The Mornin' Mail is published every weekday except major holidays
Friday, April 10, 2009, Volume XVII, Number 207

did ya know?

Did Ya Know?... Expressions of the Soul, take a closer look at George Washington Carver’s artistic talent, Saturday, April 11th, 11:00 a.m. This program will highlight the artistry which brought much joy to Carver’s life. More information @ 417-325-4151 or visit

Did Ya Know?... The Family Literacy Center will be selling chocolate Easter Eggs for $3.00 each. The eggs will be available thru April 12th.

Did Ya Know?... Carthage Humane Society Board members needed. Call Glenda @ 358-3819 for more information.

today's laugh

Jim had an awful day fishing on the lake, sitting in the blazing sun all day without catching a single one. On his way home, he stopped at the supermarket and ordered four catfish. He told the fish salesman, "Pick four large ones out and throw them at me, will you?"

"Why do you want me to throw them at you?"

"Because I want to tell my wife that I caught them."

"Okay, but I suggest that you take the orange roughy."

"But why?"

"Because your wife came in earlier today and said that if you came by, I should tell you to take orange roughy. She prefers that for supper tonight."

A Chronological Record of Events as they have Transpired in the City and County since our last Issue.

Slander Case To Be Appealed.

Mrs. Jennie Kochtitzky is the plaintiff and Mrs. G. A. Coons the defendant. Dr. H. O. Scott, of this city, acted as moderator of the trial which began a week ago Saturday and was continued to and concluded on last Saturday. John Nison, Joe Labar and G. W. Miles, elders of the Carl Junction church, acted as referees. In the prosecution, Mrs. Kochtitzky was assisted by her husband, and Mrs. Coons by her husband, Mrs. Dr. Isherwood, and son, J. B. Coons.

It seems that Mrs. Kochtitzky accused Mrs. Coons of slandering her by making insinuation remarks about the number of times the minister called at the Kochtitzky residence in the absence of Mr. Kochtitzky.

The trial was held with open doors and there was always a crowd of spectators present to hear the proceedings, which the Carl Junction Standard characterizes as at all times interesting and at intervals rather sensational.

A large number of witnesses were examined and at the conclusion of the trial the referees sustained the charges of slander by a vote of two to one. Mrs. Coons has appealed to the presbytery and the case will come up at Joplin this week.


Today's Feature

Fair Acres Family YMCA Celebrates Kids Day.

The Fair Acres Family YMCA invites the Carthage community to participate in YMCA Healthy KidsŪ Day, on Saturday, April 18. The nation’s largest health day for children and families, YMCA Healthy Kids Day includes fun, engaging and creative activities for children and families and promotes year-long wellness and healthy living. YMCA Healthy Kids Day events are free and open to all.

"As families struggle to balance life’s daily demands and persevere during an economic downturn, it is important that we reach beyond our YMCA facility to the entire community," says Dana Redburn, Membership and Fitness Director. "In Carthage, we’ve been doing this with the annual YMCA Healthy Kids Day event for more than 5 years. Through this event, the Fair Acres Family YMCA and our partners have given our neighbors the opportunity to take their minds off daily stresses, and instead have fun and focus on positive sustainable healthy lifestyle changes together, as a family."

This year, activities will include a kid’s health carnival, coloring contest, and healthy snacks.

YMCA Healthy Kids Day will be celebrated across the country at more than 1,700 YMCAs. Last year, more than 700,000 attendees participated in YMCA Healthy Kids Day events nationwide. This year’s activities vary and may include exercise demonstrations, family fitness activities, health screenings, educational fun projects,nutritious food demonstrations and more. Educational take-home materials for parents will also be provided by community organizations that serve children. In addition,YMCA Healthy Kids Day is supported by the following national donors: Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney, Eli Lilly and Company, Huggies Little Swimmers Brand, Northwestern Mutual Foundation and Tropicana.

YMCA Healthy Kids Day is also supported by the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. In addition, the Fair Acres Family YMCA is proud to host representatives from Parents as Teachers, McCune Brooks Hospital, Carthage Fire department, Carthage Ambulance, Jasper County Health Department, Jasper County Sheriff Department, Carthage Library, Safe Kids, Headstart, and the Carthage Police Department.

For more information about YMCA Healthy Kids Day, call Fair Acres FamilyYMCA at 358-1070.

