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BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - Police are investigating two deaths at a hotel in the southwest Missouri resort town of Branson as a murder-suicide.

City spokesman Garrett Anderson says the deaths likely happened around 11 p.m. Saturday night at the Queen Anne I motel. The Springfield News-Leader reports that the names of the victims weren't immediately released, pending notification of relatives.

Anderson says he can't provide details. Branson police will have a press conference Monday.
Monday, 11 March 2013 00:49
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Few presidents in modern times have been as interested in gun control as Richard Nixon, of all people. He proposed ridding the market of Saturday night specials, contemplated banning handguns altogether and refused to pander to gun owners by feigning interest in their weapons.

Several previously unreported Oval Office recordings and White House memos from the Nixon years show a conservative president who at times appeared willing to take on the National Rifle Association, a powerful gun lobby then as now, even as his aides worried about the political ramifications.

"I don't know why any individual should have a right to have a revolver in his house," Nixon said in a taped conversation with aides. "The kids usually kill themselves with it and so forth." He asked why "can't we go after handguns, period?"

Nixon went on: "I know the rifle association will be against it, the gun makers will be against it." But "people should not have handguns." He laced his comments with obscenities, as was typical.

Nixon made his remarks in the Oval Office on May 16, 1972, the day after a would-be assassin shot and paralyzed segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace. As president, Nixon never publicly called for a ban on all handguns. Instead, he urged Congress to pass more modest legislation banning Saturday night specials, which were cheaply made, easily concealed and often used by criminals.

Not all of the president's men appeared to share his passion on the issue. The recordings and memos show that Nixon administration officials saw gun control as a political loser.

Nixon, a Republican, did say publicly that if Congress passed a ban on Saturday night specials, he would sign it. But in a sign of how potent the NRA was even 40 years ago, this narrow piece of legislation never made it to his desk, and there is no sign that he ever sent a draft bill to Capitol Hill.

Today, President Barack Obama faces similar hurdles in trying to ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. Gun control advocates say no one needs such powerful weapons to kill an intruder or take down an animal. In Nixon's time, the argument of such advocates was that Saturday night specials were too poorly made to be relied on for self-defense or hunting. "Let me ask you," Nixon said to Attorney General John Mitchell in June 1971, "there is only one thing you are checking on, that's the manufacture of those $20 guns? We should probably stop that." Saturday night specials sold for $10 to $30 at the time. Mitchell responded that banning those guns would be "pretty difficult, actually," because of the gun lobby. "No hunters are going to use $20 guns," Nixon countered. "No, but the gun lobby's against any incursion into the elimination of firearms," said Mitchell. The term Saturday night special originated in Detroit, where police observed the frequency with which the guns were used to commit weekend mayhem. Lynyrd Skynyrd memorialized the weapon in its 1975 song, "Saturday Night Special," in which the Southern rock band sang: "Ain't good for nothin'/But put a man six feet in a hole." Nixon's private comments were not always supportive of gun control, particularly measures that would go beyond handguns. For example, in a taped conversation just a few days after saying that people shouldn't have handguns, the president asked rhetorically, "What do they want to do, just disarm the populace? Disarm the good folks and leave the arms in the hands of criminals?" But most of his comments on the tapes, available at the websites of the National Archives and of the University of Virginia's Miller Center, were in favor of stronger gun control. At a June 29, 1972, news conference, about six weeks after Wallace's shooting, Nixon said he'd sign legislation banning Saturday night specials. Later that year, the Senate did pass such a bill, but the House never acted on the legislation.

The bill's sponsor, Indiana Democrat Birch Bayh, said in a recent interview that the NRA helped prevent his bill from getting through Congress. The Nixon administration supported an unsuccessful Republican alternative Senate bill on Saturday night specials that had a definition the NRA preferred.

The shooting of another politician put gun control back on the radar the following year. On Jan. 30, 1973, two robbers shot Sen. John Stennis, D-Miss., and surgeons initially thought he would die. Stennis survived and lived until 1995.

The day of the shooting, Nixon told White House special counsel Charles Colson, "At least I hope that Saturday night special legislation, at least we're supporting that, you know. We're not for gun control generally, but we are for that. God damn it that ought to be passed. Or was it passed?"

When Colson told him it hadn't, Nixon instructed his counsel, "We better damn well be for it now, huh?"

