Saturday, September 29, 2007

And your typical female student at Ole Miss............

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Another reason to hate Alan Lange and Y'all Politics...

(The replay official is Al Ford, an insurance salesman in Huntsville, Alabama whose daughter is on athletic scholarship at Auburn and a week later, made another very controversial call at the end of the game against Florida.)

He is an Auburn graduate.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Rankin County Jail's Latest Resident

Johnathon Patrick Graham. Charged with grand larceny and possession of paraphernalia. Prisoner is 18 years old.

Would anyone like to guess who Mr. Graham called next after his mother and where he claims to have resided in the past?

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Latest from Iraq

(Caption: PCI they call it. “Pre Combat Inspection.” After the PCI, the soldiers were ordered not to touch their gear until the mission, so that nothing would be taken off and forgotten, and no mistakes would be made with gear. )

Here is one of Michael Yon's latest dispatches from Iraq. Mr. Yon has been reporting from Iraq for several years now. He is out in the field with the troops every day, not hiding in the Green Zone as other reporters do. He does not work for any group or news organziation so he can maintain his independence. Here is his dispatch:
"Writing these words from downtown Baqubah at a place called Combat Outpost White Castle, I am surrounded by soldiers from Alpha Company 1-12 Cav who are preparing for combat. Tomorrow [15 July], they will clear a dangerous palm grove that abuts the Diyala River, a place where just last night approximately 7 suspected enemy were killed by American forces. Among the dead apparently were several members of Tonto’s family.
But before tomorrow’s mission, there is today’s mission, which includes linking up with 1920 Revolution Brigades [1920s] to swap information. Open enemies of the Coalition until recently, the 1920s are proficient fighters who have joined the Coalition to destroy al Qaeda. At the conclusion of that meeting, our destination will be a potato chip and juice factory, and a manager who wants to talk about jump-starting the business.....
Soon we met up with a group of 1920s men; I counted 19. They were outfitted with AKs and ammo pouches. Most did not want their photos taken, but this man wanted everyone to see, and he threw his arm around one of our soldiers and pointed to my camera. Our guys do not trust the 1920s, but the relationship is working when it comes to killing al Qaeda and reconstruction in Baqubah. Al Qaeda only knows how to kill and intimidate. 1920s are concerned about water projects and so forth, and they help with more than fighting. Their goals include returning Baqubah back into civilization.
A few months ago we called them terrorists. Today we call them Concerned Local Nationals. When we were in a good mood, we used to call them illegal or rogue militias. Now we call them Neighborhood Watches, or in this case, “Baqubah Guardians.” It’s truly working well. ......."

Read the rest of his dispatch at:

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

I haven't used that word in 3 years

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Meet the LSU Golden Girls

Its my birthday and I am taking the day off. Enjoy the post.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Scoop: Brandon loses more than game as several players are arrested.

* Must credit *

Several players on the Brandon High School football team were arrested last Friday for stealing cellphones and money from members of the ninth grade football team. On September 4, the ninth grade team traveled to Terry to play Vicksburg and Byram in a pre-season jamboree. While they were at the game, members of the varsity team broke into their lockers, stealing cellphones and various amounts of money. The team returned at approximately 9:30. The coaches talked to all high school players the next day, then called the police. The players are unidentified (and will remain so) as they are minors. Brandon lost to Clinton Friday night 35-3.

Kingfish note: Kudos to the Brandon coaches who did not follow the example we see all too often where coaches brush player's troubles under the rug as long as they win.

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Meet the next Governor of Louisiana

U.S. Congressman Bobby Jindal will probably win the Louisiana governorship next month in a cakewalk. There is increasing speculation that he might win the primary outright, a feat unprecedented in Louisiana since the open primary system was instituted. The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Congressman Jindal:
"Mr. Jindal's air of earnest proficiency makes for a sharp contrast with flamboyant past governors like Huey and Earl Long and Edwin Edwards. Yet while Louisiana has never had a reputation for good government, neither has it always been known as a failed state. Decades ago, Mr. Jindal says, "Louisiana was ahead of the South. . . . If you go back to the early '60s--if you'd gone back then and said Atlanta's going to be the capital of the New South, they would have laughed at you. . . . New Orleans was bigger than Miami. It wasn't that long ago that we were the gateway to Latin and Central America."......

This story is from Baton Rouge Business Report (a publication that runs rings around Mississippi Business Journal):
"Jindal, 36, has been leading in a range of polls for more than a year, but still campaigns like a hungry underdog and says he sleeps just a few hours each night. The proof of Jindal’s obsessive campaigning is validated by one of the more recent telephone surveys conducted this month by Baton Rouge-based Southern Media Research, which had Jindal clocking in at 63% in a four-person field....
It’s an old adage from Louisiana political consulting: When you don’t have anything else to talk about—or don’t want to talk about anything else—talk about ethics and corruption. But Jindal is serious about his core issue; the poor national rankings have to end somewhere, he says. “This isn’t campaign rhetoric,” Jindal pleads. “No longer can we accept being the butt of jokes around the country. Those jokes aren’t funny anymore.".....

This is an essay he wrote in The Wall Street Journal:
"I went in person to talk with a FEMA representative and still could not get a straight answer. Finally we told the company to avoid interfering with Coast Guard missions, but to proceed on its own. Sometimes, asking for forgiveness is better than asking for permission...."

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Domestic Violence and Divorce in Mississippi

Note: There are some very good comments at the end of the post.

Living by the Reservoir, Beth was a loving housewife who doted on her family. Although she was a nurse, she chose to stay at home to raise her son, as she did not believe in placing him in daycare. Beth had dated Rick, her husband, for several years before they married. They were married for five years when Christian was born. As he earned a comfortable income operating his own business, they were able to live in a nice house and enjoy a fairly high standard of living. To any observer, they were truly the ideal family living the American Dream.

After Christian was born, Rick began to show signs of abusive behavior, which was surprising as he had always treated her very well. He became more demanding. He began to scream at her. He gave her a list of things she had to do every day. At night he would check the list, yelling at her if it was not completed. He refused to help with the child, telling her that since she didn't work, that was her job. While in public he projected the image of the clean-cut successful businessman, at home he became a monster. He began to frequent strip clubs while at surfing the internet for online porn (she found the credit card statements). He was diagnosed with having a bipolar disorder, but refused to take his medicine, a course of action that is all too often chosen by too many patients who self-medicate.

The abuse grew worse until it exploded one weekend when Mike, his best friend, and Lacy, his wife, spent the weekend at their house. Beth and Lacy, went out on Saturday night. Beth came home late that night to an angry husband (the night before the guys had gone out late for their Boys night out) who started yelling and cursing at her at the top of his lungs, accusing her of screwing around and embarrassing him. Rick began to beat Beth with his fists. He knocked her to the ground, jumping on top of her, beating her over and over while yelling at her. His friend refused to intervene, telling her that sometimes he had to straighten his wife out. Finally Rick grabbed her head, banging it repeatedly on the tile floor. Beth was a mess, bloody, bruised all over, completely scared as she entered a hell beyond comprehension. While Rick was banging her head on the floor, Mike finally said that's enough and Rick stopped, arose, and went to another room. Rick and Mike then left for awhile. Beth grabbed her sleeping child (he was two years old at this time), not even stopping to clean herself up, and ran to a the house of a friend who lived nearby.

