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Politics & Issues

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This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama was back in St. Louis on Monday after his chartered plane, flying from Chicago to Charlotte, had mechanical difficulties and made a precautionary landing at Lambert Field. He used time following the unscheduled landing to announce a proposed $50 billion economic stimulus package, tax cuts for most workers and families and the elimination of income taxes for senior citizens who earn less than $50,000.

musicians arrive in Suleimanya, Kurdistan, 2008. 300 pixels
Marc Thayer | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - Hello again from Suleimanya,  a city in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of northeastern Iraq near the Iranian border.

As I send this off to you on Monday night, we've finished two days of teaching and rehearsals and it seems as if we’ve been working for a week. The students’ appetites for learning, practicing and listening seem limitless. It has been wonderful to reunite with many of the students and adults we worked with last year and to meet many more of equal quality, both in terms of musical ability and their basic humanness.

Sen. Claire McCaskill talks to the media at a foreclosure clinic Saturday. 300 pixels. 2008
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 7, 2008 - Congress will approve a housing bill that includes foreclosure relief for troubled American homeowners promptly after the Fourth of July recess, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) said Saturday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - Update: Gov. Rod Blagojevich's spending veto, which would cut many social services, dares his fellow Democrats in the House to do something. Read the Chicago Tribune article. 

Our eariler story: Richard Durbin, senior U.S. senator from Illinois, says that not only do his constituents complain vociferously about the clash of wills between Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan, they even express their frustration to him "in writing."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - Frustrated by repeated efforts to get financial and other information from The Shawn Hornbeck Foundation, the Better Business Bureau today criticized the charity for "delays in filing required reports and failure to be transparent to the public."

The foundation is headed by Pam Akers, the mother of Shawn Hornbeck; vice president is Craig Akers, the boy's father. The boy's 2002 disappearance and subsequent rescue five years later in Kirkwood made international headlines and prompted the startup of the foundation in 2003.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - Last December, state Rep. Rachel Storch, D-64th District, was among those at the annual Christmas party given by the Roberts Co., the real estate and communications business owned by brothers Michael and Steve Roberts. Storch's attendance demonstrated the good relations she enjoys with the brothers. So, nobody was more surprised than she when, about four months after the party, the son of Michael Roberts, Michael Roberts Jr. -- he prefers "Mike" -- announced that he would challenge Storch in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - The assault on the corporate independence of Anheuser-Busch calls to mind the shifting winds of power and influence in the metropolitan area and its possible connection to articulating a future vision and mission for St. Louis.

The era in which August Busch partnered with downtown bankers and other corporate moguls to organize Civic Progress as the priority setter and weathervane for St. Louis appears to be waning. In addition to the absence of home-owned big banks, the corporate stage is less local and more national or even global. Thus the erstwhile focus on the local community among the large corporate chiefs is far less intense.

As the flood waters retreat

Jul 6, 2008
Diane Hays helps get the outside clean, as the inside of the house waits for FEMA. 300 pixels 2008
Kristen DiFate | Special to the St. Louis Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 6, 2008 - WINFIELD— Diane Hays intently worked the power washer, blasting a filmy layer of grime from Mike Moran’s homemade slice of heaven.

Any other Independence Day, Moran's bachelor paradise of a patio would be buzzing: Friends crowding the handcrafted wooden bar. Baseball on the television. Hot dogs sizzling on the grill. But this year, the Winfield homeowner’s Shangri-La is a soggy, mud-stained mess. 

obamaatamewms.jpg
Photo by Bob Williams, IPVA | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 5, 2008 - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama brought a centrist message of self-help and personal responsibility to thousands of AME church members on Saturday, imploring them to view problems facing black communities as moral ills that religious institutions and underpinning could do much to heal.

Speaking to enthusiastic members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church at a general conference at the St. Louis Convention Center, Obama offered remarks that were partly homiletic and partly political.

