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Top Stories

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

Fabiano Caruana, right, winner of the 2017 London Chess Classic, with tournament organizer Malcom Pein.
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The last leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour, the London Chess Classic, produced not one, but two winners. For the first time, the winner of the London tournament wasn’t also the overall tour winner. After a dramatic last round, St. Louis resident Fabiano Caruana won the playoff against Ian Nepomniachtchi from Russia to be crowned the winner of the London Chess Classic.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen, winner of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour, tied for third place in London.

Emily Hall helps a patron at her St. Charles bookstore. She's concerned that a repeal of net neutrality could hurt her ability to reach patrons and event-goers. (Nov. 8, 2017)
Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On a recent morning, Emily Hall filled two online orders at Main Street Books, the St. Charles shop her family has owned for four years. As she worked, customers came to buy books and chat about upcoming author events they’d heard about or seen on the store’s website.

But Hall fears that her bustling store could see a drop in business if the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday votes to repeal net neutrality, landmark rules that guarantee an open internet.

St. Clair County state's attorney Brendan Kelly holds a photo of Quiantez Fair, who was killed in East St. Louis in October. Kelly and law enforcement officials are asking people to help them solve the murder of Fair and 25 other people in the city.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Law enforcement officials in East St. Louis are making a year-end push for witnesses to come forward in unsolved homicides.

Thirty-four people have been killed in East St. Louis so far this year. But police have been able to solve just eight of those cases. That clearance rate of 24 percent is well below the national average, which was about 60 percent in 2016.

Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, December 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 welcome Sen. Gary Romine to the program for the first time.

The Farmington Republican represents the 3rd Senatorial District, which takes in parts of Jefferson, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, Iron, Reynolds and Washington counties. He was re-elected in November to his traditionally competitive seat without Democratic opposition.

Updated at 12:44 a.m. ET

Democrat Doug Jones has won the Alabama Senate special election, a victory that was a stunning upset in a deeply red state that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump. The president, who had backed Republican Roy Moore despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and assault, congratulated Jones on Twitter.

With elections looming, tensions continue between the St. Louis County Council and County Executive Stenger
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council has slashed $31 million dollars from County Executive Steve Stenger's 2018 budget proposal, a move rarely seen in the region’s largest jurisdiction.

Stenger was caught off-guard when he learned of the council’s plans shortly before it convened Tuesday night. Soon after, the seven members voted 6 - 1 to approve Council Chairman Sam Page's substitute budget. 

Col. John Howard
375th Air Mobility Command

Updated 12-13-17 with new information

A commander at Scott Air Force Base is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct.

Colonel John Howard was relieved of duty as commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing on Monday.

The 18th Air Force Public Affairs office said Wednesday that the investigation is being led by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and that no more details would be released during the process.

Original Story published 12-12-17

An ancient stature lies half exposed from the ocean bed, it's face and shoulders exposed to water.
Provided by St. Louis Art Museum

Sixteen-foot sculptures depicting humans and gods will live among the St. Louis Art Museum’s collection this spring.

Museum officials are calling it “the most significant exhibition of ancient Egyptian art undertaking in St. Louis in more than 50 years.” The show, titled “Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds,” will feature massive sculptures and antiquities from ancient cities Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus. 

A charging Nissan Leaf.
Nissan

It's rare for utility companies and environmental groups to agree. But both want the state of Missouri to spend its share of last year's national Volkswagen settlement on electric vehicles and charging stations. 

After the German automaker agreed to spend billions to settle allegations of cheating  emissions standards, Missouri received $41.2 million. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has held several meetings to determine how to spend the money.

William Gass teaches a class at Washington University in 1984
Herb Weitman | Washington University

Updated Dec.12 — On Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the life and legacy of noted author and Washington University professor William Gass.

Joining him for the discussion were Lorin Cuoco, co-founder and former associate director of the International Writers Center at Washington University, Stephen Schenkenberg, creator and curator of the website Reading William Gass and author and publisher of "The Ears Mouth Must Move: Essential Interviews of William H. Gass" and William Danforth, chancellor emeritus and member of the Board of Trustees at Washington University.

Gass died on Dec. 6 at his home in St. Louis. He was 93. The former Washington University professor was known for his contributions to fiction, criticism and philosophy. 

