Saturday, June 30, 2007


We've mentioned again and again the almost-irresistible allure of "To Catch A Predator," the Dateline segments featuring sting operations played out against alleged pervs.

There is reason to resist, and not just because the shows are more hype than anything else. Some excerpts from an Associated Press report about a sting gone awry in Murphy, Texas:
"Dateline" works with an activist group called Perverted Justice, which supplies adults who troll Internet chat rooms, posing as underage boys and girls, and try to collect incriminating sex talk.

City manager Craig Sherwood approved such an operation in this well- to-do community of 11,000 after being approached by "Dateline" and Perverted Justice, but he never informed the mayor or the City Council. He said secrecy was necessary for the sting to be effective.

Over four days in November, 24 men were arrested at a two-story home in one of Murphy's newer neighborhoods after allegedly arranging to meet boys or girls there.

Some other suspects contacted Perverted Justice decoys online but never showed up at the house. Among them was Louis Conradt Jr., an assistant prosecutor from neighboring Kauffman County, who allegedly engaged in a sexually explicit online chat with an adult posing as a 13-year-old boy.

As police knocked at his door and a "Dateline" camera crew waited in the street, Conradt shot himself. ...

last month, Collin County District Attorney John Roach dropped all charges. He said that in 16 of the cases, he had no jurisdiction, since neither the suspects nor the decoys were in the county during the online chats.

As for the rest of the cases, he said neither police nor NBC could guarantee the chat logs were authentic and complete. ...

Two weeks ago, the City Council voted to buy out the city manager's contract for $255,000.

NBC's Chris Hansen said Murphy is the only place the show has encountered such resistance.

"I don't want to get involved in the DA's business or the police business," he said. "I can tell you in the other locations, these issues did not come up."
Sorry, Chris Hansen, but you are involved in police business, and whether or not "these issues" happened in other locations, they did happen in Texas.


Figuratively and literally, in that order. Geoffrey MacMurdo and Anthony Giordano were roommates in New York in 2005. MacMurdo was injured in a car crash. Giordano told cops that he was MacMurdo's brother, and took possession of the injured man's wallet.

When he was done, MacMurdo was $22,000 in the hole. Now, Giordano faces judgment. The Associated Press reports:

Authorities said Giordano, 47, was already lying to his roommate at the time of the crash, telling MacMurdo he was a Sept. 11 victim and New York firefighter.

When MacMurdo was involved in the crash in June 2005 that eventually cost him his leg, Giordano claimed his belongings from officers, police said.

Giordano made more than $22,000 in charges on his roommate's credit cards and on new cards he took out in MacMurdo's name, police said. He used the cards at a strip club and to buy a 15-year-old Jeep, police said.
Jeep and a strip club. Stay classy, man.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


On the KY3 Political Blog, Dave Catanese writes about Hillary Clinton's campaign and its admission that Sen. Barack Obama may raise more money, a possibility that will be revealed when second-quarter fundraising closes on Saturday.

Dapper Dave quotes from the Clinton campaign blog:
"We expect to bring in about what we did in the First Quarter, or slightly more, which should put us in the range of $27 million. To put that figure in some perspective, it is more than any Democrat has ever raised in the second quarter of the "off" year. While that figure is record setting, we do expect Senator Obama to significantly outraise us this quarter," writes communications director Howard Wolfson on the campaign's blog today.

I always feel a bit queasy when I write strictly about money when measuring a candidate. It just seems wrong that we put so much of an emphasis on dollar amounts.

But that being said, the conventional wisdom is that if Sen. Barack Obama is able to outraise Clinton for a second consecutive quarter, it's a big story.
Sounds like Clinton's people are playing double-psych with the Obama camp. If Obama doesn't "significantly outraise" Clinton in Q2, he'll look like he fell short of expectations. If she raises north of $30 million and comes close to Obama's total, she'll be the winner.

Nothing but a ritual dance in the sun. No wonder so many people hate politics.


... to Relevant To Me, an addition to the blogroll. We're waiting to hear about his new phase of life. Visit RTM and find out more.


And we made it. Humankind is on the brink of creating a new form of artificial life. The Telegraph reports:
In a development that has triggered unease and excitement in equal measure, scientists took the whole genetic makeup - or genome - of a bacterial cell and transplanted it into a closely related species.

This then began to grow and multiply in the lab, turning into the first species in the process.

The team that carried out the first “species transplant” says it plans within months to do the same thing with a synthetic genome made from scratch in the laboratory. ...

Since the 1970s, scientists have moved genes - instructions to make proteins - between different organisms.

But this marks the first time that the entire instruction set, consisting of more than a million “letters” of DNA, has been transplanted, transforming one species of bacterium into another.
Tinkering with what we don't know. We'll never learn.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The host of the "Tonight Show" on NBC is scheduled to get scarce in the next couple years, with Conan O'Brien set to replace him at the 10:30 p.m. helm. But Dlisted cites a National Enquirer report that Leno isn't going anywhere:
The sources also say that apparently Jay makes the network a lot of money and they want him to stay. Insiders also say they are trying to get Jon Stewart in his place if Conan decides to leave after this.
Jon Stewart at 11:30 p.m. Central? What a waste.


The Associated Press reports:
Claiborne died Tuesday at the New York Presbyterian Hospital after suffering from cancer for a number of years, said Gwen Satterfield, personal assistant to Claiborne.

