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Wordsmiths wage ‘war’ at Scrabble tournament

A hush fell over the Ragtag Cinemacafe as 22 Scrabble players took a first look at their tiles. The murmur of soft voices was accented with the tinkling of tiles in cloth bags. Players reached into the bags, hoping for the best combination of letters.

The players were competing in the first winner-take-all Scrabble competition Saturday at Ragtag.

Storms menace Missouri towns

WEATHERBY — A line of severe thunderstorms stretched across Missouri on Sunday, dropping hail and threatening to spawn tornadoes a day after three people were killed and at least eight were injured when a tornado hit near this northwest Missouri town.

A man was killed shortly before 5:30 p.m. Sunday when strong winds snapped off part of a large tree and dropped it onto the sport utility vehicle he was driving in the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported. Darren Clark, 39, of Ferguson died at the scene.

Safety in neighbors

The residents of small-town mid-Missouri insist on telling you this again and again: Despite rumors to the contrary, they do lock their doors at night, if for no other reason than they’d rather you not encourage people to make unwelcome visits.

After all, beneath the veneer of that homespun cliché, their reality isn’t much different from people in Columbia. One morning in March, USA Today told us that even if only 11 percent of people in rural areas have been touched by violent crime, that’s just 2 percent less than in so-called suburban areas.

Effect changes by taking a stand

As a former member of Communication Workers of America, I was proud of the fact that this group went on strike to protest the outsourcing of American jobs by SBC. As far as I’m concerned this represents one of the few efforts designed to address government trade policies that are putting people out of work. Too often these days the country’s leaders behave as if they are an autonomous body who have to be accountable to no one and too many citizens behave as if they are powerless children who have no choice but to obey their “head honchos.”

The labor culture, like everything else, has changed dramatically since I belonged to a labor union. The “all for one and one for all” attitude inherent within the process of collective bargaining hardly seems to appeal anymore since employees, nowadays, believe that their personal skills and talents will entitle them to the best wage and benefits companies have to offer. I guess one has to arrive at a certain maturity and have accumulated years of experience in the labor market before one learns how vulnerable the individual employee is against a barrage of company “brass.”

Title slips away

ARLINGTON, Texas — Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson might not have agreed with the explanation for some of the weird things that happened, but there was no arguing his description of the game.

“What a game! It was a good game for a lot of reasons,” Anderson said. “It was a strange game.”

Mavericks fall to River City

The Mid-Missouri Mavericks couldn’t prevent the sweep.

The Mavericks couldn’t hold off the River City Rascals on Sunday at Taylor Stadium, losing 11-9.

Pitching problems cost Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Corey Koskie drove in three runs and Alex Prieto hit his first major league home run for the Minnesota Twins in a 8-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

Astros’ Redding quiets Cardinals

Tim Redding allowed four hits in 71/3 shutout innings Sunday to lead the Houston Astros to a 7-1 win against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mike Lamb, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman hit two-run home runs for Houston, who had lost five straight to the Cardinals.

Big Oil tightens grip on federal leases

WASHINGTON — A single New Mexico family and a dozen big oil companies, including one once headed by Commerce Secretary Don Evans, now control one-quarter of all federal lands leased for oil and gas development in the continental United States despite a law intended to prevent such concentration, federal records show.

Since 1997, mainly as a result of mergers and acquisitions, six companies have exceeded the legal limit of 246,080 acres in lease holdings on public lands in states other than Alaska. But the Bureau of Land Management, in charge of enforcing the 1920 law, has chosen to extend compliance deadlines for years.

Iraq war revives Memorial Day meaning

LOS ANGELES — On Memorial Day, Stacy Menusa will head to a cemetery with her 4-year-old son Joshua, who thinks every American flag waves for his father, just like the one that was draped over his coffin.

Menusa’s husband, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa, was killed in an ambush on March 27, 2003, the day his battalion arrived in Iraq. She hopes one day she will be able to explain the war to Joshua.

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