(EB) (Oregon County) – A TV crime drama may shed some light on a local missing persons case from 20 years ago.
Brenda Dunham of the Alton area was reported missing May 10, 1985, after she failed to show up for her shift at the shoe factory in West Plains. Since her disappearance, despite some possible leads as recent as 2012, the case has stayed cold, according to Oregon County Sheriff George Underwood. Family members told law enforcement that they believe foul play may have been involved, as Brenda was married with two children when she disappeared.
Now, the case is being picked up by a prominent cable TV network.
Former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and crime scene investigator Yolanda McClary star in the investigative series Cold Justice, which airs on TNT. Sheriff Underwood told Ozark Radio News on Wednesday that crews from the show have been filming in Oregon County as they attempt to shed light on the case and find new leads.
Howell County Sheriff Mike Shannon also told Ozark Radio News that they were contacted earlier this past week by a film crew seeking to shoot stock footage of patrol cars and the sheriff’s office for what he described as a “documentary”. Shannon said he agreed to the filming, provided the crew showed Howell County “in a positive light” and that the documentary wasn’t detrimental to the department or the county.
Sheriff Underwood says that the episode of Cold Justice featuring Dunham hasn’t had a air date set.
Many in the West Plains area took to social media to discuss seeing some of the crew around town, starting a number of rumors of high-profile actors like Brad Pitt filming a movie in Howell County.
Attempts to contact the show’s production company, Magical Elves, Inc., were not returned.
by Erica Werner, AP
(Washington) (AP) – After July Fourth fireworks and parades, members of Congress return to work Tuesday facing a daunting summer workload and a pending deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown in the fall.
The funding fight is shaping up as a major partisan brawl against the backdrop of an intensifying campaign season. Republicans are eager to avoid another Capitol Hill mess as they struggle to hang onto control of Congress and try to take back the White House next year.
Already they are deep into the blame game with Democrats over who would be responsible if a shutdown does happen. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has denounced Democrats’ “dangerously misguided strategy” while House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California accuses Boehner and his Republicans of pursuing “manufactured crises.”
The funding deadline does not even arrive until Sept. 30, but lawmakers face more immediate tests. Near the top of the list is renewing highway funding before the government loses authority July 31 to send much-needed transportation money to the states right in the middle of summer driving season.
The highway bill probably also will be the way lawmakers try to renew the disputed federal Export-Import Bank, which makes and underwrites loans to help foreign companies buy U.S. products. The bank’s charter expired June 30 due to congressional inaction, a defeat for business and a victory for conservative activists who turned killing the obscure agency into an anti-government cause celebre.
Depending on the progress of the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, lawmakers could also face debate on that issue. Leading Republicans have made clear that they are prepared to reject any deal the administration comes up with.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Sunday that Iran “should have faced a simple choice: they dismantle their nuclear program entirely, or they face economic devastation and military destruction of their nuclear facilities.”
“It was actually both the fact of sanctions in 2013 and the threat of even tighter sanctions that drove them to the negotiating table,” Cotton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“That’s why we shouldn’t have let up those sanctions,” he added. “We should have insisted on the very simple terms that President Obama himself proposed at the outset of this process. Iran dismantles its nuclear program entirely and then they will get sanctions relief.”
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said any agreement with Tehran must be “comprehensive.”
“It’s got to prevent Iran from any steps towards producing a nuclear weapons,” said Cardin, also appearing on ABC. “That means you have to have full inspections, you have to have inspections in the military sites. You have to be able to determine if they can use covert activities in order to try to develop a nuclear weapon.”
Beyond the issue of Iran, the Senate opens its legislative session with consideration of a major bipartisan education overhaul bill that rewrites the much-maligned No Child Left Behind law by shifting responsibility from the federal government to the states for public school standards.
“We’re seven years overdue” for a rewrite, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, the bill’s chief sponsor.
The House also is moving forward with its own, Republican-written education overhaul bill, revived after leadership had to pull it earlier this year when conservatives revolted.