Claiborne founded Liz Claiborne Inc. in 1976 along with her husband Art Ortenberg and Leonard Boxer. Their goal was to create a collection of outfits aimed at the growing number of women entering the work force.

The new approach to dressing revolutionized the department store industry, which had only focused on stocking pants in one department and skirts in another. Liz Claiborne executives were instrumental in working with department stores to present all the related pieces of a wardrobe in one department.

The clothes became an instant hit, and the company went public in 1981. By 1985, Liz Claiborne Inc. was the first company founded by a woman to be listed in the Fortune 500, according to the company's Web site. The company, whose brands now include Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman and Juicy Couture, generated sales of almost $5 billion last year.
Our Texas bureau gets the point, followed by a flurry of near-winners.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The professional wrestler was found dead on Monday, near the bodies of his wife and 7-year-old son.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Investigators believe the 40-year-old Benoit killed his wife, Nancy, and 7-year-old son, Daniel, over the weekend, then himself on Monday. The bodies were found in three rooms.

"The details, when they come out," said Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard, "are going to prove a little bizarre."

World Wrestling Entertainment said on its Web site that it asked authorities to check on Benoit and his family after being alerted by friends who received "several curious text messages sent by Benoit early Sunday morning."

Deputies checking on the family at the behest of Benoit's employer discovered the bodies on Monday afternoon at their home on Green Meadow Lane.
More than a little bizarre. And tragic.


Fifty-seven years since Korea. Chosun has rarely seen photos of the Korean War, the series of battles forgotten by most people in the United States.

Our father was 20 when his stint in that war began. We think of him when we read about the current war, and the young adults baptized by that blood.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


All empires, benevolent or malevolent, eventually collapse. Look at Rome, the Ottoman -- even Monkey Wards. Sprawling empires, all, now reduced to footstool status.

There are always warning signs. Romulus knew that Odoacer was coming for him. Montgomery Ward knew all about suburbia and the rise of the malls. But gargantuans are slow to turn, clumsy to maneuver.

Opinion-driven media has been an empire for several years. Bolstered by the death of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the opinionators -- overwhelmingly conservative -- have amassed the kind of power and influence that Charles Coughlin used to pray and bray for.

Cable news networks rely on opinion (and its ill-mannered cousin, invective) to create "good TV." Newspaper chains like Gannett are putting the emphasis on "community conversation," giving more column inches to conjecture.

But talk radio is clearly King of the Opinion Empire. Politicians genuflect and pucker. Last week, Sen. Trent Lott grumbled at the defeat of immigration legislation and said "talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem."

Sunday saw Lott in full backpeddle:
One of the mistakes that we have made many times on legislation is it's introduced, it comes out of committee, we bring it to the floor. We never bother to explain what we're trying to do and what is in it.

I think that was the mistake that was made with immigration. Talk radio defined it without us explaining that there were reasons for it and the good things that were in it.

So the onus is not on them, it's on us to do a better job of communicating what we're trying to do.

And I just want to make — you know, look, I've been defended by talk radio many times and I will support their right to tell their side of the story, right, left or the middle, forever.
Lott knows there's very little left-wing (or middle) content on talk radio. Anyone with a clue and a radio knows it's true.

Apparently clueless: The Center for American Progress, "a progressive think-tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action."

The center issued a report (.pdf file) late last week about talk radio. You will be amazed that the center is amazed to learn that talk radio is big -- and overwhelmingly conservative:
•91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.

•Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk -- 10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

•Through more than 1,700 stations across the nation, the combined news/talk format is estimated to reach more than 50 million listeners each week.
These are the warning signs for the Opinion Empire. Newspapers are trying to imitate them. Politicians are questioning their power. And the clueless have finally gotten a clue. They realize that radio stations are supposed to "serve the public interest," a standard that can't be squared with flat partisanship and contempt for those with opposing viewpoints.

The Opinion Empire has never been more popular. Popularity breeds contempt.


Given the flurry of debate over the awarding of pre-points in the Great Game of Mortality, this clarification to the rules:

A pre-point is won if a death happens within 48 hours of a player's call. Thus, Addie's Lady Bird Johnson call expires (no pun intended) at 6:18 p.m. Sunday. Section B of this rule prohibits a player from active participation in the death. No slayings allowed, Addie. Behave.

Friday, June 22, 2007


The former First Lady was hospitalized Friday. The Associated Press reports that Johnson, 94, "is awake and receiving visits from family members and friends."

Also from the story:
Johnson was hospitalized with a stroke in 2002, and it left her with difficulty speaking. But she has continued to make public appearances and last month appeared at an event at the LBJ Library and Museum.
If this goes badly, Addie will earn the point.


Firefighters in Edinburg, Texas, spent a long time putting out a warehouse fire this week. Nearly three dozen professionals battled the blaze that burned up 2,000 pounds of marijuana.

The Associated Press reports:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were investigating the origin of the drugs. The Hidalgo County fire marshal was investigating whether arson was the cause.

Fire Chief Shawn Snider said Thursday the firefighters were exposed to so much marijuana smoke that they would not be able to pass a drug test, despite wearing air packs to prevent them from inhaling toxic or hazardous fumes.
Or so the firefighters told the chief.


Rich Ramirez, an editor and writer for the San Jose Mercury News, was found dead in his backyard, stabbed in the midsection. That was Wednesday.

On Friday, police said the death appeared to be a suicide. The Mercury News reports:
A coroner's spokesman said the death was considered a "possible suicide," adding that self-inflicted knife wounds are uncommon but not unheard-of as a cause of death.

