January 2, 2007

Shameless Plug: That Dreaded ‘B-Word’

Filed under: General — Tom @ 4:01 pm
cymnow

(Advertisement)

One of the problems of promoting something like CYMnow.com is that you almost inevitably have to mention the word “budget.”

I don’t like the word either, because it has so many “negative” connotations: control, restrictions, having no fun, etc.

All right then, call it a “spending plan” (no, that’s not original).

About.com’s Deborah Fowles has an article on how to set one up in 1-3 hours and provides a link to a form to help you do that. The article is well-written and well-intentioned, and I never want to be seen as denigrating that.

She emphasizes that the first time around, any attempt to get a “spending plan” going will require some revisiting. One also has to acknowledge other real-world difficulties Ms. Fowles did not mention. Here are just a few:

(more…)

I Can’t Believe I’m Reading This (Eason Jordan Calls Out AP on Jamil Hussein)

OK, it’s from Eason Jordan, who has a checkered past to say the least, but it’s nonetheless stunning (bolds are mine):

If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it – and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.

This controversy and the AP’s handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world’s biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.

The AP has steadfastly refused to answer questions about this episode from IraqSlogger and other news outlets and bloggers.

In statements, the AP insists Captain Hussein is real, insists he has been known to the AP and others for years, and insists the immolation episode occurred based on multiple eyewitnesses.

But efforts by two governments, several news organizations, and bloggers have failed to produce such evidence or proof that there is a Captain Jamil Hussein. The AP cannot or will not produce him or convincing evidence of his existence.

It is striking that no one has been able to find a family member, friend, or colleague of Captain Hussein. Nor has the AP told us who in the AP’s ranks has actually spoken with Captain Hussein. Nor has the AP quoted Captain Hussein once since the story of the disputed episode.

Therefore, in the absence of clear and compelling evidence to corroborate the AP’s exclusive story and Captain Hussein’s existence, we must conclude for now that the AP’s reporting in this case was flawed.

….. To make matters worse, Captain Jamil Hussein was a key named source in more than 60 AP stories on at least 25 supposed violent incidents over eight months.

Until this controversy is resolved, every one of those AP reports is tainted.

If Jamil “Captain Tuttle” Hussein doesn’t exist, look out below, as it may only be the beginning. There are potentially at least a couple of dozen other questionable “sources” besides Mr. Hussein.

On what basis should we assume that the dozens of other “sources” cited by AP over the 3-1/2 years since the fall of Baghdad exist (or even if they exist, whether they are reliable, or merely enemy agents)?

The reax of Curt at Flopping Aces is dead on –

NO story we get out of Iraq can be trusted anymore until the news services admit their mistakes and quit using these biased sources.

Confederate Yankee has investigated the body of work associated with the use of quotes and descriptions from Jamil “Captain Tuttle” Hussein, and found it strangely unique, i.e., Hussein reports an awful lot of incidents that no one else appears to have covered (“a search for other news agency accounts of the events described by Jamil Hussein seems to indicate that most of these events simply do not exist anywhere else except in AP reporting. I was completely unable to find a definitive corroborating account of any of Jamil Hussein’s accounts, anywhere.”). “Odd” indeed.

A little less arrrogance and smugness, and perhaps a little more humility and open-mindedness if that’s possible, and perhaps even an admission that something is seriously amiss, would be welcome from certain skeptics, like this one — but it’s not expected. “Enough is enough” my a**.

Until AP puts up, I see now reason why its critics should shut up. They in fact have a duty not to.
__________________________________

UPDATE: In direct answer to those who believe this pursuit to be a distracting obsession, chew on this from Curt

We get stories from them that detail 50+ bodies being dumped daily but when I confirm this via the Iraqi police I get a number that is 1/3rd that.

Don’t even try to tell me that consistent errors of this magnitude don’t matter; and that’s even before getting to the incidents that may be totally made up. Everyone knows bleeping well that they do. If they didn’t, I’m assuming that you wouldn’t be troubled one little bit if local media told Cincinnatians that there were 250 murders in the city last year (there were actually 84), or that there are 4 million abortions performed in the US annually (it’s really about 1.3 million).

UPDATE 2: As you’d expect, Memeo is all over it.

UPDATE 3: Editor & Publisher (HT Hot Air) notes that AP is continuing its “la-la-la” treatment.