Even if both bills pass, though, it’s uncertain whether Congress will be able to agree on a combined version to send to President Barack Obama. Indeed the prospects for any major legislative accomplishments arriving on Obama’s desk in the remainder of the year look slim, though there’s talk of the Senate following the House and moving forward on cybersecurity legislation.
That means that even though Obama was so buoyed when Congress sent him a major trade bill last month that he declared “This is so much fun, we should do it again,” he may not get his wish.
But all issues are likely to be overshadowed by the government funding fight and suspense over how – or if – a shutdown can be avoided.
Democrats are pledging to oppose the annual spending bills to fund government agencies unless Republicans sit down with them to negotiate higher spending levels for domestic agencies. Republicans, who want more spending for the military but not domestic agencies, have so far refused. If there’s no resolution by Sept. 30, the government will enter a partial shutdown.
It’s an outcome all involved say they want to avoid. Yet Democrats who watched Republicans pay a steep political price for forcing a partial shutdown over Obama’s health care law in 2013 – and come within hours of partially shutting down the Department of Homeland Security this year – claim confidence they have the upper hand.
“Given that a Democratic president needs to sign anything and you need Democratic votes in both chambers, the writing is on the wall here,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
Republicans insist Democrats are running a risk by opposing spending bills for priorities like troop funding – but are not yet discussing how they will proceed if Democrats don’t back down.
As a result it looks likely current funding levels could be temporarily extended beyond Sept. 30 to allow more time to negotiate a solution.
And it’s not the only consequential deadline this fall. The government’s borrowing limit will also need to be raised sometime before the end of the year, another issue that’s ripe for brinkmanship. Some popular expiring tax breaks will also need to be extended, and the Federal Aviation Administration must be renewed. An industry-friendly FAA bill was delayed in the House recently although aides said that was unrelated to the Justice Department’s newly disclosed investigation of airline pricing.
In the meantime, the presence of several presidential candidates in the Senate make action in that chamber unpredictable, Congress will be out for another recess during the month of August – and in September Pope Francis will visit Capitol Hill for a first-ever papal address to Congress.
by Christoph Noelting and Frank Jordans, AP
(Bonn) (AP) – The United States has succeeded in its bid to “Remember the Alamo,” after the U.N. cultural body approved its status as a world heritage site Sunday.
The Alamo was one of five Spanish Roman Catholic sites, known as the San Antonio Missions, to receive the coveted label likely to boost tourism.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee approved the Missions’ status along with more than a dozen others from around the globe, including the Gunkanjima industrial site off Japan that South Korea had long objected to.
Susan Snow, an archaeologist for San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, said the site in Texas represents “the very essence of the great melting pot of the United States.”
“These Missions are a living example of the interchange of cultures bringing together the indigenous, Spanish, Mexican, and other influences that form South Texas today,” Snow said in a statement following the decision in Bonn, Germany.
The Missions were built in the 18th century in and around what is now the city of San Antonio to convert indigenous people to Catholicism and make them Spanish subjects.
The best known of the missions, The Alamo, was the site of the famous 1836 battle when an outnumbered band of Texas settlers staged a courageous stand before Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his Mexican forces seized the mission. During the Battle of San Jacinto weeks later, then-victorious Texas soldiers shouted, “Remember the Alamo!”
U.S. officials hope the designation will boost tourism to San Antonio, already one of the city’s top five industry and responsible for one in eight jobs.
The Missions were the only sites in the United States proposed for world heritage status this year. Other American icons already on the list include the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon.
In another decision, Japan received world heritage status for a collection of almost two dozen sites that illustrate the country’s industrial revolution during the 19th century.
The unanimous vote in favor of Japan’s bid was approved only after Tokyo and Seoul resolved a spat over whether to acknowledge the sites’ history of wartime forced labor, particularly that of Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island.
The fortress island near Nagasaki was key to Japan’s rapid development during the 1868-1912 era of the Meiji Emperor, who sought to catch up with Western colonial powers.
Until recently, Seoul had objected to the listing unless the role of Korean prisoners forced to work there during World War II was formally recognized.
