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War in Iraq takes toll on approval ratings

NEW YORK — War is hell on a presidency. And it plays havoc with presidential campaigns.

President Bush led the nation through the Sept. 11 attacks, against the Taliban and into Iraq — three defining moments that have brought his political fortunes full circle to the same middling job approval rating he had Sept. 10, 2001. At the opening of his nominating convention, supporters can’t help but wonder how much stronger Bush would be politically had he kept the war on terrorism out of Iraq.

Inside the shrine

The Imam Ali shrine contains the tomb of the father of Shiite Islam. It is also the physical center, where religious authority is interpreted and filtered out to Shiite mosques and madrassas all over the world. The shrine and the old city of Najaf are to Shiites what the Vatican is to Catholics.

My first night in the shrine, I moved through the courtyard fielding invitations to eat from the men circled in groups around large plates of rice with a bit of lentils. We talked, ate, slept and bathed with them. We were also under siege with them.

Fighting abuse with song

The sunshine was a welcome sign for the organizers of the Celebration of Women’s Song. The fund-raising event for The Shelter, a Columbia organization that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, was washed out by the rain Saturday. But Sunday’s sunshine brought out a big crowd and more than 100 performers for the cause.

“It is something that involved community people do for us,” said Leigh Voltmer, the executive director of The Shelter.

Political bashing hurts human spirit

There doesn’t seem to be much difference these days between a job as a political reporter or a job cleaning out horse stalls. If anything, muckraking the stalls would be more productive.

Somehow, a political candidate’s position on the issues is far less important than any dirty secrets that can be discovered. Of course, the news organizations insist they are only telling the public what it wants to hear, and it is true that most of the time the candidate who slings the most dirt wins.

Swift boat vet speaks on Kerry’s behalf

Gene Thorson, a swift boat crewmate of Senator John Kerry’s during the Vietnam War, delivered a deeply personal account of what he called John Kerry’s “outstanding instincts and leadership skills under fire” at a press conference Sunday sponsored by the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Other local military veterans joined him in front of a crowd of approximately 50 people to deliver a scathing indictment of the Bush administra-tion for its handling of veterans’ affairs and for the recent attack ads by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Local venues show controversial political films

In an election year, politics is everywhere, and this includes the movies. And after the controversial success of "Fahrenheit 9/11," the pace of political-film releases has quickened.

"The Corporation," which opened Wednesday at the Ragtag Cinemacafé, is the latest in a string of such political films released this year.

Bringing liturgy to college

Dawn-Victoria Mitchell was in her next-to-last year of Methodist seminary when she found a new calling.

Mitchell missed the liturgy she had experienced at her Roman Catholic high school in Massachusetts. Neither Methodism nor Catholicism offered the spiritual fulfillment she sought.

Up All Night series offers alcohol- free fun for MU students

Out of breath from making a music video - a version of "Survivor" by Destiny's Child - Heddie Jones and her friends recapped their performance.

"The video's good to look back on and see how I was in college," said sophomore Arica Henderson. She and Jones teamed up for the video as part of Mizzou Up All Night, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday at Brady Commons. The annual event, part of the Mizzou After Dark alcohol-free series, drew an estimated 1,500 students.

Low test scores leave school in a lurch

Some question the value of MAP examinations.

The numbers aren’t adding up for teachers, parents and administrators at Derby Ridge Elementary.

The school’s total student population met the state’s 2004 proficiency goals on the Missouri Assessment Program exams, which test students annually in communication arts and math.

Adjusting without stressing

Depression. Anxiety. Sleep deprivation. Homesickness.

The first few weeks of college can be fraught with pressure as students struggle to balance busy schedules filled with classes, homework, jobs and social events. Some keep their struggles inside. Others seek help from alcohol or drugs.

Potentially toxic mercury levels limit Missouri fish supply

Most natural-foods store owners clamor to stock their shelves with food from local sources. But when it comes to fish from Missouri waterways, Walker Claridge, the owner of the Root Cellar on Providence Road, isn’t interested.

