Thursday, May 31, 2007


Journalist Murray Waas has written the definitive, for now, piece on the Justice Department scandal as it relates to Missouri and Arkansas. You will find it here at National Journal.

Remember the uproar over the awarding of fee-agent offices by Gov. Matt Blunt's administration? Turns out that story plays a crucial role in what has become a national scandal.

Some grabber grafs from Waas:
In the closing weeks of Missouri's tight 2006 U.S. Senate race, the U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., took the unusual step of revealing that his office's investigation into possible state government contracting abuses in Missouri had found no evidence of wrongdoing by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt. ...

Last year's neck-and-neck Senate race in Missouri between Republican incumbent Jim Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill was a high-profile contest for both political parties. Democratic and Republican operatives were looking for any edge they could find in the race, which McCaskill ended up winning narrowly.

Republicans feared that an investigation of the Blunt administration by the U.S. attorney in Arkansas, Bud Cummins, could tar Blunt and hurt Talent and other GOP candidates on the ballot. Blunt himself was not up for re-election. The investigation was spurred by allegations that the Blunt administration had improperly awarded state contracts to political contributors to run privately operated bureaus where Missouri residents obtain driver's licenses and register their vehicles. Because of potential conflicts of interest, the U.S. attorneys in Missouri weren't handling the investigation.

Cummins said in an interview that a former senior Justice Department official from the Bush administration, William Mateja, repeatedly contacted him during the investigation and asked whether Blunt was implicated in the corruption probe. Cummins said he was unaware at the time that Mateja was making his calls at the behest of [Thor] Hearne, whose law firm had retained Mateja on Blunt's behalf. ...
Waas explains it better than anyone, and what he reports should be read by every Missouri voter.


They were supposed to work for a few months following their landing on Mars in 2004. But two NASA rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, continue to grind their way across the Martian landscape, more than three years after they were supposed to go kaput.

Every now and then we like to peek at the raw images gallery and see what the rovers are seeing. No proof of life, past or present -- not yet, at least. But the images are great.


(Chief typist's note: This blast from the black-and-white past is excerpted from the July 9, 1992 edition of CHATTER.)

Long time ago, when we were fab, we ran into Dave Coonrod at an SMS Vet's Club Pig Roast. Despite the events that transpired that eve, Coonrod is now a Greene County commissioner, and in that position he wields influence and power.

And now, he drives a Harley.

"American-made," Coonrod is quick to point out, noting in the next breath that his machine is just like the one ridden by Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator II" -- ominous, black, with saddle bags big enough to hold mortar rounds and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Or precious county documents. You decide.

We are happy to note that Coonrod wears a helmet when tooling about the Ozarks -- happy not only because it's the law, but because Dave Coonrod rivals us for the title of King of the Wild Hair.


Jessica Lunsford was 9 when she was abducted from her home in Homosassa, Fla., in 2005. John Evander Couey did the crime. He sexually assaulted the girl before burying her alive. Couey led cops to her body.

Mark Lunsford, the girl's father, has lobbied hard for harsher penalties for sex crimes involving kids. Now, his 18-year-old son -- Jessica's half-brother -- is accused of fondling a 14-year-old girl in Ohio.

The Tampa Tribune reports:
The incident stems from a complaint filed by the mother of Joshua Lunsford's young girlfriend. He has pleaded not guilty.

The mother says in a police report that Joshua Lunsford fondled the girl at a skating rink and outside a shopping mall on March 30 and 31 while the two were kissing.

Although the mother says the girl was a willing participant, Ohio law prohibits anyone 18 or older from having sexual contact with anyone younger than 16. Lunsford turned 18 in February.

If Lunsford were less than four years older than the girl, he only could be prosecuted on a misdemeanor charge. Because he is four years and one month older, he faces a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 1 1/2 years in prison. ...

Mark Lunsford said it has not been proved that his son has done anything wrong. Even what has been alleged, he said, cannot be compared with the crimes of the pedophiles he has helped put in prison through his work with the Jessica Marie Lunsford Foundation.

"We're talking about Romeo and Juliet here, not some 36-year-old pervert following around a 10-year-old," Lunsford said.
A lovestruck Romeo sings a streetsuss serenade / Laying everybody low with a love song that he made ...


Grass-roots Republicans hate the immigration policy being floated by the Bush Administration. They're taking out their anger on the Republican National Committee.

Donations to the RNS have plunged by 40 percent. This week the committee fired all 65 of its phone solicitors. The Washington Times cites anger over the immigration issue, with outbursts from more than "99 percent" of would-be donors.

According to a Friday report in the Times:
"The phone-bank employees were terminated," RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt wrote by e-mail in response to questions sent by The Times. "This was not an easy decision. The first and primary motivating factor was the state of the phone bank technology, which was outdated and difficult to maintain. The RNC was advised that we would soon need an entire new system to remain viable."

Fired employees acknowledged that the committee's phone equipment was outdated, but said a sharp drop-off in donations "probably" hastened the end of the RNC's in-house phone-bank operation.

"Last year, my solicitations totaled $164,000, and this year the way they were running for the first four months, they would total $100,000 by the end of 2007," said one fired phone bank solicitor who asked not to be identified.
Egads -- an anonymous source. Wonder if it was a blogger.


Brother Richard has a new blog, adding to his Slice of Home, Slice of Life pub.

We've also added Rude Clerk to the CHATTERWORTHY hall of infamy. So go, click, read, wander, wonder.


Global warming? Pah, says Michael Griffin, administrator of NASA. He told NPR's Earth Today:
I have no doubt that global -- that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown, and second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings - where and when - are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.
Shuck off those long-sleeved shirts. Tank tops and boxers for everyone!


The Greene County Democrats are moving. Party leaders announced Wednesday that they've approved the purchase of the old Loomis Insurance building at 1764 S. Fremont Ave.

No more trying to find the party HQ, hidden behind the Plaza. Local Democrats plan to have their new headquarters open by July 2.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Werner Brenner loved his girlfriend but hated her guinea pig.

"She lavished more love on her pet than me in the three years we were together," Brenner said, "and we were always fighting about the noise the damn thing made at night."

So Brenner killed the pet -- Rudi was its name -- and served it as a "romantic" dinner. According to Ananova:
Lara Hochner, 23, from Darmstadt only found out what had happened when she went to her beloved pet Rudi after the candle-lit meal, to make sure he had enough food and water.

When she realised he was not there, her 29-year-old boyfriend Werner Brenner admitted that the couple had just eaten the animal. ...

Lara has now moved out of their shared home and lives with her parents, and has started court action against her now ex-boyfriend.
You know, one guinea pig isn't enough for a main course.


A four-month-old baby is dead, but Springfield police say they do not suspect foul play.

Cops say the baby girl was found unresponsive Wednesday at 2243 S. Mayfair Ave., the home of the infant's sitter. The child was taken to St. John's, where she was pronounced dead.

Police spokesman Grant Story says "no initial signs of foul play were observed."


The Associated Press reports:
In an about-face by the Pentagon, the military is putting many more amputees back on active duty — even back into combat, in some cases.

Sgt. Tawan Williamson, a 30-year-old Chicago native who is missing his left leg below the knee and three toes on the other foot, acknowledged that some will be skeptical of a maimed soldier back in uniform.

"But I let my job show for itself," he said. "At this point, I'm done proving. I just get out there and do it."

Previously, a soldier who lost a limb almost automatically received a quick discharge, a disability check and an appointment with the Veterans Administration.
In all, about 600 Army members have lost a limb in Iraq or Afghanistan. About five percent -- 31 men and women -- have gone back to active duty, at their request.


Just before 4 p.m., this message from Springfield Police:
Due to numerous accidents in the area of James River/65, Springfield police request drivers avoid that area, as rush hour traffic may face significant delays until the accidents are cleared. At this time, no life threatening injuries have been reported in connection with these accidents.
It's likely to rain for most of the afternoon and evening, so the traffic situation may remain snarled for some time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


After a two-month hiatus, the blogger known as Branson Blue Hair has returned, and not a moment too soon.

Click, read, enjoy. Welcome back, BBH.


There's a piece in Tuesday's News-Leader that deserves your thoughts.

Writing in a "From the Right" column, James Regions decries the lack of civility in public discourse. Regions writes:
Why do people need to domineer and debase others with words that rip and tear more cruelly than any tiger's teeth and wound, deeply? Specifically, why are newspapers, radio, TV talk shows and Internet sites filled with vitriol and angry exchanges?

I fear that the fear of violent voices deters many from voicing their considered opinions. Certainly, few want the public political rostrum if it guarantees that they will become the target of ridicule from media on one hand and of angry e-mails, letters and personal confrontations on the other.

