman the “President of the Jews”? No! That’s what ADL does. It’s insulting to us. They say, “Al Sharpton is not the President of Black America.” No, I’m like ADL is in the Jewish community. That’s what he does. If anybody is going to jump on this, it’s him, so let me go to him. That doesn’t mean he’s in charge of all blacks. It means if it’s a civil rights violation—that’s what they have to do—he’s been the guy up front. It’s very simple. In gay communities you have the Human Rights Campaign. With women, you’ve got NOW. In the Jewish community, you’ve got ADL. Why wouldn’t you have a National Action Network in the black community? But if sanity is that NOW can have Kim Gandy, and the Jewish community can have Abe Foxman, and the gay community can have Human Rights group, but the black community can’t have an “Al Sharpton”, that’s absurd!

DS: One of the issues that came up in reference to that at Thanksgiving was political correctness. My brother-in-law brought up the Don Imus ‘nappy-headed hos’ issue and said it was political correctness. His brother said that there is a big difference between calling black girls playing basketball nappy-headed hos versus asking a black person why their families are in trouble.

AS: Big difference. Big difference.

DS: But those get equated as being politically incorrect.

AS: I think you’re right. They equate it, and it’s wrong. The reason I demanded Imus be fired was because he had a record of making these kinds of derogatory statements. It’s clear that ‘nappy-headed’ was a racist term. That’s not questioning social maladies in the community. What is the social malady or irresponsibility about ‘nappy-headed’? ‘Ho’ is not only racist, it’s misogynist. People who tried to put that over as he just wasn’t politically correct are ridiculous. That’s why if I or anybody else said a racist term against anybody else. That’s not politically incorrect; that’s bias. And all of us have made mistakes with language, but you pay for it. Which is why I don’t object to him getting a job again, but he had to lose that job because he had consistently violated that job.

DS: Are you okay that Don Imus is going back on the air?

AS: Well, we’ll monitor him; I’m not saying I’m going to throw a banquet for him and say welcome home. He has the right to make a living, but because he has such a consistent pattern with this we are going to monitor him to make sure he doesn’t do it again.

DS: Do you work with the Hip Hop Action Network?

AS: On some issues. They disagree with me at first when I came out hard on the N-word and all, but then they moderated their view. On some things we work together.

DS: How did they disagree with you?

AS: When I first came out and said the N-word, the B-word, should be stopped. Russell Simmons came out and said we can’t censor artists. Then he got such a backlash he said, “We got it to be maybe voluntary, or something.” Russell kind of slid backwards on that one. My thing is I’m against the use of the word, and I’ve been against it for a long time. Even in my book, Al on America I wrote a whole chapter on the hip hop generation and how to stop that. On top of it, all of us have used it; I’ve even stopped using it privately, because it’s wrong. I think the thing that really drove it home to me was the kid who got beat up in Howards Beach last year, and Fat Nick—the white that beat him up saying no niggers in the neighborhood—his defense in court was that he was using a hip hop term. It’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. We can’t be the only ones in America in which there is no hate term.

DS: If you could choose how you die, how would it be?

AS: I would probably choose doing something active. I would either be leading a march or preaching a sermon. I don’t want to die old and incapacitated. I’d rather die in the firing line.

DS: What do you think is the greatest threat to humanity?

AS: Our ignoring nature. Our ignoring the signs of nature.

DS: Global warming?

AS: Global warming would be at the top of the list. Al Gore ended up being right. I think our ignoring nature, global warming, and then our ignoring the need for one standard of human rights all over the world. This second. But first nature, because we won’t be here if we don’t start taking nature seriously. Like global warming and ecology and whatever we are doing with the environment. Second is how we deal with human rights standard all over the world.

DS: Are there any national politicians you look up to as leaders?

AS: I respect Dennis Kucinich. I respect Keith Ellison in Minnesota. Those are the two that come to mind right away. I’m far more progressive than most, but I really respect both of them.

DS: Do you think Joel Klein has done a good job with New York City public schools?

AS: I think Joel Klein has done better, than I thought he would. I’m not sure I’m into the mayor controlling the system. It’s funny, Joel has a sense of grass roots than one would think. I think he has done better than I would have given him credit for. I didn’t have a lot of hope for him. He has defied my low expectation.


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October 7, 2007

Appendix has purpose: Scientists

Appendix has purpose: Scientists – Wikinews, the free news source

Appendix has purpose: Scientists

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Illustration showing make-up of the human appendix.

Researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, United States believe that they have found the purpose of the vermiform appendix, long thought to be useless. The theory, published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology this week, is that the appendix creates and protects helpful microorganisms for a person’s digestive system.

For years, scientists believed that the appendix served no purpose, and wondered why it was even present in the human body. Surgeons removed them regularly, and it seemed to have no ill effects on the health of patients.

In addition, when infected the appendix became harmful and even deadly. Inflammation occurs quickly and can cause death if the infected organ is not removed in time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2005 321,000 Americans were stricken with appendicitis. On average, 300 to 400 Americans die of appendicitis each year.

The new theory, proposed by surgeons and immunologists at the Duke University School of Medicine, says that people throughout most of human history lived in small, spread out groups. As a result, their contact with other people was far more limited than it is today in modern industrialized societies. Today, if a person’s digestive tract lacks helpful bacteria, they can regain the needed germs from contact with large numbers of other people. In times when populations were less dense, and cholera epidemics purged large numbers of people’s useful digestive bacteria, the appendix was able to restore the digestive system’s supply of helpful germs.

“[The appendix] acts as a good safe house for bacteria,” said Duke surgery professor Bill Parker, a co-author in the study. He said the appendix’s location–below the one-way passage of food and germs through the large intestine in a digestive cul-de-sac–helps validate the theory. The worm-shaped appendage also acts to manufacture these helpful germs, Parker said.

Parker added that in less developed societies with lower population densities, the appendix may still be useful and rates of appendicitis are lower. However, regardless of the appendix’s apparent function, Parker confirmed that those suffering from appendicitis should still have it removed.

Scientists not affiliated with the study have come out in favor of the theory. Brandeis University biochemistry professor Douglas Theobald said the idea was the most likely purpose of the appendix. “It makes evolutionary sense.”



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June 16, 2007

US prosecutor Mike Nifong to be disbarred for ethics violations

US prosecutor Mike Nifong to be disbarred for ethics violations

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

A balcony in New Jersey displaying signs pleading the players’ innocence

Durham County, North Carolina district attorney Mike Nifong had his law license revoked Saturday, after a week of hearings by the North Carolina state bar. The hearing came after the state bar charged Nifong with ethics violations, and for breaking several rules of professional conduct, during the alleged 2006 Duke University lacrosse case. Addionally, Nifong was charged with making inappropriate statements to the media, and ignoring evidence in favor of the defendants.

Nifong said Friday he would resign, regardless of the outcome of the hearing. He would also not appeal any punishment imposed by the state bar, according to his attorney. Nifong charged three players, Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, with rape. North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper later concluded that the three players were innocent.

Nifong was said to have made “multiple, egregious mistakes” as he pursued the charges, but not intentionally, according to his attorney .

Nifong said he regretted some of what he said, such as that he wouldn’t allow Durham to become known for “a bunch of lacrosse players from Duke raping a black girl.”

Attorneys for the players said they would seek charges for criminal contempt against Nifong.

“This matter has been a fiasco. There’s no doubt about it,” said state bar committee chairman F. Lane Williamson.



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April 11, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: April 11, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: April 11, 2007 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: April 11, 2007

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A compilation of brief news reports for Wednesday, April 11, 2007.

Charges dropped in Duke lacrosse rape case

James B. Duke statue at Duke University

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges against three Duke University lacrosse players. He said the athletes were innocent victims of a “tragic rush to accuse” by an overreaching district attorney, namely Mike Nifong. The year-long case saw Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty indicted for rape, kidnapping and sexual assault charges tied to an alleged attack at a lacrosse team party on March 13, 2006.

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Sadrist Movement threatens to leave Iraqi government

Artist impression of Muqtada al-Sadr

Controversial cleric Muqtada al-Sadr criticized Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s lack of support for a timetable for a United States withdrawal from Iraq. Although it is not the first time the Sadrist Movement has threatened to leave the government, a statement released by the bloc said: “The Sadrist movement is studying the option of withdrawing from the Iraqi government – a government that has not fulfilled its promises to the people … We are serious about withdrawing.”

Al-Maliki’s coalition relied on the Sadrist Movement to give it the mandate needed to form a government and the withdrawal could threaten to topple the government. The Sadrist Movement holds six ministerial positions and represents about a quarter of the MPs in the coalition.

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  • “Iraqis demonstrate on fourth anniversary of Baghdad’s fall” — Wikinews, April 9, 2007



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