At a news conference the next day, the president repeated his call to ban Saturday night specials. He also volunteered a comment that few national politicians would make today: "Let me say, personally, I have never hunted in my life. I have no interest in guns and so forth."

By March 1973, aide John Ehrlichman was telling Nixon that gun control was a "loser issue for us."

"You've got a highly mobilized lobby," he told the president. "I think what we have to do is carve out a little piece of it, and Saturday night specials, of course, has been our tactic."

Other White House officials also argued against doing much, including Tom C. Korologos, a White House deputy assistant for legislative affairs who later was an outside lobbyist for the NRA and ambassador to Belgium under President George W. Bush.

"The thing that worries me is that the president's hard-core support comes from the gun-folk and obviously we need support these days," Korologos wrote in an Aug. 31, 1973 memo, referring to the Watergate scandal that would undo Nixon's presidency.

"Lurking in the background is the president's personal statement: `I'm a liberal on gun control,'" Korologos said. Nixon might have made this statement privately; there is no record of him saying it publicly. Korologos' conclusion: "I vote for a `talk' meeting and then `tough it out' by doing nothing and hope nobody gets shot in the next three years." The effort to ban Saturday night specials receded in recent decades as the focus of gun control advocates shifted to rein in more powerful weapons. Nixon's focus soon shifted, too. In June 1972, a little over a month after his chat about banning handguns, Nixon had a recorded conversation that showed him trying to get the FBI to stop investigating the break-in at Democratic offices at the Watergate office building by burglars tied to his re-election committee. Few remember the tapes about handguns. History forever remembers the tape that gave Nixon's Watergate pursuers their "smoking gun."
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TROY, Mo. (AP) -- Snow geese have been turning up in eastern Missouri in record numbers recently.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the snow geese have apparently been driven southeast to the St. Louis area by heavy snow in northern and western Missouri where they usually stop over on the way back to their nesting grounds in the Arctic.

Local experts estimate that in some cases as many as 50,000 of them have converged on a single field.

Wildlife biologist Eric Merritt says however that the influx won't last much longer. Merritt says the geese will be heading north again soon.
Sunday, 10 March 2013 07:47
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — No matter how flawless a win appears, coaches always seem to have something to quibble about. Not so much this time.

"It's never perfect, but that was fun to watch," interim Coach Jim Crews said after No. 16 Saint Louis trounced La Salle in the second half and clinched a share of the Atlantic 10 title with a 78-54 victory Saturday. "Really, they kept getting better and better, and that's unusual. That's very unusual."

Dwayne Evans had 16 points and 17 rebounds for Saint Louis, which led by just two points at halftime and then made 17 of 20 shots. Kwamain Mitchell had 19 points and six assists on senior day to help the Billikens (24-6, 13-3) win their first conference title since 1970-71 in the Missouri Valley and clinch the top seed in the A-10 Tournament next week in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Everyone made plays," Mitchell said. "We kept pushing it and pushing it, and we came up with some great shots."

Rob Loe matched his career best with 20 points, hitting all seven shots. The Billikens shot 58 percent overall, one game after shooting a season-worst 30 percent in an overtime loss at Xavier.

"I couldn't be more pleased or proud or tickled for these guys to win a championship," Crews said. "It's hard to win a game, much less a championship."

Saint Louis has won 12 of its last 13 under Crews, who made it a smooth transition after taking over for the late Rick Majerus with no assurances past the end of the season. The Billikens can take the title outright if VCU loses at Temple today.

Seniors Cory Remeken, Cody Ellis and Mitchell were among the first to snip the nets.

"I'm sure he's proud right now," Ellis, an Australian import whose parents made the trip for the last two games, said in reference to Majerus. "He's watching this from somewhere. "

Tyrone Garland had 15 points off the bench for La Salle (21-8, 11-5). The Explorers entered the day in second place after winning seven of eight and had been 2-0 in the Chaifetz Arena before absorbing a 24-point loss that was the school's worst of the season.

"That was about as bad a beating as you could take in the second half," La Salle Coach John Giannini said. "I'm really disappointed with the way we played. They took it to us. They won a lot of individual battles — maybe all of them in the second half."

Ramon Galloway, who leads the Explorers with a 17.8-point average, was just 3 for 12 and had eight points.
Sunday, 10 March 2013 07:46
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