My hat is off to those who are willing to weather the withering blast of the verbose, bellicose critic's hate-filled rhetoric in order to take a political stance.
And our hat is off to Regions for saying what needed to be said.


Congrats to David Catanese and the kids at the KY3 Political Notebook for celebrating one year in Blogistan. A thousand posts later, and David's skin is still so smooth. How does he do it?

Added to the CHATTERWORTHY blogroll:
Buried Secret, an oddity.

They're Here Already, from Dr. Miles Bennell.

Not Right About Anything, from Ian McGibboney. Despite his insistence that Bob Barker is "every bit the cool, nice man everyone says he is," McGibboney keeps a boffo blog.
And while we're at it, be sure to stop by Michelle Sherwood's blog. She's lactose-intolerant, in case you didn't know. But you can still buy her ice cream.


Congratulations to the winners of this year's science fair at Pawleys Island Christian Academy in South Carolina. The school expects excellence from its students, and they have apparently met that expectation.

According to this account in the Georgetown Times:
Brian Benson, an eighth-grade student who won first place in the Life Science/Biology category for his project “Creation Wins!!!,” says he disproved part of the theory of evolution. Using a rolled-up paper towel suspended between two glasses of water with Epsom Salts, the paper towel formed stalactites. He states that the theory that they take millions of years to develop is incorrect.

“Scientists say it takes millions of years to form stalactites,” Benson said. “However, in only a couple of hours, I have formed stalactites just by using paper towel and Epsom Salts.”
Finally, proof that we did not evolve from stalactites.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Time again to honor Chris Sifford, the former journalist and political aide who was killed with Gov. Mel Carnahan in a 2000 plane crash.

Chris Sifford Day at the Ballpark is on for June 2. The 2nd annual event will raise scholarship money in Sifford's honor.

From a news release about the event, courtesy of Louise "LAW" Whall and Connie "Cookie" Farrow:
"Chris had all of the good qualities people strive for in life. He showed love, passion, authenticity and humor in everything that he did. I know that Chris would appreciate the support and success that this fundraiser has created," said Clayton Brown, chair of the event committee.

The 5K and 2.5K Walk/Run begins at 8:30 a.m. on June 2 at Hammons Field in downtown Springfield. Friends, family, former associates, supporters and the public are encouraged to also attend the Springfield Cardinals game at 6:10 p.m. against the Corpus Christi Hooks, which will include a tribute to Sifford.

Registration fee for the Walk/Run is $15 in advance and $20 on race day. Participants will receive a T-shirt as part of the entry fee. Trophies will be awarded for the top three finishers in each age category. First-place trophies will include a “home-plate” base and game-used Missouri State University Bears baseball.

Entry forms and more information are available online at Ozark Mountain Ridge Runner’s Web site. Information is also available at Ridge Runner Sports, 3057 S. Fremont Ave.
Whether you knew him or not, please help honor him. Cliff was worth it.



Only the 17th richest American, with assets of $12.6 billion. She co-owned Cox Enterprises, the massive media company.

The Oxford Press has this:
Mrs. Anthony also served as a member of the board of directors of the Hawaii Preparatory Academy and was the only woman member of the board of directors of the Santa Gertrudis Breeders International Association. Mrs. Anthony was a director and founder of the Hawaii School for Girls, a director of the Children's Hospital of Honolulu and a director of the James M. Cox Foundation.

As Chairman of Hualalai Land Corporation, Mrs. Anthony oversaw all aspects of a 7,500-acre ranch located on the slopes of Mt. Hualalai, Hawaii. Ranch operations include cattle breeding, sale of cut flowers and coffee production. Mrs. Anthony also was chairman of Winderadeen Corporation, Canberra, Australia, a commercial operation of 2,500 breeding cows and a sponsor of Ducks Unlimited. ...

Throughout her life, Mrs. Anthony was active athletically. She enjoyed "competing in anything that resulted in someone being declared a winner," said James C. Kennedy, Cox Enterprises Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Anthony's son. She especially enjoyed tennis and equestrian events. She even competed in rodeos while spending summers at the family ranch near Stanley, Idaho.

Once, when attending a convention of newspaper publishers, she soundly defeated Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham on the tennis court. Kennedy asked her why she was so tough on Graham. "Kay would have done the same thing to me, if she could," Anthony told her son.
Because she is who she is, Addie gets the point.


He says he did it in protest. Tom Wayne runs Prospero's Books, a used-book store in Kansas City. He says he has too much stock, and no one would accept his donations of free books.

On Sunday, Wayne showed his frustration with the decline of readers in the United States. He set fire to thousands of used books. The Associated Press reports:
"This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books.

The fire blazed for about 50 minutes before the Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Wayne didn't have a permit for burning.
Guy Montag did not show up, and no mechanical hounds were released.


Stacy Roe will not win this year's Mom of the Year award. The 35-year-old mother from Farmingville, N.Y., was arrested over the weekend at a Wal-Mart, pushing her 3-year-old son in a shopping cart while simultaneously snorting heroin.

The New York Post reports:
Security at the Centereach store called 911. Cops responded, viewed the video and approached the woman while she was still in the store.

Roe admitted that she was using heroin and that she had a small glassine envelope of the drug inside her purse, police said.

She told cops she was addicted to Vicodin and was unable to obtain more of the painkillers - forcing her to turn to heroin, Suffolk County Police Sgt. Todd Barone said.
Ah, sweet sweet Vicodin. Roe was ticketed and posted $100 bond. She's due back in court on July 17.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Loved him on "Match Game." The New York Times has it this way:
Long before moving west to become what he somewhat ruefully described as a “game show fixture,” Mr. Reilly was an actor and an acting teacher in New York City. In 1962, he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Bud Frump in the original Broadway production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

But he was proudest of “The Belle of Amherst,” a one-woman play starring Julie Harris based on the life of Emily Dickinson, which he directed on Broadway at the Longacre Theater in 1976, said Timothy Helgeson, who collaborated with him on the show. Two decades later, Mr. Reilly directed Ms. Harris and Charles Durning in a revival of “The Gin Game” at the Lyceum Theater. He was nominated for a Tony for best director in 1997, and Ms. Harris was nominated for best actress.
He was camp long before camp was cool. Cause of death: complications of pneumonia.


Thinking about Memorial Day brought the thirst for history, and to slake it we re-read "In Flanders Fields," the 1915 poem by John McCrae. He wrote it after the funeral of a former student, killed in a shell burst near Ypres, Belgium, the place some Canadians still call the "wipers."

The middle four lines are elegant bluntness:
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
From there in World War I we segued to this site and its display of color photos from the war -- including this one of Mata Hari, the infamous siren. Real name: Greta Zelle. The Dutch woman was executed by the French in 1917 for being a spy. Turns out she's got a little of that Susanna Hoffs thing going on.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


This weekend, 613 students in Forth Worth will not be allowed to walk across the stage for graduation. They failed the TAKS test -- the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam.

At Trimble Tech High School, several students instead walked a picket line, protesting their exclusion from graduation. WFAA reports:
Crystal Martinez complained that while she finished at the top of her class with a 3.5 grade point average, she is now blocked from graduation by failing the TAKS test.

"We know we're not going to get our diplomas, but we just want to walk across the stage," Martinez said. "That's all we ask for right now."

Classmate Chloe Walker agreed. "I believe that I have at least the right to walk the stage with all my friends," she said. "I made it this far, and I have all my credits I need. I deserve to get my certificate of completion."

School officials said non-graduating seniors will have a chance to take the TAKS test again in July. If they pass, they can participate in a separate commencement exercise in August.
Poor kids. But go to the link and scope out the sign held aloft by one protester: Let Are Kids Walk. You bet. Just as soon as you can spell.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Bradley Nowell died 11 years ago Friday, and perhaps your response is: Who?

The musician and singer fronted a little band called Sublime. The band from Long Beach, Calif., smashed punk and reggae into something delicious; its CD, Sublime, was a mainstay in our soundtrack, especially while we were creating a magazine with Mike Wingo.

Nowell was already long gone by then. Sublime's major-label debut was released a couple months after he was found dead of a heroin overdose. Another sweet little Pisces man, laid low by smack. What a waste.

What I really wanna say is there's just one way back.
And I'll make it,
But my soul will have to wait.


Being provocative is one thing. Pandering to haters is quite another.

Robert Crowe of Ozark typed a letter to the editor that appears in Friday's News-Leader. In it, Crowe likens Hillary Clinton -- the U.S. senator and former First Lady -- to a rabid dog and calls her a "self-serving, power hungry mad woman."

For evidence, Crowe cites a book by Edward Klein, The Truth about Hillary. Actually, the book's title is The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President. Those 15 extra words give the reader a better idea of Klein's agenda.

