by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

Sept. 11 commemoration and volunteer activities

Sept. 11 commemoration activities will include a number of volunteer opportunities at the White Oak Amphitheater in the coliseum complex on Sept. 11 from 4 to 6 p.m., including a ramp build hosted by Housing Greensboro, a wall build hosted by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro and food drive sorting activity hosted by the Servant Center and Greensboro Urban Ministry. For more information about volunteer opportunities in Greensboro, visit

The Greensboro Fire Department hosts a memorial ceremony in honor of fallen firefighters and military service members at 2 p.m. at Fire Station 1, located at 1514 N. Church St.

The Friends Center at Guilford College presents a panel discussion entitled “Ten Years After:

Academic Reflections on 9/11 at 7 p.m. at the Joseph Bryan Jr. Auditorium. Panelists include Eric Mortensen, Zhihong Chen, Daniel Rhodes, Ken Gilmore, Bob Williams, Parveen Hasanali and Jeremy Rinker.

Volunteer opportunities hosted by Hands On Northwest North Carolina in Winston-Salem include beautification, gardening, painting and house construction. For more information visit

Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment, or CHANGE, hosts a 10 th anniversary event at the Community Mosque of Winston-Salem, located at 1419 Waughtown St., at 4 p.m. The event is described as “an open declaration of our belief in the promise, possibility and power of religious communities to pursue a common good and to care for one another as neighbors sharing life in the same city.” — JG

Federal judge levies $28 million judgment against RJ Reynolds

Last week, a federal judge harshly criticized RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company for its legal defense in an appeal of an earlier judgment in favor of Barbara Izzarelli, a Connecticut woman, who smoked Salem King cigarettes for 25 years before being diagnosed with larynx cancer at the age of 36.

US District Court Judge Stefan R. Underhill denied RJ Reynolds’ motion for a new trial, according to a press release from the Public Health Advocacy Institute. In the case of Izzarelli v. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co., a Connecticut judge determined in May that RJ Reynolds was 58 percent responsible for Izzarelli’s injuries and Izzarelli was 42 percent responsible for her injuries, and upheld Izzarelli’s claims of strict liability and negligence on RJ Reyonlds part. Judge Underhill took issue with RJ Reynolds’ appeal. The amended judgment that originally included punitive damages $4 million ended up totaling more than $28 million with interest.

“RJ Reynolds’ motion for a new trial or for judgment as a matter of law raises a myriad of claims, issues and arguments,” Underhill said in his ruling. “Many of the assertions made in support of its motion fail the straight-face test and rely on a wholly inaccurate description of the trial record. Although this ruling does not address every one of RJ Reynolds’ arguments, I have considered them all and find them to be merit-less.” — KTB

GTA ridership on the rise

Greensboro Transportation Director Adam Fischer reports in a Sept. 2 memo to City Manager Rashad Young that ridership in the city’s bus system jumped by 10 percent in fiscal year 2010-2011, the highest increase in 20 years. The Greensboro Transit Authority facilitated 4.4 million trips last year, most of which involved travel to work or school. Fischer said ridership has quadrupled since 1990. Among the routes that saw the biggest jumps was one that serves the West Wendover retail area south of Interstate 40.