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Darryl Fears reports:

Giant urban sprawl could pave over thousands of acres of forest and agriculture, connecting Raleigh to Atlanta by 2060, if growth continues at its current pace, according to a newly released research paper from the U.S. Geological Survey.

“We could be looking at a seamless corridor of urban development,” said Adam Terando, a research ecologist with the USGS and an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University who was the study’s lead author.

The development will engulf land from North Carolina to Georgia, and possibly spread to Birmingham, Ala., “if we continue to develop urban areas in the Southeast the way we have for the past 60 years,” he said.

The New York Times reports:

Vincent Harding, a historian, author and activist who wrote one of the most polarizing speeches ever given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in which Dr. King expressed ardent opposition to the Vietnam War, died on Monday in Philadelphia. He was 82. …
In the early ’60s, Dr. Harding and his wife, the former Rosemarie Freeney, moved to Atlanta, where they established Mennonite House, an integrated community center. …
In Atlanta, Dr. Harding joined the department of history and sociology at Spelman College, becoming the department chairman. At the same time, he contributed speeches for Dr. King.

Maria Saporta reports:

Ted Turner, the former owner of the Atlanta Braves, finally let the world know Wednesday that he would not have moved the baseball team to Cobb County. …

Asked why he was against the move, Turner said: “It’s tradition. I never would have done it. They tried to get me to move the Hawks and I didn’t do it.”

If the Braves move to Cobb County as planned, then Major League Baseball should put an American League team in Turner Field. At least that’s the vision and the crusade — some might say the wild pitch — of Mike McDonald, a long-time Atlanta advertising executive and baseball fan.
Tim Tucker, reporting in The Journal-Constitution: Ad man pitches AL team for Turner Field | www.myajc.com

Less than two weeks after a federal judge declared Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, a new effort has been launched in the South seeking to build wider acceptance of gay and lesbian couples in the hope of overturning similar bans across the region.

The $1 million effort will be focused on field organizing and sharing the stories of gay couples through local community and business events as well as social media in 14 Southern states.

The key, supporters say, will be to share stories like those of Linda Ellis and her partner, Lesley Brogan, who appeared at Monday’s event. The two have been together since 1988 and are raising their sons John, 15, and Sam, 12, in Decatur, Ga.

"They will tell you we are just like any other old married couple," Ellis said. "They will tell you that, and it’s not true. Not yet. And we’re ready for it to be."

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was among those kicking off the “Southerners for the Freedom to Marry” campaign Monday, saying he believes gay marriage supporters are on the “right side of history.”

"This is about a trajectory. This is about the fact that marriage equality is on an irreversible path toward being legalized across the United States of America," said Reed, who spoke of his initial reluctance to move from civil unions to supporting gay marriage based on religious reasons.

Georgia and the 13 other states targeted in the campaign all have either a constitutional or statutory provision defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and Republicans still hold considerable sway in those states.

A news anchor at an Atlanta television station on Monday destroyed conservatives who lashed out a Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial because it included people from different cultures and different sexual orientations singing “America the Beautiful” in multiple languages.

Following Coca-Cola’s inclusive Super Bowl advertisement on Sunday night, racist remarks erupted on Twitter and conservatives like Glenn Beck accused the company of trying to “divide people.”

“Coca-Cola has always been about inclusion,” WXIA’s Brenda Woods noted during her “Last Word” segment on Monday’s newscast. “But the fact that people are outraged over this ad is outrageous itself. People indignant that others would have the audacity to sing ‘America the Beautiful’ in a language other than English, when America was built on opening its arms to the world?”

“The quote on the Statue of Liberty doesn’t say ‘give me your English-speaking only, Christianity-believing, heterosexual masses.’ It says ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses tempest-tost,’” she continued. “Have we forgotten that every one of us ‘Americans’ except for Native Americans, are descendants of foreigners? That the English language is from England?”

Courtney Siceloff was a devout Quaker who did a lot of good during his lifetime, but he never shrank from pointing out what was not good.

He was a dedicated protester for decades. Into his 80s he was a familiar figure at the corner of 14th and Peachtree streets holding a sign that read, ”War is not the answer,” even getting arrested for trespassing to call attention to what he called his “witnessing against injustice.”

“We looked to Courtney for guidance in turbulent times and times of joy. His integrity, his pursuit of justice, his commitment to nonviolence and his Quaker capacity to find the good in everyone were luminous beacons to us all,” said one of his fellow American Friends Service Committee members, former AFSC regional director Elizabeth Enloe of New York City. Courtney Parker Siceloff, 92, died Tuesday at Hospice Savannah of respiratory failure.

Courtney Siceloff, a long-time resident of Atlanta, was one of the people who made the city — and the South — a better place.

Robert A. Pastor, a Latin America specialist who was a top U.S. negotiator of the 1977 Panama Canal treaties, and who through scholarship and diplomacy sought to strengthen U.S. relations with countries to the south, died Jan. 8 at his home in Washington. He was 66.

The cause was colon cancer, said his son, Kip Pastor.

In a varied career lasting nearly four decades, Dr. Pastor became a trusted adviser to presidents, a respected figure in foreign affairs and a prolific academic.

He rose to perhaps his most influential role right out of graduate school at Harvard in 1977, when Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s newly named national security adviser, hired Dr. Pastor as the National Security Council’s director of Latin American and Caribbean affairs.

Bob Pastor also was a respected professor at Atlanta’s Emory University.

My memories take me back to when I was a child in India, to class IV current events class, where I first learned about the cruelty and viciousness of apartheid. And then to my days at Florida State University, where I protested apartheid and urged divestment. The demonstrations over investments in South Africa matured me in so many ways. To February 11, 1990, when Mandela was released from prison. I could not take my eyes away from CNN, tears streaming down my face. It was as all the world had been freed. To the day in 2010 when I finally visited South Africa. Soweto and Robben Island were my two top destinations.

I stood in Mandela’s cell. Tried to imagine…

What a tower of a man he was. His name was synonymous with words that describe the very best of mankind. Courage. Virtue. Goodness. Strength. Love. Dedication. Honesty. Conviction. Fortitude. Brilliance. Soulful.

Moni Basu, Atlanta-based journalist for CNN, in her blog post: Rest in Peace, Madiba | Evil Reporter Chick
We are … conscious that here in the southern part of the country, you have experienced the degradation of racial segregation. We continue to be inspired by the knowledge that in the face of your own difficulties, you are in the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement in this country.

Nelson Mandela speaking to a crowd of more than 50,000 people at Georgia Tech’s Grant Field in Atlanta in 1990. He’s quoted in Nelson Mandela’s 1990 visit to Atlanta | www.ajc.com

I was there, I’m happy to say.

(via tartantambourine)