Friday, October 28, 2005

David Brooks' Six O'Clock Shadow 

Appearing on the PBS News Hour tonight, David Brooks, New York Times columnist and chief media apologist for the Bush Bund, still tried to put a positive spin on the indictments against Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby, VP Dick Cheney's right-hand man.

Brooks -- who went out of his way to mention on PBS and NPR that he had lunch with Scooter a few times -- claimed that the indictments brought by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, including obstruction of justice and perjury, were proof that there was no conspiracy involving anybody else in the adminstration.

If that isn't a crock of shit, I don't know what is.

But the main thing missing from the radio interview with Brooks that was apparent on TV was the columnists' haggard appearance. He looked unshaven, and hung over. He also made sure he was out of D.C., when the indictments came down, choosing to lay low in Connecticut.

Who paid for the lunches, David? And what kind of bullshit lies did Scooter feed you?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Venezia's Son Alleges Murder 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 21:

by Michael Shaw and Denise Hollinshed

Belleville Police Chief Terry Delaney said he was further convinced Wednesday that the deaths of Thomas Venezia and Jennifer Anderson were the result of a murder-suicide.

That's despite suggestions by Venezia's son to the contrary and despite Delaney's increasing doubt that a two-page, handwritten note found at the scene was a suicide note.

Delaney said police hadn't determined who wrote the note, which was in the kitchen of the house at 311 Mascoutah Avenue, where the bodies were found Tuesday.

"I don't see what value it has," he said, referring to the message written on spiral notebook paper and left near Anderson's body. "It talks about life in general, trusting people, weighing people's feelings. . . . It says something about 'fighting through the pain.' I don't know if it's him writing to her or her writing to him."
Of his initial characterization of the note on Tuesday, Delaney said, "When you find a note, you automatically assume it's a suicide note."

Police have not disclosed its full contents and have given the note to the Illinois State Police crime lab for handwriting analysis. Delaney said Venezia, 64, and Anderson, 21, left other notes to each other throughout the house about routine matters such as grocery needs.
Venezia ran an illegal video gambling business and severaltopless clubs until he was convicted in 1995 of racketeering and other crimes.

Because of Venezia's past, his son Milan suggested Tuesday that his father might have been murdered, Delaney indicated.
"I know about his history," Delaney said of Thomas Venezia.

The chief listed an array of evidence against a murder plot:

- Venezia was shot while seated in a recliner with the gun placed against his temple at an upward angle. Anyone but Venezia would have to be on his knees to fire a gun from that position. The bullet lodged in a door, about head height.

- Furniture blocked anyone from approaching Venezia on the right, the side of his entry wound.

- Two spent shells were found inside the .38-caliber revolver, and the two bullets that killed Venezia and Anderson were forensically matched.

- Venezia and Anderson were found inside a locked house by an acquaintance who had to break down the door.

"Anything is possible," Delaney said. "It's just not likely (a murder)."

Delaney said he had to identify Thomas Venezia's body Tuesday after none of Venezia's three children appeared for the task.
Delaney, a former U.S. marshal, said he was able to recognize Venezia because he "locked him up" during Venezia's trial in federal court 10 years ago.

Delaney said Milan Venezia had told him that he hadn't seen his father in more than a year and that he had last heard that his father's throat cancer was in remission.

Venezia's former lawyer, Amiel Cueto, declined to comment Wednesday on the deaths. After Venezia's conviction, Cueto became part of the federal investigation and ultimately was convicted of obstructing justice for his tactics in defending Venezia. Cueto, of Belleville, was released from prison in 2003.

Anderson had worked in the Golden Eagle Saloon, next door to where she and Venezia lived. The two had been working on a plan to reopen the tavern, which formerly was managed by the acquaintance who found the bodies, police said.
She had last worked at the Penthouse Club, a topless bar in Sauget, using the stage name "Raven."
Police said that Anderson was Venezia's girlfriend. But her mother, Cynthia Anderson, 42, said her daughter was simply a friend to Venezia, chauffeuring him to doctor's appointments in Fairview Heights and cooking for him to keep him from eating out at fast-food places.

