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

Saturday, June 14, 2008 | 10:03 a.m. CDT; updated 1:23 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Math professors make plea to state

Too many incoming students lack the skills needed to take college-level math courses, according to a letter drafted by university professors in Missouri. Educators asked the state to align state education standards with those in a national report. The letter, dated May 5, was signed by more than 50 professors from MU, Washington University in St. Louis and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The petition states that many college students — about 1,000 at MU — must take remedial math courses before they can take college-level courses. Students enrolled in higher-level courses struggle to keep up.

Missouri’s K-12 math curriculum received an “F” on a 2005 “State of State Math Standards Report Card.” The same report showed Missouri behind some other state’s standards by more than a year. The professors criticized a draft of Missouri’s latest math standards plan, which is up for public review through the end of this month and can be found at dese.mo.gov. The math professors urge that Missouri should look to the future, starting with a review of the proposed plan.

How should the state respond to the professors’ plea?

Small efforts, big benefits

Columbia ranked No. 4 in the nation for compact fluorescent light bulb usage. The bulbs give the same amount of light as traditional incandescent bulbs but use less energy. The bulbs boast an average lifespan 10 years longer than traditional bulbs. One warning, however: The bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and can’t be thrown out with the trash. Bulbs can be taken to the city’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility from April through November. When the facility is not open, bulbs should be stored in closed containers until they can properly be disposed.

Columbia consumers receive instant rebates on the bulbs from October through December at select retailers. Bulbs priced at $3 cost as little as 99 cents. The “Change a Light, Change the World” program is sponsored by Energy Star and Columbia Water and Light. The program discounted 10,000 bulbs in 2007, almost twice the number in 2005. Water and Light also gave discounted bulbs to the Landlord Association. Many landlords have installed the bulbs in their properties because of the low-maintenance cost.

How do you conserve energy or lower energy costs in your home?

Water worries abound

Flash flood watches and warnings dotted the weather forecasts last week. Missouri rivers are full from the wet winter and spring, and the rain continues.

Flood concerns are high surrounding the Mississippi River where the water level sits a few feet above flood stage in Canton, La Grange, Hannibal, Louisiana, Mo., Clarksville, Winfield and St. Louis. Canton, a city of 2,500 residents, aimed to fill 800,000 sandbags before this Wednesday. By then, the river is expected to surpass the flood stage and crest at more than 26 feet.

Several locks were closed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect electric equipment. When locks close, navigating the river becomes more difficult.

The governor’s office and the State Emergency Management Agency said they have been monitoring the rising levels but don’t expect a repeat of the floods of 1993.

Baseball and softball games are casualties of the rain. The six fields at the Rainbow Softball Complex have rarely been dry enough for play this season. The fields can be dried artificially with Turface Quick-Dry, a powder-like substance that soaks up moisture. Spreading the substance can be expensive; extra Turface costs tournament directors $10 a bag. If a couple of bags can’t do the job, the games are canceled.

How has the rain affected your summer?

This deal’s for you?

After rumors about a possible buyout, Anheuser-Busch finally received a buyout offer from Belgian brewer InBev on Wednesday. The deal would pay $65 in cash per share or roughly $46.3 billion. The announcement sent stock shares up 7.6 percent to $62.80 in after-hours trading Wednesday.

The offer met much opposition in the brewer’s hometown of St. Louis, where 6,000 people are employed by Anheuser Busch. Workers worried jobs would be cut. InBev has a reputation in the beer industry for cutting costs within acquired companies. InBev is the result of a 2004 merger between Belgium’s Interbrew and AmBev, South America’s largest brewer. InBev’s products include Beck’s and Stella Artois, two brands that Anheuser-Busch already imported.

Sales suffered for Anheuser-Busch’s core brands Budweiser and Bud Light last year, while sales of craft and import beers grew.

Several Web sites and petitions were started with patriotic intentions.

“Like baseball, apple pie and ice cold beer (wrapped in a red, white and blue label), Anheuser-Busch is an American original,” one Web site said. The site, SaveAB.com, offers a free bumper sticker to supporters who sign the online petition.

What loyalty do you feel toward Missouri’s top brewer?

Two shootings leave questions

A robbery in southeast Columbia left 22-year-old Nathaniel Bentley dead from a gunshot wound to the head. According to police, the suspects entered a duplex on Pimlico Drive and went through the rooms, demanding money and property from Bentley and the five other people inside. Bentley was shot in an upstairs bedroom.

Neighbors had mixed reactions to the crime. Some saw the shooting as one event contributing to a trend of violence in the area. Others saw the incident as isolated and bizarre.

Three arrests were made Wednesday, and warrants were issued for two additional suspects. After receiving a tip from the CrimeStoppers line, Columbia police located a fourth suspect Thursday. The hourlong standoff at a hotel on Business Loop 70 East ended in the arrest of the man accused of pulling the trigger. As of Friday morning, one suspect was still at large.

Early Wednesday morning, a 25-year-old man was shot in the thigh in central Columbia. In both cases, Columbia police asked for the help of citizens to provide information.

What role should citizens have in ongoing police investigations?


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