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Politics & Issues

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Commentary: 13 o'clock in the land of the free

Jun 18, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 18, 2008 - "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." Thus begins George Orwell's dystopian classic, 1984. Published in 1949, the book envisions a totalitarian society 35 years hence, ruled by an omnipotent oligarchy personified as "Big Brother."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 17, 2008 - In an ironic twist, concern over the environment -- global warming and greenhouse gas emissions -- may help revive the long dormant nuclear power industry in the United States. For the first time since 1978, applications for new licenses to build new plants are being submitted. Moreover, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already extended the licenses of roughly half the 104 nuclear plants already on line, which produce about 20 percent of the nation's electricity. 

Understanding the language of foreclosure

Jun 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 17, 2008 - If you -- or someone you know -- are worried about making house payments, it's time to take action. Trouble is, mortgage talk is a language many homeowners do not understand. ARMs, resets, balloons ... and the dreaded F word: Foreclosure.

Avoiding foreclosure: The options

Jun 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 17, 2008 - Get help now. Open your mail. Answer the phone. Don't avoid those calls from your lender; deal with your mortgage problems while you still can.

Ready to make the call? Here's your checklist

Jun 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 17, 2008 - When you call the hotline, you will be asked for some basic information before being referred to a HUD-approved nonprofit housing counselor. The counseling is free and private.

Ashcroft's actions after 9/11 subject of Supreme Court case

Jun 16, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 16, 2008 - The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear the government’s appeal from a decision permitting a Pakistani man to sue Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller for keeping him locked up after 9/11 based solely on his nationality.

Water street in Grafton during 2008 flood. 300 pixels
Bob Criss | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 16, 2008 - Heartbreaking flooding is destroying thousands of homes and endangering their inhabitants, in an arching belt that extends 500 miles: from Des Moines to Milwaukee to Terre Haute. As the waters gather and flow downstream, they will affect numerous cities along the Mississippi River. Levees will be overtopped in many areas, streets are already flooded in many river cities and acre after acre of crops will be lost, too late to replant this year.

Mercifully, drier conditions are forecast for a few days, but the die is cast: The Mississippi River at many sites in eastern Iowa, western Illinois and northeast Missouri will attain record or near-record levels this year.

Will air cargo take flight at Lambert?

Jun 16, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 16, 2008 - A tentative agreement announced Monday marks a step toward making Lambert St. Louis International Airport a cargo hub for Air China, China's state-owned carrier. Political and business leaders hope it will eventually result in a big economic boost for the region.

Commentary: Progress on race doesn't mean the end of racism

Jun 16, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 16, 2008 - What does it all mean? Landmark after landmark. Contradiction after contradiction. What does it mean when in the past weeks we have seen a biracial man clinch the Democratic nomination and a town in Mississippi host its FIRST integrated prom?

In memoriam: Tim Russert

Jun 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 15, 2008 - With a receding chin, puffy cheeks, hair that never quite looked neat and a self-described "face for radio," Tim Russert should never have made it to the top in an age of telegenic vacuity, dominated all too often by empty, but beautifully coiffed talking heads reading from teleprompters. The fact that he not only "made it," but was the dominant and most respected presence in American political journalism at the time of his death, says much about this Horatio Alger-style version of the "Rags to Riches" myth many had assumed long passé.

Editor's weekly: Journalism at the crossroads

Jun 13, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 13, 2008 - A few days ago, Sam Zell, who owns the Tribune Co., announced that he plans draconian cuts  for his news organizations. Because Tribune owns such luminaries as the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, the announcement set off much gnashing of teeth in newsrooms.

"What has become clear as we have gotten intimately familiar with the business is that the model for newspapers no longer works," Zell told employees in a memo - a conclusion that I reluctantly agree with.

With the opening of the bike path on the McKinley Bridge, residents have another way to monitor water levels. So far, predictions indicate that the St. Louis area is not in danger. 2008 300 pals
Tom Nagel | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 12, 2008 - Mississippi River towns north of St. Louis are bracing for flood levels just short of record 1993 readings, but many community officials remained hopeful Thursday that damage to homes and businesses will be minimal.

Luckily for the immediate St. Louis region, this area likely will be spared the brunt of any significant flooding, said a Washington University geologist. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 12, 2008 - In an extraordinary rebuke to President George W. Bush and Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Thursday that prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay have the right to go to federal court on a writ of habeas corpus. This is the third time since 9/11 that the Supreme Court has found that the president violated the law or the Constitution in limiting the opportunities of prisoners in the war on terrorism to obtain a fair hearing.

Can adoption be colorblind?

Jun 12, 2008
braiding a young African-American girl's hair 300 pxls 2008
Kristen Hare | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 12, 2008 - Maryanne Dersch's white fingers reach into a slippery tub of conditioner. She smoothes it into her daughter's soft black hair.

"Are you gonna be a good girl? Good beauty shop?" Dersch asks Taylor, 2, who's seated at the island in her new family's St. Louis kitchen.

Commentary: Islands of care in a sea of woe

Jun 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 11, 2008 - Two similar but unrelated events in St. Louis recently garnered national headlines. On Friday, May 30, actress Melanie Griffith and drug czar Barry McCaffrey traveled here to address the National Conference of Drug Court Administrators. Their celebrity presence was intended to promote the concept of drug courts as an alternative strategy for dealing with nonviolent narcotics offenders.

