Monday, December 31, 2007

How'd it play?

The result of the Alabama-Colorado bowl game in Shreveport, La., received different play in Alabama and Colorado newspapers. The Bama victory was displayed prominently on the front pages of at least a half-dozen state newspapers here. In Colorado, the loss get much less attention. The Rocky Mountain News, above, reduced the game to a small headline above the masthead.

See for yourself at the Newseum's front page gallery.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

More from a Star alumnus

I blogged recently about Star alumnus Jim Yardley, now The New York Times' correspondent in China.

Here's his latest work - an incredible look at the wide-ranging effects of the smog in Beijing.

Friday, December 28, 2007

From Medieval to Mideast

This week's Bookshelf page has a variety of selections from a variety of sources, modern and ancient.
Former Congressman Glen Browder reviews the sometimes controversial The Israel Lobby, which gives an overview of the loosely connected individuals and groups which lobby the United States to support Israel. The book not only explains why and how they lobby to help that country, but how Middle East diplomacy could be improved upon.
JSU English professor Carmine DiBiase reviews the latest translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a pre-Renaissance epic tale by an anonymous writer that could be just as well enjoyed and received as the new Beowulf. Can anyone say "screen adaptation?"
Steve Whitton adds to the fiction reviews with Hotel de Dream, a "fantasia" written by Edmund White about author Stephen Crane. The novel beautifully melds fact and fiction about Crane's possible end-of-life work.

Who made this stuff up?

Coming Sunday in The Star's Insight section -- headlines we'd like to see in 2008.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Election calendar for Alabama's local governments

Found this handy link while working on a project for Sunday's paper.

It's a keeper for both community journalists and readers of community journalism.

Star alumnus sighting

If you're a regular reader of NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, you may notice today that he mentioned Jim Yardley, a Times reporter based in China.

Yardley is a former reporter at The Star -- and a good guy, from what I remember of his somewhat brief time here -- so I always make a point to pick up The Times and look for his byline. He's always a good read.

By the way, in 2002 -- yep, five long years ago -- The Star produced a lengthy list of former newsroom employees who no longer work at The Star. Many moved on to other jobs in the journalism field; a few retired or decided to do something else. Here's a link to that list. Despite its age, it's still quite interesting.

And here's a story that goes along with that list.

Happy reading.

Grab the dictionary, someone at The Star's gone nuts






Confused? Then make sure you check out The Star's op-ed page on Friday. It'll all make sense then. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Coming Thursday on the editorial/op-ed pages

Star Publisher H. Brandt Ayers is giving readers his take on the passing of Dr. Gordon Rodgers, the first black city councilman in Anniston:
By the time I got to know Gordon Rodgers, it was unthinkable to imagine him as an incendiary young radical. He was urbane, sophisticated, and his handsome wife, Agnes, had a certain stylish flair. They were a couple who would be unremarkable at a table in the Rainbow Room in New York. As time went on, it seemed to me that Gordon developed a kind of weary wisdom, the knowledge of a man who has seen a world of folly.
And that’s the thing about Gordon Rodgers and men like him in those days before the Old South died and sank to the bottom of history, not unremembered but dead. He was from a good family; his father was a doctor. He was educated, a graduate of elite Talladega College, where black professionals of the time sent their sons and daughters, an institution which turned out doctors and lawyers in assembly-line numbers.
The Star's editorial board also is looking at the comments made across Alabama following the arrest of three white teenagers for the defacing of the Confederate monument in Montgomery earlier this fall:
John Napier, who was identified as “a historian and former member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” summed it up quite well. The vandals “must have learned something in school even though they applied it rather poorly.”
True enough. And it is the application, not the education, that society must now address.
We'll also have our daily dose of letters to the editor and syndicated columnists.

For what it's worth, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman -- a regular in The Star on Thursdays -- is taking a break to write a book. His final column until April is on Thursday's op-ed page.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bobcast nears 100

We're closing in on our 100th episode of the Bobcast. (See player on the right-hand side of this blog.)

Friday's Bobcast features Anniston Star reporter Todd South talking about his story on travel agents on today's Business page.

Wanna make sure you don't miss new editions of the Bobcast? Want to go back and hear previous podcasts?

