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March 20, 2007

City Strobe

Low-carbon dietHere’s something to ponder the next time you brew a delicious pot of fair trade coffee … while Tivo-ing “Heroes,” doing laundry, nuking a Hot Pocket, charging your cell phone/iPod/computer/camera, uploading videos to your MySpace page and downloading porn while glancing at the time on one of the 18 clocks in your 72-degree climate-controlled e-house of the future: The outlook for the coal industry is bleak.That’s the word from the ubergeeks at MIT, who just released a study outlining the myriad ways in which the coal industry is screwed. The rock: carbon emissions and global climate change. The hard place: the electricity monkey on America’s back. The other hard place: the inevitable move to clean coal, which has never been burned on a large scale. (And MIT isn’t even examining the coal industry’s unconscionable disaster known as mountaintop removal mining.)Coal, which currently accounts for half the juice powering America’s e-jones, contributes more greenhouse gas than any other fossil fuel. MIT believes it’s possible to produce cleaner electricity from coal by capturing the carbon dioxide emissions, but such sequestration hasn’t been done on a commercial scale. Even the Bush administration, which has a storied history of encouraging conspicuous consumption while bitchslapping the environment, has called for an experimental clean coal plant by 2012. The project, called FutureGen, aims to generate zero-emission electricity by capturing one million metric tons of carbon annually and storing it deep underground (near the bunker where Alberto Gonzales stores his brain). Barring a global carbon fart of devastating proportions, FutureGen promises to become the prototype for clean electricity in America.The message from MIT to the coal industry is as clear as the air over non-coal burning states: Get behind the clean coal effort now and coal will remain the fuel of the future. Wait for governments to impose carbon caps and watch your globe-choking industry die. —Jim WelpCouncilwoman’s son injured in IraqSgt. Brandon Sword, 23, the son of Metro Councilwoman Madonna Flood, was injured Friday by an IED while his unit was on a mission in southern Iraq.In a statement released yesterday, Metro Council spokesman Tony Hyatt said Sword sustained shrapnel wounds in the legs, face and scalp. He was also wounded on the left arm near his elbow.Sword, whom LEO interviewed for its Iraq war issue last week, had surgery in Northern Iraq on Monday before he was to be shipped out to Germany. He was scheduled to be moved to a U.S. Military Hospital in Germany within the last 24 hours.Councilwoman Flood has talked to her son and is awaiting more information concerning his recovery.“Brandon is just the face of thousands of men and women who have been injured in this war,” Flood said in the statement. “Brandon has requested prayers be said for his unit and all the men and women still serving in the theater.”Sword, a member of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Airborne, has been serving in Iraq since October. —Mat HerronDocumenting a humanitarian crisis The two films premiering tonight at the Ali Center concern a matter both urgent and severe. It’s something you’ve probably heard about, basically because it is an international humanitarian crisis. The fact that it’s largely been second-tier in America, though, may also mean your footing is unsure on what’s happening in a western region of Sudan called Darfur. Simply put, it’s genocide. That’s official U.S. government language. The Sudanese government has been clandestinely conducting ethnic cleansing through its support of an Arab militia group trying to eradicate black citizens since 2003, leaving the Darfur region ravaged by brutality.“Escape from Darfur,” by Louisville filmmaker Andrew Thuita, documents the stories of Darfur refugees living in Louisville; Thuita said there are currently nine. The film follows their stories from when their families were killed at home to their arrival and life here. “As an African, I feel that whatever I can do to alleviate the hardships of any Africans, I’m privileged enough to be here, so I want to do that,” Thuita said. He emigrated from Kenya in 1980, first to Tennessee and then Louisville. “ the first genocide of the 21st century. I was not able to do anything about Rwanda. I was not going to let this go by me as a filmmaker or an activist.”The other premiering film, “A Journey to Darfur,” is a firsthand on-the-ground account from actor-director George Clooney and his father, Nick. This is the first Louisville showing.One area group — a partnership of religious organizations called the Kentuckiana