UPDATE 4: Now why should anyone think that the crumbling credibility of these companies’ main source of national and international news affects their businesses? (HT Newsosaur via Winds of Change; Newsosaur notes that the last two years have seen $13.5 billion trimmed from media company valuations while the rest of the market, and the economy, has prospered)

MediaCos2YrPerf04_06

Note that the companies holding their own or declining the least are generally those that are less dependent on AP, Reuters, and the wire services for content (with the exception of the New York Times, which is a basket in a zone of its own).

Magnificent Obsession: Patterico’s Annual Summary Skewering of What’s Left of the LA Times

This one for 2006 is going to leave a mark, as Patterico has left marks all year long and in previous years:
- 2005
- 2004 Part 1 (Presidential Election)
- 2004 Part 2 (the rest of the year’s events)
- 2003

Read the whole thing.

Patterico’s annual litanies represent a microcosm of what’s wrong with the formerly Mainstream Media. One wonders that the LA Times hasn’t lost more of its subscriber base than it has (which is a lot). The unwillingness to change in the face of a deteriorating situation that is primarily traced to newsroom bias and ignorance is nothing short of business suicide. In the absence of solving that, all the money in the world from David Geffen or whomever won’t turn things around.

The NY Times: Caught Red-Handed in an Obviously False Story — And It STILL Won’t Retract or Correct (Times Corrects — See Update 4)

Those who ridicule critics of the formerly Mainstream Media (also affectionately known in these parts as the WORMs [Worn-Out Reactionary Media]) as throwing around baseless allegations over trivial matters, need to explain how the New York Times Magazine can get a story so wrong, have it rubbed in their collective faces, and refuse to correct it, even when their ombudsman calls them out (may require free registration).

Good luck. I’m waiting…..

And so the credibility and the business viability of the Grey Lady continue to sink.

_________________________

UPDATE: Thomas Lifson at American Thinker tells the story as succinctly as it can be told, and calls it the Times Rathergate.

UPDATE 2: This story is the subject of 2007′s first Hot Air vid. Michelle Malkin’s money line: “The Times’ pro-abortion poster child is a woman convicted of infanticide.”

UPDATE 3: Michelle Malkin’s post at her site — “All the Abortion Lies Fit to Print.”

UPDATE 4, Jan. 11: Presumably in response to an e-mail I sent the Times, I received an e-mail from the Times’ Corporate HQ that is apparently a correction the paper published on Sunday –

January 7, 2007, Sunday Late Edition – Final
Section 1 Page 2 Column 5 Desk: Metropolitan Desk Length: 323 words
Type: Editors’ Note

Editors’ Note

An article in The Times Magazine on April 9 reported on the effects of laws that make all abortions illegal in El Salvador. One case the article described was that of Carmen Climaco, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence in El Salvador.

The article said she was convicted in 2002 of aggravated homicide, and it presented the recollections of the judge who adjudicated Ms. Climaco’s case during the pretrial stage. The judge, Margarita Sanabria, told The Times that she believed that Ms. Climaco had an abortion when she was 18 weeks pregnant, and that she regretted allowing the case to be tried as a homicide. The judge based her legal decision on two reports by doctors.

The first, by a doctor who examined Ms. Climaco after the incident, concluded that she had been 18 weeks pregnant and had an abortion. A second medical report, based on an examination of the body that was found under Ms. Climaco’s bed, concluded that her child was carried to term, was born alive and died in its first minutes of life.

The three-judge panel that received the case from Judge Sanabria concluded
that the second report was more credible than the first, and the panel convicted Ms. Climaco of aggravated homicide.

The Times should have obtained the text of the ruling of the three-judge panel before the article was published, but did not vigorously pursue the document until details of the ruling were brought to the attention of editors in late November.

A picture caption with the article also misstated the facts of the ruling. Ms. Climaco was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a case that was initially thought to be an abortion but was later ruled to be a homicide; she was not given 30 years in prison for an abortion that was ruled a homicide.

Ms. Climaco is now preparing to appeal her conviction. The Times is continuing to investigate the case.

“You don’t say” point of the day: Yeah, I would think examining the dead baby would tell you more than examining the mother who isn’t carrying the baby any more.

Judicial Pay: It Shouldn’t Only Be About the Money

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:45 am

Chief Justice Roberts is making some finally-visible noise about judicial pay.

Given the formerly Mainstream Media’s inability to focus on more than one thing at a time on a particular topic, especially when money is under discussion, it’s difficult to know from the press coverage whether money is the full extent of the problem Roberts has described.

I would hope not.

