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Archive for December, 2011

Lowe’s stands by decision to pull ads

Monday, December 12th, 2011

AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Lowe’s is planning to stick by its decision to yank its ads from a reality TV show about American Muslims despite the growing opposition the home improvement chain is facing over the move.

California Sen. Ted Lieu put a statement out on Sunday that he is considering calling for a boycott of Lowe’s Cos., sparking criticism of the chain from both inside and outside of the Muslim community.

On social media web site Twitter, actor Kal Penn began directing people to a petition on signon.org in support of the TLC cable network show, “All-American Muslim.” By Monday afternoon, there were about 9,200 signatures.

On Monday, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who is Muslim, released a statement condemning Lowe’s for choosing “to uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group and not the creed of The First Amendment.”

And Democratic state Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, the first Muslim elected to the Michigan Legislature, voiced her concerns directly with the company. She wrote a letter to Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock.

“I told them I was extremely disappointed that you give credibility to these hate groups,” Tlaib said. “People of Muslim faith are being attacked. It’s disappointing, disheartening.”

Meanwhile, Lowe’s, based in Mooresville, said it stands by its Sunday statement that it pulled the ads after the show became a “lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives – political, social and otherwise.” The company also said that “dozens” of other advertisers pulled their advertising from the show.

“All-American Muslim” premiered last month and chronicles the lives of five families who live in and near Dearborn, MI, a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population. TLC spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said “All-American Muslim,” which airs on Mondays on TLC and ends its first season on Jan. 8, has
garnered a little over a million viewers per week.

“We stand behind the show ‘All-American Muslim,’ and we’re happy the show has strong advertising support,” she said.

Lowe’s stopped running commercials during “All-American Muslim” after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Association e-mailed companies to ask them to stop advertising on the show. The group said the program is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

Florida Family Association, based in Tampa, said that more than 60 advertisers that it e-mailed, from Amazon to McDonalds, have also stopped advertising on the show. But so far, Lowe’s is the only major company to confirm that it pulled ads from the show.

Amazon and McDonald’s and other advertisers did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Meanwhile, Atlanta-based Home Depot, which was cited by Florida Family Association as a company that stopped advertising, said Monday it never intended to run any ads during the show. But spokesman Stephen Holmes said one commercial ran “inadvertently and without our knowledge.”

The controversy highlights the fine line companies must walk when they select shows to advertise on.

Branding expert Laura Ries said Lowe’s made two mistakes. The first was advertising during a show that could be construed as controversial. The second was pulling advertising too quickly.

“For a big national brand like Lowe’s, they’ve always got to be incredibly careful when advertising during any show that could be deemed controversial,” she said. “Will it seriously damage the brand in the long term? Probably not. But it is a serious punch in the stomach.”

Overall, analysts said the furor is unlikely to damage Lowe’s brand in the long term.

“For a company that generates $50 billion in annual revenue, I don’t view this as something that will have a meaningful impact,” said Morningstar analyst Peter Wahlstrom. “I’m hopeful this blows over and I’m certain management is as well.”

Still, some worry Lowe’s ad flap could do damage to Muslims living in the Metro Detroit area.

Florida pastor Terry Jones held an anti-Islam rally earlier this year outside Dearborn City Hall after being barred from protesting outside a Muslim mosque in the city. A burning of the Quran in March at Jones’s church in Florida led to a series of violent protests in Afghanistan that killed more than a dozen people.

“Metro Detroit and Dearborn have been the focal point of a number of anti-Muslim movements,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter. “There are organized forces in our society that want to marginalize American Muslims to the point where they don’t want to see any portrayals of Muslims that regular Americans can connect to.”

Corey Williams in Detroit, Rachel Zoll in New York and Mitch Stacy in Tampa contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Reward offered in search for Southport bank robber

Monday, December 12th, 2011

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — Police in Southport are looking for a man who robbed a bank this afternoon. Southoprt Police Chief Jerry Dove says it happened about 1:55 p.m. at the First Citizens Bank at Howe and W. West Streets.

Dove says a man witnesses say was six feet tall walked in wearing a hoodie, mask, gloves and blue jeans. Dove says the man handed a teller a note that said, “Give me all your money. No one will get hurt. I have a gun.”

After getting money, the man ran out of the bank down W. West Street toward Lord Street. Dove says a citizens followed the man in his car before losing the suspect behind some homes.

Investigators are using a dog and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office helicopter to search for the suspect. Chief Dove says their is a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: County doubts new equipment led to problem with 911 calls during fire

Monday, December 12th, 2011

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A family from Columbus County lost their home along with all of their possessions last week in a house fire. As you saw FIRST ON 3 this weekend, Brian and Amy Smith say they repeatedly called 911 during the fire, but could not get in touch with an operator. Now Columbus County Emergency Management says it is investigating what happened.

“We’re in the process of investigating that,” Columbus County Emergency Services Director Jeremy Jernigan said. “We’ve been trying to make contact with all the folks that called and follow up. This is really important for us to determine what happened so we can prevent it from ever happening again.”

Fire destroyed the Smith family’s home Wednesday. They say they were lucky to get out safely.

When the couple got out, they repeatedly called 911. They say all they heard on the line were automated error messages. Neighbors called and had a similar issue.

Columbus County Emergency Services say it has never encountered a problem like this before and it is working hard to figure out what happened. The 911 Center just started using new equipment last week, but Jernigan says that probably was not the issue.

“At this point in time I wouldn’t say that there’s a problem with our equipment or that there is a problem with equipment,” he said. “We are going to do our investigation and let that determine it.”

The Smiths family hopes that this investigation will help the county to avoid anything like this in the future, but they are still upset saying for them it’s just too little too late.

“I am frustrated, disappointed,” Amy Smith said. “I mean it shouldn’t take all of this to get the ball rolling, but sometimes it does take things like this. At least they are checking into it now, but it’s still a little to late.”

Amidst all the heartache, Amy gave birth to a little boy just two days after the fire. The Smiths say his health is the most important thing at this point, and that possibly suing the county is on the back burner.

“I hope it don’t come to that, but you can’t ever tell,” Brian Smith said. “I mean I’d love to have my house back, but that’s out of the question, so the question is what’s next.”

The Smiths still do not know how much money they will receive from their insurance company. The Pleasant Plains Baptist Church is collecting donations.

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Victims’ relatives differ on death row bill

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Family members of murder victims are meeting with North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue in hopes of persuading her to make a decision on a bill that would essentially repeal a 2009 law designed to address alleged racial bias in death penalty cases.

Several relatives of murder victims who want Perdue to veto the bill met with the governor on Monday morning. But other victims’ relatives support the repeal, and planned to go to the old Capitol building in the afternoon.

The Legislature last month approved the legislation that does away with key provisions of the Racial Justice Act. The 2009 law allows death row inmates to use statistics in a new type of court hearing to argue racial bias played a role in their sentences.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Southport bank robbed

Monday, December 12th, 2011

The First Citizens Bank in Southport was robbed by a masked man at 1:55 p.m. Monday.

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News provided by WWAY NewsChannel 3 and the StarNewsOnline

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