“Japan is prepared to take measures that allow an understanding that there were a large number of Koreans and others who were brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites,” the Japanese delegation said in a statement after the decision.
More than a dozen other sites have also been granted world heritage status in recent days. They include:
– The Burgundy vineyards south of Dijon, France, which have been shaped by centuries of wine making. Along with surrounding villages and the historic center of Dijon, the site represents an industry in existence since at least the 12th century.
– Champagne, the sparkling wine distinctive of the eponymous French region, represented in the vineyards, the cellars where the bottled wine ferments a second time, and the storied sales houses.
– The Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens of Turkey, which goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times.
– The Par Force Hunting Landscape northeast of Copenhagen, a sculpted woodland where Danish kings hunted with hounds until the 18th century.
– A Lutheran church settlement known as Christiansfeld, also in Denmark. Founded in 1773 in the region of South Jutland, the town was built around a central church square to represent the democratic ideal of this Protestant denomination.
– Tusi sites in southwest China, named after the tribal chiefs who ruled there from the 13th to the early 20th century.
– The archaeological mounds and Ardeshir’s palace along the Shavur River in Iran. Known as Susa, the site was continuously settled from the 5th century B.C. until the 13th century.
– The Maymand valley region of central Iran inhabited by semi-nomadic people who move between mountain pastures and caves depending on the season.
– Singapore’s Botanical Gardens, which were created in 1859 and have since become a world-class conservation and research site, as well as a major tourist attraction for the city state.
– The Baekje region of South Korea comprising archaeological sites dating from the late 5th to late 7th century.
– Mongolia’s sacred Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain where Central Asian steppe meets the Siberian taiga. Tradition holds that it is the site of Genghis Khan’s birth and burial.
– Sicilian churches and palaces dating back to the island’s 12th-century Norman rule, which incorporated Arab and Byzantine culture.
– Christian pilgrimage sites in modern Jordan where Jesus is said to have been baptized, along with Roman and Byzantine remains in the area.
– Prehistoric rock art showing human and animal figures in Saudi Arabia’s Hail Region.
– Hamburg’s Speicherstadt district, a vast complex of red-brick warehouses built between 1883 and 1927 in Germany’s biggest port.
– The Rjukan-Notodden industrial site in Norway, built in the early 20th century to produce fertilizer to meet the booming demand from agriculture.
– The Necropolis of Beth She’arim, a series of catacombs built from the 2nd century B.C. onward as a Jewish burial place. Located southeast of Haifa, Israel, the site features inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew.
– Scotland’s Forth Bridge, completed in 1890 to carry trains over the Forth River and still in use today.
– The Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica’s first world heritage site. Located on the southeast of the island, they became a refuge for indigenous people and escaped African slaves during colonial times and are considered a biodiversity hotspot.
(West Plains) – The Ozarks Pro Baseball League, an independent baseball league made up of six professional teams, has announced that it will play 25 games in West Plains.
“West Plains’ fans will get a chance to see excellent players before they play in the major leagues, and kids from the community will have the opportunity to meet the players and get some lessons from the pros,” said co-founder Tony Hutchinson Hutchinson. “Scouts also will have easy access to the players since they will be centrally located here in the Ozarks.”
The Ozarks Pro Baseball League is a local organization based in Ozark, MO, whose goal is to bring quality independent baseball to the Ozarks. The goal for their players is to refine each player’s natural ability and baseball mentality to a level that will get them signed to a major league contract, he said.
Each roster will be filled with talented athletes from all over the world, and some of the managers have experience either coaching or playing in the major leagues.
Hutchinson said the league will offer West Plains residents and the surrounding area with “affordable, wholesome family fun.” Fans can purchase season tickets for $175, with a single ticket charge of only $8. A ticket plus a soft drink or food item from the concessions will be $10. Other ticket packages are available as well, along with advertising and investing opportunities, said Hutchinson.