Livermore police said Thursday that they are investigating the death as "suspicious." Lt. Scott Trudeau would not release details but said there was "nothing to indicate" that anyone besides Ramirez "was involved."

The exact reasons why he would have taken his own life were unclear. He had been worried about the newspaper's plans to eliminate about 40 newsroom jobs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


In South Carolina, the Pickens County Library System has shuttered its summer program, after callers claimed the classes promoted "witchcraft."

The School Library Journal reports:
The astrology program was labeled as "witchcraft" by callers, while the Zen garden and yoga programs were objected to as "promoting other religions." The t-shirts workshop? "Promotes the hippie culture and drug use," callers said.
Some complainers said they would "get" the library system. A reporter traced some of the menacing calls and e-mails to members of a Baptist church. Jesus must be proud.


Some people who condemn homosexuality as purely nurture-based behavior have, in past, been stymied by evidence that many animals engage in same-sex relations.

But they've found a new argument. Robert A.J. Gagnon, an associate professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, outlines it for LifeSite:
"I never used my dear departed dog 'Cocoa' and her instinctive sexual habits as a basis for determining what is 'natural' behavior. You can find animals of various species where some part of the population at least practices incest, pedophilia, extreme polyamory, and cross-species sex, along with same-sex activity."
You forgot cannibalism, Bob.


Cripes. Already Wednesday. Sorry we let the week get past us; we're still getting reacquainted with the sound of scanners.

Special thanks to Doc Larry, Snarling Marmot, Strannix, the man we like to call MoJo and everyone else from Blogistan who left comments about our change of address. Much appreciated, and more touching than we'd like to admit.

OK. Time to blog. Incoming.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Regular CHATTER addicts may have noticed a lapse in AM postings. There's a simple reason. The chief typist has accepted a post as senior producer of KSPR, the ABC affiliate in Springfield, Mo.

It's a cool gig. And don't worry. No obit for the blog.

Just some information for you. More posting this evening, after the video dust settles.

Monday, June 18, 2007


So reports City Weekly Media Watch in Omaha (thanks, DC). The eyeballs in Omaha say Donna and Mitch Baker -- former Springfield radio bigs -- were "escorted from the building" at Clear Channel's Omaha properties.

She had been the group's veep and market manager. He was ops manager. According to the report:
Clear Channel's corporate communications director did not return phone calls, nor did Donna Baker or Dave Crowl, Clear Channel Radio Senior Vice President of the Midwest region, who is handling operations in the interim.

The Bakers had been at Clear Channel since June of 2003. Donna replaced Tracy Gilliam, who moved to Los Angeles.

According to industry insiders, the five stations in the Omaha cluster – KFAB (1110 AM), KXKT (103.7 FM), KGOR (99.9 FM), KHUS (93.3 FM) and KQBW (96.1 FM) were on target for budget projections.
Make budget goals, get three stations in the top four, lose your job. That's radio. Such a lovely biz.

Speaking of radio, Art Morris' Missouri Radio Message Board has a Baker discussion going. Peek in.


Seymour Hersh strikes again. His latest report in the New Yorker is a deep story about retired Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba.

Taguba, as you may remember, led the Army's first investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. His interview with Hersh gives the clearest picture yet of the Pentagon under Don Rumsfeld's watch. It is ugly.

Hersh recounts Rumsfeld's 2004 testimony before Congress:
Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7th, claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse. “It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn’t say, ‘Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,’ ” Rumsfeld told the congressmen. “I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn’t.” ...

Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld’s testimony was simply not true. “The photographs were available to him—if he wanted to see them,” Taguba said. Rumsfeld’s lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, “Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit. He’s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.” It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.

“The whole idea that Rumsfeld projects—‘We’re here to protect the nation from terrorism’—is an oxymoron,” Taguba said. “He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they’ve dragged a lot of officers with them.”
Taguba also says this:

"I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values."

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Hannah Klamecki was dead and everyone knew it. She and her grandfather were last seen on Wednesday at the Kankakee River near Momence, Ill. His body was pulled from the river on Friday.

Then Hannah, 5, walked out of the woods with a handful of raspberries.

The Associated Press reports:
"People were like, 'Who's that little girl? That can't be her, can it?"' Kankakee Sheriff's Chief Deputy Ken McCabe said. "I went up to her (and) asked, 'How you doing? What's your name?"' ...

Hannah was taken to a hospital as a precaution. She slept with her parents and a teddy bear at her side before being released. Cradling the bear, she spoke freely of her ordeal Friday evening.

"I was scared last night when everybody was gone," she said. "I went searching all over the world to look for the cottage (where her grandparents live)."

Hannah had scratches on her face and body and thick dirt under her nails. She had poison ivy rashes on her legs and couldn't walk because splinters and thorns cut her feet. ...

Authorities believe the river current swept the girl away from a small island where she and her grandfather had stopped to swim and to the shore of the mainland where she eventually was found.

She told searchers she was wearing floats on her arms and pulled herself from the water with a branch.

"That's a tough little girl, I tell you," McCabe said.
Tougher than at least one 26-year-old woman who couldn't survive two hours in the woods, much less two days.


Savannah Larson, a middle-school student in Longview, Wash., had apparently complained several times to school administrators about her music teacher, Ms. Noakes.

Constance S. "Connie" Noakes liked to curse in class, the 13-year-old student claimed. But nothing came of Savannah's complaints.