If the paper's bosses had bothered to read anything about Klein's book, they would have recognized it as nothing more than a smear job, a la the Swift Boat stunt pulled by conservatives against John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. And we're not using the Swift Boat language to inflame; it's how the book's publisher described Klein's work when the book was released two years ago.

You'll want to know that Klein drops heavy hints that Hillary Clinton can't be trusted because she has friends who are gay:
"She surrounded herself with many women who were either openly lesbian or suspected of being lesbian or appear to be masculine .. What kind of woman is purposefully surrounding herself as a public figure with women known to be lesbians?"
In his letter to the newspaper, Crowe radically spasms from Clinton bashing to fearmongering about war, bringing up Japan and Pearl Harbor before declaring that if "we do not win the war on terror over there we will be fighting them on our streets here."

Crowe insists he would have had "more respect" for Hillary Clinton if she had slapped her husband for being a cheater. But we all know better than that. Crowe and his ilk have never had any respect for Bill or Hillary Clinton, and letters like the one in Friday's News-Leader are aimed at only one thing -- keeping a qualified candidate out of the White House.

Hillary Clinton, like every other candidate for president, deserves critical scrutiny of her policies, her voting record and her plans for the country, if elected. Like every other candidate, she does not deserve to be compared to a rabid dog. No one does.

We don't expect any better from a guy like Robert Crowe; he's only regurgitating the hate that others have fed him. We do expect better from a daily newspaper that claims an interest in thoughtful, intelligent debate.


A switch to a three-column layout. Changes include:
•Your comments up high on the left sidebar.

•The CHATTERWORTHY blogroll regains prominence; it's over there on the right.

•Missouri news and Ozarks weather have been added to the left sidebar.
We're sure there's more junk to add, but we're trying to keep the page lean and fast-loading for our woefully archaic friends on dial-up.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


We're undergoing some renovations at the palatial CHATTER office complex and naked karaoke bar. If some of the sidebars don't work, it's not you. It's us. Sorry for the digital dust.


Vicki Leigh Chiles has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 2-year-old at Chiles' daycare center in Tulsa.

Chiles was charged Thursday, according to KTUL. Chiles is being held without bond.

Joshua Minton was bound and gagged with masking tape, according to police. Chiles reportedly told them the child wouldn't be still for nap time.


If Marco Castro ever wants to serve you a delicious salad, run. The 17-year-old student from Wheaton, Ill., was sentenced this week to community service for -- here's The Associated Press' delicate wording -- "contaminating salad dressing with semen."

According to The AP, Castro was also ordered to pay a $750 fine. He'll have to do 120 hours of service with a group that works with AIDS patients. The judge also ordered Castro to attend college, accordig to the Naperville Sun.

Details of the crime, according to the Sun:
Authorities said Castro surreptitiously took a small bottle of ranch salad dressing from the school's cafeteria commons, where juniors and seniors eat lunch. He brought the bottle into a men's restroom, ejaculated into it and then returned it to the condiment cart.

The dressing remained there for more than two days before students who had become aware of the incident reported Castro to school officials. At least two students reported consuming some of the tainted dressing.

Castro confessed Dec. 12 to police he had contaminated the dressing after being inspired to do so by the movie "Jackass: Number Two."
There is a reason we do not eat creamy ranch dressing.


Ah, those goofy kids, always up to mischief, this time in Kansas City. The Associated Press reports:
The little boy spotted the pretty pile of colored sand on the floor of the vast hall and couldn't resist. Slipping under a protective rope, he danced all over the sand, ruining the carefully crafted picture.

Never mind that it was the creation of eight Tibetan monks who had spent two days cross-legged on the floor of Union Station, meticulously pouring the sand into an intricate design as an expression of their Buddhist faith.

They were more than halfway done with the design -- called a mandala -- on Tuesday when they ended their work for the day and left. The little boy showed up sometime later with his mother, who was taking a package to a post office in the hall.

"He did a little tap dance on it, completely destroying it," said Lama Chuck Stanford, of the Rime Buddhist Center in Kansas City.
The monks' reaction? No big: "We didn't get despondent," said Geshe Lobsang Sumdup, leader of the group from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in southern India. "We have three days more. So we will have to work harder." Just keep those meddling kids behind the ropes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Yes, slavery. Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and her husband, Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, run a perfume business out of their home on Long Island. They're described as millionaires. Now they're charged in federal court with keeping two Indonesian women against their wills.

The Associated Press reports:
The Sabhnanis were arrested last week after one of their servants was found wandering outside a doughnut shop on Long Island, wearing only pants and a towel. The woman was believed to have fled the home in Muttontown, a tony community on Long Island's north shore, when she took the trash out the night before.

The couple pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court, and a magistrate judge set bail at $3.5 million and imposed home detention with electronic monitoring.

An indictment handed up Tuesday night formally charged with them with two counts of forced labor and added two counts of harboring illegal residents.
The women are now being cared for by Catholic Charities. They've been in the U.S. since 2002.


Did Todd Graves feel heat before he left his post as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri?

Monica Goodling, the former Justice Department official, testified Wednesday that Graves was being investigated by the department's inspector general, an internal watchdog.

You can see it here. Goodling never clarified the reason for the alleged investigation, but said Graves' firing "related more to the fact that he was under investigation by the inspector general, and there were some issues being looked at there."

Graves told the Kansas City Star that Goodling's allegation was "outrageous." He'll get his turn to tell a tale on June 5, when he testifies before Congress.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


News-Leader columnist Sarah Overstreet takes exception to a toss-away comment from this blog, reprinted Tuesday in the daily newspaper.

How do we know? It's in Brian Lewis' Ozarks Voices blog:
A quote from Ron Davis' blog in our paper today has got my colleague Sarah Overstreet steamed.

Davis is quoted responding to the News-Leader's editorial on anonymous bloggers. But forget the points that Davis made. Focus on the but.

What Davis wrote, that we quoted in our paper and that got Sarah talking is: "But - and it's a but as big as Jessica Biel's behind.... -"

"Who is Jessica Biel?" Sarah asked me. And why is Ron Davis making fun of her butt?

Still, since I found myself in this conversation, I had to respond. From a man's perspective, it's not necessarily a vicious insult to say that a woman has a big butt, I told Sarah. But Sarah disagreed.

I turned to my colleagues in the sports department for support and they agreed with me.

"I don't like people picking on other people's body parts," Sarah said. "Unless they're Rush Limbaugh." Well, that's between Sarah and Rush.

But my message to the women of the world is don't feel self-conscious if you're (sic) butt is a little bigger than you'd like.
Hey Sarah, have you seen this amazing asset? We're not picking on it. God bless Lewis and the kids in sports for seeing the obvious.

And Sarah, what do you mean, you don't know who Jessica Biel is? She's the one who's not Jessica Alba.


Stone Phillips, the NBC News anchor, has been dumped by his increasingly cheapskate network. The Associated Press reports:
Phillips won't formally be replaced. His co-anchor, Ann Curry, will continue and other "Dateline NBC" reporters will serve as on-air hosts when the newsmagazine presents stories they're working on, the network said Tuesday.

"It's been a wonderful 15 years," Phillips said in a statement issued by NBC. "I'm profoundly appreciative of the many friends and colleagues, past and present, who have been a part of the `Dateline' family. This is a great news division with a bright future. I wish the people of NBC News all the best."
NBC axed Phillips as part of a "cost-cutting" measure, according to The AP. Earlier this year the network fired John Seigenthaler, the weekend anchor.

Phillips attended Parkway West High School in St. Louis, according to his biography.


There are many things which mortal men
can see and learn from. But until he meets it,
no one sees what is to come or his own fate.

Those who know history will remember James V. Forrestal, the nation's first secretary of defense. On this day in 1949, he started copying lines from "The Chorus from Ajax," a poem by Sophocles.

Woe to the mother in her close of day,
Woe to her desolate heart and temples gray,
When she shall hear
Her loved one’s story whispered in her ear!
"Woe, woe!" will be the cry–
No quiet murmur like the tremulous wail
Of the lone bird, the querulous nightingale ...

Halfway through the word "nightingale," Forrestal went to the window of his 16th-floor room at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Moments later, he landed on a third-floor roof.

He tried to hang himself first. Or he was strangled first. Fifty-eight years later, it's still unclear.

Better to die, and sleep
The never-ending sleep, than linger on,
And dare to live, when the soul’s life is gone.

Monday, May 21, 2007


The U.S. Supreme Court declared Monday that William Weaver cannot be put to death for his role in a 1987 killing, because a prosecutor went too far in his closing argument.

Weaver was sentenced to die for killing Charles Taylor near St. Louis. The motive: Taylor was about to testify in a drug trial involving some of Weaver's acquaintances.