"She was there to help him out," she said. "He was not a well man."

She said she never had witnessed any physical abuse, although she said he would yell at Jennifer Anderson at times.
When asked if she believed her daughter was killed by Venezia, as police theorize, or both were killed by someone else, she said softly: "I seriously, seriously don't know what to think. I just want answers."
Venezia's funeral arrangements had not been set as of Wednesday.

Anderson's funeral is planned for 8 p.m. Friday at Kurrus Funeral Home, 1773 Frank Scott Parkway West, Belleville. Visitation is planned for 4 p.m. until the time of the funeral. Burial will be at a later date.

Venezia's Murder-Suicide Scenario Questioned by Victim's Family 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct. 20:

by Denise Hollinshed

A St. Clair County coroner's jury ruled Wednesday that the deaths of one-time gambling kingpin Thomas Venezia and his female companion were indeed a murder-suicide, as Belleville police had said when the bodies were found in July.

But the findings were flatly rejected by the family of Venezia's companion, Jennifer Anderson. Her father, Michael Anderson, maintains that both Venezia, 61, and Jennifer Anderson, 21, were murdered.

At the coroner's hearing Wednesday morning, Anderson rejected Coroner Rick Stone's attempt to offer his condolences.
"I believe they were murdered," Anderson said abruptly to Stone. "Everybody wants to believe this was murder-suicide. I don't trust them (investigators). Sir, as a matter of fact, I don't trust you. This county is ridiculously corrupt. I was in the crime scene."

Stone then slowly moved away from Anderson and said to him, "Be real careful before I lock you up."
The bodies of Venezia and Anderson were found the morning of July 19 in a house they shared at 311 Mascoutah Avenue in Belleville. Venezia's body, a gunshot wound to his right temple, was found in a recliner in a bedroom with a .38-caliber revolver on his abdomen.

Anderson's body was found on the kitchen floor with a bullet wound from the revolver in the back of her neck.
At the hearing Wednesday, Belleville police Detective Matt Eiskant testified that the positioning of the chair in which Venezia was sitting, and the angle of the gunshot, made it impossible for anyone other than Venezia to have fired the shot that killed him.

Eiskant estimated that Anderson was shot a few hours before Venezia shot himself.
Toxicology tests showed that both had alcohol in their systems, and Venezia, who suffered from throat cancer, also had taken painkillers.

Police said they found notes written by both Venezia and Anderson throughout the house.
Eiskant read from a two-page note found near Anderson's body that she wrote to Venezia.
She wrote about how she tried to assure Venezia that she cared for him and how she tried to keep him from harming himself.
Eiskant read from the letter: "You say you don't want to take me down with you because you care," then questioned how he could profess to care for her while talking about killing her.

Members of the Anderson family, of Belleville, were visibly upset at times during the testimony. Michael Anderson, 42, listened impatiently with his wife, Cindy, 43, and six other family members.
When the jurors deliberated, Stone, the coroner, walked over to the Anderson family, seated in the front row. He extended his condolences, then asked if the family had any questions.

After rebuffing Stone and then being warned by him, Michael Anderson said, "I'm here because my daughter is dead, and they want to lock me up."

Shortly thereafter, the coroner's jury returned with its ruling.
Anderson continued his criticism of the findings outside the courtroom, pulling a nearby blue metal chair to demonstrate how someone could have fired a bullet into Venezia's head.

"Anybody could have shot this man where he was sitting," Anderson said.
He also said that his daughter would have fought for her life, and that Venezia barely had enough energy to walk around the building.

Police said Jennifer Anderson was shot while standing, then fell to the floor.
But Michael Anderson said the blood spatter pattern indicated she was shot while on the floor.
"He (Venezia) couldn't have wrestled her to the ground if he wanted to," said Anderson, who estimated his daughter's weight at 130 pounds and Venezia's at 100 pounds.

