Category Archives: Southern Culture

Study Suggests Southern Depression

The annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks eight Southern states among the bottom 10, with West Virginians taking 50th for the fourth year in a row.

West Virginians were the least likely to be thriving, as was the case in 2011. Also, West Virginians had the worst emotional health in the nation and were more likely to report being diagnosed with depression than residents of any other state.

Residents in West Virginia also had the lowest score on the Physical Health Index, which includes having the highest percentage of obese residents in the nation.

I suggest getting off your arse and seeing Southern beauty to break those blues. You could go someplace like Abrams Falls if you’re in Tennessee. Or you could find someplace closer to home.

As I finish my time in Southeast Arkansas, I plan to knock out my bucket list. Check back to see you can find beauty all over our country, but especially in the South. If you’re sad or unhealthy, folks, you just ain’t trying.


Around the South: Face-Chewing, Foam Parties, Pregnancy Policy

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Florida Face-Chewing Victim Provides Details to Police

Georgia City Cracks Down on ‘Foam Parties’

Best States to Live in 2032: Alabama, 44th | Arkansas, 46th | Florida, 45th | Maryland, 10th | Mississippi, 49th | Virginia, 6th | West Virginia, 50th


Drought: Continues to Worsen in Arkansas | Kentucky Counties Added to Disaster List | Spring-fed Rivers Offer Best Floating

OA Editor Fired Following Harassment Allegation

Georgia County Selling Confiscated Guns

North Carolina AG: New DNA Law Works

Judge Urged to Stop Florida Privatization of Prison Health Care

North Carolina Poverty Tour Groups Hold Weekend Summit

Jury Convicts Kentucky Mom of Getting High While Baby Died in Hot Car

Tennessee Woman Accuses Physician Husband of Poisoning Coffee with Barium

Grand Jury Considers Charging Mom Who Abandoned 19-Year-Old Disabled Daughter

FAA Investigates Plane Landing at Wrong West Virginia Airport


Louisiana School Changes Pregnancy Policy

Charter School Debate Ramps up in Georgia

Kentucky Graduation Rates Climb Slightly

West Virginia Board of Education Wants Fact Checker

Teacher to Serve 90 Days for Sex with 17-Year-Old Kentucky Student


Arkansas Colleges Named Great Places to Work

Kentucky, Texas Top College Ranking in $4.6 Billion Licensing Industry

New Georgia University Missing Integral Part of Name

High Court May Hear Virginia Tech Case

Former Maryland Student Found Guilty of Rampage Threats


North Carolina Marine Killed in Afghanistan

Air Force Cuts Indicate Service ‘Slowing Going Out of Business’

Graham: Military Cuts ‘Will be Death Blow’ to U.S. Defense

South Carolina GOP Leaders: Budget Cuts Could be Devastating

Arkansan Named Army National Guard NCO of the Year


Is Local Food More Eco-Friendly?

Natural Resources Defense Council Tabs North Carolina as ‘Toxic’

Environmentalists Seek Florida Funding Amendment

‘Extinct’ Native Alabama Snail Rediscovered on Cahaba River

Natural Gas Areas Cover Most of Southern Maryland

Mississippi Development Authority Erred in Issuing Offshore Natural Gas Drilling Permit

Louisiana Sinkhole Roils Natural Gas Network


Chicken Salad Sickens 350 Arkansas Inmates

Study: Fathers Can Affect Baby’s Health at Birth

2 Die from West Nile Virus in Louisiana

Teen Allegedly Impersonating Physician’s Assistant Blames Florida Hospital

Kentucky Police Work to Reduce School-Bus Related Crashes


North Carolina Eugenics Victims, Advocates Face Uncertainty

Investigators Work to Verify Missing Body That of Louisiana College Student

Florida Nuclear Plant Hosts Crocodile Hatching

University of Georgia Research Shows Cats Spend Nights Killing Small Animals

West Virginia Education Technology Conference Available Online


AT&T Reaches Tentative Agreement with Southern Workers; Others Strike

West Virginia Hand-Crafted Breweries Growing

Nuclear Reactor License Delayed in Missouri

Coal-Power Plant Back Online after Missouri Fire

West Virginia City Seeks Economic Revitalization

South Carolina’s Biggest Homegrown Bank Buying Savannah Lender

Ex-Arkansas Insurance Company Head Indicted

Maryland Mortgages Among the Nation’s Biggest

Economic Freedom: A Moral Imperative for Arkansas

A Tale of Two Employment Surveys

POLITICS For additional regional political coverage, visit our sister site: The Locust Fork News-Journal (TOP)