You can sign up for alerts here.

Or visit Bobcast headquarters.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

News from Oxford High

The latest from the Hoover High search for a news football coach is here.

We'll have more in Friday's newspaper.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for these stories:

There will be an announcement at noon about the Hoover High School head football coach position. Oxford Yellow Jacket head football coach Josh Niblett said he has interviewed for the Hoover job opening. We'll have a story about that and updates online when the announcement is made.

Markeshia Ricks has a story about midwives. They're banned in Alabama, but somebelieve they could play a key role in reducing infant mortality. A bill has been sponsored to get them recognized to practice in the state and it's going back to the Legislature this year.

Retired Associate Editor Basil Penny has a story about a Cherokee County couple who have scoured East Alabama for materials from old barns and homes to create their unique living space, what they call "the barn house."

Anniston High School students are involved in several holiday community service projects. Steve Ivey has this story.

We're all about Brad Pitt in the editorial department

We've got Brad Pitt -- yes, BRAD PITT!!! -- on The Star's op-ed page on Friday morning.

And you thought the editorial department was boring and out of touch.

(Don't tell anyone, but it's only one small photo, and only one small mention, but it's still worth your time. Don't miss it.)

Coming Thursday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is taking a look at New Jersey's decision to stop executions in that state -- and what that means for states like Alabama that still use the death penalty:
We’ll let the Texas editorial pages get to the heart of the problem there. As for punishment in Alabama, it is not dished out fairly, especially when it comes to the death penalty.
The quicker we come to that realization — and admit that this is as much a political issue as it is an issue of justice — the better off all of us will be.
We're also commenting on the Joint Powers Authority's hiring of Angelou Economics to lead the search for McClellan's CEO:
It’s no secret that it’s been a frustrating year on the McClellan CEO front. Dan Cleckler resigned as executive director in January, and months were wasted due to what appeared to be miscommunication between the JPA and the Angelou firm. Like many others, this page wishes the CEO search was further along than it is.

Get energized in Sunday's Insight section

We're still tweaking this thing, but we're trying our darnedest to make Sunday's Insight section all about our nation's energy policy. Our plan it to highlight the possibilities of solar energy and the need to include conservation in our nation's long-range energy plan. One of the pieces is written by Richard Raeke, a former Star reporter and editorial writer who now works in the solar-energy field in Massachusetts.

Check it out Sunday. Once we get through with it, it should be a dandy.

Anybody know where we can get a leisure suit?

Imagine one of these guys walking down Noble Street.

In broad daylight.

On purpose.

That could have been me.

As faithful Star readers may know, we did our first video editorial the other day, and it's brought mixed results. We've learned that we need a tripod and that I need to learn there's a difference between a script and a printed editorial. A big difference.

Anyway, our finished product -- a takeoff on the Charlie's Angels TV show from the 1970s -- wasn't our first choice. Our plan was to dress me like those dudes in the photo, in a crazy leisure suit and an Afro, take me to 10th and Noble in downtown Anniston, and have me narrate a portion of our editorial.

I was game. My reputation's already cemented, plus I'd look good in an Afro.

Problem was, we couldn't find a leisure suit. Or at least that's the story we're trotting out there.

We'll do better next time. I hope.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So, how much do you know about the presidential candidates?

Unless something quirky happens, The Star's editorial department is going to try something different on Friday -- a quiz, courtesy of our wire services, about the 2008 presidential campaign.

I took the quiz today, and I admit I made a 100. Which means either I cheated -- wink, wink -- or I'm actually paying attention to this 24-hour campaign. Not sure which one I prefer.

Oh, well. See if we can pull it off in Friday's Star.

Coming Wednesday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial pages on Wednesday will carry some interesting items that I'd love to tout, but instead I'm gonna urge everyone to read columnist Hardy Jackson's weekly offering.

It's a reprint of a Christmas-themed column he penned a few years ago, but at the urging of others he's giving it to us again in 2007. It's heart-warming, tear-jerking and everything else you want during the holiday season.