This month, Savannah took her message to a wider audience. As The Associated Press reports:
Larson gave the first performance in the spring concert attended by about 700 students, teachers, relatives and friends at Monticello Middle School. At the end of singing Rogers & Hart's "Where or When," she delivered what first appeared to be a verbal nod to the instructor,

"I forgot to thank my wonderful choir teacher, Ms. Noakes, for all that she's taught me these past couple of years, like always knowing what to say in any situation, like...," Larson began, then let fly a stream of expletives and obscenities she said Noakes regularly used in class.

The next day, June 6, the eighth grade honors student was suspended for 10 school days, forcing her to miss her graduation ceremony and party.
Noakes still has her job, but the school district says it's looking into the allegations about her language and classroom behavior. Seems they finally got the message.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court heard a free-speech case involving a student holding a sign proclaiming "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

The Washington Post reports that Justice Samuel Alito -- a pivotal vote -- seems to be a saving grace for First Amendment fanboys and girls:
"I'm a very strong believer in the First Amendment and the right of people to speak and to write," Alito said in response to a question of "where's the line" on what can be posted on the Internet. "I would be reluctant to support restrictions on what people could say."

The newest justice, who was protective of speech rights as an appellate judge, added that "some restrictions have been held to be consistent with the First Amendment, but it's very dangerous for the government to restrict speech."
That sound you hear is the faint "bong" of liberal heads exploding at the thought of conservative Sam Alito being on their side.


Cowboys 2000, the now-a-memory Springfield nightclub, is being sued by a woman who claims she suffered injuries to her teeth last year. A News-Leader report on a lawsuit includes this keeper line:
Sundae Mundy filed a petition against Cowboys 2000 in Greene County Circuit Court.
Mundy claims the incident happened on Aug. 17, 2006. For those of you scoring at home, that was a Thursday.


The wife of the Rev. Billy Graham was his "life partner." According to The Associated Press:
In a statement, Billy Graham says he and Ruth "were called by God as a team" and that his ministry "would have been impossible without her encouragement and support."

The 88-year-old evangelist says, "I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."

The family plans a private interment ceremony and a public memorial service.
Matt Lyons clocks in first with the news, with Brother Richard coming in close behind.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Springfield's bid to capture the movie premiere of "The Simpsons" goes goofy on Saturday, with a public filming on Park Central Square. It's a cattle call, kids, with more than 400 extras needed for a scene "depicting a downtown commotion over the prospective premiere of the movie."

Details from the Convention and Visitors Bureau:
1) Need to meet in the square itself at 11 a.m. Filming will last no later than 4 p.m.
2) Should consider bringing the whole family for the filming.
3) Will complete a release form (Minors must bring a guardian to sign.).
4) Are encouraged to bring creative signs in protest of The Simpsons Movie coming to Springfield, Missouri. Signs cannot include profanity. Some suggestions include: “Simpsons. No way. No how.” “Go home Hollywood!” “D’ohn’t Come Here” “I Prefer Springfield Cardinals Homers.” “Bart Simpson: Eat MY Shorts!” “Dooooughnuts. Nuts is Right!”
Seems they're trying mighty hard to land the movie premiere. Too hard, probably. The theme of Springfield's entry is apparently anti-Simpsons. Sorry, but even Cletus and Brandine would see through that reverse psychology.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Edith Isabel Rodriguez died of a perforated bowel last month in Los Angeles. Tragic, but not news.

But her death is a national story for several reasons. Two people separately called 911 as Rodriguez was dying and begged for paramedics to help her.

Both callers were spurned by emergency dispatchers -- because Rodriguez was already at a hospital. In the lobby of the emergency room. Bleeding out for 45 minutes as medical staff ignored her and a janitor mopped the blood Rodriguez was vomiting.

A report in the Los Angeles Times details the two 911 calls. The first came from Rodriguez's boyfriend, who was told paramedics wouldn't respond to a hospital.

The second call was made eight minutes later. A different dispatcher fielded the call from a woman, identified by the Times as "apparently another patient" at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital:
"Ma'am, I cannot do anything for you for the quality of the hospital there," the dispatcher said. "Do you understand what I'm saying? This line is for emergency purposes only ... 911 is used for emergency purposes only."

The woman replied, "This is an emergency, mister."

The dispatcher cut her off. "It is not an emergency. It is not an emergency, ma'am."

"It is," the woman said.

"It is not an emergency," the dispatcher replied.

"You're not here to see how they're treating her," the bystander said.

"OK, well, that's not a criminal thing. You understand what I'm saying?" the dispatcher said. ...

The 2 1/2 minute call ended on a hostile note.

"May God strike you too for acting the way you just acted," the frustrated caller told the dispatcher, just before 2 a.m. on May 9.

"Negative ma'am, you're the one," the dispatcher responded before disconnecting. ...

[Sheriff's Capt. Steven M.] Roller said the Sheriff's Department does not have a policy for responding to calls for medical aid from hospitals. He said the two 911 calls weren't linked by dispatchers because neither was deemed to merit a response, and therefore neither was logged in the computer as calls for service.
The second 911 dispatcher received written "counseling" for being rude, according to the Times. Edith Isabel Rodriguez was buried Tuesday.


The bowhead whale weighed 50 tons when it was caught in waters off Alaska. Embedded in its neck was a small piece of metal -- an arrow-shaped weapon that was made, and fired, more than 100 years ago.

