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Ethics group: Blunt ad OK

JEFFERSON CITY — The state Ethics Commission has cleared Gov.-elect Matt Blunt of allegations that he used government money for political purposes by running pro-voting newspaper ads featuring his smiling face.

A Blunt spokesman, learning of the decision Monday, said: “That’s great! That’s excellent news!”

To the Editor

I just read your article “Pinkel’s fate should not mirror Onofrio’s.” Although I understand the trepidation in regard to firing Pinkel, I also think John Miller missed the point.

First, let me point out the obvious. Al Onofrio assumed the head coaching position at Missouri in 1970 and was later dismissed in 1977, amassing a career 38-41 record at Missouri. Although I was not a Missouri fan during that time, as I was too busy learning to walk, the article clearly cites inconsistency as the reason Onofrio was fired. It is nice to have solid recruiting and to win games against ranked opponents. However, the head football coach of any large-conference program is expected to have solid recruiting, and of course, to win games, which also means winning against ranked opponents. In that regard, Onofrio competently, not exceptionally, performed his duties. At the time, Missouri was accustomed to winning, and when the program showed a significant decline, the administration reacted and fired a competent coach. Furthermore, Onofrio’s overall record was not exceptional. After all things considered, it wasn’t much more impressive than mediocre.

Student visa delays affect universities

Amid tighter scrutiny of foreign visitors since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many U.S. universities are experiencing a sharp drop in the enrollment of international students.

It is an especially troublesome trend for science and engineering graduate schools, which get a large number of students from abroad.

Boys and Girls Town hopes to use Woodhaven site

When the Columbia branch of Boys and Girls Town of Missouri opened five years ago, it promised it would look for better facilities than its two houses and one administrative office scattered around the city.

The Columbia City Council will decide tonight whether the group can keep that promise.

Plan aims to reduce prisoner recidivism

When inmates are released from prison, they often face hurdles that prevent them from leading crime-free lives. Problems with substance abuse, mental health and job placement increase the likelihood that former inmates will return to prison.

A state initiative, called the Missouri Re-entry Process aims to decrease criminal recidivism by addressing such hurdles.

Going public

Laura Meyer is a Hickman High School senior and a National Merit Scholar semifinalist and is involved in the National Honor Society and other service-related activities.

Claire Schaeperkoetter is a West Junior High School freshman who plays basketball and soccer on Rock Bridge High School teams.

Schools aim to empower children vs. abuse

Deep, dark bruises are visible up and down the young boy’s arm. He flinches as the guidance counselor questions him.

“It’s against the law for adults to injure children,” the counselor says on the educational video.

Behind new bars

The road to Algoma Correctional Facility is narrow and winding, beset by dead, brown grass. The prison is on a hill, its rusted barbed wire and paint-peeled watchtowers reminders of the conditions that pushed the state of Missouri to construct a new prison, which sits on 144 acres at the bottom of the hill.

The new Jefferson City Correctional Center, which opened in September at a cost of $128 million, is all concrete and asphalt. The low-slung housing units, with their blue-tiled roofs, contrast starkly with the drab, monotonous gray of the rest of the facility. Inside, from floor to ceiling, everything looks and smells fresh. Inmates, who crisscross the building’s interior in teams of two with mop and bucket in hand, scrub the floors to a white sheen. This is a place that concerns itself primarily with efficiency. Under the circumstances, this means constant vigilance.

The soul of flamenco

It’s hot in the basement of the house on Hendrix Street. The dark room is filled with the smell of corn tortillas and ground beef from the kitchen upstairs. Guitar cases line the wall beneath a poster of the Dave Matthews Band, and musical instruments are strewn about.

A group of men from around the world — Spain, Iran, Morocco, Missouri — have come together to make music. They are artists, students, teachers, professionals and casual philosophers. Seated on benches, stools and anything else they can find in the cramped space, they face each other — and the case of beer they share — and begin to play.

Rooster shots

Just a bit of lube can fix a squeaky hinge or keep an engine running smoothly for thousands of miles. Nowadays, it can do the same for an arthritic knee.

