Pledge: A nation divisible after all

WASHINGTON — Under the stony gazes of Moses and Muhammad, the Supreme Court opened its Wednesday session as any other. The spectators — many of whom had waited in long lines to attend the historic arguments — rose to their feet as the justices filed into the pillared chamber and a marshal proclaimed the court’s traditional rhetoric: “God save the United States and this honorable court.”

In a room built to immortalize many of history’s great thinkers — a number of them from religious traditions — the court began to weigh the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the pledge millions of school children recite daily.

Supreme Court rules against city

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in an 8-to-1 decision that Missouri had the right to restrict the ability of municipalities such as Columbia and other political subdivisions to sell telecommunications services.

“We lost,” said Bill Johnson, deputy director of the Missouri Municipal League, which represented the cities of Columbia, Springfield and Sikeston in the case.

Brooks’ divide with NAACP grows

As the first mayoral candidate to give remarks at a forum Wednesday night at Paquin Tower, Arch Brooks opened the event by reminding the audience of his perspective of Columbia as the only black candidate.

“I was around here before we integrated the Columbia Public School District,” he said.

Starting off right

Still sleepy from her afternoon nap, the 3-year-old widens her big blue eyes and jumps from her chair with a smile: Her tutor is waving from across the room.

Every Wednesday afternoon, nine preschoolers at Hand-in-Hand Learning Center on Bearfield Road welcome Jumpstart volunteers as if they were older siblings, the children eager to start playing — and learning.

Holden denounces Medicaid cuts

KANSAS CITY — Republicans’ Proposed cuts to the state’s Medicaid program are “penny-wise and pound-foolish,” Gov. Bob Holden told a crowded room of supporters Wednesday.

Billed by the Democratic governor as a hearing on the proposed cuts, the event drew health care providers, parents and community activists, who all testified against the legislation.

Recycling — a matter of convenience

City officials said the bright blue bins located at 33 Columbia convenience stores have done a ton of good to help recycling in the city. Thirteen tons to be exact.

Eleven months into Columbia’s convenience store-based recycling program, 13 tons of soda bottles and cans have been recycled via the 108 bins, according to Angela Gehlert, Columbia’s waste minimization coordinator. Gehlert said because the program has been so successful, it will be expanded during the next year.

Clark still making moves

Bill Clark made the Mid-Missouri Mavericks an offer they couldn’t pass up.

After all, it’s not every day the last-place team in the Western Division of the Frontier League gets a call inquiring about a job from the major league scout who discovered Andruw Jones and Rafael Furcal and almost put Albert Pujols in an Atlanta Braves uniform.

Cougars open with tough test

With all the hoopla surrounding the NCAA men’s basketball tournament each March, it’s easy to forget about the sport’s original extravaganza.

The NAIA Tournament began in 1937 with an eight-team field. The next season, the tournament adopted its 32-team format. The tournament’s five rounds are played during a seven-day span, compared to the NCAA’s six rounds in 19 days.

Clark nuts about oddlifting

It isn’t the weights that are odd at Clark’s Championship Gym. It’s the lifts. Common sense might also argue that any weightlifter who engages in an exercise named the crucifix would have to be an oddity, if not downright crazy.

“A man is essentially nuts that does this,” owner Bill Clark said with a smile on his face after pounding out 20 repetitions of 1,005 pounds in the Harness lift.