George "Buzz" Westfall was the prosecutor of St. Louis County; he won the death case against Weaver and co-defendant Daryl Shurn.

Shurn's sentence was later vacated by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because of Westfall's inflammatory rhetoric.

Monday, the Supreme Court vacated Weaver's death sentence. The Associated Press reports:
The court said in an unsigned opinion that the state’s appeal of lower federal court rulings that threw out the death sentence should not have been accepted because of procedural quirks.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying they would have reinstated Weaver’s death sentence. Missouri state courts had upheld the sentence. ...

During the sentencing phase, the prosecutor repeatedly urged jurors to "look beyond William Weaver" in considering the death penalty and send a message to drug dealers.
Westfall also referenced Gen. George Patton in his closing argument, telling jurors that sometimes you have to kill to do the right thing.

Look beyond William Weaver. Look in your heart. State-sponsored killing solves nothing.


As noted in an earlier post, there are those who believe the scandal involving the firing of several U.S. attorneys deserves much more coverage, and that the lack of coverage means Something Sinister.

Such grousing reminds us of another current "media conspiracy," this one involving a double slaying in Knoxville, Tenn. The victims were white and the five suspects are black; this is enough to cause some to claim the media won't cover a case involving white victims and black attackers. We faintly remember a murder trial involving black-on-white crime; apparently we hallucinated the whole thing.

But back to the U.S. attorneys scandal. The idea of a media cover-up of the story is ridiculous. Mainstream newspapers are pounding out thousands of column inches of text and airing dozens of reports; McClatchy has been the undisputed leader in print reports on the upheaval.

In Blogistan, there is even more coverage:

•Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo is the invaluable reference guide.

Brad Blog has gotten notice for its reports on Missouri angles to the story.

•Randy @ The Turner Report has also been keeping track.

Why no posts from CHATTER, until now?

Mostly because this is a story that requires absolute focus. CHATTER's chief typist used to be an investigative reporter; sometimes that meant weeks, even months, fixated on one story. The U.S. attorneys scandal -- the firings, the cover-ups, the apparent lies to Congress by administration officials -- deserves more than one blog opining on What It All Means, especially when the blog isn't devoting hours of reporting to the story (that's where Marshall's TPM comes in).

The Missouri angle? The absence of local coverage is harder to justify. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri is in charge of Springfield. That makes it a local story; it's hard for the News-Leader to claim otherwise.

Local TV outlets can argue, with some credibility, that the story isn't very visual; you can only show so much old footage of the federal courthouse in Springfield, and most of the story is thick with detail and hard to distill into a nut graf.

But that doesn't mean the local media shouldn't try its hand at covering the story. We think they'll probably pop up with something on June 5, when former Western District USAs Todd Graves and Brad Schlozman testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Graves claims he was ousted; Schlozman, as his replacement, pushed seemingly bogus voter fraud cases against liberals.


Gannett Co. Inc., the proud papa of the News-Leader, announced Monday that advertising revenues for last month dropped 3.1 percent. The culprit? Dwindling classified revenue.

According to Editor & Publisher:
U.S. classified revenues dropped 11.7%, with declines of 15.2% in real estate revenues; 11.9% in help-wanted; and 16.7% in automotive. ...

At its flagship USA Today, Gannett reported, advertising revenues declined 1.7% on paid ad pages of 381, compared to 414 last year. Gannett said “significant growth” in the technology, travel, telecommunications, home and building, retail and credit card categories was offset by weakness in the entertainment, automotive, financial, packaged goods and real estate categories.
E&P also reports that ad revenues for the newspaper division of Journal Communications Inc. plunged 9.1 percent in April compared to the same period a year ago. And Crain's Chicago Business reports that 54 newsroom types at the Chicago Tribune have offered to take early retirement. The company wants to cut 100 jobs from the newsroom. They're more than halfway there. Happy Monday, mainstream media.


Motor-vehicle thefts in Springfield nearly doubled in the first three months of 2007, when compared to the same period last year.

Police say 249 motor-vehicle thefts were reported for the first quarter of this year -- a 99.2-percent jump from the 125 auto-theft reports filed between January and March 2006.

Other facts from the report, released Monday:
•Aggravated assaults are on the rise, and police are solving fewer of those cases. Aggravated assaults rose 30 percent (130 to 169) while clearance rates dropped by nearly 25 percent (74 to 56).

•Robbery is a much more common crime in Springfield, up nearly 43 percent in the first quarter (56 to 80).

•For every 100 crime cases in Springfield, about 23 are cleared. It's more likely that police will solve a crime against a person (31.8%) than a crime against property (22.1%).
The most common crime? Theft. More than 2,500 larcenies and/or thefts were reported to police in the first three months of 2007.


The One & Only AK sent us this link to Monday's News-Leader editorial, "Bloggers should not hide names."

The local daily recently began reprinting items from some city and regional blogs. Monday, the paper's wise guys and gals wrote:
[W]e have a challenge for the bloggers and all the people out there in Internet land who comment on blogs and news stories, including those who use our forums.

Put your name on it. ...

[T]oo much of the conversation going on in the "blogosphere" is anonymous, and we want to do our part to put an end to that.

The fact is that the best blogs in Springfield and Missouri have names attached to them. We've made a conscientious decision to pull mostly from those blogs when we republish their content on our pages.
Generally we favor a real name over a nom de blogguerre, the same way we're usually opposed to profanity on blogs. Credibility is enhanced when a reader knows the source of a report and doesn't have to wade through clots of profanity. The same holds true for spelling and basic grammar; someone who doesn't know how to spell shouldn't be taken seriously as a source for written information. Old newspapering habits die hard.

But -- and it's a but as big as Jessica Biel's behind -- we think 'net consumers should make the ultimate decision on what's an "acceptable" blog. Anonymity shouldn't be a hard-and-fast barrier used to keep bloggers from reaching a broader audience; some local bloggers don't use their given names because they're writing about issues in their workplace, and public exposure could lead to retaliation.

And, as any journalist can tell you, anonymous sources often hold the key to bigger truths. Imagine if Al Neuharth would have been running the Washington Post between 1972-74. His absolute ban on anonymous sources would have kept Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein from breaking that little story known as Watergate.

So: Less anonymity in Greater Blogistan? Sure. A call to end anonymous blogging? Bad idea.


Three new links added to the CHATTERWORTHY blog roll:

Ozarks Politics is what it says.

24th State promises "Missouri Political News and Opinions from the Statehouse to the Whitehouse."

Oh Well comments on news and politics.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


An editorial in Sunday's News-Leader says history will look kindly on John Ashcroft, the former attorney general and native of Greene County.

Ashcroft has always been viewed as a hard-core conservative. But recent reports about Ashcroft bucking the Bush Administration over a secret eavesdropping program have forced a rethink. As the News-Leader opines:
In January 2005, we wrote: "Ashcroft carried out — often to an extreme — the approach the president wanted."

It turns out, in at least one, very important instance, we were wrong. ...

We'll continue to believe that Ashcroft's political positions on the Patriot Act and secrecy restricted freedom more than necessary. But we have a newfound respect for the man's integrity and his understanding of the important and independent role the Justice Department must play in balancing out the objectives of the executive branch with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.
A fascinating account in the Washington Post shows that Ashcroft repeatedly fought with the Bush Administration:
Ashcroft also opposed holding detainees indefinitely at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without some form of due process. He fought to guarantee some rights for those to be tried by newly created military commissions. And he insisted that Zacarias Moussaoui, accused of conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers, be prosecuted in a civilian court.
None of the revisionism makes John Ashcroft a moderate, and many of his actions as attorney general -- his embrace of torture, his cover-up of a topless statue, his fearmongering manipulation of the Jose Padilla arrest -- remain inexcusable.

The Bush Administration is so radical that Ashcroft, by comparison, seemed moderate. If that doesn't scare you, nothing will.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Elizabeth Rojas used to be an elementary-school principal in San Antonio. But she couldn't pass a state exam required for the gig.

Couldn't pass it? Let's revise that statement. Rojas failed the test -- 38 times. WOAI reports:
The district has now removed her from that job and given her the position of administrative assistant at Smith.

She now makes just slightly less than her nearly $78,000 a year principal's salary.
A retired administrator is now in charge of Smith Elementary School. Bet he appreciates Rojas becoming his "administrative assistant."


A Friday break. We were leafing through the 'net and found this column from Burt Prelutsky: Does Fido Have a Soul?

Do pets get the got-a-soul seal of approval? Does it depend on the pet? We've owned dogs and cats. They seemed pretty animated. But is that your definition of soul? Spirit?

