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South Carolina Removes Battle Flag From Statehouse Dome

    Following decades of debate and rising pressure from the NAACP, South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag from its Statehouse dome on Saturday, July 1, in a somber ceremony that drew crowds of protestors and flag supporters.

    The flag has flown over the Capitol building for the last 38 years, a symbol that many considered South Carolina's rebellion against the civil rights movement. For others the flag symbolized the state's Southern heritage.

    Two Citadel cadets, one black and one white removed the flag, promptly turning it over to Gov. Jim Hodges. Cadets from the Citadel participated in the confederate line that first fired on Ft. Sumter, starting the Civil War. The flag is to be turned over for display in the South Carolina State Museum.

    As the flag was being retired members of the Palmetto Brigade, a Civil War re-enactment group, marched from the Statehouse toting the battle flag that was to be raised on a newly erected 30-foot flagpole. The flagpole stands behind a 38-foot tall Confederate Soldier Monument near the most visible approach to the Capitol. As the flag was raised some in the crowd cheered.

    The relocation of the flag is still upsetting to some opponents. The NAACP's tourism boycott is credited with stimulating the public pressure that led to the flags removal from the Statehouse dome. That day, nearly 750 of the NAACP's supporters marched silently past the Capitol before the ceremonies. James Gallman, the state's NAACP president, called the flag's new position a "moral lynching."

    Throughout the day numbers in the crowd swelled to 3,000, many were supporters of the flag, including state Sen. Bill Branton. He called the compromise "the biggest mistake we've ever made in this General Assembly." He promised to lead efforts to return the flag to the Capitol dome.

    NAACP officials said sanctions against Georgia and Mississippi, for their use of the Confederate flag, would be discussed at the upcoming national meeting in Baltimore.
Dickey Betts Enters Drug Treatment Center

Dickey Betts Photo
    Dickey Betts, lead guitarist and songwriter for the Allman Brothers Band, was committed to a drug-treatment center in Sarasota after threatening to kill himself, according to Sarasota County sheriff's deputies.

    According to police reports, Betts' wife, Donna phoned a friend who is Sarasota County officer. The officer came to the house and found Betts, who may have been drunk, wielding a knife and "in a highly agitated state."

    After the officer removed Donna Betts from the house, he called for backup. When three other officers arrived they discovered Betts had left the house. A helicopter and search dog could not locate him. Betts later called home on a cellular phone, saying he would be staying elsewhere. The call was untraceable.

    A second call from Betts netted success for the officers as the call was traced to anther home. Betts was located and taken to a treatment center for stabilization.

    Betts had recently been removed from the Allman Brothers Band summer lineup. The band cited "personal and health" problems for the reason of Betts removal from the band.
South Carolina Votes Down Battle Flag

    The Confederate battle flag has flown over the South Carolina Statehouse for the last 38 years. As of July 1, it will no longer.

   Both houses passed a resolution May 18 calling for the removal of the battle from atop the Capitol dome. In what can be only called a compromise, a smaller version of the flag will be flown atop a 30-foot pole next to a slightly taller monument to slain Confederate soldiers just steps away from the front of the Capitol building.

    The bill passed the Senate with a resounding majority vote of 37 to 8. It was not so solid in the House, where the bill gathered 66 of the 109 votes cast.

    "Now all of South Carolina can be a part of a great day, of a great coming together of our citizens," said Senator Robert Ford, a Democrat from Charleston. "All of us should be proud, and I think the coming together of the members of the General Assembly should be the coming together of every citizen in South Carolina."

    The NAACP is still calling for a full tourism boycott until the flag is completely removed from the Capitol grounds. The organization may expand the boycott to include discouraging organized-labor events and filmmaking in the state.

    The battle flag has flown over the Capitol dome since 1962, when a then all-white legislature raised it as a clear signal showing resentment and opposition to a rising civil rights movement.
Shark Attacks Two Men Off Alabama Beach

    Two men were attacked by sharks in the shallow water off a Gulf Shores beach on June 10 making this Alabama's first recorded shark attack in 25 years, only the second since 1900.

