Top Stories | St. Louis Public Radio

Top Stories

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

A laboratory at BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

A pharmaceutical company near Philadelphia has acquired Confluence Life Sciences, a St. Louis-based startup developing drugs to treat cancer, for $100 million. 

Confluence was founded by former Pfizer scientists who spent many years studying the kinase gene family, which play a role in inflammation. Aclaris Therapeutics, which manufactures drugs that address skin disease, wants Confluence's expertise in a molecule called the JAK inhibitor, which is a member of the kinase gene family. 

Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock
Douglas Kirkland

If you’re a celebrated jazz artist who has played with some of the genre’s lions, you could continually reinterpret the past and satisfy fans nostalgic for your heydays.

Pianist Herbie Hancock, who performs Thursday at Powell Hall in St. Louis, has no interest in being a museum of sound — or giving a music lesson. Instead, he wants to audiences to experience jazz as a living art.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to step up the pace in dealing with the state’s debt.

This file photo of painter Rey Alfonso shows him during a 2015 return visit to Matanzas, Cuba, where he was born and grew up.
Provided | Patricia Alfonso

When Cuban-born painter Rey Alfonso was 12, his mother died. The next year, he built a raft and set out alone for the United States, away from Fidel Castro's Cuba and all that was familiar.

It would be the first of many attempts to pursue a new life. After the raft sank a few miles off shore, the Cuban Coast Guard picked him up and sent back to his grandmother’s house. A few months later, he tried once more and again, his raft sank.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Missouri's Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft on the program for the third time.

The Republican statewide official was sworn into office in January. He’s in charge of overseeing Missouri’s elections, writing ballot summary language for initiative petitions, registering corporations and regulating financial advisers and brokers.

Ashley Lock peers out of the window during a district bus tour for new teachers at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, where she'll teach history.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

As children and teens across the St. Louis area enjoy their last few days of freedom before school resumes, districts are putting teachers — old and new — to work.

It’s an especially busy time for new hires, who have to deal with several days of paperwork, learn technology and navigate unfamiliar schools.

Rabbi Yosef Landa, director of Chabad of Greater St. Louis, speaks at a rededication ceremony at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on Aug. 6, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Six months after vandals knocked down more than 150 gravestones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, members of the local Jewish community reconsecrated the land and honored the dead.

Despite grey clouds threatening rain, dozens attended the ceremony on Sunday, seeking closure after the grave markers were repaired, and in some cases replaced.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar (center) listens to remarks by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (03/31/17, Eagleton courthouse)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Some of St. Louis County’s mayors say money from a recently enacted sales tax increase may not make the region safer — especially because cities with high crime rates aren’t necessarily getting the most money.

The half-cent sales tax, which takes effect later fall and is widely known as Proposition P, was billed as to be used on public safety. The breakdown of the money gives about $46 million a year to the St. Louis County Police Department, with roughly $34 million from the tax will be split among the county’s 89 municipalities.

Paul Knittel | flickr

The assessed value of residential homes in St. Louis County has shot up an average of 7 percent since 2015 — the county’s strongest showing in almost a decade. St. Louis’ numbers beat the county: a nearly 12 percent increase in the same time frame.

Experts say it’s a sign the region has recovered from the economic downturn of the late 2000s.

When Norman Brown was 15, he served as a decoy while a man twice his age robbed a store and fatally shot its owner. Brown received life without parole for first-degree murder even though he wasn’t the shooter.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There are about 100 inmates in Missouri who were told as teenagers they would die behind bars for murder. All of them are now eligible for parole after serving 25 years due to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions and a change in state law.

But only three of the 23 men who’ve asked for their freedom know when they’re going home — a ratio that advocates say is unconstitutional.

World team shows dominance at St. Louis tournament

Aug 3, 2017
Former world champion Garry Kasparov and members of the U.S. and world youth chess teams.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In an attempt to popularize chess and help it reach wider audiences, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosted the Match of the Millennials.

 

From July 2-29, youngsters from all over the world got a taste of what it’s like to be treated as true professionals and play in the same room as world champions.