Here's a portion:
I grew up among folks who didn’t have much. Today, people look back through rose-tinted glasses and talk about being poor but not knowing it. These children knew it. They were the ones who spent the year collecting the tinfoil from discarded cigarette packages to make shiny balls to decorate their Christmas tree because they could not afford the store-bought kind. It was all their parents could do to buy a Christmas gift for their own children, much less someone else’s. Name-drawing reminded them, and us, of their situation.
Taddy’s family fell into that category.

Coming Wednesday in The Star

Coming Wednesday in The Star:

The JPA hired a search firm to find it a new chief executive. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

JSU and Oxford schools are teaming up to apply for a grant to demonstrate and study co-teaching, a method of putting special ed students in classes with a general ed teacher and special ed teacher both at the front of the classroom. Under the grant JSU would study how the program works at Oxford. Markeshia Ricks writes about this project.

Markeshia also has a story about the state BOE adoption of a background check policy for all postsecondary empoylees. The BOE plans to ask the Legislature for a new law to make the results of those checks private (as is done with K-12). But felony records are already public information, so how will that work?

'Tis the season for giving: Todd South covers the delivery by Anniston Army Depot workers of a tuckload of donated toys to the Department of Human Resources to give as Christmas gifts to children. Todd also has a story about the depot's new child care center for employees.

Like wow, dude

We were working on a special Christmas peom for the editorial page when we were reminded of this gem from our pal Rick Horowitz, a humorist and columnist for Wisconsin. Enjoy the brilliance.

The Perfect Storm

Boy, did we goof today.
The Almanac page – where we run Dear Abby, the daily calendar and the police blotter – accidentally ran in two places in today’s paper.
It ran on page 4A, where it should have been, and on page 2B, which should have been the daily box scores for Sports.
So how did it happen?
Bear with me …
The editor who designed the Almanac page on the computer, labeled the page as 2B, which is correct five days of the week.
Wednesday through Sunday, The Star is a four-section paper – News (A), Local News (B), Sports (C) and Features (D). The Almanac page is always 2B on those days.
But, on Mondays and Tuesdays, The Star is a two-section paper – News (A) and Sports (B). On those two days, the Almanac page is never 2B, but that’s how it got labeled for today’s paper.
Nearing midnight Monday night, as press workers prepared the pages to be run on the press, the page that was errantly labeled 2B was placed in the 2B position – in Sports.
A different press worker later put the same page in the 4A position, which is where it was supposed to be. And, since it was labeled 2B instead of 4A, he erased the page number. (If you look at today’s paper, you’ll notice that 4A doesn’t have a page number.) However, he didn’t know a different press worker had already put that same mislabeled page in the 2B position.
After the paper prints, the press workers routinely check to make sure the pages are numbered correctly. A quick pass through the paper will show they were.
It was the perfect storm.
There are a couple of places along the way where the mistake possibly could have been caught.
We’ll look today to see if there are things we can work into our routine to prevent such mistakes in the future.
We regret the mistake and any inconvenience it may have caused, but there’s a reason newspapers are called the “daily miracle.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Coming Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Star for the following stories:

Nicole's and Noble Grille are closed or closing. Can other restaurants fill the void or is the market not supporting restaurants in downtown Anniston?Dan Whisenhunt looks at this story.

Ester Uesry, a housekeeper at JSU's Houston Cole Library, has been honored as the school's employee of the year.

Judge Gus Colvin set bond conditions for Lindsey Danielle Morgan, charged with the stabbing death of her mother, Brenda Ingram. Morgan is currently still being held in the Calhoun County Jail. School officials and the Sheriff's Office recommended the conditions of GPS monitoring and geographic boundaries.

A local soldier surprised his daughter at Sacred Heart School on Monday while he's home on leave from Iraq. Todd South has the story and it's accompanied by some great pictures of the reunion.

Homeschooling and politics

The Washington Post has a story today outlining how homeschoolers are helping the rising campaign of Republican Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee's name is no longer a mystery to Iowa's Republican voters, in large part because of an extensive network of home-schoolers ... who have helped lift his underfunded campaign from obscurity to the front of a crowded field. ...
While early attention focused on Romney and other better-known and better-funded opponents, home-schoolers rallied to Huckabee's cause, attracted by his faith, his politics and his decision to appoint a home-school proponent to the Arkansas board of education. They tapped a web of community and church groups that share common conservative interests, blasting them with e-mails and passing along the word about Huckabee in social settings.