Prelutsky writes:
If an entire species is, by its very nature, warm-hearted, conscientious, loyal and brave, one would be hard-pressed to maintain that, in spite of all these virtues, they are soul-less.
If there is an afterlife, a heaven, a whatever, and animals aren't allowed, who would want to go?

Thursday, May 17, 2007


James C. Tillman was 26 when he was accused of raping a woman in Hartford, Conn. The victim identified Tillman as her attacker. He was convicted and sent to prison.

Eighteen years passed. Science matured and DNA from the 1988 attack was analyzed. The results proved Tillman wasn't the rapist.

On Wednesday, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted unanimously to give Tillman $5 million. The Associated Press reports:
Moved by Tillman's humbleness and lack of bitterness over his ordeal, lawmakers said they hoped the money will give him an opportunity to live out the rest of his life with relative comfort. The bill passed 148-0.

"I think we all wonder, could we be so kind and gentle and humble as we find this person," asked Rep. Kenneth Green, D-Hartford. "He did not deserve to be incarcerated for 18-and-a-half years -- $5 million is the least that we can do."
Connecticut's governor, M. Jodi Rell, had proposed a $500,000 payout, but said she would sign the bill, no matter the dollar amount: "How do you put a price tag on someone's time in prison for a crime that he did not commit?"

It's easy to slap a callous price tag on the Tillman case. The award equals more than $277,777 a year for the 18 lost years -- almost $5,342 a week, or more than $133.54 an hour. But what sane human would be willing to spend 18 years in prison for a $5 million paycheck?

A lively discussion on a Hartford Courant message board shows some people think the award is excessive. One early comment:
The only way Tillman would have earned 5mil in his life time would have been if he had won the lottery!!!!!!!!!! Well, he just did. Shame on the legislators for not seeing that!
We all know that winning a lottery isn't always a blessing.


James Dobson, the leader of Focus on the Family, figuratively tried to kill Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Thursday. Dobson said:
Is Rudy Giuliani presidential timber? I think not. Can we really trust a chief executive who waffles and feigns support for policies that run contrary to his alleged beliefs? Of greater concern is how he would function in office. Will we learn after it is too late just what the former mayor really thinks? What we know about him already is troubling enough.
And then Dobson delivered the kicker:
"If given a Hobson's – Dobson's? – choice between him and Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran – or if worse comes to worst – not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else."
PBS dumps a right-wing guest after viewer complaints. Melanie Morgan appeared May 8 on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Linda Winslow, executive producer of the show, said Morgan is now persona non grata:
"We can’t do much to eliminate rude guests from your television screen once the segment has begun," said Winslow. "What we can do is guarantee you will never see that person on our program again."
•The Justice Department wanted to fire more than 25 U.S. attorneys, not just the eight that got canned late last year. This, according to the Washington Post. At least one local blogger bemoans the lack of local media coverage and wonders why this blog hasn't tackled the scandal because of its Missouri angles. More to come, and soon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


The 78-year-old music legend is in guarded condition at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. According to The Associated Press:
Diddley, who has a history of hypertension and diabetes, was hospitalized Sunday following a concert in Council Bluffs in which he acted disoriented, said Susan Clary, a publicist for the musician's management team.

Tests indicated that the stroke affected the left side of his brain, impairing his speech and speech recognition, Clary said.

Clary said she has no other details on Diddley's condition or how long he would be in intensive care.
Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He's best known for "Who Do You Love," that great slice of hoodoo on a Gretsch.


The managing editor of the Baxter (Ark.) Bulletin was arrested Wednesday and accused of helping her brother evade the law. The managing editor of the News-Leader has been named acting managing editor in Baxter.

According to the Baxter Bulletin:
"Managing editor Kandra Branam has been relieved of her responsibilities pending resolution of the criminal charges against her," said Bulletin publisher Betty Smith. "Cheryl Whitsitt will become acting managing editor. Because this is both a pending legal matter and is a personnel matter, we will not comment further."

Authorities allege Branam knew that her brother, Thomas R. Wells, 41, assumed the false identity of Donald Dahlke, an infant who died in Baxter County in 1969.

Wells was arrested Jan. 29 in Marion County after allegedly fleeing from police and driving a vehicle while intoxicated. He had been living in Branam’s house before his arrest and allegedly received mail under the false name at her address, Montgomery said.

Wells is wanted out of Colorado on a warrant and allegedly assumed the identity in hopes of not being found and taken back to Colorado, Montgomery said.

“I did not know my brother was a fugitive,” Branam said, when returning a call for comment. “The only thing I did wrong was try to help my brother.”
Branam is free on $50,000 bond.

Whitsitt joined the News-Leader in 1987 and became managing editor in 2002, according to Gannett. The company owns the News-Leader and the Bulletin. We can tell you that Whitsitt is one of the great ones. The News-Leader needs her.


The illustration software has been at death's door for several years, after being acquired by Adobe as part of the Macromedia buyout in 2005.

From its humble beginnings, Altsys (and later Aldus) FreeHand became a standard tool for desktop designers in the 1990s. CNET reports:
Freehand has a long history, at least in personal computing terms. The first version was released in 1988, according to Ian Kelleigh's FreeHand Source Web site. It was a 429KB application that required 750KB of memory to run. The 11th version, MX, was a 10.3MB application that needed 131MB of memory.
The death was announced by John Nack, senior product manager of Adobe's Photoshop software. In lieu of flowers, users are encouraged to buy Adobe Illustrator.


May 16. Big deal. Fifteen years ago the space shuttle Endeavour landed safely after a successful voyage. Much like the plane that takes off from Springfield-Branson National Airport and lands safely in Detroit, this is not news.

May 16, however, is a good death day. A quick check of history shows May 16 was curtains for, among others:
•G-Man Eliot Ness (1957)
•Andy Kaufman (1984)
•Wicked Witch Margaret Hamilton (1985)
•Muppet creator Jim Henson and Sammy Davis Jr. (1990).
Robert R., 19, became the first confirmed death from AIDS in North America (1969).

Coincidentally -- or not, depending on your skew -- it's also a boffo day for famous births:
•Henry Fonda (1905)
•Studs Terkel (1912)
•Pierce Brosnan (1953)
•Olga Korbut (1955)
•Debra Winger (1955)
•Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic (1965)
•Janet Jackson (1966)
Also born on May 16: Liberace (1919) and Tucker Carlson (1969). We're just saying.


Dan Whisler will retire as chief of the Springfield Fire Department on June 22, the city announced on Wednesday.

Whisler has worked for the department for 28 years. He became chief in 2002, after working up the ladder as a firefighter, rescue specialist, equipment operator, fire marshal, battalion chief and assistant chief of operations.

From the city's news release:
As Fire Chief, Whisler has been responsible for directing the operations and administrative details of 11 fire stations, with construction underway for Fire Station No. 12. He received his bachelor’s degree from Baptist Bible College and has obtained numerous professional certifications and completed the Leadership Springfield program.

"Our community is very fortunate to have the highest level of professionalism in our Fire Department and that can be attributed to Dan’s leadership and excellent management staff and firefighters," City Manager Bob Cumley said. "We will miss Dan very much, but want to wish him all the best for a long and well-deserved retirement."
Whisler praised his staff -- "top-notch people," he called them -- in the news release.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Brit Hume asked a ticking time-bomb question of 10 GOP presidential candidates, and the answers he received made it clear -- fear and anger drive the Republican contest, and the man who can exploit those emotions will win his party's nomination.

The GOP debate sponsored by Fox News is over. Held at the University of South Carolina's Koger Center for the Arts, the gathering of 10 candidates was remarkable for its raw edges. No pretense of an Eleventh Commandment for Republicans; candidates attacked each other with little hesitation, especially on national security issues.

Hume presented a scenario of a terrorist attack, with suspects rounded up and held at Guantanamo Bay. Those suspects have info that another attack is imminent, Hume presented, before asking: Do you torture the suspects to get information?

And this is where Sen. John McCain found himself in another time and place.

He gave the logical answer: Torture doesn't work and it isn't right; it runs counter to the ideals of the United States.

Rudy Giuliani gave the red-meat answer: Do anything, everything, even "enhanced interrogations."

The crowd went nuts for Giuliani's words because they want a take-no-prisoners tough guy. They want to believe the U.S. can torture its way to safety and security. They don't want to hear a war hero talk about the futility of torture. They want Jack Bauer and the comfort of TV fiction.

Giuliani tough-guyed his way to a victory Tuesday night. To the GOP base he's still wrong on abortion and gay rights. But he acts like an ass-kicker, and all that matters is the act. McCain's real torture? Too real to be taken seriously.

