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Big Bank Settlement
8:25 am
Wed November 20, 2013

JPMorgan Chase To Pay Illinois Pension Funds $100 Million

Chase Tower in Chicago.
Credit John Picken (flickr.com/picken)

The bank JPMorgan Chase will pay Illinois' pension funds $100 million under a national settlement announced Tuesday. The payment is a result of the bank's misconduct leading up to the Great Recession.

Like a lot of investors in the last decade, Illinois' pension funds had a good chunk of change in mortgage-backed securities. Once the housing market collapsed and homeowners began defaulting, the value of those securities collapsed, too.

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Statehouse
8:22 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Suspicious Fire Burns Illinois Lawmaker's Office

Rep. Dwight Kay

(AP) A fire chief says a blaze in a building that houses an Illinois state lawmaker's southwestern Illinois office is considered suspicious.  

Edwardsville Fire Chief Rick Welle says no injuries resulted from Monday night's fire that damaged Rep. Dwight Kay's office.

The building also included an insurance site, consulting agencies and counseling services.  Welle said it's unclear if any of the offices was specifically targeted, but that investigators haven't ruled out arson.  

Illinois State Police and the state fire marshal's office are investigating.  

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Student Debt
8:00 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Local Filmmaker Hones In On "Student Loan Debt Crisis"

Zach Baliva - Executive Producer of 'Deferred'
Credit http://deferredmovie.com/

Zach Baliva says it's become the norm for students to attend college with the help of hefty loans, and all that debt is becoming a serious obstacle for students and graduates. With the film 'Deferred' Baliva, a local documentarian, hopes to explore these issues. He recently joined us to talk about what inspired the movie and plans to get it off the ground: 

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Health Desk
7:03 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Illinois Regulators Looking For Health Scams

(AP) Illinois regulators are on guard for con artists trying to profit from the nation's new health care law, and they've already shut down one suspicious operation and a lookalike website.  

The state Department of Insurance reported on its fraud prevention efforts Tuesday to a governor's task force on the law's rollout in Illinois.

Legitimate trained counselors are helping people sign up for health insurance. They must pass a background check to be certified to do the work.  

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Regional
6:17 am
Wed November 20, 2013

FEMA Inspectors To View Storm Damage Thursday

Credit Alex Rusciano WCBU

(AP) _ Federal assessments of tornado-damaged property in Illinois are to begin Thursday.
 
Gov. Pat Quinn's office says Federal Emergency Management Agency assessments
are necessary so the state can request federal assistance.
 
Five teams will look at damage to homes and businesses in Champaign, Grundy,
Massac, Pope, Tazewell and Will counties. Sunday's tornadoes destroyed hundreds
of homes and left six people dead in the state.
 
 The governor's office says federal and state emergency officials will meet with

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District 186
5:00 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

NAACP Threatens To Sue District 186

Springfield NAACP President, Teresa Haley
Credit http://www.springfieldnaacp.org/

District 186 says it's working hard to hire more minority teachers and administrators. Still, the percentage of minorities in those roles is only half of what it should be according to a decades old desegregation order. And the Springfield branch of the NAACP says it's preparing for a potential lawsuit. 

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State Week
3:39 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Listen To State Week - November 15, 2013

More on Paul Vallas, the other gubernatorial candidates, a possible legislative session in December, and same sex marriages

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Tornado
2:55 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Washington Mayor Says 1,000 Homes Sustained Damage

Credit npr

The mayor of the central Illinois community of Washington says more than 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by strong storms.  

Mayor Gary Manier says that figure includes homes that were totally destroyed as well as properties that received minor damage. Officials still haven't said how many people in the community have been affected by Sunday's tornado. Washington has about 16,000 residents and is about 10 miles east of Peoria.  

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Harvest Desk
1:00 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Joel Salatin: Local Food Evangelist

Joel Salatin on his Virginia farm.
Credit Creative Commons

Joel Salatin is one of the rock stars of the local food movement. He’s written books, appeared in documentaries and scheduled speaking engagements nationwide. Among foodies, he’s a celebrity.

He’s also a vocal critic of industrialized agriculture. Salatin criticizes the use of pesticides, herbicides, genetic modification in crops, and hormones and antibiotics in livestock.

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Weather
9:52 am
Tue November 19, 2013

See A Monthly Breakdown Of Illinois Tornado Activity

A tornado damaged home in Gifford, Ill.
Credit Sean Powers/Illinois Public Media

November tornadoes seem out of place in Illinois.  But weather statistics show they're not uncommon.   Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel studied the years 1950 to 2010 and found nearly 70 tornadoes occurred in November.  That's more than October or December. 

But what made Sunday different was the outbreak that occurred. 

