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Annual disabled hunters deer hunt at Rend Lake

Hunters from around the region have gathered for 38 years for a shot at outdoor glory thanks to the efforts of the Sesser-Valier Outdoorsmen Club and the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Dale Miller, then of the Corps, and Gene Morgan, then-director of the Outdoorsmen Club, teamed up to start the long-standing tradition of hosting a hunt for handicapped hunters. 

An average of around 30 hunters per year attend the hunt, which includes a Thursday banquet before the Friday main event. Local students serve as waiters at the banquet, go home to catch a few winks and then prepare for the hunters starting early the next morning, a routine that includes checking shells, permits and radios, as well as helping to serve breakfast prepared by the Outdoorsmen Club's alumni. 

The assembled hunters then travel to the blinds, where students aid them in any preparation that they need to undergo for the hunt. Some students stay with hunters throughout the day, while others remain on call for food, drink, or help in tracking and even field-dressing any kills. 

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women.

Maybe he could, but not everyone can.

The candidate who openly bragged about grabbing women's private parts — but denied he really did so — was elected president months before the cascading sexual harassment allegations that have been toppling the careers of powerful men in Hollywood, business, the media and politics. He won even though more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct, and roughly half of all voters said they were bothered by his treatment of women, according to exit polls.

Now, as one prominent figure after another takes a dive, the question remains: Why not Trump?

"A lot of people who voted for him recognized that he was what he was, but wanted a change and so they were willing to go along," theorizes Jessica Leeds, one of the first women to step forward and accuse Trump of groping her, decades ago on an airplane.

The charges leveled against him emerged in the supercharged thick of the 2016 campaign, when there was so much noise and chaos that they were just another episode for gobsmacked voters to try to absorb — or tune out. "When you have a Mount Everest of allegations, any particular allegation is very hard to get traction on," says political psychologist Stanley Renshon.

And Trump's unconventional candidacy created an entirely different set of rules.

"Trump is immune to the laws of political physics because it's not his job to be a politician, it's his job to burn down the system," says Eric Dezenhall, a crisis management expert in Washington.

Now Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, accused of assaulting teenage girls when he was in his 30s, is waving that same alternative rulebook.

Long a bane to establishment Republicans, Moore is thumbing his nose at calls by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP members of Congress to drop out of the campaign, and accusing them of trying to "steal" the race from his loyal insurgents.

As for Trump, the president who rarely sits out a feeding frenzy is selectively aiming his Twitter guns at those under scrutiny.

He quickly unloaded on Democrat Al Franken after the Minnesota senator was accused Thursday of forcibly kissing and groping a Fox TV sports correspondent, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, during a 2006 USO tour.

Yet Trump has been largely mum as Washington Republicans try to figure out what to do about Moore. McConnell and company have zero interest in welcoming an accused child molester to their ranks nor in seeing their slim 52-48 Senate majority grow even thinner should Moore lose to Democrat Doug Jones in a special election Dec. 12.

Trump did support moves by the national Republican Party to cut off money for Moore. But he hasn't said whether he still backs Moore's candidacy.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, pressed repeatedly on the matter this week, would say only that Trump "thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be."

As for the allegations against Moore, Sanders said Trump finds them "very troubling."

As for Franken, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that Trump had merely "weighed in as he does on the news of the day" when jabbing at the senator.

But Trump's broadsides at Franken served as an open invitation for critics to revisit his own history of alleged sexual misconduct.

Leeds, for her part, called the president "the walking definition of hypocrisy."

Look no further than the bipartisan howl that greeted Ivanka Trump's statement this week about Moore for a demonstration of the perilous crosscurrents around Trump on the issue.

"There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children," Trump's daughter told the AP, adding that she had "no reason to doubt the victims' accounts." She did not call for Moore to leave the race.

Liberals and conservatives both pounced. Those on the left noted she had waited a week to chime in and had never given similar credence to the claims of her father's accusers. Some on the right faulted her for buying into unproven accusations.