 

Held just before the Sinquefield Cup, the youth match was a team event pitting players from the United States against international competition.

Protesters walk down West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Aug. 9, 2016, two years after Mike Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A black U.S. Navy veteran sued the city of Ferguson this week, alleging his rights were violated during a 2012 arrest for ordinance violations.

It’s the latest in a series of court battles for the St. Louis County municipality, especially since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, touched off weeks of protests and exposed serious problems within Ferguson’s police department and courts.

Alderwoman Pamela Boyd, D-27th Ward, August 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Louis Alderwoman Pamela Boyd to the show for the first time.

Calvin Riley stands in one of the many rooms of the  George B. Vashon African-American Museum on St. Louis Avenue. (July 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Calvin Riley has spent years searching through musty basements and dusty attics to rescue the objects of historical significance that he displays in his George B. Vashon African-American Museum in north St. Louis.

“What I show here, you’re not going to see in other museums,’’ Riley said.

This is an image of late actor Eartha Kitt from "Angelitos Negros #1," a video by artist Mickalene Thomas.
Provided | Contemporary Art Museum

Many St. Louisans have been watching the Contemporary Art Museum closely since an exhibition last fall was viewed as offensive to black people, particularly women.

But an upcoming display could leave CAM visitors with a better impression. On Sept. 8, the museum opens four shows, including one featuring the work of Mickalene Thomas, an African-American multimedia artist.

Local art collector Adrienne Davis said Thomas’ images of black women stand in stark contrast to those of Kelley Walker, a white male artist whose Sept. 2016 exhibition outraged many visitors.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:45 p.m. August 2 to correct the percentage of KIPP St. Louis' budget that goes toward marketing in 7th paragraph Photos of smiling children in school uniforms grace the sides of buses, large billboards and flyers in mailboxes throughout the St. Louis area. Those images — and the selling points written underneath them — are meant for parents trying to figure out which school to send their kids.

With the dozens of charter schools and St. Louis Public Schools vying for students (and the state tax dollars that follow), the institutions have to act more like businesses, marketing themselves — sometimes heavily.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

If you’re one of the about 10 million people who don't have health insurance through work and buy it on your own, this is the week to see what rate hikes your insurance company is asking regulators to approve for next year. That is, unless you live in Missouri.

State legislators approved a law last year to allow Missouri’s insurance regulator to review price increases for health insurance plans. But the state decided to postpone the deadline to share those rates with the public, citing “several significant developments impacting the individual health insurance market.”  About 240,000 Missourians buy plans on Healthcare.gov.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A California law firm has released several dozen internal documents that show that Monsanto influenced research on glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient.

The lawyers represent farmers who claimed in a lawsuit that exposure to Roundup caused them non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The documents posted Tuesday on the law firm's website include email and memos that contain more evidence that the company had ghostwritten research on the health effects of glyphosate. They build on other evidence a federal judge unsealed in March

Members of the Missouri Senate work through the final day of the General Assembly's legislative session in 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers routinely have denied requests to make their emails available through open records requests. Now, a conservative nonprofit group is challenging the policy with a lawsuit that, should it succeed, will give the public more insight into how legislators make decisions.

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

A two-year federal investigation of Backpage.com, a website that frequently advertises commercial sex, led Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill to introduce legislation Tuesday. The bill, filed with bipartisan support, would make it illegal for websites to "knowingly  facilitate sex trafficking.”

McCaskill said Backpage.com appears to be actively involved in cultivating and publishing ads for minors engaged in commercial sex, a felony. The company's activities are detailed in a growing cadre of evidence released by federal investigators, uncovered in ongoing civil and criminal court cases and published by the Washington Post.

The future of the Edward Jones Dome is a big topic of discussion now that the St. Louis Rams are gone -- especially since there's outstanding debt on the facility.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. with attorney general office's having no comment — The NFL’s Rams left St. Louis, but some unsettled business — back taxes — apparently remains.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Los Angeles Rams may owe the state $352,000 dollars in unpaid state sales taxes for three of the years the team played in St. Louis.

