2/19 RSSMix.com Mix ID 1811852

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CBA update: Owners, players sit down in same room. That's about it.
February 19, 2011 at 12:51 PM
 
This was the one bit of good news — for the first time in two-and-a-half months the owners and players sat down in the same room and talked about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Words like "amicable" and "thawed" were thrown around by Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (the union)…
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Rookies defeat sophomores, Wall given MVP
February 19, 2011 at 12:17 PM
 
The first half of the 2011 Rookie/Sophomore challenge only vaguely resembled basketball. None of the players on either side of the court even pretended to play defense, and stood under the basket and watch their opponents launch threes. Fast-break dunks after made baskets were common. Alley-oops were being thrown down every minute or so. In…
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Report: Knicks make formal offer for Carmelo Anthony, too
February 19, 2011 at 11:46 AM
 
The Nets and Denver reportedly have a deal in place for Carmelo Anthony, if he approves it. Now the Knicks have apparently put their offer on the table. According to Mark Spears of Yahoo (via twitter) the Knicks have offered Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Eddy Curry's expiring contract (and Curry too, we suppose)…
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Video: Blake Griffin hits his head on the backboard
February 19, 2011 at 8:15 AM
 
It’s good to know that the superstar athletes of the NBA struggle with the same issues you and I do playing the game. Some nights the shots just don’t fall. Some nights it’s hard to stop the guy you are guarding. Some days you go up to dunk hit your head on the backboard. You…
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Spurs dismiss hot start as meaningless if they go cold now
February 19, 2011 at 7:26 AM
 
Gregg Popovich admitted he holds his breath every time Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili step off a curb. Things have gone about as well as the Spurs could hope for this season — including them having the same starting five for 55 of the 56 games. They have won 46 of those and looked every…
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Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin make Hall of Fame final ballot
February 19, 2011 at 6:30 AM
 
We complained that Reggie Miller was not on the list — have a discussion if he should be in the Naismith Hall of Fame if you want, he was a bit one-dimensional, but not to be on the final ballot is a travesty — still that should not taking away from the people that make…
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Hickman's Cox continues run to 215-pound Class 4 state title, teammate Owens falls in semifinal
February 19, 2011 at 6:16 AM
 

COLUMBIA — Nothing is certain for the Class 4 state wrestling championships on Saturday, but Hickman’s 189-pound Will Owens is sure of one thing: Assistant coach Ben Smith owes him a steak dinner.

Smith said that if Owens could get a pin during state competition on Friday he would take him out and buy him a nice, juicy steak. But Smith doesn't have the face of a man who lost a bet; his grin indicates he's pleased by Owens’ performance. Smith said it was a bet that he hoped he would lose.

Despite the pin, Owens could not escape a loss of his own as Jefferson City senior Jared Johnson eliminated him on a fall on Friday.

Owens’ teammate, 215-pound sophomore J’den Cox, kept his state championship hopes alive with a razor thin 2-1 decision win over DeSmet’s Jacob Matyiko.

Cox and Owens, sparring partners in practice, have pushed each other to become better wrestlers and have enjoyed success at the state level because of it.

“We go hard in practice, we get really intense,” Cox said with a grin. “The snaps are a little harder, the slams are a little harder. One of our coaches once said that sometimes it’s good to throw punches in practice.”

The intensity has led to some scarring. Cox said that he had given Owens a dent on the top of his forehead from a practice session earlier this season. When it’s inferred that he has scarred Owens for life, Cox puts out his own arm in defense.

“Look what he did to me!” Cox said.

Cox’s arms are full of tiny scars and scratches, and many of which Owens seems to be the culprit. But the competition between the two is what drives them to succeed.

“In practice, J’den and me go hard,” Owens said. “He gets me down, I get him down. Getting him down gives me confidence because, hey, if I can take him down I can take anyone down.”

Coach J.D. Coffman has seen the two wrestle together and knows first hand how intense they can be. Coffman encourages the two to wrestle that way, so long as it’s not to the point of anything beyond wrestling. J’den, meanwhile, seems to embrace his role as team captain, and Coffman has noticed his teammates have, as well.

“J’den definitely raises the bar for the rest of the team,” Coffman said. “The work ethic these guys have of trying to become a qualifier, to medal, or becoming a state champion is a big reason they’re here.”

Coffman said Cox's semifinal match on Friday was the closest match of the season for him so far, and it even left him stumbling off the mat after his hand was raised. He sat down and received the trainer's attention while icing his forehead.

“He got knocked on the head and poked in the eye,” Coffman said. “But he’ll be all right for tomorrow.”

Cox faces Benjamin Poeschl of Lee’s Summit West on Saturday. Poeschl is also undefeated for the season, setting up an interesting match between unbeaten opponents for this year’s 215-pound final. 

   
   
'Melo says nothing yet, but he hopes to have offer this weekend
February 19, 2011 at 5:45 AM
 
Carmelo Anthony spoke to the media for 20 minutes on Friday afternoon and was able to sound like an innocent bystander in his own trade drama. "I don’t know/out of my control," was his mantra as he said nothing was in place. No meetings are set with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov or Knicks owner James…
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Rock Bridge freshman Crane continues bid for Class 4 125-pound state title
February 19, 2011 at 5:17 AM
 

COLUMBIA— A blank stare adorned the face of Rock Bridge’s Sam Crane as he stood in the tunnel in Mizzou Arena and awaited his match on Friday.

The 125-pound Crane breathed deeply and exhaled.

"I'm pretty nervous before I go out," he said.

His actions betray his words: Crane's outward appearance shows more the stare of a seasoned pro rather than nervous freshman. 

He paced about the tunnel, listening as his coaches give him final pieces of advice and encouragement before his match.

On the mat, Crane is home. He creates takedowns quickly, strings together fakes and bumps. Even on the bottom, Crane is comfortable, exploding out of his position to bring the match back to the feet.

In the semi-finals of the 2011 Class 4 MSHSAA Wrestling Championship, the freshman Crane won a 12-2 majority decision against Lindbergh junior Tom Korenak, putting him in position to take home a state championship.

Aside from a third round reversal by Korenak, who sported a face guard during the semi-final matchup, Crane was completely in control of the match.

“(The mask) was intimidating at first,” Crane said. “But after a bit I just kind of ignored it and wrestled my match.”

At the end of the match, Crane is profusely sweating, shaking and slurring words in the depths of Mizzou Arena. The win is intoxicating, and it takes a moment or two for Crane to regain complete composure. But through it all, a big smile remains on his face.

"I'm feeling really good," he said. "Glad to have made it to the finals."

Crane now has the chance to become only the seventh freshman to win state in Class 4 competition. Rock Bridge coach Travis Craig said that while Crane and fellow freshman Quinn Smith, a 103-pounder who lost a 14-2 majority decision on Thursday, are incredibly talented, they are a rarity.

"We still need to develop as a team in the off-season," Craig said. "I talk to and teach Sam much differently than I might other wrestlers."

Craig has helped keep Crane relaxed during his first state tournament; Crane said his coaches joke with him to keep him calm. While his young wrestlers are still overcoming their nerves, Craig said he isn’t worrying anymore. 

“I was much more stressed at districts to be honest,” Craig said. “After districts, there is not much for me to tell these guys except go out and do what you’ve done all year.”

Sam Crane is not the only Crane to place at state. Taylor Crane, his older brother, was a three-time state placer at Rock Bridge. Sam Crane, though, is quick to point out that his older brother did not place in his freshman year, like he is poised to do. Sam Crane admits to rubbing it in his brother’s face occasionally, but not too often.

“He helps me out,” Sam Crane said of his brother. “He’s taught me a lot, and (getting to the finals) was our goal this season.”

Sam Crane (45-2) faces No. 1 125-pound wrestler in Class 4, Park Hill senior Bricker Dixon (49-3) on Saturday.

   
   
Soni, Hardy dominate 100 breast stroke in Missouri Grand Prix
February 19, 2011 at 5:07 AM
 

COLUMBIA — Jessica Hardy holds the world record in the 100 meter breaststroke with a 1:04.05 at the 2009 U.S. Open National Championships. Her teammate, Rebecca Soni, won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the 200 meter breaststroke.

"We're very good friends outside of the water, but we're also very strong competitors, and when we're in the water we really want to win," Hardy said.

On Friday at the Missouri Grand Prix, Soni got the best of Hardy and set a meet record with 1:05.89 in the 100 meter breaststroke. Hardy took home silver with 1:07.22.

"I don't really worry about anyone else, but she's inspiring when she pops out 1:05s, you know, its inspiring to help push myself in practice," Hardy said of Soni.

Although they push each other to succeed, the swimmers said they do not often practice together because their styles are so different: Soni's success is built on endurance while Hardy's is built on sprinting.

In fact, Hardy said she was happy with the way she swam because she can "count on her fingers" the number of times she has swam breaststroke since she set the world record in August 2009. 

She is now focusing most of her practice on becoming a better sprint freestyle swimmer.

"Breaststroke is more of a technique stroke that I can pull together just before the 2012 Olympics," Hardy said. "Freestyle is a fun new challenge that I've really been enjoying working on."

Soni is optimistic about her teammate's future as a sprinter.

"She's got a lot of fire in her, so I'm sure great things are coming," Soni said. "And seeing her train every day, I know it for sure."

Both swimmers will have more chances to see where they stand this weekend. Hardy will compete in the 50 meter freestyle on Saturday and the 100 meter freestyle on Sunday. Soni will compete in the 200 meter breaststroke on Saturday and the 200 meter individual medley on Sunday.

   
   
Boone County Fire Protection District works to update policies
February 19, 2011 at 4:32 AM
 

COLUMBIA — Fourth-graders in 2011 require much different skills to survive than those in 1993.

At least, that's what the Boone County Fire Protection District is realizing as it updates its out-of-date policies.

Gale Blomenkamp, director of the Fire District's life safety bureau, has begun to rewrite and update the Survival Kids lesson plans. Survival Kids is a program that teaches fourth-grade students safety precautions. 

