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Dizzying Intellect » Local

Category: Local

Three Guilty Pleas Expected

It’s been so hard to find news about the pups. But this might be the beginning of the end.

ST. LOUIS — At least three eastern Missouri men arrested in a multistate federal crackdown on illegal dogfighting are expected to plead guilty next week in federal court.

Documents filed in the case and interviews with the men’s attorneys confirmed that Robert Hackman, 55, of Foley; Teddy Kiriakidis, 50, of Leasburg; and Ronald Creach, 34, of Leslie will plead guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

Co-defendant Michael Morgan, 38, of Hannibal is set for trial Monday in the same court. His attorney did not respond to phone inquiries about whether he also planned to plead.

A grand jury indicted the four, along with Jack Ruppel, 35, of Eldon, on dogfighting conspiracy and other charges this summer in St. Louis. Ruppel pleaded guilty Sept. 4 in federal court in Jefferson City to a conspiracy charge and to selling an animal for a fighting venture. His attorney, Timothy Cisar, said Ruppel pleaded guilty “because he is guilty.”

A sentencing date has not been set.

Twenty-six people were charged and more than 500 dogs, some of them pregnant, were seized in July following federal raids in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas.

U.S. attorneys in several states accused them of cruelties that included shooting dogs in the head when they didn’t fight well. None of the other cases have advanced to trials or guilty pleas.

More below the fold

Read more »

Basics

Ok, this blog is turning into all bad news all the time.

I’m not sorry for sharing my crap days with you (it’s my blog and I’ll vent if I want to). But I am sorry for not showing up when things are going well, or at least neutral — it’s been a bad year — and letting you in on the good stuff too.

I saw this on the way home last night, and remembered to stop and get a picture today. It’s one of those digital billboards that have like ten different ads in rotation, so I had to park and wait for it.

How insanely cool is that?! Many thanks to whoever paid for that, or to the billboard company, if they did it themselves. Awesome.

Me, me, me. Them. You.

I haven’t mentioned it on here, but many of you probably know from twitter that I’m a volunteer at the Humane Society of Missouri.

And that same group of you also knows about the pit bull rescue. I don’t know how much this has made national news — I’m sort of in an echo chamber, here, and it feels like it’s not getting nearly enough coverage. The hsmo broke up a multi-state pit bull fighting ring last month, and it was the single largest dog fighting raid and rescue in US history. They rescued over 400 dogs, who had never known anything but fighting and torture and abuse.

I know that pit bulls have a terrible reputation, but if you’ve never met one in person, you owe it to yourself to do so. They are extremely affection-driven and will do anything for their beloved family — even if it means fighting to the death. This, in itself, makes the dog fighting “sport” obscenely cruel.

Perhaps the one benefit of this heartbreaking ordeal is the opportunity to prove to the public that these dogs aren’t monsters. Some of them have been bred specifically for aggression, but the vast majority of the breed has not. They’re just dogs, who want nothing more than love and affection, and a friendly face to lick.

If you have any way of helping us, please do. We need supplies and money to care for these dogs every day until their case is finished. (Amazon has amazing prices on extreme kongs — and you could buy three and get free shipping to the shelter! Or toss your old mismatched, unwanted bath towels in box and send it, that’s great too.) If you can’t give money or supplies, please contact your local government offices and encourage them to make stronger laws about dog fighting and animal abuse. And if you have the time, visit your local Humane Society and cuddle with a homeless pit bull for a while. I promise they’ll change your mind.

Operation Bark Alert

Governor Nixon held a press conference at the Humane Society last week on the success of Operation Bark Alert, the administration’s effort to crack down on substandard, illegal puppy mills in the state.

“In a short couple of months, since the initiation of Operation Bark Alert, the effort has already proven to be a great success. I’m happy to announce that through Operation Bark Alert, the state has facilitated the rescue or voluntary surrender, already this year, of more than 1300 individual dogs across our state. [applause] The majority of these dogs were found in bad shape, they were in substandard conditions, in facilities run by breeders without licenses. Many were sick, dirty and without proper veterinary care.

But because of enhanced efforts on the part of the Department of Agriculture, rescue agencies across the state like the Humane Society of Missouri, and engaged members of the community who provide tips, these dogs were removed and changed to better environments.”