The Associated Press reports:
Calculating a whale's age can be difficult, and is usually gauged by amino acids in the eye lenses. It's rare to find one that has lived more than a century, but experts say the oldest were close to 200 years old.

The bomb lance fragment, lodged a bone between the whale's neck and shoulder blade, was likely manufactured in New Bedford, on the southeast coast of Massachusetts, a major whaling center at that time, said John Bockstoce, an adjunct curator of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

It was probably shot at the whale from a heavy shoulder gun around 1890. The small metal cylinder was filled with explosives fitted with a time-delay fuse so it would explode seconds after it was shot into the whale. The bomb lance was meant to kill the whale immediately and prevent it from escaping.

The device exploded and probably injured the whale, Bockstoce said.

"It probably hurt the whale, or annoyed him, but it hit him in a non-lethal place," he said. "He couldn't have been that bothered if he lived for another 100 years."
Researchers say the captured whale was probably 115 years old. Just a kid when it was shot.


Don Herbert was his name, and he was a month shy of his 90th birthday. He died Tuesday of cancer. According to his web site:
We all feel lucky to have known and worked with Don and we have been honored to carry on his legacy as an original and truly legendary figure in the worlds of both Television and Science Education. He has been inspirational and influential in so many ways and on so many lives and we are comforted in the fact that his ground breaking work and legacy will continue to inspire many more people for years to come.
The first Mr. Wizard episode aired on WMAQ in 1951.

Monday, June 11, 2007


The Project for Excellence in Journalism has studied the amount of time mainstream media outlets spend on coverage of the war in Iraq. Fox News is the outlier, spending about half as much time on the war as MSNBC.

The Associated Press reports:
The difference was more stark during daytime news hours than in prime-time opinion shows. The Iraq war occupied 20 percent of CNN's daytime news hole and 18 percent of MSNBC's. On Fox, the war was talked about only 6 percent of the time. ...

There are no similar differences in priorities among the broadcast evening-news programs, where Iraq was the top story between January and the end of March. NBC's Nightly News spent 269 minutes on Iraq, ABC had 251 and CBS 238, according to news consultant Andrew Tyndall.

Another story that has reflected poorly on the Bush administration, the controversy over U.S. attorney firings, also received more attention on MSNBC (8 percent of the newshole) and CNN (4 percent) than on Fox (2 percent), the Project for Excellence in Journalism found.
What's it mean? The cardboard cutouts masquerading as liberal pundits will say it shows Fox News is biased. Their shallow conservative counterparts will claim it's another example of liberal media bias, aimed at hurting President Bush.

The study proves one thing: Fox has a remarkably different news agenda than any of its mainstream media competitors. Whether this is good or bad for civilization as we know it is up for debate. Your turn to decide reality.


For those who don't remember or don't care to, Hideki Tojo was the Japanese general and prime minister who ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was executed in 1948 for war crimes.

His granddaughter is named Yuko; she is 68 and, by her own words, very much like her grandfather.

To that end she is running for office, as an independent for parliament's upper house. The election is in July. The Associated Press reports:
An ultra-nationalist, her mission is to restore Japan's honor by scrapping its pacifist constitution and enacting a full-fledged military, giving the country the clout she says it deserves.

"I was born as Hideki Tojo's granddaughter, and as a Japanese national. I cannot see Japan go on like this, with no confidence or pride," Tojo told The Associated Press. "I do not think the war dead gave their lives for a country like this."

Her views are part of a resurgent right-wing fringe in Japan that espouses a hard line in territorial disputes with the country's neighbors and a rose-tinted view of its past militarism. However, she may be too far to the right even for Japan's nationalists, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who have distanced themselves from her.
Hideki Tojo pushed eugenics in hopes of creating a master race of warriors.


Springfield developer Sam Hamra is at it again. It wasn't enough that an April report showed Hamra wanted tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission, and he wasn't above threatening Gov. Matt Blunt -- in writing -- that no tax credits might mean no political (and financial) support from Hamra come election time.

Hamra wrote the governor to remind him that he had raised $400,000 for Blunt, but if the tax credits didn't flow Hamra's way, the developer might have to support Jay Nixon, the Democratic attorney general running for governor. Many local political watchers remain astonished at Hamra's hubris; it's one thing to grouse about helping pols and getting the cold shoulder, but quite another to actually put the complaint in writing.

Sunday, the Columbia Tribune joined the media coverage with a piece detailing how Hamra got the stiff arm from Blunt:
Blunt rejected Hamra’s letter, saying it was "the most offensive and improper communication I have ever received." In a written response, the governor said the letter asked him to do things "I would never consent to do."

Blunt wrote that if he and Nixon were opponents for the same office, "I suggest you support him."

"I am not for sale," Blunt said. "Perhaps he is."

In an interview, Hamra said he later apologized to Blunt. "I didn’t intend to cast any adverse reflections on anyone," Hamra said.
The News-Leader's Tony Messenger picked up on the Trib story, writing Monday that the paper "continues to lead the way" in reporting on the Hamra-Blunt dust-up.

Unmentioned by Messenger is the unfortunate lack of local print coverage on this story. Both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Columbia Tribune have each devoted dozens of column inches to the controversy. The News-Leader has not, even though the story is about a local developer, a governor from Springfield -- and another developer making plenty of money from the tax credits. That developer happens to be the mayor of Springfield.


