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Good, Bad & The Ugly

Feb 2, 2012
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The good

After years of failure for Blank Park Zoo’s two Amur Tigers to breed naturally, the zoo collaborated with veterinarians from the Cincinnati Zoo and Iowa State University for a complex procedure to artificially inseminate a tiger. They took the little swimmers from Kavacha, the male Amur tiger, and inseminated Goldy, the female. It’ll take 40 days to find out if it worked. If successful, the offspring would increase the genetic diversity in the captive population, which is good because there are only 3,200 tigers of all sub-species alive today, and Amur tigers are very rare both in the wild and at zoos with about 900 remaining. Here’s hoping.

When it comes to numbers, many of us prefer to stick to counting back change and telling time. So, thank you to DMACC for offering free income tax help for all of us right-brain thinkers. Accounting students who have been certified by the Internal Revenue Service will be available at the urban campus every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. throughout tax season. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, is for people with low-to-moderate incomes (less than $50,000 a year), and especially those who are eligible for earned income credits. Each return will be reviewed by the site coordinator and, after approval and signature of the taxpayer, will be filed electronically with the IRS for free. Call 248-7248 for more details.

The bad

The West Des Moines City Council denied the Friends of the Val Air request to exempt the historic ballroom from a sound ordinance, an issue that arose two years ago in response to complaints from neighbors in Des Moines’ Waterbury Neighborhood, who say it negatively impacted their quality of life. The Friends of Val Air petition has gained 1,263 signatures against the complaints of a few, most of who aren’t West Des Moines residents. That means the ballroom will likely be forced to undergo expensive sound-proofing renovations, limit the events it hosts or close altogether. The Val Air has been a venue in support of music, art and entertainment — both locally and nationally — for 70 years, and we’d like to keep it that way.

We wouldn’t really call this bad news; it’s more sad news as we learned last week that WHOTV beauty, Elizabeth Klinge, would no longer brighten viewers’ weekend mornings as an anchor on WHO’s Today In Iowa on Saturday and Sunday. According to a press release, Klinge “left Des Moines earlier this month to head west on a business venture with her husband.” Reporter Jannay Towne will replace Klinge. Towne has some big shoes to fill, but we think she’ll make a great addition to the weekend team. Also leaving, 25-year veteran John Bachman, who’ll retire at the end of November. Bachman, who has been involved with broadcast journalism for 40 years, will be replaced by Dan Winters.

The ugly

In some countries, things like animal brains and eyeballs are considered delicacies. Not here, especially if they come from a human. Connecticut resident Tyree Lincoln Smith, 35, was arrested last week after he killed another man with an ax and then ate a portion of his brain. According to police, Smith was living in an abandoned building with the victim, Angel Gonzalez, 43, when the two got into a fight leading Smith to hack Gonzalez to death. Smith then ate one of the victims’ eyeballs and some of his brain matter before fleeing the scene. A few days later, Smith told his cousin the eyeball “tasted like an oyster.” After hearing the story, Smith’s cousin called police. Smith was located days later in Florida and was charged with murder.

This goes way beyond boot camp discipline tactics. Florida resident Michael Lee Mitchell, 24, was arrested last week after he tortured two small children with an electric dog collar. According to police, Mitchell punished the two girls — ages 4 and 8 — by making them exercise nonstop until they vomited. Mitchell forced them to run next to his vehicle for more than three miles and made them do push-ups and sit-ups. He put electric dog collars around the kids’ arms and waists and shocked them when they quit exercising. Mitchell, an active soldier with the Army 7th Special Forces, admitted to the abuse and acknowledged to police that the punishments were “extreme and over the edge.” Mitchell was arrested and charged with two felony counts of child abuse. CV

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