The Beat: Earthquakes and a congressman

The breast backlash: Former GOP Chair Chad Nesbitt and former Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower organized an Aug. 28 rally in response to the Aug. 21 Go Topless rally. By exposing breasts, they assert, the rally constituted child abuse. Photo by Steve Shanafelt

As Congressman Heath Shuler stood behind the podium Aug. 25 at a luncheon sponsored by the Council of Independent Business Owners, he used a story to explain the biggest challenge he sees in Washington: finding compromise for the federal budget regardless of politics.

“The man that walks on the right side of the road is safe. The man who walks on the left side of the road is safe. But — the man who walks in the middle of the road gets hit by a truck,” he said. “Welcome to being a Blue Dog. We get hit by both sides.”

According to the Democrat, who sits on the budget committee and represents Western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, America must change the way it treats federal spending. Shuler says Buncombe country normally operates at 29 percent revenue. Now, the country is operating on a 15 percent revenue. Even if all federal programs were eliminated except for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense and interest on the national debt, there would still be a $500 billion deficit, said Shuler.

“We can’t continue down this path. We have to have compromises,” he says. “The problem is that we have is that no one who’s willing to work together. There’s no willingness to compromise. We have one extreme or the other. The only way a compromise happens is for one group to go all the way to the other group and say, ‘That’s compromise.’ There’s no meeting in the middle.” This inability for politicians to work together and put factions aside resulted in the latest fiasco over raising the debt ceiling, said Shuler.

— Caitlin Byrd

Office workers on the sixth floor of the Public Service Building on Wall Street in downtown Asheville reported feeling a marked shaking as a moderate earthquake rippled through WNC just before 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon [Aug. 23]. And while folks everywhere registered surprise at having a temblor strike these parts, UNC-Asheville geologist Bill Miller says area residents needn’t be surprised if a similar earthquake moves this mountain metropolis; just give it another 100 years or so.

Miller was raised in Virginia, and his master’s degree thesis focused on the geologic area near Mineral, Va., where yesterday’s quake was centered. “The Appalachians, including the Piedmont, are loaded with faults like this,” he told Xpress. “The rocks in the East don’t have a lot of tectonic activity moving them around, which means that they’ve had time to get cemented by percolating fluids and settling and all kinds of geologic processes that glue everything together. Therefore, when you have a rupture somewhere, [the earth] transmits that vibration efficiently.” And, at around 3 miles deep, it was a fairly shallow quake, “so more of the energy is exerted on the surface than if it were deep. So that’s why it covered such a huge area.”

—Susan Andrews

Former Buncombe County Republican Party Chair Chad Nesbitt announced today [Aug. 24] on WWNC radio’s “The Matt Mittan Show” that he’s planning an Aug. 28 rally in downtown Asheville to protest the Aug. 21 GoTopless rally. He said the rally will be held at 2 p.m. in Pack Square Park and invited the public to attend.

Nesbitt and former Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower filed a complaint with the Buncombe County Department of Social Services on Aug. 23 alleging that the GoTopless rally amounted to “child sexual abuse.” Organizers of that rally encouraged participating women to “exercise their right to be topless in public.” Several dozen women exercised that right, and hundreds of others attended.

In the radio interview with Matt Mittan, Nesbitt said several children were in attendance and accused their parents of abusive behavior for exposing them to nudity. In a letter sent to Buncombe DSS, Mumpower also charged that the City of Asheville, the Asheville Police Department and the Asheville Citizen-Times were complicit in child abuse for allowing and promoting the event.

Meanwhile, city and police officials maintain that the event was legal, as is being topless in public.

— Jake Frankel

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