"Personal safety in 1992 and 1993 for a fourth-grader is a lot different than for a fourth-grader now," Blomenkamp said. "What we're trying to teach kids is how to recognize dangerous situations and what to do to avoid those situations." 

A policy committee, headed by Fire District board member Shelley Dometrorch and made up of the executive staff and bureau directors, began the process of updating the policies after Scott Olsen became chief of the Fire District.

"We took a very in-depth look at the Fire District after I became fire chief to see what things we needed to do to essentially make sure that we were doing things correctly, and one of the things that we were weak on was actual written policies that were approved by the board of directors," Olsen said. 

The committee has been modifying or rewriting old policies and will create some new standards from scratch. The committee started by examining personnel policies to address issues such as sick leave, vacation time and conflicts of interest. 

The Fire District is also working on improving operational policies for each bureau. The district has six bureaus: training, special operations, field operations, life safety, support services and administrative services. 

"Each bureau has certain responsibilities, so we're looking at all the policies for those bureaus, and then of course operation policies for essentially how we do business from a fire rescue, EMS and hazardous materials point of view," Olsen said.

To begin the rewriting process, each bureau director is evaluating their policies and proposing modifications or additions for the board to vote on. 

Olsen believes the policies will give the Fire District much-needed guidance.

"It will let everyone know kind of what our basic rules and regulations are and how we do business, whether it's administratively or operationally," he said.

   
   
The Great Backyard Bird Count begins
February 19, 2011 at 4:07 AM
 

COLUMBIA — The Great Backyard Bird Count kicked off on Friday and will continue around the country through Monday.

The four-day event is held annually, often in February. All you have to do to participate is count the birds in your backyard and mark down how many you find of each kind. The GBBC website has a list of the different birds in each region of the country to help people recognize them, as well as the necessary checklists to participate.

The purpose of the event is to collect data nationwide on different species of birds. The data from over the years is compiled and posted on the website.

Although the GBBC is once a year, bird-watching is a common Columbia pastime. The Columbia Audubon Society started in 1958 and has been a presence in the local bird-watching scene since. Howard Hinkel, president of the Columbia Audubon Society, said bird-watching is "pretty popular nationwide and even worldwide."

Columbia businesses such as Songbird Station and Better Bird Watching have been trying to promote the GBBC. Songbird Station offers free information in the store on how to participate, including bird guides for Columbia.

Joe LaFleur, who owns Better Bird Watching, supports GBBC because "it helps to promote an interest in bird watching," which is the reason he started his business. LaFleur makes DVDs about bird-watching that are sold nationwide.

Recommended bird-watching sites in the area include Grindstone Nature Area, Eagle Bluff Conservation Area, Forum Nature Area, Rock Bridge State Park and, of course, your backyard.

Hinkel said birds are "more active and visible in the morning hours, say dawn to noon and the late afternoon hours."

Mel Toellner, owner of Songbird Station, recommends "nature-scaping" as a way to attract birds to your house. Birds that don't eat out of bird feeders will sometimes respond to plants or bird houses.

The most effective way to attract a lot of birds is to put in a bird bath with heated running water, Toellner said. They will be more attracted to water that is moving, even if it's only a little bit. Toellner makes online videos with little tips about bird-watching.

Toellner's most important advice to potential bird-watchers is to be patient. Stay in one spot for five minutes, he advised.

"It will amaze you what you will see in those five minutes," he said.

   
   
Anthony apparently has no plan to meet with Nets owner
February 19, 2011 at 4:00 AM
 
Just in case you hadn’t had enough fun with the latest surge of Carmelo Anthony trade rumors (that may or may not be exactly the same in status as the rumors which circulated some six months ago), here’s a fun bit: Anthony apparently has no knowledge at all of the reported meeting he’s supposed to…
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Rio Grande Valley Vipers sign former Duke guard Jon Scheyer
February 19, 2011 at 3:43 AM
 
Jon Scheyer was never a surefire NBA player to begin with, a point made crystal clear when he went undrafted last summer. That said, Scheyer still seemed like an interesting prospect, even if he’s fairly limited in terms of athleticism. As a tall combo guard who can initiate offense and his outside shots consistently, Scheyer…
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Missouri women's basketball looks for consistency at Allen Fieldhouse
February 19, 2011 at 1:55 AM
 

The Missouri women's basketball team has exceeded expectations this season. At the start of Big 12 play, the Tigers were projected to finish in one of the last two spots. At 4-7 in Big 12 play, a win at Kansas on Saturday could propel them into sixth place.

"At this point, we're in the back end of the stretch," Missouri guard RaeShara Brown said. "You either make a run now, or you lay down and take it."

With five games left on the regular season schedule, coach Robin Pingeton's team still has a chance to finish second in the conference.

"We have no room for error," Pingeton said. "Everything's got to align for us to have a chance for us to succeed."

But conference road wins for the Tigers come few and far between. They have not won a Big 12 road game in two seasons. They have not won at Allen Fieldhouse in four years.

But an overtime, double-digit comeback win against Oklahoma State on Wednesday could give Missouri the momentum it needs to leave Lawrence, Kan., with a win, though.

"It took a lot of drama to get to the point to where they really responded," Pingeton said. "We're just really striving towards that consistency. We're not going to be perfect from here. It is what it is."

Missouri defeated Kansas soundly at Mizzou Arena three weeks ago. The Tigers carried a 30-27 lead into halftime and never looked back, winning 63-47. Missouri has a 2-3 record since the Border Showdown in Columbia, but has new inspiration after the recent win.

 "There was a moment there when we came together. We talk time and time again about how much we love this coaching staff," Brown said. "It gives you goose bumps."

"The energy in the locker room and the overwhelming emotions. It's something that can't be put into words. You enjoy it, and you just realize how hard you work and how much it can pay off if you give it that effort consistently."

Missouri will need a consistent effort to stave off the dual-forward threat that Kansas poses. Sophomore Carolyn Davis averages more than 18 points and seven rebounds per game, while Monica Engelman adds 12 points per game to the attack.

In the Tigers' win over the Jayhawks, forwards Shakara Jones and Christine Flores held Engelman to just five points on 1-7 shooting. Davis neared her season average, leading the Jayhawks with 17.

"We had worked too hard to let another team slide from us," Flores said. "We are not going to have any regrets anymore."

Meanwhile, Brown will have her hands full with Jayhawk guard Aishah Sutherland. Both players lead their teams in rebounding.

"In our minds, we want it more than them, and that's how we have to go play," Brown said. "We have to go and will the game for us. It's those games that can turn seasons."

   
   
Report: Celtics, Bulls both want Cavaliers' Anthony Parker
February 19, 2011 at 1:43 AM
 
If you're Anthony Parker, you're packing your bags with a smile on your face today. Because no matter how this goes down, you're about to head from the worst team in the NBA to a contender. Both the Celtics and Cavaliers are interested in picking up Parker, according to Marc Stein of ESPN: The Celts,…
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Your All-Star weekend schedule
February 19, 2011 at 1:15 AM
 
It was so nice of David Stern and the NBA to bring the All-Star Game to the home city of PBT (myself and John Krolik both live here). That way we still have to deal with family and other responsibilities in addition to work. No trip out of town for us. No working vacation. Nope,…
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Nuggets and Nets reportedly agree on deal, leaving Anthony to determine his own fate
February 19, 2011 at 1:01 AM
 
At long last, a deal is reportedly in place which would make Carmelo Anthony a Net…if he so chooses. According to Fred Kerber of the New York Post, New Jersey and Denver have agreed to terms on a deal that would bring the Anthony trade saga to its overdue conclusion. However, as has been the…
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Stephens College Children's School to celebrate 85th anniversary
February 19, 2011 at 12:56 AM
 

COLUMBIA — Stephens College Children’s School will celebrate its 85th anniversary on Thursday.

A general open house will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Stephens College Children's School, 1400 Windsor St.

According to Director Leslie Willey, the celebration will feature displays about the history of the school created by the current students.

"The children also have put together a PowerPoint presentation," Willey said. "It's more about what’s happened at the school today."

The Stephens College Children's School was started as an experimental nursery school group 85 years ago. In addition to educating children of professors and certified teachers, it provides an educational environment for college students.

It moved to the current location Audrey Webb Child Study Center in 1970.  

The Stephens College Children's School offers preschool and elementary school programs, and currently enrolls  about 100 students. They are grouped by ability rather than age.

The celebration is free and open to public.

   
   
Thriving romance novel industry pulls in MU alumna and writer
February 19, 2011 at 12:51 AM
 

COLUMBIA — The first thing Susan Claridge ever wrote was a poem after the death of her grandmother. The process of writing provided a way for her to vent her emotions.  

"Since then I've always written, it's been my outlet," Claridge said. "I just never tried to get published or thought of myself as a writer."

Claridge, who graduated from MU in 1992 with a degree in psychology, now writes romance murder-suspense novels under the name S.R. Claridge. She was visiting Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis this week to sign copies of her first novel, "No Easy Way," published by Vanilla Heart Publishing.

Claridge, who sprinkles MU references into her writing, spent some time over the noon hour at Broadway Brewery on Friday. She signed her way through a couple of stacks of books, selling 20 to 25 books. It was more a chance to have lunch with her husband, mother-in-law and friends.

Claridge is a new player in the booming romance genre that has many American readers smitten. The genre made up the largest share of the consumer market and generated $1.36 billion in 2009, according to Romance Writers of America. Claridge said part of the reason behind the romance genre's popularity is because there is a part of everyone that longs for romance.

"I think relationships in general, that's the main focus of everyone's life," Claridge said. "We're all seeking love, romance and attention. Particularly with our target audience, the married women in their 30s, 40s and 50s, a lot of that romance may have fizzled a bit. There's a deeper foundation of love, but that outward display of romance isn't as prevalent."

Claridge said "No Easy Way" started out as a nonfiction book on marriage before she had the idea to make it more interesting by drawing the same themes into a murder mystery.