While it’s obviously important, money is not the whole story by any stretch, as this post from April of last year by US Senate candidate Bill Pierce (reproduced here with only slight modifications) shows. As far as I recall, Pierce, who was and is a fiscal hawk, was the ONLY candidate for national office in the entire country paying even a little attention to this matter. It’s not only about pay, which is of course important in attracting and retaining quality talent. It’s also more importantly about whether plaintiffs and defendants are getting the quality of judicial review they have a right to expect.

It would appear that they are not:

The Crisis in the Federal Judiciary

….. no new federal appeal positions have been created since 1990, but there has been a 34% increase in caseload. As caseloads increase the time to read the volumes of briefs becomes scarce and federal judges rely on the law clerks to summarize the documents for them. BUT that simple transfer of power has grave ramifications. The federal court system is relying on the ability of entry level attorneys, to properly comprehend, evaluate, and summarize mountains of citations to case law, codes of legal procedures, and the importance of the material facts of the case. Given the weight of a decision coming out of our federal judiciary, which is a very tall order for any first or second year attorney to fill.

Now add the fact that there are currently 55 vacancies listed on the federal bench and there can be little doubt that our system of justice is suffering. Congress does not understand that point, or simply doesn’t care as long as political mileage can be made over the inherent haggling in the confirmation process.

The culpability of the Congress continues with the budget process:

(link to external site no longer available — Ed.)
It appears Congress will approve a 4.7 percent increase over the $4.88 billion appropriation received in FY 2003. Due to fixed mandatory expenses such as judicial salaries and rents paid for federal courthouses, it would require a 7.3 percent increase just to stay even. The Judicial Branch may have to release employees and make other spending cuts as a result.

Please remember that the Judiciary’s budget represents about 2 tenths of 1% percent of the overall federal expenditures. The difference between the Judiciary’s requested 7.3% and the expected Congressional approval of 4.7% is approximately $125 million dollars. Now compare the number with the identified “pork barrel” spending of our Congress in the same year:

(link to external site no longer available — Ed.)
This year’s total reveals that Congress porked out at record levels. The cost of these projects in fiscal 2003 was $22.5 billion.

Congress does not find the need to fully fund our Judiciary or create the needed judgeships to handle the burgeoning caseload, but certainly can find the moneys necessary to send the pork home in an effort to buy votes. The “pork barrel” funding for FY2003 was more than 187 times the amount Congress denied our Federal Judiciary.

The shortfall represents a loss not for a single government agency BUT one complete branch of government established by our Constitution. A complete branch of government charged with being the guardians of the Constitution because their rulings protect individual rights and liberties guaranteed by that important document. The federal courts are to interpret and apply the law to resolve disputes, but can’t do so properly if the workload must be pushed down to un-appointed and relatively inexperienced law clerks.

Since our legal structure is based upon the logic of the English common law system, a basic feature is the doctrine of precedent under which judges use the legal principles established in earlier cases to decide new cases that have similar facts and raise similar legal issues. If law clerks are summarizing for our appointed federal judges and insert their own bias into the summary, established case law becomes flawed and future rulings are based upon the judgment originated by non-appointed, non-confirmed law clerks. The impact on our daily lives by Federal case law requires that “we the people …” demand a better judiciary.

Congress is demonstrating contempt for our legal system. Not only do they fail to fill vacancies on a timely basis and fail to increase the judgeships to match the increasing caseload, but they fail to provide the necessary funding so Congress can promote their own individual “pet” projects. Justice is not being served, and as a result justice is not being delivered ….

Congress’s failure to fill federal vacancies and reexamine judicial pay, and the President’s failure to aggressively push the Congress in either area, are both disgraceful.

Eminent in Domain in St. Louis: Reaching New Lows

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:41 am

The targets appear to be an absolute PR nightmare for those who did the filing, and even include a lot dead people (not kidding), but they went ahead anyway (HT Amy Welborn). It also looks like it was done to beat the effective date of tougher eminent domain legislation passed by the State of Missouri (bolds are mine):

St. Louis’ redevelopment agency sued a convent, a saint, a nun and an elderly woman in a wheelchair who has a 999-year lease on Friday, seeking to use eminent domain to condemn a property in the Ice House District north of Soulard.

City officials hope the area will be a hip entertainment district one day, but first they have to remove stubborn landowners and tenants.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, says the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority has been unable to agree on a price for 1119-1127 South Broadway, owned by the Convent of the Sacred Heart.

