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No need to wait for Newt Gingrich’s “tax-free” Detroit vision to take a chance on the city

Workers cleaning up a statue by Marshall Fredericks titled 'The Spirit of Detroit.'
Posted on June 25, 2010 by | Midwest Travel | No Comments

Detroit has always been a trailblazer. Even when it comes to being the first to crash the economy. So, it’s no surprise that the city — which now ranks as the first metropolis in U.S. history to see its population drop below 1 million — has become a cautionary tale. For some, of big business; for others, “bad” government. The latest to weigh in is Newt Gingrich. The other week, the former Speaker of the House offered this eye-opening suggestion for the city’s woes: Make it a total tax-free zone. For 10 years. I’m not saying he’s right, and I’m…

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Confederate History Month: Sparks fly at Battle of Selma re-enactment

Posted on April 25, 2010 by | Southeast Travel | One Comment

SELMA, Ala. — Fake guns go off like firecrackers on the Fourth of July. But there’s no cheering here, not from the crowd gathered at the edge of this field in Selma, Ala. They’re here to watch the Civil War reenactment up ahead. Many are seated in lawn chairs, others on wooden bleachers, or blankets. For this crowd, this is no occasion for a hooting, howling good time. This is serious. This is important. This is their moment to experience history. Their history. There’s an element of defiance in the air. Like the sulfur from the fake gunfire and cannons…

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Martin Luther King’s defining moment: A kitchen, in Montgomery, Alabama, past midnight

Dexter Parsonage Martin Luther King
Posted on January 18, 2010 by | Southeast Travel | 9 Comments

Well before the March on Washington. Or his “I have a Dream” speech. There was a defining moment for Martin Luther King, Jr. And it came past midnight, in a kitchen, at 309 South Jackson Street, in Montgomery, Alabama. King was 27 years old, two years into his role as pastor of nearby Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Over the past month, King had been leading the Montgomery bus boycott, a decision that set off a series of death threats delivered via mail and phone to his residence — as many as 30 to 40 calls daily, often at night. Normally,…

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Inside Detroit’s Jeanette Pierce dares you: Fall in love with Detroit (yes, Detroit)

She's got a thing for Detroit: Inside Detroit's Jeanette Pierce
Posted on January 16, 2010 by | Midwest Travel | One Comment

Jeanette Pierce was feeling a little tired the other morning. Then she got to talking. About Detroit. Watch out! “I get really excited,” said Pierce, by phone. “Detroit’s kind of my drug of choice … I’m not allowed to have caffeine and talk about Detroit at the same time.” Before we go any further, let’s get a few things off the table. Yes, Pierce lives in Detroit, and yes, she “loves” it. But, no, she’s not stuck here. “People think we must be here because we can’t sell our homes,” says Pierce. “That is not the case. If you gave…

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Obama’s political roots: Lyndon Johnson’s Texas White House helps tell the story

"All the world is welcome here." LBJ points the way to his ranch, Sept 1963 (Photo by: Volkmar K. Wentzel)
Posted on January 5, 2010 by | Southwest Travel | 3 Comments

STONEWALL, Texas — There’s something wistful about this place: a sprawling 600-acre property along the Pedernales River in central Texas. More than 35 years after Lyndon Johnson’s death, the LBJ Ranch — or “Texas White House,” as it came to be known because of the large amount of time Johnson spent here during his presidency — still bears his imprint. His glasses rest on a desk in the main house. His prized Lincoln Continentals, beneath a carport canopy. The ranch itself still operates, with nearly 100 Hereford cattle that descend from the same line of livestock Johnson once raised. Then…

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