Show Notes, 2013-July-12

Greetings from Augusta, Georgia

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Another historic building in the Laney-Walker district is to be demolished. According to the front page article, renovations this August at Lucy C Laney High School require the demolition of the 89-year old Cauley-Wheeler building.

The building is the last remaining structure from the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, a school charted by Lucy Craft Laney in 1886 to educate black children.

The article quotes Historic Augusta Executive Director Erick Montgomery to say:

The Laney-Walker Historic District and neighborhood is just being dismantled one building at a time. Its history is just disappearing before everyone’s eyes. … It’s just under assault.

I urge listeners to visit the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History at 1116 Phillips St. Phillips St is on the east side of Laney Walker Blvd, west of 13th St and east of RA Dent Blvd. Its web site is

Urban Pro Weekly uploaded pictures to Facebook showing some of the buildings to be demolished in the renovation. It also has an article covering an alumni gathering at the high school on July 6 and the historic importance of Laney High School and its antecedents.

The Georgia Pubic Service Commission has decided to require Georgia Power to add 525 megawatts of solar energy to its electrical grid. But don’t think Georgia’s gone green. According to Georgia Power’s website, the company’s total generating capacity as of December 31, 2012 was 17,983 megawatts. The fuel sources for electricity generation are coal at 39%, nuclear at 27%, oil and gas at 33% and hydro at 1%. So the percentage of solar energy would skyrocket to 3%.

Supporters of this measure include Georgia Solar Utilities, “formed by  a group of developers that had been earlier spurned by Georgia Power when they proposed building a large-scale solar energy project.”

Commissioner Stan Wise voted against the measure and accused Georgia Power of acceding to the measure in order to placate regulators’ concerns over cost overruns on the two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Burke County and Georgia Power’s requests for rate increases.

Another interesting aspect to this story is the misinformation spread by opponents of alternative energy. According to the Associated Press:

The Georgia chapter of Americans For Prosperity [a political group founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch] has said in mass emails and on Twitter that a proposal requiring Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power to buy more solar energy could raise energy bills by 40 percent. A review of those figures shows the claim is misleading, and there’s a debate over how much solar energy might cost.

PolitiFact Georgia also rejected parts of Americans for Prosperity’s assertions.

The Commission’s web site is Strangely enough, the last recording of commission meetings I could find on the web site was from November 2012. I’ve sent an e-mail to our friends at Atlanta Progressive News at Atlanta Progressive News dot com to ask if that meets Georgia’s Open Meetings requirements.

Today’s lead editorial supported proposed legislation in Texas that would ban abortions after the 20th week of gestation. On this topic, sometimes facts are critical. Darshak Sanghavi is a pediatric cardiologist and worsk in a tertiary care center specializing in high-risk pregnancies. According to his article of July 11, 2013 on,

Of the roughly 7 million American pregnancies each year, about 1 million end in abortion. However, almost all of the procedures are performed early in pregnancy. According to the Guttmacher Institute, only about 1 percent of abortions are performed after 20 weeks of gestation (a normal pregnancy is 40 weeks), which are those banned by the proposed Texas law. Why do some women wait so long? The answer is that comprehensive fetal testing, such as anatomical sonograms and ultrasounds of the heart, are typically performed just before 20 weeks of gestation.

Now here’s the real kicker. This legislation might increase the number of healthy fetuses aborted:

If [women] cannot rely on routine, insurance-covered testing to assess for birth defects—reliable ultrasound pictures are present and paid by insurance only around 20 weeks of gestation—they may instead seek less reliable ultrasounds earlier in pregnancy, before vital structures are well formed and viewable. A perinatal specialist might tell women that a major defect is possible, but the data would be unclear. What would such a woman do if told there is a strong chance of a major birth defect, and that confirmatory testing reliably can’t be done in time to meet the 20-week deadline to elect termination? It is entirely possible that such a woman might not like the odds and abort a healthy baby.