Two weeks ago, 102 dogs (along with three chimps) were rescued from a single puppy mill in Daviess County, Missouri — mostly pocket dogs, like Yorkies, Chihuahuas, and toy Poodles. The Humane Society was allowed to take them, and they’re being rehabilitated and cared for.

Many times, these substandard puppy mill dogs have never seen or touched green grass. Never spent even a few hours outside of a two foot square metal crate, in their whole lives. They’ll be available for adoption beginning next week, and finally get good homes. Microdogs aren’t my thing, personally, but they adopt out like hotcakes, and these little guys have really suffered. They deserve great families, excessive spoiling, and lots of love.

I’m not always thrilled with Governor Nixon, and I’m still a little sore about him defending the tax refund delays, but this kind of thing goes a long way with me. Good work, sir.

Borrowing Borrowers

So, like a few other states, Missouri’s delaying tax refunds. Nice.

Guess what? I noticed.

I’ve always gotten my federal and state tax refunds at the same time — usually on the same day, via automatic deposit — but not this year. And now I know it’s not just me.

Missouri has delayed tax refunds and quietly borrowed $325 million from its cash reserves in order to pay employees, public schools, hospitals and other bills.

So they’ve wasted the money that they borrowed from you and me, and now they have to borrow even more to pay the bills. Repaying the money that didn’t even belong to them in the first place? Not exactly their highest priority.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s director of budget and planning confirmed Monday that the delay in tax refunds and the borrowed money both were necessary for cash flow purposes.

The “director of budgeting and planning” is obviously lacking in natural ability to do either. Think they’ll find him a new job, or just a new title?

Although Nixon’s administration never publicized it, Missouri borrowed $175 million from its reserves in February and an additional $150 million in March, according to an April 2 cash flow analysis by Nixon’s Office of Administration labeled as an internal draft.

Missouri began its 2009 fiscal year last July with $557 million in its budget reserve fund. The state constitution allows money to be withdrawn from reserves for cash-flow purposes so long as it is repaid with interest before May 16.

And yet they still have to pay out our tax refunds. Think that $325 million is going to be paid back — with or without interest — by next month? Yeah, me neither. Wonder how they’re going to make up the difference. Let me guess.

The longer the state takes to process tax returns, the longer it earns interest on the money.

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

So I guess I won’t hold my breath, waiting.

Men on Men

No, no. Not like that, silly. Men judge themselves, and other men from their own countries…

Can it be that our male counterparts here in America have an over-inflated ego? I have noticed a certain bravado, but thought it was restricted to the guys I was dating. I turns out that it might be an epidemic, according to a recent report from a global marketing firm.

It turns out that 57 percent of American guys consider themselves sexy. That makes them among the most confident around the globe. The only nationalities to beat them in cocky assurance were the Greeks (81 percent felt sufficiently sexy), the Russians (80 percent, must be all the vodka), the South Africans (78 percent) and the Brazilians (63 percent).

Some of the other numbers surprised both me and the author. The French, particularly. And then the more specific analysis kicks in.

On an interesting note, the survey sought to find out just what it takes for a guy to be considered sexy.

More than a third of American women said that old-fashioned good hygiene is the most important attribute. But only 23 percent of American guys said that was number one, they believe that confidence is much more important. But who cares if you’re confident if your clothes are wrinkled and you stink.

It’s interesting mostly because men don’t normally talk about what makes men appealing. (Unless they’re insisting that it’s all wallet-based… see below.) So there’s kind of a sense of being a “fly on the wall.” The results show some surprising disconnects between what men and women think women are attracted to. Read the whole thing — it’s curious, in an endearing, anthropological sort of way.

And there’s a poll at the end. Bonus!

Clothing Budget: $200

Oh brother.

Kit Bond won’t seek 5th term as Missouri senator in 2010

In unrelated news, I’d like to announce my candidacy for… No, just kidding. A few too many skeletons that I’m happy to have remain faaaar back in the closet. Under the old wrapping paper box and that blanket that smells funny.