"What sets it apart from other murder mysteries is it has an underlying message which most mysteries don't," Claridge said. "This is kind of an oddball book that has a message of faith and forgiveness woven through it."

Her mother-in-law, Beth Claridge-Gillespie of Kansas City, read manuscripts along the way, making edits and suggestions. Although Claridge-Gillespie does not consider herself a romance novel fan, she likes her daughter-in-law's first book and said the genre provides a way for people "to be taken away from the humdrum of their lives and to be whisked off into somebody else’s world."

"I think most romance novels have a happy ending," Claridge-Gillespie said. "That's the ultimate: We all want a happy ending in our life."

Two of Claridge's editors are men, which she said gives her a good male perspective. Her husband, Cash Claridge, said despite the romantic theme, men shouldn't be turned off, especially with her second novel, "Tetterbaum's Truth," which centers around the Chicago mafia.

"I've had many guys tell me how good it was," Cash Claridge said. "The mafia always gets guys."

Claridge, who now lives in Colorado, has included MU and Columbia in her two novels. In "No Easy Way," the main characters, Tom and Kate, are both MU graduates and have an encounter at Murray's Restaurant, where Claridge and her husband got engaged. In "Tetterbaum's Truth," out on e-book and set to be released in March, the main character is an MU journalism student and there is a reference to Shakespeare's.

“It's something I have an affinity to and can relate to," Claridge said. "It just gives one more layer of depth to the story for me."

   
   
Thriving romance novel industry pulls in MU alum and writer
February 19, 2011 at 12:51 AM
 

COLUMBIA — The first thing Susan Claridge ever wrote was a poem after the death of her grandmother. The process of writing provided a way for her to vent and release her emotions.  

"Since then I've always written, it's been my outlet," Claridge said. "I just never tried to get published or thought of myself as a writer."

Claridge, who graduated from MU in 1992 with a degree in psychology, now writes romance murder-suspense novels under the name S.R. Claridge. She was visiting Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis this week to sign copies of her first novel, "No Easy Way," published by Vanilla Heart Publishing.

Claridge, who sprinkles MU references in her writing, spent some time over the noon hour at Broadway Brewery on Friday. She signed her way through a couple of stacks of books, selling 20-25 books. It was more a chance to have lunch with her husband, mother-in-law and friends.

Claridge is a new player in the booming romance genre that has many American readers smitten. The genre made up the largest share of the consumer market and generated $1.36 billion in 2009, according to Romance Writers of America. Claridge said part of the reason behind the romance genre's popularity is because there is a part of everyone that longs for romance.

"I think relationships in general, that's the main focus of everyone's life," Claridge said. "We're all seeking love, romance and attention. Particularly with our target audience, the married women in their 30s, 40s and 50s, a lot of that romance may have fizzled a bit. There's a deeper foundation of love, but that outward display of romance isn't as prevalent."

Claridge said "No Easy Way" started out as a nonfiction book on marriage before she had the idea to make it more interesting by drawing the same themes into a murder mystery.

"What sets it apart from other murder mysteries is it has an underlying message which most mysteries don't," Claridge said. "This is kind of an oddball book that has a message of faith and forgiveness woven through it."

Her mother-in-law, Beth Claridge-Gillespie of Kansas City, read manuscripts along the way, making edits and suggestions. Although Claridge-Gillespie does not consider herself a romance novel fan, she likes her daughter-in-law's first book and said the genre provides a way for people "to be taken away from the humdrum of their lives and to be whisked off into somebody else’s world."

"I think most romance novels have a happy ending," Claridge-Gillespie said. "That's the ultimate: We all want a happy ending in our life."

Two of Claridge's editors are men, which she said gives her a good male perspective. Her husband, Cash Claridge, said despite the romantic theme, men shouldn't be turned off, especially with her second novel, "Tetterbaum's Truth," which centers around the Chicago mafia.

"I've had many guys tell me how good it was," Cash Claridge said. "The mafia always gets guys."

Claridge, who now lives in Colorado, has included MU and Columbia in her two novels. In "No Easy Way," the main characters, Tom and Kate, are both MU graduates and have an encounter at Murray's Restaurant, where Claridge and her husband got engaged. In "Tetterbaum's Truth," out on e-book and set to be released in March, the main character is an MU journalism student and there is a reference to Shakespeare's.

“It's something I have an affinity to and can relate to," Claridge said. "It just gives one more layer of depth to the story for me."

   
   
Bloomfield teen doesn't let deafness affect her cheering
February 19, 2011 at 12:31 AM
 

BLOOMFIELD — When the Bloomfield High School cheerleaders take to the gym floor to perform one of their crowd-pleasing dance routines, the dance is flawless. The girls move with exact precision as their dance music fills the gymnasium. Their movements are precise, the result of endless hours of rehearsing.

The team has won dozens of awards over the years for their precision and expertise. Their traditional purple and gold uniforms are identical from head to toe, and their similar hairstyles are held in place with their Bloomfield gold bows.

One of the cheerleaders is very different from her counterparts, though. Torrie Baker is deaf. When she takes to the floor, she hears almost nothing. And yet, she never misses a beat. She performs in perfect sync with the rest of the squad.

When the now 17-year-old high school junior was in middle school, she dreamed of one day being a Bloomfield cheerleader.

"She thought of nothing else," her mother, Lorrie Duckworth, said. "She wanted more than anything to be on the cheerleading squad."

When she was going into the seventh grade, Torrie tried out for the team but didn't make the cut. She was heartbroken but determined to try again for her eighth grade year.

"She worked so hard at making the squad, and her hard work paid off," her mother said. "She made the team."

But when Torrie entered high school, the competition was stiff. She failed to get a spot on the freshmen cheer team. Undaunted, when her sophomore year came, she tried once more, but it was not meant to be.

The triple defeat only served to make the junior try harder. Following her sophomore defeat, Torrie was on a mission. She attended every basketball game; and using her cell phone, she video recorded every move of every cheer and dance.

"She played those over and over and over," her mother said, "and then she'd practice the moves just as the girls had done them."

At the start of the current school year, Torrie once again appeared for tryouts. She went through the routines before the judges and held her breath, as did her parents. When the results were in, she had accomplished her goal. She made the squad.

Accomplishments for Torrie Baker have never come as easily as they have for most. She has succeeded with a seldom-seen determination anda lot of perseverance.

Torrie was the firstborn in her family of three children. It became evident when she was less than a year old that she was not progressing as her parents expected.

"We had her to doctor after doctor, and finally she was diagnosed with a syndrome called Floppy Muscle Disorder, which meant she did not sit up or crawl as quickly as other babies. She performed about two years behind most children."

Totally unrelated to the syndrome, doctors also realized Torrie had a hearing loss. Her speech had not progressed, and she was not responding appropriately to voice commands. It was discovered when she was about 2 years old that Torrie had no hearing at all in her right ear and less than 50-percent capacity on the left side.

"We were referred to two specialists in Cape," her mother said. "And Torrie was eventually fitted with a hearing aid for her left ear."

While the aid didn't bring Torrie's hearing level up to 100 percent, it did make a dramatic difference in her daily life. She began attending preschool in the Bloomfield system and working with Speech Therapist Tara Mouser. Certain letters were not clearly heard by Torrie, and it was evident in her speech pattern. Mouser worked with Torrie through her elementary career.

"As I watched Torrie dance with the cheerleaders at the Christmas Tournament," Mousersaid, "My mind went back to kindergarten when she struggled to even hear sounds. I shed a few proud tears. Torrie has always been very dear to my heart. I always held her to very high standards because I knew that one day she would be able to do whatever she set her mind to do."

Mouser credits Jason and Lorrie Duckworth for Torrie's perseverance. "Her mother always told me that 'can't' is not an option until she tries. She is what she is today because of her will to succeed but also because she had parents who never give up on her."

When she was 11 years old and in the fifth grade, the Duckworths made a decision that would forever change the life of their daughter.

They opted, with Torrie's approval, for a cochlear implant.

"It was a major decision," Torrie's stepfather said. "If the surgery does not work, the patient is not a candidate for any other surgery. That's one of the reasons that the implants are only performed on profoundly deaf patients where there is no other option."

A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hearing impaired. The implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is surgically placed under the skin. The implant has a microphone, a speech processor, a transmitter and an electrode array, which is a group of electrodes that collects the impulses from the stimulator and sends them to different regions of the auditory nerve.

The surgery was performed at Children's Hospital in St. Louis. Torrie remembers the day.

"It really hurt," she said of the recovery period. "They actually turned up the volume of the implant a little bit at a time until it was regulated so that it's not such a shock. I just remember everything seemed so loud."

The original implant is what will remain implanted under Torrie's scalp for the rest of her life. As improvements are made, the device that is worn around the back of her right ear is accommodated, not the device that was surgically placed under her scalp.

"I remember loving the sound of flip-flops," she smiles, and said in a distinct voice that barely reveals her impairment. "I had never heard them before. And I loved being able to hear my own voice in my head. It was summertime when I had the surgery and I was wearing flip-flops. I could hear my own footsteps, and I could hear my own voice for the first time ever and I loved it."

The adjustment to the hearing world was not an automatic or an easy one. Although she could now hear, the sounds were not the sounds to which the hearing world is accustomed.

"The sounds Torrie hears are more of a robotic tone," explains her mother. "It took a while to discern between my voice and the voice of her siblings — it's not the sound that we hear when we hear others speak, but she adjusted to it."

The device is a delicate one — so delicate that Torrie cannot take the chance of damaging it during cheerleading. While she participates in what she most loves to do and what is perhaps her greatest accomplishment, Torrie has to remove the exterior portion of the implant that takes her back to the deaf world. She is reliant upon her friends and her inner signals to proceed through the drills in an amazing display of rhythm and grace.

Indeed, she has adjusted so well that as a junior in high school, she is an honor roll student who is also an active member of BETA and Pep Club. Perhaps Torrie's cheerleading coach, Kim Fox, said it best.

