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Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s difficult to keep track of day-to-day news about what’s happening with the Affordable Care Act.

What do President Donald Trump’s executive actions do? What’s the latest information about efforts in Congress to deal with the ACA?

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about the Affordable Care Act with Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center.

“It’s certainly a time of chaos and daily confusion,” Watson said.

Members of the Saint Louis University Chess Team
Steve Dolan |Saint Louis University

Working on chess at higher levels is definitely a different experience than when you first experience the magic of the sport. The leaps and bounds that a beginner can make are quickly rewarded. Learning simple concepts such as common checkmating patterns, tactical devices, even the relative value of pieces, is enough to propel someone to be a solid participant at the club level.

Ritenour teacher Deepa Jaswal helps her high school students at the district's International Welcome Center, which is for English-language learners, mark the regions of the United States on a map.
File | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

When nearly half the students in a school can’t speak English, every teacher becomes a language instructor to some extent.

Recognizing that reality, federal grants will help Missouri public school districts and local universities to train more teachers to be help those students in the classroom.

Amazon's shipping operation, known as a "wish fulfillment center,'' in Edwardsville.
File photo | Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 1:15 p.m. with St. Louis's regional bid - St. Louis area leaders are taking a regional approach to attracting Amazon's second North American headquarters. They submitted a bid Thursday, which was the deadline set by the online retailer.  Financial details have not been released. Officials cite a non-disclosure agreement among Amazon, local governments, and states hoping to land the $5 billion investment.

An illustration of prescription drugs.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Though Republicans in Congress have not passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump has used a series of executive orders and directives in an attempt to peel back parts of the law.

Last week, the administration announced it would stop paying cost-sharing reductions to insurance companies for individual plans purchased through Healthcare.gov, sparking fears of insurance rate hikes just before enrollment season.  

Official estimates show that losing cost-sharing payments could push some premiums up by 20 percent in states like Missouri. In the meantime, open enrollment for individual plans opens Nov. 1.  

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People arrested in St. Louis during the first weekend of protests against the Jason Stockley verdict will have to wait longer to know if they’ll be charged.

On Wednesday, a judge sent home a group who appeared in her courtroom at the downtown City Justice Center.

City Court Judge Roberta Hitt told the protesters that they would be notified by mail if they face any charges.

Protesters linked arms on Sept. 15, 2017 in downtown St. Louis on Tucker St.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Sept. 15, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

The verdict immediately touched off protests in downtown St. Louis, which spread throughout the city, St. Louis County and to St. Charles County. The protests have continued almost daily

As you are making sense of what's happening in the region, what questions do you have about the ongoing protests? Share them here and we may consider your question in our reporting. 

An exhibit on the history of newspapers is now on display at the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
(Courtesy: St. Louis Mercantile Library)

During the mid-1800s, St. Louis had between 20-25 daily newspapers operating concurrently.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about a new exhibit at the St. Louis Mercantile Library, "Headlines of History: Historic Newspapers of St. Louis and the World Through the Centuries,” with the library’s director, John Hoover.

“It’s in 11 parts,” Hoover said. “We start in colonial times and even earlier times when newspapers didn’t look like newspapers at all.”

Men outside of Lynch’s slave pen, 1850s. One of these men might be Lynch himself, but there are no known photos of him.
(Courtesy: Missouri History Museum)

Before the Civil War, Bernard Lynch owned the largest slave market in St. Louis. His operation included an office at 104 Locust Street, and a holding pen for slaves at 5th and Myrtle, present-day Broadway and Clark.

After the war, Lynch’s slave pen became a storage building for the Meyer Brothers Drug company, and in 1963, it was demolished to build Busch Stadium II.

Listener Anne Walker wrote to Curious Louis wondering whether any artifacts from the pen remain.

 

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley shares evidence included in a motion to dismiss Backpage's lawsuit against him.
File photo I Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal continue in St. Louis, some activists and politicians have called for outside prosecutors to investigate police-involved killings.

That includes elected officials who were previously wary about the idea, including Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

One specific proposal is to have the Missouri attorney general examine instances where a police officer uses deadly force. But the current inhabitant of that office, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, is not particularly enthusiastic to the idea.