This does worry me, though. Missouri barely went red this election, after a whole lot of counting and recounting — and in the end, fewer than 4000 votes separated the candidates, as I recall. Only St Louis and Kansas City are typically blue. Usually the rest of the state is, like, crimson, so this is a little alarming.

But obviously, the state usually swings with the country: thus the ‘bellwether’ label. I’m just not sure I’m prepared to swing that widely, myself. I suspect this is just an open door and a big cheerful ‘Welcome’ sign for another Carnahan — but hopefully I’ll be living elsewhere by 2010, anyway. :o)

New Rule! New Rule!

So, Missouri passed some new legislation that went into effect on the first, and two of them are immigration-based. I’m very much pro-immigration, but still very anti-illegal immigration.

I don’t see why anyone should get to bypass the Indian coders that work with me, who’ve been waiting for years for citizenship, just because they’re sneakier and geographically closer. I don’t get why German and Welsh and Russian people, who do the paperwork and wait their turn patiently, are considered by the media and the left to be less important and worthy than those who break the law to get here. Hell yes, I want Mexicans here, but get in line like everyone else.

Especially here in Missouri, where the unemployment rates are skyrocketing, and companies like mine are having to lay people off by the thousands — right now, there are no jobs that “Americans won’t do.”

Anyway. Here’s the new legislation:

IMMIGRATION CHECKS
All public employers and those with private businesses with government contracts worth more than $5,000, receiving state loans or getting tax breaks must use the federal E-Verify database to screen new hires. Employers caught “knowingly” hiring an illegal immigrant risk losing their business licenses, unless they used E-Verify.

SANCTUARY CITIES
Cities are ineligible for state grants if they adopt an order or ordinance that limits cooperation with federal immigration authorities, bars immigration status verification or declares illegal immigrants can live within the city.

Not much, really, but it’s a start. The E-Verify part doesn’t really affect anything but state jobs and private businesses with government contracts. But there are a few catches for private companies too: if you’ve been busted for hiring illegals in the past, you have to use E-Verify now. And if you’re caught in the future, you’re only in the clear if you already use the system. So there’s incentive to use it, at least. A step in the right direction.

The Sanctuary Cities part is quirky. We have a very low rate of illegal immigration here, less than 1% of the national total. But Kansas City has some dodgy rules and activities with questionable compliance. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes… Will they press, or won’t they? (Stay Tuned!)

Alms

You know how some grocery stores have their receipt paper printed with ads? So you have a bunch of coupons and stuff on the back of your receipt when you leave? Usually nail salons and restaurants, in my experience.

One of the biggest Chevy dealerships in town has started running receipt ads. Not selling cars, but ads for detailing. $29.99, which I guess is a pretty good price, right?

What say you? Smart? Sad? Spunky? (I don’t know how much the ads cost…)

I think it’s a little depressing, in an O-How-The-Mighty-Have-Fallen kind of way. But on the other hand, it’s income, which makes me want to punch them slightly less.

Second Chance

I’m not sure how this turned up on the main page of the local rag today, but I like it. The second half of it, anyway. So I’m going to share.

A nasty, dirty, testicle-free bastard broke into a woman’s home, here, back in October. He smashed through a basement window, beat her up, and raped her. A 57-year old lady. My mom’s age.

She told the police, but for one reason or another, they were unable to catch him quickly.

And then the douchebag came back a few days later for another shot at her. He cut the power and phone lines, and started kicking in the basement door. But this time, she was ready for him.

She tried to call 911, but couldn’t because the power was off. She got a shotgun and waited as the man began banging on the basement door. She fired when Preyer came crashing through the door. When Preyer collapsed, the woman escaped and went to a neighbor’s home, where she called police. Officers, who arrived within a minute, found a bleeding Preyer stumbling away from the house. He was taken to St. Francis Medical Center, where he died several hours later.

Swingle said the victim identified Preyer as the attacker in both incidents. [Ronnie W. Preyer, 47, a registered sex offender], of Jackson, Mo., had wet caulking from the recently repaired basement window on his clothing when he was shot.

“I will not be filing any sort of charge against this 57-year-old woman, who was clearly justified under the law in shooting this intruder in her home,” Swingle said.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what. you. get. Good for her.