When Michael Anderson was asked who killed his daughter and Venezia, family members quickly cautioned him against responding.

Anderson's wife, Cindy, said Venezia showed no sign of being suicidal.

"People just don't snap," Cindy Anderson said softly. "I was with Jennifer and Venezia once or twice a week. There was nothing to indicate that he was snapping. There was nothing to indicate that he was unhappy with his life."
Police said Anderson was Venezia's girlfriend, but her mother said they were only friends.
Venezia served a federal prison term, ending in 2002, for running an illegal video gambling business that authorities said made up to $48 million.

Anderson, a 2002 graduate of Belleville East High School, had worked in the Golden Eagle Saloon, next door to where she and Venezia lived, and previously at the Penthouse Club, a topless club in Sauget.
According to testimony Wednesday, she was planning to leave Venezia to join a band.

Her father said the proceedings Wednesday gave the family no sense of closure.
"I wasn't ready to be here without her," he said of his daughter. "I was a firefighter for 14 years. . . . Any time you walk out that door you are at risk, and I could handle those risks, but for this to end this way . . ."

Exorcist Exhumed, Big Fucking Deal 

The Riverfront Times' cover story this week is on the decades-old excorcism that the best-selling novel and blockbuster movie were based on. This bit of dusty, local lore is intriguing and just in time for Halloween, but, of course, it has little or no news value. Instead, the longish feature story is representative of the flacid nature of the New Times Inc.'s publications.

Earlier this week, New Times announced its anticipated takeover of the Village Voice and other alternative newspapers. With the buyout, the American reading public can now look forward to more long, apolitical feature stories, some of which are complete fabrications. Contrary to the regurgitated New Times' press releases offered up by the establishment press on this most discouraging of journalistic events, New Times is not known within the journalism business for its in-depth investigative stories. New Times, however, does work hard to foster that image. Here is how they do it:

In any given calendar year, each New Times newspaper is expected to produce no more than a handful of news-oriented stories. The editors of those publications then spend an inordinate amount of time submitting these stories to every possible journalism awards contest in the country. Invariably, New Times wins a slew of awards and then sets about promoting itself as a serious provider of news. Ther other 47 weeks a year, New Times newspapers routinely produce completely vaccuous issues.

In the case of the Riverfront Times, New Times has stopped the vast majority of timely, local new stories that were formerly the hallmark of the newspaper.

And anybody who can read knows it.

Old Posties Flee Sinking Ship 

Larry Williams, Carolyn Kingcade, Pat Corrigan, Linda Eardley, Gene Fuhrig, Cleora Hughes, Randy Kessler, Rich Krechel, Jan Paul, George Richardson, Marianna Riley, Tommy Robertson, Art Voellinger, Terry Ganey, Aloysia Hamalainen, Joan Little, Avis Meyer, Ron Norton, Charlene Prost, Pat Rice, Carolyn Bower, Laszlo Domjan, Bob Duffy, Margie Freivogel, Becky Homan, Gary Mueller, Jon Sawyer, Florence Shinkle, Joe Tannian, and Dick Weiss have taken the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's early retirement offer.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Jack Shafer Is Full of Shit 

Denver Post, Oct. 24:

Jack Shafer, media critic for the Slate, an online news magazine, said New Times has a track record of delivering "brillant watchdog journalism."

"Every (paper) they have purchased has improved and gone after established political and business interests," Shafer said. ...

[read more]

The Death of Alternative Journalism 

Washington Post, Oct. 24:

New Times Media, the nation's largest publisher of alternative weekly newspapers, is buying the owner of the Village Voice and its five sister newspapers, creating a company with 17 weekly publications and a combined circulation of 1.8 million.

The new company will keep the Village Voice name but will be run by the two top executives of New Times Media, a Phoenix-based company with 11 newspapers, the companies announced Monday. ...

[read more]

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