Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, watch for river otters on frozen water.

photo of Junot Diaz
Nina Subin

This week on Intersection, we bring you excerpts from author Junot Díaz's Jan. 22 talk at MU.

Díaz won the 2008 Pulitzer prize for his first novel, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” He received a MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship and co-founded the Voices of Our National Arts Foundation, which holds workshops for writers of color. He is a professor of writing at MIT.

Díaz immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United State when he was six. In his literary work and activism, he tackles issues including immigration, assimilation and oppression.


His speech was part of the MU Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. event. During the talk, Díaz spoke about white supremacy, the role of artists and the lasting effects of slavery.


Today Paul Pepper visits with NICOLE KNAPP-WEBER about a special fundraiser for City Garden School next month at Sager | Braudis Gallery in Columbia! "Tales From the Garden: Mythical Magic" is a gala featuring a cake competition, live music, a silent auction and more! At [4:12] actor ADAM BRIETZKE invites everyone to come see Talking Horse Productions' latest show, "Louie, Louie and la Dolce Vita." With a cast of only two, this intimate love story about a bi-racial couple under the thumb of J. Edgar Hoover in the late '60s is sure to keep you captivated until the end. February 6, 2018

A new report from Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says lawsuits against the state cost taxpayers at least $23 million last year.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a year-end report from Hawley, a Republican, showed that 16 of the 45 major payouts were related to employee discrimination, including six from cases involving workers at the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Missourians Respond to Passenger Train Crashes

Feb 5, 2018

Just this past week, two Amtrak train crashes occurred, in Virginia and South Carolina. The crashes, which combined to kill three people and injure 122 more, raised questions about the current state of rail transportation.

“You’re going to see a lot of folks talking about positive train control (PTC),” Washington Post transportation reporter Lori Aratani said. “We know in at least two of these recent incidents, PTC could have prevented that.” 

City of Columbia Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp held a press conference Monday afternoon to explain his support for legalizing medical cannabis in Missouri.

Trapp said the legalization of medical cannabis would decrease opioid epidemic mortality because cannabis is a safer alternative for treating chronic pain. Trapp is a certified substance abuse counselor in Missouri and worked in a medical marijuana clinic in California.

“When people have access to medical cannabis, they use less dangerous prescription drugs and that actually saves the taxpayers money,” he said.

Columbia College is set to host the one-man play “The Movement: 50 Years of Love and Struggle” Monday night at 7 pm in Launer Auditorium.

The play chronicles the political and social changes over the more than 50 years since the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The play is produced by the theater company Dialogues on Diversity. Ron Jones, who will be performing, is the company’s executive director.

“What we try to do is use theater as a delivery system,” Jones said. “We try to fuse it with as much humor, information and insight as we can to hopefully give people a platform to have conversations about the nature of these issues.”

Missouri Lawmakers Try to Regulate Petition Process

Feb 5, 2018

Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that places restrictions on the initiative petition process, but federal courts are questioning the regulations' constitutionality.

The Columbia Missourian reports that the bill heard last week includes four new regulations. Petition circulators would be required to wear a name tag indicating whether they are paid, and they wouldn't be allowed to get paid based on the number of signatures gathered. Circulators would also have to be residents of Missouri and registered voters.

Missouri Lawmaker Wants House Intern Program Suspended

Feb 5, 2018

A Missouri lawmaker wants the House to suspend its intern program and further strengthen its policies about sexual harassment.

Democratic Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, of Ferguson, said Monday that the House culture hasn't improved enough since former House Speaker John Diehl Jr. resigned in May 2015 while admitting to sending sexually suggestive text messages to an intern.

Today Paul Pepper visits with VALORIE LIVINGSTON, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbia, about the 13th annual 'Rootin' Tootin' Chili Cookoff'! This popular event is the primary fundraiser for the services and programs that benefit over 1,200 kids in our community. At [4:45] JEN DAVIS invites everyone to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival February 11 at The Blue Note in Columbia! See a "diverse array" of short and medium films from around the country and right here locally. Proceeds benefit Missouri River Relief. February 5, 2018

Missouri Considers Work Requirement for People on Food Stamps

Feb 5, 2018

Some state lawmakers want to impose a work requirement on able-bodied Missouri residents receiving food stamps as a prerequisite for them obtaining those benefits.

The Missouri Department of Social Services currently applies to the federal government for a waiver to exempt Missouri residents from having to prove they’re working in order to receive support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. While federal law calls for such a requirement, each state can decide on a case-by-case basis if they impose that regulation. State Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St.Peters, is proposing the state no longer apply for that waiver and begin to enact the federally mandated work requirement on Missouri residents.

Black Business Owners Showcase Work at First Expo

Feb 5, 2018

Whitney Jones arrived from St. Louis to promote her handmade, plus-size clothing line. Lloyd Henry brought his spread from Big Daddy’s BBQ on the northern side of Columbia to promote his year-round barbecue catering business he runs with his wife, Fontella. Jetawn Smith came from Jefferson City to talk taxes with the community.

Black business owners from across Missouri shook hundreds of hands on Saturday at Columbia College during the 2018 Columbia College Black Business Expo. The expo, the first of its kind to come to the college, showcased 19 businesses representing industries ranging from baked goods to candle making to social justice-themed art. Some 300 people filtered through Dorsey Hall as business owners chatted with new customers and longtime friends alike about their wares.