"All our other outbreaks tend to happen in the springtime," Angel said.  "So the ones in November tend to be single events, but this is by far the biggest number that we've seen in November."

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Statehouse
3:31 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Lincoln Predicted The World Would Not Remember His Gettysburg Address; 150 Years Later It Does

Lincoln impersonator Fritz KIein reenacts the Gettysburg Address; he started giving the 272-word speech promptly at midnight at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, an occasion observed at the start of the day at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.

There's a line in the Gettysburg Address, where Lincoln wrote "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here."

And yet, 150 years later, a Lincoln impersonator was repeating the 16th President, reenacting the brief, yet poignant, speech, at the stroke of midnight.

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Election 2014
6:19 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Can This Man Beat Illinois' Most Popular Politician?

Republican Mike Webster will challenge incumbent Democrat Jesse White for Illinois secretary of state. White is seeking a fifth term.
Credit www.facebook.com/MikeWebsterIL

Illinois' longtime secretary of state finally has at least one challenger in next year's election. Republican Mike Webster says he'll take on Democrat Jesse White.

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UIS
6:06 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

UIS Team Names May Change

Mascot "Cozmo"
Credit www.uisjournal.com

The University Of Illinois Springfield continues to kick around the idea of a new school mascot. The Chancellor's office paid for a consultant whose suggestions include the Springers, Sabers, Mammoths and the Stampede. Aaron Mulvey is the president of the Student Government Association at UIS. He says some students are confused by the Prairie Star nickname and the mascot, a masked boy named Cozmo. Others say they just don't like either.

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Tornado Relief
4:50 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Want FEMA Aid? Even If "Home Is Totally Destroyed" Governor Tells Victims To Document

An estimated 200 homes were destroyed in the village of Gifford, in Champaign County.
Credit Sean Powers/WILL

  State officials say victims of yesterday's (Nov. 17) storms should take extra care in documenting their material losses. Illinois learned the hard way why that can be important.

About two years ago, seven people died in the tornadoes that rocked Harrisburg, in deep southern Illinois. And yet the state was denied a request for federal assistance. That meant home and business owners could not get federal loans, grants and other aide.

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Nightsounds Blog
12:48 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

A History of the Sounds of the Night

Credit Brian Snelson

Nightsounds was originally chartered in 1987 as a locally produced radio program that showcased artists loosely affiliated with New Age music, which became quite popular with the ascension of such labels as Windham Hill, Optimism, Higher Octave and Narada Records; all studios which featured artists loosely affiliated with acoustic and electronic instrumental music that did not pigeon hole into jazz or even soft record categories.

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Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series
11:30 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Lincoln's Journey To Gettysburg

Credit UIS

The story of the Gettysburg Address began long before that day Abraham Lincoln stood at the speaker's platform and delivered those famous 272 words. 

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Regional
8:56 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Washington Mayor: As Many As 500 Homes Damaged Or Destroyed

Credit Anthony Khoury/twitter

The mayor of the central Illinois community of Washington says storms and tornadoes destroyed or heavily damaged between 250 and 500 homes in the Tazewell County community.
 
Gary Manier says hundreds of residents of Washington spent the night in
shelters after a storm cut a swath of damage through the community of about
16,000 people that's about 140 miles southwest of Chicago.
 
It's not clear when they'll be allowed home.
 
One person in Washington died and a state official says at least 60 others were

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Regional
8:50 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Tornado Damaged Town Under Curfew

Credit Alex Rusciano WCBU

The central Illinois community of Washington will be under a curfew for at least a week after a deadly tornado turned scores of houses into rubble.
 
Illinois State Police Trooper Dustin Pierce says Monday that the curfew will
run from 6 p.m. until 7 a.m.
 
Authorities implemented the curfew in large part for safety reasons. With power
lines knocked down and tons of debris from the hundreds of homes that were
destroyed or badly damaged, authorities do not want people walking around _
particularly when it's dark.
 

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Statehouse
5:07 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Thoughts On Fracking? Illinois Wants To Hear From You

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves pumping massive amounts of water and chemicals underground, shattering rock, in order to release oil and natural gas.
Credit WSIU

Illinois took another step Friday toward allowing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The state has published draft rules on the controversial oil and gas extraction process, and it's looking for comments from the public.

Back in the spring, lawmakers touted Illinois' fracking law as the toughest in the country. It was the product of long negotiations between environmentalists and business groups.

But a big part of any law is what's left to regulation. Enter the Department of Natural Resources, which has published 150 pages of proposed rules on fracking.

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Statehouse
3:04 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

DCFS Director Resigns Due To Illness

Richard Calica
Credit DCFS

The director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is to resign after a cancer diagnosis.  
Gov. Pat Quinn announced Friday afternoon that Richard Calica would leave the post. Calica's chief of staff

Denise Gonzales is to serve as the agency's acting director. 