City Admits Ordinance Discriminating Against Mississippi Church Violates Federal Law

McDonnell: Virginia Did Not Seek Welfare Waivers

National Health-Care Brawl Spawns Missouri Sideshow

Judge Postpones Deadline Decision for Bankrupt Alabama County

Georgia Not as Fiscally Constrained as Many States

Ex-Alabama Public Television Executive’s Lawsuit May Proceed — Judge

Tennessee Democratic Party Disavows Conspiracy Theorist Candidate

Lawmakers Wade Through Gambling Bill on Eve of Maryland’s Special Session

Alabama AG: Illegal Gambling Raids Should Serve Notice

Senator Saves Missouri Woman from DREAM Act Nightmare


Mississippi Election System Ranks Near Bottom Nationally

Arkansas Mayors Facing Recalls

Tea Party Win in Missouri Primary Sets Up Battle for Senate Control

Several Missouri Lawmakers Fall in Primary

Ex-Official Pleads Guilty in West Virginia Vote Probe

Judge Dismisses Lawsuits Aimed at Floridian Justice Candidates

Florida Voters Weigh Whether to Pay for Religious Schooling

Latino Vote Likely Undercounted in North Carolina — Report

Florida Market Draws Candidates Like Bees to Honey

What Do Voters Want?

Tough choices on which card to give to the wife ... and the consequences of that choice.

Summer’s Not Quite over Yet

Tough choices on which card to give to the wife … and the consequences of that choice. (From the Sitton archives)

MONTICELLO — Although my wife may contend differently, summer is still in session.

Granted after my finally falling into bed at 4 a.m. following an ongoing website reorganization, she can be forgiven for assuming I’m back to full-time work mode. I’m not.

Just letting you know links will not be posted today as I prep for the fall semester. Don’t despair. I plan to continue posting them through the semester to give students things to consider about the region where they were born, and where many of them will die.

Honestly, I considered trying to gather and post links anyway, but I — too — must clean a house on occasion, especially since we plan to have company to play canasta tonight. Who can argue with a night of cards?


Eat More … Food

Judd Mann stands in front of Little Rock’s Chick-Fil-A on Markham Street Wednesday. He did not return Friday for National Same-Sex Kiss Day after getting his fill on hump day. (photo by Mickey Osborn)

MONTICELLO — If you didn’t pay attention to the last week’s chicken controversy, you obviously did not have time on your hands. Congratulations from everyone else tarred-and-feathered from the culture wars this last week.

Yet not everybody appreciates the further awakening of a food consciousness nearly as much as this woman:

“Food choices are intrinsically inseparable from politics; from values; from ethics. What we eat always reflects what we value, both as individuals and as members of a specific human society. Complex webs of cultural and political factors shape what foods we have the ability – and the desire – to choose.

… “But even beyond the obvious human rights issues underlying the Chick-fil-A conflict, there’s something else remarkable going on here that has zero to do with chicken, religion, or sex.”

I won’t completely ruin it for you, but I’d suggest stopping by Eat-Drink-Better to read the rest of this post from Tanya Sitton. If you recognize the name, that would be my wife. And the guy in the picture? That’s our good friend, Judd Mann, Chick-fil-A protestor and human rights advocate.

I leave you with a thought previously posted to my facebook account:

I would like everyone to treat everyone else fairly. I realize this wish is naive; so I will quit being angry at its futility.

I just expected more.

(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Around the South: Voter’s Rights, Religion & Race, Georgia Elections

(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Southern Christian Leadership Conference: Florida Deliberately Curtails Vote

Southern Baptists: Mississippi Church Wrong to Reject Black Couple’s Wedding

Kentucky Man Fulfills Brother’s Dying Wish by Giving $500 Tips

High Auto Insurance Costs: Florida, 10th | South Carolina, 12th | Alabama, 20th | North Carolina, 50th


First Hindu Temple Opens in Arkansas

Tennessee Natives Married as Teens, Divorced as Adults, Will Remarry as Seniors

ACLU Tries to Track License Plate Readers | North Carolina | Virginia

Maryland Food Bank Needs Extra Volunteers to Handle Increased Donations

Alabama OKs Sales of ‘Dirty Bastard’ Beer

Like Most States, Louisiana Witnesses Increased Interest in Firearms

Maryland Vineyard Excels in Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition

