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Former state judge speaks out against death penalty

Saying it is possible that innocent people have been executed, a former state Supreme Court judge said Wednesday night that a moratorium should be placed on the death penalty in Missouri.

Charles Blackmar, a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court from 1982 to 1992 and the Court’s chief justice from 1989 to 1991, spoke to a group of 60 people at Calvary Episcopal Church in Columbia.

ARAFAT DIES

RAMALLAH, West Bank— Yasser Arafat, who triumphantly forced his people’s plight into the world spotlight but failed to achieve his lifelong quest for Palestinian statehood, died Thursday at age 75.

The French military hospital where he had been treated since Oct. 29 said he died at 3:30 a.m. The Palestinian leader spent his final days there in a coma. Doctors would not disclose what ailment killed Arafat.

Amendment paves way for $400 million highways upgrade

A portion of tax money set aside for road work in the newly approved Amendment 3 might pay for improvements to some of Columbia's busiest highways.

Those improvements are part of a plan announced Wednesday by the Missouri Department of Transportation to upgrade 2,200 miles of state roads by December 2007.

MSA election results in runoff

MU students voted this week to choose the leaders of their governing body. The result: a runoff election.

The outcome of the Missouri Students Association Executive Election, which was held Nov. 8-10, was announced Wednesday evening in front of Jesse Hall. The runoff election will take place because none of the four presidential tickets received more than the required 35 percent of the vote.

Marijuana prosecutions scaled back in Columbia

The Columbia city prosecutor’s office announced new policies on handling marijuana cases Wednesday.

Following voter-approval of Proposition 1 on Nov. 2, marijuana cases will not be prosecuted if defendants have written statements from their doctors allowing marijuana use for serious illnesses. Voters also passed Proposition 2, which effectively decriminalized misdemeanor marijuana possession cases.

A veteran's reflection

Bob May knows his three years in the Navy during World War II could have ended differently.

“I was on the list to go to Midway Island and get ready to invade Japan,” May said. “The dropping of the atomic bombs saved my life and probably thousands others like me.”

Veterans decry cost of war, cutbacks

The recent “carnage” in Iraq brought back Thomas Hovey’s nightmares about war. Only veterans can understand how terrible war is, he said.

Hovey devoted 34 years, seven months and 17 days of his life to the military. He’s a disabled veteran. He fought in Korea. He fought in Vietnam. And this Veterans Day, those memories are in his thoughts.

Nixon files for delay in lawsuit

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s Democratic attorney general wants to delay a lawsuit challenging the state’s formula for funding public schools so the Republican legislature and governor-elect can have time to fix the problems.

The motion filed by Jay Nixon asks the Cole County Circuit Court to postpone action on the lawsuit, which says the foundation formula is unconstitutional because it distributes money to school districts inequitably.

Revamped Fulton library opens

FULTON — Light is perhaps the most striking change at the renovated Callaway County Public Library.

Before the renovation, dark blinds and blackened windows blocked any attempt by natural light to enter the building. Now, however, larger windows, lighter blinds and ceilings two feet higher have illuminated the building.

Provisional votes won’t switch state elections

JEFFERSON CITY — Based on estimates from the Secretary of State’s Office, provisional ballots in Missouri will have no impact on the outcome of the Nov. 2 elections for statewide offices. Verified ballots will, however, be counted.

“It’s important that every qualified voter has their vote counted,” said Gayla Vandelicht, co-director of elections for the secretary of state.

Talent talks to students about issues

It’s not every day high school students get to speak candidly with a U.S. senator. But some Rock Bridge students got that chance Tuesday.

Students in Matt Cone’s contemporary issues class hosted Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., for a discussion about some of the topics they have covered in class. The discussion focused primarily on the war on Iraq and the AIDS epidemic.

Students honor veterans

West Junior High School students honored past and present military members Tuesday night in a presentation titled “Freedom Isn’t Free: A Tribute to Veterans.” Twenty-three students of Kim Bard’s acting class presented their work to an audience of about 65 that included friends and relatives as well as faculty and staff.

Two days before Veterans Day, students recited literature, poems, stories and song lyrics to honor the five branches of the armed forces.

Head Start, HDC on solid ground after changes in management

Head Start and Central Missouri Counties’ Human Development Corporation. have new directors after almost a year of uncertainty and worry about the agencies’ funding.

Mernell King will begin her position as director of Head Start on Monday. Florence Tandy moved into the director’s office at HDC last week.

MU doctors urge sickle cell funding

With a prominent Missouri politician by their side, MU doctors and researchers gathered Tuesday to press for more federal dollars for treatment of sickle cell disease.

Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., visited the MU School of Medicine to tout a bill he sponsored, the Sickle Cell Treatment Act, which was recently passed into law.

Confident of America’s safety, Ashcroft resigns

On Election Day, Attorney General John Ashcroft delivered a five-page handwritten letter to President Bush, stating his resignation. A week after Bush’s re-election, the White House released word of Ashcroft’s resignation amid speculation about who would succeed him and other Cabinet changes.

Populist commentator lambastes Bush, Kerry

Self-styled populist author and political commentator Jim Hightower called for progressives to continue “the fight to take our country back from the thieves in high places” Tuesday night as he spoke about the 2004 presidential election and its aftermath at Conservation Auditorium at MU.

“I come out of last Tuesday’s election with mixed emotions,” Hightower said. “On the one hand, we did not win. There is King George the W., now with a Viagra-sized smirk saying ‘bring it on.’ ”

Awareness increases reports of same-sex domestic abuse

It begins with verbal threats and intimidation. It can move to stalking and physical violence. In rare cases, it ends in murder.

Domestic violence plays itself out every day in well-to-do neighborhoods and East Campus apartments alike. And, according to some domestic violence counselors, the number of cases reported by gay and lesbian couples is growing.

Islamic agency tries to free up funds for bills

The Islamic American Relief Agency is undergoing another government review, but this time it is at the request of the charity itself.

The agency, whose assets were frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department in October, has petitioned for access to funds to pay off creditors. Shareef Akeel, a Michigan-based lawyer representing the agency, submitted the request to the Office of Foreign Assets Control last week.

County reviews gravel road conditions

Two vehicles carrying Boone County government officials wound through hilly gravel roads Tuesday afternoon, kicking up dust and identifying priorities for next year’s road and bridge budget.

“The roads we are looking at today are ones we’d consider for major improvements, not minor maintenance issues,” Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin said.

Chief says pot law tough to interpret

When Proposition 2 passed overwhelmingly on Election Day, marijuana possession became Columbia law enforcement’s lowest priority.

But it’s not clear to police exactly how they are supposed to adjust to the change in the law.

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