Inspector: No proof Iraq had stockpiles

WASHINGTON — Contradicting the main argument for a war that has cost more than 1,000 American lives, the top U.S. arms inspector said Wednesday he found no evidence Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction after 1991. He also concluded Saddam Hussein’s ability to develop such weapons had dimmed — not grown — during a dozen years of sanctions before last year’s U.S.-led invasion.

Contrary to prewar statements by President Bush, Saddam did not have chemical and biological stockpiles when the war began and his nuclear capabilities were deteriorating, not advancing, said Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group.

Newly registered voters often don’t show up

It’s hard enough to register a new voter, but now that Missouri’s registration deadline has passed, getting that person to vote is a whole other challenge.

“Everyone should vote,” said Paul Sloca, spokesman for the Missouri Republican Party. “We have soldiers in Iraq and others who have fought in world wars to protect our right to vote. It’s one of the cornerstones in our democracy. … Voting is a very important responsibility.”

Iraqis, activists differ on war

Two groups visiting Columbia on Wednesday presented opposing perspectives on the war in Iraq. While two activists criticized the war, two Iraqi citizens told reporters U.S. involvement improved living conditions in their country.

Michael Birmingham, an Irish peace activist, and Tom Sager, a retired University of Missouri-Rolla professor, gave speeches as part of the Wheels of Justice Bus Tour.

GOP looks to claim wins in Boone County

The Missouri Republican Party is enjoying the first majority it has held in the General Assembly in more than 50 years, but victory in Boone County has remained elusive. The GOP, however, has high hopes that will change in November.

Although Republican optimism suffered a blow last month with the withdrawal of GOP candidate Joel Jeffries from the 25th District House race, the party remains hopeful in the 24th District, where Republican Ed Robb is taking on Democrat Travis Ballenger. And in the 19th District state Senate race, Republican Mike Ditmore is mounting a challenge to Democrat Chuck Graham, who seeks a promotion after eight years in the House.

Candidates share eco-friendly ideas

State House and Senate candidates wrestled with how to encourage environment-friendly growth in Columbia at a forum sponsored by the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition on Wednesday night at the Boone County Government Center.

Five candidates for state representative in the 23rd, 24th and 25th district races and Chuck Graham, Democratic candidate in the 19th District state Senate race, took questions from audience members and moderator Keith Brekhus, a Smart Growth Coalition representative.

Archbishop’s letter urges voters

JEFFERSON CITY — Representatives of Missouri’s gubernatorial candidates offered differing thoughts about the latest political pronouncement from one of the top Roman Catholic leaders in Missouri.

In an Oct. 1 letter, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke wrote that it would be a sin for a Catholic to vote for a politician who supports abortion rights unless that candidate is aligned with the overall views of the archdiocese.

Chancellor promises faculty involvement

Retain and recruit the best faculty. Expand global outreach. Support public policy funding. These are a few items MU Chancellor Brady Deaton outlined Wednesday in his new 10-point action plan for the future of the university. Deaton presented his plan during the fall general faculty meeting in Memorial Union on the MU campus. He addressed faculty retention first and emphasized his commitment to involving faculty in his decisions as chancellor.

“Right after his appointment, Dr. Deaton called me and pledged his support to the Faculty Council and the faculty during his chancellorship,” said Gordon Christensen, chairman of MU’s Faculty Council, at the beginning of the meeting.

Clerk anticipates record registration

Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren expects the number of new registered voters in the county to reach an all-time high today, the deadline for voter registration.

Noren said Tuesday that her office has processed close to 17,000 new voter registration applications this year. She said the highest number of new voters registered in 1992, when 18,380 names were added to the voting rolls.

Activists protest Osco Drug closure

Across the empty lot next to Osco Drug, a well-worn footpath in the grass marks the shortest route from the safest place to cross Providence Road to the store’s parking lot. But only a walker — someone from the neighborhood — would ever notice it.

Some of the people who’ve walked that path have signed a petition registering their displeasure over the plan to close the store Oct. 28.