    The attack forced the closing of a 30-mile section of beach to swimmers during the height of tourist. The attack occurred around 6:25 a.m., one man lost his arm in the attack, both victims are in stable condition.

    The men were attacked while training for a triathlon. The victims where pulled out of the surf near the beach's most popular bar, the Pink Pony Pub.

    "Oh, my God, you should have seen it. Blood everywhere," a construction worker who witnessed the attack told The Associated Press.
Two Charged in 1963 Birmingham Bombing
Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton Jr.

    The scars formed after the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham that killed four black girls may begin to heal. Two men have surrendered to authorities after an Alabama grand jury indicted them on murder charges.

    The dynamite explosion, which occurred in the churches basement injured 22 members and killed four girls, shocked the nation and led many Southerners to view violent resistance to integration in a new light.

    Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton Jr., both longtime suspects in the case, where formally charged on four counts of first-degree murder by a special state grand jury according to District Attorney David Barber.

    Cherry and Blanton turned themselves in to face the charges and are being held without bond. Cherry had been brought back to Alabama in April to face charges that he sexually abused his stepdaughter 30 years ago.

    The U.S. Attorney's office has failed to commit on any new evidence that has been collected in the case. There is also no clear indication of when the case will go to trial.
Hunters paid to look for Rudolph

    In an increased effort to locate serial bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph, the FBI is paying hunters and other outdoorsmen in North Carolina to look for signs of the experienced backwoodsman.

    The payments, which range in size from $15 to $20 an hour have so far failed to bring authorities any closer to capturing Rudolph.

    "They wanted to find someone who was willing to go up on the ridge tops at night and listen," said Lt. Mike Stevens of the North Carolina Wildlife Commission told The Associated Press. "They only wanted locals who knew the lay of the land."

    Rudolph has been charged in three Atlanta-area bombings, including the fatal bombing in Olympic Park in 1996. He is also a suspect in a January 1998 bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic in which a policeman died and a nurse was maimed.
Dickey Betts Fired from Allman Brothers Band?

    Citing "creative differences," The Allman Brothers Band has temporarily removed founding member Dickey Betts from the group's lineup. Betts will not be playing with be band as it begins touring this summer.

    Betts' replacement for the summer tour will be Atlanta guitarist Jimmy Herring, a member of a Grateful Dead cover band called Jazz is Dead. Herring has already appeared with the Allman Brothers several times.

    The band's manager, Bert Hollman, declined to offer further details about Betts' involuntary sabbatical, but Betts' wife, Donna, offered her own perspective. "They're intimating that there's a drug problem," she told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "But it just ain't happening. It certainly is not drug or alcohol-related."

    The only word from the band has been in the form of a recently released statement: "Dickey Betts will not be with The Allman Brothers Band this summer. . . . However, the band hoped that their good friend and brother will be back on the road with them in the fall."

Betts and his wife Donna are telling the group's fans that his former bandmates have taken him "down to the whipping post." Betts says he phoned Gregg Allman after receiving a fax notifying him he had been fired to ask for specifics and why, and Allman said:

"If you don't know, I can't tell you. Listen to the fucking tapes."

"I have been in a state of shocand bewilderment," Betts said. "I sat down and listened to the tapes from the Beacon and the last tour and was impressed with the quality of the music. I thought the band sounded great and I was particularly proud of my guitar work. There was never any discussion or indication that there was any problem in the band."
Robert E. Lee's Childhood Home Quietly Sold

    Lack of funds and high upkeep costs have forced the sale of the historic childhood home of Robert E. Lee to a couple who intend to turn the house into a private residence.

    The stately brick home was acquire quietly for $2.5 million from Lee-Jackson Foundation by Mark Kington, a managing director of a venture capital firm, and his wife Ann. Virginia's attorney general Mark Earley has ordered that no payments be made and no renovations started until he has reviewed the transaction.

    The sudden sale of the home, which was prompted by the Foundation's inability to finance the 205-year-old building's structural repairs, surprised many Washington suburban residents and Civil War historians.

    Lee lived in the Federal/Georgian style home with his father Harry Lee III, a Revolutionary War calvaryman, and his mother Ann from the time he was 5 until he enrolled in West Point in 1825.
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