If that sounds familiar it's because Joan Garrett covered much the same ground earlier this year in a series of stories.
One source told Joan:
"These students are impacting political organizations all over the country," said home-school mother Jean Whatley, 55, whose four children have worked a combined total of 20 political campaigns. "They want to transform the culture for Christ."

Garrett did the project as part of her Masters in Community Journalism program here at The Star. She has since moved on to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Friday, December 14, 2007

This weekend in The Star

Check out The Star this weekend for these stories:

On Saturday:

Judge C. Lynwood Smith says Calhoun County Schools can continue with construction of White Plains Middle School. Steve Ivey has this story.

In more education news, Steve also writes about Calhoun County Schools looking at programs elsewhere in the state that get laptops to every high school student. Could a program like this be coming to the area?

Markeshia Ricks attended the Joint Commission on Women and Girls in Prison today and has this story for Saturday's paper: A preliminary proposal by a commission studying women and girls in the state’s criminal justice system recommends closing the doors of the existing Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women.

On Sunday:
A nationwide nursing shortage combines with increased usage of Emergency Departments. That means they are as busy, or busier, as ever, with a limited pool of people available to help the sick and injured. RMC is trying out a new concept that's catching on elsewhere - hiring paramedics to work in hospitals instead of on wheels. We spend a night in the RMC ER where the hospital's first paramedic is now on duty. Check out the online photo gallery to see pictures of the ER in action.

The nation this week reached the destruction of 50 percent of the chemical weapons stockpile it had when it signed the treaty to get rid of them in 1997. In Anniston, there's still a long way to go, though officials say much of the previous risk is gone now that sarin and M55 rockets are gone. With things beginning to feel like there's an end in sight, Todd South talks with workers at the incinerator about how they keep their vigilance up.

Anniston's treasures, coming Sunday in The Star

Sunday's Insight section should be a dandy -- an examination of the movement to turn some of Anniston's architectural treasures into modern businesses.

Check it out Sunday in The Star.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friday in The Star

Coming Friday in The Star:

Steve Ivey has coverage of the hearing in Huntsville on the school construction in White Plains.

More details about the Piedmont girl who is accused of stabbing her mother and more about the victim, Brenda Ingram.

Going to travel for the holidays? Need to know where you can store your pet and how much it will cost? Todd South tells you about pet boarding.

Andy Johns profiles Auto Custom Carpets - an Anniston business that is celebrating its 30th anniversary Sunday.

The Star's policy on naming minors

A story in today’s Anniston Star reports that a 17-year-old Piedmont resident has been charged with murder in the stabbing death of her mother.
The Star’s policy is to withhold the identity of minors involved in crime stories, even if they are suspects.
However, in today’s report, we ran the name and photo of the suspect, even though she’s a minor at age 17.
Here’s why:
Lindsey Danielle Morgan was charged as an adult in her mother’s death.
As Calhoun County District Attorney Joe Hubbard explained, Alabama law allows for any minor 16 or older to be tried as an adult in highly serious cases, such as murder.
The case will be tried in adult court, making public any details that emerge during court proceedings, including her identity.
Had Morgan been charged as a juvenile, all court proceedings would have remained closed to the public, and The Star would not have identified her.

The building wore a leisure suit

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Coming Thursday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is tackling the issue of the destroyed CIA interrogation tapes and what that means for the U.S.'s reputation:
It’s one more black eye, one more example of how the nation has strayed from its bedrock values under Dick Cheney’s and George W. Bush’s guidance. As difficult as it is to reconcile, the United States has become a torturer nation. Despite all the denials and word games, the United States has joined the ranks of countries we once looked down upon, spots in Latin America, North Africa and Eastern Europe where suspects were “disappeared,” tortured and otherwise denied due process.
We're also considering the upcoming water-war meeting between the governors of Alabama, Florida and Georgia -- and if the meeting will accomplish anything:
It comes down to this: Unless a court or Congress or president is able to impose or broker a deal, the path of water-war litigation that goes far into our past promises to stretch into our future. As long as the states involved look to a court, Congress or president for a solution, they will not work out a deal themselves.
We'll also have an op-ed column written by Paul Hubbert of the Alabama Education Association and our usual fare of letters and syndicated columnists.

