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    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Is it Dearbornistan?

Ignorant comments about 'sharia law' in Dearborn get a thorough debunking

Hating on Muslims seems to be very popular these days among the politically conservative set, as in the controversy over the so-called "Ground Zero mosque." And one of the objects of that hate seems to be the alleged creeping influence of sharia.

Sharia is the sacred law of Islam, although there are different interpretations of that law within different schools of Islamic thought. However, just as Christian beliefs have an impact on American laws, sharia influences the legal systems of most predominantly Muslim countries.

A lot of that hating comes to Dearborn, since that city has one of the largest, most concentrated, populations of Arabic people outside the Middle East. Of Dearborn's 100,000 residents, about 30,000 are Arabic or of Arabic descent. Some 60 percent — about 20,000 people — of them are Muslim; the rest are mostly Christian. Since hating on Muslims is so in vogue, Dearborn is catching attention from near and far.

For instance, recently Sharron Angle, a Republican Senate candidate in Nevada, said: "Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas, are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not sharia law. And I don't know how that happened in the United States. It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States."

Whoa! There was no comment from Frankford, which ceased to exist during the 1970s, but Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly emphatically denies being under sharia, according to an open letter he wrote to Angle, in which he invited her to see how aw-shucks, American-as-apple-pie the city is. After all, Dearborn has the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village and a satellite campus of the University of Michigan. Indeed, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have given speeches there. And, here's the clincher, he said that many Muslims in Dearborn "participate in Christian holiday activities."

O'Reilly, apparently a foolish puppet of the jihadists, pointed out that Dearborn was just misunderstood. "I don't blame you entirely for misunderstanding Dearborn," he wrote. "The international, national and even regional media haven't always painted an accurate picture of Dearborn. ... We are often used to provide visual accompaniment to global news items, even if they are unconnected to our community."

See, it was just a big misunderstanding. I called over to O'Reilly's office to see if he could elaborate on the subject but Department of Public Information Director Mary Laundroche told me they were sticking by the letter as what O'Reilly has to say on the subject.

What if Angle did come to Dearborn? What would she see? Well if she'd shown up last Friday she could have seen gubernatorial candidates Virg Bernero and Rick Snyder speaking at the American Arab Chamber of Commerce annual banquet. On the one hand, this could be seen as a wonderful participation in the political process.

But the conservatives know what's really going on. Blogger Debbie Schlussel, a lawyer, journalist and former Republican candidate for the state House from Oakland County, wrote that the candidates were speaking at an "anti-Israel dinner honoring Hamas fundraiser," as she phrased it in a headline.

She refers to the city as Dearbornistan, dismisses Bernero as a "radical Democrat," and adds some special venom for Snyder, saying, "I had planned on voting for Rick Snyder, the Republican candidate for Governor in Michigan. But, now, I will simply throw away my vote and cast it for the Libertarian candidate, whoever he or she is. That both candidates of major parties are at this dinner tells me there is little principle in either of these men. Once he's elected, I and my clients have a few plans for Mr. Snyder vis-a-vis the Muslim extremists with whom he'll hang tomorrow night. And it will be via the court system, the only place where he'll be forced to respond and might be held accountable."

Maybe it's not so easy to be a so-called, Republican moderate, which is how Snyder is characterized. I called over to the chamber, but they said they were too busy getting ready for their banquet to discuss sharia with me.

If Angle were to visit Dearborn she might notice a substantial number of women wearing the hijab, a head covering, even if many Muslims have adopted "popular styles in their dress" as O'Reilly said in his letter. She would see numerous restaurants and stores touting that they have halal products. Halal is an Arabic word that means "permissible," referring to food that has been properly prepared according to Islamic rules, and which contains no forbidden products. It is not very different from the Jewish kosher rules. In fact, the two sets of regulations are so similar that observant Muslims have been known to eat at kosher restaurants in order to satisfy their eating requirements.

Serving halal food where there are a lot of people who eat it makes good business sense. In 2008, a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Dearborn began serving finger-lickin' chicken halal-style (which mostly has to do with how the chickens are killed and drained of blood).

The conservative blogosphere responded to that with some choice hating. On a site called Bare Naked Islam, this was hailed as a sign of how "Muslim immigration and liberal multiculturalism have destroyed Detroit." Another blogger, Pat Dollard, seems to have Photoshopped a picture of Osama bin Laden next to the bearded Colonel Sanders icon as he decried that first Wal-Mart had catered to Muslims by going halal, and now KFC.

Don't these conservatives know that business drives our economy and that everything done to drive up revenue is all right?

But had Angle heard this one, I think it would have put her over the top. In August, during Ramadan — when devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown — the football team at Dearborn's Fordson High School practiced from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. because most of its players are Muslim and wouldn't have been able to drink water during the afternoon. That seems to make sense; no need killing those young men in the August sun (and Fordson went 7-2 this season — not bad). However, it's just another example of sharia creeping into America.

Then there's New Yorker Pamela Geller — called "the firebrand in chief" who galvanized national opposition to "the Ground Zero mega-mosque" on her Atlas Shrugged blog — who also seems to have it in for Dearborn. She put it this way in a recent interview: "It's a drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. ... These demands are a way of imposing Islam on a secular society. Asking for prayer space in public schools for Muslim children is imposing Islam. If the child is religious, send them to madrassa. If you don't want to handle meat that's not halal, don't become a cashier at Target or Wal-Mart."

I'm not mad at Dearborn or its people for being Muslims. Once upon a time Dearborn was known for being racist against blacks. In decades past, black Detroiters avoided going to Dearborn because to do that was courting trouble. Black people couldn't buy homes in Dearborn. Those days seem to be over, but apparently the days of hatred are still here.

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