One hopes that after suffering such brutality, Beth was able to get protection from the criminal justice system. Sadly enough, this was not the case as the system turned out to be a complete joke. Leaving her child with her friend's mom, Beth's friend took her to the Sheriff's office where she tried to file charges against her husband and get protection. Unfortunately, they would not let her press charges even though she was bruised all over. The two women then went to the hospital where the doctor performed a complete exam and pictures were taken. Bruises covered her head and body. When one sees the pictures, one sees a deadness in her eyes, as if a light was snuffed out completely. The doctor then called the Sheriff's office, who sent an officer to take the report. Oddly enough, the officer turned out to be the same one who refused to take her complaint at the police station. This time however, he was forced to take the complaint.

Things became even worse for Beth. As her knee had a torn meniscus, requiring surgery, she was unable to work and thus depended on her husband for support. Her pressing charges and subsequent filing for divorce against Rick angered him even more. He obtained the services of one of the most expensive and ruthless divorce lawyers in Jackson. He continually stalked her. She had the locks to her house changed, only to find out while she was gone, he would call a locksmith to come, show his identification, claim he had locked himself out of the house, and obtain a key. He would then enter the house of his own accord, terrorizing her even further. He followed her around. When he could not follow her, private detectives would take up the slack. Beth lost almost all privacy as she became the hunted. Every opportunity, even picking up the child for visitation, to harass her was taken. When such exchanges occurred, Rick would show up with his new girlfriend, who videotaped everything even though it made the child cry, in an effort to antagonize Beth.

Rick took full advantage of Beth's inability to work. He had planned his finances for years accordingly in case he ever got divorced. While he owned his own business, he had arranged his accounts so that they were actually serviced by one owned by his parents and thus he was paid by his parents (He had a Master's degree in Accounting.) Most of his assets such as his two corvettes, were on paper owned by his parents even though he had paid for them. Such methods are common among spouses who seek to shield their assets in a divorce, as it is very hard under Mississippi law for a spouse to document that those assets belong to the other spouse even when he has full use and custody of them. He quit paying all bills, causing Beth even more problems. He was unaffected by these changes in their financial situation since all of his assets were held by his parents. He would later walk away from a huge amount of debt by filing bankruptcy. He personally had her Chevy Tahoe repossessed, stranding her and her son at his pre-school.

Meanwhile the Civil and Criminal Courts made a further folly of her predicament as the lawyers weaved their webs of motions, discovery, harassment, and at times, incompetence. Rick was eventually convicted of domestic assault in Justice Court. Rick then appealed to the Circuit Court. Bogus charges were later filed against her. A call to check on her son became phone harassment and verbal assault. Rick filed a criminal complaint, signed an affidavit, and Beth was arrested although later bonding out (It is not hard to file charges against someone in Mississippi). Beth became a wreck as she wondered when the hell would end. She was the victim yet her husband was able to destroy her life even further with the help of the legal system in Mississippi. For daring to stand up for herself after being beaten on the floor of her own bathroom, she was now forced to sit in jail for several hours until she posted bail. "Where was the justice?" she screamed at times.

Beth, who was not sophisticated at all when it came to legal matters, was represented by a lawyer who never bothered to obtain a temporary maintenance order (This provides for support and custody arrangements until the divorce is final) during the divorce proceedings, thus for over six months, she received no child support or alimony. The lawyer charged her nearly ten thousand dollars (which she paid with what remaining money she had on her credit cards) even though he never once filed for a TMO. This lawyer, who later became well known for sexual hijinks, filed a motion with the court to withdraw from the case when she was unable to pay him any more money. The judge rejected her argument that she was unable to support herself, much less pay for another lawyer (her knee still required surgery; the operation required $1500 in out of pocket expenses) and would be indigent if the motion was approved and granted his request. Beth was forced to depend on the charity of friends and family as she struggled to find another lawyer. Eventually, Beth would be forced to go on welfare just so she and her son would have food to eat.

Beth was finally able to retain lawyer, who "sympathized" with her plight and only charged her $1500. The only way she could pay the fee was that as a friend of hers was buying a new refrigerator, she paid for it with her remaining credit while he gave her the cash. Things got worse for Beth, who while expecting justice, received a vicious kick in the teeth. Beth refused to settle her case as every offer made by her husband demanded full custody of their son. Beth was determined to not let her husband abuse her son the way he had abused her, regardless of the sacrifice involved.

Although she had won a conviction against her husband in justice court for her savage beating, her lawyer negotiated it away in her divorce settlement. As she was completely broke, Beth was at the mercy of her attorney. She had no way of earning a living and was forced to take what she could get as her lawyer was unable to sue for Rick's assets. In the divorce settlement, there was a clause inserted stating no simple assault occurred in the marriage (there was a pending charge against him for a later incident). Her lawyer assured her, telling her that as simple assault and domestic assault were two separate offenses, the clause did not apply to the domestic assault charges. Beth signed the divorce settlement, which ordered joint custody of their child, paid for her knee surgery, and gave her some temporary alimony. Her lawyer said it was in her best interest and that they were going to seek to get it modified in later proceedings. It turned out that her lawyer, while not an expert on civil law, was even less of an expert on criminal law. Her lawyer told her to sign the settlement or else she would withdraw from the case.

To say fate can be cruel is an understatement. Our system of justice is predicated upon the belief that eventually a victim will get her day in court to seek justice against those who harmed her. After teasing Beth with the hope that justice would be served upon Rick for his brutality, Fate hurt her even more as Rick filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that in the signed divorced settlement, Beth had stated that no assault had occurred during the marriage. The judge ruled that the simple assault applied to all assault, reversing the conviction for domestic assault and dismissing the case. Rick looked at her, smiled gloatingly, and then laughed loudly outside of the courtroom, making sure she heard his taunts. Beth was completely crushed as she felt betrayed by the legal system. Beth was a harmless victim who sought protection from a barbaric husband, only to find herself nothing but a toy, a symbol of justice for women who fear for their lives in their own homes. For Beth it was hard to tell which hurt worse: the bruises from her beating or the laughter from Rick, knowing that he beat her and was able to get away with it.

Unfortunately, the miscarriage of justice did not stop with the dismissal. Bullies are usually encouraged to be more abusive when they are not punished for their misdeeds. Just as Hitler was encouraged by Munich, so was Rick encouraged by his escape from justice. Beth struggled on, had her surgery, and was able to survive although at great cost to her as her son faced further trauma. Rick remarried within three days of his divorce being final (It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out).

Following the pattern of most wife-beaters, Rick began to abuse his new wife. Christian returned from visitation weekends with his father, talking about how the police had come to his house after he and his wife had a physical argument. The first time, Rick was not arrested even though he threw things at his wife. Finally, he punched his wife in the face while she was pregnant in their front yard. He was arrested for this assault but once again, nothing of consequence happened to Rick other than the fact that he had to spend a few hours in jail until posting bail. He completed an anger management class as ordered by the court, avoiding any jail time or fine. Rick and Beth would later go back to court, each of them seeking full custody of Christian. Both Rick and his wife denied in court that he had been arrested for assaulting her or that he had punched her. This was refuted by the testimony of the arresting officer, who was called to the stand by Beth's new lawyer. Beth won full custody of her son, thanks to her ex-husband's lying on the stand, finally obtaining some relief from her nightmare.

All the events related in this post are true, unfortunately. This is a real case that occurred in the Jackson Metro area during the last five years. It shows what too many women, who are victims of abuse, face when they try to do the right thing and seek protection from society. Too often the police do not take it seriously, the judges order "anger management" or sentences that offer little to no punishment, and the laws favor the perpetrator of the violence. It is nearly impossible to decide which was more criminal: Beth's beating by her husband or her treatment by the criminal justice and legal systems.

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The JPD and Heather Spencer

See comments below at end of post. There are some very good ones.

