Drug prices outpace inflation

WASHINGTON — Drug makers raised prescription prices by nearly triple the rate of inflation in the first three months of this year — just before Medicare began its pharmacy discount card program — negating much of the savings the government promised to seniors, according to an AARP survey released Wednesday.

Prices rose by 3.4 percent among the top 200 brand-name drugs while inflation in general was 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2004, the study said. It tracked the prices pharmaceutical companies charge drug wholesalers.

Response to NCAA due today

Today is MU’s deadline to respond to allegations made by the NCAA following investigation into the men’s basketball program.

The response will be “a pretty lengthy document,” MU athletics spokesman Chad Moller said Wednesday. MU will dispute some of the allegations, he said, but declined to say which.

Water plans discussed at open house

Fewer than a dozen people gathered Wednesday evening at an open house at Ashland City Hall to discuss a possible regional wastewater treatment plant in southern Boone County.

Tiff Lauffer, who lives six miles west of Ashland, said that a regional treatment system “is something that has been neglected or just wasn’t done. It should have been done 30 years ago.”

It’s okay to be macho, study says

In a time when it seems anything and everything can be bad for you, a study of college men found that a traditionally masculine personality isn’t.

The MU researchers say their findings go against other work in the field that suggests traits traditionally seen as masculine — such as hiding emotions, acting tough and not sharing feelings — are related to psychological distress.

Fans marvel at Spider-Man 2

For Tonya Lovett, Spider-Man 2 has it all — a bit of drama, a dash of romance, and a heavy helping of web-slinging action.

“It really was a good movie,” said Lovett, who attended a matinee showing of the new film, which was released Wednesday, with her husband Perry and their four children. “It had a love story for me and action for him, and of course, the kids loved it.”

This camp means business

About 170 Missouri high school students are learning and working on the different aspects of business during Missouri Business Week on the MU campus. In its 19th year, the event is sponsored by the Missouri Association of Realtors and the Missouri College of Business.

“It’s a lot of fun because it’s like school without the teachers,” said Kelsie Van Hoose, a senior at Southern Boone High School in Ashland.

Lawn program helps seniors stay independent

From her home off the Midway exit west of Columbia, 92-year-old Ruby Cook still drives to town three times a week to volunteer at the Boone County Council on Aging. She works at the sign-in desk and makes change for those who need it.

“Besides my stroke and a few minor ailments, I’m doing great,” Cook said.

Phones aid hearing impaired

Kelly Mishler is a typical student at St. Louis’ Visitation Academy, but she can’t pick up the telephone to order a pizza like most of her friends. She loves to socialize as much as any 15-year-old, but her friends can’t call her on a regular telephone. Kelly is hearing impaired, the result of contracting encephalitis at age 18 months.

Her mother, Traci Mishler, would describe Kelly as successfully mainstreamed, a wonderful student at an academically challenging school, with normal speech and language despite a hearing loss of up to 70 percent.

Protesters act out abuse of prisoners

Outside the U.S. Military Recruiting Station at 111 E. Broadway, a group of anti-war demonstrators gather, holding signs that read “BE ALL WE TELL YOU TO BE” and “BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE: TORTURE, RAPE, PILLAGE.”

At the sound of a hand-held siren, the group begins a re-enactment of an Iraqi prisoner being abused by an American soldier.

Rios charged in Valencia slaying

Former Columbia Police Officer Steven Rios was charged today with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the slaying of MU student Jesse Valencia.

Residents worry I-70 expansion will increase traffic

Adam Baker pokes his father Ken in the leg with the hopes of distracting him from the discussion at hand. This is not 7-year-old Adam's first public meeting. In fact, the second-grader at Paxton Keeley Elementary School is pretty tired of listening to grownups argue about a proposed Wal-Mart development on West Broadway.

"That's my main draw to come here," said Ken Baker, a member of Community First, an organization opposed to the Wal-Mart development because of fears of increased traffic.

Clean-up starts for Hinkson Creek

New pollution data on Hinkson Creek have landowners and city officials saying they plan to take steps to protect the stream. Some steps already have been taken.

A study of the creek released Monday by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources shows pollutants such as E. coli bacteria, fertilizers, salt, petroleum, oil and insecticides mixing in the creek at levels high enough to kill aquatic life.

Initiative focuses on energy

An initiative petition filed Tuesday morning would require the city to add renewable energy to its power supply beginning in 2007. Columbians for Clean Energy collected about 2,800 signatures from city voters in the petition drive that began on Earth Day.

The goal of the proposal is to gradually increase over 15 years the amount of renewable energy the city uses and to do so without increasing rates by more than 3 percent. The proposal calls for at least 2 percent of the city’s retail sales of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2007, then to gradually increase to 5 percent by 2012, 10 percent by 2017, and 15 percent by 2022.

Refund decision revised by court

The Missouri Court of Appeals released a modified decision Tuesday in the Henry Lane lawsuit to make clear that only the nine plaintiffs in the case are eligible for a partial refund of their 2001 property taxes. The court also decided not to re-hear the case or transfer it to the Supreme Court.

The two defendants — the Columbia Public School District and Boone County Collector Pat Lensmeyer — now have 15 days to decide whether to directly ask the Missouri Supreme Court to review the case.

Crash Course in Safety

Arresting 40-pound rubber dummies, driving golf carts with “fatal vision” goggles and taking fingerprints are only part of the challenges that 22 local teenagers will face this week in the Columbia Police Department Summer Youth Camp. The bigger challenge is to decide what to do with the information once they graduate at the end of the week.

Charges of campaign violations fly

The race for the Democratic nomination for governor has become mired in a flurry of complaints about alleged violations of state campaign finance laws.

The campaign of Gov. Bob Holden fired a shot Tuesday at gubernatorial challenger and State Auditor Claire McCaskill, announcing it intends to file a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission alleging McCaskill has received illegal donations worth more than $575,000 from her husband.

Gov. Holden will debate in St. Louis, Kansas City

Gov. Bob Holden has agreed to two broadcast debates with Democratic primary challenger Claire McCaskill on consecutive nights in mid-July, his campaign manager said Tuesday.

The two candidates will debate in Kansas City on July 19 and in St. Louis on July 20, Roy Temple, Holden’s campaign manager, said. The Democratic primary is Aug. 3.

Exhibit honors educator

In a framed black-and-white photo, C. Brice Ratchford sits with his hunting dogs at his feet. Friends say he loved those dogs and treated them like children.

The photo — part of a commemorative display unveiled Tuesday in MU’s Whitten Hall — shows Ratchford in a casual light. In Missouri higher education, he is remembered as the former president of the UM system. Tom Henderson, interim vice provost and director of cooperative extension, called him “the architect of modern extension.”

Semitrailer crash shuts down one lane of I-70

Traffic was backed up Tuesday evening when an accident occurred on westbound Interstate 70 near the border of Callaway and Boone Counties.

According to state trooper Gary Gundy, a truck with a trailer was traveling east shortly after 6 p.m. when the trailer came unhitched. The trailer, which was empty, crossed the open median and hit a semitrailer in the westbound lane.

Get your gig: It’s frog season

Jeff Briggler, herpetologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said abundant spring rains mean a good outlook for frog season for the next few years.

Briggler bases his optimism on the number of tadpoles that were counted this year in different areas of the state. The legal limits this year are unchanged: eight frogs per day and a maximum of 16 in any one person’s possession.