Fifty years ago this week, Tulsa bigshots buried a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere in the courthouse lawn. Reason? It was part of an elaborate time capsule, designed to show the weird future people of 2007 what life was like in that uncivilized era known as the Fifties.

Friday, they're digging up the car. In the glove box -- Dad used to call it a "cubbyhole" -- the curious should find a bottle of tranks, according to the Tulsa World. From the paper's June 15, 1957 edition:
The tranquilizer pills got into the act when the committee decided to make the auto typical by stocking the glove compartment with the contents of a woman's handbag.

The pills showed up along with 14 bobby pins, a compact, cigarettes and matches, two combs, an unpaid parking ticket, a tube of lipstick, a package of gum, a plastic rain hat, pocket facial tissues and $2.73 in bills and coins.
There's also a case of 3.2 beer in the Belvedere. Thanks, 1957.


Chad Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals ran a race against a horse over the weekend. Somehow, the horse lost. Blood Horse reports:
Johnson sprinted one-sixteenth of a mile in 11.1 seconds to defeat Thoroughbred racehorse Restore the Roar on the turf at River Downs in Ohio. The photo finish showed Johnson ahead by 12 horse lengths at the wire. ...

Restore the Roar, a 4-year-old colt named after a Bengal-themed cheer, broke well at the eighth pole but took a while to get up his momentum. “I rode him hard every jump of the way, but I think he's more of a route horse,” said Patricia Cooksey, who came out of retirement to challenge Johnson. In 1993, Cooksey defeated Bengal Chris Collinsworth in a similar match race at River Downs.
Johnson did not have a small man riding on his back.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Hey hey, they're The Monkees, and they want into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. No, really. And band member Peter Tork blames Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner for simian-blocking the band from its due. According to the New York Post:
"Jann Wenner is single-handedly keeping us out of the Hall of Fame," the mop-topped bass player for the '60s group told Page Six. He said Wenner, who co-founded and is a vice-chairman of the Cleveland-based museum, "doesn't care what the rules are and just operates how he sees fit. It is an abuse of power. I don't know whether The Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame, but it's pretty clear that we're not in there because of a personal whim."

Tork points out a recent incident in which Wenner was accused of intervening with the Hall of Fame's voting committee to induct Grandmaster Flash instead of the Dave Clark Five, even though the British Invasion band had more votes.

"He single-handedly replaced a director and overrode a vote," charged Tork, who now plays with a group called Shoe Suede Blues, which has a new CD, "Cambria Hotel," out and will perform July 3 at The Cutting Room.

Tork believes Wenner doesn't like the fact that The Monkees, who were originally cast as actors for a TV sitcom, didn't play their own instruments on their first two records. "Jann seems to have taken it harder than everyone else, and now, 40 years later, everybody says, 'What's the big deal? Everybody else does it.' Nobody cares now except him. He feels his moral judgment in 1967 and 1968 is supposed to serve in 2007."
The Monkees haven't been nominated for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This seems about right.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


And he's only 24. That takes some doing. WKMG reports:
A Central Florida man whose driver's license has been suspended 33 times was pulled over on Wednesday for an expired tag and arrested on weapons and drug charges, according to police.
Keith Ferdinand Gumbs was busted at 9:10 in the morning. Cops say Gumbs was carrying marijuana and a 9mm Glock. He was also arrested for "non-moving traffic violations."

Friday, June 08, 2007


He's slender, in his 20s -- and he likes to wear diapers. KTUL reports:
The man has walked into at least three Tulsa area convenience stores wearing regular clothing. He goes into the store restroom, changes into a diaper and then comes walking back out.

On at least one occasion, the man has exposed himself to a store employee. He has also asked the clerk what she thought of the diaper.
The answer: Depends.


Paris Hilton, the heiress famous for amateur porn, was sent back to the hoosegow on Friday. The judge, unhappy that Hilton had been released and placed under house arrest, ordered her back behind bars to serve the rest of a 45-day sentence for driving drunk and not having a license.

The Associated Press penned these precious grafs:
"It's not right!" shouted the weeping Hilton. "Mom!" she called out to her mother in the audience.

Hilton arrived in court with hair askew and wearing a gray fuzzy sweatshirt over slacks. She wore no makeup and she cried throughout the hearing.
There is a God and he is just.


Could be. The rover known as Opportunity took pictures of an area on Mars; further analysis seems to show ponds of water on the red planet.

New Scientist reports:
The report identifies specific spots that appear to have contained liquid water two years ago, when Opportunity was exploring a crater called Endurance. It is a highly controversial claim, as many scientists believe that liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars today because of the planet’s thin atmosphere.

If confirmed, the existence of such ponds would significantly boost the odds that living organisms could survive on or near the surface of Mars, says physicist Ron Levin, the report's lead author, who works in advanced image processing at the aerospace company Lockheed Martin in Arizona.

Along with fellow Lockheed engineer Daniel Lyddy, Levin used images from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's website. The resulting stereoscopic reconstructions, made from paired images from the Opportunity rover's twin cameras, show bluish features that look perfectly flat. The surfaces are so smooth that the computer could not find any surface details within those areas to match up between the two images.

The imaging shows that the areas occupy the lowest parts of the terrain. They also appear transparent: some features, which Levin says may be submerged rocks or pebbles, can be seen below the plane of the smooth surface.
Sure looks like water to us.


Gary Edward Rademacher -- a former elementary-school principal known as "Dr. R." to parents -- has been charged with possession of child porn.