The JPD has caught hell, some of it from me, on its handling of the George Bell, III disaster, as Heather Spencer had filed assault charges against Bell in June after he savagely beat her with a rubber mallet. After Bell was finally arrested, the JPD released a copy of Ms. Spencer's notarized statement,, in which Ms. Spencer requests the charges be dismissed and that no further prosecution take place.

JPD has received much criticism in some forums as to why Bell was never arrested for the assault and never spent a day in jail until that tragic day several weeks ago. People are frustrated and outraged over the thought of a man beating his girlfriend within an inch of her life and never seeing a jail cell until he killed her three months later. However, some facts must be pointed out, as well as some further questions that need to be asked.

After beating Ms. Spencer, Bell immediately left the state and eventually went to Mexico. He later entered a treatment center, although it was out of state. It was pointed out to me the police never knew where he was so they could arrest him. He returned from treatment on a Saturday night and the murder occurred on the following Monday. The police never had much of an opportunity to find him in order to arrest him, as the total amount of time he spent in Mississippi between the beating and her death was 48-72 hours.

There is a question as to why there was even a notarized statement. I spoke to Court Services at JPD today and was told usually such a statement is not needed if someone is trying to dismiss a complaint. I was told if one wants charges dismissed that have been filed, then the victim has to go before the judge.

It was told to me by several people who know both the victim and the suspect that almost immediately after the beating and filing of charges, Ms. Spencer went to the judge to get them dropped. If the notarized statement is not necessary, then why did Ms. Spencer get one? I strongly suspect it is because the judge knew what he was looking at and required her to issue one in order to protect himself to some degree. It is also not clear if the charges were dismissed, as shortly after his arrest for killing Heather, he was charged with beating her in June. Thus one must ask if the judge ever did dismiss the charges as they might have still been pending against Bell. The judge might have wanted him picked up first before taking any further action. The law DOES allow for a prosecution if the police have probable cause, which they did in this case.

There are still questions to be answered, and for Heather's family and friends, justice can not move fast enough. However, keep in mind the criminal investigation is STILL ongoing and the case is STILL breaking. I have not made comment on this blog for the most part as I wanted to let things settle down some and see what facts came out before I started kingfishing. IF someone has answers to my questions, I will post them up here. There is not much information coming out from official sources, thus leaving much room for speculation, much of it justified. However, I am not prepared yet to throw JPD under the bus when Bell was not in the state and they did not have much, if any opportunity to take him into custody.

So the questions are:
1. Why did Ms. Spencer provide a notarized statement?
2. Were the charges still pending when Bell murdered Ms. Spencer?
3. Which judge did she see?

Here is some clarification from a comment below:

Anonymous said...
1. That was not an affidavit but a voluntary statement which Heather had apparently typed and got notarized in Rankin County and had no jurisdiction in Hinds County, (JPD)they can not drop charges for JPD and Vice versa.
2.Warrant was valid when he was arrested 9/11/073. Have no clue as to what judge she actual saw if she ever did....
because the warrant was still active when George Bell was arrested.

Correction: You are correct. I have changed the word "affidavit" to "notarized statement". Thanks for the correction. That is another reason I am making these posts and engaging in these discussions. There is alot of speculation and misinformation out there as people want to know the whole story and want to see justice done, but do not know what exactly the truth is. Thanks for the correction.

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Update: Was Syria trying to acquire nukes?

It was asked recently if Syria was trying to obtain nukes: While information is still very sketchy, a few more details or related stories have been reported in the media.

Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post reported that:
"North Korea may be cooperating with Syria on some sort of nuclear facility in Syria, according to new intelligence the United States has gathered over the past six months, sources said. The evidence, said to come primarily from Israel, includes dramatic satellite imagery that led some U.S. officials to believe that the facility could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons.
The new information, particularly images received in the past 30 days, has been restricted to a few senior officials under the instructions of national security adviser
Stephen J. Hadley, leaving many in the intelligence community unaware of it or uncertain of its significance, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Some cautioned that initial reports of suspicious activity are frequently reevaluated over time and were skeptical that North Korea and Syria, which have cooperated on missile technology, would have a joint venture in the nuclear arena.....
Israel conducted a mysterious raid last week against targets in Syria. The Israeli government has refused to divulge any details, but a former Israeli official said he had been told that it was an attack against a facility capable of making unconventional weapons.
Others have speculated that Israel was testing Syria's air defenses in preparation for a raid on
Iran or that Israel was targeting weapons destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon..."

The website,, has constructed a timeline: with some interesting info and imagery.

Johnathon Strong writes in :
"On September 16th, the Sunday Times reported that Syria had planned a “devastating surprise” for Israel in response to Israel’s attack on the nuclear shipment from North Korea to Syria.
“The paper reported that Israeli sources said planning for the strike began in late spring 2007 when Mossad director Meir Dagan presented Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear weapon from North Korea.”
Then again on September 16th, military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told the Israeli Foreign Affairs and Defense parliamentary committee that Israel had recovered its “deterrent capability” after the strike on Syria.

It is also revealing that both Israel and Syria have remained so silent on the subject. Syria certainly knows how to make a fuss in the United Nations when it wants to. Past Israeli strikes on militant camps in Syria have provoked a loud outcry among Arab and Islamic states against Israel. With Syria staying mum after a violation of its airspace by Israeli warplanes, it indicates clearly that Syria does not want to bring attention to itself. It is also likely that Turkey, or elements of the Turkish military, provided IAF jets with a flight corridor to the Syrian site. Drop tanks believed to be from IAF jets were found in Turkey who then asked Israel for clarification on the matter. Turkey and Israel have a longstanding intelligence and defense relationship despite their religious differences......"

So the question remains, was Syria trying to acquire nukes?

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Friday, September 21, 2007

The Original Cinderella Man

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Jena 6 Question

What exactly is Robert Bailey's mother driving?

What does she live in?

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Just another DUI

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Latest News on Heather Spencer Murder

is on the previous post:

I have added new stories to the listing for each media outlet. As some of the links are more than a week old, some may not work.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What is the truth? Heroes or Hoodlums?

Update: Here is the link to The Jena Times reporting of the chronological order of the story:

Here is another story that appeared in the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Two points. Does anyone remember there was a kid that was beaten pretty badly? Equating hanging a noose with beating a kid unconcious 3 months later is ridiculous. The U.S. Attorney, who is Black, also said there was no link between the two incidents. Naturally he is a racist right wing confederate flag waving extremist Republican who wants to reinstitute slavery. By the way, Mr. Bell (what is it with these Bells?) was convicted by an all-white jury. However, the Jena Times reports that none of the Black citizens who were called to jury duty reported.

What is even more interesting and is left out of most media coverage is the fact that Bell is nothing but a thug with a criminal record. The Advocate reported yesterday that:
"Bell’s father, Marcus Jones, 35, in an interview Tuesday, insisted there was a connection between the race baiting and the beating.
“The charges filed against my son and the others did not fit the crime,” he said.
Jones said his son, a 16-year-old star running back for the school’s football team who has been in jail since his December arrest on a $90,000 bond, is holding up well.
“He’s still getting letters of recruitment from colleges,” Jones said.
Jones acknowledged that his son was facing four charges in juvenile court before the incidents in 2006. Bell has been convicted on one of those charges; the others are still pending, Jones said.
“As long as he was playing football, he was putting this town on the map,” Jones said. “That’s why those other charges didn’t go to court. Then he gets in a fight with a white boy and that case goes to trial right away.”