Virginia Wines Stand Out in San Francisco Competition

Preserving the American South’s Slow-Cooked, Wood Barbecue

Southern Organic Food Something Different in Miami’s Sunset Harbor


Georgia Builds System to Track Students from Preschool to PhD

Louisiana’s Pretend Voucher Accountability Plan

Number of ‘Unacceptable’ Louisiana Schools Up 33%

Tennessee Education Chief Praises Oak Ridge Test Scores

New Superintendent Meets a Fractured Community


Economic, Education Study: South is Down

Report Slams For-Profit Universities for Expensive Tuition, High Drop-Out Rate

Tennessee College Plug-In Hybrid Concept Seeks Commercial Backing

University of Kentucky Lends $87 Million to Cover UK Healthcare Cash Shortfalls

Louisiana Tech Mascot Mysteriously Disappears


U.S. Military Deaths in Afghanistan Reach 1,935 Since 2001

Army Sergeant Acquitted of Negligent Homicide in Hazing Case

Soldier Killed Himself Not Knowing About Planned Transfer

Disabled Maryland Vet Leads Journey Up Mt. McKinley

South Carolina’s First Gent Goes Off to War


Protestors Shut Down West Virginia Mountaintop Removal Coal Mine

Feds Propose Limits on Maryland Wind Farm to Save Bats

Minor Earthquake Rattles Virginia

Mississippi River Receives Boost from Northern Reservoirs

Hundreds of Acres Burn in Mark Twain National Forest | Missouri Dept. of Conservation Encourages Watering Trees

Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation Offers $162 Million in Stormwater Grants

Experts: Kentucky Bear Population Continues Rapid Growth


HIV Funding Provides Care to 122 Patients on Alabama Waiting List

Florida Announces New Tuberculosis Plan

4 Human, 3 Animal Cases of West Nile Reported in South Carolina

Behind the Cover Story: Improving Mississippi Health the Iran Way

Sensors Won’t Save Babies Left in Hot Cars


Don’t Miss August’s Blue Moon

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Victim Using 3 New Prosthetics in Georgia Rehab

Virginia Researchers Keep Eye on Red Algae Blooms in Chesapeake Bay

Maryland Senators Concerned About Verizon-Cable Deal

Smartphone Privacy App Creator Adds Arkansas Jobs


Innovation, Jobs in Central Virginia

350 Jobs Coming to Louisiana Site

Over 2,300 Alabama Firms Given Special Electric Rates

Dredging Restarts at Louisiana Port as Drought Stalls Crop Movement

Maryland’s Economy on the Wrong Track

POLITICS For additional regional political coverage, visit our sister site: The Locust Fork News-Journal (TOP)

Virginia Ends FY12 with $129 Million Revenue Surplus

Tea Partiers Put Tennessee Establishment GOP on the Ropes | Democrats Look to Rebuild

Mississippi GOP, Democrat Leaders Want Civility | Louisiana: Dems in Registration Only

Northern Virginia Government Contractors Rally Against Sequestration

Poor Performance Puts Maryland Pension System in Further Debt

New Alabama Law Prohibits Distracted Driving, Readers React

Maryland Panel to Consider License for Baltimore Casino Proposal

Florida Water Pollution Rules Now in Election-Year Limbo

Kentucky Urged to Improve Livestock Care Rules

Alabama Ranks High for Average Local Sales Tax | Mississippi 3rd


Democrats Gay Marriage Stance Leads Mississippians to Switch Parties

Florida 101: 10 Things to Know About the 2012 Election

Georgia Voters Head to Primaries

Republicans Seek Chance to Oust House Democrat in Georgia

Georgia Voters Deciding Transportation Tax Referendum

Democrats Pick First Hispanic Keynote Speaker for National Convention

High Noon for Louisiana GOP, Paul Supporters Contesting Republican Delegates


Privatization of Virginia Sex Offender Program Opposed

FBI Releases Video of Missing Georgia Bank Director

Chief Justice Signals Supreme Court Will Rule on Maryland DNA Ban

AG: Tennessee Public Officials Ineligible for Alternative Sentencing

Missouri Man Pleads Guilty to 6 Bank Robberies

Mother of Strangled Virginia Inmate Sues, Claims Guards Helped Killer

Virginia Beach Man Pleads Guilty to Shining Laser at Jet

Mom Feared Arkansas Slayings Suspect

Missouri Man Reading, Hears Gunshot, Finds Wife and Kids Murdered

NTSB to Discuss Virginia Bus Crash That Killed 4


Higher Lottery Sales: Good for Education or Signs of Desperation?

here's hoping

here’s hoping by Robert S. Donovan, on Flickr

Lottery sales keep breaking records this summer: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Some states essentially made the lottery into an education lifeline, but not all of the money goes to education as shown in this South Carolina example. Missouri budgeted for an increase that did not occur. Ohio educators claim education does not receive the money it deserves. With that much money, is it any wonder crime occurs?