County police and their families help pack the room as the County Council considers a police pay raise.
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 31, 2017: Before a packed crowd, the St. Louis County Council gave final approval to a pay hike for county police beginning Jan. 1.  The vote of 6-0, with one absent, came after no debate. The result touched off lots of applause from police and their families packing the audience.

Our earlier story:

The St. Louis County Council got an earful Tuesday before members unanimously gave initial approval to a measure increasing county police pay beginning Jan. 1.  

For almost two hours, council members heard mainly from St. Louis County police officers and their families concerned that the pay hike might be blocked by a pension dispute between Council Chairman Sam Page and County Executive Steve Stenger. 

A student works on an assignment in an introductory English language course at the International Institute of St. Louis. About 1,100 immigrants and refugees take English courses at the institute.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Maryam Bakhtari trained to be a doctor in Afghanistan. She never thought there would be a time when she couldn't practice gynecology. But as a new immigrant to the United States, her chosen field is beyond her. These days, she's focusing on a different kind of learning.

Bakhtari takes English classes at the International Institute of St. Louis. She’s among the approximate 1,100 adults who take the classes every year. The International Institute has the largest English for Speakers of Other Languages program in the St. Louis region. 

Orli Shaham
Christian Steiner / Courtesy of Orli Shaham

Classical pianist Orli Shaham knew that she would likely have a career in music when she was only 11 or 12 years old.

“I knew I needed to be part of that music making,” Shaham said, recalling how she thought after getting the opportunity play with an orchestra at a young age.

Although Shaham has performed frequently with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as a guest artist, for the final time, she will perform with the SLSO this weekend with her husband, David Robertson, as music director.

Waller McGuire (L) and Kristen Sorth (R) joined host Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

By the end of the year, 88 students will begin a program that could result in them earning a high school degree.

The Career Online High School is a partnership between the St. Louis Public Library and St. Louis County Library.

“We are trained to find ways to meet patrons where they are and come up with programs and services to help people in our community,” said Kristen Sorth, director of the St. Louis County Library.

Sorth along with Waller McGuire, executive director of the St. Louis Public Library, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Tuesday.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. leads a chant inside the St. Louis Galleria. Sept. 30, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

“No justice, no profits.”

That’s one of several chants protesters have used in nearly daily events since Sept. 15, the day a St. Louis Circuit judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Activists have made it clear that economic disruption is a big part of their strategy.

And they’ve put a number on it. Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, who has taken part in many of the demonstrations, told a crowd late last month the economic impact was $10 million to $11 million.

St. Louis County police officer Ben Granda trains in a simulator at the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy. The simualator, a gift from the Burges Family Foundation, helps officers practice the tactics that can keep them safe.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Use-of-force policies for both the St. Louis Metropolitan Police and St. Louis County Police departments say officers can shoot someone to “protect themselves or others from what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury.”

Protesters who have been marching throughout greater St. Louis, demanding greater police accountability for more than a month, say those policies give officers too much leeway. They want more limits on when officers can draw and fire their weapons. But an expert on deadly force says the solution isn’t more restrictions — it’s better training.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Just over a year before the 2018 elections, Missouri’s incumbents are doing their best to raise enough money to scare off their competitors. And that also may be true for some of those rivals, as well.

Aside from the U.S. Senate race, the Missouri state auditor is the only statewide post that will be up for grabs next year. Campaign finance reports filed Monday show Democratic incumbent Nicole Galloway with $665,380 in the bank as of Sept. 30. She had raised $211,118 during the past three months.

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

The Missouri House’s ethics committee will consider a complaint filed against a Republican lawmaker who wrote on Facebook that the people who vandalized a Confederate monument in Springfield should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

Rep. Warren Love’s post sparked an immediate outcry from Democrats, who called on the Osceola Republican to resign and for House Republican leaders to discipline him.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Sarah Unsicker to the program for the first time.

The Shrewsbury Democrat was first won election in 2016 to represent the 91st House District, which takes in portions of St. Louis and St. Louis County, including most of Webster Groves, Shrewsbury and Crestwood.

Sammy Rangel (right), Executive Director of Life After Hate, is receiving the Hero of the Year award from HateBrakers, a local organization founded by Susan Balk (left).
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Life did not start well for Sammy Rangel.

“When I was 45, I found out that I was the second child my mom had tried to kill,” he said.

