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Archive for August, 2014

Obama calls for peace in Ferguson

Aisha Sultan/

There was an eerie flashback to 1965 in parts of the St. Louis region Sunday. Riot gear. Tear gas. German shepherds. Looting. Stores on fire. Dozens arrested.

It was the violent aftermath of a violent encounter the day before between a police officer and teenager Mike Brown, who was killed. On this very same night that Ferguson boiled over, the Watts riots had burned in Los Angeles nearly 50 years prior.

It’s hard to explain race relations within the St. Louis metro area to those who have never lived here. It’s even harder to make sense of it for children being raised in a more diverse and multiracial America than ever before.

It’s important to consider our recent past.

St. Louis, recently ranked as the sixth most racially segregated city in the country, has entrenched polarized attitudes about race and law enforcement.

Ferguson, a community of 21,000, is an inner-ring suburb, a place where it’s easy for the economic recovery to bypass the poor. It’s a city of 6 square miles, about 10 miles north of downtown. About two-thirds of the residents are African-American. The median income is $37,000, roughly $10,000 less than the state average. Nearly a quarter of residents live below the poverty level, compared with 15 percent statewide.

It’s part of north St. Louis county, where whites left en masse beginning over the past few decades. In the ’60s, they began rapidly leaving north city, creating one of one of the most extreme cases of “white flight” in the country. But many who remained in power are still white, including much of the law enforcement. A local lawyer said whenever she goes into courthouses in North County, all the defendants are always black, the cops always white.

The images from the day before were tinder for this fire: A young black man with his hands in the air. The graphic photo, widely circulated, of Brown slain, lying on the street. His stepfather holding a sign saying the police executed his son. Social media ablaze with photos and videos and outrage.

Brown’s own family members have said the destruction in their hometown is salt in their wounds. When peaceful protests turn to a city’s self immolation, there is no justice for anyone. What’s left is a community used to being unheard, roiling in the wake of a deadly police shooting. A powder keg of unemployment and poverty, of neglect and frustration, and those willing to exploit a tragedy for personal gain.

And this sort of reaction is all too familiar: Donna Rose, wrote in a Facebook comment on STLtoday’s public Facebook page, “I think the SWAT teams needs to open fire and kill all that r involved in the looting.” Her profile identifies her as originally from Florissant, also in North County, now in California.

When an 18-year-old, unarmed black teenager is fatally shot, there are questions any mother, any citizen will have:

Why did Brown’s uncovered, slain body lie on the ground for four hours?

Why did an officer, as yet unidentified, repeatedly fire gun shots when Brown was known to be unarmed and running away?

What happened in that police car? Why was Brown there in the first place?

All this transpired in broad daylight, with video footage, now in the hands of the authorities investigating. These answers will take time to uncover.

The explanation offered from police officials thus far, that Brown struggled for the officer’s gun, seems so at odds with the descriptions of a gentle kid, who was relieved to graduate high school and wanted to start a better life.

The circumstance of that interaction, the exchange between a young black man and police officer in that neighborhood, will be understood completely differently, given the individual’s personal life experience.

For those who have been on the receiving end of disrespect, mistrust, suspicion or brutality, the impulse is to believe Brown was brutally gunned down.

For those who are fearful anytime they cross into the city limits, most likely only for a sporting event, the young man must have done something to “deserve” his fate.

These perspectives largely fall along racial lines.

It’s a false dichotomy, a lazy narrative, to see this region as divided among racists whites and angry blacks. That’s not reality in many neighborhoods and families here. But it’s the loudest, most visible part of the discourse. Like much of America, St. Louis has an undeniable problem talking about or dealing with issues involving race.

The most economically depressed and violence-torn parts of the city and county, predominantly black neighborhoods, are largely ignored by the civic establishment, unless to explain why the city’s high rank in violent crime isn’t an accurate depiction of the region.

Until we can tell our children — and ourselves — a more honest story about race in this region, we will be left with far worse tragedies to explain.


A friend felt her stomach turn; I got teary and had a terrible sense of disbelief. I listened closely as CNN interviewed the Mayor of Ferguson and police officials. I heard the news that the FBI was taking over the investigation into the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in North County on Saturday by a police officer.

Last night, while an angry crowd looted stores and fired shots in the air, demanding that the officer be named publicly and fired, I was attending a workshop with a woman who is traveling the country in search of grassroots led solutions to some of our country’s most pressing problems. What a wake up call. If ever a story warranted moderation and measured thinking, this is it. Sadly, it also reflects what a touchpoint race still is in this country.