Thursday in The Star

You can find these stories in Thursday's Anniston Star:

Todd South writes about the celebration honoring the Virgen de Guadalupe. This is one of the most important Catholic holidays for Mexicans, honoring the country's patron saint. How do immigrants keep these traditions alive?

We will have a follow up to the murder of a Piedmont woman. Police have charged her 17-year-old daughter.

Dan Whisenhunt looks at the JPA's status. The Anniston City Council tabled a resolution Tuesday night that aimed to dissolve the JPA and there is also the promise of a state law to settle the questions about the board's status. What are the chances for changes in the board's makeup and how might it affect development at McClellan?

Andy Johns has a timely story about a Saks couple that every year fix their yard and outside to celebrate the Christmas season in festive style. Droves of children visit the display every year.

Steve Ivey looks at Birmingham's plans to launch a Next Start-style scholarship program. Will Anniston take the necessary steps to revive its plan?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Don't miss Wednesday's Bobcast

Martha Vandervoort of Interfaith Ministries discusses how to help with Christmas Clearinghouse. The deadline to assist needy families this holiday season is Friday.
In case you missed it, Features editor Laura Tutor wrote on the effort in her Sunday column.
In the column, she wrote:
The Clearing House is a work of art, really. People’s lives, wants and wishes are pored over, filed and matched with big-hearted folks who agree to step up. They accept the challenge and privilege put before a community to provide for all.
The stories come through the Clearing House each year. The families’ names are different — most have never asked for help before — but their circumstances are familiar to those among the “haves” who’ve cared to notice the "have nots."

Wednesday in The Star

These stories can be found Wednesday in The Anniston Star;

Piedmont police have arrested and charged a juvenile family member in the death of a 45-year-old woman after she was found dead in her home Tuesday morning. We'll have more details as we get them.

Markeshia Ricks looks at infant mortality in the state. Alabama has one of the worst rates in the country for infant mortality among black babies. Why do African American mothers have babies who die before they turn one in this state regardless of their socioeconomic background?

The JPA gave Intellimed another eight weeks to secure financing to buy the old PX building at McClellan. The stalled deal, for one of McClellan's key pieces of existing property has played havoc with the JPA's budget. Dan Whisenhunt reports on this story.

And check out the nominees for photo of the year. Then vote for your choice.

I'm a Dixie Chick?

That's how a letter writer in Sunday's paper described me.
His beef was with a column I penned following the Iron Bowl. The commentary appeared on the pages of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and on the Bobcast, my daily podcast.
It examined former Bama coach Dennis Franchione leaving Texas A&M in disgrace and the rumors that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville would be his replacement:
... for a brief time, Alabama fans gleefully considered the prospect of the coach who left them behind resigning in disgrace and the Auburn coach who has beaten them six years in a row abandoning the Tigers for the Aggies.
And, yes, it's sadly telling and rather pitiful that Alabama football fans are reduced to schadenfreude -- taking glee in others' misfortune -- as a way of bringing cheer to a disappointing 6-6 record.

And then concluded:
TCU's record in the years since Franchione departed Fort Worth for Tuscaloosa in late 2000 is 60-25 -- that's 11 more wins than Coach Fran amassed during his time in College Station and Tuscaloosa.
Within that stat is an admission that many are loathe to make in Alabama: Before A&M stole Fran from Alabama, the Crimson Tide lured him away from the Horned Frogs. Alabama fans are not innocents in this game -- as my wife, the TCU alumna, reminds me. They loudly cheered when inviting a promising coach to leave Cowtown. Little consideration -- most likely no consideration -- was given to the fate of TCU. Could it be that the Alabama faithful are paying for these sins with back-to-back 6-6 seasons?
Maybe karma comes clad in purple.

This, according to the writer, is akin to Dixie Chick Natalie Mains criticizing President Bush before an audience in England. Unlike the Chicks, I'm not gonna publish a "Not Ready to Make Nice" follow-up.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tuesday in The Star

Coming Tuesday in The Anniston Star:

Andy Johns has a follow up to the plane crash in Randolph County with updates on the investigation. There will also be posted online an audio slideshow with descriptions from neighbors of what the crash sounded like.