"It goes without saying she has to work twice as hard but she has never complains. To watch her face while she cheers says it all. She's my hero."

The enthusiastic and always-positive junior has college plans with a goal of someday becoming a first grade teacher. Who better to teach the very young than one who spent 17 years teaching others where patience, endurance, perseverance and determination will lead.

   
   
Video: Derrick Rose shreds the San Antonio Spurs
February 19, 2011 at 12:05 AM
 
Derrick Rose thrust himself into the middle of the MVP debate Thursday night dropping 42 on the San Antonio Spurs. Nobody had done that to the Spurs all season (which is why they have the best record in the NBA). Rose came into the league with amazing athletic gifts, but he has developed a steady…
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PBT Friday morning one liners (and some trade rumors)
February 18, 2011 at 11:36 PM
 
Mark Cuban says not to expect the Mavericks are going to make a trade. The Sixers may make a move, but don't expect one for Andre Iguodala. Rumors floated around but there is no Marreese Speights for Dante Cunningham deal between the Sixers and Blazers. Is LaMarcus Aldridge the Tim Duncan for a new generation?…
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Boone County Fire Protection District ponders tax levy
February 18, 2011 at 11:32 PM
 

COLUMBIA — Boone County residents might get the chance to vote on a tax levy to pay for a new Boone County Fire Protection District bond.

After falling behind in its usual bond issue schedule, the Boone County Fire Protection District has started looking at its needs again.

"Truly, we are a couple years behind schedule," said David Griggs, a Fire District board member. "We have real needs that need to be addressed."

Griggs said the Fire District usually purchases a new bond about every 10 years and was due for one in 2008. The Fire District has had two tax years without a tax levy. The last tax, which expired in 2009, was roughly 15 cents per $100 of a property's assessed value, Fire District Chief Scott Olsen said.

He said a proposed tax levy would be similar to the old values.

The Fire District started the process of evaluating its needs a few months ago, Olsen said. He and the executive staff will evaluate the Fire District's stations, equipment, apparatuses and vehicles. Station captains will also evaluate their individual stations' needs.

Olsen plans to present the stations' needs at a board work meeting in March. 

"They'll see clearly how old they (stations, equipment apparatuses and vehicles) are, what kind of shape they're in, what the issues are and how much money we've been spending on them from a maintenance perspective," Olsen said.

From there, Olsen said, the board can identify necessary improvements.

In the past, bonds have helped update new equipment. Griggs said some of the Fire District's reserve equipment, which is used as backup, is more than 20 years old. 

"They're old technology, and there's better types of technology to fight fires that we need to utilize," Olsen said.

Two major factors played into the Fire District's decision not to renew a bond or tax increase in 2008. The typical bond renewal schedule fell during a time of restructuring and reconfiguring within the Fire District, including the forced retirement of former fire chief Steve Paulsell.

"The district was in a little bit of turmoil," Griggs said.

The Fire District also realized that economically, times were tough for many people and wanted to wait until it was appropriate to ask voters for more money. 

According to the Fire District's website, the first capital improvements bond issue was in April 1981. Worth $1.5 million, the bond was used to construct two new fire stations and purchase 11 pieces of fire apparatus and protective equipment. 

A 1991 capital improvements bond issue was used to purchase 12 pieces of fire apparatus, build four new stations and make additions to two stations. 

In 1998, the Fire District was able to purchase 16 pieces of fire apparatus, build three new stations and make additions to existing facilities.

   
   
Humane society to hold 'Spay-ghetti' dinner fundraiser Tuesday
February 18, 2011 at 11:10 PM
 

COLUMBIA — The Central Missouri Humane Society is hosting its annual "Spay-ghetti Dinner" from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church, 16 Hitt St.

Money raised at the dinner will be used for mid-Missouri families with financial hardships to have their pets spayed and neutered. Last year’s dinner raised more than $2,000, which was used to spay and neuter 20 dogs and 60 cats.

Allison Tots, shelter relations coordinator, said choosing which families receive surgeries for their pets is a difficult task.

“We give them to the families that really are deserving, and by that, I mean they can show proof that they are on government assistance programs or are on a fixed income," Tots said. "We usually limit one per family.”

Tots said musical entertainment this year will be provided by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Ukulele Ensemble. The event will include a spaghetti dinner and refreshments, along with a bake sale.

Tickets are available through the shelter and at the door on the night of the event. The cost is $10 for adults and $6 for children, students and seniors. Children 5 and younger may attend for free.

 

   
   
Wildlife Hospital of Valley Park helps birds return to the skies
February 18, 2011 at 11:08 PM
 

VALLEY PARK — All the squawking about hospital treatment and food is taken more seriously by doctors when the patients have talons as well as a temper.

Volunteers, including veterinarians, regularly treat and help rehab injured birds of prey at the non-profit World Bird Sanctuary's Wildlife Hospital in Valley Park.

Funded entirely by private donations, it treats more than 300 birds each year. Because the harsh weather, the patient load was about three times the normal size this January.

Here's a look at one hour in a treatment room as noisy as a middle school cafeteria on a recent Thursday morning.

9:08 a.m.

A barred owl is treated for head trauma and bruises by 14-year volunteer veterinarian Stacey Schaeffer, of Fenton. She finds permanent damage to an eye, making the animal blind on that side. "Still, owls can get by with one eye," said Schaeffer.

"There won't be any more treatment. It'll be moved outside for cage rest and to start rehab."

9:13 a.m.

Schaeffer looks over a great horned owl found in St. Charles.

"The injuries were from a territorial dispute this one had with another owl," said WBS Director of Facilities Roger Holloway. "The people who rescued him saw him fly into the side of a building during the fight, trying to get away from the confrontation."

Schaeffer finds and treats a possible fractured coracoid bone in the shoulder.

9:17 a.m.

Next up on the examining table is a juvenile red-tailed hawk with a puncture wound in the chest.

"It's possibly from a vehicle collision because he was found standing on the side of a road in St. Charles," said Joe Hoffmann, sanctuary manager.

Schaeffer applies an antibacterial ointment and Tegaderm film dressing, which is "effectively like fake skin that acts as a clear bandage."

9:23 a.m.

A juvenile red-shouldered hawk, also with a fractured coracoid, is bandaged and the break immobilized.

9:28 a.m.

A juvenile red-shouldered hawk has been having a really bad day.

"He was shot first and then run over by a car in Hillsboro," Holloway said, as Schaeffer picks out some road cinders from the wound.

9:32 a.m.

During a brief break in the action, Holloway explains that many of the 37 admissions over the last month, including lots of red-shouldered hawks and red-tailed hawks, are due to this winter's extra ice and snow that forced the birds out of their normal river bottoms and swamp woodlands.

"They're more in harm's way when they seek food in neighborhoods and on busy roads," he said.

Schaeffer explains that her husband, veterinarian Erik Siebel-Spath, is a WBS volunteer and does most of the surgeries.

9:35 a.m.

Schaeffer works on a juvenile red-tailed hawk found on Highway 50 in Beaufort. It was possibly hit by a car. She finds a possible broken coracoid and bandages part of the wing to minimize movement.

"That bone supports the muscles for flight and if it's injured the bird loses full range of motion," Holloway said.

Hoffmann shows how the bird's reflexes are checked by volunteer Kasey Anderson, of South County, who lifts the bird up and down to encourage it to flap its wings. Schaeffer says the bird must go to her south St. Louis office for an X-ray.

9:40 a.m.

Schaeffer is about done with her rounds.

"I come here at least once a week to see patients and handle emergencies and they bring birds to my office," she said. "As a human race, we do a lot to damage to the earth, which has a direct effect on wildlife, and volunteering is my way of trying to make restitution."

9:44 a.m.

It's feeding time, featuring a meal of cut-up rat meat, hand-fed by Anderson for a "miracle bird," recovering in a nearby cage.

"This juvenile red-tailed hawk, found on the shoulder of I-64 in Okawville, Ill., was a long shot to make it," Holloway said.

The bird has a fractured left wing, fractured lower leg bone, and, when he came in, his eye was swollen and infected.

"But his eye is almost back to normal, though there's a little cloudiness in the cornea, and the wing has healed well," he said. "As soon as his leg heals, we'll start wing physical therapy."

9:48 a.m.

Hoffmann is working on plans for the release of eight or nine healed red-shouldered hawks, possibly in the next week when the weather starts to warm up.

9:54 a.m.

Volunteer Lois Donaldson, of Ballwin, is cleaning and refilling water bowls for various public education birds, like a wild turkey, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, golden eagle, tawny owl and others, which are kept permanently at the Wildlife Hospital area.

"I love animals, and I'm fascinated with wildlife, in awe of their abilities," she said. "Here, I wanted to learn about raptors, and it's been a wonderful experience, to see them rehabbed and able to get back to the wild, back to their home."

Nearby, Anderson volunteers at Stray Rescue and said she hopes to work with animals as a career.

"I've always liked birds and wanted to be an ornithologist as a kid," Anderson said. "They're so beautiful and majestic."

   
   
St. Joseph woman celebrates her 107th birthday
February 18, 2011 at 10:36 PM
 

ST. JOSEPH — It was all laughs as Loletia McVey recently celebrated her 107th birthday. The St. Joseph woman was surrounded by friends and family at Vintage Gardens for a Valentine's-themed birthday party.

"I think she's happy that it's her birthday," said Claire Athy, McVey's niece. "I think she loves being the center of attention, but I think she's overwhelmed at the same time."

The senior said she really just wanted $100 for her birthday and said it could surprise people what she could do with that much money.

"But you can't be excited to be 107," she said.

McVey was presented with three cakes to form the numbers one and seven and a heart-shaped cake for the zero. She was pleasantly surprised, as cake and ice cream are her favorite part of the big day.

"She has a good attitude," Athy said. "That has a lot to do with her longevity, I think." That and good genes.

Born in 1904, McVey's mother lived to be 105 and her grandmother lived to see 99. That was something uncommon for a woman during that time. McVey and her older sister, by two years, had made a pact to try and not live to see their 100th birthdays. Her sister passed away at 93, but McVey kept on going.