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces on Nov 24, 2014, that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated Dec. 12 at 4:50 p.m. with comments from Tony Rothert and Bob McCulloch — The Missouri Court of Appeals has become the latest to rule against a grand juror who wants to speak about what it was like to consider charging former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with a crime in connection with the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Grand jurors take an oath of secrecy when they are sworn in. The unidentified juror wanted to be able to violate that oath in order to “contribute to the current dialogue around race relations” and to correct what the juror saw as misconduct by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. In a unanimous opinion issued Tuesday, the appeals court said no.

Provided by The May Day Orchestra

A Missouri musician and his band are making music that challenges listeners to confront their own complicity in exploitative labor practices and foreign policy while celebrating those who would change things for the better.

Tim Rakel launched The May Day Orchestra in 2008. The band creates self-described folk operas that aim to honor histories of social change. This month, the band returns with its third album, “Wake,” which melds together the story of a 17th century sultan turned pirate in what is now Kenya and Rakel’s knowledge and experience in modern-day Kenya .

Better Business bureau

Scammers are successfully using phone calls, emails and pop-up messages on computer screens to convince American consumers that their computers are infected with phony viruses or malware, warns a new report by the Better Business Bureau.

Scams involving computer technical support aren't new, but they continue to be widespread. Americans forked over more than $21 million to such schemes in the first nine months of this year, according to the FBI.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger take questions after announcing their support for a task force to examine government spending.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 12: With the Missouri General Assembly slated to convene in a few weeks, the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis is scrambling in case state lawmakers decide to intervene in the region’s long-standing debate over a possible merger of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The St. Louis County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a resolution -- signed by at least 50 area municipalities -- that opposes any sort of  statewide vote on the matter. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen could face a similar request shortly.

When Ronson Rowley was a teen, he said he used to sneak into a nightclub called the Ten Bar. “It was the only black gay club here in Indianapolis,” he recalled. One night he ran into his uncle.

“He looked me dead in the face,” he recalled. “And [he] said what are you doing here? I said, the same thing you’re doing here.”


Sikeston farmer Trey Wilson said he saw substantial damage to his soybean crops this year. On the left is what a healthy soybean plant looks like; on the right is a soybean plant showing signs of dicamba damage.
Trey Wilson

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has extended its restrictions on dicamba herbicides to products manufactured by Monsanto and DuPont. The new rules are part of the state's effort to curb crop damage for farmers who don't use genetically modified soybeans. 

In the 2018 growing season, farmers in several counties in Missouri's bootheel region will not be allowed to spray Monsanto's XtendiMax and DuPont's FeXapan on dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton after June 1. In the rest of the state, farmers cannot apply either product after July 15. Pesticide applicators can only spray XtendiMax and FeXapan between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., submit daily forms to the department before every application and complete training with the University of Missouri Extension.  The same rules were imposed on BASF's dicamba product Engenia in mid-November. 

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens called for the firing of Missouri Veterans Home administrator Rolando Carter, as well as Missouri Veterans Commission executive director Larry Kay.
Jo Mannies I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling for the Missouri Veterans Commission – which he has reconfigured with five new members – to meet this week and fire the panel’s executive director and the head of a state veterans home in north St. Louis County.

At a news conference Monday outside the facility, Greitens said he also is ordering an examination of all state veterans homes in the wake of an independent study by a private health care firm that determined a “substandard quality of care’’ at the 300-bed St. Louis Veterans Home in Bellefontaine Neighbors.

Nurses fror Newborns CEO Melinda Ohlemiller demonstrates safe sleep practices in a donated portable crib, at the organization's St. Louis offices. December 2017
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Lessons on safe sleep practices for low-income parents, and 200 portable cribs. That’s what a $20,000 contract represented for a St. Louis nonprofit, before the Missouri Department of Health decided not to renew it this fall.

“We were told they are switching their focus … to violence prevention,” said Lori Behrens, executive director of Infant Loss Resources. “It’s hard to argue with the need for that.”

Protesters marched down the Delmar Loop denouncing President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Dec. 10, 2017)
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

Palestinians and others in St. Louis are dismayed that President Donald Trump is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On Sunday, Palestinians and their allies gathered along the Delmar Loop for the "Rise for Jerusalem Rally Against Trump’s Embassy Decision."

Members from the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations were also unhappy about the president's announcement last week of his intention to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Missouri Botanical Garden researcher Ashley Glenn learning to cook in Bosnia from a homemaker named Dunja.
Ashley Glenn | Missouri Botanical Garden

On a recent Saturday, four middle-aged Bosnian women bustled in a warmly lit kitchen at Fontbonne University. Bags of flour and sugar, metal mixing bowls and trays of flaky pastries filled, called pitas, were spread across an island. The air smelled strongly of bread, butter and cheese.