Markeshia Ricks takes a look at what bills our local legislators have filed. She also asked them for their thoughts on the upcoming legislative session.

Renovations at the Anniston Municipal Airport are finally complete. Dan Whisenhunt will look at what the contractors did and what it means for Anniston.

Coming Tuesday on the editorial page

The Star's editorial board is examining the on-going fight between Alabama, Georgia and Florida over the sharing of the region's water suppy and why our state doesn't have a good usage plan:
We could, and should, chide administrations present and past for neglecting to push for a comprehensive water-usage plan, but the fact remains that Alabama does not have one. Until one is developed we will be at a disadvantage when we negotiate with our sister states.
All is not lost, however.
We're also wondering if the Retirement System of Alabama's good fortune in raising money for state workers will continue:
However, as any economist will tell you, one good year is not a trend. And with an unsteady housing market, a credit crunch, a nervous Wall Street and serious talk of a recession, those in charge of these funds will have their hands full trying to match or exceed what they accomplished this year.
Finally, on Tuesday we're talking socks, both in Alabama and internationally:
It certainly is more complicated, but as internationalism replaces nationalism in the world of commerce, as corporate interests transcend the borders of the countries where their companies are located, managers and employees from the boardrooms to the mills are going to have to think and rethink their situation.

Top stories in 2007?

The Associated Press suggests its candidates for top stories of 2007.
Look over the list and let us know if your picks via COMMENTS.

- Political crisis in Pakistan: Musharraf declares state of emergency
- China's export industry buffeted by cases of tainted toys, toothpaste, other products
- U.S. housing and home-lending sectors battered by slump; stocks volatile
- Wildfires ravage Southern California; hundreds of thousands evacuate homes
- Tony Blair departs after 10 years as British prime minister; Gordon Brown takes over
- Alberto Gonzales quits as attorney general after string of controversies
- U.S. dollar falls; Canadian currency more valuable for first time in decades
- Anna Nicole Smith dies; fight over her burial and baby ensue
- Severe drought wracks Southeastern states
- Bangladesh devastated by cyclone; more than 3,000 killed
- Bush administration assailed over torture, Guantanamo detentions
- Attempt to forge compromise on illegal immigration collapses in Congress
- Scientists create equivalent of embryonic stem cells from ordinary skin cells
- Intense campaigning in both major parties for 2008 presidential nominations
- Nicolas Sarkozy elected president of France, vows to strengthen ties with U.S.
- Iran spars with international community over its nuclear program
- Afghan war: deadliest year since 2001
- Death penalty under scrutiny as painlessness of lethal injection questioned
- Supreme Court bans a controversial abortion procedure
- Military regime in Myanmar cracks down harshly on protest movement
- Under pressure from critics, Paul Wolfowitz resigns as president of World Bank
- Methane blast kills 110 workers at Russian coal mine
- U.S. troop surge in Iraq takes effect: violence drops but does not halt
- Palestinians feud among themselves heading toward peace talks with Israel
- Russian President Putin signals he intends to maintain power even after term ends
- Tropical Storm Noel kills more than 100 people in Caribbean
- Darfur: Attempts at peace talks falter as violence continues
- President Bush, Democratic-led Congress at odds over health coverage, Iraq, spending
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez moves to consolidate power, extend rule
- Oil prices soar worldwide
- Global warming: new warnings from experts, Al Gore wins Nobel Prize for his advocacy
- NASA astronaut accused of trying to kidnap rival for affections of space shuttle pilot
- Duke lacrosse rape case collapses; district attorney ousted in disgrace
- Gunman kills 32 people at Virginia Tech; deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history
- Massive wildfires in southern Greece kill at least 65 people
- Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby convicted in CIA leak case
- Nancy Pelosi elected first female speaker of the House
- Revelations of shoddy conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
- CBS fires Don Imus from his radio show for demeaning remarks about Rutgers athletes
- Highway bridge collapses in Minneapolis, killing 13, injuring about 100
- Barry Bonds breaks all-time home run record, then indicted in steroid investigation
- Six miners, three rescue workers die at Utah coal mine
- Earthquake in Peru kills more than 500, wrecks at least 40,000 homes
- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleads guilty to dogfighting charges
- Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho refuses to quit despite guilty plea in airport vice sting
- FBI investigates role of Blackwater USA security firm in killings of Iraqis
- Plane skids off wet runway, killing 199 in Brazil's worst aviation accident
- Koreas: North moves to scrap nuclear program, signs reconciliation pact with South

