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Top Stories

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

Jean-Michel Basquiat poses in front of some of his work in the apartment he and Alexis Adler shared.
Alexis Adler

When Alexis Adler lived with New York painter Jean-Michel Basquiat in an East Village apartment, she never knew what she might wake up to.

Where most people saw walls, floors and even refrigerators, the emerging master of social commentary saw canvas. Basquiat often painted throughout the night, the ideas in his head spilling out onto almost every surface in the run-down space.

St. Louisans will soon have a rare glimpse into the life and early work of Basquiat, a one-time New York street artist whose paintings eventually sold for more than $100 million. “Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979–1980” opens Friday at the Contemporary Art Musem and runs through Dec. 30. It displays the nascent creations of the artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican roots, who died in 1988 at 27, reportedly of a heroin overdose.

Saint Louis University Dean of Students Mona Hicks unloads donations at the soon-to-open Billiken Bounty food pantry on the university's campus.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University has announced it’s opening a food pantry to serve its students who lack access to healthy food.

At lunch on a given weekday, students have no fewer than 18 different restaurants on campus to find lunch. Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Subway and Qdoba are all visible on-campus brands. Clubs seeking members put pizza and cupcakes on display to lure potential recruits. In an atmosphere so saturated with food, many would find it hard to believe students are going hungry.

But up to 10 percent of the university’s students don’t have regular access to healthy food, SLU Dean of Students Mona Hicks estimated.

Kerah Braxton, an employee of the St. Louis County Justice Center, speaks at the Sept. 4, 2018, meeting of the St. Louis County Council. Nurses and corrections workers will get between a 10 and 16 percent raise under a plan that could be finalized soon.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After a long and bitter impasse, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and members of the St. Louis County Council are planning to provide a pay boost for nurses who treat county inmates.

The plan could get final approval from the council in the next few weeks.

File photo I Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

During a statewide tour on Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he wants work with lawmakers to fix two bills during next week’s special session.

Parson vetoed a bill to increase STEM education in high school and another to expand alternative prosecution for drug abusers, known as drug courts. Despite the vetoes, Parson is making it clear he still supports the spirit of the laws and would rather see them reshaped than overridden by lawmakers as currently written.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley speaks to GOP volunteers on Aug. 31, 2018, in Imperial, Mo.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley is pushing for a major overhaul of the earned income tax credit, one of the federal government’s most popular programs aimed at helping the working poor.

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Hawley said he wants to instead deliver a wage boost directly in the paychecks of low and moderate income workers.

Kali takes a swim at the Saint Louis Zoo.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County residents will decide in November whether to spend more tax money to bolster the St. Louis Zoo.

The proposal would help spruce up the world-class attraction and build a new breeding facility and potential adventure park in north St. Louis County. But backers will need to convince county voters to raise the sales tax when some surrounding areas don’t directly contribute to the zoo.

Beverly Nance and Mary Walsh pose for a portrait at their home in Shrewsbury on Aug. 28, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance were married in 2009, they thought their right to live together as a couple was secure.

Now the two women are at the center of a landmark legal case against a St. Louis County retirement community. The same-sex couple was denied housing at Friendship Village in 2016 on the basis of a “Cohabitation Policy” that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, “as marriage is understood in the Bible.”

Kara Smith | St. Louis County

St. Louis County Library members will have a chance to get an up-close-and-personal look at volcanoes, under the ocean and even outer space.

The library district is now offering free virtual-reality programs starting this fall using high-tech headsets and the virtual-reality teaching tool Google Expeditions.

Kristen Sorth, the director of the St. Louis County Library District, said the program opens the mind to possibilities, especially for kids.

Researcher Mónica Carlsen-Krause and high school student Gabrielle McAuley in the Missouri Botanical Garden's Climatron, the garden's greenhouse that mimics a tropical rainforest.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

For the past year, a researcher at the Missouri Botanical Garden has been collecting samples from hundreds of plants in the garden. They’ll be preserved at the Smithsonian Institute, where scientists are collecting plants from around the world.

Scientists are discovering new plants across the globe, but about one out of five plants are at risk of becoming extinct, due to climate change, human development and other threats to the environment. The Smithsonian’s Global Genome Initiative aims to have samples from every plant species on the planet, so scientists can learn about them and use them to solve human and environmental problems.

Missouri has a website designed to make government more transparent, according to state Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

Schmitt’s office recently launched ShowMeCheckbook.mo.gov, which he calls “a one-stop shop” for information on state finances, revenue, payroll, expenses and cash flow.

On Aug. 31, 2013, then-Mayor Francis Slay signed an executive order returning control of the St. Louis police department back to the city.
FIle photo | Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Five years ago, control of the St. Louis police department returned to the city.

For more than 150 years, a state-appointed board had overseen the department, even though city residents paid for the services.