First of all, he had been arrested before this incident for other crimes and had been convicted for one of them. It is unknown as to the status of the other charges. However, what really interests me is what his no good delinquent father says about him playing football. Hey Mr. Jones ( oh yes, your son doesn't even carry your name. Guess we can figure out that situation. Maybe if you had been around, he wouldn't have gotten in so much trouble repeatedly.), If I had gotten arrested several times, my father damn sure wouldn't have let me play football. My ass would've been on total lockdown for a very long time or he would have left me in jail. However, since you obviously do not believe in consequences for doing wrong, then maybe its no wonder your son has turned into such a model citizen. Hmmm....that might be why he has such a high bond.

Having said that, I think the sentence is way too harsh. I think a year or so is justified. This kid has several arrests and now will probably have two convictions. His father either does not believe in disciplining his son or can not control him. He needs a year or so in jail to teach him a lesson because one can already see him following a Michael Taylor-like path. I can understand where alot of the protestors are coming from because the sentence was extreme to say the least but someone needs to focus on some of the Jena 6 and how they keep getting in trouble. One suspects that noose or no noose, Mr. Bell would have probably done something else that was criminal.

Original Post:
What is the truth about the Jena 6? Here is a post on where a poster cut and pastes the entire chronology from the Jena newspaper. Compare that to the story in The Jackson Free Press:

JFP story:

The Jena Times story:

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Marshall Ramsey is at it again.

As usual Marshall Ramsey nails it. Let us review our Mayor's crime-fighting record. He makes a big fuss about the "new" video cameras placed throughout the city. It turns out later that they are either the old ones that Harvey Johnson obtained for Jackson or MDOT cameras. It is also discovered that they have no videotape. Melton claims ignorance. For successful prosecution of a case, fingerprints must be signed off by TWO fingerprint experts. Problem is, Jackson only has one fingerprint expert and must send off fingerprints to the state for analysis, thus adding to the huge backlog of cases in Jackson. However, don't think our mayor is doing nothing. Melton is very active in blowing money on unconfirmed department heads, consultants, and bodyguards. The Clarion-Ledger reported today that Melton said he was going to hire a liason for disabled people in Jackson. Um, we need a fingerprint specialist more than we do such a liason. Let us also not forget that Precinct four is over 20 officers understaffed (It usually only has 5 officers on duty) with the largest increase in crime yet Melton claims no knowledge of such things even though he lives there.

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Did Syria have nukes?

Update: Jane's Defence Weekly reporting that there was an accident in July at a plant for chemical weapons and missiles: . This accident, however, is not, the same incident as the attack reported below.

Original Post:
Israel recently struck Syria. Oddly enough, there has been little protest or outrage from Syria, suggesting that Syria was up to no good. It was conducted three days after a N. Korean ship arrived carrying "cement". The following articles make the case that Syria might have been acquiring nukes.

The New York Post:
"Israel "completely destroyed" a long-range-missile base in Syria, and Israeli leaders also suspect Syria and Iran are building nuclear arms with the help of North Korea, it was reported yesterday. ....
An Israeli-Arab newspaper, a-Sinara, said the Israeli air force blasted a joint Iranian-Syrian missile base in northern Syria.
The base, financed by Iran, appeared to be "completely destroyed," the newspaper said
. .."

Family Security Matters:
"Originally, it was believed the early-September raid by Israeli fighters was against an Iranian weapons shipment crossing Syria en route to Lebanon, where Hezbollah is rearming at a feverish pace since its 2006 war with Israel.
But speculation on the nature of the Israeli mission into Syria has spread like wildfire - thanks to official and unofficial chatter about the strike's real target.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates refused to comment on the Sunday morning news shows. But late last week a senior State Department official involved in nuclear-nonproliferation issues told The Associated Press: "There are indicators that they [Syria] do have something going on there [at the facility that was struck by the Israelis]. We do know that there are a number of foreign technicians that have been in Syria."

This article is even more specific:
What really happened on September 6th, hours before daylight, when Israeli planes flew over Turkish airspace and crossed into Syria? The question is being asked almost obsessively by members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities, by military analysts and political analysts, by friends and foes of Israel, by those people concerned with the happenings in the Middle East.....
Intelligence from Turkey as well as from several non-official Israeli sources shows that this was more than a plan. Syria was actually in receipt of the weapons. In fact, a Kuwaiti newspaper asserts that Turkey officially pointed out to Israel the location of the warheads.
Missiles were sent to Syria by way of several ships flying North Korean flags. The vessels made their way first to Port Said, Egypt and then to Syria. Once they were in Syria the materials were unloaded and transported to the mountain region. That is where Israeli planes found and destroyed them.
Ronen Solomon, an Israeli researcher who watches the movement of ships using local port information and websites for tracking, has been quoted as saying that the ships arrived in Syria on September 3rd which would put the drop three days before the air strike. The cargo was listed as cement. The flags were North Korean.......

The most astounding piece of information to emerge about Israel's handling of this top secret operation is the report that Israeli ground troops were sent into the region days before the pre dawn flight gathering intelligence and specifying and confirming the projected targets. It seems that the ground soldiers literally used lasers to pinpoint the targets on the ground as markers for the pilots. Then the pilots went home and never said a word.."

So were the North Koreans handing off nukes to Syria with Iranian financing?

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

From DWF To Women Raising Boys

( Kingfish note: Read fifth comment. )

This is not my usual post. I’ve read and heard events connected to Heather Spencer and George Bell III. I recently watched an episode of Montel with out of control kids hitting and hurting their parents and siblings. One weekend recently, I watched a movie about a son hitting his Mom, who covered it up for a long time, and she almost waited too late to seek help. I also have a family member who is seriously bipolar. I have hormonal teenage boys that some days drive me past crazy into the deranged zone.

I would say this to mothers who love their sons; it is not love to make excuses for, hide the facts, or cover up violent tendencies towards you or anyone else by your son; it is not love to simply take your son from one school and place him in another because the original school asks you to get help for your son; it is not love to feel offended when neighbors ask you to keep your son away from their children because of his fighting.

It IS love to take your son to a pediatrician or other physician, get a physical, and take all referrals to counselors and psychiatrists seriously. It IS love to work with school officials on best solutions to keep your son where he is and suffer consequences, then face those he harmed in the first place and get past it. This may take more than one or two times, but it’s worth it. It IS love to have your son apologize to neighbors and friends for their behavior and ask their forgiveness, and ask for a chance to come over again AFTER 30 days or so of suffering the consequences of being grounded or implementing behavior modification therapies.

Medication is not always the answer, but counseling and tighter discipline is. It is never easy, believe me, but if you can get your son to get either the medical help or counseling he needs, you may one day see a smiling young man who enjoys his life again and respects the sanctity of life and living.

For those Mothers who have sons with deeper medical and psychological problems, it’s not your fault. The Mothers who will discover your family problems may stare at you and whisper, but many times they are staring at you wishing they knew what to say to comfort you and their whispers are giving thanks they are not in your shoes, but they also may be whispering prayers on your behalf.

When I see the faces of my own young men smiling, I thank the powers that be for letting them work through all their problems and getting to the other side as healthy, athletic, productive teenagers. It’s not all over yet, but tough love sometimes is the best love there is, and the rewards to follow in the coming years will be better than any one thing I can ever imagine.

Email me:

See rest of DWF's posts on right side of page

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Please Help the Spencer Family

Here is a link to the online guest book for Ms. Heather Spencer at The Clarion-Ledger:

Our hearts go out to the Spencer family during this time. Here is an excerpt of what her mother wrote:
I am Heather's Mom, Linda. I'm unable to express the gratitude I feel for all the kind words said about Heather, not only here but on the phone, at visitation, at the funeral and every day. Now I know I'm not the only one that saw the precious person behind that beautiful smile. A light has gone out of my life that can never be replaced. My heart is broken in half. I loved her so much. Heather was my best friend, my light, my inspiration, my sounding board, my beautiful child who grew up with me. Her love for family, friends, life, love, pets,church and faith will never be forgotten. Her favorite symbol was the Tree of Life...."