Rangel is the executive director and co-founder of Life After Hate, a nonprofit organization formed in 2011 by former members of far-right extremist groups in the United States.

On Tuesday, he will receive the fifth annual “Hero of the Year” award from HateBrakers, a locally-based nonprofit organization.

Andrew Oberle, a chimp attack survivor who helped create a holistic trauma program at Saint Louis University, shared his story at a live taping of The Story Collider in October 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

In June 2012, Andrew Oberle, an aspiring primate researcher, was brutally attacked by two chimpanzees at a zoo in South Africa. The animals tore his flesh from head to toe and he nearly died.

But after 26 surgeries and extensive therapies at Saint Louis University Hospital, Oberle recovered. His ability to overcome his traumatic experiences led him to want to help others in who've experienced extreme physical injuries. Today, Oberle serves as the director of development for the Oberle Institute, a trauma care program at Saint Louis University that is supported by foudations. He helps raise funds for the institute and also serves as a patient advocate. 

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Third-grader students who live in low-income homes  underperformed their more well-off classmates by 50 percentage points in seven Illinois school districts in 2016, according to the advocacy organization Voices for Illinois Children. 

In its annual Kids Count report released last week, the group also noted that only 22 percent of Metro East third-grade students met expectations on the most recent state English test.

A prairie that contains the common big bluestem grass.
Provided by Kansas State University

Prairies in Missouri and southern Illinois could look shorter by the end of the century, according to a study from the Missouri Botanical Garden and Kansas State University. 

Researchers reported in the journal Global Change Ecology that tall varieties of the big bluestem grass that covers much of Midwestern prairies could be taken over by shorter forms of the plant over the next several decades. That's because climate change could reduce rainfall in many parts of the region, leading to drier conditions.

Ferguson police officers arrest a protester on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
Vincent Lang | St. Louis American

 

Ferguson police arrested a handful of protesters late Friday during a demonstration in front of the city’s Police Department.

The arrests, made about 45 minutes into a demonstration billed as a “liberation party,” came after a Ferguson officer used a bullhorn to warn that protesters who were blocking traffic on the street were in violation of a city ordinance.

After the officer had given three warnings, two city police vehicles moved slowly down South Florissant Road with sirens blaring at about 8:40 p.m. As they stopped near the crowd, other officers rushed to the street. Protesters said officers took five people into custody.

Faisel Khan, Brad Stoner and Maheen Bokhari
Aaron Doerr | St. Louis Public Radio

There was a hubbub earlier this week when St. Louis, which recently lost its crown for having the highest STD rates in the country to Alabama, was found out to be on top once again due to an accounting error.

A Murmuration
Zlatko Ćosić

Video artist Zlatko Ćosić has called St. Louis home since 1997, but it was his experiences growing up and eventually fleeing the former Yugoslavia that have most influenced his work. After the war in his homeland started, he was kicked out of the university and his father lost his job just because of their nationality and religion. They were eventually arrested and placed in forced labor for eight months.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Jimmie Edwards talks to reporters on Friday after being appointed as the city's public safety director.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson selected a nationally-renowned judge to head the city’s public safety agency, which oversees the police and fire departments.

Judge Jimmie Edwards’ appointment drew widespread praise, including from elected officials who have been supportive of the protests over former police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Signs held by demonstrators at a Sept. 6 rally in support of the DACA program outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. The photo was taken by Eddie Albarran who spoke at the rally. He is studying photography.
Provided | Eddie Albarran

Eddie Albarran recalls being nervous — but also very determined — as he waited to address about 60 people gathered outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill last month.

Albarran, who grew up in St. Louis, was about to acknowledge publicly a fact of his life that he usually keeps to himself: He is one of nearly 700,000 young immigrants who have temporary protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration created the DACA policy in 2012 for  children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.

peter.a_photography | Flickr

With less than six months to go, at least one proposal to legalize medicinal use of marijuana in Missouri appears to be in a strong position to get on statewide ballots next year.

New Approach Missouri says it already has collected 100,000 signatures from registered voters, and expects to have well over the necessary 165,000 by the state’s May 6 deadline for submitting initiative petitions.

Drawing of child and scales of justice
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Black students in Missouri are four and a half times more likely to be suspended than white students, according to a report released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

The ACLU also found that black students with disabilities are more than three times as likely to be suspended as white students with disabilities.

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