What do you think?

Feel free to comment.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Around the South – Marriage, Capital Punishment, Private Prison

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas Stymied on ExecutionsVictim’s Family Prepares for 2nd Trial

Georgia Paroles Board Weighs Clemency for Man Facing Wednesday Execution


Law Allowing Quicker Marriages Boosts Applications on Mississippi’s Coast

Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic Saved, For Now

Letters of South Carolina Soldier Killed in Vietnam Come Home

Mississippi Waiter’s ‘Magical Moment’ Renews Race Relations

Arkansas Farmers Add Diversity to Gardens

Missouri’s Only Natural History Museum Threatened By Fire

Tennessee Mother Starts Suicide Prevention Petition


South Carolina Governor Vetoes Money to Expand Residential Schools

Louisiana Science Education Strategy Under Development

South Florida Teachers Compete for Jeopardy! Spot

University System of Georgia Hires as Other State Agencies Shed Jobs

Court Fight Over Louisiana Vouchers Not Over Yet

Leaders Defend North Carolina Aerospace Jobs

Maryland Groundwater Dated to More Than 2 Million Years Old


Arkansas Ranchers, Farmers Cope with Drought

EPA’s Missouri List of Impaired Water Bodies Released for Comment

FOX News Claims Pollution Good for the Environment

Kentucky Mine Inspectors Lax in Harlan

Governors Put Off Health Care Questions For Now

Scott: Medicaid Expansion Off the Table, Passes Massive Corporate Tax Cut

Missouri Governor Takes ‘No’ Position on Medicaid Expansion

6 More Cases of West Nile Virus Detected in Louisiana

Virginia Eliminating Backlog in AIDS Drug Program

Why Brown Babies Need Sunscreen Too


2 Plead Guilty in Mississippi Chemotherapy Fraud Case

Capital Murder Trial Starts in Arkansas

Suspected North Carolina Animal Abusers Plead Not Guilty

Authorities Reopen 2007 Fondling Complaint Against West Virginia Bishop

Missouri Highway Patrol Increase Niangua River Enforcement

Tennessee Child Welfare System Reforms Continue

Electrical Issues Found Where Boys Died at E. Tennessee Marina

Agency Names South Carolina Trooper Who Shot Motorist

Body Found in North Carolina Search for Missing Ohio Mom

2 Bodies Found During Search for Missouri Sisters

North Carolina Police Chief Hits Suspects with Car

Florida Officer Shot, Wounded in 6-Hour Standoff

3 Face Charges for Stolen FBI Guns in Hattiesburg

Louisiana Escapee Arrested in Maine

Kansas Battery Case Dismissed Against North Carolina Solider

North Carolina Group Honored as Nation’s First Black Marines


Building Costs Rise at U.S. Nuclear Sites

Microbreweries Thrive in Mississippi

E. Kentucky Company Hopes Beets Fuel Ethanol Project

Low Natural Gas Prices May Draw Industries to Louisiana

Starbucks Starts Manufacturing Facility Construction in Georgia

Louisiana Citizens Sets Annual Katrina-Rita Bond Assessment

South Florida Salvage Firms Respond to Sea Emergencies

Louisiana Auto Dealers Prohibited from Sunday Sales

Grant Will Help Alabama Businesses Export Products

Mississippi Helicopter Plant Provides Model for Alabama Airbus Plant in Mobile

POLITICS For additional regional political coverage, visit our sister site: The Locust Fork News-Journal (TOP)

The Strange New Southern Politics: Court-Approved Biracial Accommodation

Florida Accesses Citizen Database for Voter Purge

Poker Plan Clears First Hurdle, Medical Marijuana Needs Additional Arkansas Signatures