Bless you Ms. Francomb and know that you are not alone during this time. Click on this link if you wish to help the Spencer family, who are dealing with funeral expenses:

Post with collection of all news coverage:

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Catcher of thieves or Mama's Boy?

Well, well, it seems that our District Attorney-elect, Robert Smith, now needs bodyguards. Damn. Is he THAT good? Do the criminals fear him THAT much? Apparently so because according to The Clarion-Ledger last week:
"Twenty-four-hour police protection will be provided indefinitely for Hinds County District Attorney-elect Robert Shuler Smith, Jackson Mayor Frank Melton said Wednesday.
Because of multiple, anonymous phone calls and police "intelligence" indicating his life had been threatened, Smith was assigned two detectives from the Jackson Police Department about a week ago, Melton said.
"If I am analyzing this based on my own experience, we're going to have to protect him until he takes office and after he takes office," said the mayor, who has had two detectives as personal bodyguards since he took office in 2005. Smith begins his four-year term in the $96,000-a-year job in January." (September 13, 2007).

I voted for Smith for several reasons but I never thought he was so good the criminals would be trying to kill him before he even took office. I mean, this guy hasn't even assumed office, has kept a fairly low profile, and already his life in danger. If this is how much the criminals fear him, I expect crime in Hinds County to drop by 50% the day he assumes office.

Of course, there IS something that bothers me as a man about the whole ordeal. Its rather irritating to see a grown man who is not even in office need round the clock bodyguards when Ms. Peterson, a WOMAN, never needed such protection while she WAS putting crackheads, child molesters, murderers, and other criminals in jail. She never needed such protection even after said criminals were back on the street. Yet a grown man who has not prosecuted anyone yet needs protection? By the way, in case you think I am a sexist, Madison/Rankin D.A.-elect Michael Guest hasn't needed such protection either despite a substantial record of putting criminals in jail as a prosecutor. I mean, come on, Faye didn't need round the clock bodyguards. Nut up, be a man, and say you don't need them.

However, one should not be surprised that this does not seem quite right because Melton is involved. Melton has made it clear he thinks of Mr. Smith as his protege, since he was elected when he "crashed" the Smith's election night party and said he had known him since he was 15 years old, had helped him but kept his distance during the election, and made it clear he thought of Smith as his guy. Now he assigns some JPD to watch him 24/7. Does this remind anyone of La Cosa Nostra? Can't risk an independent D.A. in Hinds County. Considering what a control freak Melton is, does anyone think he won't be using those cops to keep him apprised of what Mr. Smith is doing? Maybe he won't but its a safe bet the thought has crossed his mind.

I have met Mr. Smith and like him personally. He comes from a great family. I was impressed by how he was committed to helping West Jackson where his family had much history. He did not move to an office in downtown Jackson with the other high-priced lawyers but instead kept his office in a building that used to be his grandfather's grocery store and is a stop on the Civil Rights Tour. There is much about Mr. Smith I respect. However, he needs to keep his distance from the Mayor (especially since there is the matter of an ongoing FBI investigation).

What Mr. Smith should do is tell the Mayor he appreciates his offer of bodyguards but he is a county official and he should forward to Mr. Smith and the Sheriff all threats and related intelligence, so the Sheriff can provide him with protection as needed. It is hard to believe Sheriff McMillin would refuse such a request from Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith should also say he believes in leading by example, and with Jackson residents suffering from an epidemic of crime, its not right for him to tie up the JPD when those officers could be better used elsewhere. He could even go further and state that right now, the JPD only has one fingerprint specialist instead of the two required by state law for prosecution of a case, (JPD has to send fingerprints off to the state, thus adding to the backlog of cases in Hinds County), and he would rather see them use the resources to hire another one, which would better help Jackson residents.
Mr. Smith should also realize threats are just part of the job and deal with it. EVERY D.A. will tell you they have received threats, hate mail, and harrassing phone calls. Prosecutors get threats all the time, as they put criminals away in jail on a daily basis, yet they do not request police protection. I am not ridiculing the actual threats received, but am pointing out that there is a better way to handle this matter.

Mr. Smith is a very smart and talented attorney. However, there is something disconcerting about him accepting such "protection" from Mr. Melton when it should be coming from the Sheriff's office and also unmanly about it when Faye received her share of controversy yet never needed such protection.

Note: See online poll on right side of the blog.
Sorry for the tone of the post by the way, but I am at the doctor's office for my annual physical, have been here since 7, and am sitting in the middle of the local AARP meeting while Barry Manilow is on the today show. That would make ANYONE mean.
David Hampton (Clarion-Ledger) blogs on this matter:

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Remembering Dien Bien Phu, or "You are a paratrooper, you are there to die."

(Two different videos covering the battle. They are each less than ten minutes long.)

The Battle of Dien Bien Phu, although faded from memory, should never be forgotten as it is the battle that kicked the French out of Vietnam and drew America into it. The French had been fighting the Viet Minh (trained, armed, and supplied by the Chinese) for years. They sought to draw out the enemy into a battle where they could crush the Viet Minh with their artillery and air power, thinking they were just jungle fighting guerrillas.

In a strategic blunder worthy of the Maginot Line, the French generals (who were told by the government not to win but to create conditions for a "favorable political solution", sound familiar?), choose a valley, Dien Bien Phu, that is 180 miles from the nearest air base. The valley is surrounded by jungle-covered mountains and is reached only by air. The French drop 18,000 airborne troops (their best soldiers) into the valley, build an airstrip, and create what they think is a heavily fortified base that is untakeable. While the subordinate officers protest, the generals completely dismiss the mere idea of the Viet Minh having artillery, much less bringing them to the mountains above. The French generals salivate at the thought of finally meeting the Viet Minh on their terms, where they can finally get their victory.

The Viet Minh show up, with more than 63,000 soldiers. They move their heavy artillery, most of it broken down and carried by hand, up into the mountains where it is reassembled and placed in well-camouflaged positions that are impossible for the French artillery and bombers to reach as they are dug in deeply into the mountains. The Viet Minh, unknown to the French, are a modern, trained fighting force able to give battle on the French terms.

The French ignore common sense, committing more operational blunders. The battle plan heavily depends on air power but there are no trained bomber crews in all of Vietnam. They count on artillery to destroy the enemy but there are no adequate ordnance maps for the artillery to use, thus making it virtually impossible for the artillery to operate in any effective manner against the Viet Minh. The battle is fought during the monsoon season, thus limiting the French Air Force. The French occupy the valley, leaving the mountains to the Viet Minh. They plan on chasing the Viet Minh, never thinking that the Viet Minh will attack them.

The 55 day battle starts with the Viet Minh totally surprising the French with a ferocious bombardment from the mountains down into the valley where nothing is safe. Over 3000 shells are fired on the French in the first night. The airstrip is destroyed in a few days, cutting off Dien Bien Phu from the outside world. Dien Bien Phu is now totally surrounded and outnumbered, unable to mount major sorties or break out. The French receive supplies by parachute drops but the French once again underestimate the Viet Minh, whose anti-aircraft guns can hit the French planes at ranges up to 10,000 feet. As they are forced to drop supplies from higher altitudes, the French see their supplies drift over into Viet Minh territory. The Viet Minh attack mostly at night, thus preventing the French from using their air power against them during battle.

Artillery bombardments give way to World War I-style trench warfare as the Viet Minh mount assaults on the French, who are dug in. The fighting is brutal, face to face, hand to hand, all possible weapons are used. When they run out of sandbags, the French use corpses. The French are forced back. At the end, they have no electricity, sewage, water, little ammunition, and are taken prisoner. Of the nearly 10,000 troops taken prisoner, less than 4,000 return a few months later.