Ashley Glenn, a botanist at the Missouri Botanical Garden, stood next to the women, providing commentary about the food for an audience of about two dozen people. Glenn has spent the last year and a half interviewing more than 100 Bosnians in St. Louis and in Bosnia about their cuisine and food rituals.

The interior of the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m. with a copy of the agreement — A St. Louis alderwoman and two other city residents have dropped a lawsuit challenging the use of public money to make upgrades to the Scottrade Center.

A circuit court judge was scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Monday. The agreement removes one of the last legal barriers to a plan passed in February that requires the city to sell about $100 million in bonds to finance improvements such as a new scoreboard and ice-making equipment.

Norm White dedicated his life to changing the way people viewed children "immersed in risk."
File |Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University criminal justice professor and Ferguson activist Norman White died suddenly of a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 64.

He and his wife Elizabeth “Liz” White were getting ready to leave their Belleville home for an evening rehearsal of a Christmas play they were performing in when he had the attack and died soon afterwards.

White, a New York native, called himself a “developmental criminologist,” and he spent his life working to change the way people viewed and treated children who are “immersed in risk,” as he phrased it.

Josh Hawley takes part in a debate.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A pre-filed bill in the Missouri House would eliminate a state law requiring the attorney general to live in Jefferson City.

Current law requires the attorney general to live “at the seat of government,” which is in Jefferson City. The measure sponsored by Rep. Lindell Shumake, R-Hannibal, would simply strike those words from state law.

St. Louis Community College student lie on the floor and chant during a Nov. 30, 2017 Board of Trustees meeting in an effort to delay a vote on teacher layoffs and budget cuts. Five of those students are now facing disciplinary action from the school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

At least five students at St. Louis Community College received a letter summoning them to a meeting with their dean of students to talk about disciplinary action over a protest at a Board of Trustees meeting last week.

Those five, along with other students and professors, caused an hour-long delay for a vote over cutting the college’s faculty and staff. Ultimately, the trustees approved the cuts during a confusing and raucous meeting on Nov. 30.

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Oscar Hernandez has been playing Latin jazz and salsa music for more than four decades, and in that time he’s performed with some of that music’s greatest performers, but also seen people turn away from their musical heritage.

So when Hernandez gets a chance to share the Latin music tradition that emerged from New York with a multigenerational crowd, he counts his blessings.

“I always say thank God for the intelligent, discerning fans that go beyond the commercial [music] that they’re fed continually in this country,” Hernandez said recently. “They go out and seek something better than that. And that’s who our audience is. That’s who our fans are.”

The Metro Trans Umbrella Group telethon will take place Saturday at noon through Sunday at noon.
Provided

Sayer Johnson grew up watching the annual Jerry Lewis telethon for kids with muscular dystrophy.

In recent years, he's wondered if advocates for transgender people could raise money in a similar manner?

That will happen at noon on Saturday, when the Metro Trans Umbrella Group begins a 24-hour telethon. Viewers can watch it on Facebook and YouTube.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson County is one step closer to attaining the federal clean air standard for sulfur dioxide, a noxious gas that can cause asthma and respiratory illness.

The Missouri Air Conservation Commission on Thursday approved the state's recommendation to the Environmental Protection Agency that the county's sulfur dioxide levels are within the federal limit of 75 parts per billion.

OliBac | Flickr

The city of St. Louis is making additional beds available Thursday night for people who are homeless.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the teens overnight. The city is relying on a network of churches and other nonprofit groups this year to provide people who might not ordinarily seek shelter with a place to stay. Unlike previous years, it will not use the gym at the 12th and Park Recreation Center near the Soulard neighborhood.

Justin Wang (left), playing against Luis Torres. Wang, 12, was the youngest player in the event and achieved his first international master norm. 2017
Eric Rosen

For six days, 20 players from all over the world battled it out through nine strenuous rounds of chess at the 2017 St. Louis Invitational. The event featured two 10-player round-robin sections in which players competed for a chunk of the $15,000 prize fund. More importantly, many of the players strived to earn grandmaster and international master norms, which would bring them closer to attaining the respective titles.

About 1,000 people die in U.S. jails every year. Half of deaths are due to illness, according to federal statistics.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Shirletta Chambly has lost two family members in St. Louis jails: First her brother, and then her 21-year-old son.

Maleek Coleman-Chambly died after a seizure in his bed at the St. Louis City Justice Center on Jan. 31, 2017. Family members claim he told them over the phone that jail personnel had refused to give him his epilepsy medication the night before.

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