….. The suit also names property owners from centuries ago and their heirs, including John Mullanphy, said to be St. Louis’ first millionaire, a nun and “Philipini Duchesne.” The suit appears to be referring to St. Rose Phillipine Duchesne, who founded a school for the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a cabin in St. Charles in 1818, according to the Vatican. She died in 1852 and was canonized in 1988.

….. An outcry after the (US Supreme Court’s Kelo) decision prompted new laws in Missouri and Illinois seeking to curb the practice, but a provision awarding a 50 percent bonus over fair market value doesn’t apply. That applies only to those who have owned the property for more than 50 years, and for suits filed after Dec. 31, 2006.

This one bears watching, especially if there are attempts to resurrect some of the defendants or question their virtue. (/deadpan)

The Sago Coal Mine Disaster and Mine Safety: One-Year Update

It has been a year since the Sago coal mine tragedy that took 12 lives. Only one man, Randal McCloy, miraculously survived and was able to go home.

Unfortunately, 2006′s coal-mining fatality total came in at a clearly unacceptable 47 (33 in the first six months), more than double the alltime low achieved in 2005, and the highest number since 1995′s total, which was also 47.

Many times the lookbacks at situations such as these become occasions for destructive recriminations and uninformed criticism. Tim Huber of the Associated Press didn’t allow either to happen in his report, and when someone at AP gets it right, it surely deserves notice. His one-year lookback, update, and multi-sided critique is very thorough, and appears to give all parties involved their say regarding what happened, what has been done since, and what the companies and regulators are trying to do to get a handle on things.

Read the whole article, and keep the considerable improvements that are being attempted in mind if/when the New York Times, which brazenly and falsely attempted to pin the blame for Sago on the President and the Mine Safefy and Health Administration (MSHA), tries to resurrect its tired and disproven all-purpose mantras of “not spending enough money” and “stacking the deck with industry insiders.” Unfortunately for the Times, that BizzyBlog post (also mirrored at NewsBusters) plus a related one by Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics that focused on falling injury rates, both got wide enough circulation that they largely negated what in the pre-blog days might have turned into a Times-led propaganda rout. Too bad, so sad, NYT.

Bevan, reacting to what he was seeing from the Times and others, was appalled, and wrote:

….. this is the first time we’ve seen an effort to try and blame a President for contributing to deaths related to a tragic mining accident. It certainly didn’t happen under Clinton, nor for that matter do I recall it happening with the Quecreek mining accident in 2002 – perhaps because there was a happy ending to that story. It just goes to show how distorted and dishonest the level of discourse has become in the country recently because of the left’s insatiable hatred for President Bush.

Back to more current matters — If there’s a bright spot, relatively speaking, it’s that the coal-mining death toll appears to have slowed down to “only” 14 in the second half of 2006, which is of course 14 too many, but a vast improvement over the first half.

More info for those who want to learn more:

  • MSHA’s “Safety and Health at a Glance,” which includes important metrics on inspection efforts and the like (not updated for 2006 yet, which is not surprising).
  • An MSHA press release from December 8, 2006 about “a final rule that requires mine operators to increase the availability of emergency breathing devices, provide improved training on the use of the devices, improve emergency evacuation and drill training, install lifelines for emergency evacuation, and require immediate notification of MSHA in the event of an accident.” That final item is also known as the “15-minute rule.” All mine operators, including operators of other types of mines, must report mining accidents within that amount of time.
  • Information about The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (the “MINER Act”), which became law in June 2006.

______________________________

Previous Posts:
- Apr. 5, 2006 — Positivity: Why the ‘miracle miner’ survived
- Mar. 31 — Positivity: Randal McCloy Returns Home
- Mar. 22 — The Unreality-Based Community, New York Times Coal Mine Safety Division
- Jan. 11 — John Merline of TCS Daily on the Reality of Mine Safety
- Jan. 9 — The WaPo Sago Saga: Kurtz Critiques Mine Disaster Reporting, and Like Others, Ignores the Stats
- Jan. 6 — The NY Times and The AFL-CIO Futilely Attempt to Exploit the Sago 12
- Jan. 5 — The New York Times’ Disgraceful (and Wrong) Opportunism in the West Virginia Coal Mine Deaths

Now What Would Have Happened in November….

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 6:17 am

….. to cause this to happen during the past two months in the American Research Group’s monthly poll on the economy (reported on the 22nd of each month)?

