Looking for laughs

Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory mixed social commentary and humor at a speech Monday night as part of MU’s Black History Month celebration.

“I never expected white folks to give us a whole month,” he said to a crowd of more than 150 people.

La Russa says timing key to Series loss

JUPITER, Fla. — Tony La Russa’s standard line when asked about the Cardinals’ four-game collapse in the World Series is, “No excuses, Boston was the better team.” But he concedes Boston’s extra day off was an advantage.

The Red Sox lost the first three games of the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees, then became the first team ever to rally from such a deficit and win a series.

Study: Seat belt law would save lives

More than 10,000 deaths and injuries could be prevented over three years if a proposed seat belt law is put into effect.

That is the contention of researcher Lilliard Richardson, whose study for MU’s Truman School for Public Affairs found that stricter seat belt laws could reduce the rate of traffic fatalities by 5.9 percent and traffic injuries by 4.9 percent, affecting 3,400 people per year in Missouri. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that stricter laws could save Missourians up to $133 million per year in medical, legal, rehabilitation and workplace costs.

SMSU name change ripe for House vote

JEFFERSON CITY — House lawmakers are poised to vote on a bill renaming Southwest Missouri State University.

A vote on the measure, which would dub the school Missouri State University, could come today when the time scheduled for debate is set to expire.

Fund raises more than $107,000 since Bowden shooting

More than $107,000 has been raised and donated to the Officer Down Fund in the wake of the shooting of Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden.

The fund was organized within days of the shooting “in response to public questions of ‘What can we do to help?’” said Columbia attorney Dan Atwill, treasurer of the Columbia Police Foundation.

Spring training make or break for George

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Left-hander Chris George was once projected to be a cornerstone of future Kansas City Royals’ rotations, but this spring he is fighting long odds to even make the staff.

George was the 31st player drafted in 1998, when he went 15-0 with a 1.15 earned run average for Klein High School in Texas, where he was named high school player of the year. He turned down a scholarship to Rice to sign with the Royals and played on the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal in Sydney.

Step by Step

Gov. Matt Blunt wants to curb the increasing costs of the First Steps program by placing its financial responsibility into the hands of private insurance providers, he said during a visit to Columbia and three other Missouri cities on Monday.

First Steps provides in-home therapy and services to children younger than 3 who have developmental disabilities. The program could lose much of its state funding to Medicaid and budget cuts that Blunt has proposed.

Sentencing guidelines scrutinized

Two mid-Missouri researchers have found sentencing disparities across the state, and their findings have the potential to change the way offenders are sentenced.

“Harsh sentencing has increased over time, and this is expensive to the state and taxes our limited resources,” said Mara Aruguete, department chairwoman of psychology at Stephens College.

Home for more than 300 with disabilities faces closure

JEFFERSON CITY — Protest signs created a backdrop Monday for those who oppose the impending closure of Bellefontaine Habilitation Center.

Bellefontaine, home to more than 300 mentally and physically disabled citizens, is located in St. Louis. It would be closed by Gov. Matt Blunt’s proposed budget cuts.

Talks focus on women in film

Stephens College turns the lens on women in film to begin Women’s History Month this week.

On Monday, Liz Mermin, the director of “Beauty Academy of Kabul,” discussed documentary filmmaking. Tonight, Columbia filmmakers Kerri Yost, Beth Pike, Beth Federici and Katherine Gorman will speak about women’s roles in the film industry followed by excerpts from their current projects.

Agency puts freeze on need-based scholarships

JEFFERSON CITY — In an effort to help more Missouri students attend college, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education voted recently to freeze the maximum amount of need-based scholarship dollars available to each student.

Funding for the state’s need-based scholarships — administered through Missouri Guarantee Program — has remained at $8 million for three academic years. Traditionally, the commission has increased the limit on aid available per student to help students keep up with rising tuition rates.

Immigration policy a sensitive subject

Need a fast conversation starter? Try the word “immigration.” Before you know it, you’ll be buried under an avalanche of words. This is a subject on which everyone seems to have an opinion. For a long time, most people seemed to be for it. These days, some are still for it, but...

I was visiting with a group last week that was discussing the mass immigration that had taken place in the last few years.