Even though the two sides are still equal in numbers (in Vietnam), morale at home collapses as a public outcry against the disaster and the politicians responsible for it leads to a stampede to get out of Vietnam at any cost. The French sign the treaty ending its presence on the Viet Minh's terms. The French abandon all allies and supporters in Vietnam, who are brutally killed and tortured by the Viet Minh in a precursor of what will happen after 1975. Thousands of French prisoners are left behind as France decides not to press for their return. The Viet Minh, having eliminated and killed all competing nationalist or pro-independence groups, is completely communist and runs its territory in pure Stalinist fashion. The French expect only 30,000 refugees. They are shocked when hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese flee to the South. The French troops feel, with justification, that they have been backstabbed, after being sacrificed by the generals who were not trying to win the war.

More Youtube links:

Two excellent books are: The Last Valley by Martin Winthrow and Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Bernard Fall.

wikipedia link:

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Cat's Eye Nebula

Three thousand light-years away, a dying star throws off shells of glowing gas. This image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals The Cat's Eye Nebula to be one of the most complex planetary nebulae known. In fact, the features seen in the Cat's Eye are so complex that astronomers suspect the bright central object may actually be a binary star system. The term planetary nebula, used to describe this general class of objects, is misleading. Although these objects may appear round and planet-like in small telescopes, high resolution images reveal them to be stars surrounded by cocoons of gas blown off in the late stages of stellar evolution

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Help the Spencer Family

Here is a link to a story on WJTV-12 about the Memorial Fund for Ms. Spencer: Please donate. This family has been through enough hell without getting socked again with a huge funeral bill as the chances of someone that young having life insurance are slim to none.

"Her family has set up a memorial fund in her name to help with the cost of the funeral. It is set up at BancorpSouth under Heather Spencer Memorial Fund. You can donate at any of the bank’s branches. You can also wire the money electronically using routing number 065300486 and account number 41925132."

If you want to pay by credit card (thanks I donated) here i s the link at Q105:

My personal thought? This fund shouldn't even be necessary as there is another family involved here. Its not too hard to figure out what I mean.

Update: Here is a poignant interview on WJTV-12 with her brother. He was very strong, very brave. One can't imagine how gut wrenching this was to sit there talking about what happened to his sister.

Blog by apparently Ms. Spencer's Pastor:

Related post: (collection of media coverage)

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New video of the new Mike the Tiger

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

For once, I can't think of a title for a post. So just read.

By now, everyone in Jackson knows about the tragedy involving Mr. George Bell, III and Heather Spencer. I did not plan on blogging on this but there has been a great deal of interest in this story. I've taken the trouble of collecting all the news stories and broadcasts into one post so as to make it easier for people to keep up with this tragedy. A fund has been set up at Bancorp South to help with the funeral expenses.

Ms. Spencer's Myspace:

Coverage of story, best lead on possible motive:

Bell's Business Problems:
Background story on Ms. Spencer:
Photo Gallery:
Audio of Interview with Ms. Spencer's Mother:
Ms. Spencer's Affadavit:
Mr. Bell pleads not guilty:
Storychat Threads (Message boards):,

Jackson Free Press Thread:

Bell pleads not guilty:
Interview with Mother video:
Suspect on Suicide Watch:

Bell kidnapped roomate:
Bell pleads not guilty:, video:
Why do women stay in abusive relationships:

Bell might have embezzled and committed fraud:
Bell kept at woman's jail:
Interview with father:
Interview with brother of victim:
More questions raised as more than one person might have known victim was dead:
George Bell III Timeline:
Neighbors react:
Family of victim demands answers:
Family of victime outraged suspect wasn't jailed earlier:

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

DWF Was A Cougar Before Cougar Was Cool

Many years ago (don’t even ask) after graduating from Ole Miss, I could not bear to leave Oxford and stayed to work and party on. I was a happy, carefree 26 year old enjoying life and still hopping the bars when I could.

One weekend I met the MOST adorable 19 year old guy I had ever seen. He was a KA and from Texarkana. We danced and started talking and when he said he was 19, I almost freaked. I was 7 years older!

I finally confessed to being 26, and he grinned from ear to ear. I guess the feeling I felt at that moment was the first “Cougar” type moment I’d had, and I didn’t even know I was a Cougar!

We went out several times and he even introduced me to his friends, which at the time, was amazing, since I wasn’t an 18-year-old sorority girl. He even came to see me at work and took me to lunch several times.

The first time he came over I couldn’t decide whether or not to “do it” (remember when your girlfriends asked if you 'did it' with him), so I just let things happen. BOY did they happen. He was my FIRST Energizer Bunny and the two of us met up many more times before school ended that year. He went home for the summer, but not before one last OMG unbelievable scorching meeting. (The kind where you realize you have to wash not only the sheets, but the mattress cover and anything touching the bed).

That summer I moved from Oxford to Jackson, and never did see him again. I often wonder how he would feel if he knew he helped launch me into a Cougar lifestyle, the only deviations being two marriages to men older than me (what was I thinking).

Tom, thanks for the memories. . . . . . (OK, I’m having hot flashes now. That's another post).

Wanna chat with a Cougar?

P.S. The poll is now closed on whether or not to hook up with my former 25-year-old's brother. Looks like the consenus is to go for it. I think I will..................stay tuned for the play-by-play.

Oh yes, and I do believe it's a conspiracy. Frank, how do you get involved in so many individuals' lives?

Kingfish note: See other posts by DWF in sidebar on lower right-hand side of the page.

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The Clarion-Ledger does it again, sigh.

Well, once again the Clarion-Ledger fails Basic Fact-Checking 101:
"There are laws in place to limit some predatory lending, but mortgage companies can still offer “exotic products,” such as loans that require no income verification, said Jim Allison, commissioner of the state Department of Banking and Consumer Finance."; Sept. 8, 2007.

Um, it is JOHN Allison. Not Jim.

Naturally there will be a correction in the newspaper, right next to the one it is going to issue on its gross error concerning the Jackson homicide record. See

Ronnie, have you outsourced the editing to India? I'm starting to wonder.

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The Marines in Iraq

Iraqi soldiers, outnumbering and better armed than accompanying Marines, prepare to go on patrol.

GREAT photos in this dispatch from Michael Yon, the best reporter in the field in Iraq:
"Now I started to understand why the Army officers had been telling me the Marines are more advanced in counterinsurgency. Normal Marines have morphed into doing vintage Special Forces work. Many of our Army units are excellent at this work, but the Marines, at least these particular Marines, did seem to have an edge for it.
They were even studying Arabic in their filthy little compound. Lightweight study, but they were showing the Iraqis they were making the effort. The Iraqis appreciated it. I have yet to see an Army unit undertake such a clear effort to learn Arabic.
The Marines there live in disgusting conditions. They have two toilets. One is a tube. For more serious business, there are the small plastic baggies called WAG bags. Do your business, seal it up and put it into a garbage can. They don’t complain.

Iraqis in every province I have traveled all respond to strong leadership. It’s a cultural touchstone. A man like SSG Rakene Lee is not someone they would overlook. Physically, the man is amazingly strong. But what is most amazing is the strength of his moral fiber. Whatever the man talked, he walked. After all of al Qaeda’s false promises, the people here have learned a hard lesson about the true value of character.....

