Grisly violence erupts in Iraq

FALLUJAH, Iraq — In a scene reminiscent of Somalia, frenzied crowds dragged the burned, mutilated bodies of four American contractors through the streets of a town west of Baghdad on Wednesday and strung two of them up from a bridge after rebels ambushed their sport utility vehicles.

Five U.S. soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division also were killed when a bomb exploded under their M-113 armored personnel carrier north of Fallujah, making it the bloodiest day for Americans in Iraq since Jan. 8.

Baby beats

A flowing blue scarf was spread out on the floor for the children and their teacher to sit on. When a captain was chosen, they finally were ready to take a trip in their big blue boat.

While singing and moving to the rhythm, the children saw sharks and fish on their voyage.

Home at home

Eyes peering through his mask, Rock Bridge catcher Scott Dunwoody crouches behind the plate during Tuesday’s practice.

The frigid air and a sore right shoulder don’t faze Dunwoody as Steven Farrow tosses a ball in his direction. Dunwoody is quick to respond. The ball bounces off his chest protector and rolls back to Farrow’s feet.

Violence reigns in Fallujah

WASHINGTON — After a year of trying, the U.S. military can’t figure out how to quell the rage in Fallujah, perhaps the most dangerous city in Iraq’s most dangerous region.

Last spring, the Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment sent in a small, light force that got into a firefight and was forced to retreat. Next came the 3rd Infantry Division and, then, the 82nd Airborne with more iron-fisted approaches. When each left, the insurgents seemed as strong as ever.

Paxton’s strength to benefit Tigers

Aug. 30, 1987, is a day Steve Paxton shouldn’t be capable of remembering. Instead, it is one he will never forget. On that day, Paxton was cruising along a deserted country road near his hometown of Urbana, Ohio. He had recently turned 16 and was enjoying the newfound freedom of driving. Like most new drivers, he had a tendency to drive more quickly than the legal limit.

Unlike most new drivers, though, his predilection for speed nearly killed him.

Mayoral hopefuls discuss disability

The three mayoral candidates presented their views about several disability issues in Columbia on Wednesday at one of their last forums before the election on Tuesday.

About 30 people gathered at the Activity and Recreation Center to hear what Mayor Darwin Hindman and mayoral candidates John Clark and Arch Brooks had to say.

Two Cougars get early start on college

At this time of year, most high school seniors are concerned with finding a prom date and eagerly counting the days until graduation.

Ashley Perrigo and Felisha Richards aren’t most high school seniors.

Iraqis protest U.S. order

BAGHDAD, Iraq — At least 10,000 supporters of a radical Shiite cleric rallied Wednesday outside the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in a protest against the closure of their weekly newspaper, accused by the top American official in Iraq of inciting violence against coalition troops.

The chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, ordered Al-Hawza closed for two months on Sunday because its articles “form a serious threat of violence” against coalition forces and Iraqi citizens working with them. Al-Hawza’s managing editor dismissed the accusation and said political motives were behind Bremer’s decision.

Some raise issue with more land for schools

Supporters and critics of the $22.5 million Columbia School District bond issue agree that the district needs money for improving and maintaining existing facilities. They disagree, however, over using $1.2 million of it to buy land for a new high school and a new elementary school.

A super majority — 57 percent — of voters will have to approve the district’s request for $22.5 million in general obligation bonds on Tuesday. The issue would not increase property taxes and would extend debt payment for another three years.

Mo. House bills divert drive for gay rights

JEFFERSON CITY — Gay rights suffered two setbacks in the Missouri House on Wednesday.

The first loss came when a House committee approved a bill that would prohibit state-funded public institutions from using anti-discrimination policies that exceed federal standards. Federal standards do not include sexual orientation.

Park boss retires after 28 years

Scott Schulte knows a lot about how nature works. At his farewell luncheon Wednesday, he noted how well fertilized his money tree, a going-away present from friends in and out of the Missouri state park system, must have been.

After 28 years with Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, superintendent Scott Schulte has retired. More than 40 people, including park workers and friends from all over Missouri, came to say goodbye.

State Senate accepts car bill

JEFFERSON CITY — Police could stop motorists solely for not wearing seat belts, and children younger than 6 would have to ride in safety seats, under legislation given initial Senate approval Wednesday.

The bill received first-round approval on a voice vote and needs a second vote to advance to the House.