ARG1206_1

Paragraph of the Day: On Prosecuting the Flying Imams

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:12 am

Because it’s not even arguable that the whole incident was a planned stunt, this suggestion from Jonathan at Chicago Boyz (bold is mine; HT Instapundit) could not be more on point:

The implicit incentive structure here is not a good one. Politically protected groups should not be granted legal safe harbor to engage in abusive stunts while poor schmucks who say something stupid in an airport security line get the book thrown at them. If we are serious about security we should prosecute the imams — as punishment for disrupting the lives of many people who reasonably perceived them as threatening, as a deterrent against future such behavior and to deter real attacks. On the other hand, if we think it’s more important to be politically correct and not offend anyone, let’s eliminate the whole air-security charade.

____________________________________

Previous Posts:
- Dec. 15 — Imamagine That: An Elaborate, and Dangerous, Orchestration
- Dec. 12 — Six Imams Update: Those Darn Facts, and Some Opinions
- Dec. 2 — What Really Happened on US Airways Flight 300? (Also with Larger Points and New Questions)
- Nov. 25 — What Will It Take for You to Stop Referring to US Airways as ‘Useless Airways’?

Siriusly, This Is Stern Stuff

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 6:07 am

This is Howard Stern:

SternPic123106Site

This is 2006′s stock chart for Stern’s employer, Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. (SIRI), which began broadcasting Stern’s show on January 9, 2006:

SternPic123106Site

Any questions?

_____________________________

Previous Posts:
- April 13 — Stern’s Audience Drops from 12-15 to 1-2 Million (3rd item at link)
- March 16 — A Sirius Slump (1st item at link)
- Jan. 14 — Sirius-Howard Stern Follow-up
- Jan. 7 — Seriously, Does the Sirius-Howard Stern Deal Make Sense?

Year’s Most Unintentionally Comical Magazine Cover (so far)

This one may survive all of 2007 with that “honor.”

Biz Weak comes through with its January 8, 2007 edition (cover; story; story is free for now):

How Business Trounced The Trial Lawyers

Five minutes at Overlawyered.com scrolling through its Best of 2006 lists by month (from January through October so far; all were posted in December; here is a link to the list for October) should disabuse anyone of the absurd notion that trial lawyers have been “trounced” and that the heyday of frivolous lawsuits lawsuits is behind us. What Biz Weak whines about in its coverage is what most lay people would refer to as “common sense.”

Positivity: Crash Survivor Reunites with Her ‘Earth Angels’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Kansas, an inspiring tale of youthful carelessness, heroism, recovery, and reunion:

Shawna Saubers-Ristic of Lawrence ….. knows how close she came to dying on Christmas 1993, when a horrific crash along Interstate 35 hurled her into a ditch. She knows she might never have survived if it weren’t for two nurses who took care of her until paramedics arrived.

She was just 19 then, a kid with the whole world at her fingertips. She’s 32 now, and has never forgotten the women she calls her earth angels: Laura Mauszycki of Gardner and Donna Hanigan of Olathe.

She credits them with saving her life.

“Every year when Christmas comes around,” Saubers-Ristic said, “I just have so much gratitude.”

She’s always sent the women Christmas cards, thanking them for the gift of life.

This year, for the first time since the days immediately after the accident, she actually met them. She hoped to find the right words, the words that couldn’t possibly capture what’s in her heart.

The accident

Like many teenagers, Saubers-Ristic thought she was indestructible.

Driving fast never fazed her, especially not that day in 1993. She was en route from her Ottawa, Kan., home to Kansas City International Airport to catch a flight to Minnesota for a Chiefs-Vikings game the next day.

Those plans all changed in an instant when the Dodge station wagon she was driving went out of control on northbound I-35 near Ottawa. It was about 3:30 p.m. on a cold, wet Saturday. She crossed the northbound lanes, then plunged toward the median.

The car started rolling … and rolling … and rolling. Across the median, across the southbound lanes. Saubers-Ristic, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle.

Mauszycki, who was with her family driving from one Christmas gathering to another, saw the whole scene unfold.

“It was like a wreck you would see in the Indianapolis 500,” she said.

Leaping from her vehicle, Mauszycki sprinted toward the crash. She found Saubers-Ristic lying in mud, face down. She was bleeding, turning blue. Though she had a pulse, she wasn’t breathing.

Mauszycki cleared the teen’s airway and helped her start breathing. Eventually, Hanigan and others stopped to help.