Distance Learning Discussed at MU

Feb 5, 2018

The University of Missouri Board of Curators discussed problems and goals of distance learning and collaboration among campuses at a meeting on Friday morning at the Columbia Campus.

Some school districts in the St. Louis area are asking the community to help pay off student meal debt for families who can't afford daily lunches for their children.

More than 2,100 students in the Francis Howell School District collectively owe nearly $19,000 in their school lunch accounts. The district has asked community members to pitch in to a dedicated lunch debt fund, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .

Lobbyist gifts, a tax credit for the elderly, and a bill frowned upon by labor unions are on next week’s tentative agenda for the Missouri General Assembly.

Some Senate members appear to be close to their own version of a proposal to ban most gifts from lobbyists. Details are being withheld at the moment, but Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said it could be voted out of committee next week.

MU Applications Way Up For Fall Of 2018

Feb 2, 2018

  Freshman applications to attend MU next fall are up by about 17 percent over this time last year, according to information presented Friday to the UM System Board of Curators.

The number of freshman applications were 17,583, up from 15,060 at this time last year.

The number of transfer applicants were up by about 12 percent — up to 904 from 806 last year at this time.


A Missouri lawmaker has introduced a bill that would address the issue of pregnant inmates being shackled and chained during labor.

The Columbia Missourian reports that the bill would ban a state correctional center or a city or county jail from using restraints on a woman in the third trimester of her pregnancy during medical care. It would also require correctional centers and jails to create policies for the care of pregnant inmates, including mental health evaluations, substance abuse treatment, dietary supplements and postpartum recovery.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens does not have to provide the state attorney general with records related to his social media accounts such as private messages and names of blocked users.  The Kansas City Star reports that the office of Attorney General Josh Hawley said in a letter this week that the governor's Twitter and Facebook accounts are not public records. Both Greitens and Hawley are Republicans.  The Star also reported that Hawley's office on Thursday announced it found no open records violations from Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway's office.

Today Paul Pepper visits with HEATHER HARLAN, Phoenix Health Programs, Inc., about opioid addiction. All it takes is a very small amount of fentanyl combined with a very small amount of heroin to create a lethal combination. Thankfully, an overdose is not a death sentence. Heather tells us about an over-the-counter drug that can reverse the effects. At [4:16] JOE GEIST, Curator, and JERRY BENNER, Photographer, invite everyone to come see two new exhibits at the Ashby-Hodge Gallery in Fayette. Jerry will have a number of photographs on display from his eight-day stay in Cuba - three of which he brought with him today! February 2, 2018

Jaret Holden

Candidates running for Columbia Public Schools Board of Education talked about issues in a forum hosted Thursday by the Columbia Board of Realtors.

Four candidates participated in the forum. There are two open seats on the board with Christine King seeking reelection. The other candidates are Ben Tilley, Susan Blackburn and Tyler Lero. The fifth candidate, Teresa Maledy, didn’t attend.

King said her prior experience working for the Columbia Montessori School was what equipped her for serving on the school board the past nine years.

Veronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a $236 million plan to clean up a suburban St. Louis landfill where Cold War-era nuclear waste was illegally dumped decades ago.

The EPA said Thursday the plan calls for removing all of the radioactive contamination that poses a health risk by partially excavating the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. Crews will also install a permanent "engineered cover system" at the site.

Jaret Holden

Candidates running for Columbia City Council faced questions in a forum hosted Thursday by the Columbia Board of Realtors.

Three candidates took part in the forum. In Ward 2, incumbent Michael Trapp is seeking a third term but will face opposition from Paul Love. Council member Betsy Peters is running unopposed in Ward 6.

A point of contention was when Love said Trapp had a conflict of interest in developments in the city based on the business Trapp owns.

“That is one of the prime reasons I am running. I am not a huge fan of crony-councilmen,” Love said.

Missouri Capitol
j.stephenconn / Flickr

Two Missouri Senate Republican leaders are raising concerns about fellow GOP Gov. Eric Greitens' tax proposal.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard on Thursday said he's "not too excited about it." Appropriations Chairman Dan Brown said it will be difficult to pass this year, and added that he hasn't gotten much information so far from Greitens' administration.

Greitens is asking lawmakers to cut individual income taxes from 5.9 percent to 5.3 percent for most Missourians. He also wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 6.25 percent to 4.25 percent.

The University of Missouri is naming the newest residence hall on the Columbia campus after a prominent late black journalist once denied admission there.

The Board of Curators voted unanimously Thursday to name the 279-student dorm after Lucile Bluford. The hall's atrium will honor Gus Ridgel, the university's first African-American graduate.

AP Photo

Back in January 2017, Brazil experienced a wave of massive and grisly prison riots. More than 130 inmates were killed in a few weeks in fighting between rival gangs. Many of the of the dead were decapitated or mutilated, and pictures of their bodies were posted on the internet by other inmates.

Now, two other deadly riots in the first few weeks of 2018 are raising fears of more mass-killings in Brazilian prisons. In some cases,  prisons have been all but abandoned by outnumbered prison guards and are operated as virtually independent fiefs of gangs that have morphed from prisoner rights' organizations into sophisticated criminal groups. 

On this edition of Global Journalist, we look at why Brazil's prison system is so violent and how its mismanagement is undermining Brazil's politics and governance.