The first game will be Thursday, July 9. For more information about the league, or to purchase tickets or for sponsorship opportunities, call 970-779-9159 or 970-779-9163.
by Steve Overbey, AP
(St. Louis) (AP) – Rookie outfielder Tommy Pham will never forget his first major league hit.
Or his first stolen base and run scored.
Pham scampered home with the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Jhonny Peralta in the eighth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the San Diego Padres 2-1 Saturday to stop their longest losing streak of the season at four games.
Recalled on Friday from Triple-A Memphis, Pham had a trio of personal firsts in his second career start.
“This is a special (day). I will always remember it,” he said. “It means a whole lot, just to be up here and contributing.”
Carlos Martinez threw 6 2-3 solid innings, and Seth Maness (3-0) got the win. Trevor Rosenthal closed for his 24th save in 25 opportunities, getting Matt Kemp to ground out with a runner on to end it.
Rosenthal had a 23-game scoreless string halted on Friday.
San Diego won the first two games of the series, including a 2-1 victory Friday. All four losses during St. Louis’ skid came at home.
Pham reached on an error by shortstop Alexi Amarista to start the eighth. Pham stole second on the first pitch and went to third on a sacrifice by Matt Carpenter.
Peralta then hit a two-strike fly to right to bring in the tiebreaking run. Pham barely beat the throw from Will Venable with a headfirst slide, hooking his hand on the plate.
“We were waiting for somebody to do something and he did it,” Peralta said. “I felt it was deep enough when I hit the ball. He’s a pretty good runner.”
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny inserted Pham into the leadoff spot hoping he could kick-start a slumping offense that had managed just six runs in its previous four games. Pham scored both runs.
“We put him in a tough spot to see how he was going to respond,” Matheny said. “It was nice to see that first hit. In the eighth, he comes out of the box hard and that put pressure on the defense.
“He was good. He was just what we needed today.”
Brandon Maurer (5-1) took the loss.
The Cardinals improved to 52-28 overall and 30-11 at home, both marks the best in the majors. They have won seven times this season by a score of 2-1
Martinez allowed eight hits and one run. He struck out five and walked two.
“I felt really good. I competed,” said Martinez, who was looking for his 10th win.
Martinez gave up a fourth-inning homer to Yangervis Solarte, then shut the door.
“I said after that, that’s the only run I’m going to give up,” Martinez said.
The Cardinals are still struggling on offense, although Matheny sees good things ahead.
“It’s a matter of time until we start putting up the big offensive numbers that we know we can,” he said.
San Diego starter Odrisamer Despaigne gave up one run and four hits in five-plus innings.
“I just tried to be aggressive and have a good approach to the hitters,” Despaigne said through a translator. “Today, it was working.
St. Louis tied the game in the sixth on a double by Pham and a run-scoring single by Carpenter.
The Padres were looking for their first three-game winning streak since June 2-5.
“This is a tough loss when you’ve got a little momentum going,” manager Pat Murphy said. “(Despaigne) was great, the relief corps was great. It comes down to a tough error.”
Padres C Derek Norris was in the lineup despite spraining his left shoulder Friday. Norris collided with Cardinals 1B Xavier Scruggs while beating out an infield hit. Norris has started 67 of 83 games behind the plate.
St. Louis RHP Lance Lynn (5-4, 2.74 ERA) will face RHP Ian Kennedy (4-7, 4.86) in the finale of the four-game series Sunday. The Cardinals have scored just 32 runs in 13 of Lynn’s 14 starts. Kennedy has allowed one earned run in each of his last four starts.
(St. Louis) (AP) – Woman and minorities are failing Missouri exams to enter teaching programs and to gain certification at higher rates, raising concerns about bias.
The gender gap is problematic because the tests are cutting off the very people most driven to the profession, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The racial disparity also is troubling because while classrooms are becoming more diverse, the pool of available teachers is not.
In a survey of 10 Missouri colleges, women scored lower than men on four out of five of the tests that make up the Missouri General Education Assessment, the tests required to be accepted into a teaching program.