In her younger days, she spent much of her time showing goodwill toward others. She and her sister would knit roughly 70 sweaters a year to give to the local church for those in need.

She was married to the love of her life, the late Dr. Taylor C. McVey, for more than 50 years.

Unable to have any children of her own, McVey formed a special bond with Athy.

"God put her in my life for a reason," Athy said.

Athy and her husband, Gregg, of Fort Worth, Texas, made the trip for McVey's special day. Athy comes up every couple of months to visit her favorite aunt.

"She has been my best mom, my best friend, my best playmate, my best cohort in crime, she has been everything to me," Athy said. "She has been a role model to me all of my life. I would not miss (her birthday) for anything."

   
   
Reggie Miller not on Hall of Fame finalists ballot. Somehow.
February 18, 2011 at 10:27 PM
 
Is Spike Lee more powerful than we all thought? Because aside that I'm at a loss to explain the news from Jonathon Abrams of the New York Times that Reggie Miller is not one of the finalists on the Hall of Fame ballot. Those finalists will be formally announced later on Friday. We'd tell you…
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City money available for community projects
February 18, 2011 at 10:20 PM
 

COLUMBIA — Funds for community projects are available for eligible applicants through the city's partnership with public communications service providers.

Amounts from $1,000 to $15,000 will be distributed through a competitive process to those who qualify.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Single not-for-profit entities, government agencies or educational institutions
  • Partnerships with public communication-type entities
  • Partnerships of a single public communications entity and related entities such as schools, social service agencies, libraries, museums, etc.
  • Communication services provided must be from Oct. 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2012 and within corporate city limits

Applications are available on the city's website, gocolumbiamo.com, and the city manager's office on the second floor of 701 E. Broadway.

Application drafts are due March 11, and complete applications are due to the city manager's office by 5 p.m. April 18.

For more information, contact the city manager's office at (573) 874-7214 or Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins at phhopkin@gocolumbiamo.com.

   
   
City manager application deadline approaches
February 18, 2011 at 10:15 PM
 

COLUMBIA — The deadline to apply for Columbia City Manager is today at 5 p.m.

Affion Public, a Pennsylvania-based strategic consulting and advisory services firm, is acting as a third party in the selection process. Columbia City Council will hold a closed meeting with Scott Reilly, the chief executive officer of Affion, on March 8.

Reilly will have compiled a list of five to six applicants to replace current City Manager Bill Watkins. Margrace Buckler, director of the Department of Human Resources, said the names of potential candidates will not be released in order to protect them from being fired from their current jobs.

The City of Columbia's website lists the City Manager's job description.

Buckler said the council plans to interview the final candidates March 18-20. The dates for a public forum with the candidates have not yet been set.

   
   
LETTER: Community spirit during winter storm earns Postal Service gratitude
February 18, 2011 at 10:01 PM
 

The employees of the Columbia Post Office would like to thank our customers for their help during the recent severe winter storm.

Many of you offered our employees a place to stay when they couldn’t get home safely or gave them a ride to the post office. Some of you helped clear snow from the community sidewalks and parking lots so we could provide retail service and deliver mail wherever possible. Your kindness, generosity and community spirit were overwhelming. “Thank you” doesn’t fully express our appreciation and gratitude.

We are truly privileged to serve you.

Cheryl Hudson is the customer relations coordinator for the Columbia Postal Service.

   
   
LETTER: Legislature seems intent to overturn the people's decision
February 18, 2011 at 9:52 PM
 

I wonder how many other Missouri citizens share my sense of outrage that the current Missouri legislature seems to be intent on undoing the will of the people, as expressed through our votes, in as many ways as they possibly can.

  • They have worked to undermine the renewable energy standard by removing the provision that required local sourcing of renewable power, thus depriving Missouri of jobs.
  • They are trying to undermine the anti-CWIP legislation — passed overwhelmingly by voters — by allowing AmerenUE to charge ratepayers for site work on a reactor they may never build, even though they clearly could easily afford the $40 million on their own, since they are a for-profit company. (SB 50, HB 124)
  • This session of the legislature has also worked to undermine every meaningful provision of last year's Prop B by passing HCS HB 131, a bill which is in no way a compromise and will leave our state as the puppy mill capital of America — quite an unlovely reputation to have.
  • At the same time bills proceed through the House and Senate that would take away family farmers' rights to sue Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations threatening their livelihood and quality of life. (SB 187, HB209)
  • There has even been a bill introduced to repeal the child labor laws. (SB 222)

What are these people thinking?

Though I oppose each of these actions by the new tea party legislature, I think the larger question is about democracy. Once the people of this great state have made their views clear to our representatives, by what moral right do they turn around and completely overturn our decisions? Concerned citizens in Missouri have frequently had to turn to propositions and amendments to get themselves heard at all in the halls of the Capitol, because popular legislation has too often languished in committees. They have had to rely on courts or local county regulations because our state's Department of Natural Resources lacks the real power to protect our air and water.

I think if the Missouri legislature continues to give our democratic process one slap in the face after another, they are going to experience some considerable anger from the public, perhaps anger like that seen in Egypt. Perhaps, what could be far worse, our citizens will experience more discouragement that makes them just give up on government, stop getting involved, and stop voting altogether.

That might be good for the tea party, but it is certainly not good for Missouri.

Jean A. Blackwood lives in Columbia.

   
   
DEAR READER: Missourian sports students go toe-to-toe with pros — and win
February 18, 2011 at 9:44 PM
 

That sound you heard last week was the sound of resumes being updated.

But that’s getting ahead of the story.

Each year, the Associated Press Sports Editors hold the biggest contest in American sports journalism. It’s a national contest, broken down into circulation categories. I’ve entered it every year I can remember, when I was a sports reporter and sports editor in Pennsylvania and then since I’ve joined the Missouri School of Journalism. I’ve entered it, then hunkered down to wait for the February results to dribble in.

They take several nerve-wrenching days to be released. Did I win? Did one of my colleagues win? Did my newspaper win? Did my friends win?

Sports editors across the country are glued to their computer screens. This is big. You want to show up.

Truthfully, I went into last week with some optimism. The Columbia Missourian, a paper produced by students at the Missouri School of Journalism and managed by professional editors, could win a couple, I reasoned. The Missourian’s sports department won a couple last year — a showing so good my boss cautioned me that the only direction to go was down.

It started Monday, when the Missourian was named one of the best Special Sections in the under-15,000 division for one of our Tiger Kickoff editions. Later, we were named one of the best Daily Sections in the same division and the Special Section received honorable mention in the 30,000-and-under division

Tuesday, the writing categories began to trickle in. Lenny Goldman (for a story about the basketball team at the Missouri School for the Deaf) and Robert Mays (for his story about the recuperation of Danario Alexander) showed up on the Best Features list in the under-30,000 category.

Things were going well.

Then Wednesday, Joan Niesen (for her story on the opponents of Missouri football who are paid “appearance” fees to visit Columbia) and Alex Ruppenthal (who looked at how Missouri athletes’ social media accounts are monitored) showed up on the Best Explanatory list.

I had trouble waiting for my boss to exit a meeting.

“Check this out,” I said, pointing to my computer screen.

He made a loud sound. The newsroom stopped for a second.

It was all sweetly capped a couple hours later. Goldman, Niesen, Dieter Kurtenbach, Will Guldin and Pat Sweet were on the Best Breaking News list for their work on the Derrick Washington suspension story last fall.

The final count?

Eight. Amazing.

What does it mean? A group of journalism students competed against professionals. And they won.

Will it help them get noticed in a tough business? 

The truth is that it already has.

Their names have already been scrutinized by sports editors across the United States.

And soon, their newly-updated resumes will be landing on their desks.

Greg Bowers is sports editor of the Columbia Missourian and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

   
   
GLOBAL JOURNALIST: Kosovo celebrates independence amidst prime minister crime allegations
February 18, 2011 at 9:40 PM
 

The world's youngest nation, the Republic of Kosovo, celebrated three years since it first declared independence on Feb. 17, 2008. Three years pales when compared to its centuries-long history of widespread conflict and turmoil; the wounds from the violence that scarred the landscape and its people still linger. Because of the often intense discourse, some countries even refuse to recognize Kosovo as an independent nation.

Kosovo and Serbia are barred from joining the European Union unless the two entities can settle their differences. Past bad blood seeping into the present is likely to impede those efforts.

Straining relations further, recent allegations have surfaced that Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was involved with organized crime and organ trafficking; opinions differ depending on which side of the border the accusations originate.

From the heart of the conflict, journalists who have watched Kosovo begin to take its first steps discuss what these developments mean to the newborn sovereign state.

This week, we explore these issues and more on Global Journalist.

Listen to this week's show.

Highlights from this week's guests:

Prishtina, Kosovo: Jeta Xharra, anchor RTK (Radio Television of Kosovo); Kosovo Director, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network

"It takes a lot of effort for journalists to remain independent, especially financially independent because the biggest employer in Kosovo is the government. Most employees are civil servants … basically people are threatened, not necessary with direct violence, but with the possibility of losing their jobs. Sources talk to journalists less than they used to because they are afraid of the repercussions … losing jobs, losing possibilities to get good health service, losing the possibility to get good or better education. This is only if journalists are brave enough to report something."

Dejan Anastasijevic, reporter, Vreme newspaper; contributor, Time Magazine; researcher, Belgrade Center for Human Rights

"There are two issues that are completely separate. One, Serbia as a nation still has a lot of problems. We're reconciling with Kosovo as a separate state… The other set of problems is the role of Kosovo, which is serious. … Every time the government in Kosovo gets accused of doing anything illegal, they say that this is just Serbian propaganda and this is an attempt to undermine our glorious liberation fight."

Prishtina, Kosovo: Arben Ahmeti, Senior Political Reporter, Koha Ditore Daily

"Kosovo is probably one of the biggest populations that is pro western in this region. Almost every citizen wants to know how to join the EU in order have better payments and better conditions. We don't have a political class that is competent to deal with the aim of citizens to join the EU."

