by YES! Staff

N&R forces employees to take unpaid leave

Blogger Ed Cone broke the story of how the News & Record in Greensboro is reducingpayroll costs by forcing employees to take five unpaid days off per year, beginning onFeb. 16. The news comes in a leaked memo from publisher Robin Saul to employees.Saul tells employees that “the actual performance of our revenues has been worsethan expected,” requiring the work-hours reduction — a tactic widely used during theDepression by companies seeking to avoid layoffs. Saul also announces a wage freeze,which should come as no surprise, although “employees who are promoted or whotake on significantly larger responsibilities in a restructuring may be considered formore pay, since we need to work more efficiently in a leaner organizational structure.”Longtime N&R scold Beau D. Jackson was the first to weigh in on Cone’s post, opining that the newspaper’s liberal bias is to blame for its financial woes. I somehow doubt that co-opting The Rhinoceros Times is the answer to the daily newspaper’s financial problems, but should John Robinson & Co. opt to take that route, we at YES! Weekly would welcome it. — JG

Virtual unrest

Where were you when Barack Obama became president? At least a dozen citizens were hounding the website of local conservative blogger Dr. Joe Guarino ( Staten Island native Guarino lit the firestorm with an 11:45 a.m. post, “The Inauguration: A Day of Mourning,” in which he warned of forthcoming abortions, European-style democratic socialism and vulnerability to Islamic terrorism. Guarino responded to his own post at 12:37 p.m. with a reminder that Obama is “very likely not a natural born citizen.” By 1:10 p.m. Billy the Blogging Poet posted the first liberal response, sarcastically thanking neocons for causing a backlash against the right. As the afternoon wore on, things really heated up. “Do you believe Obama is a 21ST Century Hitler?” Beau D. Jackson asked at 4 p.m., adding, “The Liberals need to infiltrate into the military on a larger scale, maybe Obama’s ‘open gay’ policy is a beginning!” The Voice of Reason countered: “It is clear that this blog is where intelligence goes to die… When you are done drowning in your bitter tears come join the rest of the country at the big kids table.” Battle recessed at 11:04 p.m., and resumed at 7:28 a.m. the next day, starting with a skirmish between Stormy and Ged over Obama’s birth certificate. No winner has yet been declared, so keep reading. — GL

The new New South

During a college internship at Southern Exposure in Durham in 1997, the magazine ran a feature called “Still the South” by Mary Lee Kerr that was about things distinctly Southern such as kudzu, beach music and whiskey. I later served as a fiction editor, associate researcher and still contribute as a freelancer to the Institute for Southern Studies, which publishes the magazine (now exclusively online). We had a running discussion: Is the South still a distinct region? Or is it becoming indistinguishable from the rest of the nation? Which parts remain Southern and which parts are not? Diane Roberts tests that question against the outcome of the 2008 election in a think piece in the Jan. 22 issue of the St. Petersburg Times. “The dissed, deflated and diminished South is fast becoming conventional wisdom,” she writes. “The Southernization of American politics is ‘absolutely over,’ according to Thomas Schaller, author of the 2006 book Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.” A particularly nettlesome issue for Southern political observers across the spectrum is that, as Roberts notes, “Obama’s cabinet will have the fewest Southerners since the Kennedy administration.” But my friend, Chris Kromm, from the Institute for Southern Studies, contends that Obama’s lack of Southern appointees is out of step with the nation’s regional trends, noting that 10 out of 13 Southern states boosted voter turnout in

2008, and Obama’s biggest losses among white voters took place in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, not in the states of the Old Confederacy. Harmonizing with Kromm, Roberts says the South is urbanizing faster than anywhere else, and attracting an increasing number of Latinos. And Kromm tells Roberts: “There will be hiccups, there will be backsliding. The South will not be on a straight line up to enlightenment. But the overall trend is change. We are changing.— JG