Jeff Edmonds, a middle school math teacher in Chicago, conducted the survey between 2013 and 2014 when he was a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Edmonds found that men scored better than women in English, math, science and social studies, while women scored slightly better than men on the writing portion of the test.
The same kind of gap is present on exams taken by teaching school graduates who are seeking state teacher certification. Missouri is in the process of revamping the tests, reflecting a national push for more rigorous teacher preparation programs. Failure rates have risen.
Of the tests required to teach in Missouri’s elementary schools, the state reported that 42 percent of white students passed all four of the tests at the same time compared with only 6 percent of black students.
Both the Pearson education company that designed the tests and the state department of education that endorses them say they are a fair way to assess teacher competency.
“The question of why do certain groups score higher or lower is a bigger conversation,” said Paul Katnick, an assistant commissioner with Missouri’s department of education. “We need to continue to think about the root causes of the gaps, but we are confident that it’s not bias.”
He added, however, that the bias committee was set to look at the tests again this summer out of an abundance of caution.
But Alexander Cuenca, an assistant professor of education at St. Louis University, said reconvening the same committee was not a worthwhile exercise.
Cuenca, who also serves on the Missouri Advisory Board for Educator Preparation, said neither the state nor Pearson had provided enough information on the people who make up the bias committee, their backgrounds, their methods or how they were trained to spot bias.
Cuenca said overreliance on biased standardized tests could lead to the closure of different teacher preparation programs around the state, particularly the ones that serve minority populations.
“No one is saying we should lower the bar,” he said. “What we need is a process that’s fair.”
(Ozarks) (AP) – Authorities are no longer restricting boaters to operating at idle speed on the Lake of the Ozarks.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said in a news release Saturday that effective immediately, the no-wake policy is lifted. The policy was put into place Thursday because heavy rains were causing lake levels to rise.
Gov. Jay Nixon thanked Ameren Missouri in a news release for acting quickly to lower water levels with releases from Bagnell Dam. In issuing the order, Nixon had cited the increased public safety risk and possible damage to docks, boats and the shoreline.
The patrol says it’s still wise to be cautious, noting that the Fourth of July is a busy boating day.
(Independence) (AP) – A former history professor who has impersonated President Harry Truman more than 700 times is preparing to retire this year from his role as the 33rd president.
The first time Niel Johnson dressed up as Truman was in 1993 for a class he was teaching at Park University, The Kansas City Star reports. Soon the 84-year-old Independence man was appearing as Truman up to 70 times a year, meeting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, numerous first ladies and Truman biographer David McCullough along the way.
Like the president, Johnson has a full head of thin, silvery hair, soft dimples and deep blue eyes. He said he agreed with Truman on “97 percent of the issues” and can perfectly recite lines from Truman’s speeches, diaries and even love letters.
“We’re really not sure if Niel Johnson is Harry Truman or if Harry Truman is Niel Johnson,” said Amy Williams, the deputy director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence.
During visits, Johnson makes it his mission to shake hands with every visitor and hold press conferences so they can inquire about the presidency. Without fail, Johnson is asked about the president’s decision to drop the atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. The massive death toll prompted Japan’s surrender. Johnson’s support for the atomic bomb is much deeper than agreement. His older brother joined the Navy in June 1945 and would most likely have been on the front lines if the U.S. had invaded Japan.
“The bomb may have saved my brother’s life,” he said, his voice breaking a bit.
Johnson, who first saw Truman during the president’s 1948 whistle-stop tour, was a professor at Augustana College, Dana College and University of Nebraska-Omaha before becoming an archivist and oral historian at the Truman library from 1977 to 1992. He was responsible for the creation of the library’s oral history program, which consisted of more than 60 interviews with White House officials, Secret Service agents and neighbors who were close to Truman. Those interviews provided details and anecdotes Johnson uses for his press conferences, but also for his book “Power, Money, and Women: Words to the Wise From Harry S. Truman.”
Johnson has amassed Truman memorabilia – “Vote for Truman” stickers, binders of photos, newspaper clippings – but his most valuable item appears on the cover of his book. It’s a photo Johnson took of Truman at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum dedication in Iowa in 1962. He still regrets fumbling with the camera when the president walked past him.