Prishtina, Kosovo: Besa Luci, Editor-in-Chief, Kosovo 2.0

"While Kosovo does have a future integrating with other nations in the EU, there is still a heavy influence with relations that it has with the U.S., even in Kosovo. With a country that is still young, there a lot of building processes going on in Kosovo…I think sometimes there is a lot of discourse about who to side with and who to trust."

Join the discussion: Have your say on our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for updates during and after the show.  Watch and listen to all shows, stories and more on the Global Journalist website.

   
   
Baseline to Baseline recaps: Derrick Rose kicks his MVP campaign into high gear
February 18, 2011 at 9:35 PM
 
What you missed while wondering just how screwed up a world it is that the Kardashians made $65 million last year… Bulls 109, Spurs 99: For two of the better defensive teams in the league there was a whole lot of offense going on in this one. Both teams create serious matchup problems for the…
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House blocks federal aid for Planned Parenthood
February 18, 2011 at 9:17 PM
 

WASHINGTON — The House approved a Republican proposal to block federal aid for Planned Parenthood on Friday.

The 240-185 vote is a victory for anti-abortion forces led by Indiana GOP Rep. Mike Pence. He said taxpayer money should not go to groups that provide or promote abortion.

Democrats said Planned Parenthood provides contraception and other valuable family planning services, and cutting off the money will make it hard for women to get such basic help.

Planned Parenthood provides services in hundreds of clinics around the country. Pence aides said the group reported receiving $363 million in federal money in its latest report.

The proposal is part of a bill that seeks to cut government spending this year.

The Democratic-run Senate has stronger abortion rights views than does the House, making it unlikely the House proposal will survive.

   
   
States' measure to repeal federal laws divides Missouri House
February 18, 2011 at 9:05 PM
 

JEFFERSON CITY — A proposal seeking a constitutional convention to allow states to repeal federal laws has divided some conservatives in the Missouri House.

The resolution by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, urges Congress to call a convention to draft a constitutional amendment allowing states to repeal federal laws, if two-thirds vote to do so.

But debate stalled on the measure this past week without reaching a vote.

Among those opposing it is conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum.

Schlafly said it would be difficult to keep a constitutional convention limited to one topic, and the convention could result in many amendments conservatives would not like.

   
   
COLUMN: Zero patience left for MU's flimsy 'zero-tolerance' policy
February 18, 2011 at 9:02 PM
 

I want to thank the people who are advocating for mandatory diversity classes at MU. As your peer and fellow Tiger, you have my full support, and I hope this is a change we see in the near future.

I also want to thank the leaders of the Legion of Black Collegians, the Columbia branch of the NAACP and everyone else who was offended by what our fellow students have done. There are many who chose to be calm and composed in the face of these infuriating acts of ignorance.

The immediate response from students painting signs that say "one love" and "peace," instead of displaying anger and hatred, is truly inspiring.

I just wish I could feel the same way.

The latest race-related vandalism at MU has convinced me it's going to take a lot more than diversity classes to fix MU's crumbling reputation of "zero tolerance" for hate crimes.

Like many students, I was angry, appalled and embarrassed by the barbaric use of symbolic speech last February when cotton balls were scattered in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.

After Zachary Tucker and Sean Fitzgerald were arrested and charged with the crime, I experienced a range of emotions while the university and the legal system decided what to do with them.

At first, I was relieved when they were apprehended, and I was hungry for justice. I believed they should have been prosecuted to the utmost of the law's ability. Expulsion, fines, hate-crime charges — throw the book at them.

Heck, if they were sentenced to wear the letter R made from cotton balls on their shirts for the rest of their lives, I would not have batted an eye.

After some time, I calmed down a bit, and, as a result, I softened. As I thought about it, I made an effort to put my emotions aside and look at the situation more objectively. I tried to put myself in the shoes of their parents, friends or siblings.

Maybe, I reasoned, just maybe, those two kids (and I use the word purposely) really did just get blackout drunk and made an incredibly unfortunate decision.

Maybe they didn't mean to send a deeply condescending message to our school's black population. The fact that it was on the Black Culture Center's lawn and happened during Black History Month could have been a terrible coincidence.

I even went so far as to feel a little sympathy for the guys. If they were expelled and charged with a hate crime — and I was sure they would be — it could effectively ruin their lives.

How far could they go in a career before their criminal records would hold them back? Could they pursue a long-term relationship without disclosing this part of their past?

I guess the university softened, too. Apparently, MU decided 80 hours of community service and a laughable "littering" charge did a sufficient job of reflecting its "zero-tolerance" policy.

But alas, another February and another hate crime.

This time, student Benjamin Elliott admitted he spray-painted a direct insult about Black History Month outside Hatch Hall.

Again, alcohol was cited as the accomplice.

Again, the administration sent a mass e-mail apologizing and promising the "zero-tolerance" policy would patch everything up.

I'll believe it when I see it.

If anything, the recent incident has only proved last year's application of the "zero-tolerance" policy is just as responsible for the painted slur as the guy holding the spray paint.

Last year, MU chose to protect two warped, thoughtless students rather than speak up for the thousands of students who were offended and targeted by what has become universally known as "the cotton-ball incident."

I hate to be the "what iffer," but I can't help wondering whether I would be writing this column today if the vandals had been slapped last year with a "zero-tolerance" policy.

Enough is enough. The university has no choice but to treat this recent act of racism as a prelude to what I fear may become an annual event.

If the first instance hadn't taught me a few lessons, the softer part of me might hold onto the possibility that Elliott isn't as monstrous as his admitted drunken actions make him out to be.

But why risk it? MU can't afford to take that chance again.

It's no secret MU lacks diversity. In this area, I think mandatory classes would be quite eye-opening to a lot of incoming and continuing students.

I think it would be even more meaningful if these classes could cite the outcome of the recent incident as an example of the real, hard consequences of such crimes. I can only hope to see these classes materialize before I leave MU.

For the record, I was reporting for the Missourian at the time of the "cotton ball incident," but I didn't cover the story. I am still at the Missourian and I am not covering the recent incident either.

Right now, I am writing this column about how I feel as a student at MU.

Call me an idealist, but I still have an expectation MU administrators will begin to do a better job of upholding the reputations of the best of us — not the worst.

Anne Christnovich is a senior at MU and currently reports for the Missourian's public safety beat.

   
   
Leawood Plaza construction begins; Bourn traffic still hot issue
February 18, 2011 at 9:01 PM
 

COLUMBIA — If you regularly drive through the intersection at Stadium Boulevard and West Broadway, you might have noticed a well-worn "Mizzou" banner that hung from a front porch there is gone.

So is the front porch.

Work has began in earnest on Leawood Plaza, an office district that includes the law firm of personal injury lawyer Aaron Smith, the site's developer. Construction on the 6,500-square-foot, L-shaped building is expected to take six months and includes the demolition of three houses and other landscaping changes.

The three houses and several trees were removed from the site in the past week.

Under the plan, there will be only one way in and out of Leawood Plaza: Bourn Avenue, which is accessible from West Rollins Road. That is a key reason behind opposition from the Bourn Avenue Neighborhood Association, which includes about 60 property owners on Bourn Avenue and any property that has frontage on the street.

Steve MacIntyre, chairman of the Bourn Avenue Neighborhood Association, said these properties are home to about 200 residents.

“Chances are a lot of people will be coming up from Rollins who aren’t as likely to be considerate of the speed limits," MacIntyre said. "We think it could lead to more of a safety issue in the neighborhood.”

Nick Peña, who has lived on Bourn Avenue for a year and a half, said he thinks most people are opposed to it.

"We're afraid that our property values will go down," Peña said.

Last fall, 34 residents, including Peña, wrote letters to the Planning and Zoning Commission stating their opposition. Residents also addressed the Columbia City Council. In November, following the commission's recommendation to approve the development, the council unanimously approved it.

Smith said he worked with the neighbors and heard them out.

“It seemed to me like the main complaint was traffic," Smith said. "A lot of neighbors came to the hearings and explained that there was an existing significant traffic problem.”

Smith began looking for land for his law office about a year and a half ago. He chose the Stadium-Broadway intersection because it serves as an entry point of sorts into Columbia.

It also is the second busiest in town, with 80,000 cars passing through every day, according to a city traffic count done every few years, Smith said.

Smith said he wants to put up something that will look good. “We want our city to look pretty, the gateways especially,” he said.

Although the development is going in pretty much as planned, the neighbors won two concessions: Medical and dental offices originally planned for Leawood Plaza will not be included, and the size of the building has been reduced from 7,500-square-feet to 6,500-square-feet. It will have offices for attorneys, architects and engineers.

MacIntyre said the addition of medical and dental offices would increase traffic by 50 percent through the area. Even without them, traffic will increase, and this touches a neighborhood sore point because residents have complained that Bourn Avenue has a problem with speeding.

“I see people flying down the street,” said Jenn Sonnenberg, secretary of the Bourn Avenue Neighborhood Association. Sonnenberg is a stay-at-home mother of two children. Her son, a second-grader, is part of the Walking School Bus, and she is concerned about his safety as the building brings in more traffic.

Although he said he has reservations about Leawood Plaza, resident Val Germann agrees that something needs to be done to improve the appearance of the Stadium-Broadway intersection. But he's also frustrated about speeding along Bourn Avenue.

A traffic calming report from the Columbia Public Works Department dated Nov. 5, 2010, found that Bourn's situation warrants calming measures. Such measures are speed humps, speed tables or an “open road closure” on Bourn Avenue, which consists of a ramped lane granting use only to refuse trucks and emergency vehicles with a bicycle lane in the middle.

Smith has committed to giving $10,000 to the project to mitigate existing traffic problems. The money will most likely be used for one of the above options once at least 50 percent of property owners on Bourn Avenue agree on a device, MacIntyre said.

