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.

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.

Film festival big business for downtown

The True/False Film Festival proved to be an economic boon for some downtown businesses. Sales increased to as much as double their averages at certain locations.

“Saturday we did what was normal for about two days, at least, and we had two more people working” said Ali Brown of Main Squeeze. “Every time a movie lets out, there’s a line out the door.” Brown expected Sunday to be about the same.

Praying for the pope

On the first Sunday in 26 years that the pope has failed to bestow his traditional weekly blessing, members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish remembered him in their prayers.

The congregation of hundreds sang in a soft melody, “Oh Lord, hear our prayer,” in response to a request “for those who exercise authority in the church and the sick, especially Pope John Paul II.”

Harvard speech sparks gender debate in sciences

Think about how your life would change if you woke up tomorrow as a member of the opposite sex.

Virginia Peterson, an associate biochemistry professor at MU, does this exercise in diversity with students. It’s meant to get people thinking and talking about how gender shapes our world.

Filmmakers serve up marriage with a twist

In 1950, the U.S. government produced a documentary on the campuses of MU and Stephens College and the surrounding countryside. The 20-minute film, titled “This Charming Couple,” aimed to curb the rising divorce rate in post-World War II America.

The film was originally about a young, happy couple whose marriage quickly disintegrates because of unresolved personal differences, but local filmmakers were given the chance to make the film about whatever they wanted.

Film director will be at MU screening

Kimberlee Acquaro, co-director of the documentary “God Sleeps in Rwanda,” will be on hand to talk with audience members after a screening of the film from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today in MU’s Jesse Wrench Auditorium. The film depicts the lives of women who survived the Rwandan genocide.

Acquaro, a photojournalist and filmmaker, will be joined by genocide survivor Norah Bagirinka in a panel discussion following the film.

High-tech boards raise excitement over ABCs

Students in Emily Bloomfield’s first-grade class at Two Mile Prairie Elementary School can hardly sit in their seats when it comes time to work on their reading.

Seven-year-old Michael Harrington couldn’t wait to write the morning message on the classroom’s Smart Board.

‘Model’ schools also suing for funds

JEFFERSON CITY — As state lawmakers work on a new way to fund public schools, they are basing their method on what “successful” school districts spend to educate their students.

But among those being used as a model for the new formula are some districts that have sued the state to get more money.

Viewers come from all over state to see film festival

One ticket to the Missouri Theatre on Saturday afternoon gave you access to a country music show — complete with washboard and gut-bucket — and a Czechoslovakian filmmaker’s commentary on capitalism.

Jamie Barrier, lead singer and guitarist for the Pine Hill Haints, who performed at the theater before some screenings, said he was excited to come to Columbia from Alabama to take part in the True/False Film Festival.

Pursuing the American Dream

When Yang Lei paid black market smugglers to take him from his native village in China’s Fujian province to America in 1992, he wasn’t looking for fame or fortune. He was just looking to be left alone. As part owner in a brick-making cooperative and the father of two young sons in a country that only allowed one, Yang felt harassed by financial pressures, social pressures and political pressures.

Documentaries hit downtown

David Redmon’s best friend while filming “Director of Mardi Gras: Made in China” was a dictionary.

“Making the film was really difficult because I was working alone and didn’t have any kind of crew,” Redmon said. “I didn’t have a translator, so I was communicating through a dictionary.”

Facing a tough cut

By 2003, John Pepper had abused drugs and alcohol for 41 years and spent 25 years in prison for a variety of crimes, from drug-dealing to burglary.

Pepper, 58, said he had struck bottom.

Children’s shelter gets boost in funding

At a ceremony Friday morning, Columbia resident Wes Stricker presented the Boys and Girls Town of Missouri with a check for $100,000, the largest donation yet for a new and more secure facility being built on Bearfield Road.

“The challenge here is to help with the buildings here,” Stricker said.

Consultants submit public housing plans

The Columbia Housing Authority has received proposals from two consulting firms for redevelopment of public housing along Park Avenue, according to Rick Hess, the Housing Authority’s director of asset management. A consultant would guide the redevelopment project and apply for federal funding.

“It’s been discussed for a few years, and it’s exciting that it’s moving forward,” Hess said.

Civil servant worked with MU, police, government

W. E. “Bill” Moyes wanted to be a police detective, but at 5 feet 7 inches, he just missed the height requirement.

This did not stop him from a long career in agriculture, eight years at the Student Financial Aid office at MU, and church and volunteer work. Mr. Moyes served as president of the board of the Columbia Police Department’s Crime Blockers group.

Drawing from Education

On a recent morning, students in Hickman High School’s introductory drawing and painting class were working on landscape paintings. The atmosphere was relaxed, with a radio playing modern rock in the background. When they weren’t focused on their own paintings, the students moved around the room, glancing at the work of others.

The assignment required a strong contemporary focus, and the students have been studying everything from Paul Cezanne’s mountain ranges to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Western scenes for inspiration. Jane Belcher, a senior, sat at the end of one of the long tables on the perimeter of the room. Her painting depicts a forest scene and relies heavily on the color green. It also features a large orange giraffe with brown spots.

Telling an immigrant’s story

Dear Reader,

I first met Xu Liping and Yang Lei entirely by chance when a craving for some good Chinese food led me to their Columbia-area restaurant. When I ordered in Mandarin, rather than English, their faces brightened, and soon they were sharing with me their family’s story of illegal immigration to the United States, and the decade of hardship, separation and suffering that followed.

Easy Riders

Every Saturday, a group of extraterrestrials meets to cruise the roads of Boone County. They are a peculiar sort: their heads shaped like eggs, their clothes marked in green neon, their eyes shaded and oval-shaped.

Their traveling machines are similarly odd: vast networks of tubes and cables, powered by circular gearing systems and two spinning gyros.

Super-sized purses create big problems

I’ve written before about the various differences between the two sexes. Women have much more of the burden to bear throughout life. One of the many examples that life is lopsided is the age-old tradition of the woman carrying a purse.

I watched my husband get ready for work this morning — such a simple ritual. He buttons his shirt, zips up his pants and then places his “necessities” into his pockets. His billfold goes in his back left pocket. A nail clipper and tiny pocket knife (for warding off any attackers) go into one side pocket; the other is reserved for loose change and paper money. That’s it!