Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

Pages

Harvest Desk
9:40 am
Tue April 28, 2015

The Bird Flu Explained

The turkeys in this barn on Noel Thompson’s farm in central Iowa are tested routinely for disease, including avian influenza. No bird flu has been found in the commercial poultry industry in this country. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

Wild birds are believed to be behind the first major widespread outbreak of bird flu in the United States, with the virus confirmed in the animals in 10 states. Here are some questions and answers about how wild birds remain healthy even when carrying the virus and spread it to backyard and commercial flocks of chickens and turkeys. 

HOW DID THE VIRUS ARRIVE STATESIDE? 

Read more
Statehouse
7:10 am
Thu April 23, 2015

House Committee Approves Privatizing Economic Agency & Putting Lincoln Library Under Its Own Board

 A House committee has approved a measure that would
privatize the state's economic development agency and turn the Abraham Lincoln
Library and Museum into a stand-alone institution.
 
 The House executive committee on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation
merging two ideas from House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner.
 
 Madigan has pushed for the Lincoln Library to be a stand-alone agency instead
of under the Historic Preservation Agency, which would be eliminated under the

Read more
Politics
7:16 am
Tue April 21, 2015

3 Republicans 2 Democrats Seeking Schock Seat

Credit seiunv.org

 The son of former White House cabinet member and longtime Congressman Ray LaHood remains the overwhelming favorite as the field takes shape for the race to replace ex-U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.  

Monday is the final day to file nominating papers for the July 7 primary. Donald Rients of Benson and Mike Flynn of Quincy have filed paperwork to challenge Darin LaHood in the Republican primary. Adam Lopez of Springfield and Rob Mellon of Quincy have filed to run as Democrats.  

Read more
economy
10:26 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Volcker Says US Bank Oversight Ineffective

While the headline sounds like its from the 1980's, AP Business Writer Marcy Gordon wrote about a new report from a group led by Paul Volcker.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker is calling for a reshaping of the U.S. financial oversight regime, which he says is splintered and ineffective.

Read more
economy
9:34 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Verizon Slices Up Bundle

Verizon is giving its customers have more control over the channels they pay for as the cacophony of cord cutting reshapes cable TV.

Verizon's FiOS Custom TV, available Sunday, gives customers the option to buy a $55 base package with more than 35 channels plus two additional themed channel packs.

There's currently seven channel packs to choose from, including genres such as sports, children and lifestyle. Customers can add more channel packs _ which include about 10-17 channels on average _ for $10 each. They may also swap out channel packs after 30 days.

Regional
6:29 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Illinois Woman Charged With Animal Cruelty Gives Up 84 Dogs

Stephenson County Animal Control officials say a northern Illinois woman charged with animal cruelty has turned 84 dogs over to officials.  

 Animal Control Warden Kristen Laue said 45-year-old Tina McKinnon of Freeport turned the dogs over Wednesday.  
 

According to the Journal Standard in Freeport,  McKinnon was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals after the animals were found in her home March 16.  
 

Read more
Health Desk
7:58 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Illinoisans Asking For Medical Marijuana To Cover More Illnesses

Credit Credit flickr/eggrole

Illinois residents have petitioned the state to add more than 20 medical conditions to the medical marijuana program, including anxiety, migraines, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.  

The Associated Press obtained the petitions through a Freedom of Information Act request. Names of petitioners were blacked out to protect patients' privacy. Individuals identifying themselves as veterans of Vietnam and Iraq asked that PTSD be included, adding emotional pleas for help.  

Read more
Statehouse
6:47 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Rauner Grants Two Pardons

Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

 Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued his first two pardons since becoming governor nearly three months ago.
 
 The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports over the weekend
that the pardons by the Republican went to Neil Hebert and Michael Sullivan.
Rauner rejected 57 other clemency petitions.
 
 The 43-year-old Hebert was convicted of theft in Champaign County when he was
20. He served two years of probation. The News-Gazette says Sullivan was
convicted of burglary in Cook County in 1979.
 

Read more
Statehouse
3:13 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Two Decades After Crash, Willis Family Gets TV Show

A promotional photo for Meet The Willis Family - Credit TLC

(Information in the following story is from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://chicago.suntimes.com/)  

A new TV show is set to focus on the grandchildren of a couple who lost six kids in a 1994 van crash linked to the investigation and conviction of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the show about the Tennessee-based Willis family will premiere May 5 on TLC.  

Read more
Politics
6:54 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Jesse Jackson Jr. Prison Release Set For This Week

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

A friend and former House colleague of Jesse Jackson Jr. says Jackson is being released from a federal prison Thursday and into a halfway house.  

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy told The Associated Press he recently spoke with Jackson at the minimum security federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama.

The son of the civil rights leader has been serving a 2 1/2-year sentence after pleading guilty to illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.  

Read more
Business
4:14 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Jobless Rate Falls To 6% In Illinois

Unemployment continued to fall in Illinois in February, hitting 6 percent for the first time since 2008.  