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Randolph County plane crash kills 1

By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
SEWELL--At least one person is dead after a plane crashed in eastern Randolph County.
Randolph County EMA director Donnie Knight said a small, rented plane took a nose dive into a wooded area a few miles from the Georgia line near Bethel East church just after 9 p.m.
Knight said there was at least one fatality in the crash, but the plane is so deeply embed into the ground that it will take a backhoe to pull the fuselage from the ground to find any more victims. He said the plane appeared to have room for four occupants and was likely a single engine.
Randolph County Coroner Randy Gibbs arrived on the scene, but could not identify the victim.
“He came and went,” said Knight in the pre-dawn hours Saturday. “There was nothing he could do.”
One volunteer firefighter described the wreckage as “a pile of tin.” Another said that three men could easily hold all of the visible pieces of the plane in their arms.
Randolph County Sheriff deputies and volunteer firemen stood guard over the site Saturday morning.
According to a dispatcher at the Randolph County sheriff’s department, residents near Bethel East reported hearing a plane flying over and an explosion that shook their homes around 9:19 p.m. Friday.
Searchers located a plane down in the woods near the community at 10:37 p.m.
“We’re lucky we found it,” Knight said of the wreckage. He said he could not remember another plane crash in Randolph County.
Knight said there was not any bad weather at the time of the crash, but said there was no way to tell yet what caused the crash.
Agents from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were due to visit the site toward the middle of the day today.
Attempts to reach airports in Anniston, Ashland, Auburn, Birmingham, Lagrange, Ga. and Columbus, Ga. failed Friday night.

Contact Andy Johns at or call 235-3545.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The 'new Russians' coming Sunday in Insight

Make sure to pick up a copy of The Star's Insight section on Sunday, which will feature a compelling look at the 'new Russians' that now walk Moscow's streets.

Books to appease the sports fan

This Sunday's Bookshelf will feature selections for sports nuts who are cracking a bit without full input. If you or a friend or family member is in withdrawal at the conclusion of baseball season, Art Gould has several suggestions for baseball-themed books. A Well Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports details the courageous battle baseball player Curt Flood fought to be able to attain free agency. It changed the whole world of pay in sports.
Football won't last much longer, either, so it's in the mix as well. It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium: Football and the Game of Life, gives LSU fans some info on that team, and Bo's Lasting Lessions provides advice from Michigan's immortal football coach, Bo Schembechler.
Reporter Matt Kasper reviews an entertaining book on legendary pool hustler Kid Delicious, Running the Table. The story of the hefty Kid and his exploits is right on cue.
For those who missed the past two Sundays, Bookshelf focused on children's literature. If you know a child who has read everything, maybe some of the books published in the past few months will delight and entertain his or her voracious appetite for words for at least a week or so.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Star photographer Bill Wilson covered the homecoming of Maj. Clay Goff yesterday at the St. Mark's United Methodist Church Kindergarten along with writer Matt Kasper.

"The shot I most wanted to get is also the shot I figured would be the most dificult." Wilson told me as he edited the images. A classic homecoming image is one where the returning family member has his arms outstretched and the kids are rushing toward him. Other classic shots come to mind, big bear hugs, aligator tears streaking down smiling faces.

Bill wanted the rush shot. And he got it. What makes it difficult to capture, as you can imagine, is that you only have about a second before it's all over. Other elements add to the challenge. "I was worried about Goff being washed out by the bright sunlight as he entered the door." Wilson said, adding "I'm lucky that didn't happen."

Britney joins convent

The Star's Insight section is putting together a project for the end of this year - Headlines We'd Like to See in 2008.
Among our candidates:
"State rewrites Constitution"

"Last mile of Eastern Parkway paved"

The Star staff is working on their own favorites, but we'd like your suggestions. E-mail them to me by clicking here. The deadline is Dec. 14.