Calica has held the post since December 2011. He said in a statement that working for the agency has been ``the most exciting and rewarding time of my career in child welfare.''

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Regional
10:25 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Scientists Now Say Shaking In Suburbs Was An Earthquake

Credit city-data

Scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey say it's likely it was an earthquake that shook Chicago's western suburbs after a blast at a quarry.

USGS scientist Jim Dewey says research indicates quarry blasts don't cause larger follow-up tremors. However, a quarry blast in McCook was followed by a related tremor seven seconds later.

Dewey says USGS scientists now believe the blast triggered a release of tectonic strain at a shallow depth, not miles deep in the earth's crust where earthquakes usually originate.

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Bedrock
9:25 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Cash Box Kings Bring Blues To Springfield

The Cash Box Kings bring their post WWII blues to the Hoogland Saturday night for the next Bedrock 66 Live!  CLICK HERE for tickets or call 217-523-2787.

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Kidzeum
5:41 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Fundraising Efforts Continue To Build Science Museum

A drawing of the planned outcome
Credit http://www.kidzeum.org/

The Kidzeum has been collecting money since 2009 in order to build a science museum for kids. The ongoing goal of raising enough funds seems to finally be near. The museum's board is kicking off its final fund raising phase, 2 million dollars is still needed. We recently caught up with board president, Rachael Thompson, about where the museum is headed, where it will be located, and what it will feature: 

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UIS Events
4:49 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

UIS Hosts 36th International Fest Friday

Springfield-area residents have a chance to get a taste of all things international on Friday. UIS hosts its annual International Festival with food, booths from area groups, entertainment and more. Erica Suzuki and Sarah Jome with UIS's International Student Services joined us for this interview about it: 

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Health Desk
4:28 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Food Allergy Awareness Law

President Barack Obama has signed legislation giving financial incentives to states to stockpile emergency medications in schools that could save lives in the cases of allergic reactions.  
The deaths of two girls in Illinois and Virginia from severe food allergies helped spur efforts to get schools to stockpile epinephrine.  

Epinephrine is considered the first-line treatment for people with severe allergies. The medication is administered by injection through preloaded EpiPens.  
The measure was co-sponsored by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.  

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Higher Education
3:56 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Tenured Professor Removed At U Of I

Louis Wozniak
Credit University of Illinois

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees dismissed an engineering professor who had a 50-year career at the state's flagship school Thursday.  Administrators say it's the first time a tenure decision went to the board. 

Louis Wozniak was charged with harassing a student, improperly obtaining and publishing grades and sending an email to students that included a sexual reference. He apologized for that email the next day, though has claimed he did nothing wrong.

Wozniak was suspended with pay from his $85,000-a-year job in 2010 after the email. 

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Lincoln
2:38 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Newspaper Apologizes For Negative Review Of Gettysburg Address

Credit npr

A Pennsylvania newspaper says it's sorry it didn't recognize the greatness of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address 150 years ago.  

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg on Thursday retracted a dismissive editorial penned by its Civil War-era predecessor, The Harrisburg Patriot & Union.  
The president's speech is now considered a triumph of American oratory. But the retraction notes the newspaper's November 1863 coverage said it amounted to ``silly remarks'' that deserved a ``veil of oblivion.''  

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Church and State
10:32 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Bishop To Hold 'Prayers of Exorcism' On Same-Sex Marriage

Bishop Thomas Paprocki
Credit Springfield Diocese

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield plans a special prayer service the day same-sex marriage is to be signed into law. He says it's "scandalous" that so many Catholic politicians supported the legislation.

Gov. Pat Quinn is planning a big public ceremony to sign the same-sex marriage bill next Wednesday (Nov. 20) in Chicago.

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Election 2014
9:48 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Candidates Still Staking Out Positions On Same-Sex Marriage

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford spoke with reporters Nov. 13, 2013, in the Press Room of the Illinois Capitol.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Although same-sex marriage will soon be law in Illinois, the issue could remain a factor in the 2014 elections.

For most Democrats — especially those in and around Chicago — same-sex marriage is a winning political issue with core voters.

It's a lot tricker for Republicans. A majority of conservatives are opposed to legal same-sex marriage, but in a Democratic-leaning state like Illinois, Republicans need to win votes from independents, too.

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Juvenile Justice
9:18 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Illinois Considering Independent Monitor For Youth Prisons

The Illinois General Assembly is weighing the creation of a "juvenile ombudsman," an independent official who can keep an eye on the state's juvenile prisons.

The push for an ombudsman comes in the wake of a report that ranks Illinois' juvenile prisons among the worst in the country for sexual abuse.

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