Over the next several days, I saw how much the Iraqis respected Rakene Lee and the other Marines who were all courageous, tactically competent, measured, and collectively and constantly telling even the Iraqis to go easy on the Iraqis. It’s people like Rakene Lee who are winning the moral high ground in Iraq. It is people like this who are devastating al Qaeda just by being themselves. Over those same several days, I would also see the Iraqi Lieutenant Hamid treat prisoners with respect and going out of his way to treat other Iraqis the way he saw Americans treating them. Lieutenant Hamid, in his young twenties, seemed to watch every move of the Marines and try to emulate them.......

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Todays Featured Neighborhood Website: Fondren

The Fondren Renaissance Foundation has a good website:

Check it out and learn more about what is happening in Fondren, one of my favorite places in Jackson, eschewing the cookie cutter style of other areas. Learn more about Fondren on this website:

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One Last Tribute to Luciano

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Laziness at the Clarion-Ledger

Wouldn't you just know it. I write a post questioning whether Adam Lynch of The Jackson Free Press is the best reporter in Jackson and Nicklaus Lovelady from The Clarion-Ledger shows today what really bad reporting is in his story on the Jackson homicide rate:

"With a little less than four months left in 2007, Jackson is on pace to have one of its worst years for homicides.The 36 homicides so far this year is close to the total of 39 for all of 2006. The monthly homicide average of 4.5 would bring this year’s total to 54, close to the record of 57 in 2004.Last year at this time, there were 28 homicides in the city."

This is not even sloppy reporting. This is a disgrace to the journalism profession as Mr. Lovelady failed to do basic research when writing the story. It is also pretty obvious that the editor was lazy as well. 57 homicides is NOT the record number of homicides in Jackson. Not even close. In my earlier post on Mayor Ditto's crime-fighting record, ( ), I posted a saved page FROM THE CLARION-LEDGER (yes, I am shouting) displaying the crime statistics.

The record number of homicides was 92 in 1995. That is a very far cry from the so-called "record of 57 in 2004" as Mr. Lovelady stated. Are these reporters too lazy to even go to their own records to get the facts right? If I was Ronnie Agnew, I would be embarrassed by the reporter's laziness.

I could follow Ms. Donna Ladd's lead and write more about this work that is not even fit for a junior-high newspaper but I think the story speaks for itself.

PS) If you want to have more fun with this story, start examining the verb tenses. "would break"? Mr. Lovelady, assuming you are not barely above the functional illiterate level, that should be "will break" since you are talking about the future. Yeesh. Feel free to chime in on the comments section.


Update: One further note:" Bear with me, golden eagle. I'm going to go blog this huge blooper at the top of Jackblog so the Ledger doesn't escape notice on it. I'll credit you for discovering it. Sep 10, 07 5:08 pm" by Ms. Donna Ladd of the JFP. Sorry, beat you to it. Caught it last night. ;-) (and yes, that was meant in good fun.) Of course, while they congratulate themselves, they fail to give me the credit. Good thing I don't have an ego.

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Navigating Wine with Benchmarks

by Tasho Katsaboulas, owner of Kat's Wine Cellar.

Many Americans allow the world of wine to intimidate them into not exploring and enjoying wine to its fullest. This occurs because they lack a basic knowledge of benchmark wines which provide a footing for navigating the world of wines. Benchmark wines are classic examples of the most expressive grape types grown in regions that have historically produced the most consistent and best expressions of the given grape type. Trying a couple of benchmarks for each type of grape variety leads the consumer past the characteristics of the grapes to an all important understanding of winemaking styles and expressions of climate, which are essential to the full enjoyment of wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon is rich in berry flavor, with a distinct herbaceousness characterized by the flavor of tea or herbs. Some of Cabernet’s grape-influenced flavors include blackberry, cedar, tobacco, green pepper, and olive. Cabernet pairs best with herb seasoned beef and lamb. Two contrasting benchmark examples of Cabernet are the wines of the gravely Haut-Medoc district of the Left Bank in Bordeaux (2003 Prieure-Lichine Margaux) and Cabernet from California’s Napa Valley (2003 Whitehall Lane). When trying these benchmark wines against each other, notice the differences in power and concentration of fruit in the wines and how this power of fruit relates to the detectability of subtle nuances. You are likely to smell and taste tobacco, leather, vanilla, chocolate, and earth, as well as coffee, cedar, and plum. A well made Cabernet will be rich and fruity, but most of all, complex. Complexity is not a thing you taste, but an experience you have. A wine that is complex draws you in, offering something new with each sip - a high compliment indeed.

Merlot offers softer tannins, making it more approachable in its youth than Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot’s grape-influenced flavors include fudge, caramel, plums, espresso, and baked cherries, while the barrel usually imparts vanilla, nuts, and spice. Merlot is a great wine with red meats. It has the weight and fruit to match wine-braised stews and roasts and the structure and polish to pair with rare-grilled prime cuts. Two contrasting benchmark examples of Merlot are the wines of the clay-enriched St. Emilion and Pomerol districts of Bordeaux’s Right Bank (1998 Sanctus St.-Emilion) and the top merlots of Washington State (2004 L’Ecole Columbia Valley).

Syrah is a wine with a mouth feel that can be described as syrupy, voluptuous, flamboyant, silky, as well as seductive. Syrah is the perfect accompaniment to peppered steak, as well as lamb, duck, and venison. Syrah’s flavors include black raspberry, bitter chocolate, mocha, violet, spice, blackberry liqueur, smoked meats, ground pepper, and bacon fat. Two contrasting benchmark examples of Syrah include the majestic wines from Cote Rotie in France’s northern Rhone Valley (2001 Guigal Cote Rotie) and Shiraz, as it is referred to in Australia, from the Barossa Valley (2003 Elderton Barossa). Our experiment of trying contrasting benchmarks will really yield insight to the significant impact that location and style play in determining the expression seen from this grape variety. Pay attention to how the Barossa’s warmer climate yields a fruitier syrah wine, while the cooler climate of Cote Rotie results in a wine with more spicy peppery aromas and gamey flavors.

Pinot Noir is best described as fragrant, expressive, supple, silky, velvety and elegant. Pinot is lighter in body, with fewer tannins than most reds due to its thin skin, which makes it fickle to grow. Pinot Noir pairs with chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, pork, veal, pheasant, duck, goose, and full-flavored cheeses. It is truly a wine that works well with a diverse array of foods. Cherries, violets, raspberry, herbs, mushrooms, game, mocha chocolate, and bacon nuances are commonly used in describing Pinot Noir. Although red Burgundy of the Cote d’ Or in France is Pinot Noir, it is often very different from California and other new world Pinot Noir. When everything comes together here, Pinot Noir can convey a charm expressing the most subtle nuances of the terrain, with a unique complexity marked by layers of flavors and changing aromas while in the glass. Try an Oregon Pinot Noir (2003 Four Graces Willamette) against a red Burgundy (1999 Leroy Bourgogne Rouge). This will give you a feel for what is meant by old world versus new world. Have a friend pour the wines for you so as to conceal their identities; then, smell and taste the wines. There is a good chance that the one with the aromas that remind you of a vineyard is the old world Burgundy; the one with aromas that you would associate with the winemaking process will be the new world Oregon Pinot. This exercise of “blind tasting” wines against one another can be performed using all of the foregoing benchmark examples. The process will magnify the subtle differences in style and regional expression which make these wines unique, despite being composed of the juice of the same grape variety.

Regional grape varieties such as Zinfandel (2003 Karly Warrior Fires), the unsubtle quintessential American wine; my favorite, Nebbiolo (2004 Grasso Nebbiolo d' Alba), the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco, referred to as "the wine of kings and the king of wines"; Sangiovese (2004 Caparzo Toscana), the grape of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino; and Tempranillo (2004 Mano a Mano La Mancha), a grape made famous in Rioja, round out the list of benchmark red wines that everyone interested in wine must try to have experienced the greatest red wines of the world. After experiencing these classic regional expressions and winemaking styles, one will have a better understanding beyond the grape, which leads to further exploration and the fullest enjoyment of wine.