Catch-22: Can AIG Repay Taxpayers?

by Sharona Coutts,

There’s a lot to be mad at AIG about: the retention bonuses to executives, the secretive payments to banks and other counterparties, the risk-taking that nearly sank the company in the first place.

But shouldn’t we relax? After all, isn’t AIG going to pay it all back in the end?

That’s the $180 billion question. AIG once said with certainty that the payback was no problem. Now, the company is hedging.

"We remain reasonably confident that we can repay what we have borrowed from the government," AIG spokeswoman Christina Pretto told ProPublica.

A growing chorus of analysts, experts and former AIG employees is questioning whether the government’s current plans to sell off AIG’s assets -- ranging from their profitable insurance subsidiaries to the art deco building near Wall Street -- will ever recoup the $49 billion in loans, and the other tens of billions of investments the public has poured into the hemorrhaging insurance company.

Perhaps the biggest problem: Potential buyers know AIG is in a corner, so they can play hardball.

"They are forced to sell assets but they are known to be a distressed seller, so it’s hard for them to get a good, or even a fair price," said Cliff Gallant, an analyst who covers AIG for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. "It’s definitely going to be difficult for them to get what they want, for the government to get the loan repaid."

Complicating things, Gallant said, is that AIG employees are leaving in large numbers, further devaluing the business. "People are the franchise," he said.

AIG nonetheless has managed to sell some subsidiaries. It’s off-loaded a small Canadian life insurance subsidiary, a bank and a larger specialty insurance company called Hartford Steam Boiler.

Analysts have criticized those sales -- which netted about $1.1 billion -- as bad deals for AIG and taxpayers. They were a "drop in the bucket," said Rob Haines at CreditSights, in an interview with UPI. Meanwhile, AIG has struggled to sell other, larger assets.

Despite flogging them for months, the company failed to find buyers for its flagship subsidiaries -- the American Life Insurance Company and the American International Assurance Company, which operate overseas. When AIG announced record-breaking losses in early March, it ditched plans to sell the pair and handed them both to the Federal Reserve in exchange for another $29 billion loan.

Pretto said "the reality of the market environment was the main driver" behind the revised plan.

AIG’s former CEO, Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, has condemned the current strategy. Greenberg was forced to resign in 2005 amid an investigation of accounting improprieties at AIG. He remains a major AIG shareholder and is involved in litigation with the company.

"Fire-sale prices will bring taxpayers, who now own almost 80 percent of AIG, only pennies on the dollar for their investment in AIG," Greenberg wrote in testimony last week to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "The largest asset sale to date [Hartford Steam Boiler] took place at a fraction of the asset’s purchase price and at a small multiple of book value."

Even in good economic times, selling AIG would be no easy task. Analysts say it is one of the world’s most complicated conglomerates, with more than 1,500 subsidiaries in more than 50 countries.

"There’s no company that compares to the size and complexity and spread of different businesses as this company," said Joyce Sharaf of the insurance company rating agency, A.M. Best Co.

AIG’s insurance subsidiaries are interconnected through an intricate web of agreements and guarantees that make them highly interdependent.

One of its largest property and casualty companies, National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, has "unconditionally and irrevocably" guaranteed to pump more than $17 billion into a dozen other AIG subsidiaries all over the world, if they need the money. Another U.S. subsidiary, the American Home Assurance Company, has promised up to $120 billion to other subsidiaries, according to company filings with state regulators.

AIG says it’s trying to unwind some of the guarantees, which some analysts have criticized in past assessments of the company.

"The U.S. property and casualty companies guarantee the life operations," wrote three Deutsche Bank analysts in a controversial 2005 report that led them to downgrade their rating of AIG. "We are not sure how much sense that makes."

Not only do AIG’s subsidiaries swap capital guarantees, but the parent company also guarantees a large number of the subsidiaries. Rating agencies cited AIG corporate’s guarantees as a key factor in the subsidiaries’ AAA credit ratings. But the Deutsche Bank analysts called that "circular thinking."

"AIG, the parent, is just a holding company and its strength and only source of cash flow to bondholders and shareholders comes from its subsidiaries," they wrote. Viewed on their own, few of the subsidiaries deserved their high ratings, according to Deutsche Bank, which no longer covers AIG. "We know that the domestic life operations ... were not AAA rated before their acquisition by AIG," the analysts wrote. Nor were several other large non-insurance companies, like the aircraft lending business for which AIG is reportedly seeking $5 billion from the Federal Reserve.

