Goodwill Games: Reno and the Kabul Ya Ya Sisterhood


Expanded from the 9-22-2002 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Lemme see if I can swallow both of these at once. Nevada ranks as one of the nation's least religious states (surprise, surprise) but somebody thinks we nonetheless possess the moral and institutional standing to teach a few things to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

Somebody actually thinks Reno and Kabul should become sister cities.

New research from the Glenmary Research Center of Nashville, Tenn., says the Silver State ranks dead last in the nation with five churches per 10,000 inhabitants. The study debunks the decades-old Las Vegas PR myth about Gomorrah South having more churches per capita than any city in the U.S.

About a dozen years ago, a Times of London reporter asked LV to provide documentation Local boosters could not.

Just because our citizens are not much on joining (witness the fact that the Democratic Party has ceased to exist as an organization in much of rural Nevada) does not mean that religions are without power here.

The Mormon and Catholic churches are currently risking their tax exemptions in many parts of the country by pushing political agendas. In Nevada, the same two dominant Christian religions have put substantial resources behind support of the queerbashing Question 2 on the November ballot. They purport to be Christians but forget the words of the union carpenter from Galilee who advised that whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do also to me.

Las Vegas Mormon leaders long ago ascended to first place in the latter-day Pharisee department when they declared church members could own or manage casinos as long as they did not get their hands dirty actually performing gambling activities such as card dealing.

"I'm just the piano player in this cathouse, officer. I have no idea what's going on upstairs."

You can't relate to others without a mutual frame of reference. If Nevada is going to provide guidance for backward Afghanistan, we need to find areas of common ground. I've identified a few and herewith submit them for use in promoting international goodwill.

Pakistan has Kabul. Reno has KBUL 98.1-fm country radio.

Kabul has suicide bombers. Virginia City has the suicide table.

Washoe County has a bus system committing suicide. Nevada's suicide rate usually leads the nation.

We want innovative special events. Afghanistan can teach us goat polo.

Nevada worships guns. Ditto Afghanistan.

Nevada gun owners love Charlton Heston. Islam likewise considers Moses a great prophet.

In Aghanistan, thieves are known to get their hands cut off. In Nevada, good card counters get cut off from playing blackjack.

In Afghanistan, warring tribes fight over territorial influence. In these parts, Washoe County fights Sparks and Reno over taxes and urban spheres of influence.

Many Afghanis are so poor, they are forced to sell their children into slavery. Nevada sells its own children into slavery by promoting prostitution as a tourist attraction.

Afghanistan produces opium poppies and heroin. Nevada is a major distribution and sales nexus, especially during our special event weekends.

Nevada ranks among the nation's most expensive places to rent housing, given our low wages. Afghanistan has no buildings left standing to rent.

Afghanistan and Nevada are one-party states — the party of God for the former, the party of gaming for the latter.

Facing mass starvation and land mines, the life expectancy of Afghan children is depressingly short. Kids in cancer-clustered Fallon, Nevada, would understand.

Afghanistan society institutionalizes the exploitation of women. Ditto Nevada's lapdance and casino culture.

We have a lot in common, so we can obviously communicate. But where can we be most effective in educating each other?

Some Reno interests want a railroad trench. Others are fighting it fang and claw. Afghanistan has the answer which can bring us together.

U.S. smart bombs turned most the country into a trench. Applying that technology to downtown Reno can get the Union Pacific project dug in record time and way under budget.

Afghani leaders could teach Reno officials how to manage the aftermath of direct hits.

Now there's a cultural and technological exchange worth doing.

I love it when I can bring warring clans together.

[Editor's note: Shortly after this column appeared, international officials killed the Kabul-Reno affiliation.]

TELEVISION TRANSMISSIONS. Anyone wanting to serve on the still-forming City of Reno cable television citizens advisory committee needs to call (775) 334-2030 right away for an application. They have been receiving requests from Sparks and Washoe County. I hope the panel can be structured as a regional body as the council suggested to staff. While each local governmental entity has a separate franchise with Charter Communications, the issues do not respect city limits.

I will soon announce a public meeting of interested consumers so that we can begin work before the city formally establishes the body. Reno's franchise renewal consultant is due to issue a final report in November with almost no public input. Anyone interested in participating should contact me to get on our consumer e-mail list. I will be posting bulletins at

TUNE IN, TURN ON AND TELL A FRIEND. The always-entrepreneurial Sam Shad breaks new ground on local television tomorrow morning.

A brand new, fast-moving, daily version of his longrunning Nevada Newsmakers program premieres on KOLO TV-8 at 11:00 a.m. It will air Monday through Wednesday in that time slot.

Each show will be rebroadcast in prime time on the same date at 9:00 p.m. on local cable channels in Washoe, Carson and Douglas counties. In Sparks-Reno, that means Charter Cable community channel 12.

I'll be joining the rotating group of political pundits on Tuesday morning. I guarantee interesting viewing because we will, as always...

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
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© 2002 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.

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