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Top Stories

Editor's picks for the top news stories of the day.

File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Shortly after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014, the department’s on-duty officers started wearing body cameras while on duty. And the federal government’s consent decree, which came in response to Brown’s death, mandated Ferguson officers wear them.

But a group of Ferguson residents wants to put the use of cameras into the city charter as a means of ensuring it continues long after federal oversight is over.

Ameren Missouri's largest coal-fired power plant in Labadie, Missouri.
File photo | Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order today that would relieve coal-dependent states such as Missouri from having to comply with strict carbon emissions limits. The plan to eliminate the Clean Power Plan was announced earlier this week by Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt. 

About 77 percent of electricity generated in Missouri comes from coal. Under the Clean Power Plan, Missouri would have to cut its carbon pollution by nearly a third by 2030, based on 2012 levels. Coal-fired power plants would be required to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and over the long term, and utility companies that operate them would have to transition away from coal to wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. Missouri is one of 28 states challenging the rule in court.

But local environmentalists say there are consequences to removing the Clean Power Plan.

Two eyes peer out of a red field and an alligator rests below celestial machinery in the collaged cover of Rhizomatic St. Louis 5
Provided by Nathan Cook

For electronic musician Nathan N. Cook, abstract soundscapes, nature recordings interwoven with voices, and harsh noises, aren’t just intellectual experiments in audio editing. Instead, he finds them places of human connection.

Five years ago, Cook decided to mix those elements into recordings that capture a community of local musicians — and to share that connection with others. He launched the Rhizomatic St. Louis series, an annual album release of 10 distinct, avant-garde and experimental musicians.

Fans watch Taylor Twellman, a St. Louis native and former U.S. men’s national team player-turned-ESPN commentator, speak at March 27, 2017, rally for voters to support constructing a soccer stadium.
Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:40 p.m. March 27 with details from rally — St. Louis always has been a location in Major League Soccer’s sights for growth, the league’s commissioner said Monday, but taxpayers will have to bear some of the cost to make that a reality.

Zika virus, here shown as a digitally-colorized transmission electron micrograph, can be transmitted by mosquitoes or sexually.
Cynthia Goldsmith | Centers for Disease Control

A Saint Louis University analysis of mosquito migration patterns and sexually transmitted diseases places the St. Louis region on a map of counties that could see an elevated risk for Zika infections this summer. The virus is spread by mosquitoes but can also be transmitted sexually for several months after symptoms occur.

However, the overall risk in the continental United States is still very low, study author Enbal Shacham said.

Sen. Jake Hummel, March 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Missouri state Sen. Jake Hummel to the show for the fourth time.

 

The St. Louis Democrat represents the 4th District, which takes in parts of St. Louis and St. Louis County. He won a special election for the seat late last year.

Fans eagerly asked questions after listening to Bruce Arena speak.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Recovering from the slow-motion heartbreak of losing its NFL team (and, to a greater extent, watching the Rams grossly underperform for a decade), St. Louis is jostling with 11 other cities for a Major League Soccer expansion team. Building a stadium is critical to that effort, and an ownership group known as SC STL is trying to secure city taxpayer dollars for the facility.

But with St. Louis facing a raft of economic and public safety issues, opponents believe subsidizing professional sports is a misplaced priority. They also question whether a soccer team is going to provide much benefit to residents in struggling neighborhoods.

Workers with Rosenbloom Monuments Company re-set headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on Tuesday morning. (Feb. 21, 2017)
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Except for a few broken gravestones and scattered painted pebbles, no visible signs of last month’s vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in University City remain.

Within three days, workers uprighted most of the 154 toppled monuments at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery and resealed them to their bases.

In 1962, laughter epidemic afflicted several communities for more than two years in present-day Tanzania.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1962, a strange epidemic swept through several communities in Tanganyika, present-day Tanzania. It wasn’t a virus, but laughter among teenage schoolgirls. The contagious laughter, which lasted for about two and a half years, afflicted about 1,000 people and forced at least 14 schools to temporarily shut down.

Experts later determined that the origin of the epidemic was psychological, perhaps related to stress caused by the presence of British colonialism. But such events have raised scientific questions about why humans can’t control behaviors such as laughing, yawning, coughing and shivering — and why they spread among groups of people.