North Carolina Beach Driving Ban Divides Critters, Residents

Georgia Voters Consider Penny Sales Tax for Roads

McDonnell: Virginia, Nation Would Do Better under Romney

Jindal Revamps GOP Image, May Be in Romney’s VP Mix

Lt. Governor Unaware When Jindal Leaves

North Carolina Losing Favor of Democrats

North Carolina Study Could Guide South Carolina Anti-Texting Legislation

South Carolina Stalls Georgia-South Carolina Bridge Progress

Tennessee Water Rights and Agenda 21 Corruption

Young Republicans Attempt to Increase North Carolina Turnout


A Good Week For Separation of Church and State

Alabama Judge Calls Private Prison a Debtor’s Prison, Extortion Racket

Louisiana Supreme Court Alters History

Arkansans Should Conserve Water

West Nile Virus Hits Central Louisiana in Worst Way

Troubling Prospects for North Carolina Dental Care

GOP’s Southern Strategy Gets a Makeover

Republicans and The Good Samaritan

Mississippi Revenue Collections Up, No Joy


Defenders of Honor Stand Guard for Fallen Pine Bluff Soldier

Photos courtesy of Aaron Etue
Flip Out Photography, (870) 370-0826

MONTICELLO, Ark. — As promised, a flashback to last weekend when a group of Arkansans mobilized in Pine Bluff, Ark.,  to defend the honor of a U.S. soldier whose funeral was targeted by the Westboro Baptist Church. Thanks to Aaron Etue of Flip Out Photography, we can show you the scene.

First a little background in case you didn’t read the first post. Vilonia High School math teacher John Allison, a former Marine and friend, organized folks through a facebook public event to fight the hate of WBC with love toward the family.

Within 36 hours, 126 people pledged to attend and stand up for the honor of fallen Arkansas soldier, Army Sgt. Michael J. Strachota. Allison estimated more than 200 people (including the Patriot Guard riders) showed in support of Sgt. Strachota and his family.

“It was an awesome sight,” Allison said in a facebook email exchange. “That many people, most of whom didn’t know the Strachotas at all, standing in the hot sun to honor him and his family. Several elderly people stood on the flag line until they almost collapsed, but each time another person quickly came to their aid and another took their place in line.”

Rumors placed WBC protestors at the White Hall Huddle House — a call to boycott the business received lukewarm response on the facebook page — but Allison only knew of three who protested at 6th and Main, down the street from the memorial service. The heat also forced some people to stay home though they’d pledged to come. Allison said the crowd thinned once the mass began.

Etue shot these photographs for posterity, but luckily he is willing to share here. Click on the photo to see the full-sized image.


Group Plans to Shield Soldier’s Service

An Arkansas high school teacher’s facebook page to “Preserve the Honor of Fallen Pine Bluff Soldier” plans to buffer funeral participants from a Westboro Baptist Church protest Saturday afternoon at Pine Bluff’s St. Joseph Catholic Church.

John Allison, a 44-year-old former Marine who teaches math at Vilonia High School, started the page Friday afternoon; by midnight, 62 of the more than 1,800 invitees confirmed they would attend with an additional 31 maybes. (UPDATE: Those attending topped 100 by 10:30 CST this morning.)

The stated goal of attendees is to keep the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., from disrupting the memorial service for fallen Arkansas soldier, Sgt. Michael J. Strachota of the U.S. Army. Strachota died June 24 in Afghanistan, a week and a half prior to a scheduled home leave on July 5.

“Please join us to peaceably make certain these disrespectful hatemongers are far enough removed they cannot disrupt the service or upset the family and friends,” Allison writes. “Help us prevent this so-called church from dishonoring this man’s honorable service and sacrifice.”

A press release indicates WBC will preach “in respectful, lawful proximity” that God kills American soldiers as punishment for sin. The flier uses incendiary language about military personnel, including the phrase, “Thank God for IEDs.”

In stark contrast, Allison provided five ground rules for those providing a “shield”:

“1. This will be a peaceful undertaking. We are certainly not here to cause a scene that will cause more of a disturbance than WBC. Our goal is not to shout, scream, or strike those gathered with WBC.
“2. Do not bring weapons of any kind: no guns, knives, mace, pepper spray, or anything else you might be tempted to use as a weapon.
“3. Our goal is to get enough people together to shield those attending the memorial service from the WBC protesters.
“4. Flags, crosses, crucifixes, other symbols of patriotism and religion are welcome. If you wish to make signs, they should have only positive messages honoring the courage and sacrifice, nothing derogatory or demeaning toward any person or group. Remember, we are there to help honor Sgt. Strachota, not to protest or make a political statement.
“5. We have now learned the Patriot Guard will be at the service also. They do this all the time at military funerals across the country so we will fall in with them and follow their lead.”

According to the Patriot Guard Riders’ website, the motorcycle enthusiasts “standing for those who stood for us” will also be in attendance. The group warns participants to hydrate; the Weather Channel predicts it will be 95-96 degrees by the 1 p.m. start, though the 46 percent humidity will make it feel like 104.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: Allison and the reporter attended Northeast High School in the late ’80s.)