Now, taxpayers effectively have taken over those guarantees. If the government withdraws that support, it could jeopardize the ratings of many of those subsidiaries, according to Sharaf of A.M. Best.

"Government support is absolutely critical to the ratings," she said.

In other words, AIG is caught in a Catch-22. Breaking up the company requires undoing the guarantees. But undoing the guarantees risks reducing the value of the companies and makes it less likely that AIG will be able to repay the taxpayer.

Former CEO Greenberg has made the same point.

"In my judgment, the current plan will not pay the taxpayer back," he told the House panel this month. "The primary objective should be to create conditions that allow AIG to repay the taxpayer of course, and rebuilding AIG is the best way of doing that."


ART NOTES from Hyde House

by Sally Armstrong, Director of artCentral

Time is passing quickly, and we will soon be removing the current exhibition of floral photography by Joplin photographer Mary Ann Soerries and replacing it with a brand new artist! Last year we enjoyed very much having three new, young art instructors participate at our kid’s artCamp. Among those was Martha Goldman, currently of Joplin.

We will be featuring Martha’s unusual multi-media work in May, in a show entitled

"An American Fairytale". Martha tells us that most of her subject matter is linked with personal life experiences growing up in the fuzzy, pastel world of suburban Kansas City in the 1980s. Nurtured in those surroundings of manicured lawns, with her large family of "plush friends", she often draws inspiration from those long ago days. Into her art, she incorporates the knowledge and practice gained from the University of Kansas, where Martha obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting in 2004. While in Kansas, she participated in group shows, including the KU Scholarship Show. For the last few years she has been working as a substitute teacher in the Joplin school system, in addition to working on her art. She has her multi-media art displayed in several local galleries and enjoyed a show in Springfield last year at the "Good Girl Gallery" in the downtown arts district. Martha contributed work last year in the Annual Membership Show here at artCentral, and we are looking forward to featuring her unusual pieces once again. Next week I will tell you more about her style and specific pieces. Meantime, come and see us this Easter weekend, Friday or Saturday, the last days of our current show. I will be moving a group of Mary Ann Soerries’ work to the Atrium Gallery next week, so they may be enjoyed there as well.

Just Jake Talkin'


There are moments in time when an asset can quickly become a liability.

I can remember the adventure of bein’ able to ride my bicycle out in country as a kid. Part of the fun was seein’ how many miles could be traveled in an afternoon. On one of those five mile or so trips, a tire went flat. Then I realized both tires were flat. All the sudden that wonderful machine became a real burden. Thinkin’ I couldn’t show up at home without the bike, and knowin’ I couldn’t ride on a the flat, I pushed.

Now walkin’ a bike on pavement with the tires inflated is fairly effortless, but pushin’ two flats on a gravel country road becomes quite a chore after a couple a miles. From that day forward, I’ve learned to carry patches and an air pump.

This is some fact, but mostly,

Just Jake Talkin’.

Sponsored by Robinson Family Health Center

Journey Along the Wellness Path

Sponsored by Robinson Family Health Center

How well do you interact with people? Are you comfortable in new social situations? Are you able to maintain long-term friendships? As we live holistically we simply can not ignore the way in which we interact with those around us. Authentic relationships require honesty and genuineness. Practicing the art of assertiveness can help us along our wellness path in many ways. Assertiveness does not mean we will be rude or bossy. It does mean we honestly state our individual needs while caring about the needs of another. Learning to be assertive actually reduces aggressive behaviors. A genuinely assertive person is respectful of others.

Being authentic improves communication. Deliberately considering options to behave respectively towards yourself and others will avoid resorting to games or manipulation. Assertive behavior is built on the principles of truth and honesty.

Passive behavior is on the unhealthy side of the spectrum. The word passive was derived from a Latin word meaning "to suffer". This is an accurate description of the results of passive behavior. Choosing the passive response usually results in us simply trying to gain unhealthy acceptance of others and putting ourselves into tasks that may bind us up so we don’t have time or energy to do the tasks we truly are gifted to do. Some have labeled this unhealthy position as co-dependency which always has unhealthy consequences.

Learning to walk in wholeness in our relationships is more often than not a process. The goal of developing your self-awareness begins with making choices consciously and deliberately and learning from past mistakes. Keep walking the path one step at a time.

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