Analysis: Crime in St. Louis has been worse

Jun 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 11, 2008 - Recent reports of an increase in crime in St. Louis bring back memories of a time, not so long ago, when crime rates were at an all-time high. Historical perspective may be cold comfort to today's crime victims, but it helps to know that crime rates do not always rise; they also fall, sometimes dramatically.

Knowing why crime declined in the past can help us to figure out why it is increasing now and how to avoid a return to a far worse period in recent history.

Public meetings set to discuss Arch grounds

Jun 9, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2008: The National Park Service won't be replacing the Gateway Arch's gleaming stainless steel with, say, yellow enamel paint (or installing a drive-thru window), but if you have an idea for improving the grounds surrounding the 630-foot memorial, now is the time to speak up.

Arch superintendent Tom Bradley says that two upcoming "open house style meetings'' are designed to get people thinking about ways to improve the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which includes the Arch and Old Courthouse. There won't be an official presentation, but rather stations where five "preliminary alternatives" will be explained, and where people can ask questions and makes comments.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2008 - St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley had to dig nearly four decades deep into his memory to find a historical moment that matched the sensations he felt about Barack Obama's meteoric rise from first-term U.S. senator to presumptive presidential nominee. Dooley found that moment in the TV announcement of Neil Armstrong exiting his spacecraft and walking on the moon in July 1969.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 5, 2008 - As a youth, I was dragged to see "The Music Man." This traumatic event occurred during a vulnerable phase of early adolescence when I had a carefully cultivated reputation to protect. It's tough to come across as the sixth grade's answer to James Dean if you're seen going to some dorky musical with your mother and your aunt. Alas, child abuse enforcement was lax in those days, so off I went. It was meager solace that it would be dark inside the theater.

Need help? Call 2-1-1

Jun 5, 2008
2008 photo, 300 pixels, ID of people not given
Bill Smith | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 5, 2008 - Just short of its first birthday, Missouri's new 2-1-1 phone system, a referral service for non-emergency help, is within months of completing an ambitious plan to expand its reach into nine counties in Illinois. Once the program is up and running, it would make the Metro East region among the first in the state to become part of a 2-1-1 system, according to United Way 2-1-1 director Kay Archer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 3, 2008 - When Betty Hearnes heard the news that Sen. Barack Obama would woo working-class and swing voters in Cape Girardeau, Mo., she thought perhaps the announcer had made a mistake.

"Somebody gave him bad advice," says the wife of former Missouri Gov. Warren E. Hearnes and secretary of the Mississippi County Democratic Committee in southeast Missouri.

"It wouldn't make any difference if he did back flips in Cape Girardeau. They still won't vote for him. They are going to vote Republican. He should have been told that before he went."

St. Louis fantasy baseball firm tosses shutout vs. MLB

Jun 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - The Supreme Court was not expressing an opinion on the legal issue when it decided without comment to turn down the appeal by Major League Baseball. But the action effectively ends the suit in which Major League Baseball and the Players Association joined forces against C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, the parent of CDM Fantasy Sports of St. Louis.

Commentary: Make transracial adoption more effective

Jun 2, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 2, 2008 - To take account of race or to not take account of race, that is the question -- or at least it is in transracial adoption.

The rates of transracial adoption have increased dramatically in the past decades, and research and the law are trying to keep up. From the social research perspective we've learned a few things. Historically, research on transracial adoption found no differences in outcomes for kids adopted across race compared to same-race families.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 2, 2008Although Illinois lawmakers passed a budget and skipped town Saturday night with only hours to spare before their deadline, that doesn't mean work is over for everyone.

Lawmakers have passed the red pen to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, saying it is his responsibility to bring the admittedly unbalanced $59.1 billion budget in line. On Monday, Blagojevich said he will meet with the four legislative leaders to negotiate the revenue-generating proposals that the House failed to pass.

tuition300toon.jpg
Clarion Ledger | Jackson, MS

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon June 2 2008: Now that this year's legislative sesson is over and the campaigns are in full swing for the primary, Missourians ought to look at what's needed and what's been done on several important issues. Among the most of important of these is education funding.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - The Texas Supreme Court was divided and its opinion was not as strong as the state appeals court decision of last week. But, one point all of the justices agreed about removing people from Warren Jeffs' polygamist household: The state should not have taken the boys and pre-pubescent girls from their homes.

Commentary: Roadkill

May 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - I'm indebted to our presentation editor for pointing out an article in the Southern Illinoisan: "The Illinois Department of Transportation will limit the amount of road-kill they remove (it removes) from the highway because of an expensive winter, District Nine Operating Engineer Kevin Grammer said.

Public invited to discuss plans for Arch grounds

May 28, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 28, 2008 - What is your vision for the Gateway Arch grounds?

The National Park Service is inviting the public to weigh in on plans for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial at "open house style meetings'' on June 25 and July 1. The Memorial includes the Arch and Old Courthouse. 

Birmingham News

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 28, 2008 - I recently received a letter from Hillary Clinton. Emblazoned across the envelope it came in was a pledge that she was “going all the way.” This struck me as a rather sporting proposition because, in the high school parlance of my youth, girls known to “go all the way” were the ones you could score with on the first date.

Artists aim to leave mark on 2008 election

May 28, 2008
2008 image of Tom Huck work that will become a billboard. 300 pixels
S. Carmody | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appearing in the St. Louis Beacon: May, 28 2008 7 - A fine-arts billboard campaign with a high-minded patriotic purpose kicked off Wednesday night at a red, white and blue rally in Grand Center in front of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

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