Greene County prosecutors on Friday charged Rademacher, 53, with 10 counts of the Class D felony.

Rademacher last served as a teacher at Jarrett Middle School, but sources say he hasn't been actively teaching for several weeks. His name isn't listed on the school's web site. Before working at Jarrett, Rademacher was principal of Rountree, a center-city elementary school.

Prosecutors say Rademacher was nabbed after he took a hard drive from his home computer to be repaired. A technician there reportedly found apparent child porn and notified police.

From a probable cause statement from the Springfield Police Department:
All of the child porn images were of young boys, except one. There was one girl in the suspected child pornography images, and hardly any of the photos or video files on Gary's computer hardware and computer storage media contained images of females. There were 225,628 jpeg images on Gary's computer and storage media, and 520 movie files.
Rademacher is, or was, a Boy Scout leader for Troop 31.


Medical staff at a hospital in Vancouver were stunned recently when a patient started spilling green blood.

According to Sky News:
Tests showed the 42-year-old man's red blood cells had been absorbing sulphur, causing the strange colouring.

The patient, a Canadian, had developed "compartment syndrome" in both lower legs after falling asleep in a sitting position.

It is caused by restricted blood flow.

The report says the patient - who had been taking migraine medication, which caused the sulphur - recovered well.:
Didn't Spock have green blood?

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Welcome to the blogroll:

Hybrid Theory Wonders, about "family, sports, and whatever else is running around up there."

Haller.4.Me, by Brad Haller.

Dive Bar Review from The Secret Drinker, the Ozarks' newest superhero.

•Who don't love Rude Clerk?

Corner of the Sky claims to have found and staked claim to a corner of said sky.

Click, read, collect and trade with your friends.


Edwin R. Hall has been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in the weekend death of Kelsey Smith. The 18-year-old vanished from the parking lot of a Target store in Overland Park, Kan.; her body was found Wednesday, and Hall was arrested a few hours later.

He is 26. Cops released his mug shot on Thursday. The Kansas City Star has it, along with several stories.

Look at this mug. Innocent until proven guilty, and all that, but one thought instantly springs to mind: Creep show.


In the Nasca region of Peru, archaeologists have found a headless skeleton. Next to it is a ceramic "head jar" with two painted faces.

National Geographic has the story and the fascinating photo. The smart ones believe this was a "rite of ancestral worship."

1717 E. DELMAR ST.

The house is easy to miss. Just to its east is Glenstone Avenue, a clogged main drag. To the west, the homes get bigger, the neighborhood gets fancier, and so there is little reason to pay any attention to the one-story at 1717 E. Delmar St.

But the unremarkable house is home to the most remarkable crime in Springfield history. Fifteen years ago Thursday, a mother and two teens were taken from the house on Delmar, and no one known has seen them since.

Anyone living in Springfield 15 years ago will remember that summer for its frustrating intensity -- search teams in the fields, a police command post in front of the house, daily stories on the front page of the newspaper and the top of every TV newscast.

Most everyone we knew back then thought the missing would eventually be found. A hunter or hiker would stumble over remains. A bad guy would confess. Something would break and the lost would be found.

A week passed, then a month. A year. Five. Ten.

Now this -- a 15th anniversary, a milestone that in happiness is marked with crystal. This sad anniversary gets the media treatment. Here's a link to the News-Leader's coverage. KY3's coverage is here.

The next time you hear of Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall, it will be June 7, 2012.


Paris Hilton is out of jail, depriving cable news networks of their chance to use somber music and fancy graphics to count the number of days Hilton spent in stir.

CNN reports Hilton was freed Thursday morning and is now under house arrest. She's wearing an electronic monitor for the next 40 days.

Why house arrest? Police say it's for "medical reasons." Officially, Hilton served five days behind bars.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Police near Overland Park, Kan., have found a body while searching for Kelsey Smith, the 18-year-old who vanished from Oak Park Mall over the weekend.

KSHB reports that the body was discovered Wednesday afternoon near Highgrove and Raytown Roads.


A cool photo awaits you at Live Science, where you'll also find the report on a 1,600-year-old metropolis found by satellite imagery.

From Live Science:
Images captured from space pinpoint telltale signs of previous habitation in the swatch of land 200 miles south of Cairo, which digging recently confirmed as an ancient settlement dating from about 400 A.D.

The find is part of a larger project aiming to map as much of ancient Egypt's archaeological sites, or "tells," as possible before they are destroyed or covered by modern development.

"It is the biggest site discovered so far," said project leader Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Based on the coins and pottery we found, it appears to be a massive regional center that traded with Greece, Turkey and Libya."
Parcak has found about 400 sites by satellite. The oldest one is more than 5,000 years old.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


The Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony in the Justice Department scandal from Bradley Schlozman, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Schlozman was pummeled by Sen. Pat Leahy, chairman of the committee. Talking Points Memo has the vid. It's worth a looksee and a listen, if only to hear Schlozman's incredible voice, and his sudden loss of all intelligence.


Member of the 100 Club, better known as the U.S. Senate. Died of leukemia.

According to The Associated Press:
Thomas was hospitalized with pneumonia just before the 2006 election, but won with 70 percent of the vote, monitoring the election from his hospital bed.

Two days after the election, Thomas announced that he had just been diagnosed with leukemia.

President Bush called Thomas "a man of character and integrity known for his devotion to the values he shared with the people of Wyoming."