“We would ideally like to see a proper cul-de-sac put in, and I don’t think that the technical aspects and cost have really been explored,” MacIntyre said.

Minutes from the Oct. 18, 2010, City Council meeting show the cost of putting in a cul-de-sac was estimated between $150,000 and $200,000. That's the most expensive option for traffic mitigation, MacIntyre said.

Now that Leawood Plaza is a go, neighbors have moved on to getting traffic concerns addressed.

“Frankly, my opinion of Aaron is that he has to this point done the best he could reasonably do to satisfy the neighbors within monetary, reasonable restrictions,” MacIntyre said. “The only way he could’ve satisfied us would have been to withdraw his request.”

Smith acknowledged he has been a little disappointed with the resistance from neighbors, "because I’m not a commercial developer — I was raised right here in Missouri on a farm.”

Despite not winning the fight to get the proposed office district removed from Bourn, resident Julia Williams found that getting to know people in her neighborhood for this cause was a good experience.

“We feel like we have a voice now and that we can be heard in City Council,” Williams said.

The next step for the neighborhood is to schedule a meeting to decide on the best option for the traffic-calming devices that have been proposed. 

As a mother of young children, Sonnenberg said she is eager for a device that will help control traffic.

"We prefer to see something now."

   
   
Leawood Plaza construction begins; Bourne traffic still hot issue
February 18, 2011 at 9:01 PM
 

COLUMBIA — If you regularly drive through the intersection at Stadium Boulevard and West Broadway, you might have noticed a well-worn "Mizzou" banner that hung from a front porch there is gone.

So is the front porch.

Work has began in earnest on Leawood Plaza, an office district that includes the law firm of personal injury lawyer Aaron Smith, the site's developer. Construction on the 6,500-square-foot, L-shaped building is expected to take six months and includes the demolition of three houses and other landscaping changes.

The three houses and several trees were removed from the site in the past week.

Under the plan, there will be only one way in and out of Leawood Plaza: Bourn Avenue, which is accessible from West Rollins Road. That is a key reason behind opposition from the Bourn Avenue Neighborhood Association, which includes about 60 property owners on Bourn Avenue and any property that has frontage on the street.

Steve MacIntyre, chairman of the Bourn Avenue Neighborhood Association, said these properties are home to about 200 residents.

“Chances are a lot of people will be coming up from Rollins who aren’t as likely to be considerate of the speed limits," MacIntyre said. "We think it could lead to more of a safety issue in the neighborhood.”

Nick Peña, who has lived on Bourn Avenue for a year and a half, said he thinks most people are opposed to it.

"We're afraid that our property values will go down," Peña said.

Last fall, 34 residents, including Peña, wrote letters to the Planning and Zoning Commission stating their opposition. Residents also addressed the Columbia City Council. In November, following the commission's recommendation to approve the development, the council unanimously approved it.

Smith said he worked with the neighbors and heard them out.

“It seemed to me like the main complaint was traffic," Smith said. "A lot of neighbors came to the hearings and explained that there was an existing significant traffic problem.”

Smith began looking for land for his law office about a year and a half ago. He chose the Stadium-Broadway intersection because it serves as an entry point of sorts into Columbia.

It also is the second busiest in town, with 80,000 cars passing through every day, according to a city traffic count done every few years, Smith said.

Smith said he wants to put up something that will look good. “We want our city to look pretty, the gateways especially,” he said.

Although the development is going in pretty much as planned, the neighbors won two concessions: Medical and dental offices originally planned for Leawood Plaza will not be included, and the size of the building has been reduced from 7,500-square-feet to 6,500-square-feet. It will have offices for attorneys, architects and engineers.

MacIntyre said the addition of medical and dental offices would increase traffic by 50 percent through the area. Even without them, traffic will increase, and this touches a neighborhood sore point because residents have complained that Bourn Avenue has a problem with speeding.

“I see people flying down the street,” said Jenn Sonnenberg, secretary of the Bourn Avenue Neighborhood Association. Sonnenberg is a stay-at-home mother of two children. Her son, a second-grader, is part of the Walking School Bus, and she is concerned about his safety as the building brings in more traffic.

Although he said he has reservations about Leawood Plaza, resident Val Germann agrees that something needs to be done to improve the appearance of the Stadium-Broadway intersection. But he's also frustrated about speeding along Bourn Avenue.

A traffic calming report from the Columbia Public Works Department dated Nov. 5, 2010, found that Bourn's situation warrants calming measures. Such measures are speed humps, speed tables or an “open road closure” on Bourn Avenue, which consists of a ramped lane granting use only to refuse trucks and emergency vehicles with a bicycle lane in the middle.

Smith has committed to giving $10,000 to the project to mitigate existing traffic problems. The money will most likely be used for one of the above options once at least 50 percent of property owners on Bourn Avenue agree on a device, MacIntyre said.

“We would ideally like to see a proper cul-de-sac put in, and I don’t think that the technical aspects and cost have really been explored,” MacIntyre said.

Minutes from the Oct. 18, 2010, City Council meeting show the cost of putting in a cul-de-sac was estimated between $150,000 and $200,000. That's the most expensive option for traffic mitigation, MacIntyre said.

Now that Leawood Plaza is a go, neighbors have moved on to getting traffic concerns addressed.

“Frankly, my opinion of Aaron is that he has to this point done the best he could reasonably do to satisfy the neighbors within monetary, reasonable restrictions,” MacIntyre said. “The only way he could’ve satisfied us would have been to withdraw his request.”

Smith acknowledged he has been a little disappointed with the resistance from neighbors, "because I’m not a commercial developer — I was raised right here in Missouri on a farm.”

Despite not winning the fight to get the proposed office district removed from Bourn, resident Julia Williams found that getting to know people in her neighborhood for this cause was a good experience.

“We feel like we have a voice now and that we can be heard in City Council,” Williams said.

The next step for the neighborhood is to schedule a meeting to decide on the best option for the traffic-calming devices that have been proposed. 

As a mother of young children, Sonnenberg said she is eager for a device that will help control traffic.

"We prefer to see something now."

   
   
Department of Transportation rankings show major airlines' strengths, weakness
February 18, 2011 at 7:07 PM
 

NEW YORK — Flying is rarely seamless. Hoping to hit the Pick Four of a low fare, uninterrupted trip, great service and unscathed luggage is wishful thinking.

An examination of the government's performance rankings and catalog of passenger complaints may help travelers determine how close their airline might come.

First, the good news. Four of the so-called network carriers — United, Continental, American and US Airways — got more passengers to their destinations on time last year than in 2009. Delta slipped slightly after two years of improvement. All of them lowered their rate of lost or damaged bags.

Meanwhile, the airline that carries more passengers than any other, Southwest, has dropped to 10th from second in on-time performance. Its rate of damaged or lost bags held steady last year from 2009.

Yet Southwest still gets a near-pass when it comes to passenger complaints.

Flight problems — cancellations, delays and missed connections — are the biggest reason travelers complain to the Department of Transportation; baggage is the second.

Getting bags checked for free — the other airlines charge up to $60 for two bags — seems to give travelers more patience with Southwest. That, and a reputation for lower fares, helps ease travelers' gripes about late arrivals or other issues that they might complain about at other airlines.

And do they ever complain.

More passengers filed complaints last year than ever before. That's partly because the transportation department has improved its online complaint system. But passengers have plenty of reasons to wage a formal government complaint. The rise of fees, fewer customer service agents and extensive security have led many travelers to seek a higher authority when things go wrong.

Three airlines generally draw the most complaints: Delta, United and US Airways. Delta, which got the most, was the world's biggest airline until United combined with Continental in October.

Most of the 2,200 complaints against Delta last year were about customer service. But Delta's poor on-performance — it ranked 15th out of the 18 biggest airlines — probably added to the frustration.

Delta had 10 times the complaints of Southwest, even though it had a third fewer U.S. passengers. Only 211 of 101.4 million Southwest customers complained to the transportation department last year.

Southwest's on-time rate has dropped since starting service at New York's LaGuardia, Boston's Logan and other big city airports. It still ranks first overall in the transportation department's records dating back to 1987.

Aviation consultant Mark Kiefer suggests Southwest fliers complain less because they're more likely leisure travelers, who fly infrequently and suffer less from a delay than business travelers.

Kiefer suggests that passengers, who often say low fares are the most important factor in choosing a flight, pay more attention to an airline's on-time rates, lost or damaged bags and complaints.

"The consequences of a delay are much greater now that flights are so full," Kiefer said.

Flights now are regularly at least 80 percent booked — a rate more common during the peak of summer travel.

"A delay or lost bag can be a pretty big inconvenience when it means missing a day or your vacation."

Of course, that's better than being kicked off a flight altogether. Major airlines regularly oversell their flights in case some people don't show up. American, US Airways and Continental bumped more passengers last year than the year before; Delta, United and Southwest denied boarding to fewer travelers.

So, for those travelers on the six biggest airlines who believe time is money, United or US Airways are the best bet. US Airways or Continental make sense for anyone concerned about the well-being of their luggage. Those who fear being bumped should pick Delta. But if what they hate most is paying to check a bag, Southwest remains the top choice.

As for some smaller airlines:

  • JetBlue gets about the same number of complaints as its bigger discount rival Southwest, but with a quarter of the traffic. Its thick Northeastern route system is more prone to delays. And JetBlue is based in New York, where complaining is a time-honored tradition.
  • Hawaiian Airlines has operated the most on-time flight for the last four years — that pristine island weather doesn't hurt.
  • Regional carriers are usually among the worst at getting passengers to their destinations on time. Only Mesa, which handles flights for several major airlines, broke into the top 10. The regionals generally make shorter trips, so they make more turnarounds in a day than bigger planes. That leaves them more prone to delays. Comair, which operates regional flights for Delta, was late most often.
  • AirTran has had the fewest number of lost or damaged bags among big airlines for the last three years.
  • American Eagle bumped 6,335 passengers last year. By comparison, JetBlue, which doesn't oversell its flights, denied boarding to just 22. AirTran and Delta were next in line, but those airlines voluntarily deny boarding — and dole out vouchers — to thousands more passengers.
   