Fearing Saubers-Ristic might choke on her own blood, Mauszycki and Hanigan rolled her onto her side and kept her stabilized until paramedics arrived.

“That was the longest wait of my life,” Mauszycki said.

Saubers-Ristic was breathing, though just barely. With every pained breath, blood splattered from her mouth and onto the two women — their hands, their clothes, their shoes.

Somebody found her identification and said she was only 19. Recalling that moment, Mauszycki’s eyes well up. As a mother of two, she couldn’t imagine such a tragedy on “the best day of the year.”

“I remember saying, ‘Dear God, please don’t let her die.’ ”

According to a Kansas Highway Patrol accident report, Saubers-Ristic was traveling “much faster” than 70 mph.

Saubers-Ristic knows she was driving too fast.

And she knows how incredibly lucky she was; Mauszycki and Hanigan had stopped at precisely the right moment.

“Divine orchestration,” Saubers-Ristic calls it.

The relationship

The correspondence between Saubers-Ristic and the two women started around Christmas 1994, a year after the accident.

By then, Saubers-Ristic had been through a harrowing ordeal. Her injuries were extensive: six broken ribs, a punctured lung, a chin broken off and now held together with metal plates, a fractured foot, a cracked hip, a spleen that had to be removed and, most significantly, some head trauma.

She was in a coma for more than two weeks at Research Medical Center and then went through painful rehabilitation. When she finally left the rehabilitation center about two months after the accident, doctors prepared the family for the worst.

“Your daughter,” they said, “may never be the same again.”

She may never again go to school, or drive a car, or live independently. With head injuries, you just don’t know.

And yet, just a year later, Saubers-Ristic was going to school, living alone, again planning for a bright future.

And she had a new outlook on life.

“You go through something like that, you’re never the same,” she said.

She wanted to thank her earth angels for giving her this chance. She sent each of the nurses Christmas cards, thanking them for their courage on that frigid December day.

She did it again the next Christmas, and the next, and the next.

“Without you, I wouldn’t be here,” she wrote.

“Thanks for doing what you did,” she wrote.

“Jesus wasn’t the only one born on Christmas day!” she wrote.

Mauszycki and Hanigan liked reading about how Saubers-Ristic plunged headfirst into life, how she spent more than three years living in France, how she started a massage therapy business in 1997, how she got married in May 2006.

They followed her life from afar and, sometimes, they wrote back. Like in 2004, when Hanigan sent this message on a Valentine’s card:

“I have forgotten many things over the past 10 years, but you I’ll never forget. I am so thankful you have survived and thrived!”

The reunion

Through the years, Saubers-Ristic never saw Mauszycki or Hanigan or visited on the phone or sent e-mails.

That all changed last week, when the three got together in a conference room at Olathe Medical Center, where Mauszycki and Hanigan work.

As Saubers-Ristic entered the room, slowly and tentatively, Mauszycki stood and walked toward her. They scanned each other incredulously as their eyes misted. And then they hugged.

There was so much Saubers-Ristic wanted to say. Instead, she didn’t say a word.

She didn’t have to.

Finally, chuckling through tears, Mauszycki said, “You look better than the last time I saw you.”

And that’s how their reunion started, how they came to spend nearly two hours experiencing another Christmas they won’t soon forget.

“God was looking out for you,” Mauszycki said, placing her hand on Saubers-Ristic’s knee.

“That whole day is kind of a blur,” Hanigan said.

“I never liked my chin anyway,” Saubers-Ristic said.

And so it went, with laughter followed by tears and tears followed by laughter.

They looked at pictures of the wreck and pictures of Saubers-Ristic, who was emaciated and frail during her rehabilitation. They looked at her wedding photos and photos of her modeling, an activity she gave up after the crash because, she said, “it just seemed like there were more important things in life.”

They looked at the Chiefs ticket Saubers-Ristic had planned to use the day after Christmas.

And they looked at the tickets she got from the Kansas Highway Patrol for not wearing her seat belt and for “failing to maintain a single lane of traffic.”

The nurses saw the scars on her stomach, her ankle, her hands.

And when it was over, they promised to visit again soon — “sometime in the next 13 years,” Hanigan laughed — and the two nurses tucked under their arms Christmas ornaments from Saubers-Ristic.

Each ornament was an angel.

“My earth angels,” Saubers-Ristic said.

AP’s Apparent New Year’s Resolution: Increase the Use of Questionable Sources and Their Stories

Curt has it at Flopping Aces. And he digs. Read the whole thing.