Suicide bombers recruited in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran- The 300 men filling out forms in the offices of an Iranian aid group were offered three choices: Train for suicide attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq, train for suicide attacks against Israelis or assassinate British author Salman Rushdie.

It looked at first glance like a gathering on the fringes of a society divided between moderates who want better relations with the world and hard-line Muslim militants hostile toward the United States and Israel.

Terror group claims Iraqi killings

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq’s most feared terror group claimed responsibility Sunday for slaughtering members of the Iraqi security forces in Mosul, where dozens of bodies have been found. The claim raises fears the terror group has expanded to the north after the loss of its purported base in Fallujah.

Meanwhile, insurgents attacked U.S. and Iraqi targets in Baghdad and in Sunni Arab areas, underscoring the risks of holding national elections Jan. 30.

With vote, facility becomes ‘Mizzou Arena’

The athletic department will shoulder the estimated $30,000 to $40,000 it will cost to change the name of MU’s new arena, after UM system curators voted on Friday to change the name from Paige Sports Arena to Mizzou Arena.

The name change is effective immediately, but Chad Moeller, MU Manager of Sports Information, said there is no definite timetable for changing the name at the arena itself.

More flu vaccinations available from county

Local health officials are hoping to vaccinate more elderly people, children under 2 and other high-risk individuals before the peak of the flu season arrives.

Thanks to the arrival last week of 1,200 additional doses of the vaccine, the Columbia/Boone County Health Department will host a clinic Wednesday at the department’s offices at 1005 West Worley.

Making a new home

When Irfan Haque emigrated from Pakistan in 2000, he knew he wouldn’t be going back. For someone from Haque’s culture, there’s no question — you live where your children are.

“In old age, I have to be here,” Haque says.

Advent begins today

Every year there are those who complain that our society begins preparing for Christmas too far in advance. Most department stores raise Christmas trees in their shop windows the weekend after Halloween, and carols playing over the loudspeakers at supermarkets aren’t far behind.

In the Christian church, the preparation for Christmas officially begins four Sundays before Dec. 25. Advent, which begins today, also marks the first Sunday of the church new year.

Missouri foods are getting gift-wrapped

SPRINGFIELD — Gourmet jelly, organic soy nuts, honey and chili mix are among the gourmet items offered in a gift box from small Missouri specialty food producers who hope to woo customers from across the country.

Eleven companies are part of “Taste the Best of Missouri,” a box shaped like the Show-Me state and colored black and gold — a nod to MU. The companies hope the gift box will bring exposure and marketing opportunities for their products.

Snapshot of a tragedy

Even though Bud Wiest still keeps the film negatives in his dresser drawer, the photographs he shot of the Sept. 27, 2003, sunset over the Missouri River will never be used as his wife intended.

He remembers shooting the pictures of Phyllis, 45, holding their 18-month-old daughter, Katherine, standing on the Isabell train trestle that spans Big Loose Creek near Frankenstein.

All that jazz

Tom Andes’ fingers dance up and down the keys of the piano. Wearing a crooked smile, his eyes half shut in concentration, Andes is oblivious to the steady murmur of conversation in the crowded room.

It’s Saturday night at Murry’s, and as Andes and his trio finish up a jazz standard, few people seem to notice. Other than the people at a handful of tables and three enthusiasts at the bar, everyone else in the restaurant seems to have delegated the music to background noise.

Naturally inspired

Sometimes, during a walk in the woods, a leaf is all it takes to inspire fiber artist Vicki Smith. At other times, it’s the walk itself.

For Smith, life is interconnected with nature, and so is her art. Smith, 54, creates handmade paper bowls and collages from plant material and found objects. She says her pieces tend to develop themselves.

A place for the heart

A brightly lit, bushy Christmas tree stands in a corner of Heart to Heart Christian Supply, draped in gold ribbon and adorned with ornaments strategically placed upon its branches.

Couches sit on either side of the tree — overstuffed invitations to patrons to relax and read. Small tables and chairs, available for customers to sip a cup of coffee and chat, complete the scene.

Cardiac concerns

Marilyn Petersen hurries into University Hospital’s Fit for Life center, pulling a T-shirt over her head and lacing her sneakers in preparation for her new routine.

A freshly minted health nut at 62, Petersen boasts that she’s the picture of wellness. With her intense daily regimen of walking, biking and weight lifting, it’s hard to argue.

Getting under the skin

Holograms — 3-D images created by lasers — have been around for about 30 years. But it is only recently that scientists, including an MU physicist, have started to think about using the technology to photograph live tissues as a way to detect diseases.

Though his work is still in initial laboratory stages, Sunder Balasubramanian, a post-doctoral fellow in the MU Department of Physics and Astronomy, hopes it could lead to one of the first noninvasive methods to screen for skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States.

Fans want Stewart’s name on MU arena

The Board of Curators may choose Mizzou Arena today as the new name for MU’s basketball building, but, in an informal poll, Columbia and Kansas City fans resoundingly chose — Norm Stewart Arena.

The beloved basketball coach already has had the court itself named after him. Stewart led the Tigers for 32 seasons. He earned a 634-333 record, including eight Big Eight Conference titles. Stewart was also an All-American player from 1954-56 and is one of six Tiger players to have his jersey retired.

Light workload

Ahhh, the holiday season … when families set out in search of the perfect tree, Christmas cards are written, cookies are baked, and Mom and Dad threaten to divorce each other over the annual ritual of hanging the lights.

What some see as the most irritating ritual of the holiday season is a business opportunity for the increasing number of landscapers who will put up and take down lights in the holiday season.

FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT Festive spirit amid turmoil

EDITOR’S NOTE: Brian Stuhlman is a native Missourian and a graduate of MU. For the past two years he has lived in Kiev, Ukraine, where he teaches at an international school. The country has made recent international headlines after thousands of people took to the streets — just a short distance from Stuhlman’s apartment — in protest of this year’s presidential election results. Here are some of his observations.

Ukraine, the city of Kiev in particular, has been thrown into social and political turmoil this week with this year’s presidential election, the most important election since 1991 when Ukraine won its independence. The elections, held on Sunday, featured a run-off between current prime minister and Russia-backed Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leader and Western-backed Viktor Yushchenko.

Turkey, fixin’s and all

For the seventh year, First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton transformed Lou’s Palace on East Walnut Street into the site of a Thanksgiving dinner for Columbia’s needy.

A few extra tables clothed in white, flowers donated from local flower shops and a few handcrafted center pieces combined with a jovial, family-like atmosphere were all that was needed to create a Thanksgiving holiday for those without a place to go.

Mo.’s unclaimed tax refunds total $660,000

Thirty-six Boone County residents could have some extra holiday shopping money this year — if only they’d ask the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS announced last week it is still waiting for 1,082 Missourians to claim their 2003 federal tax refunds. The refunds, totaling $6,954 in Boone County and more than $660,000 statewide, have been returned to the IRS as undeliverable. Amounts range from $1 to more than $60,000 with an average per-check amount of $612. Nationwide, 87,485 refunds totaling $73 million were bounced back to the IRS.

Columbia’s fire score under review

Columbia’s fire-protection rating — which helps determine insurance rates and can attract businesses looking to relocate — is under review by the Insurance Services Office, now called ISO.

On a standardized 10-point scale, with 1 being nearly ideal fire protection, Columbia rated a 3 when last reviewed 15 years ago. That rating earned the city a spot in the top 4 percent nationwide.

Seasonal feasts need reining in

It happened again, didn’t it?

Despite your promises to cut the carbs, trim the fat and count the calories, Thanksgiving came and the turkey wasn’t the only thing that ended up stuffed.