Eureka residents fill sandbags outside Eureka High School in April in preparation for the Meramec River's rising waters. Flooding this spring caused about $1.5 million in damage to the school, according to the district.
Provided | Rockwood School District

St. Louis County is one of the highest-risk counties in the United States for flooding in schools, according to a Pew Charitable Trust report released Tuesday.

The 100 most at-risk counties identified in the report have 6,444 schools educating nearly 4 million students. Three of those are in St. Louis County, and one of them, Eureka High School, has flooded twice in as many years.

Angela Speck, an astrophysicist at University of Missouri-Columbia, tells a story at The Story Collider even at St. Louis Public Radio in May 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Like it or not, science is a part of our lives. It affects our health, our environment and our understanding of who we are and how we fit in the universe. At a time when our knowledge of how the world works is quickly expanding, climate change is altering the planet, and the state of health care hangs in the balance, it’s especially important to share stories about what science means to us personally.

Members of the Chicago Teacher's Union take to the streets in during a strike in April 2016.
Charles Edward Miller | Flickr

Updated at 11:35 a.m. Aug. 1 with reaction from the Illinois Federation of Teachers — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner stripped millions of dollars for Chicago Public Schools from the school funding bill Tuesday and sent it back to the General Assembly just weeks before classes begin throughout the state.

Using what's called an amendatory veto, the Republican said in a statement ahead of a news conference that his changes make sure "enough resources flow to children in the poorest and most disadvantaged school districts across the entire state."

Peter Seay and his child
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

 

 

A group of St. Louis doctors is working to make sure transgender kids get the medical care they need.

When the Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital Transgender Center of Excellence opens today, it will be the first of its kind in a 250-mile radius. The clinic aims to provide transgender children with comprehensive health care including pediatric medicine, endocrinology, and mental health counseling.

William Thomas, 18, of Chicago Heights, Illinois, fills out residential housing paperwork at a Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville freshman orientation on Friday, July 28, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville has morphed over the last decade from a commuter college into a regional university that attracts out-of-state students.

The secret to growing while other public universities and colleges across the state shrink: broadening recruitment efforts and constructing more dorms.

Hundreds of participants marched along  Vandeventer Avenue on Sunday evening following a rally at the Transgender Memorial Garden in support of transgender rights. July 30, 2017
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump’s tweets announcing his plan to prevent transgender Americans from serving in the U.S. military fueled another rally in St. Louis.

On Sunday, several hundred advocates of LGBTQ rights, including some veterans, gathered at the Transgender Memorial Garden on 1469 S. Vandeventer Ave. to rally in support of transgender members of the military. Participants waved both transgender and American flags, and held signs that read “love makes a family,” “trans rights are human rights,” and “this is not OK.”

 

A lawsuit alleging the Missouri Department of Corrections systematically denies medical treatment to prisoners with chronic hepatitis C has taken a big leap forward after a judge certified it as a class action.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey last week ruled that the lawsuit, which was filed in December, meets all the requirements for class certification, including numerous plaintiffs and common issues of law and fact.

Emily Lohse-Busch received her M.B.A. from DePaul University and launched a strategic communications business in Chicago.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The new executive director of an initiative designed to attract startups to the St. Louis area brings a mix of national and local experiences to the position.

Emily Lohse-Busch recently took the helm of Arch Grants after serving as a senior director with Global Impact, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that supports international nonprofit groups. She also worked for a consulting firm in Chicago, specializing in dealing with the nonprofit sector. 

St. Louis Metro Police officers use bicycles to push back protesters at an anti-Trump rally in downtown St. Louis in November 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A white officer has settled a federal lawsuit he filed against the city of St. Louis in which he claimed that police officials promoted a less-qualified black officer to lieutenant colonel.

Maj. Michael Caruso's lawsuit is the third the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has faced in five years over promotions. The lawsuits were filed by black and white officers. Two of the suits, including Caruso's, blame individual decision-makers for alleged discrimination. A third, filed in state court, claims that the process is unfair.

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