Ron Paul, a Texas congressman, had his throat cut by Giuliani when he dared say that U.S. policies in the Middle East created blowback that helped spawn the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Giuliani claimed he'd never heard of such an explanation, a belittling bit of sarcasm delivered just as Giuliani's knife severed Paul's windpipe.

Mitt Romney was articulate, of course, and it still sounded contrived. The rest of the pack stayed back.

(The netizens at Free Republic -- conservative Republicans who power the primaries -- are mulling over their debate reactions here. David Catanese at KYTV has his analysis here. Missouri Politics was live blogging the event; its coverage is here. For coverage of an earlier GOP debate on MSNBC, click here).


Updated 12:35 p.m. Falwell is dead, according to CNN.


The Rev. Jerry Falwell was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University around noon Tuesday.

The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va., reports that Falwell has been taken to Lynchburg General Hospital.

Falwell, 73, is "gravely ill," according to CNN.

Falwell graduated from Baptist Bible College in Springfield in 1956.

Monday, May 14, 2007


At first it reads like a straightforward news story: Man finds out ex-wife's boy toy is a sex offender and kills him.

But it's so much richer than the usual rage killing.

Willie Tarpley Jr., 48, stabbed Lee Alexander, 25, with a samurai sword on Saturday night. Police say Tarpley went to his old house, found the sword and threatened to cut off Alexander's head.

Being fond of his head, Alexander fled. Or tried to. But he crashed into Tarpley's Corvette in the driveway. Cops say that's when Tarpley plunged the 42-inch katana blade into Alexander's armpit.

It's true, Alexander was a registered sex offender. In 2000, when he was 18, he was convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior with a minor.

But Tarpley and his ex-wife have a past, too. According to the Tampa Tribune:
Tarpley himself is a registered sex offender, as is his wife.

In 1988, Tarpley and his wife were convicted in a high-profile case concerning a woman who once worked for Willie Tarpley as a nude dancer. The Tarpleys were accused of kidnapping the woman, beating her, gluing her eyelids and genitalia shut and tattooing a four-letter word on her forehead, according to Tampa Tribune archives.

The couple, along with two other people, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, battery and sexual battery charges. Each was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The Tarpleys did about six years in prison; they were released around 1994.

Willie Tarpley Jr. is now charged with second-degree murder. He's being held without bond.


It's 2:30 in the morning. New Jersey. Danny Ribot and his 2-year-old son, Adonis, come home from the kid's birthday party. Ribot is reportedly quite drunk.

Nine hours later he wakes up. No Adonis.

According to the New York Post:
Ribot ... wakes up and screams, 'Where's my car? Where's my kid?'

"He realizes he doesn't have his child and he doesn't know where his car is," (Passaic police Lt. Luis) Guzman said.

That's when Ribot called his girlfriend, Luz Ramos, who is Adonis' mom.

Ramos, 20, told The Post, "He called me in the morning and he said, 'Where's the kid?' I told him, 'What are you, crazy? I helped you strap him into the car seat.'"
Adonis was found in his father's locked car in a parking lot in Passaic. The child was treated at a hospital for dehydration and heat exhaustion. His father is charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

"Where's my car? Where's my kid?" Glad to see Ribot has his priorities in order.


Scales Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., may soon have a few job openings.

Last week the sixth grade took its annual weeklong field trip to Fall Creek Falls, a state park. On the last night of the trip, teachers and staffers pulled their annual prank.

And ha-ha, the adults thought it would be hilarious if they told the kids that a gunman was on the loose, firing shots in the park.

Teachers told the students to hide under tables. The lights in their common room were extinguished. A teacher disguised in a hooded sweatshirt yanked on doors.

According to The Tennessean, several students were crying and begging for their lives.

Five minutes later, the "prank" ended. Over the weekend, dozens of parents met with school administrators and listened as the principal talked about "poor judgment." The school also issued a news release:
The lead teacher told the students and other adults that there were people somewhere in the park shooting guns but they were not shooting people; they were driving around playing. He added that the Park Ranger had advised him to tell everyone to take cover as a precaution.

The lead teacher had already instructed the children (as a precaution) to get under the tables. The children remained there quietly for a short period of time.

Soon after, the lights were turned on and the children were informed that this was the prank that they had been forewarned about and was just a joke.

The staff used this incident as a teaching opportunity. The children were praised for following the rules of the school system's "Code Red" procedure.

Most of the students stood up and said, "That was a good one." "Yeah, you got me." High fives were exchanged. The children were then sent to their dorms to clean up before bedtime.
The school principal -- ironically, a graduate of Virginia Tech -- sees nothing funny about the incident. She's promised disciplinary action.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Ten songs (besides Brandi Carlile's "The Story") that are stuck in our head on this Sunday (Part I of our ear-candy addiction can be found here):

•"Keep The Car Running" from Arcade Fire

•Brenda Lee's "Coming On Strong"

•"Radar Love" from Golden Earring

•"Rock Sweet Rock," Bob Marley & The Wailers

•"You Said That You Would Forget" from Abdul Kawkabani and Mohammed Kawka

•"Icky Thump," The White Stripes

•"Pardon My Freedom" from !!!

•Daniel Johnston's "Some Things Last A Long Time"

•"No Such Thing" from Chris Cornell

•"Lazy Eye," Silversun Pickups

It's the room the sun and the sky ...


The artist Kate Kretz will be in Kansas City next month, showing her one-person exhibition, "Undressed," at the Belger Art Center (June 1-Sept. 7).

Sadly, the exhibition isn't likely to include Kretz's fab piece, Blessed Art Thou. A click shows you why this work rocks.

Hail Angelina, fulla grace.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Jethro Monestime. You know he's destined to do something stupid.

Monestime used to work as a luggage handler at a Broward County airport. Used to, until he messed around with the airport's speaker system. WESH reports:
Monestime said he used his cell phone to play a recording (over the speakers) that said, quote: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, they should be put to death." The announcement came from a variation of Leviticus 20:13.

Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion Junior said the sheriff's office will turn the case over to the state attorney's office to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
Not coincidentally, a gay couple were within earshot of Monestime's "prank." Goodbye, Jethro, and good riddance.


It's the "Hey, Martha" story of the day, from Hendersonville, N.C.

Eric Congdon, owner of a motor-sports business, recently cracked open a crate from China and saw something move in the corner. A closer look revealed a cat -- in sorry shape, but alive.

The Associated Press asks:
How could China survive for so long on no food and water?

"Usually we say that animals can only survive a few weeks without food and only a few days without water," said Raleigh veterinarian Michelle Misavage. "The theory is that cats have such good kidneys their bodies adjust to the lack of water and somehow they received small amounts of moisture from condensation."
One of Congdon's employees plans to adopt the cat, now named China. We are reminded of the late, great Cashew, named in honor of the local delicacy. Such a good cat he was.


Bob Geldof, organizer of Live Aid and Live 8, the benefit concerts, spit on the Live Earth concerts planned by Al Gore for this summer, saying "everybody" knows about global warming.

The Associated Press reports:
"I hope they're a success," De Volkskrant newspaper quoted Geldof as saying in an interview.

"But why is (Gore) actually organizing them? To make us aware of the greenhouse effect? Everybody's known about that problem for years. We are all (expletive) conscious of global warming," he said.

Geldof, former front-man of The Boomtown Rats, organized the mammoth Live Aid concerts in 1985 to benefit victims of famine in Ethiopia and the Live 8 concerts in 2005 for African debt relief. He has dedicated much of his career to advocating on behalf of humanitarian causes.

"I would only organize (Live Earth) if I could go on stage and announce concrete environmental measures from the American presidential candidates, Congress or major corporations," he told the newspaper. "They haven't got those guarantees, so it's just an enormous pop concert or the umpteenth time that, say, Madonna or Coldplay get up on stage."
Live Earth shows are scheduled for July 7 in New York, London, Tokyo and four other cities around the globe.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Michael Francis Wiley is 40. This week, he was arrested following an eight-minute car chase in Pasco County, Fla.

It wasn't the first time Wiley tried to run from cops. WKMG reports:
He spent time in prison for kicking a Florida Highway Patrol trooper after an accident in 1996. He led police on a 120 mph chase in 1998.
The story is remarkable because Wiley has no arms and only one leg. He can't get a driver's license -- too many revocations. He's being held on $500,000 bond.

And yes, we wonder how a one-legged man kicked a trooper.


Got deep pockets? Want to help the Republicans regain control of Congress? Here's your chance.

Tickets are now on sale for the President's Dinner on June 13. No less a GOP heavyweight than Rep. Roy Blunt is making the big push to raise big bucks.

Blunt and Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina have penned a memo to fellow Republicans in Congress, asking the rank-and-file to make calls and sell tickets to the dinner. But they should have hired a proofreader first.