What’s happening in Ferguson today, and what did or did not happen on Saturday, runs counter to everything this region wants to have happen for North County. Ferguson is a place that pulled together, black and white, to rebuild after tornadoes blew through there causing financial loss and physical destruction. It is that spirit that will carry them through this latest turn of events if people can stay calm. After all, we are all concerned with finding out the facts in the Michael Brown shooting. The message to the people of Ferguson is, “#WeCareFerguson.”

North County has been in the news a lot lately. It has seen school districts lose accreditation, manufacturing dry up and a loss of key retail. There is so much hope and energy going into reversing the fortunes of many North County municipalities that we need to make sure this situation doesn’t eclipse the good work going on there.

Let’s let the Department of Justice do its job now in uncovering the facts without anymore casualties or fanning the flames of this fire. We have a choice in how we respond.

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FBI to investigate police involved shooting in Ferguson

A Call for Calm / Kara Kaswell

As a longtime journalist, seeing the looting and rioting in North St. Louis County, I’m reminded sadly of the absolute anarchy and mayhem in the wake of the Rodney King riots in 1992. The Sacramento TV station flew us into Los Angeles within the first 8 hours of the riots – after the male reporter they sent requested to go home because he was terrified. When I got off plane, he handed me a sweat-soaked bullet proof vest and told me, “Good Luck.” I didn’t know then how much I would need it. Within one hour we were in South Central in LA and a sniper was shooting into the crowd. We dove for cover behind a car as the bullets hit the tree behind us. We stayed up for 24 hours fueled by adrenaline, seeing stores looted, and buildings torched. It seemed like the more video we shot, the more aggressive the looting became. Dawn on the second day brought calm as actor Edward James Olmos came out and walked the streets in South Central – leading a line of Blacks, Whites, Asians and Indians – a rainbow of humanity – calling for unity and calm. There are so many parallels between the riots in Los Angeles and what happened last night and what is still happening today in Ferguson in North St. Louis County. While I have laid down my microphone and no longer cover news, my stomach churns. I am upset as I watch former colleagues report from the scene. I fear for their safety. As we wait for answers as to what really happened to Michael Brown, I urge journalists to consider what role the camera plays – because truthfully there is no protest without media coverage. We all need to try to breathe and wait for answers, losing an 18 year old man in this manner is truly disturbing, and terribly sad. I just don’t want to see anyone else hurt. — Kara Kaswell/ Former reporter KMOV-TV CBS

From Food Network.Com

Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay

Grilled Honey Glazed Chicken with Green Pea and Mint Sauce

Grilled Honey Glazed Chicken:
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 whole bone-in chicken breasts
Olive oil, for grilling, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Green Pea and Mint Sauce, recipe follows
Green Pea and Mint Sauce:
2 cups frozen peas, blanched and drained well
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, grilled or roasted, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
Grilled Honey Glazed Chicken:
Heat grill to medium. Whisk together the honey and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Brush the breasts on both sides with oil, if desired, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the breasts for 7 to 10 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Brush with the honey glaze during the last few minutes of cooking. Serve on a bed of sauce or with sauce drizzled over.

Green Pea and Mint Sauce:
Place peas, vinegar, mint, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and taste for seasoning.

Add the honey and blend again. If the mixture if too thick, blend in a few tablespoons of cold water.

CATEGORIES: Chicken Main Dish Sauce View All
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Summer? The Mom Vivant / Debbie Baldwin of Ladue News