I have to approve of Joni Ellsworth’s letter to the editor denying the idea that there was an IRS assault on conservative groups. As she pointed out,

The real scandal is that any political groups are receiving tax exemption in the first place.

And then we get to the syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin’s hatred of Guantanamo detainees. Her latest, published today in the Augusta Chronicle, is entitled Let them starve: Gitmo swindlers strike again. If you’ve had the misfortune of following Ms. Malkin’s editorials on the subject, her position is essentially that every body there is a bloodthirsty terrorist and they should all remain in detention forever. Of course, she never address the fact the US military has cleared many detainees for release and has never charged many detainees. CNN reported on June 17, 2013 that 86 detainees are cleared for transfer and 46 detainees will not go through any legal process at all and will be detained indefinitely. Why can’t we transfer out of detention the 86 who have been cleared? Is it moral to assert that 46 people are simply too dangerous to be released and hence must be imprisoned for life without any legal process, not even the flawed military commissions?

The other issue Ms. Malkin fails to address is the ethics of force feeding hunger strikers. In 2007, the Department of Defense asked the Islamic Medical Association of North America to provide its opinion on the question of forced feeding of hunger-striking prisoners in U.S. custody. Its opinion reflected that of all major medical organizations, namely that “forced feeding is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment.” So, yes, the US military should “let them starve” if the politicians in Washington, DC can’t figure out how to close the human rights sinkhole they maintain at our naval base in Cuba. The problem, Ms. Malkin, is that the military won’t let them starve. The bigger problem is that large segments of the US public don’t seem to care about the human rights of US military detainees.

We are very fortunate in Augusta to have a person with first hand experience of Guantanamo Bay. Lorraine Barlett, a retired Lieutenant Colonel and Judge Advocate General, was assigned to be a defense attorney with the Office of the Chief Defense Counsel (OCDC), Officeof Military Commissions (OMC). She gave a talk in Aiken, South Carolina on May 28, 2013 about Guantanamo entitled “Guantanamo, Drones and Endless War – What is it Good for?” You can hear the recording online at csrapeace dot org. Look for a post on June 12, 2013.

In other medical ethics news, the state of Georgia has apparently found a doctor willing to forget the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. This doctor will create a batch of pentobarbital to execute Warren Lee Hill. Pentobarbital’s manufacturer refuses to supply the drug to state governments because it does not want its product to be associated with executions. So the state of Georgia will use a compounding pharmacy under the supervision of a physician to commit its murder.

By the way, the execution of Warren Lee Hill, a mentally retarded man, is unconstitutional and immoral. Amnesty International has a press release on this.

Flipping to the Metro section, the article about the acquittal of a Hepzibah man, Fredrick Gibbons, on the charge of obstruction of an officer is welcome news. The trial revealed that Wesley Martin, a Georgia Regents University officer who was the reported victim of the obstruction, lied about the circumstances of the traffic stop, which led to Martin using a stun gun on Gibbons.

Even more troubling, according to defense attorney Victor Hawk, Martin has used a stun gun 24 times in his 2½ years at GRU.

Looking at Twitter status updates from Augustans, I see that Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Sean Frantom, President of Young Professionals of Augusta and Director of the Ronald McDonald House Augusta, are attending the Georgia Forward conference in Atlanta.

According to the Georgia Forward website,

GeorgiaForward works to engage civic, business, government and academic leaders to:

  • Find a common vision for Georgia;
  • Create an environment in which vision and pragmatism trumps political deadlock;
  • Discuss innovative solutions to our state’s challenges; and
  • Foster communication and goodwill among Georgia’s stakeholders.

The Georgia Regents University Reese Library has announced some freebies for the incoming 2013 class.

It also invites people to fill out a survey about food metaphors.

The flooding on the river is forcing Garden City Jazz to change the location of the Buzz Clifford performance on Sunday, July 14. You can sign up for e-mail or text message alerts to make sure you know exactly where to go.

If you are on Twitter, you can follow our list of Augusta Georgia Twitter users at If you aren’t on list, send us a message to add you to the list.


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