Interfaith Task Force on Darfur — has been working to raise local awareness (and money) to help refugees, who have fled the region and arrived all over, from Israel to the United States. “This is a huge humanitarian crisis that many organizations, including my own, have really not paid much attention to,” said Terry Taylor, director of Interfaith Paths to Peace.Both films are around 30 minutes long. Tonight’s showing (full disclosure: The event is sponsored by LEO) is at 5:30 p.m. and features a discussion led by Thuita. Two others are scheduled: Sunday, March 25 at 2 p.m. and Wednesday, March 28 at noon. The screenings are free and open to the public; seating is limited and first come, first served. —Stephen GeorgeSign of the timesAn intrepid LEO reader phoned last week, fuming about a new billboard across the street from Kroger in the Highlands. The fun, edgy, alternative, hip, youthful, ironic, comical, tight, postmodern, kitschy, eccentric, engaged, synergistic, emo, trendy, in-your-face, proactive, -esque sign — courtesy of Paul Semonin Realtors — is poised toward southbound Bardstown Road drivers, and says: “Fewer Mohawks down this way,” presumably a place where fewer -esque people are buying and selling real estate.The faux pas has not gone unnoticed by Semonin. Spokesman Doug Davis said the company has received two complaints. “Our objective obviously is not to offend anybody,” he said Monday, calling the Highlands one of Louisville’s most interesting and diverse neighborhoods. “We thought we were just having a little fun with ourselves, but I think a few folks have misinterpreted that.” Semonin has 27 other billboards with similarly weird — though more innocuous — messages, spread across Louisville, Southern Indiana, Spencer and Hardin counties. One, at Second and Chestnut, points to the old Water Company site and says, “This was almost an arena.” Funny … if not so real. The real estate giant doesn’t do its own ads; the Louisville firm Red7e handles the creative concepts and execution. The “Mohawks” sign went up around this time last week.In a brazen act of common sense and self-examination that’s rare among today’s corporate leaders, the folks at Semonin are thinking they ought to remove the billboard. Two complaints, Davis said, is plenty to figure that out. We salute that groundswell of common sense, but just in case Semonin or a competing real estate juggernaut needs a bit more inspiration for a new ad campaign, they might consider these:• “Fewer Afros down this way” at 9th Street, eastbound• “Fewer wife-beaters down this way” at Dixie Highway/Watterson Expressway, northbound• “Fewer shoes and teeth over this way” at the Second Street Bridge, Kentucky-bound• “Fewer food stamp recipients down this way” at Frankfort Avenue/Shelbyville Road, eastbound• “Fewer SUV-humping money grubbers down this way” at Shelbyville Road/Hurstbourne Parkway, westbound• “Fewer sin-loving homos this way” at all borders of Old Louisville• “Fewer self-righteous neo-hippie elitists down this way” pointing away from LEO headquartersKinda fun, no? Feel free to offer more suggestions at citystrobe@leoweekly.com. —Stephen GeorgeClean up after yourselfThe Illinois-based environmental group Living Lands & Waters is here to help Louisville clean up the Ohio River and Beargrass Creek — has been for nearly a month, actually. They meet tomorrow at the Cox Park boat ramp on River Road to help de-funk the Ohio. Beargrass Creek-lovers will meet Saturday, March 24, at the Louisville Rowing Club on River Road. Both clean-ups run 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Despite what you may otherwise think, it’s fun work, and they’ll send you off with a free lunch. See www.livinglandsandwaters.org for more information and to register. —Jennifer OladipoAuthor: Louisville’s African-American community ‘not where we should be’Duane Campbell thinks the key to a safe, supportive community that rejects violence is in the individual, that refining people’s perceptions of themselves and their potential will result in a more positive and productive community in parts of West Louisville plagued by violence, poverty and drug abuse. The author of “Inner Strength Defies the Skeptic” and creator of The Awareness Project will host the forum “What Time Is It?” this Saturday, March 24 at the Shawnee Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library (3912 W. Broadway), from noon to 2 p.m. He’ll discuss ways to compel African-American youth with positive influence, to curtail what can sometimes seem like a predestined culture of violence and poverty. —Stephen GeorgeGet a shot of Strobe every day at The Lip: LEO’s News Blog, www.leoweekly.com. Contact the writers at citystrobe@leoweekly.com