By Debbie Baldwin
Anyone with children older than 10 has slowly come to terms with the fact that there is no summer. OK, that was an exaggeration. Of course, there’s a summer. According to the calendar, summer lasts about three months. Mentally, it lasts six weeks. Emotionally, summer is 16 reasonably pleasant days sandwiched in-between the end of school wrap-up and the back-to-school check-up.
That being said, it is, in fact, summer—literally, mentally and emotionally. This is the window. The weather is gorgeous, bike tires are pumped, racquets are strung, sneakers are laced. I stand at my kitchen door like one of those fans on the sidelines at a marathon, holding a cup of water for the runners: Come on, you can do it—go! I am met by three glazed-over teens who simultaneously mumble:
We’re out of juice.
There’s nothing to do.
I can’t find my charger.
It’s as if the woodwind section of a very bad orchestra is warming up in my living room. I want to yell with abandon, but part of me knows it’s uncalled for and another part is worried Cranky is secretly recording me and posting the video for her friends. Instead, I calmly encourage Whiny to take the dog for a walk, and Punch to call a friend. The boys protest with their laundry list of canned excuses, returning to the virtual world before I abandon the discussion. Meanwhile, Cranky documents her reactions with a series of adorable selfies.
I have to get them out of the house. I have to. I have a pretty decent book collecting dust, the full season of 24 recorded—that and I’m going to go absolutely bat-guano crazy if I don’t get five minutes alone. Think, dammit, think. I go back to every hostage negotiation movie I have ever seen: Get them talking. Hey guys, what’s up today? Nothing. The games continue their high-pitched humming, Cranky snaps another photo. I went to the store. I got food. That does it. Whiny and Punch beeline to the kitchen—and one room closer to the door—Cranky wanders in behind, apparently documenting the journey as if it’s a trail hike.
Once they’ve emptied the pantry, like a swarm of locusts descending on a fig tree, we are at a crossroads. I’ve gotten them this far. Three more steps and they’re in the yard. They make a move to return. I block the door with my body—my sanity is on the line. Cranky grabs her keys and gestures for the boys to follow. She mentions something about ice cream or swimming or knocking off a convenience store—who the hell cares? They are leaving, they are going out in the sunshine, with the other three-dimensional people. I look around at the crumpled potato-chip bags, empty milk jugs, damp towels and odd array of flip-flops that litter the room and wonder idly, When will summer be over?

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Missourians bolster gun rights; right to farm and reject highway tax money

Gay Marriage on way to SCOTUS?

Court Hearing Gay Marriage Arguments From 4 States
By AMANDA LEE MYERS Associated Press

A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments in six gay marriage fights from four states — Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee — in the biggest such session on the issue so far.

Three judges of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will consider arguments Wednesday that pit states’ rights and traditional, conservative values against what plaintiffs’ attorneys say is a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. Large demonstrations are expected outside the courthouse by both opponents and supporters.

Michigan’s and Kentucky’s cases stem from rulings striking down each state’s gay marriage bans. Ohio’s case deals only with the state’s recognition of out-of-state gay marriages, while Tennessee’s is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.

Attorneys on both sides in the Michigan and Ohio cases will go first and get a half-hour each to make their cases. Kentucky and Tennessee will follow, with 15 minutes for each side from both states.

Hundreds of gay marriage supporters rallied Tuesday at a park near Cincinnati’s riverfront on the eve of the court arguments.

The Rev. Mary Moore of Dayton, interim minister at the Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church, says she has performed many services of “holy union” for same-sex couples, but they are not recognized by the state.

“It’s not fair that all of the marriages I perform aren’t allowed to be on an equal basis,” she said.

Mason Gersh, 19, of Louisville, Kentucky, said he hoped to be inside the courthouse to hear the legal arguments. “Equality for all is a civil right, and we all need to fight for that,” said Gersh, who is gay.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year, gay marriage advocates have won more than 20 victories in federal courts. No decision has gone the other way in that time.

Constitutional law professors and court observers say the 6th Circuit could deliver the first victory to gay marriage opponents.

The three judges hearing the case are Jeffrey S. Sutton and Deborah L. Cook, both nominees of President George W. Bush, and Martha Craig Daughtrey, a pick of President Bill Clinton.

Sutton is considered the least predictable, shocking Republicans in 2011 when he became the deciding vote in a 6th Circuit ruling that upheld President Barack Obama’s landmark health care overhaul.

If the 6th Circuit decides against gay marriage, that would create a divide among federal appeals courts and put pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the issue for good in its 2015 session.

Two federal appeals courts already have ruled in favor of gay marriage, one in Denver in June and another in Richmond, Virginia, last week. On Tuesday, Utah appealed the ruling from the Denver-based court, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case and uphold the state’s ban.

The 6th Circuit is the first of three federal appeals courts to hear arguments from multiple states in August and September.

The 7th Circuit in Chicago has similar arguments set for Aug. 26 for bans in Wisconsin and Indiana. The 9th Circuit in San Francisco is set to take up bans in Idaho and Nevada on Sept. 8.

Gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.


Associated Press writer Lisa Cornwell contributed to this report.


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