   
Protesters flood Wisconsin state capitol in protest of bill
February 18, 2011 at 6:36 PM
 

MADISON, Wis. — Swelling crowds of protesters who have descended on Wisconsin's Capitol in hopes of halting a Republican effort to end a half-century of collective bargaining rights for public workers steeled themselves for a long fight, buoyed by Democrats' decision to flee to avoid the measure's near-certain passage.

With Democrats saying they won't return before Saturday, it was unclear when the Senate would be able to begin debating the measure meant to ease the state's budget woes. Democrats who disappeared Thursday at first kept their whereabouts secret, then started to emerge to give interviews and fan the protests.

While the Senate was paralyzed, the Assembly met on Friday. Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said the Assembly would vote on the bill later in the day after Democrats have a chance to meet privately. Opponents to the bill packed the Assembly gallery as Democratic lawmakers introduced protesters from their districts and thanked them for their efforts. The crowd applauded and waved their hands silently.

Several hundred protesters were in the building early in the morning, with the ranks expected to swell as the day progressed. Many of them spent the night in the Capitol and another large rally was planned around noon.

As many as 25,000 students, teachers and prison guards have turned out at the Capitol this week to protest, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the building's hallways, sitting cross-legged across the floor and making it difficult to move from room to room. Some have brought along sleeping bags and stayed through the night. Union organizers expected yet more to gather Friday.

Neil Graupner, a 19-year-old technical college student from Madison, said he was planning to stay until the matter is settled.

"The fact that the Democrats have walked out, it shows they're listening to us," he said late Thursday as he prepared to spend the night at the Capitol.

The protesters' chants of "Kill the bill!" and "Recall Walker now!" could be heard throughout the day and long past dark. They beat on drums and carried signs deriding Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his plan to end collective bargaining for state, county and local workers, except for police, firefighters and the state patrol.

Hundreds of teachers have joined the protests by calling in sick, forcing school districts — including the state's largest, Milwaukee Public Schools — to cancel classes.

One sign taped to a statue outside the Capitol compared the governor to former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down last week after weeks of mass protests against his three-decade rule. The sign read, "Impeach Scott Mubarak!"

Despite the groundswell of support, it seems Democrats are merely delaying the inevitable — Republicans say they have the votes to pass the bill — yet the protesters are undeterred.

"I always expect the worst, but at the least I figure this would lead to such larger strikes that it would be a bad move for Republicans and Scott Walker," Graupner said.

In an interview with Milwaukee television station WTMJ, President Barack Obama compared Walker's bill to "an assault on unions."

Senate Republicans planned to try for a vote again Friday. With 19 seats, they hold a majority in the 33-member chamber, but they are one vote short of the number necessary to conduct business. The GOP needs at least one Democrat to be present before any voting can take place. The measure needs 17 votes to pass.

Speaking on CBS' "The Early Show" on Friday morning, Walker urged the Democrats to return to Madison and face the vote.

"The state senators who are hiding out down in Illinois should show up for work, have their say, have their vote, add their amendments, but in the end, we've got a $3.6 billion budget deficit we've got to balance."

The Assembly also planned to be in session Friday and could take up the bill first if the Senate remains in limbo.

Senate rules and the state constitution say absent members can be compelled to appear, but it does not say how.

"We left the state, so we were out of the reach of the Wisconsin state patrol, which has the authority to round us up and bring us back to the legislature," state Sen. Mark Miller told ABC's "Good Morning America" from an undisclosed location Friday.

State Sen. Tim Cullen said he and other Democrats planned to stage their boycott until Saturday to give the public more time to speak out against the bill.

"The plan is to try and slow this down because it's an extreme piece of legislation that's tearing this state apart," said state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, who was with Democratic senators in northern Illinois on Thursday before they dispersed.

Walker, who took office last month, called the boycott a "stunt." He vowed not to concede.

"It's more about theatrics than anything else," Walker said.

Some Democrats elsewhere applauded the developments as a long-awaited sign that their party was fighting back against the Republican wave created by November's midterm election.

"I am glad to see some Democrats, for a change, with a backbone. I'm really proud to hear that they did that," said Democratic state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre of Oklahoma, another state where Republicans won the governorship in November and also control both legislative chambers.

Thursday's events were reminiscent of a 2003 dispute in Texas, where Democrats twice fled the state to prevent adoption of a redistricting bill designed to give Republicans more seats in Congress. The bill passed a few months later.

The proposal marks a dramatic shift for Wisconsin, which passed a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959 and was the birthplace of the national union representing all nonfederal public employees.

In addition to eliminating collective-bargaining rights, the legislation also would make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care coverage — increases Walker calls "modest" compared with those in the private sector.

Republican leaders said they expected Wisconsin residents would be pleased with the savings the bill would achieve — $30 million by July 1 and $300 million over the next two years to address a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

   
   
Missouri residents can report fraud online
February 18, 2011 at 5:43 PM
 

COLUMBIA — You can now report fraud online to the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Since the option launched in December, 62 reports of suspected fraud were submitted, according to a news release from the Department of Revenue. More than 60 percent dealt with tax laws, and about 30 percent dealt with motor vehicle, driver's license and automobile dealer regulations.

People reporting fraud or illegal activities can choose to remain anonymous. Names are recommended, however, so the department can ask for additional information if needed. No rewards will be given for information about illegal activities.

The fraud report system can also be found on the Missouri Department of Revenue website, under the "Online Services" tab.

   
   
TODAY'S QUESTION: Should the U.S. remain allies with Bahrain's monarchy?
February 18, 2011 at 5:30 PM
 

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak bailed President Barack Obama's administration out of a tough decision last Friday.

With Mubarak's resignation — after nearly three weeks of pro-democracy protests — Obama no longer had to decide whether to ally the U.S. with either Egyptian protesters or the ousted ruler.

Now, the Obama administration faces a similar decision, this time in Bahrain. The small island nation off the northeastern coast of Saudi Arabia hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

But there are several differences between the Egyptian protests and the ongoing protests in Bahrain that might factor into Obama's decision.

In Egypt, the protests revolved mainly around democracy versus dictatorship; in Bahrain, it's democracy versus monarchy. In Bahrain, a religious twist might affect Obama's decision. A majority of the Bahraini population practice Shiite Islam and have complained of Sunni discrimination by the rulers.

Meanwhile, a majority of the government is Sunni Muslim. The constitutional hereditary monarch led by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and his family is Sunni as well. Roughly 70 percent of the 500,000 citizens in the nation's capital, Manama, claim Islam as their religion. Obama must factor in, too, that Bahrain's neighbor, Saudi Arabia, also has a Sunni-ruling family.

The Bahraini protesters' epicenter lies in Manama's Pearl Square. Peaceful protests turned violent earlier this week. While thousands of protesters slept in the square, Bahraini police opened fire on the protesters. Hundreds of wounded were taken to Salmaniya Medical Complex, a nearby hospital. At least five have died.

Obama has not yet released a statement. Khalifa's support of antiterrorism and the push back of Iranian influence in the area could factor into the U.S.'s decision. Iran, largely influenced by the Shiite sect of Islam, lies to the northeast of Bahrain. This puts Bahrain in the middle of potential controversy: the Sunni-led Saudi Arabia as its ally, versus Iran, which supports the majority Shiite population.

Should the U.S. remain allied with the Bahraini monarchy?

   
   
Officials confirm mountain lion sighting in Linn County
February 18, 2011 at 5:26 PM
 

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Department of Conservation has confirmed another mountain lion sighting in Missouri.

The department said in a news release that the latest sighting was in southern Linn County, located in central Missouri. The department said a landowner contacted the department Tuesday with two photos of a mountain lion taken Dec. 29 by a trail camera.

Conservation Department resource scientist Jeff Beringer said the photo has been verified and the animal is a mountain lion.

The Linn County site is about 25 miles from where a mountain lion was shot and killed in Macon County in January. The latest sighting brings to five the number of confirmed reports of mountain lions in Missouri since November.

Beringer said those mountain lions appear to be young males searching for territory.

   
   
Missouri grant streamlines free lunch enrollment
February 18, 2011 at 4:43 PM
 

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri education officials say a federal grant will help provide free lunches to more low-income students.

The state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says it has received a grant for more than $70,000. The money will be used to help state officials notify schools about students who are eligible for free lunches.

Currently, the Department of Social Services tells state education officials which students are eligible for the lunches. Schools then are told by the state education department. That happens once a year.

Education officials want to be able to automatically add students as they become eligible for the program.

   
   
Missouri veterans sue MU over tuition benefit
February 18, 2011 at 4:40 PM
 

COLUMBIA — A lawsuit filed by five Missouri veterans accuses the University of Missouri System of misapplying a state tuition benefit.

At issue is a state law that caps tuition at $50 per credit hour for certain veterans. The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that the law says the discount should kick in after other federal and state aid is applied.

The question is how universities should apply that other financial aid. The lawsuit says the institutions are using it to pay for tuition before capping classes at the $50 limit. The lawsuit says those dollars should be spread across the entire cost of college.

Southeast Missouri State, University of Missouri-St. Louis and Moberly Area Community College are also named in the lawsuit, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

   
   
Contenders, pretenders, wish-it-would-enders — taking stock of the NBA at the break
February 18, 2011 at 3:33 PM
 
Welcome to All-Star Weekend, when the NBA takes a break from playing games to talk about trades. And hear about the great parties that the players went to. Then talk about more trades. Then watch an exhibition with less defense than a Cavs-Raptors game. For the rest of us, it's a good time to take…
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Lakers GM Kupchak calls trade "unlikely"
February 18, 2011 at 12:39 PM
 
They just lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s inconcievable. So you'd have it right if you thought Lakers fans were talking about trades today. And by talking about we mean obsessing over and demanding. Not going to happen. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said as much at the unveiling of the Jerry West statue outside of…
Media Files
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