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"The only not-true part is, unfortunately, the part about them changing their minds. They are still going to tear down 5,000 units of affordable housing."

Andy Bichlbaum, if that is his real name, on the hoax he pulled at a Louisiana community meeting and through an e-mailed news release announcing a reversal in direction for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in response to Hurricane Katrina. Comments from the bogus release were noted on this page last week. Meeting organizer William Loiry says he's been duped and he's not happy. "There are many people still in need," Loiry says. "To perpetuate a hoax on them is cruel and disgusting." Ditto. Source: CNN
Light in the Smog ·

The growing recognition of environmental hazards gets the spotlight this week from two events, each showcasing the award-winning documentary Kilowatt Ours: A Plan to Re-energize America. The League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area, Lunz Group-Sierra Club, and the College of Charleston will be hosting a viewing of the 30-minute documentary at 5 p.m. on Fri., Sept. 15, at the College of Charleston's Physicians Memorial Auditorium. The film spotlights the dangers of coal-fired power plants and encourages energy conservation. Filmmaker Jeff Barrie will lead a discussion on the film afterward.
Meanwhile, regional conservationists are heading to Charleston on "The Energy at the Crossroads Tour" to spotlight the need for South Carolina to implement cleaner standards for power plants. There will be a public forum at 7 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 13, at the Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street that will include a viewing of the documentary, live music, a parody television panel discussion on energy perspectives, and a discussion about future energy options.
Chief organizers The Canary Coalition and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service also plan to present a petition to state legislators calling for a thorough examination of all energy options to determine the cheapest method of providing energy by factoring in the costs of public health, environmental impacts, full fuel cycles, and the decommissioning of power plants. For more information, visit canarycoalition.org. It's worth it just to see the picture of the angry yellow canary in a gas mask. —GH

$30,514

That's the per capita income of Charleston and North Charleston metropolitan residents, according to the findings of a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report released last week. The region continues to fall behind Columbia, with its per capita income of $30,927. Source: U.S. BEA

Political Roundup ·

The political season starts a little early in Mount Pleasant. With elections on Sept. 19, the League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area will be hosting a candidate forum for Mt. Pleasant Town Council and Waterwork Commission candidates at 7 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 13, at the council chambers, 100 Ann Edwards Lane.
Meanwhile, a Republican-leaning leadership course for women is accepting applications for its nine-month program, South Carolina Winning Women Excellence in Public Service Series. The course is expected to provide the information to get women involved in politics and includes a trip to Washington, D.C., for training on federal branches of government and other seminars in Columbia on campaign management, local and state governments, public policy, media relations, and public speaking. The program costs $400 including tuition and the cost of the Washington trip. Scholarships are available. South Carolina currently ranks last in the nation in the number of women elected to public office, according to the GOP.

9,422

That's the number of people who appear to have "World Trade Center cough." Those affected were identified through a Mount Sinai Medical Center study of 16,000 of the 40,000 first responders to the Sept. 11 attack at the World Trade Center. Ground zero workers had abnormalities at a rate double that expected in the general population, according to the study. Source: The Associated Press

Shrimpers Bank on Plant ·

The who's who of the Southeastern shrimping community showed up for steak and shrimp — locally caught, of course — at the Johns Island banquet facility at Gilligan's last Thursday night. But the real meat of the meeting was the discussion of a shrimp processing facility slated to break ground in financially strapped Williamsburg County in January 2007. The idea is for the plant to be ready to buy and process local shrimp by May 2007.
The South Carolina Shrimp Processing & Seafood Company proposes consolidating the fragmented shrimping industry under a centralized facility where local catch would be purchased and processed into high-value product: the prepackaged breaded, butterfly, and easy-peel shrimp favored by supermarkets and restaurants. The company also promises to convert the waste product, shrimp shells, into middle and high grade chitosan, which has agricultural and even medical applications.
While CEO Royce Freebourn promised the plant would deliver a higher dollar per pound of catch to the local docks, many shrimpers in attendance questioned how many fishermen in the dying industry could hold out until the plant opens next season.
"Right now, a lot of guys have to wait until the money comes in from one catch before they can even buy fuel to go out again," says local shrimper Wayne Magwood. "That's how bad it is now."
While the consensus seemed to be hopeful about what the plant could offer to local shrimp fishermen, there was concern as well. The absence of a processing plant in South Carolina has long been a key infrastructure problem for locals, made especially clear last year when Gulf-based processing plants went down in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
"We're on our last legs," Bobby Goings, a shrimper from Georgetown, said. "We've got nothing left but to believe in this." —Jason A. Zwiker

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