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Lay denies ‘wrongful’ activity

HOUSTON — Federal prosecutors unveiled charges Thursday that placed Enron Corp. founder and former chairman Kenneth Lay at the center of a conspiracy to manipulate the company’s books in the frenzied weeks before its scandalous collapse.

He returned the punch with an unusual and aggressive public declaration of innocence, speaking at length at a news conference and taking questions from reporters after entering a not guilty plea.

MU debates ethics of using endowment from Enron

Until a verdict is reached in Kenneth Lay’s trial, MU’s Department of Economics will remain endowed by Enron Corp.’s former CEO.

Lay, a Hickman and MU alumnus, pleaded not guilty Thursday to multiple counts of fraud and insider trading related to the spectacular collapse of the giant energy trader in late 2001. But the Kenneth L. Lay Chair in Economics will serve as a reminder of the $1.2 million gift the MU alumnus gave the university in 1998 and the search will continue for a candidate who has the “scholarly achievements” to fill the position.

Indie flick sings blues

For director Tricia Brock, the best thing about making a feature film is the opportunity to screen the finished product for the people who helped her along the way.

After 13 years of hard work and dedication, Brock will be here when her movie “Killer Diller” opens in Columbia on Monday at the Missouri Theatre. The chance to show the movie in her hometown is a thrill, Brock said, especially because she shot it in mid-Missouri last summer.

Insurgency strength up to 20,000, officials say

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The Iraq insurgency is far larger than the 5,000 guerrillas previously thought to be at its core, U.S. military officials say, and it’s being led by well-armed Iraqi Sunnis.

Although U.S. military analysts disagree over the exact size, dozens of regional cells, often led by tribal sheiks and inspired by Sunni Muslim imams, can call upon part-time fighters to boost forces to as high as 20,000 — an estimate reflected in the insurgency’s continued strength after U.S. forces killed as many as 4,000 in April alone.

Pesticides ruled out in death of dog

Two postmortem toxicology tests on Seaman, the dog of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, have ruled out pesticides as the cause of death, but additional tests will be conducted.

Waverly Acting Police Chief Jesse Coslet said Thursday that two more tests will be performed on the dog’s liver for traces of other poisonous substances. The results of those tests aren’t expected for another two weeks.

Cycle of stuff

More than 500 residents of Columbia and Boone County are using a new Web site to get rid of their old stuff and, in some cases, getting something new and helping promote waste reduction. The Freecycle Network, a Tucson-based non-profit group, launched the site last fall to prevent local landfills from filling up.

Since then, more than 880 cities, including Columbia, and more than 190,000 people have joined the network. Each city has a Freecycle Web site that anyone in the area can join. Once your name is on the list you can post items you would like to have or get rid of by sending an e-mail. Each city’s Web site is run by a moderator who makes sure the postings are “free, legal, and appropriate for all ages.”

Insurance firm gains $1 billion in premiums

When tornadoes roared through Missouri and surrounding states in May 2003, Shelter Insurance Co. faced record losses with $100 million being paid out.

A little more than a year later, the insurance company is dealing with another record. This time, however, it is a record high.

Lifestyles moving to bigger store

Instead of loud music and dancing, what used to be the dance club By George on Broadway will become the home for the collections of Lifestyles Furniture.

According to Lifestyles’ owner, Jerome Rackers, the current location at Seventh and Walnut, dating to 1976, does not have enough space to accommodate its needs. “We’ll have the same great level of service just with more space,” Rackers said.

Jacob gains support of women’s caucus

The Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, the second largest women’s political caucus in the country, has endorsed Ken Jacob as its choice for lieutenant governor.

Jacob, who will face Bekki Cook in the August primary, has worked as a state legislator for 22 years. His experience earned him the endorsement, said Jan Marcason, president of the caucus.

Lunch-hour power outage hits downtown businesses

During the busy lunch time, most downtown Columbia business owners decided to stay open and serve customers through a 1 1/2-hour power outage Friday.

The outage affected 70 percent to 75 percent of downtown, said George Hessenbruch, operations coordinator for Columbia Municipal Power Plant.

Watercooler: Rios charged with murder

The public calls on them for protection. They are the enforcers of the law. They are the police. According to the Columbia Police Department’s motto, the goal of police officers is to “demonstrate integrity in all actions because freedom and justice” depend on it.

Kenneth Lay indicted

HOUSTON — Kenneth Lay, the former Enron Corp. chief executive who insisted he knew nothing about financial fraud at the energy trading giant, has been indicted on criminal charges, sources said on Wednesday.

The action caps a three-year investigation that has already seen several other executives charged and, in some cases, already sentenced to prison for their roles in the company’s scandalous collapse.

Coach denies NCAA claims

Former MU basketball coaching staff member Tony Harvey blames poor interviewing, few reliable documents and contradictory testimony as the basis of recruiting violation allegations leveled against him by the NCAA.

MU released a 57-page formal response Wednesday by Harvey, the former associate basketball coach who is one of the key players in the NCAA investigation. MU made its response to the NCAA investigation public with a 197-page response last week.

Lawmakers say military is overworked

WASHINGTON — In a bipartisan show of concern that the military is dangerously overworked, lawmakers said Wednesday the Pentagon is stretching troops to their limit and perhaps undermining the nation’s future force.

Amid worries the high level of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan could discourage potential new service members, Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., said it was not reassuring that most reserve components were falling below their recruiting goals for the year.

Senate hopefuls endorsed

Labor and professional groups are divided in their support for the two Democrats running for the 19th District seat in the Missouri Senate.

While 24th District State Rep. Chuck Graham’s work on several issues important to labor groups has resulted in 12 endorsements, former 23rd District State Rep. Tim Harlan’s focus on health-care concerns garnered the support of four such organizations.

Liquor sales in limbo at Landing

By Mike Cooper’s “Cuss Jar” on the cooler at Cooper’s Landing there’s a sign that reads “No Beer — until we obtain a new liquor license.”

The renewal of Cooper’s liquor license is currently under investigation, said Keith Fuller, State Supervisor of Missouri Alcohol and Tobacco Control.

Columbia arts win big

Concerts, festivals and other arts programming in Columbia received a boost from a Missouri Arts Council program that awarded $240,849 in grants to 15 non-profit organizations. The money given to Columbia represents almost one-eighth of the more than $2 million awarded statewide.

MAC gave 248 awards across the state in the first phase of grants for the 2005 fiscal year, which began July 1.

Downtown businesses go wireless

Downtown Columbia is getting up to speed with new wireless Internet access offered by Ilero, Inc.

Ilero began offering its iZone network services about a month ago, and already several businesses have signed up to make the service available to customers. With a network interface card, wireless computer owners can use the WiFi technology without a telephone or cable hookup.

School board will discuss healthy food options

A change for good food hasn’t been good for the bottom line at Columbia middle schools.

The Columbia School Board will hear a report on vending machines in schools at its retreat Friday. The meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. in the administration building, 1818 W. Worley St., and is open to the public but not for public comment.

Marchers honor victims of Middle East conflicts

Slowly and in single-file they walked together as in a funeral march. They proceeded behind a black coffin covered by a U.S. flag. They wore black and carried flowers, barely glancing up while honking cars blared in approval as they walked down the sidewalk.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks held a memorial Wednesday to mark the loss of 1,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirty marchers gathered outside the Military Recruiting Station at Broadway and Second Street and marched toward the Boone County Courthouse, carrying a makeshift coffin symbolizing the troops’ deaths and signs sporting slogans such as “Let’s work for peace.”

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