Just Shelley

The stories this week: killer caught, fireworks over the flood

Recovered from the Wayback machine.

Today is the 4th of July and St. Louis will again have its spectacular fireworks display—considered one of the top ten in the country—over the Mississippi tonight. Unfortunately, the annual summer festival, Live on the Levee is off the levee due to the recent flood. Currently, water levels in St. Louis are at 37 feet, and falling. Flood stage at downtown St. Louis is 30 feet.

I won’t be attending the fireworks this year, but next year I plan on “adopting a shell” (paying for the cost of a single firework), and joining the party.

Other news from St. Louis this week has not been as bright or happy. We’re relieved that a man wanted for serial killing, has been captured but reminded again of the persistent problems we in the Midwest have with meth addiction and methamphetamine labs. Though state and federal officials have mounted a strong effort to fight the production of meth in Missouri, we’re still one of the highest meth producers in the country.

To fight off the challenge from InBev, Anheuser Busch has had to cut salary benefits and bonuses in order to bring the price of the company stock up without InBev’s intervention. Unfortunately, the move may not be enough as InBev begins the process of attempting a hostile takeover. Oh, in case you’re interested, InBev makes both Beck’s and Stella Artois—wouldn’t you rather have a Bud or Corona?

More jobs were lost to St. Louis when Chrysler announced it would be closing its minivan plant here and cutting back the number of jobs at the remaining truck plant. No one was really surprised at the cuts, but many were disappointed, and these are jobs that Missouri could ill afford to lose.

Too bad we don’t have the biotech industry that wanted to open research centers here in Missouri to help offset these job losses. The biotech industry decided not to invest in this state because of recent legislative efforts against stem cell research.

Governor Blunt signed into law a modification of the state’s harassment laws because of the recent events related to Lori Drew, MySpace, and the suicide of Megan Meier. This was an ill-considered modification. I can agree that threats of violence coming through the internet should be treated the same as those coming in via phone. However, the bill also includes under the term of “harassment” any communication that knowingly causes emotional distress. Now, how would you define emotional distress? Most chat in political weblogs would fall under “harassment” if we use “emotional distress” as a guideline.

However, such acts will be a misdemeanor unless you’re over 21 and the other person is under 17, or you’ve been convicted of harassment in the past, so I guess we can continue to battle it out in weblog comments. Both of these caveats would also have meant that Lori Drew still would not have been charged in this state under this law— she did not write the text that caused Megan to suffer emotional distress. Those messages were written by her 13 year old daughter, and an 18 year old employee.

This same bill also provides support for spanking in the school systems, though how such two acts came to be combined is something I guess only a politician would understand. I also find it difficult to understand how the legislature can support a humiliating punishment such as spanking, which causes enormous emotional distress to children, yet seek to limit the infliction of emotional distress via words through the internet. I guess there must be something in the water in Jefferson City, because the logic of our representatives actions escapes me.

To end on a light note, the fireflies are out this week. One can live through any number of hot, humid summers in order to see fireflies come out at dusk. The effect is magical. I have been attempting to photograph these wonderful creatures and will post my admittedly sad efforts in a later post.

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