Some Other News from Around the Deep South

I don’t know how it is in other places, but the local news media outlets where I live seem most interested in covering three kinds of stories: murders, robberies and drug busts; state and local politics; and the turnout at local charity events— all of which I find pretty boring, even though I still tune in and pay attention. But sometimes I think, There’s got to be more going on out there, and I go hunting for better news stories, usually on the web. So, without further ado, let’s take a moment to review some recent stories across the Deep South that are outside of the norm . . .

Example number one. In September, Jackson, Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger reported that a man/woman named Morris Garner (a.k.a. Tracey Lynn Garner) had been charged with depraved-heart murder for allegedly performing a botched buttocks implant with what is believed to be “counterfeit silicon” on an Atlanta-based adult entertainer, “Pebbelz Da Model.” According to Clarion-Ledger report, the attorney general prosecuting the case remarked that Garner “had no training or license to perform such a procedure.” The victim, whose real name was Karima Gordon, had traveled across two states for the operation, which she hoped would further her career— in modeling, obviously. When Gordon began feeling poorly after the surgery, Garner is said to have advised her to “take some cough medicine,” but soon after that she died.

Also in September, the Alabama web news source al.com reported that more than two years after the incident that gave her momentary national infamy, Amy Bishop plead guilty to capital murder and attempted murder charges. In February 2010, Bishop, who was then a University of Alabama–Huntsville biology professor, shot and killed three of her colleagues and wounded three others when she was refused tenure and had exhausted all appeals. Her decision to plead guilty to the criminal charges will spare her the death penalty in Alabama.  Bishop helped to put Alabama atop the national headlines at the same time that the University of Alabama’s football team was enjoying the spotlight for its national championship in football and at the same time as a furious state government crackdown on illegal gambling that resulted in the arrests of several state legislators, who were later acquitted.

Numero tres. Yahoo! News (via Reuters) reported that a group of soldiers stationed at Fort Stewart, near Savannah, Georgia, had allegedly been planning to overthrow the US government under the organizational name FEAR, “Forever Enduring Always Ready,” and thus were arrested and indicted on a plethora of charges based on these allegations:

Prosecutors say the soldiers plotted to assassinate President Barack Obama and to attack their army base and a dam in Washington state. They also discussed poisoning the apple crop in Washington state and purchased $87,000 worth of weapons to carry out their attacks, according to Pauley.

Law enforcement officials assert that the group’s leader killed his own wife to get a half-million dollars in life insurance to bankroll the group’s work.

Fourth, federal officials recently arrested and indicted the “self-proclaimed  ‘president'” of the sovereign citizens group “The Republic for the United States of America” on a slough of charges. According to report from USAToday.com, James Turner, who lives in south Alabama, is purported to have “conducted seminars across the country in which he taught students how to file retaliatory liens against the property of government officials and provided instruction on creating fake financial instruments to pay their tax bills.”  Given the sovereign citizens movement’s ideology and activities, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors “hate groups,” has groups within this movement on their radar, too.

And finally, Macon, Georgia officials plan to put up a historical marker to honor the 1970 Byron Pop Festival.  Sometimes called the “2nd Atlanta Pop Festival,” the event featured “this local band called the Allman Brothers Band.” (Byron is actually much closer to Warner-Robbins, but let’s not get technical.) I tell you, it’s one thing to be in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, another thing entirely to have a catalogue of incredible albums like Eat A Peach and Live at the Fillmore, but to have the city of Macon to erect a historical marker for one of your concerts— it just has to feel good!

(I thought it best in this summation to follow the basic model of most thirty-minute news broadcasts: shower my audience with a barrage of appallingly bad news, the sum total of which might seem apocalyptically dour, before I punctuate that barrage with a cute little human-interest story . . .)

So, the next time you’re watching yet another droll news report about government spending cuts, a murder on the bad side of town, or some proud local charity that met its fundraising goal . . . just know that there’s more going on out there. It’s true. You’ve just got care enough to fish for it.

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