Alexander, before the legend

When MU history professor Ian Worthington went to see the movie “Alexander,” he hoped director Oliver Stone would give him a glimpse of the man behind the legend. Instead, in Worthington’s view, Stone’s film puts grand ideas ahead of an in-depth character study and fails to convey the qualities that made Alexander a charismatic commander and statesman.

Although the film accurately portrays Alexander’s drinking and bisexuality, Worthington says, it doesn’t capture the forceful personality Alexander must have had to accomplish what he did.

I’m not tough to read: Give me suspense

I’ve been doing a great deal of reading lately. I’ve finished two books in the last week. No big deal to you brainiacs who can consume a 200 pager in a couple of hours, but Sister Alexandra would be proud. She was my second grade teacher who thought I’d never get through my Dick and Jane reader. Back then we were not labeled “remedial” or learning disabled.” We were just called stupid.

My love of reading came late in life — raising a brood left little time to turn pages at my leisure. It was during the turbulent teenage years when I had to stay up and wait for a child to return to the nest that I started picking up a novel to while away the hours. (This was before cable so late night TV ended with Johnny Carson.)

Evil twist

Big Brother. Darth Vader. Tommy Vercetti. These three represent tangible evil to anyone who sees or reads about their exploits. Yet people continue to empathize with Vercetti. Why?

Because in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, you are drug-dealing, cop-murdering Tommy Vercetti. The video game, which Rockstar Games released in 2002, successfully followed up Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto III, taking another step toward redefining gaming’s traditional “heroes” as protagonists.

Zoning commission OKs Sapp plan

After two hours of comments from critics, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended Thursday night that the city approve Billy Sapp’s permanent zoning requests for the nearly 1,000 acres he hopes to voluntarily annex.

Opponents, many of whom live near the proposed developments on Route WW, voiced concerns over the density of the developments, traffic, watershed and the costs the city could face.

One killed, one injured in stabbing

A 20-year-old man was stabbed to death Thursday after a dispute that culminated inside a Columbia convenience store. A second stabbing victim remained in critical condition Thursday night.

Columbia police identified the dead man as

Women’s alliance sets priorities for 2005

Eliminating earning disparities between women and men and ensuring access to affordable, quality health care and child care are the top priorities of the Alliance for the Status of Missouri Women in 2005, the group announced Thursday.

At a news conference in Columbia, the group released its goals for shaping state policies that support women in the workplace and their families.

Jacob quits labor panel for union post

JEFFERSON CITY— Former Sen. Ken Jacob, whose appointment to the state labor commission created a political firestorm, has left government to become executive director of one of the largest labor unions for state employees.

Jacob said Thursday that he resigned as chairman of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission because Republican Gov.-elect Matt Blunt had pledged during the campaign to remove Jacob from the position.

Job-skills grant aims to train youths

A state grant of $143,213 will help Columbia’s young people develop and improve work skills.

“We know that an educated work force is a key component to building a strong and viable economy,” said Rick Beasley, director of the Missouri Division of Workforce Development. “In order to achieve an educated work force, we must begin teaching key occupational and academic skills, social skills, workplace skills and thinking skills to our youth.”

Well-known book under scrutiny

BLUE SPRINGS — A group of parents has asked the Blue Springs school board to remove the award-winning book, “The Giver,” from student reading lists, saying it contains “negative” themes.

The district has included the book, written by Lois Lowry, on its suggested reading lists for eighth-graders for almost eight years without incident.

After the storm

Although the weather service registered only a trace of precipitation Thursday, freezing temperatures froze the snow and ice that fell Wednesday into a dangerous combination. Columbia street crews began clearing roadways late Wednesday afternoon after a wintry mix began and continued throughout Thursday.

“We had people that worked until 8 p.m. Wednesday and then two people who worked all night,” said Jim McKinnon, Columbia streets department superintendent. “By 6 a.m., they tried to get the whole crew out.”

Gonzales decries torture

WASHINGTON — Attorney General-nominee Alberto Gonzales, under scorching criticism from senators, condemned torture as an interrogation tactic Thursday and promised to prosecute abusers of terror suspects. He also disclosed the White House was looking at trying to change the Geneva Conventions that protect prisoner rights.

Pressed at his confirmation hearing by senators from both parties, the White House counsel defended his advice to President Bush that the treaty’s protections did not extend to al-Qaida and other suspected terrorists.

Man charged in stabbing death arrested

A Columbia man was taken into custody Friday and charged with second-degree murder in connection with Thursday night’s fatal stabbing of a 20-year-old man at a convenience store in Columbia.

Robert J. Barney Jr., 26, surrendered to Columbia police at 2:35 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of the former Osco Drug, 111 S. Providence.

Firefighters find body in burning car

Authorities found a body Friday afternoon when they responded to a call of a burning car inside a campus parking garage.

Shortly before 12:30 p.m., the Columbia Fire Department responded to a report of a burning car on the third level of the Maryland Avenue Parking Garage. Once firefighters extinguished the blaze, they found a body inside the car. Authorities did not release any details about gender or race of the victim.

Columbia escapes worst of ice storm

After two days of anticipation, the weather turned nasty just when it looked like Columbia would remain ice-free.

On a day when Columbia Public Schools let out early because of the threat of ice, freezing temperatures remained just to the north until about nightfall.

Harris rejects bid for House speaker

JEFFERSON CITY — Better cooperation between Democrats and Republicans was the overture of the Missouri General Assembly’s first day Wednesday as newly elected Speaker Rob Jetton (R-Marble Hill) brought the 93rd House session to order.

Gov.-elect Matt Blunt presided until the legislature unanimously elected Jetton, who is in his third term, as leader of the 163-member House of Representatives.

School buses in line for fuel-tax break

The Columbia school district could save nearly $60,000 a year if a bill passes to exempt school districts from paying Missouri’s fuel tax.

House Bill 65, proposed by Maynard Wallace, R-Thornfield, would exempt all school districts from paying a 17-cent tax on each gallon of fuel.

MU center to aid Asian youth hurt by tsunami

Syed Arshad Husain has a well-earned reputation for going into war-torn and disaster-stricken areas. He’s been to Pakistan, India, Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait. He’s been to Kosovo 14 times and Bosnia 25 times.

If the financial support comes through, he and a five- to six-member team from MU’s International Center for Psychosocial Trauma will leave Jan. 18 or 19 and travel to Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and then on to Pakistan, to deal with what could be called the second wave of trauma for the child survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Mo. teams prepare for relief trips

Even though the Rev. Jack Harris makes as many as 10 international trips each year, this one is going to be special.

Harris will lead a rapid response team of six people to Malaysia and Indonesia, two of the countries affected by the tsunami disaster. The team leaves Saturday.

Worth noting

Horizontal roof and window lines, beautiful grounds and community landmarks were all topics of discussion for the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission as it announced its 10 Most Notable Properties of 2005 on Tuesday.

Each year the commission accepts public nominations for properties that are historic and noteworthy to the Columbia community. The commission consists of seven members with varying backgrounds, including lawyers, property owners, architects and historians, commission chairman Brian Pape said.

80 mentors sought for at-risk youth program

West Boulevard Elementary has the money and coordinators to initiate its new mentoring program, but it still needs 80 volunteers.

Stand by Me is an initiative to mentor at-risk students at the Columbia school district’s first model school. West Boulevard is looking to assist minority and low-income students improve academic and social achievement, said Zona Sharp-Burk, one of the program’s coordinators.