The Washington Post offers an excerpt of the letter:
"Following a disappointing loss of our majorities in the House and Senate, we need to restore the faith of the American voters in us. We heard their message this past November that we need to re-commit our priorities for lower taxes, securing our boarders [sic], supporting our troops and fiscal responsibility."
Republicans in Congress are expected to sell at least $40,000 in tickets to the $2,500-a-plate dinner. Blunt, the minority whip, has a goal of $150,000. He's advising his peers to "get one local donor from the congressional district to buy a table" for $25,000. We wonder who in southwest Missouri will pony up the dough when Blunt comes calling.


Joe Labero wants a show in Las Vegas. But the Swedish magician probably won't get his wish -- not after being quoted as saying Vegas is run by "Jewish business syndicates, American dollar millionaires and homosexual booking agents."

According to The Local:
As a prelude to his controversial thesis, Labero explained that he has long been close to getting his own show in Las Vegas.

"But at the end of the day it seems to be impossible -- unless you are a homosexual, a Jew or an American.

"I don't mean to sound prejudiced of course, I'm just cynical. A blond Swedish Viking will have a hard time breaking through the hierarchies that control Vegas, where power rests in the hands of Jewish business syndicates, American dollar millionaires and homosexual booking agents.

"But I will get there, sooner of later," Labero told the magazine Kupé.
Labero is reportedly setting aside his Vegas plans and aiming for the Asian market.


Tainted pet-food ingredients came from China. U.S. inspectors travel to China to investigate the factories. What do they find?

According to the Washington Post:
"There is nothing to be found. They are essentially shut down and not operating," said Walter Batts, deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration's office of international programs.
All closed, all cleaned up and cleaned out. Feel safer now?

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Edward Sanchez used to be a cop in Dearborn, Mich. But that changed after he started pilfering drugs in police custody -- and using them.

According to the Detroit Free Press:
The department's investigation began with a bizarre 911 call from Sanchez's home in Dearborn Heights. On the night of April 21, 2006, a panicky Sanchez told an emergency dispatcher he thought he and his wife were overdosing on marijuana.

"I think we're dying," he said in the 5-minute tape, obtained under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

"We made brownies and I think we're dead, I really do," Sanchez continued ...

When later questioned by police investigators, Sanchez said his wife took the marijuana out of his police vehicle while he was sleeping, and she told investigators she tricked him into eating a pot-laced brownie.

"Cpl. Sanchez was insistent that he would never ingest marijuana or any narcotics intentionally," an investigator wrote.

But in a subsequent interview, Sanchez acknowledged he fetched the marijuana from his car, put it in the brownie batter, and ate the brownies.

Sanchez also said he took the marijuana "off the street from unknown persons," investigators wrote.
Sanchez's wife, Stacy, also admitted to taking cocaine from hubby's cop car and tooting it away during a three-week binge.

The charges against Eddie and Stacy Sanchez? None. He was allowed to quit the police force without being charged with a crime. Dearborn police say he resigned during an internal investigation.


Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, the congresswoman from Missouri's 8th District, helped deliver what's being called a "blunt warning" to President Bush on his Iraq policy.

The New York Times reports that the meeting, held in the private residence of the White House, was unvarnished and included a dire prediction for Bush: If things don't improve in Iraq by this fall, more Republicans will wash their hands of the president.

According to the Times:
Representative Charles W. Dent of Pennsylvania, a co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, an alliance of about 30 moderate Republican lawmakers, helped arrange the meeting ...

Lawmakers said Mr. Bush made no commitments, but seemed grateful for their support and said a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq could cause the sort of chaos that occurred in Southeast Asia after Americans left Vietnam ...

The delegation included Representatives Mark Kirk of Illinois, another leader of the moderate coalition; Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania; James T. Walsh of New York; and Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri. Mr. Kirk, Mr. Walsh and Ms. Emerson declined to discuss the meeting.
Emerson's southern Missouri colleague, Rep. Roy Blunt, did not attend the meeting. No surprise there.


Everyone's favorite mammal, The Snarling Marmot, is casting her cyber net in search of the best local restaurants. Join the discussion by clicking here and nominating your favorite eateries. Marmot's picks:
•Favorite breakfast place: Anton’s
•Favorite deli/sandwich stop: Nearly Famous
•Favorite Mexican restaurant: Maria’s
•Favorite coffee: The Mudhouse
•Place I eat more often than I should because it’s close to the office: Quizno’s
Our pick: Haruno Sushi Bar & Grill.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


In 2004, Jason Knight was a petty officer, third class, in the U.S. Navy. He got married. But that only confirmed what he'd long suspected: He was gay.

Knight told his superiors. He was discharged under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The military took his $13,000 sign-on bonus.

Where is Jason Knight now?

Just finishing a one-year tour in Kuwait with Naval Customs Battalion Bravo. The Navy called him up for short-term active-duty recall. He's now a second-class petty officer.

Stars & Stripes reports:
"He's better than the average Sailor at his job," said Bill Driver, the leading petty officer of Knight's 15-person customs crew in Kuwait. "It's not at all a strange situation. As open as he is now, it was under wraps for quite a while. It wasn't an issue at work."

Another Sailor with the detail, Petty Officer 1st Class Tisha Hanson, works in admin and has had to process discharges for homosexual Sailors before.

"I've obviously never heard of something like this happening before," she said of Knight's return to active duty. "But it doesn't bother me. The Navy tends to keep people who don't want to be here, but Jason does."

In Knight's case, he was given an honorable discharge when booted from the Navy on April 4, 2005. Though it's not widely known, a clause in the military's policy on discharging gays allows commanders discretion on what form of discharge to give a gay servicemember.
"Don't ask, don't tell." Don't bother.


The 2007 hurricane season has begun. On Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center bestowed the name Andrea on a subtropical cyclone about 150 miles east of Jacksonville.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


It's Tuesday's feel-good story. O.J. Simpson walks into a restaurant in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby weekend. The restaurant owner walks over to Simpson and tells him to get lost.

Jeff Ruby owns the eatery. WCPO reports:
Ruby said he found Simpson in the Churchill room of his "Jeff Ruby's Louisville" steakhouse and told Simpson, "I'm not serving you."

Ruby said he did it for the Goldman and Brown families, referring, of course, to the families of the people O.J. was accused of killing.

Simpson was found not guilty in the criminal trial, but liable in a civil trial.

After telling Simpson to leave, he said the former NFL football star was "classy" about it, rounded up his party and left.

Then, Ruby said, he went into the Churchill Room to be sure they were gone and people at other tables started standing. "They all got up and gave me a standing ovation, started applauding."
O.J. Simpson in a steakhouse filled with knives. We'd applaud, too.


If what police say is true, Theresa Stanley-Morgan is a horrible excuse for a human.

According to this Associated Press report, Stanley-Morgan, 41, forced her 83-year-old housemate to smoke crack. Reason? To get the older woman loopy so Stanley-Morgan could rip her off, cops say.

Investigators in Pasco County, Fla., arrested Stanley-Morgan on April 28. They say she stole personal info from Shirley Hathaway and opened a credit card in Hathaway's name.

Charges include criminal use of personal identification, use of another person's ID without permission and retail theft, according to The AP.


Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar of Springdale, Ark. are ready, or so they say. The family will welcome their 17th child on July 27, when Jennifer Danielle is due.

She will join Joshua, 19; John David, 17; Janna, 17; Jill, 15; Jessa, 14; Jinger, 13; Joseph, 12; Josiah, 11; Joy-Anna, 10; Jeremiah, 8; Jedidiah, 8; Jason, 7, James, 5; Justin, 4; and Jackson Levi, 2; and Johanna Faith, 19 months.

You will note that "Jethro" remains unused.

The Associated Press reports that Michelle Duggar is thrilled to once again be a mom. Thrilled, and perhaps delusional:
"Here I am a mama with her 17th child on the way, and so many people think 'Oh you've got it all figured out,'" she said.
Anyone out there think she's got it all figured out?


Mitt Romney is, oddly, a lot like Bill Clinton -- handsome, charming, undeniably charismatic. And too glib for his own good.

Like Clinton, Romney has a knack for flip-flopping, especially if it can get him votes. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney was all about choice and inclusion. Now that he's running for president, his positions on abortion and gay rights have "modified," to use a polite word.

Last week, the 10 GOP candidates for president were asked about evolution. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas all signaled that they don't believe in evolution.

Romney gave no such sign.