- Tasho Katsaboulas, Kats' Wine Cellar. Mr. Katsaboulas is the owner of Kat's Wine Cellar on 921 E. Fortification Street in Jackson, MS. For more information or answers to questions about wine, call 601-354-9181 or email him at

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Best reporter in Jackson?

Poor little Adam Lynch of The Jackson Free Press. He just can't seem to understand WHY anyone would want to get rid of Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy:

Mr. Lynch extols his virtues:
"With McCoy at the helm, the House led an aggressive progressive agenda in the last session, pushing for more unemployment benefits and a state minimum wage hike. Under McCoy, the House also passed bills advocating an increase in the state’s cigarette tax—the lowest in the nation of any state that doesn’t depend on tobacco as a cash crop. McCoy also battled for a lower state grocery tax and vehemently opposed the governor’s removal of 65,000 elderly and handicapped Mississippians from the state Medicaid rolls."
while ignoring any criticism that is just as specific. He just can't imagine why people would want to depose Mr. McCoy unless they are evil mean-spirited Republicans who want to kill women, starve children, and take us back to slavery. (yes, those are MY sarcastic comments).

Mr. Lynch, it might have something to do with a FIFTY-MILLION DOLLAR Beef plant fiasco which you TOTALLY IGNORED!!!!!!!!!!!! It was McCoy and Holland who thought up the idea while driving on the Natchez Trace. The funding was stuffed into a conference committee bill, thus helping it avoid scrutiny. When asked how it appeared in the conference committee bill by The Clarion-Ledger, no one ever could offer an explanation as to how it happened. However, McCoy's folly cost the state fifty million dollars. That might be one reason Mr. Lynch why some people might want Mr. McCoy thrown out of the speaker's chair. Don't give me this kinder, gentler, he cares about working folks crap. The money he wasted on that plant (and if this was in Louisiana, I would be saying this was definitely a payoff to someone) could have paid for MANY teachers. Hey Adam, how many teachers will $50 million buy? Or preschool programs for kids? Or additional training for unemployed? Or health insurance for kids? However, these facts are VERY conveniently ignored.

Mr. Lynch ALSO ignored the fact that when Mr. McCoy had health problems, he appointed an interim speaker who drew the same pay, which is over $100,000 annually. When Mr. McCoy returned to office to resume his duties, he led a fight to keep his friend on the same level of pay so for quite some time Mississippi has paid for TWO speaker's salaries at the same time. However, since its just evil Republicans who want him gone, anything is ok as long as he is on your side, right Mr. Lynch?

It was also Mr. McCoy who ran our state finances into the ditch. You do remember how he and his buddies would complete ignore Governor Musgrove's realistic budget projections and completely bankrupted the state with their spending, don't you? Believe it or not Mr. Lynch, some people may want to replace Mr. McCoy for other reasons than the fact he is a Democrat.

Mr. Lynch recently made another sensational claim in one of his stories:
The city administration updated an earlier estimation of a $3.9 million budget deficit at last week’s budget meeting. “The city is currently out of budget about $13.1 million,” said city Director of Administration Rick Hill last week, before recommending the doomed debt-restructuring plan and drastic cuts to the Department of Parks and Recreation and JATRAN.

Wow. $13 million dollars. That is alot of money. In fact, based partly upon Mr. Lynch's story, I wrote a post about the budget crisis: and stand by its content. However, when I saw a story about the budget in The Clarion-Ledger later, I asked the reporter why the larger number was not included in the story. He said that the figure was for NEXT year's budget (called "budget intentions") which is due pretty soon as well. Such a deficit is still a disaster and Melton must be held accountable for this further display of his fiscal mismanagement. However, Mr. Lynch used the word "current" making it seem that the $13 million deficit was in the current budget. It may have been that was what Mr. Hill told him. It is not Mr. Lynch's fault if city officials give him bad information. However, the Clarion-Ledger reporter said it was for next year's budget. If so, I am curious as to why Mr. Lynch missed that crucial fact. Since Mr. Lynch's story, there have been several reports of the budget deficit in local media outlets. However, they have not used the $13 million figure, which makes it more clear that it does not refer to the current budget. One must ask once again if Mr. Lynch was reporting the facts or engaged in sensationalistic advocacy journalism against Mayor Melton.

Unfortunately, I am not surprised at such from Mr. Lynch. He penned one of the slimiest paragraphs I have ever seen in local journalism:
Melton inadvertently got his 17-year-old live-in companion subpoenaed before a 2nd District grand jury this morning. Melton told reporters at a press conference that alleged carjacker Michael Taylor told him that inmates are liberally using drugs at the Hinds County Jail, in Raymond. Sheriff Malcolm McMillin acted quickly, requesting that the Hinds County District Attorney issue a subpoena, dragging Taylor before a grand jury to explain the details...."

This is nothing but a smear. Everyone knows what the phrase "live-in companion" means. In this case Mr. Lynch is referring to young Michael Taylor, Jackson Thug Extraordinaire (I like that word but I really need to think of another one to use). That phrase is always used in the media to describe sexual partners who live together, as Mr. Lynch surely knows. Anyone who reads my blog knows exactly what my thoughts towards Melton are. However, there is no excuse for this kind of garbage, which is exactly what it is, implying that Melton has a sexual relationship with an underage minor by using the right code words and then claiming, oh, that is not what I mean. Everyone knows EXACTLY what was meant by that statement. There were plenty of other descriptions Mr. Lynch could have used such as "Mr. Melton's young ward" or "the juvenile who is currently in Mr. Melton's custody" instead of that crap. Such slime has no place in competent journalism.

I don't enjoy criticizing Mr. Lynch. He has talent and when aimed in the right direction, he covers stories more thoroughly than do most local reporters. However, he ruins it with slime such as his reference to Michael Taylor or advocacy journalism such as his story on Billy McCoy where Mr. McCoy is promoted as a thoughtful, conscientious liberal working for all Mississippians while his opponents are charlatans who just want to give Barbour more power to ruin our state.

Reporters do make mistakes which is why the budget story itself wasn't that troubling. However, there is somewhat of a pattern here and if left to his own devices, Mr. Lynch tends to pull journalistic stunts that demean the profession. It is hard to see how such writing passes muster under the so-called best practices of journalism.

Note: by the way, Ms. Ladd just referred to Mr. Lynch as the best reporter in town:
Oh, and I wholeheartedly agree with you about Adam Lynch being the best reporter in town. However, it is important to realize that he has a large support network and very strong editors here. Reporters at the JFP don't operate in a vacuum; we work strongly as a team. So every story you see in the JFP, on some level, is a group effort. That includes mine, his, Brian's, Matt's, Ronni, Maggie's, Casey's in the past, and so on.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Stacy McDonald: Jackson Artist Extraordinaire

Check out the website of local artist Stacy McDonald:
She specializes in interior design, murals, and canvas paintings. I have known her for years and have several pieces of her work hanging in my home. Even if you like a piece that happens to have been sold, sometimes she can recreate it on demand for a client.

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Nothing like Damn Good Tequila

Now that it is football season, it is time to break out my favorite: Milagro Silver Tequila. Very smooth Tequila. Best kept in the freezer and when chilled, better than anything made by Patron. Yes, I dissed Patron. Get over it. It costs approximately $26 a bottle.
Milagro Silver Tequila can be purchased at Kat's Wine Cellar on Fortification.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS