Explosions in the Sky. I’m in Austin, Texas, this week, and in honor of that I’ve been listening to Explosions in the Sky, a Texas “post-rock” band, and one of my favorites. But the name of the band took on a sad and ironic new meaning—and the calm music was strangely comforting—after an explosion sent fire and smoke into the sky over the town of West, Texas, and shook up this part of the state. With the Boston bombings dominating the news, the people of West have been mourning almost alone, and the tragedy has been horrific: at least 160 injured in a town of less than 3,000. Everyone in town heard the blast on Wednesday night, and virtually everyone knows someone hurt or killed. For reasons not clear, officials have been tightlipped about the number of dead. Churches have been gathering places for the survivors. According to an Associated Press report, the Rev. Ed Karasek told the hundreds gathered that it would take time for the community to heal. “Our hearts are hurting, our hearts are broken,” he said. “I know that every one of us is in shock. Our town of West will never be the same, but we will persevere.”
Playing catch-up. The mainstream media has come very late to the Kermit Gosnell trial, but finally a few news services are posting reports. The Associated Press reported on Thursday that one of Gosnell’s former employees provided what it called “powerful testimony that she saw more than 10 babies breathe before they were killed.” Kareema Cross said, “I thought they were breathing.” She said she saw their chests go up, but Gosnell “would say they’re not really breathing.” Cross, 28, was the final prosecution witness in the murder case against Gosnell. He is charged in the deaths of a patient and seven babies allegedly born alive. I’m glad to see AP do some good work here, but—even at the risk of shameless self-promotion—I must say no one has more or better coverage than WORLD, visit our Gosnell trial page.
Snakes in the dugout. The West Ranch High School baseball team in Valencia, Calif., isn’t worried about their opponents’ pitching. They can remain calm under pressure because they’ve faced a much more daunting opponent: rattlesnakes. According to the Los Angeles Times, the team has discovered 11 rattlesnakes on or near its diamond since school started last August. Of course, rattlesnakes are common in the region. In fact, one of the reasons school officials know there’s been an increase is that they keep track. The school destroyed or relocated 17 rattlesnakes in the past seven years. According to the Times, West Ranch’s coaches, brothers Casey and Brady Burrill, have become experts at removing them from the scene while protecting their athletes. “We’ve had them on the field, in the dugouts, on campus,” Casey Burrill told the Times. “The strategy is sneak up behind with a long landscape rake, pin him and the other gets the head with a shovel. It’s definitely a two-person event.”
Sanford funds withdrawn. On Wednesday I told you former congressman and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s ex-wife Jenny had filed a trespassing complaint against him. On Thursday came word that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) would no longer spend money in support of Sanford’s bid for a congressional seat in South Carolina. Andrea Bozek, an NRCC spokeswoman, tried to put a positive spin on the decision, saying Sanford knows how to win and doesn’t really need their help. However, behind the scenes I’m hearing that Sanford has become an embarrassment and GOP officials were angry. Republicans were blindsided by the news of Jenny Sanford’s complaint and made the decision not to spend more money on Sanford’s race after concluding that it would be difficult for Sanford to make inroads with women voters. Sanford issued a statement Wednesday characterizing the matter with his wife as a disagreement.