Viscosupplementation, a relatively new treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee, transforms natural rooster comb into a high-tech “motor oil” that can relieve joint pain and delay or even prevent surgery.

Origins of flamenco

Flamenco was born in Andalusia, Spain, a region within a triangle formed by the southern cities of Cordoba, Seville and Cadiz. Nomadic Gypsies from Northern Africa, Southern Europe, India and Arabic countries settled in this area, and over time, they borrowed from each other’s cultures, music and dance.

Long-ago travelers

Notable flamenco artists

Flamenco is more than a music or a dance: It’s an attitude that transcends languages and cultures.

The people who adopt this lifestyle are called flamencos. Here are a few who have made significant contributions to flamenco and helped make it popular around the world.

No magical fix found in new bag of tricks

A few weeks ago I wrote about how a friend and I have started purging the unused, worn-out and excess stuff around our houses. So far, we have purged our closets, my pantry and her makeup. The point was to downsize and only keep things we really needed, liked or still fit.

We decided that because I threw out most of her cosmetics (I wasn’t brave enough to purge my own), we would have a makeover and let the experts tell us what we needed.

Community Sketchbook

Facing Alzheimer's

Bobby Lene got his death sentence in April from doctors at Rusk Rehabilitation Center.

His brain is slowly dying. It is already significantly smaller than it should be for a man of 57. Bobby has early-onset Alzheimer’s, a disease that can affect people as young as 30.

Free to talk

In Judith Martin’s book, “Miss Manners’ Guide to Domestic Tranquility,” she notes an unwritten social rule that Americans have handed down to their children for generations. “The children are already learning that people of good will may differ strongly on matters of religion,” she wrote, “and that one gets along with them best by refraining from comment, as well as discussion.”

But in today’s fast-paced society of 24-hour news channels and the Internet, Americans are exposed to more religious diversity than ever before. In this cable-ready society, is talking about religion the taboo that etiquette mavens once said it was?

All about soul

The artist: Born and raised in St. Louis, Chris Keener is the lead vocalist and pianist for the Columbia band Oh Yeah. At 16, Keener left home to find his mission in life. Living with friends who were in bands, he became inspired and eventually taught himself how to play the piano and guitar. Keener attended MU as an undergraduate, but after less than a year, he dropped out to focus on his true passion: music.

The art: Keener began as a solo artist, but in time met up with his bandmates John Gilbreth, Taylor Bacon and Seth Ashley. Oh Yeah has begun to generate a name for itself in Columbia, playing at venues such as the Blue Note and Mojo’s. The band’s first album, “To Have and To Hold,” has an eclectic range. The band is working on its second album.

Time sensitive

The clock is a symbol of an artificial and arbitrary time, giving a beat to everyday life and sense to human existence. Some hurry on foot; others get angry in traffic because they’re losing precious “time.” Eventually, the vehicles of their haste turn to rust and ruin. And when careless hands forget to set a clock, the rhythm of days, nights and seasons gives sense to this word — “time.”

Curly Joe’s one cool ‘harmonicat’

After taking a shot of vodka to loosen his vocal cords, Curly Joe Harper takes the stage at Bear’s Breath Bar and Grill and begins to do what he does best: play harmonica.

As the Curly Joe Harper Blues Band launches into its first song, Curly slowly starts moving to the blues beat. Taking his first solo, Curly’s right leg begins to shake as his wrists slide his harmonica back and forth.

The disability dilemma

Lloyd Wes Vaughan is seldom without a hat, but not because he wants to make a fashion statement. He’s hiding the hole in his head.

Vaughan is a former maintenance mechanic for the city of Columbia. On Aug. 8, 2000, he was replacing a cracked window on a transformer at Columbia’s Wastewater Treatment Plant on Gillespie Bridge Road when a current surged through the electrical system. Vaughan touched the steel frame on the transformer box, and nearly 14,000 volts of electricity ran through his body, exited out his skull and left the indelible half-dollar-sized souvenir in his head.

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