September 30, 2014

Media association wants MO Attorney General investigation of Ferguson

A broadcast media association is asking the Attorney General’s Office to investigate “exorbitant fees” being charged by the City of Ferguson for copies of records relating to the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

The Radio, Television, Digital News Association cites reports that some news media have been told fulfilling their requests would cost unspecified “thousands of dollars” for copies of documents. RTDNA accuses the City of Ferguson of “apparent contempt for the media-something so graphically demonstrated on the streets of Ferguson during the nights following the shooting.”

According to the Attorney General’s Office, government agencies can charge, “up to 10 cents per page for standard paper copies, the average hourly rate of pay for clerical staff to duplicate documents, and the actual cost of the research time for fulfilling the request.” State law also requires a governmental body to use, “the lowest salaried employees capable of searching, researching, and copying the records. Fees for accessing records on other media, or non-standard paper copies, shall reflect actual cost involved.”

See the letter from RTDNA Executive Director Mike Cavender to Attorney General Chris Koster:

RTDNA to AG on Ferguson

Missouri sets new execution date for convicted murderer Leon Taylor

The Missouri Supreme Court has set a new execution date for a man who murdered an Independence service station attendant 20 years ago.

Leon Taylor (courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Leon Taylor (courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Leon Taylor, 56, is scheduled to die by lethal injection November 19 at the prison in Bonne Terre. The court had scheduled his execution for this month but withdrew that death warrant after his lawyers said they would be unable to work on his case at that time.

Instead, the Court ordered Earl Ringo, Junior, to be executed for the 1998 double murders of a Columbia restaurant manager and a delivery driver. That execution, the eighth by Missouri this year, was carried out September 10.

On April 14, 1994, Robert Newton was working at a service station and his 8-year-old stepdaughter was keeping him company. Taylor and two siblings had purchased gas from the station. Taylor then returned, pulled a gun, and threatened to shoot Newton if he didn’t give Taylor money. Newton gave him about $400 in a bank bag. Taylor then led Newton to a back room and shot him in the head, killing him.

Taylor turned the gun on the little girl and pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed. He then locked the girl in the back room with her stepfather.

Missouri is next scheduled to execute Mark Christeson on the morning of October 29.

Missouri Unclaimed property auction nets $100K for owners

Nearly $100,000 has been netted in an auction of unclaimed property that was being held by the state.

The State Treasurer’s Office says the auction sold about 1,600 items found in safe deposit boxes, including rare coins and jewelry. The largest winning bid was $5,500 for a 10-karat gold Omega men’s wristwatch and matching 14-karat gold bracelet.

Such property winds up in the control of the Treasurer’s Office after a safe deposit box goes for five years with no activity or contact from the owner.

Proceeds from auctions like this one are held by the Treasurer’s Office until the rightful owners of the unclaimed property or their heirs come forward to claim it.

University of Missouri team finds way to fight cancer with communication

Researchers at the University of Missouri might have found a way to fight cancer by interrupting its communication.

Cancer cells in the right image were treated and in the left image are shown to have been killed.  (courtesy; University of Missouri News Bureau)

Cancer cells in the right image were treated and in the left image are shown to have been killed. (courtesy; University of Missouri News Bureau)

Those researchers were studying a molecule used by bacteria to communicate. That molecule would allow bacteria to tell one another to do things like multiply, to flee from a body’s immune system, or to stop spreading.

Assistant Research Professor Senthil Kumar says the team then made a discovery “by accident.”

“We’ve found that this molecule can be effectively used against cancer cells,” says Kumar, by introducing the same molecule to cancer cells. It can be used to tell cancer cells to stop spreading, or even to die.

“The cancer cells migrate to form metastasis in the distant organs … we are able to stop that migration when we use this compound. We also found that the genes responsible for this migration can be influenced by this compound.”

Much more research must be done before the technique will be tried on humans, but so far it’s shown promising results against one of the most treatment resistant cancers there is; pancreatic

Professor Senthil Kumar

Professor Senthil Kumar

In the study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, Kumar and co-author Jeffrey Bryan, an associate professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, treated pancreatic cancer cells and were successful in ceasing their multiplication. The cells failed to migrate and began to die.

“Because this treatment shows promise in such an aggressive cancer like pancreatic cancer, we believe it could be used in other types of cancer cells and our lab is in the process of testing this treatment in other types of cancer,” says Kumar.

The next step, he says, is to find a more efficient way to introduce the molecules to the cancer cells.

“At this time, we are only able to treat cancer cells with this molecule in a laboratory setting.”

Missouri Educators gear up to fight Amendment 3 (AUDIO)

A proposal on the November ballot has Missouri’s public school systems nervous even though backers of it have abandoned their campaign.  Amendment Three remains on the ballot although the Teach Great Campaign has quit campaigning for it.

Teach Great organized the petition campaign largely bankrolled by financier Rex Sinquefield, but says its polling shows the public isn’t buying the idea.  That’s not good enough for Missouri’s school districts that want to crush the proposition in November, sending a strong message to Teach Great.

Spokesman Brent Ghan with the Missouri School Boards Association says the association does not oppose reforming the teacher tenure process, but Amendment three is an attack on local control of schools. “The issue of teacher evaluation and performance…is not a subject that really belongs in the construction…and, second, it goes way beyond addressing the issue of teacher tenure to mandating how school districts will evaluate teachers in the process of hiring and firing.”

He says Amendment Three takes that away and replaces it with a system that determines teacher pay and retention on the basis of a standardized test that hasn’t been developed yet.  He says the standardized tests would be given in all districts regardless of their academic records and needs.

AUDIO: Ghan interview