Religious conservatives pounced. David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network seems intent on making Romney squirm. He asked Romney's camp about the candidate and evolution and got this response:
"Governor Romney believes both science and faith can help inform us about the origins of life in this world."
Not good enough for religious conservatives. Brody delivers the warning shot:
With all due respect, what does that mean exactly? It leaves me with more questions. I have asked for further clarification which I assume will be forthcoming here at the Brody File. I have now asked the Romney campaign specifically if he believes in Darwin's theory of Evolution or does he take the Creationist view? The answer above suggests that he may believe in both. I'm not saying he does. I'm just saying I'm a tad bit confused by the answer.

Here's the key point. The majority of Born Again Evangelicals take the Creationist viewpoint. Some Evangelicals already have concerns about Romney's Mormon faith. He needs support from Evangelicals to win. That's why this issue is an important one that needs to be cleared up. I don't think this is an issue that Romney can avoid. I believe his views need to be clear.
Question: Is it true that most evangelicals are creationists?

Monday, May 07, 2007


So says Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, the classified site that claims more than 7 billion hits a month.

And newspapers are to blame for their own inevitable screwing, Newmark told the Newspaper Association of America. Editor & Publisher covered Newmark's remarks:
Newmark doesn't feel guilty about the ongoing shift of classified dollars away from the medium. While he is a champion of more investigative reporting in newspapers -- which he admits costs money to fund -- he wasn't going to let the crowd boo-hoo about revenue woes. He deftly mentioned newspapers' high profit margins -- somewhere in the ballpark of 10% to 20% -- as proof there is plenty of money to feed investigative journalism and the newsroom. "I don't understand what the problem is," he said.

"People like Helen Thomas need backup," he said.
Newmark told the masters of ink that journalism isn't obsolete: "Even the kids realize news is important."

Newmark's blast, while refreshing, is far from new. The first time we heard it was in December 1990, when Geneva Overholser, then running the Des Moines Register, was named Gannett's editor of the year. As best editor Overholser got to give a speech at the company's annual dinner, and God bless her, she let 'em have it.

Gannett was making huge bucks, she noted. The Register's profits rose sharply after Gannett bought it in 1985 -- from about $6 million to $20.5 million just three years later. Why not settle for a little less profit for shareholders, and invest a little more in stakeholders?
"Here's my dream for the next risk-taking, history-making endeavor: Let Gannett show how corporate journalism can serve all its constituencies in hard times. As we sweat out the end of the ever-increasing quarterly earnings, as we necessarily attend to the needs and wishes of our shareholders and our advertisers, are we worrying enough about the other three? About our employees, our readers, and our communities?"
She warned them. Too bad they didn't listen.


Everette Simpson died on April 3 of smoke inhalation suffered in a house fire in Covington, La. His wife, Estelle, and her brother, Allen Martin, 75, were dead inside the house, but they didn't die from the flames or smoke. They'd been beaten dead.

The who was immediately clear -- Everette did it. The why and how are now much clearer. Everette Simpson had experience.

According to The Associated Press:
He spent nine years in a California prison for second-degree murder of his first wife, who was hacked 16 times with a butcher knife in 1960, and 11 years in Louisiana for manslaughter of his second wife, attacked with knife and hatchet and then smothered with a pillow in 1983, authorities said.
First wife Virginia Hudson was 35 when she died. Her husband was convicted of second-degree murder. Second wife Ruby Richardson died in 1983.


When it's cloudy and rainy, we like to jog over to Rapture Ready and see how close we are to the going-up elevator (as opposed to the weird movie from 1991 starring Mimi Rogers).

The RR people keep something called the Rapture Index; it purportedly measures world events and comes up with a formula -- an RPI without tall guys or March Madness.

The Rapture Index stands at 157 this week, down a couple points in recent days but still way off the mark set on Sept. 24, 2001, when the count hit 182 and atheists got ready for more elbow room.

Handy rapture factoid: On Dec. 12, 1993, the Rapture Index dropped to an all-time low of 57. Bill Clinton was in office. Things were relatively positive and peaceful. The rapture was on no horizon. More proof that it's all Clinton's fault.


As you're planning your Tuesday, keep in mind: Greene County government will be closed on Tuesday. It's Truman Day.

County PIO Jenny Fillmer Edwards gives us the history skinny:
Truman Day was established by the Missouri General Assembly in 1967 to honor Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States and the only Missourian to ever serve as president. Truman was born May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Mo.
We feel smarter.


The Associated Press reports the survivor of the Kansas tornado was found late Sunday; the news was confirmed Monday.

Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman Ron Knoefel gave no other details.


What is it? A whisk? A giant IUD?

We're sure it's a fake. We're also sure that by clicking here, you can come to your own conclusions.


The destroyed town of Greensburg, Kan. was hit again over the weekend, this time by soldiers and a police officer.

According to this Associated Press report, four soldiers and a reserve cop were arrested Sunday for allegedly stealing cigarettes and booze from a store.

The soldiers were from Fort Riley. They had no official business in Greensburg. They just wanted some free booze and smokes.


To ridicule, to mock, to kick around. Paris Hilton serves a purpose on this planet. Now that she's going to jail (or so we fervently hope), she's exceeding all expectations with her petulant whining. Excellent. All the more reason to mock her.

Reuters reports that Hilton is "visibly shocked and tearful" following her Friday sentencing to 45 days in jail. She's supposed to turn herself in by June 5, but she won't be going without a fight:
"I told the truth," Hilton told photographers waiting outside her Los Angeles home on Saturday night.

"I feel that I was treated unfairly and that the sentence is both cruel and unwarranted. I don't deserve this."

Her lawyer, Howard Weitzman, has said he will appeal "to modify the sentence."

Hilton's mother Kathy voiced her anger at the ruling over the weekend. "This is pathetic and disgusting, a waste of taxpayers' money with this nonsense. It is a joke," she told
Paris Hilton blames her (now-fired) publicist for the mess; she claims the publicist told her it was OK to drive, even though Hilton's license was suspended.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Bird lover? Flock to Burgos, Spain, and get an up close and personal experience with vultures. Starving vultures. Now on the attack.

According to Reuters:
In one incident, about 100 vultures killed a cow and her newborn calf, a rancher from the Mena Valley said, according to the Spanish government's office in Burgos, quoted by state news agency EFE.

Ranchers have complained that vultures started attacking livestock several months ago when a feeding station set up in the Ordunte mountains was closed by the neighbouring province of Vizcaya. Vultures prefer to feed on the carcasses of dead animals, but carrion is scarce in modern Spain.
Mmm. Carrion.


J.D. Crouch, a former professor at Missouri State University, is leaving the Bush White House.

Crouch, 48, resigned Friday as deputy national security adviser. Before 2001, he worked at MSU in the defense and strategic studies program.

According to The Associated Press:
Crouch, who has been President Bush's deputy national security adviser for more than two years, said the president never will be swayed by opposition to the war. Instead, Crouch said, Bush will use his resolve to help convince a broad section of Americans that it's important to be in Iraq.

"I think it was really the right thing to do, and I think history will bear that out," Crouch said emphatically in an interview Thursday.

Crouch, 48, said he's been thinking for months about leaving his job as deputy to the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. In announcing his resignation on Friday, Bush said Crouch has been "at the forefront in devising and implementing the new strategy to help build a peaceful, stable and secure Iraq."

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Consider this a companion piece to last week's post on the Democratic debate.

Ten men who want to be the next Republican in the White House gathered Thursday in California for the field's first debate, carried on MSNBC. When it was done, some things became very clear:

Rudy Giuliani was running hard for the Democratic nomination. You could almost feel the shriveling of his support among Republican primary voters. His shrugged answers to questions about Roe v. Wade and public funding for abortion in New York killed any chance of the ex-mayor becoming a GOP president.

Mitt Romney was charming, warm, intelligent. Almost too nice to be believed. As a candidate he's the real deal. But his acknowledged flip on abortion and his apparent flop on gay rights make primary voters suspicious. They want to like Romney, but do they really trust him?

Mike Huckabee exuded earnestness, especially when discussing his faith and the role it plays in shaping his decisions.

Sam Brownback, Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Jim Gilmore and Tom Tancredo shared one thing: no chance. They're Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel with better clothes.

(Not to say they don't have ideas that resonate. Thompson's welfare-reform work as governor of Wisconsin helped change the national landscape. Tancredo's hard line on illegal immigrants will be a factor in the 2008 race. But none of the eight names mentioned has a chance in hell of winning. Anyone who believes otherwise is living in Paul Tsongas land.

John McCain acted like Bob Dole in 1996, only older and more cranky. He probably won some points among Republican primary voters, the only people who matter right now to a GOP candidate. But McCain's overall performance was too fierce. We half-expected him to batter Chris Matthews and admittedly were disappointed when it didn't happen.

Lingering impression: Ten white guys on a stage -- 11, counting the ghost of Fred Thompson. The diversity of the Democratic field stands out in stark contrast.