“We are a part of a human herd whose behavior is often the involuntary playing out of an ancient neurological script that is so familiar that it goes unnoticed,” wrote neuroscientist Robert Provine in his book, "Curious Behavior."

The St. Louis Public Schools elected board discusses business during its June meeting as state board of education member Vic Lenz looks on.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Public Schools’ elected board hasn’t had direct control of the district for a decade. Regaining that control from the state may hinge on the April 4 election, when voters will choose from among seven candidates for three open seats.

Board member Bill Monroe is seeking a second term. But the president of the SLPS board and some state-level education officials see his continued presence as a possible disruption in getting back local control.

Governor Eric Greitens introduces Vice President Mike Pence at Fabick Cat.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated March 27 with details of governor's visit — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is returning to Missouri after spending time in Washington addressing a major conference promoting U.S.-Israel ties and talking policy with federal officials, including President Donald Trump.

Red and blue, circular logo of the American Cricket Academy & Club.
American Cricket Academy & Club

A cricket field opening Saturday in St. Charles County signals how much the sport is growing in the region.

The venue at BaratHaven Park in Dardenne Prairie will, for the first time, give the American Cricket Academy and Club of St. Louis a dedicated home to practice and play.

Local enthusiasm for the sport has been largely driven by Indian and other immigrant communities, said ACAC founder and executive director Ajay Jhamb.

Peter Sortino
Provided by the Sortino family

Peter Sortino planned a 100th birthday bash for St. Louis that would go on for days and draw thousands of guests, but his name was largely unknown to most who attended.

EATS Bridge, ’04 Eve and River Splash are the enduring memories that most St. Louisans have of the 1904 World’s Fair centennial celebration. Mr. Sortino was the director of St. Louis 2004, which planned the festivities and, later, the Danforth Foundation, which launched the initiative.

New Life Evangelistic Center founder Rev. Larry Rice, left, speaks at a press conference denouncing the bill that would regulate giving to the homeless Wed. July 6, 2016 as his son Chris Rice looks on.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis voters will have six mayoral candidates to choose from when they go to the polls April 4.

Aside from Democrat Lyda Krewson and Republican Andrew Jones, the list includes Green Party nominee Johnathan McFarland, Libertarian Robb Cunningham and independent candidates the Rev. Larry Rice and Tyrone Austin.

The Missouri House floor in 2016.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Free stuff from lobbyists — anything from free meals to concert and game tickets to trips abroad — are part of the perks of being a lawmaker.

Such gifts, though, have been on the chopping block for a couple of years, with Missouri Republican legislative leaders and now Gov. Eric Greitens looking to ban them. In the face of last year’s failed efforts to ban lobbyist gifts, Greitens took quick action once in office.

Michael Smith, an adjunct English professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis speaks at a small union rally on Thursday, March 23, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Some teachers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who are trying to form a union sued the state’s university system Thursday, alleging that the rules the board of curators set forth for organizing are too restrictive.

They contend there are gender and minority wage gaps, and that the best way to close them is to unionize. The effort started last summer on the heels of successful union votes at other colleges in the region.

Tax season is underway. So is a program that helps low- to moderate-income St. Louis families prepare their taxes for free.
401(K) 2012, via Flickr

Here’s something that may need to be clarified this tax season. Despite the ongoing debate in Washington over a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the law’s requirement for people to be enrolled in health coverage or face a tax penalty is still on the books.

“People should go ahead and take care of their taxes as they would, as if the law hasn’t changed," said Geoff Oliver, a staff attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. "Because at this point the law hasn’t changed.”

Holly Rehder, March 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Rep. Holly Rehder for the first time.

The Sikeston Republican is serving her third term in the Missouri House representing the 148th District in southeast Missouri, including parts of Scott and Mississippi counties.

Workers for the Metropolitan Sewer District begin to demolish a house on Greer Avenue as a part of program to turn vacant properties into green spaces. (March 22, 2017)
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has started demolishing abandoned buildings to kick off a $13.5 million project to build green spaces in the city.

The Urban Greening Program is a part of MSD’s $100 million initiative to divert rainwater from entering the city’s sewers and contaminating local waterways. It’s also a key portion of a settlement agreement in 2012 with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency that requires the sewer district to spend $4.7 billion over the next two decades on improvements to sewer systems in St. Louis and St. Louis County, a larger effort called Project Clear.