Arch discussion deadline approaches

Jul 4, 2008
One of the goals of the new group, Groundswell for Change, is to improve the connectors between the Arch grounds and the Old Courthouse. 300 pixels 2008
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 4, 2008 - That is our Arch.

So, it's not surprising that area residents are paying a good deal of attention these days to proposals and discussions about what to do with the 91-acre national park the Arch soars above – a site that attracts more than 3 million visitors a year.

Health concerns in the wake of flood

Jul 4, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 4, 2008 - Our area has not seen any flood-related disease outbreaks to date, however, we need to remain on high alert and take steps to protect ourselves, according to Dr. Farrin Manian, chief of infectious disease at St. John's Mercy Medical Center. This includes exercising caution regarding mosquitoes.

This levee was overtopped in western St. Charles County on June 20, 2008. Many houses were built on berms after 1993. 300 pixels
Robert Criss | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 3, 2008 - As the turbid, polluted waters slowly recede, it is time to reflect on why 2008 was another disastrous flood year. Why, indeed, did record and near-record flooding strike the Midwest so soon after 1993?

The sad truth is that the flood of 2008 should be no surprise. Experts have long warned that floods are becoming more frequent and more severe, and that this succession of aggravated misfortune is caused by Man.

Commentary: For whom the exit polls

Jul 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 3, 2008 - Q: Who was the last Democratic presidential nominee to win both the Electoral College and a majority of the popular vote?

A: Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 but lost the Electoral College to George W. Bush. Bill Clinton, the only Democrat to actually win the White House in that 32-year period, won consecutive three-man elections with popular pluralities of 43 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 3, 2008 - A Missouri judge refused on Wednesday to stop the state from spending $21 million for life sciences research.  Opponents of stem cell research -- represented by Ed Martin, the former chief of staff to Gov. Matt Blunt -- had sought an emergency order to block the spending.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 2, 2008 - Exactly 36 days before the primaries for Missouri's 9th congressional district, a Republican candidate and a Democratic candidate held a debate. It was their second.

State Rep. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, and former state Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, debated abortion, which was also the topic of the previous debate. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 2, 2008 - Don't get Jane Cunningham started. She likes nothing better than a good political fight over failing schools, and she doesn't mind being a lightning rod of criticism for her views on reforming them. To some voters, she's the enemy of public education; to others, she's the savior of good kids who deserve an alternative to bad schools.

'Millionaire Amendment' decision shows O'Connor effect

Jul 1, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 1, 2008 - A recent Supreme Court decision shows the difference that the absence of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor makes. The decision striking down the provision of the McCain-Feingold law was written by Justice O'Connor's replacement, Justice Samuel Alito. It's a good bet that the case would have come out the other way if Justice O'Connor still had been on the bench because she voted in favor of upholding most of the provisions of the law in an earlier decision.

Commentary: All tangled up in racial terms

Jun 30, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 30, 2008 - Talk of "race," "racism," people being "racist," and the rise in hate groups makes me think we need to step back and make sure we're on the same page with what we mean when we use these terms.

One factor that makes the conversations on race most tangled is the failure, or perhaps unwillingness, to understand racism at multiple levels. We're too quick to label an action or person as racist and "condemn" it or "disown" the person rather than fully analyze the situation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 27, 2008 - The pope has reassigned St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke to Rome to be the top administrator of one of the Catholic Churches three courts, its court of last appeal, according to an announcement by the Vatican press office.

He is the first American to hold the post, though Americans have served on the court. Burke has been on the tribunal for two years, commuting to Rome from St. Louis.

Newspaper photo from "made in USA: East St. Louis" (Virginia Publishing), by Andrew Theising 300 pixels  2008
St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 27, 2008 - Note from the author:

July 2, 2008, is the 91st anniversary of the East St. Louis race riot, the first and officially the deadliest of a series of devastating racial battles that swept through American cities in the World War I era.

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