Missouri Smokers Lose $1.7 Million in Health-Care Costs, Lost Wages: Study

Categories: Missourah, News

modi via flickr
Smoking: It'll cost ya!
Missouri may have some of the lowest cigarette prices in the country, but a new study says the hidden costs of smoking take a million dollars out of Missourians' wallets.

Personal finance website WalletHub calculated how much money smokers lose on health-care costs, income loss and increases in homeowner's insurance costs. The study even analyzes how much money smokers would earn if they invested in stock instead of dropping buckets on cigs.

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Star Clipper Comics Announces Closure

Categories: News

Theo Welling
Star Clipper's 2014 Free Comic Book Day was another star-studded affair.
St. Louis comic shop institution Star Clipper will close after 27 years in business.

Owners A.J. and Ben Trujillo made the announcement this morning on Facebook, breaking the hearts of thousands of comic fans and pop-culture enthusiasts in the process.

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Kevin Costner Does Not Want Your St. Louis-Themed Birthday Gift, KSDK

Categories: News

KSDK-TV Channel 5
"Please stop. I don't want it. Please."
Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Costner has a smile that starts in his eyes, with corners that crinkle with delight when he talks about his love for his wife or his daughter's singing.

But there was no delighted crinkling -- only empty pools of anguish -- in Coster's eyes Tuesday morning when the movie star realized that KSDK-TV (Channel 5) had a special birthday surprised planned for him on air.

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The Riverfront Times 2014 News Quiz!

Categories: News

Dan Zettwoch
Lyft made news in St. Louis this year, but why? See question No. 2.

It's been a long year in St. Louis. A very serious year dominated by one main story.
Yet even amid the most trying times of hashtag Ferguson, unintentionally humorous side
stories developed. Remember, for example, Governor Jay Nixon's tortured response during a Ferguson press conference when questioned, "Does the buck ultimately stop with you?"

Moreover, as 2014 makes its slow crawl into extinction, it's arguable that if ever St. Louis needed to laugh at itself, it's this year. So it is that Riverfront Times has once again composed our annual News Challenge of the most regrettable, odd and funny occurrences of the year — Ferguson included.

Sharpen your pencils and see how much of the detestable 2014 you can recall by comparing your answers to the correct answers on Page 2 of this post.

Sorry, perennial News Challenge champion, Don Weber: There's no bucket of RFT swag to win this year. We're providing the answers in the current issue because everyone wants instant gratification. Also, we're all out of crap.

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St. Louis Named Top 5 City for Young Veterans

Categories: News

DVIDSHUB via flickr
Thank you for your service. Now come move to St. Louis!
St. Louis' recent downtown revitalization and low housing costs are just two of the reasons why young veterans should consider moving here after service, according to a study.

The USAA, which provides insurance and financial services to 10.4 million current and former members of the U.S. military, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation released a list of ten of the top cities where young vets can transition out of military life and into a civilian career. St. Louis ranks No. 5 this year, after not making the list at all in 2013.

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Time Is Running Out for St. Louis City's Free Warrant Forgiveness Program [UPDATE]

Categories: News

Google Maps
St. Louis municipal courthouse at 1520 Market Street, where you can get a new court date and keep that warrant cleared.
Don't want a warrant on your record? St. Louis city is offering the 71,000 traffic offenders still facing warrants in the city a free way to get a new court date without facing arrest, but the program expires at the end of the year.

The city forgave 220,000 traffic-related warrants in October, one month after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, as protests in Ferguson shone a spotlight on municipal courts that use traffic violations and court fees to pad city budgets.

UPDATE, 12/29: With two-and-a-half days left, the city has extended the hours of the municipal courthouse so more people can schedule court dates and stay warrant-free. Get details below.

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Ferguson Protester Hit by Minivan in Central West End Blames Driver

Categories: Ferguson, News

Police arrest the driver of a minivan who stuck three protesters in the Central West End on Wednesday night.
St. Louis police say they are unsure of the sequence of events that led an armed minivan driver to plow into several protesters Wednesday night at the intersection of Euclid and Maryland avenues in the Central West End.

Police spokeswoman Leah Freeman says the department briefly detained the unnamed 57-year-old man after he flashed a gun at the angry crowd that surrounded his vehicle after the collision. But despite video footage and numerous witnesses congregated at the intersection, an incident report provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department cites "contradicting statements from the driver and individuals at the scene" as reason the man was released that night without charges.

One of the victims struck by the minivan tells Daily RFT there should be no confusion about what happened that night, placing blame solely on the driver.

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New Black Panther Member Arrested on Gun Charge Had Promoted Peace in Ferguson

Categories: News

Danny Wicentowski
In this August 14 photo, Olajuwon Ali, left, helps direct traffic during a celebratory protest in Ferguson. Ali, whose legal name is Olajuwon Davis, was indicted last week on weapons charges.
A U.S. District Court indicted two members of the St. Louis chapter of the New Black Panther Party Wednesday on federal weapons charges. The men were arrested Friday morning.

Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis are charged with lying on forms submitted during a gun purchase at the Cabela's sporting goods in Hazelwood earlier this month. According to a federal indictment, Baldwin had claimed to be buying two Hi-Point .45 ACP pistols for himself when he was actually acting as a straw purchaser for someone else. The indictment doesn't identify the intended recipient of the handguns.

Citing an anonymous police source, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that a months-long investigation uncovered Baldwin and Davis' plans to acquire weapons, "to do harm to law enforcement and the public." Yet other news media, including Reuters and ABC, cite their own anonymous sources to report that the FBI arrested Baldwin and Davis for allegedly planning pipe bomb attacks to take place during future Ferguson protests. KMOV also mentions the alleged pipe bomb plot, but its report doesn't make an explicit connection to Baldwin and Davis.

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Charles Manson and His St. Louis-Area Bride Apply For Marriage License

Categories: News

Charles Manson, the groom-to-be.
Cue the wedding bells and chill the Champagne. Charles Manson is getting married.

Afton Elaine Burton is the 80-year-old mass murderer's fiancee, as Daily RFT reported a year ago. Burton, a 26-year-old Susan Atkins look-alike who now goes by the name Star, grew up 40 miles north of St. Louis in Bunker Hill, Illinois, where her parents and two brothers still live.

The killer couple hasn't set a date yet, but Kings County has issued them a marriage license, according to the Associated Press. A prison wedding coordinator is organizing the ceremony, which will be in an inmate visiting room at California's Corcoran State Prison. The couple is allowed to invite ten non-inmate guests.

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Sharon Carpenter Misspent $130,000+ from Recorder of Deeds Office: Audit

Categories: News, Politics

Sharon Carpenter is hoping St. Louisans reelects her to Recorder of Deeds on November 4.
Former Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter misspent $130,274.08 of city funds between July, 1 2010 and and June 30, 2014, according to a draft version of an audit conducted by the St. Louis Comptroller's Office.

The expenses included reimbursements to employees for restaurant, travel and hotel bills during conventions, as well as picking up the tab at meetings with vendors. According to the audit, which was acquired by Daily RFT through a Sunshine Request, Carpenter payed for those items by tapping the Technology and Archival Account, a fund whose usage is restricted under state statute to "record storage, microfilming, and preservation, including anything necessarily thereto."

Notably, the draft of the audit makes no mention of the nepotism allegations that led to Carpenter's resignation in July, or the fact that Carpenter -- who was first appointed to recorder in 1980 -- withdrew roughly $12,000 from the Technology and Archival Account to pay her great-nephew's intern salary and parking costs.

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