Liberal movie director Rob Reiner tweeted: "Ivanka believes Roy Moore's accusers. But the more than 12 women who accuse her father of sexual abuse are all liars. The difference is? ..."

The sexual assault drama is playing out as a painful sequel for Leeds and other women who came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign to accuse Trump of harassment and more — only to see him elected president anyway.

"My pain is everyday," Jill Harth, a former business associate who claimed Trump put his hands under her dress during a business dinner in 1992, tweeted in October. "No one gets it unless it happens to them. NO one!"

It's the same for those who accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, their charges once written off as "bimbo eruptions."

"I am now never goes away," nurse Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Clinton of raping her in 1978, tweeted Friday.

Even in the current charged environment, when every new allegation can produce screaming headlines, Trump may well be able to go his own way — and take a hands-off approach to Moore.

"Trump's base likes him when he's gratuitously ornery: Insulting war heroes, Gold Star families and the disabled have all been good for him, so what does he gain by strongly opining on Moore?" asks Dezenhall. "Nothing that I can see, so as a guideline, he doesn't need to do all that much."

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SIU Cheerleader Protest
Change in procedure keeps SIU cheerleaders off field, court during national anthem

CARBONDALE — Weeks after three Southern Illinois University cheerleaders made headlines for taking a knee during the national anthem, a change to pregame protocol has removed them from the field.

Alaysia Brandy, Ariahn Hunt and Czarina Tinker first began kneeling in protest of police brutality at a Sept. 30 SIU vs. University of Northern Iowa game in Saluki Stadium.

SIU Director of Athletics Tommy Bell said cheerleaders will now be stationed at the entrances to athletic facilities.

“Our spirit team members, which includes cheer, dance and mascots, will be stationed at the entrances to our facilities, where they will greet and welcome customers to our events. They will also thank fans for attending the games at the exits afterward,” Bell said in an email Friday evening.

Bell did not say the change was made in response to the cheerleaders’ protest, which sparked a backlash — Brandy, Hunt and Tinker received “death threats and sexual assault threats” over social media.

“Our spirit teams have greeted customers at the entrances in the past, so this is not a new procedure for Athletics. In fact, we had a consultant review our game operations last year, and one of his recommendations was to make arriving to a game an event in and of itself,” Bell said.

The three cheerleaders, all sophomores, said in a phone interview that they were not aware of the change to pregame ceremonies when they missed the national anthem for the first time at a volleyball game three weeks ago.

“We were taking longer than normal to get out on the court, and when we thought we were going to be doing the national anthem, the game started,” Hunt said.

Puzzled, they asked their coach about the change, and they were told to “focus on greeting fans and pumping up the team before the game,” Hunt said.

According to Hunt, Tinker and Brandy, however, there aren’t any fans around to greet outside the stadium while the national anthem is playing before football games. They said they have been stationed under the stands at basketball games and in a separate room next to the court at volleyball games.

“For football, we’re already there three hours before the game. We’re down there in Saluki Row, we’re cheering the whole time, meeting with people, taking pictures, so how much more do we need to pump up our fans? And even for basketball, we’re not even doing anything; we’re literally just standing behind the wall. So they’re doing this just to silence us,” Hunt said.

Brandy said the change was “discrimination and targeting.”

“… The university went about it trying to keep it a secret from us, because they knew there would be an uproar because this is against our constitutional right to protest,” Brandy said.

Taking a knee during the national anthem at sports games became a form of political protest against systemic racism and police brutality after Colin Kaepernick, then-quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, took up the practice in 2016.

Even though they’re no longer in plain view of fans during the anthem, Brandy, Hunt and Tinker have continued to kneel.

“I still take a knee because my cause still matters to me. Just because they try to silence me does not mean I have to stop what I’m doing,” Tinker said.

“Everybody seems so patriotic in the sense that they’re representing their flag and the national anthem, but (they) can’t respect our constitutional right to peacefully protest, which is all we’ve been doing,” Hunt said.