"He leaves a lasting legacy as a guardian of Wyoming's lands and resources and our country's National Parks," Bush said.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, will appoint a successor from one of three finalists chosen.
The point goes to Brother Richard.


Two former U.S. Attorneys for the Western District of Missouri will testify today before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the continuing scandal inside the Department of Justice.

Todd Graves and Bradley Schlozman are due to testify Tuesday afternoon. Coverage will likely be on the ghetto known as C-SPAN 3.

Graves was ousted as the local U.S. attorney in 2006. Schlozman, a functionary from the Justice Department, took his place and pushed "voter fraud" as his mandate. Missouri plays a pivotal role in the U.S. Attorney scandal; expect Graves to play the victim.

Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee wants John Ashcroft to spill on his Don Corleone-type dealings with the Bush Administration. The committee is scheduled to meet today to decide when the former attorney general can testify in private, according to Newsweek.

Monday, June 04, 2007


He wrote the great baseball book, "Bang the Drum Slowly." He died last week of Alzheimer's complications. According to this Los Angeles Times obit:
Mr. Harris, a retired Arizona State University professor of English who lived in Goleta, Calif., wrote 13 novels and five nonfiction books, He was best known for his four baseball novels narrated by Henry Wiggen, the ace left-handed pitcher for the fictional New York Mammoths: "The Southpaw" (1953), "Bang the Drum Slowly" (1956), "A Ticket for a Seamstitch" (1957), and "It Looked Like For Ever" (1979).

"Bang the Drum Slowly," named one of the top 100 sports books of all time by Sports Illustrated, was the most popular of the four.

The tragicomic tale of Wiggen and catcher Bruce Pearson, who is dying of Hodgkin's disease, "Bang the Drum Slowly" was adapted for a live 1956 segment of "The US Steel Hour," starring Paul Newman as Wiggen and Albert Salmi as Pearson. In the movie version, Michael Moriarty played Wiggin and Robert DeNiro played Pearson.
He was born Mark Harris Finkelstein. He served in the Army during World War II, then became a newspaper reporter and a writer for Negro Digest and Ebony.


Writing a guest column in Monday's News-Leader, Rep. Brian Nieves makes his case for a constitutional amendment mandating English as Missouri's "official language."

Never mind the lack of a similar push to make sure people can read or spell. Nieves lets us know that the English situation, she is near a breaking point:
As it stands, nothing in state law nor our constitution mandates English be used in official proceedings. Any official proceeding in our state can be conducted in any language. If a town in Missouri decided to do official meetings in a language other than English, there would be nothing in our state constitution or laws to stop them. A person might say, "well, that would never happen in Missouri." I pray that's true. But, I'm not willing to risk it. Let's remember the old adage, an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.
At last, a loophole for our dream: a Springfield City Council meeting conducted entirely in Esperanto. Piedfrapo malantau.


John Ramsey and Beth Holloway Twitty are dating.

The 63-year-old father of JonBenet Ramsey and the 46-year-old mother of Natalee Holloway (she went missing in Aruba in 2005) are now an item. Fox News says Ramsey and Twitty have been together for five months:
The couple has been spotted openly holding hands and kissing in Mountain Brook, Ala. — where Twitty lives — and at an art show at a nearby art museum. They've also been seen at various restaurants.

Ramsey on Monday denied the reports that they are dating. He said that he and Twitty have a special friendship based on tragedy.

Ramsey's wife and JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, died last June of ovarian cancer at the age of 49. Twitty was officially divorced from George "Jug" Twitty in December.
Talk about having too much in common.


The streets are safe once more. The Associated Press reports Hilton checked in late Sunday to start her 45 days in the Los Angeles County jail:
The 26-year-old heiress was booked into the Century Regional Detention Facility, which is in an industrial area southeast of downtown LA.

Earlier, Hilton attended the MTV Movie Awards show, telling reporters, "I am trying to be strong right now." She said she was ready to face her sentence, but was "really scared."

The sometime actress will be housed in the jail's "special needs unit" used by high-profile inmates. A judge sentenced her to 45 days, but she could be out in a little over three weeks under California law that requires shorter sentences for good behavior.

Hilton pleaded no contest last January to a reckless driving charge and was sentenced to 36 months' probation, alcohol education and $1,500 in fines. She was later stopped for driving with a suspended license and subsequently charged with a probation violation after being pulled over again.
Nice to know that Hilton's new digs in Lynwood are just a jump from our old slouching grounds in Huntington Park. She'll like the neighborhood.


We haven't been far from a computer screen, but other stuff involving burp clothes and onesies has kept us away from Blogistan. Sorry for the pause. Hope it refreshed.

Regular posting will resume soon. Just checking in right now to let you know, courtesy of the Borneo News:
A crocodile believed to have attacked Sannga Megong, a worker at an oil palm plantation in Sungai Sebeba last month, was caught and killed by villagers here on Sunday. Human bones, hair and parts of a skull were found in the belly of the seven-metre long beast, which was caught in Sungai Similajau, about 100 metres from the location of the May 11 attack.

A Sarawak Forestry Corporation spokesman, however, said it could not be confirm whether the crocodile was the one which attacked Sannga, 31. "We will send the bones and hair for analysis to determine whether the crocodile is the one which killed Sannga."

The two-tonne beast was caught after it swallowed bait set by locals. The SFC spokesman said two other giant crocodiles had been spotted along the river.
Nothing like a 23-foot-long crocodile to put the food chain in the proper perspective.