BREAKING: Gov. Nixon Commutes Life Sentence Of Jeff Mizanskey

Categories: Drugs

Kholood Eid
Jeff Mizanskey has been in prison for more than twenty years.
Governor Jay Nixon has commuted the sentence of Jeff Mizanskey, a 61-year-old grandfather serving a life sentence for three non-violent marijuana convictions.

"The executive power to grant clemency is one I take with a great deal of consideration and seriousness," Nixon said in a press release announcing the commutation of Mizanskey's sentence. He also pardoned five other non-violent offenders.

Regarding Mizanskey, Nixon's remarks imply that he will be given a parole hearing:

"In the case of the commutation, my action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole," Nixon said.

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Michael Brown's Family Had the Section of Road Where He Died Removed

Categories: Michael Brown

A crew paid for by the Lipton Group takes out the chunk of pavement.

After Wednesday's removal of the stuffed animal memorial to Michael Brown Jr., a plaque and a dove were embedded in the sidewalk on Canfield Drive on Thursday morning. But observers also saw a crew of workers digging up the street where Brown actually fell and died after being shot multiple times by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

This was done at the request of the family, which was given the largest pieces of the asphalt to take home with them.

"A lot of it was real crumbly. We got most of the big pieces," says Louis Head, Brown's stepfather. "That was good enough for us."

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10 Amazing Things to Do This Week in St. Louis

Categories: Arts

Photo by Allen Lee
The Burlesque Fest runs through Saturday night.
Unseasonable cold got you down? Beginning today, St. Louis will start to heat up with all manner of excitement for a three-day holiday weekend bonanza.

This week's activities include a burlesque festival, some amazing live music and even some Star Trek fun for the Trekkies out there. Stop shivering and make some plans!

1. Eyeball the City's Top Burlesque Dancers
Never has the state's nickname been more appropriate than it is now, when the bold, beautiful, bodacious bodies of the Show-Me Burlesque festival take the stage through Saturday (May 21 through 23). The festival honors St. Louis' rich burlesque and vaudeville history with four different shows held across a variety of venues. Thursday's opening-night bash was at 8 p.m. at 2720 Cherokee (2720 Cherokee Street; and starred a cast of award-winning burlesque performers sure to get pulses pounding, but if you missed the fun, you're not out of luck. Weekend passes good for all shows are $65 to $120. — Mark Fischer

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Bedsheet Thief Tases Loss Prevention Officer at JC Penny's

Categories: Crime

Courtesy of the St. Peters Police Department
Police say this surveillance photo shows a woman accused of tasing a loss prevention officer at the Mid-Rivers Mall.
Update: The bedsheet thief has been busted! See our update at the end of this post.

Original post follows ....

A twenty-something blonde at the Mid-Rivers Mall was not letting anything come between her and her 800-thread count bedsheets.

St. Peters Police say the would-be shoplifter fended off a loss prevention officer at JC Penny's ... by zapping her with a Taser.

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Blood Runs Thin in Spike Lee's Latest

Categories: Movies

Courtesy Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
Stephen Tyrone Williams as Hess.
Spike Lee's Da Sweet Blood of Jesus starts with an exuberant credit sequence that perhaps captures everything that works in the film, and everything that goes wrong. Set against a background of Day-Glo-bright Brooklyn settings, a young man performs an athletic dance to Bruce Hornsby's solo piano. It's a wonderful sequence, yet it doesn't really have anything to do with the remainder of the film. Which is to say it has everything to do with the rest of the film, because it's Lee's way of letting us know from the start that this is his film -- or "joint," if you prefer -- and he doesn't really care if it meets our expectations.

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Surprisingly Polite Gunman Says "I'm Sorry, My Bad" After Shooting at Motorist

Paramount Pictures
It was like this, only he said he was sorry. So it's OK, right?
We all make mistakes.

We cheat on math tests, text our exes "hey" at 3 a.m. and leave dog poop on our neighbors' yards. Those mistakes are understandable and, we hope, forgivable. But that's not the case with Michael V. Pona II, of Ballwin, who allegedly tried apologizing to the driver of a car he'd just fired on during a seemingly random shooting spree.

It all started around 1:30 p.m. Monday, when police began receiving reports of gunshots near Manchester and Holloway roads. Pona, 34, was behind the wheel of a black Cadillac Escalade, traveling east, when he allegedly opened fire on at least two vehicles before crashing his own car and attempting (unsuccessfully) to make an aquatic escape via creek.

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Fourth Local Church Reports Theft of "Black Lives Matter" Sign

Categories: Crime

Courtesy Bob Molsberry
The stolen sign.

A fourth church in the St. Louis area is reporting that its "Black Lives Matter" sign has been stolen. Reverend Bob Molsberry of Peace United Church of Christ in Webster Groves says the 2-foot-by-3-foot vinyl sign had been hanging outside the church since the winter, only to suddenly disappear this week.

"I'm almost thinking it's not local in our Webster Groves area just because it was up for so long," he says. "It didn't seem to be a matter of controversy."

The theft in Webster Groves is the latest in a series targeting the signs, whose slogan has been used at many protests around the country in the effort to combat police brutality against people of color.

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The Most Dangerous City in Missouri Is ... Branson?

Categories: Crime

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau
Branson at night. Doesn't it just scream "danger"?
It's not St. Louis.

It's not Ferguson.

In fact, it's not anywhere north of Delmar.

Instead, the most dangerous city in Missouri, a new study claims, is actually Branson.

Yep, that's right, the city that Homer Simpson once described as "Las Vegas as if it were run by Ned Flanders" has us beat when it comes to crime.

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On the Occasion of His Birthday, the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial is Removed from Canfield

Categories: Michael Brown

Jessica Lussenhop
Michael Brown Sr. lifts a giant Tweetie Bird toy.

This afternoon, Michael Brown Sr. -- the father of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. -- snapped on a pair of rubber gloves, walked to the spot in the middle of Canfield Drive where his son was shot and killed, and began to scoop stuffed animals and other trinkets into a black garbage bag.

"It's time for the city to heal," he said moments before he began. "I need to heal."

It seemed like a cruel task -- performed in the rain, in near silence -- but he was the only one who could do it. Imagine if a crew of Ferguson city workers attempted to remove the memorial. It would be treated as an act of sacrilege.

And even with the family's blessing, there was turmoil. A young man neighbors identified as the head of the block's copwatch program walked by repeatedly shouting that those involved in the cleanup should be ashamed. He didn't care that it was being done with the blessing of the Brown family.

"Happy birthday, Mike Brown!" he yelled sarcastically.

Today would have been Brown Jr.'s nineteenth birthday.

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Albert Maysles' Final Film Looks at Iris Apfel's Unique Art -- Life Itself

Categories: Movies
Magnolia Pictures
This Iris is one-of-a-kind.
Iris Apfel appears more energetic, engaged and intensely curious at 93 than most of us can manage at 23, and a clearly smitten Albert Maysles emphasizes that indomitable spirit in his irresistible portrait of the geriatric fashion icon. Direct Cinema pioneer Maysles, a hugely influential figure in documentary film, was in his late eighties when shooting Iris -- he died on March 5 -- and he clearly recognized himself in his subject: Having blazed impressive trails, both continued to light out for new territory instead of settling in comfortably at the homestead during their senescence. However, as someone who regards fashion with a skepticism bordering on contempt, I confess that Apfel's accomplishments are harder to quantify than those of Maysles, whose films include such seminal documentaries as Salesman, Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter.More »