By the way, we were just kidding with the headline about Britney and the convent.

It's coming to an end

It seems like just yesterday that we in The Star's sports department started working on the football preview sections.


I don't know what it is (maybe it's because I'm sitting in a different chair), but this football season has flown past my eyes at a blinding rate. Today the Class 1A football season will come to a close with our own TC Central in the finals against Sweet Water.

Clay County will play the next-to-last high school football game, when the Panthers take on Cordova.

In Friday's Star, we'll bring you all kinds of coverage from the TCC game. And we'll also continue the buildup to Clay County's (what seems like annual) state title game appearance.

In the next day or so, we're taking a look at something at something most people don't put enough thought behind with Clay County and its success: the coaching staff. It's a group that has been together for quite a long time.

And if you don't think that counts for something, think again.

On a non-football note, I'm heading to Talladega today at lunchtime when the good folks at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame will announce their 2008 Hall of Fame class. I have no idea who it will be, but I can tell you this --- they'll be some retired folks.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Thursday in The Star

Coming Thursday in The Star:

The Cleburne Board of Education has an ad out for 25 trailers to use as portable classrooms. The board's about to knock down Ranburne high School and will use the trailers for a year while a new campus is constructed. Steve Ivey has this story.

Matt Kasper writes about a soldier returned from Iraq just in time for Christmas who got a big welcome from his three boys and the school at St. Mark's United Methodist Church.

Markshia Ricks has an update on the Immigration Commission. What, if any, preliminary findings do they have?
Markeshia also attended the House Committee on Poverty's meeting to follow up to a report on poor students in public schools.

Tis the season

The Star newsroom gets with the Christmas spirit:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wednesday's Star

You will find the following stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

Some local bands are headed out for the holidays to play in big parades. Steve Ivey finds out who is going where.

More and more immigrants are learning English - a new study from the Pew Hispanic Center has data to prove it. Todd South takes a local look at this story.

The city of Anniston soon will get an indoor firing range, part of a nonprofit youth program that teaches character through marksmanship. Dan Whisenhunt writes about the organization and its plans.

The Alabama Drought Planning Team met. What did they discuss? Markeshia Ricks has this story.

Change your perspective

Cows might get excited at the site of kudzu, but for the rest of us, not so much. So when Bill Edwards, editor of the Coffee Break, asked for a file shot of kudzu to illustrate a story for Tuesday's edition we weren't optimistic that we would find an interesting shot. As it turns out, Chief Photographer Trent Penny had taken a picture of a field of kudzu. The low worms-eye perspective that Trent used made the picture interesting (it's just kudzu, after all).

You can use the same idea when taking pics of the kids opening presents. Use an unusual angle. Low, high, up close, it could mean the difference between a ho-hum snap shot and a cherished picture of Christmas '07. I just thought of an angle I'm gonna try. With the camera stuck under the tree with the presents, snap a shot of the kids as they dive for the first present they wish to open.

Film is cheap, pixels are free, shoot lots of pictures

Monday, December 03, 2007

Coming Tuesday on the editorial page

The Star's editorial board is taking a look on Tuesday at the rising rate of bankruptcies in Alabama -- the nation's No. 3 state for filings:
Although the tougher bankruptcy law was passed to help credit-card companies recover debts owed to them, the companies continued to offer deals and options to entice more customers. As a result, many who should not have been issued cards got them, used them and now cannot pay what they owe. Consumer debt is higher than ever. In many cases, the credit-card industry has no one to blame but itself.
Here's also a peak at a Star editorial on evangelical Christians and their role in politics:
The result (of the popularity of famous and influential televangelists) was the rise of the Moral Majority and other similar organizations that told the faithful that through concerted political action religious goals could be reached. The primary beneficiary was the Republican Party.

Coming Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for the following stories:

Workers are hammering away to convert an empty building on Alabama 21 into a temporary home for the Oxford YMCA. Todd South has this story.

Markeshia Ricks looks at ethics laws in Alabama. Why can lobbyists spend $250 a day on legislators? And how does Alabama's law compare to other states?

Dan Whisenhunt follows up on an Associated Press story about the Homeland Security budget. How will this affect local first responders and the Center for Domestic Preparedness?