Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Launch the National Radio Series 'The Big Read'

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- XM Satellite Radio today announced that XM and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will introduce a national radio series called "The Big Read," named after the NEA's national reading program, which celebrates great books and their place in American life.

Every weekday, the show will air audio recordings of classic novels in 30-minute installments, plus NEA-produced programs about each book, featuring interviews, commentary, and readings by actors, authors and other celebrated personalities: Mary Louise Parker, Robert Duvall, Colin Powell, Sandra Day O'Connor, Garrison Keillor, Cheech Marin, Alice Walker, Edward Albee, Amy Tan, Tony Hillerman, and many others.

"The Big Read" will premiere nationwide September 10 on Sonic Theater (XM Channel 163), the channel dedicated to books and contemporary drama. The first book in the series will be Ray Bradbury's science-fiction novella Fahrenheit 451. Content for the series will be produced by XM, the NEA, and Audible, the leading digital provider of audio books and other spoken-word entertainment.

The NEA first launched The Big Read in 2006 as a national initiative to encourage communities to come together to read and discuss one book. Local organizations receive grants to host community-based programs devoted to a single book, such as The Great Gatsby. More information about the NEA's Big Read initiative is available online at .

The radio show seeks to build on the success of the NEA's reading program and expand it to a national radio audience. XM has more than 8.2 million subscribers nationwide.

"The Big Read initiative is making a profound difference in communities across the country, encouraging people to embrace the pleasure of books," said Josephine Reed, program director for Sonic Theater. "This new radio show fulfills a long-held goal of mine: to bring different communities across the country together to listen to, think about, and discuss literature. I'm thrilled to be working with NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, as well as our partners at Audible, to bring these great books to XM listeners nationwide."

At the end of each novel, Reed will host a discussion about the book with authors, teachers, and other book lovers.

"The launch of the Big Read on XM Satellite Radio is a major literary event. Creating a daily, national, drive-time show devoted to presenting and discussing great American novels is just what we need to revitalize reading in America," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "This is the perfect marriage of technology and literature to increase the appeal of both. Our partnership with XM Satellite Radio has helped make the largest literary program in American history even bigger."

Each new installment of the "Big Read" radio show on XM will air three times a day, Monday through Friday, on Sonic Theater at 2:30 am, 10:30 am, and 4:30 pm (all times ET) starting September 10 with Fahrenheit 451.

Future installments of the "Big Read" radio show will be devoted to Willa Cather's My Antonia, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

More information about "The Big Read" radio show on Sonic Theater is available online at

Subscribers listen to XM on satellite radio receivers for the car, home, office, and portable use.

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San Mateo raid shuts down medical marijuana outlets
By Michael Manekin

In the largest Bay Area raid of medical marijuana dispensaries in nearly a year, federal agents stormed three medical cannabis outlets in downtown San Mateo Wednesday afternoon and shut them down.
The DEA, accompanied by members of the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force and the San Mateo Police Department, seized 50 pounds of processed marijuana, hashish, cannabis-laced edibles and approximately $30,000 in cash, according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice. No arrests were reported.

The raids occurred in the middle of the afternoon, and the three dispensaries were located in busy, commercial districts of the city - including one site in an office building in the city's commercial center on Third Avenue.

"A bunch of guys with drawn guns dropped into the building and bashed the door down, shock-and-awe style," said Josh Snyder, an employee of an Internet start-up in the Third Avenue office building.

A DEA spokesperson refused to identify the dispensaries, and the search warrants issued for the raids remain under seal, but the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) lists on its Web site three San Mateo dispensaries: Patients Choice Resource Cooperative, at 164 South Blvd.; Peninsula Patients Local Option, at 397 S. Claremont St.; and MHT, at 60 E. Third Ave.

All three dispensaries were reportedly raided, according to Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based medical marijuana advocacy group.

A fourth dispensary named Holistic Solutions closed voluntarily as a result of the raids, he added.
Federal agents did not say whether the raided dispensaries had violated the state's medical marijuana laws. However, they were all "in violation of federal law," said Cmdr. Mark Wyss of the county's Narcotics Task Force.

The use of medical marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor is legal in California under Proposition 215, passed by state voters in 1996. In San Mateo County, 66 percent voted in favor of the measure.