July 24, 2014

Missouri children: below average (AUDIO)

An annual survey of the welfare of Missouri’s children shows Missouri is not a place where all of the children are above average.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual “Kids Count” survey looks at sixteen behaviors in four categories. Missouri is 29th in the ratings. Its highest ranking is 22nd in education. Its lowest ranking is 30th in childhood health. Figures from various federal agencies are used in compiling the ratings.

This year’s survey sees improvements in education in the last decade. But Foundation spokesman Laurie Spear says improvement in childhood health is limited although the figures for low-birth rate children are better.

AUDIO: Speer:24

Although the teen birth rate has dropped, it is only keeping up with a national trend.

She indicates one of the disappointing results is that almost one-fourth of Missouri’s children live in poverty–23 percent–an increase from 2005.

Missouri’s rankings:

Economic well-being 24

Education 22

Health 30

Family and community 27

Overall 29

The full report is at:

http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-2014-kids-count-data-book/

McCaskill, Blunt tell vets that nation owes them (AUDIO)

Senator McCaskill tells a national veterans conference everybody in Washington talks about helping veterans.  But she says it’s harder to actually do something.  And Senator Blunt says it’s time to end a “shameful” breach of faith.

McCaskill and Blunt are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  She tells the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in St. Louis there can be no compromises in fully funding promised benefits for veterans.

McCaskill says it’s time to clean house at the Veterans Administration, especially targeting administrators who retaliate against whistleblowers who report poor administrative operations.

Blunt calls the state of veterans healthcare  a “shameful” and unacceptable breach of faith with veterans and their families.  He says it’s also a breach of faith with responsible Veterans Administration employees who try to do a good job and who call attention to shoddy work and administrative practices, yet are penalized for doing it.

AUDIO: McCaskill 9:39

AUDIO: Blunt 12:46

Biden tells veterans nation has sacred obligation (AUDIO/VIDEO)

The vice president spoke to the VFW convention July 21 in St. Louis.

The vice president spoke to the VFW convention July 21 in St. Louis.

Vice-President Joe Biden tells a national veterans convention in St. Louis the country has a long ways to go to meet its obligations to veterans.  He tells the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that  99% of Americans owe a debt to the one percent that serves in uniform.

He says the nation has many obligations.  But only one of them is sacred, “to care for and equip those we send to war and to care for them and their families when they come home from war.”

AUDIO: Biden  :29

He says every state now allows people licensed as military truck drivers to automatically qualify for commercial drivers’ licenses.   Biden says every state should allow every military specialty to qualify in that profession with no further tests.

He says those and other initiatives are reasons that veterans unemployment is lower than it is for the rest of the population for the first time in his political career.

Watch Biden’s speech

 

New Madrid Fault zone more dangerous (AUDIO)

The United States Geological Survey says the New Madrid Seismic Zone has grown and has become more dangerous in the last six years.

The USGS updates its earthquake assessments every six years. The newest study says 42 of the 50 states “have a reasonable chance of…damaging ground shaking…in 50 years.” The Survey also says “The New Madrid Seismic Zone has…a larger range of potential earthquake magnitudes and locations than previously identified.”

USGS

USGS

The finding comes four years after Northwestern University Professor Seth Stein suggested the fault is dead, a finding that the USGS Seismic Mapping Project Chief, Mark Petersen, thinks is wrong. He says a recent study has looked into whether recent small quakes are only aftershocks of the big earthquakes of 1811-1812 has found they are not aftershocks but are signals that the New Madrid Zone is still active.

Petersen says the New Madrid Zone is not just one fault. It’s a network of them. The new study includes eight new faults found by the nuclear industry that are within the zone or flank it.

Petersen says scientists are getting better at identifying earthquake zones. But science is no better than ever at predicting when the next big one might hit.

Gun rights amendment cleared for August ballot in Missouri

stock handgun

The constitutional amendment will be on the August 5 ballot.

The state supreme court says it is too late for it to remove the proposed gun rights amendment from the August ballot, or to change the amendment title.  The issue will be Amendment 5, to be voted on August 5.

The court says state laws does not allow individuals or issues to be placed on a ballot less than six weeks before an election, and courts have interpreted that law to also prohibit courts from modifying issues already on the ballot.

Opponents of the amendment had claimed the ballot title was unfair and insufficient.

Supporters of the proposal say it strengthens Second Amendment rights for Missourians and limits federal regulation of firearms in Missouri. Opponents say passage of it would limit the legislature’s own ability to regulate concealed weapons and could lead to elimination of requirements that people need state licenses to carry concealed weapons.

The proposed amendment reads, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is an unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right.”