“I wish I could have shaken his hand,” said Johnson.
by Steve Overbey, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal was philosophical about the end of his 23-appearance scoreless streak on Friday night.
The string came to an end when Jedd Gyorko hit a run-scoring single in the ninth inning to give the San Diego Padres a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals.
“It’s been a good run, but this is a tough spot to give up one,” Rosenthal said. “We battled, we did what we could. It was a good game.”
Rosenthal’s streak ended at 22 2-3 innings. It was the second-longest streak in the NL behind Max Scherzer’s 24-inning run. He last gave up a run on May 3 against Pittsburgh.
“I’ve just got to keep working at it, keeping pitching well, and things will fall back into place,” Rosenthal said. “Get back on it.”
Rosenthal and Gyorko battled through an eight-pitch at-bat before Gyorko lined a 3-2 single to left for the game-winning run.
“It was too much over the middle of the plate,” Rosenthal said. “It was not a good pitch.”
Rosenthal has closed out his last 15 save opportunities.
San Diego won the first two games of the four-game series after losing three straight.
“A win like this, tonight on the road, big,” San Diego manager Pat Murphy said.
St. Louis lost a season-high fourth straight home game but the Cardinals are still a major league-best 29-11 at home.
Gyorko returned on Tuesday from a stint in Triple-A El Paso, his first minor league assignment since making the Opening Day roster in 2013. He hit .135 in April with the Padres.
“Getting to play every day down there and getting some steady at-bats helped a lot,” Gyorko said. “I kind of got in tune with my swing the way it used to be.”
Gyorko, who went 2 for 4, is 4 for 15 in the four games since being recalled.
Murphy says Gyorko returned a totally different player.
“He’s way more confident,” Murphy said. “He knows we believe in him and I’m excited about what he’s doing. In his at-bats, seven or eight have been hard contact.”
Joaquin Benoit (5-3) picked up the win in relief.
Craig Kimbrel recorded his 21st save in 22 opportunities. He got Jason Heyward to ground into a game-ending double play.
St. Louis starter Michael Wacha, in his first career appearance against the Padres, gave up one run and five hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked one.
“I felt like I had good fastball command,” Wacha said. “I was just trying to fill up the strike zone and let the defense play behind me.”
San Diego starter Andrew Cashner allowed one run and three hits in six innings.
“They’re a good team, they grind it out,” Cashner said. “We just haven’t made a lot of mistakes since we’ve been here.”
The Cardinals scored in the fifth inning on a double-play groundout by Xavier Scruggs. Heyward and Yadier Molina singled to start the rally. Randal Grichuk coaxed a nine-pitch walk after falling behind 0-2 to load the bases.
Justin Upton of the Padres broke an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth. He promptly stole his 16th base in as many tries.
Cardinals: OF Jon Jay was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 1 with a stress reaction in his left wrist. Jay was hitting .223 with one homer and 10 RBIs. He is on the DL for the second time this season with an earlier stint from May 14-28 with left wrist tendinitis.
Padres: INF Will Middlebrooks did not start for the fourth straight game after rolling his ankle Sunday against Arizona. Middlebrooks pinch hit on Tuesday and Thursday.
St. Louis RHP Carlos Martinez (9-3, 2.80) will face RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (3-6, 4.94) in the third game of the four-game set on Saturday. Martinez leads the Cardinals with 100 strikeouts. Despaigne has allowed eight earned runs over his last two starts covering 11 innings.
(Springfield) (AP) – Springfield police say they’re trying to determine who fired a bullet into a commuter bus while it was stopped at a traffic light.
Springfield police Lt. Eric Reece tells the Springfield News-Leader that none of the dozen people on the bus were injured Thursday evening when the bullet went through a door of the vehicle and ricocheted inside.
Reece says investigators have learned that about the time of the shooting, there was a nearby disturbance that involved someone repeatedly firing a weapon.
Another bullet hit a car.
There was no immediate word Friday about any charges.