Five ideas: What are your thoughts on these items in the news this week?

Saturday, March 29, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:43 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

First Ward hopefuls

This week the Missourian published profiles of all four candidates running for the First Ward seat on the City Council. Each profile attempted to give an insight into the candidates’ characters, to highlight strengths and weaknesses and to explain why the First Ward matters to them.

Incumbent Almeta Crayton is running for her fourth term. She brings experience and passion to help youth. Last year, she helped organize a diversity rally as an alternative to a neo-Nazi march downtown.

Paul Sturtz, co-founder of the True/False Film Festival and the Ragtag Cinemacafe, was described as a man who can take a project and make it happen.

John Clark, who ran for mayor last year, is described by some to be the candidate most well-versed in the complexity of city issues. Others call him long-winded and hard to work with.

Karen Baxter moved to the First Ward to help other people. Each year, she buys sale items and has a free garage sale for her neighbors.

These candidates have also been diving into the issues. The Missourian created a voters guide to help residents compare them based on the issues.

What kind of character should a City Council member have?

Operation Spring Brake

On Friday, March 21, police in Boone County were watching the roads. Six departments participated in this year’s “Operation Spring Brake” with 218 tickets issued in nine hours, targeting areas affected by the exodus of college students leaving for spring break or the Easter holiday.

There were 145 arrests for speeding, and half were issued by the Columbia Police Department, Sgt. Tim Moriarty said. An average of 10 tickets are issued on a normal day.

There were 51 citations for hazardous moving violations, 41 non-hazardous violations and 11 tickets for not wearing seat belts.

Police said placing a car every 10 miles or so on Interstate 70 and increasing patrols on other heavily traveled roads changed driving behavior, making the roads safer.

More tickets mean more fines, which means more money for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Boone County Sheriff’s Department, and the Ashland, Centralia, Columbia and Hallsville police departments.

If the average fine was $75, the departments would have made $16,350.

Do more tickets mean safer drivers, or is Boone County cashing in holiday travel?

The Beefalo Blues

A cross between a bison and cattle, this meat was considered a rising star in the 1970s until a cyclical problem occurred: producers needed a market and the market needed producers.

The meat isn’t sold in supermarkets, restaurants or specialty stores that carry buffalo meat, making it difficult to convince farmers to raise beefalos, a cow-buffalo hybrid.

While there are several beefalo herds in the state, there aren’t enough herds to supply a steady market.

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, beefalo meat has 18 percent to 20 percent protein compared with 10 percent in regular beef, and has 5 percent to 7 percent fat compared to 25 percent to 30 percent in beef.

Vernon Zelch of Bourbon has been raising the crossbreed since the 1970s and said he still makes a profit by selling directly to families, often a whole animal at a time.

Advocates say the meat is tasty, and since the animal can grow large from grazing, it isn’t fed as much as grain as cattle.

Would you be willing to try beefalo if it were easily available?

Nuclear inventory

Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the military to take inventory of all U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon-related material on Wednesday, following last week’s discovery that four nuclear warhead fuses were accidentally sent to Taiwan.

Also, last August, four Air Force officers lost their jobs after a B-52 bomber accidentally flew six nuclear warheads from North Dakota to Louisiana. The following Air Force investigation found “lackadaisical” attention to the details of day-to-day operations at the bases involved.

Gates has requested all items be accounted for by serial number within the next 60 days.

It’s been 20 years since the government ended the nuclear arms race of the Cold War. In those years, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction.

With its tough stances against Iran and North Korea, the U.S. is a worldwide weapons watchdog that isn’t certain if all of its own weapons are where they are supposed to be.

The U.S. is notorious for monitoring and intervening in other countries’ nuclear affairs. Why can’t it monitor its own?

Wrangling over wording

The wording of a ballot summary was argued in an appeals court earlier this week. The proposed state constitutional amendment regards stem cell research. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan wrote the initial summary, which was challenged by supporters of the amendment on the grounds that it was misleading.

Edward Griem, from Cures Without Cloning, said Carnahan’s summary included policy and social claims while missing the point of the bill — to ban all human embryonic cloning.

Carnahan attorneys fired back, saying that Carnahan’s summation was fair and the amendment was poorly written and may make criminals of doctors, researchers and patients involved in stem cell research.

This amendment, on the November ballot, would ban somatic cell nuclear transfer, which was protected by the 2006 amendment approved by voters. The 2006 amendment made it a crime to “clone or attempt to clone a human being,” but approved somatic cell nuclear transfer as long as the embryo isn’t implanted in a uterus.

Is the wording of the summary going to affect the chance of the amendment passing?

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