This is the marketing image for "The Boys in the Band," released in 1970. It is one of two classic films to be shown in this year's QFest.
Provided | Cinema St. Louis

When St. Louis' QFest of films officially launched, people in the LGBTQ community were barred from institutions ranging from the military service to marriage.

A decade later, LGBTQ citizens can both serve and marry.  The 10th annual festival, which opens March 29, includes a dozen films that reflect a restricted past and progressive present.

On Chess: US Chess is rising and So is the competition

Mar 23, 2017
Fabiano Caruana in a match with Hikaru Nakamura at the 2016 U.S. Championship
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis | Lennart Ootes

It’s that time of the year again. The time when St. Louis dresses up in its white and black gown and welcomes the best chess players the nation has to offer. The 2017 U.S. Chess Championship & U.S. Women’s Championship will take place from March 28 to April 10 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and it will feature the highest prize fund in history, with $194.000 for the U.S. Championship and $100,000 for the U.S. Women’s Championship.

Residents and activists pressure Ferguson's City Council members to agree to the Department of Justice's proposed consent decree during a public forum on the decree in March of 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Numerous challenges await Ferguson’s next mayor, including a tight budget, frayed race relations and an understaffed police department. But the winner of April 4 contest will also face a less tangible quandary: repairing the city’s tattered image.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles is up for re-election for the first time since then-police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in August 2014, an event that placed the north St. Louis County municipality in the international spotlight.

Ferguson Police Department
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It's been nearly a year since the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Ferguson signed a consent decree to reform the city's police department and municipal courts. And both sides acknowledged Wednesday that they aren't as far along as they should be.

Bram Sable-Smith I KBIA

Efforts to get Missouri to comply with the 2005 federal REAL ID law will resume once state lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday for the final seven weeks of the session.

Identical bills in the House and Senate, HB 151 and SB 37/224, would allow the state to issue  driver’s licenses that comply with REAL ID standards while continuing to issue ones that don’t. Backers say allowing both types will respect the privacy rights of a Missouri driver who doesn’t want to share any particular personal data with the federal government as a result of having a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license.

Ten Republican senators voted for at least one bill in the grand bargain. We asked all of them about Gov. Bruce Rauner's role in stopping them from going further.

Less than a week after Chuck Berry's death at the age of 90, his family announced details Wednesday about the rock and roll pioneer's first album in 38 years — and gave us a taste of what it will sound like.

Advocate and author Christine McDonald, right, listens to U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri testify during a public hearing in St. Louis about human trafficking.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Eastern Missouri has four full-time police officers dedicated to investigating human trafficking cases, but convictions are rare.

Law enforcement officials say it's hard to build cases against perpetrators because witnesses are few and victims often are unseen. To improve awareness, Webster University will hold a training session this weekend for law students and the general public. Attendees will hear how people are forced into sex work and other trades, and how to identify warning signs.

Lyda Krewson speaks with reporters after winning the Democratic mayoral primary on March 7, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Lyda Krewson, the Democratic nominee to be St. Louis’ next mayor, acknowledges the obvious: More than two-thirds of the city’s Democrats preferred one of her six rivals.

She also recognizes some tensions likely remain from the March 7 primary. “Campaigns are tough. A lot of skinned knees and scabby elbows after a campaign,” Krewson said. “But fundamentally, we’re all Democrats and we want to elect Democrats in the city in April.”

Judge Paul Herbert stands in his courtroom after one of the court's weekly sessions.
Andrea Muraskin | Side Effects

Originally published July 7, 2016, by Side Effects Public Media. 

It’s not something you expect to see in a courtroom: 35 women, chatting, laughing, eating lasagna. But brunch before the session is a weekly tradition at an unusual court in Columbus, Ohio.

Once the plates are cleared away and everyone sits down in a semicircle facing the bench, a probation officer steps to the center of the room, with an empty plastic bin and a big smile.

“You know I love you so much, right?” she says, as she collects everyone’s cell phones, to a chorus of groans.

Monsanto's widely-used weed killer Roundup contains glyphosate, a chemical that's been the subject of multiple lawsuits that allege that it's linked to cancer.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto is facing more pressure to compensate farmers and farm workers who allege that its leading pesticide product caused them to develop cancer. 

A Los Angeles-based law firm on Friday filed 136 new cases against the company in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The lawsuits allege that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, caused the plaintiffs to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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