Opponents and supporters of the transition have different takes on how the last five years have gone.

St. Louis resident Megan Vitale and her nine-year-old daughter Sophia, who has cerebral palsy, participated in the Ride to Unite event on September 1, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

When Erika Wolf was young, she loved riding her bike.

But when she was 11, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa — a rare genetic disorder that causes a person to lose their vision over time.

Wolf is now blind, but she hasn’t stopped cycling. This is her second year riding a tandem bike in “Ride to Unite,” an annual event that pairs champion cyclists racing in the Gateway Cup with riders who have disabilities. The goal, say organizers, is to help make cycling a more inclusive sport.

A cornfield outside of Valmeyer, Illinois. Aug 31, 2018
Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio

Researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center want to learn how a changing climate could affect the fertility of corn and other major crops.

Scientists at the Danforth Center, Stanford University and the University of Delaware have received a $3.5-million grant from the National Science Foundation to take a closer look at anthers in maize plants. Anthers — the male reproductive part of the plant — generate pollen.

File photo | Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated September 1 at 4:25 p.m. with response from Gardner — The St. Louis chief of police says none of his department’s leadership was involved in developing a list of officers who will no longer be allowed to bring cases to court, contradicting claims of Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

“There is no indication that the list was properly vetted,” Chief John Hayden said in a statement released Saturday.” This list is an unnecessary overreach which would be better handled on a case-by-case basis.”

Brit Daniels of Spoon played at LouFest. Sept. 9, 2017
File Photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Update: Sept. 5, 3 a.m. — LouFest 2018 is cancelled. Organizers officially cancelled the festival early Wednesday morning in a letter citing money troubles and a rainy forecast. Listen Live Entertainment says the ticketing company Front Gate Tickets will be responsible for refunds “while we work to repay our debts.” Visit our website for more coverage as we continue to cover this breaking story.  

Original Story - A week before the annual LouFest music festival in Forest Park, some contractors who were booked to provide essential services have begun pulling out.

Some local firms scheduled to handle stage lighting, sound and additional musical instruments have informed the event’s producer, Listen Live Entertainment, that they will not participate. The firm scheduled to remove trash said it will not be available if it does not receive an overdue deposit. Some cite persistently delayed payments from the promoter.

Attendees listen as President Donald Trump speaks at a Granite City Works warehouse. July 26, 2018
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Rachel Lippmann round up some of the week’s biggest developments in the 2018 elections.

One of the topics Rosenbaum and Lippmann take a look at this week is President Donald Trump’s aluminum and steel tariffs — and how they may affect Missouri’s U.S. Senate contest.

On Chess: Three co-champions take home the Sinquefield Cup

Aug 31, 2018
Fabiano Caruana, world champion Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian share the crown as winners of the Sinquefield Cup in August 2018.
Tatev Abrahamyan | Grand Chess Tour

Three players were crowned as winners of the sixth annual Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. Normally, a playoff takes place to determine the sole winner of a tournament, but in an unprecedented turn of events, the players decided to share the title. 

World Champion Magnus Carlsen, his challenger Fabiano Caruana and the Armenian superstar Levon Aronian disliked the rule of eliminating one player by drawing lots and came to the unanimous decision, approved by the chief arbiter, to share the title. Thus, the “no-repeat-winner” tradition of the Sinquefield Cup was broken, as all three have won the previous editions.

Lois Jackson, who lives in the Villa Lago housing complex in Spanish Lake, sits outside her apartment. Public housing residents have recently been banned from smoking inside their homes.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

James Parker has been smoking for more than six decades. But to keep his habit, he's had to make changes. Every time he smokes, he has to go outside his home in the Badenfest apartment complex on North Broadway in St. Louis.

Parker is one of the hundreds of smokers in St. Louis who can no longer light up in their homes. Residents and housing agencies are adjusting to a new rule from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development which bars residents from smoking within 25 feet of their apartments. Residents and housing advocates have criticized the policy and are worried it will result in more evictions.

St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner announces on May 30, 2018, that her office will drop a felony computer-tampering charge against Gov. Eric Greitens.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis prosecutor’s office will no longer accept cases from 28 St. Louis police officers, and is reviewing the testimony they have offered in others.

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner provided no details on why she is excluding the officers. In a statement, she called it her responsibility to defend the integrity of the criminal-justice system.

The Christopher Columbus statue has been a source of controversy over the last few years due to Columbus's violent history.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Discussions about removing the Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park have re-emerged.

Activists have banded together to plan an event, Plotting in the Park for Columbus removal. The event, posted on Facebook, takes place on Sept. 1. The brainchild of Chris Singer, the gathering aims at reaching out to community members to discuss what actions can be taken to remove the statue. Singer said Columbus’ controversial conduct with indigenous peoples should not be celebrated.

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