Media panel discusses Mo. terrorist threat

The head of Missouri’s homeland security effort came to Columbia Tuesday to sound an alarm about potential threats to the state’s food and water supply.

Tim Daniel, a retired Army colonel and Columbia native, told a group of rural journalists, MU professors and other professional communicators that the government and the media must work together to “increase the psychological capability of Americans to cope” with a terrorist attack.

Second new tax area gets go-ahead

With the approval of another special tax district along Stadium Boulevard, it appears shoppers in that area will soon have to open their pocketbooks a bit wider.

The new district, which has the power to levy an additional sales tax of up to one cent on the dollar, was approved by the Boone County Circuit Court on Monday. It will envelop five properties on Stadium Boulevard, all owned by local developer Raul Walters. These properties include Best Buy, Taco Bell, Circuit City and Ruby Tuesday.

County space evaluated

County government department heads made sales pitches Tuesday as to why their offices deserve — and need — more space. They addressed the Boone County Space Needs Task Force, which was touring offices in the Roger B. Wilson Government Center, the Boone County Courthouse and the Johnson Building.

One of those department heads was Circuit Clerk Cheryl Whitmarsh, who described her office’s struggle to find space to store its case files.“There is a little space in our bathroom, and I thought, ‘Hey, maybe we can use this,’” Whitmarsh said. “You have to use all the space that you can.”

Attending debate not high on candidates’ to-do lists

Several Missouri statewide candidates plan to avoid the spotlight of the presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis on Friday — for what one political analyst says is a good reason.

The two major candidates for governor, along with other statewide candidates, say they do not plan to attend the debate.

Vice presidential candidates clash in debate on war, jobs

Sen. John Edwards accused the Bush administration Tuesday night of bungling the war in Iraq and presiding over a historic loss of jobs. “Your facts are just wrong,” Vice President Dick Cheney shot back in a crackling campaign debate.

In a clash at close quarters, Edwards accused Cheney of “not being straight” with the American people about the war. He said U.S. casualties are rising monthly and the United States is bearing 90 percent of the cost and suffering 90 percent of the dead and wounded.

Hearing set today for suspect, 24, in statutory rape

A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for a former employee of the Front Door Program, a youth residential community in Columbia. He is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl who was staying at the facility.

Marcus Fisher, 24, was arrested Aug. 22 on suspicion of second degree statutory rape and endangering the welfare of a child. The police learned that the victim told friends about her involvement with a staff member at the facility.

Area Briefly

Voting reforms spark lawsuits

Despite significant reforms following the legal standoff of the 2000 presidential elections, court battles over voting processes have not only persisted but have actually strengthened.

With less than a month remaining before the Nov. 2 election, the nation’s courtrooms are bustling with legalese about how to count votes. In battleground states such as Missouri, where different interpretations of election law could mean different winners, the fights are reaching a feverish pitch.

Developer backs off rezoning plan

Residents who went to the Columbia City Council meeting Monday night to protest a rezoning request for land off Green Meadows Road got a surprise when the developer’s lawyer withdrew the request instead.

In front of a packed, tense crowd, Dan Simon, a lawyer representing developer Don Stohldrier, withdrew a request that would have put a mix of homes and townhouses on about 16 acres. Simon said his advice to develop townhouses in the area had been in error.

Black Panther founder calls for revival of activism, progressivism

Bobby Seale, a founding member of the Black Panther Party and the keynote speaker of MU’s Cultural Discovery Week, spoke at Jesse Auditorium on Monday night to a crowd of about 250 people.

In his lecture, Seale outlined the history behind the founding of the Black Panther Party and its princi-ples. Seale used the formation of the party as a parallel for how commu-nities should organize themselves today.

Cyclist group aims for better roads

Bicycling is Laura Vie’s ticket to freedom. Since childhood, riding has been the 43-year-old’s escape from daily life’s responsibilities.

“When I ride, my mind is free to think clearly,” said Vie, an exercise physiologist at Progressive Spine Care & Rehab in Columbia. “It’s very satisfying being able to travel miles down quiet rural roads.”