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The opioid prescribing rate in Missouri went up close to 10 percent between 2017 and 2018 within counties participating in the state's drug monitoring program
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Opioid Deaths Hit Peak In St. Louis, With Other Drugs Gaining Ground

Nearly three people a day died of opioid overdoses in St. Louis last year, according to data released by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. There were 1,080 people who died of opioids in St. Louis and eight surrounding counties, up 30% from the year before. The 2018 count, released this week, marks the 12th consecutive year of rising drug-related fatalities in the region.

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U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, speaks to supporters and media on Tuesday night. She defeated Democratic challenger Cort VanOstran in Missouri's 2nd Congressional District.
File photo I David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue and Jason Rosenbaum break down the big stories that have made headlines over the past week.

Arguably the biggest was Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp, announcing she would run for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts of St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties. She’ll face incumbent GOP Congresswoman Ann Wagner. While the 2nd District has been in Republican hands for a generation, it’s become more competitive as white suburban voters sour on President Donald Trump.

File photo | Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

As companies vie for a potential lease on St. Louis Lambert International Airport, a big focus is on the land around it — and how it could be developed.

But a private operator would also take on the risk involving the current state of the land.

Consultants presented parts of an environmental report Thursday on the condition of that land to the Airport Advisory Working Group considering airport privatization.

Tim McBride is a professor in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and is co-director of the Center for Health Economics and Policy.
EVIE HEMPHILL | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

The deadline to enroll in a health care plan via the Affordable Care Act marketplace is Dec. 15. Are plans more or less affordable than in previous years? What should people be aware of while searching for plans outside of the ACA marketplace?

Thursday on St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske put these questions to Timothy McBride of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to talking about the health and future of the ACA marketplace, McBride, the co-director of the Center for Health Economics and Policy, discussed what Medicaid expansion could look like in Missouri. Just last week, Gov. Mike Parson said he would expand the program if voters say that’s what they want. 

From left, James Croft and Martin Casas joined Thursday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

As another "Star Wars" movie speeds toward the galaxy this month, fans are eagerly anticipating its arrival — while non-fans may be yawning over the premiere of yet one more big-budget action flick. But regardless of one’s feelings about "Star Wars," Marvel or other modern myths that dominate pop culture, self-described “superfan but also a critical fan” James Croft argues that these persistent hero narratives overlap with the real world in powerful ways.

“We can learn so much about ourselves and about our culture,” Croft has said, “by exploring how heroism is portrayed in movies like ‘Star Wars’ – including how notions of what heroism is, and who can be considered a hero, have developed over time.”

As the outreach director for the Ethical Society of St. Louis, Croft plans to dig into this topic at a free event Thursday evening at the society. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, he joined Sarah Fenske in studio alongside Martin Casas, owner of Apotheosis Comics & Lounge, which is sponsoring the hero-focused event.

McCluer North student Mya Davis describes her photo at St. Louis Public Radio's Photojournalism Prize awards ceremony.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Public Radio digital team crafted its first Photojournalism Prize photography contest last month. The competition provided professional publicity, encouragement and training to St. Louis-area high school students interested in journalistic photography.

This year’s theme was “Window to my World,” and participants were required to tell a story with a caption, image and personal reflection. The six prize categories were: Best Portrait, Best Landscape, Best Still Life, Best Action Shot, Best Caption and Best in Show. All winners received a master class with station photojournalists and publication on stlpublicradio.org.

The closing ceremony for the 2019 Grand Chess Tour, Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz tournament in Kolkata, India.
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The Grand Chess Tour wrapped up the final leg of its 2019 regular season with the Tata Steel Chess Rapid & Blitz held Nov. 22-26 in Kolkata, India. This was the strongest tournament of its kind to be held on Indian soil.

Lee Phung has owned Egg Roll Kitchen since 2000. His father started the North Grand business in 1968. He said Alderman Moore's comments were insensitive. November, 26, 2019
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Lee Phung has owned Egg Roll Kitchen in north St. Louis since 2000. But he’s been a part of the community since 1968, when his father opened the restaurant on North Grand Boulevard.

Although Phung, who was born in China, no longer lives in north St. Louis, he went to Soldan High School and considers the area his second home. He has a close relationship with his customers.

When Alderman Sam Moore, who represents the area, recently suggested that north St. Louis members of the Board of Freeholders should not include Asian Americans, Phung and other Asian Americans in St. Louis described the comments as insensitive. It struck many as another example of their community being ignored.

Protesters hold LGBTQ pride flags at a Rainbow Workers' Alliance rally.
Andrea Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

Nationally, the number of reported hate crimes remained fairly stagnant in 2018 compared to the year before, but Missouri saw a 39% reduction. 

According to the FBI, there were more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hate Crime Statistics Program in 2018, but only about 12% reported incidents. The other 87% reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions. Agencies participate on a voluntary basis and provide one to 12 months of data. 

Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP, joined the show to talk about his support of airport privatization. | 12/4/19
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis is considering leasing St. Louis Lambert International Airport to a private company. Such a deal could bring a cash windfall to the city.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Adolphus Pruitt, president of the NAACP’s St. Louis chapter. Despite skepticism and opposition from others, Pruitt is a vocal supporter of the idea of an airport lease. He said a large cash influx is needed to address the city’s problems.

Courtesy of the High Low

A newly renovated building is now open in Grand Center. It’s called the High Low. And like many other buildings in Grand Center, it’s focused on the arts.

But unlike many of the others, it’s not a theater or a performance space. Instead, it calls itself a “venue for freedom of expression through spoken and written word.” In other words, it aims to be a literary hub for a city that’s long had an outsized impact on the world of letters.

Like many newer developments in Grand Center, the High Low is a project of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, foundation executive director Chris Hansen explained the impetus for what he describes as a “labor of love.”  

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St. Louis on the Air

Friday: How The Mississippi River Shaped St. Louis

Host Sarah Fenske will talk with Andrew Wanko, public historian for the Missouri Historical Society and author of the new book, “Great River City: How the Mississippi Shaped St. Louis.”

St. Louis Public Radio Investigates

5 US Cities Have 3 Stadiums Within About A Mile — St. Louis Will Soon Join Them

When St. Louis' MLS stadium is complete in 2022, the city will have three stadiums within about a mile of each other. So we wondered, 'How common is that?' Here's what we found.

Living #Ferguson: 5 Years After The Killing Of Michael Brown Jr.

What has changed?

Listen to the voices of people who experienced #Ferguson and who are directly touched by the issues Michael Brown’s death laid bare.

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Sharing America: Profiles

A series about women of color doing local work that highlights an issue of national importance.