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The cellular divide

For Kate Swearengen, 22, the political debate over embryonic stem cells is no mere theoretical exercise.

Swearengen, a Columbia native who is studying at Cambridge University in England, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 7. Her immune system killed the insulin-producing cells in her pancreas after mistaking them as foreign.

More than health at stake in stem-cell research

With life sciences a target industry for economic development in Missouri, the stem-cell debate could have implications far beyond human health.

On one hand, legislators want to reap the economic benefits; on the other hand, they want to ban research that is a core component of development.

Facing the Politics

Dressed in a Playboy bunny outfit, toy gun slung over one shoulder, Aaro Froese, owner of Gotcha! costume shop in Columbia, doesn’t look the part of a political pundit.

But wait! According to BuyCostumes.com’s Presidential Mask Election Predictor, costume shop owners such as Froese should be able to predict the outcome of the election based on the number of George W. Bush or John Kerry masks sold. If more Bush masks are sold, he’s likely to win.

Activists draft marijuana regulations

Even if Proposition 1 passes Nov. 2, medical marijuana patients will have to continue relying on street dealers to obtain the drug.

Dan Viets, a member of the Columbia Alliance for Patients and Education, or CAPE, one group behind Tuesday's referendum, said including a ballot provision that would allow patients to legally obtain marijuana would be “asking for too much.”

Parties gear up for voter ‘ground war’

Candidates, political parties and get-out-the vote activists are in the final stages of a “knock-and-drag,” door-to-door campaign to get voters to the polls.

Democrats kicked off the weekend with a Thursday rally at MoJo’s, where former Gov. Roger Wilson, urged them on with religious-like fervor.

The voters of tomorrow

Aaron Green was sure he had picked the best candidate for the job.

So when John Kerry was announced Saturday as the winner of the mock election at the J.W. Blind Boone Community Center, Aaron, 6, couldn’t hold back his emotion.

Groups working to oust judge

Several interest groups and individuals are at odds with the Missouri Bar Association over whether to remove a federal court judge in Tuesday’s election.

It is the first time interest groups have campaigned against a Supreme Court judge based on his opinions, according to the Missouri Bar.

Election reforms aim to draw young voters

White male property owners casting their votes orally and enjoying free-flowing alcohol is the Missouri Election Day scene set by George Caleb Bingham in his 1852 painting “The County Election.”

If Bingham were to paint the picture today, it might include computerized voting machines and Election Day voter registration, both among recent reforms that have transformed the election process in some states.

Road plan under study

Tens of thousands of people use Columbia’s roads every day, but only one showed up to speak at a meeting Thursday about how the city should pay for anticipated transportation improvements.

Members of the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee heard public comment before discussing options for creating a comprehensive transportation funding plan for the city. The City Council has asked the committee to prepare a plan before the council’s Nov. 15 meeting.

Missouri OKs plan for drug imports

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri is joining Illinois and Wisconsin in a new Internet program that helps residents buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and Europe, despite a federal ban on the imports.

Gov. Bob Holden traveled to Chicago on Thursday to announce Missouri’s participation in the I-SaveRx program, which was spearheaded by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Feline intervention

Sixteen cats were rescued Wednesday from an unlicensed broker in Iberia, Mo., by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Central Missouri Humane Society. The owner, Sandra Hudson, voluntarily relinquished the cats after she was contacted by the department, which learned about the cats from a Hallsville veterinarian, said Jason Ramsey, director of development and public relations for the Humane Society.

Hudson does not face any criminal charges because she voluntarily handed the cats over to the Humane Society. The cats came from an unlicensed breeding facility in the Lake of the Ozarks area that officials discovered a few weeks ago, said Jerry Eber, program coordinator for the animal health division of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Halloween no longer a holiday in many schools

SPRINGFIELD — Ann Waite gets “warm fuzzies” when she recalls wearing homemade costumes and celebrating Halloween by bobbing for apples and eating candy during the school day.

She is disappointed her 13-year-old daughter won’t get the chance to make her own memories, outside of going trick-or-treating on Sunday.

Natural gas rates to increase

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Gas Energy customers will see their natural gas bills rise by about $110 on average for the winter, the Public Service Commission said Thursday.

Missouri Gas Energy’s rate change was among several increases and decreases the commission approved for various companies. The new rates are largely supposed to account for changes in the cost of natural gas for the winter season and will take effect Monday.

County’s political division wide

In Boone County, where rural towns on rolling hills co-exist with Columbia’s trendy coffee shops and strip malls, voting patterns are as diverse as the county itself.

Within Columbia, many residents vote Democratic and are concerned about education and international relations. In smaller towns, such as Ashland and Hartsburg, many residents vote Republican and are concerned with national security and morality.

Election inspires influx of campaign rookies

Jenny Chicone awoke one morning to discover only remains of her “Bush must go” political yard sign.

“All that was left was a stick — a charred stick — coming up out of the ground, and it was pretty sad looking, and it got me motivated to become an activist,” Chicone said.

Public works unrest stirs voters

Some employees of the Boone County Public Works Department, complaining of a tense and uncomfortable work environment, hope their concerns will be an issue on Election Day.

Greg Mullanix, a union steward and heavy-equipment operator for 20 years, said some employees are working to prevent the re-election of Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller, who he called “a barrier to change.”

Absentee ballots, direct mail keep postal workers busy

With only four days left before the election, the downtown Columbia post office is busy delivering political mail. Absentee ballots as well as other political mail are being received and delievered in huge numbers. Ballots coming to the post office are delivered daily to the clerk's office.

Candidate Q&A

The Missourian recently submitted the following seven questions to every

Boone County candidate running for a seat in the Missouri General Assembly.

Their verbatim answers, edited only slightly for grammar and spelling,

appear here. While some candidates did not submit answers by deadline,

their responses will be added if they arrive before Election Day.

Reinstated license still in jeopardy for Cooper

The sign reading “No beer until we obtain a new liquor license” has faded and cracked since it was taped to the cooler at Cooper’s Landing four months ago, when owner Mike Cooper lost the license he held for 17 years.

The state’s Administrative Hearing Commission ordered the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to reinstate his license in a decision issued last Thursday, but the sign is still there.

Guardianship plays crucial role in right-to-vote case

A federal judge has denied a St. Louis resident with mental illness the right to vote in the upcoming election.

Steven Prye, who is under guardianship, petitioned the court after his bid to register to vote in Missouri was rejected. State law prohibits people who rely on full-time guardians from participating in the electoral process.

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