Falun Gong movement core of talk

The struggle between the Chinese government and the spiritual practice of Falun Gong highlights how weak the Chinese government really is, 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner Ian Johnson said Wednesday at Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union.

Johnson’s lecture, which focused on his award-winning coverage of the Falun Gong movement in Beijing, was part of the Paine Lectures sponsored by the MU Department of Religious Studies, the School of Journalism, the Asian Affairs Center and the Center for Religion, the Professions and the Public. His book, “Wild Grass: Three Stories of Change in Modern China,”highlights the events of the movement.

Shaping College Dreams

Je’Vonte Prayer has dreams of becoming a professional basketball player — after he goes to college, of course.

Eleven-year-old Je’Vonte is one of 50 fifth-graders from Eugene Field Elementary School who experienced college a little earlier than most at “College Day” at Columbia College on Wednesday.

Protesters dispute cuts to Medicaid

JEFFERSON CITY — One e-mail changed Barbara French’s whole day.

When French, 67, of Edgar Springs, received an alert from a liberal think tank Wednesday morning that Gov. Matt Blunt’s proposed cuts to Medicaid would come up in a House committee that night, she sprang into action.

School bus driver accused of child molestation

A man arrested Sunday on suspicion of first-degree child molestation and possession of child pornography was a driver for First Student, the company that operates the buses for Columbia Public Schools, said Columbia Police Capt. Zim Schwartze.

Justin Blaine, 22, is accused of inappropriately touching an acquaintance’s daughter inside the Quick Trip convenience store at 3211 Clark Lane, police said.

Pursuit of death penalty likely

A prosecutor said Wednesday he is inclined to seek the death penalty for a southeast Missouri man accused of slaying a state trooper with a shotgun and a rifle in an ambush outside the officer’s home.

Carter County Prosecutor Michael Ligons charged Lance Shockley, 28, of Van Buren with first-degree murder and armed criminal action on Tuesday.

Blockbuster offers refunds for ‘no late fees’ program

When Blockbuster announced the end of late fees in December, some customers were unaware of the program’s fine print.

On Tuesday, Blockbuster announced that it will improve communication of the program as part of a settlement with 47 states, including Missouri.

MUHC faces proposed budget cuts

Medicaid might not be the only part of Missouri’s health care system to undergo budget cuts from Gov. Matt Blunt. Last week, Blunt handed down

$239.2 million in proposed budget cuts across state agencies and, though he promised no reductions in higher-education funding, the MU Health Care system was on the list.

Forum urges MU to open civic discourse

MU needs to start a dialogue with the people of Missouri to emphasize the value of higher education, panelists at the Chancellor’s Global Issues Forum said on Tuesday.

Richard Wallace, MU chancellor emeritus; Mel George, a former MU mathematics professor and interim chancellor; and Ron Turner, a former University of Missouri System executive vice president, presented points, posed questions and then facilitated discussions during the Higher Education in a Global Context Forum. The panelists addressed the problem of funding and breaching communications between the public and the university.

State execution location changed

The state will move all future executions to a prison in the eastern Missouri town Bonne Terre, starting with the scheduled April 27 execution of convicted killer Donald Jones, Department of Corrections officials said on Tuesday.

Missouri has executed 62 men since the death penalty was reinstated in 1989, most recently executing Stanley Hall on March 16 for abducting a woman and throwing her over a Mississippi River bridge railing in 1994.

Schools candidate criticizes NAACP

Tuesday night’s school board candidate forum began on a negative note with candidate Arch Brooks speaking out against the sponsoring organization, the NAACP.

Brooks said the worst mistake he has made since moving back to Columbia from Chicago was joining the Missouri National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Latino progress report

MU faculty and students got a sneak-peak Tuesday of what’s in store at the fourth annual Cambio de Colores conference, which begins today and ends Friday.

This year the conference, which focuses on the education, health and legal issues of immigrants, is titled “Latinos in Missouri: Connecting Research to Policy and Practice — Hoy y Mañana.”

Panel OKs plan to pay for roadways

After hearing public and committee comments, the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee approved a draft of recommendations for financing road improvements Tuesday night.

The recommendations will now go to the City Council for final approval. In addition to the recommendations, the committee voted to submit a list of additional suggestions and to have a representative address the council.

Council hopefuls talk diversity

Diminishing numbers and time constraints didn’t stop NAACP and other community members from getting in key questions before the April 5 City Council election.

With a diverse group of Columbia citizens in attendance at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People panel at the Second Baptist Church Tuesday evening, it wasn’t surprising that defining and increasing community diversity was the main question put before the candidates.

Man arrested on suspicion of touching minor

A 22-year-old Columbia man was arrested Monday after an acquaintance’s daughter said she was touched inappropriately on Sunday inside the Quick Trip convenience store at 3211 Clark Lane, Columbia police said on Tuesday.

Justin J. Blaine was charged with sexual misconduct with a child and possession of child pornography after police said they found several items of child pornography among his possessions, Columbia police Capt. Zim Schwartze said.

Asphalt plant site approved

The Boone County Commission unanimously approved a request Tuesday from APAC-Missouri Inc. to build a temporary asphalt plant in Hartsburg, despite eight neighbors speaking in opposition. APAC brought its plan to the commission after the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission denied the request.

Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin said that of all places, the quarry in Hartsburg is most suitable for an asphalt plant.

Missouri ponders Web Amber Alerts

KANSAS CITY — Missouri and Kansas are close to joining an Amber Alert system that uses the Internet to spread the news about missing children more quickly.

Terri Durdaller, a spokeswoman for Missouri Public Safety director Mark James, said James will recommend the system to Gov. Matt Blunt as soon as next week.

Teacher returns home after risky operation

Grant Elementary School music teacher Melissa Guillotte returned to Columbia Thursday, a week after surgery for what turned out to be a malignant brain tumor. She has been recovering at home since her return.

Guillotte’s doctors told her she has a Grade III Astrocytoma, considered a moderate level brain tumor, which usually spreads to surrounding brain tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic Web site.

Pulitzer Prize winner to talk about covering Falun Gong

Ian Johnson, a 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner, will talk about his experiences reporting on the Falun Gong movement in China at 4 p.m. today in Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union.

Falun Gong, which means “the Practice of the Wheel of the Dharma,” emphasizes truth, compassion and tolerance. The movement does not consider itself a “religion,” but rather a discipline of practice. Its members engage in Ch’i gong, which involves stretching, meditation and slow movement. Fearing the group was gaining too much influence, China’s communist government declared Falun Gong illegal and released propaganda labeling it an “evil cult” in 1999. According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, police abuse and torture have led to 1,583 deaths.

Feminist author to speak in Columbia

Meredith Peebles, a senior at MU, appreciates the irony in the reason bell hooks doesn’t capitalize her name.

“I’ve heard she wants people to listen to her message and not pay attention to the name on the work,” Peebles said. “Despite this, her name has become iconic. That is what has happened for me, anyway.”

Unlocking the Shackles of Grief

Columbia Police officer Corey Bowden woke up one January morning in John Beall’s nightmare.

Beall, a police officer in Dayton, Ohio, married his first girlfriend and high school sweetheart. They had three children. He and Mary Lynn Beall both worked at the Dayton Police Department.