Since 2001, all of the state’s waterways, from the Missouri River to Hinkson Creek, have been under a fish advisory because of mercury content. And while the advisory only warns certain people — including small children and women of childbearing age — not to eat certain types of fish, Claridge isn’t taking any chances.

Corrections

A cutline on Page 1A on Friday incorrectly stated the high temperature for Thursday. The high temperature was 93.

A story on Page 8A on Friday about the Columbia Area Transportation Study Organization’s hearing on proposed roadway extensions misquoted Ron Walkenbach and misidentified the neighborhood in which he lives. Walkenbach, a resident of Broadway Farms subdivision, said he thought new interchanges on Interstate 70 would only shift traffic problems. “I think we’re trading one traffic congestion at Stadium and I-70 for traffic congestion at Fairview and Broadway,” he said.

Fire safety emphasized for Greeks

Fraternity and sorority houses at MU have until Oct. 1 to schedule and pass fire-safety inspections conducted by the Columbia Fire Department, according to Kerry Fleming, Greek Life coordinator.

A fire at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at the University of Mississippi early Friday left three of its members dead, tragically reminding college students across the country of the importance of fire prevention.

Learning their lessons

As the clock ticked down the last hour of the first week of school Friday afternoon, Blue Ridge Elementary School teacher Mary Auck stopped to get popsicles for her first-grade students before popping into their gym class.

“They were hyper in the library yesterday, so I said I’d keep an eye on them,” Auck explained.

Students overflow Columbia College

Growing numbers are causing growing pains at Columbia College because of an increase in the number of students living on campus.

Barb Payne, director of public affairs, called it a great problem to have.

Opponents slam Blunt’s record

JEFFERSON CITY — Former Missouri Governor Roger Wilson criticized GOP gubernatorial nominee Matt Blunt’s record on education Friday.

“If you ever want to see someone’s true priorities see how they vote on the budget,” Wilson said.

Swift-boat ads stir up local veterans’ partisan feelings

Although they have been largely discredited by several national news organizations, the recent attacks on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have evoked strong feelings from local veterans, who remain divided on the attacks’ appropriateness as well as Kerry’s anti-war activism upon his return from Vietnam.

Reaction to the campaign, including television ads and a book, falls along partisan lines. Some of those who support Kerry were quick to contrast the Democratic nominee’s military service with that of President Bush, who served with the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Farm-scene painting chosen for art festival

From Monet’s “Wheat Field” to Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” farming culture has long been an inspiration to artists. And this year it’s the inspiration behind the poster for the 13th-annual Columbia Festival of the Arts.

The poster, featuring a painting by Columbia artist Joel Sager, was unveiled Saturday evening at a festival fund-raising party at Quin and Helen Snyder’s house.

The healing power of faith

Inside the doors of a nondescript office in building 3 at Doctors’ Park, more than 250 cases as varied as rotator-cuff injury, toothache and depression have been treated. The 36 people who volunteer in the office did it all without using one X-ray, dental drill or prescription drug.

But the difference between this office and other medical practices is that the people who work inside aren’t medical doctors. They are Christians from Columbia churches, and for nearly a year, they have worked at the Columbia Healing Rooms using prayer to help make people well. Dennis Sievers, the office’s director, has been involved with healing ministry for 25 years. He started the local healing center because he said he believes God wanted the ministry in Columbia. The practice is based on the Bible and its promises that God is a healer, he said. The Bible, he added, sees the human as having three parts: body, soul and spirit.

Welcome to another school year

I’m happy to report that 12 of my 14 grandchildren are in school this year. The oldest grandson is starting ninth grade where his grades will be written down and follow him for the rest of his life. Wanting him to understand that his future depends on how well he does academically, I sat him down a few weeks ago and tried to have a serious discussion about life.

I went on and on about how important it is to take courses that would prepare him for his career. Up until now, I pontificated, he was just “playing” school. But, beginning this fall, everything changes. He sat there listening semi-attentively, mostly avoiding eye contact. But when I told him that one bad grade and there goes West Point, he looked at me as if I had just sprouted two heads.

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