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Tuesday that the jobless rate fell to that level from a January rate of 6.1 percent. The national unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in February.

Unemployment has now fallen in Illinois for 11 of the past 12 months. In February 2014, the jobless rate was 7.9 percent.  

Read more
Statehouse
7:37 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Lawmakers To Discuss House Plan To Fill Budget Hole

Lawmakers are scheduled to consider a new plan introduced by House Speaker Michael Madigan to end weeks of negotiations over plugging a $1.6 billion hole in this year's state budget.

Read more
Statehouse
5:44 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Attorney General Says Rauner's Anti-Union Proposals Illegal

Lisa Madigan at the 2015 inauguration
Credit WUIS/Brian Mackey

Illinois' Democratic attorney general has delivered a blow to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's efforts to weaken labor unions.
 
 Lisa Madigan on Friday issued formal opinions saying two of Rauner's proposals would be illegal.
 
 One would allow local governments to create so-called ``right to work zones''
where union membership would be voluntary. The other would let local governments opt out of prevailing wage agreements, which require workers on government
projects to receive wages that reflect local compensation for similar jobs.
 

Read more
Politics
3:03 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Report: Cong. Schock Under Federal Investigation

Aaron Schock

A person familiar with the case tells The Associated Press
that the Justice Department is formally investigating whether Rep. Aaron Schock
of Illinois, who has submitted his resignation, committed crimes with his office
expenditures and business dealings.
 
 The government is convening a federal grand jury in Springfield, Illinois, this
source says, and the FBI has started issuing subpoenas to compel people close to
the Republican congressman to testify. The source spoke only on grounds of

Read more
Statehouse
2:18 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

State to divert 'fair share' fees from unions

Credit wuis

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office has instructed state agencies to begin diverting ``fair share'' fees from nonunion members' paychecks away from unions.  

A memo obtained by The Associated Press directs departments to create two sets of books to do it.  

The Republican governor signed an order last month ending the practice of collecting union fees from non-union members. He labeled it a First Amendment violation and asked a federal court to overturn the state requirement.  

Unions collect the fees to defray the cost of work that also benefits nonmembers.  

Read more
Statehouse
8:28 am
Wed March 18, 2015

State Sen. LaHood Will Seek Schock's Seat

Credit Illinois General Assembly

Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood has announced his candidacy for U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock's soon-to-be-vacant congressional seat.

The Republican from Dunlap made the announcement Wednesday on WMBD radio in Peoria.

LaHood says he has received "a lot encouragement" to run and that he'll campaign on his state Senate record, which includes being a strong advocate for ethics reform.

LaHood has served in the Senate since 2011. His father is former U.S. Transportation Secretary and Congressman Ray LaHood, who preceded Schock in Congress.

Read more
Politics
1:57 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Congressman Schock Announces Resignation

Congressman Aaron Schock speaks to reporters in this November 2013 file photo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Republican Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois says he's resigning his House seat amid questions about his spending.

In a statement on Tuesday, Schock said he would step down effective March 31.

Schock, a four-term lawmaker, said he was taking the step with a "heavy heart." He said that questions about irregularities in his campaign finance and congressional spending accounts over the past six weeks have proven to be a "great distraction" and have made it too difficult for him to serve.

Read more
Regional
3:17 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

U.S. EPA Declares Mahomet Aquifer A Primary Drinking Water Source

Credit flickr/JennDurfey

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added an extra layer of regulatory protection for a central Illinois aquifer by declaring it a primary source of drinking water.  

The EPA on Wednesday said the Mahomet aquifer is primary water source for more than 750,000 people in central Illinois. That guarantees extra scrutiny of any project there that includes federal finances.  

Read more
Statehouse
6:30 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Illinois Lawmaker To Be Treated For Cancer

 An Illinois lawmaker has announced he will receive treatment for recently diagnosed esophageal cancer.  

State Rep. Frank Mautino of Spring Valley says his doctor found a mass in his esophagus during a routine physical in late January. The 52-year-old Democratic lawmaker says he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer after a biopsy was conducted in February.  

Mautino told The (Ottawa) Daily Times  during a phone interview on Monday that doctors have told him the cancer is 97 percent treatable.  

Read more
Regional
5:35 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Innocence Project Works To Clear Name Of Waukegan Man

Angel Gonzalez
Credit Il Dept. of Corrections

A suburban Chicago man who spent 20 years in prison for abduction and rape has been exonerated after DNA evidence indicated he was wrongfully convicted.  

Despite the decision Monday by Lake County prosecutors to drop the case against 41-year-old Angel Gonzalez of Waukegan, the man was not allowed to walk away from Dixon Correctional Center.  

Gonzalez attended the hearing in Lake County Court. But he was sent back to Dixon, where he still faces a three-year term for a late 1990's conviction of damaging state property at another prison. 

Read more
Business
7:35 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Nissan Recalls More Altimas

Credit nissanusa.com

 Nissan is recalling 625,000 more cars in the U.S. as part of a growing problem with faulty latches that can allow hoods to fly open while cars are moving.
 

Read more
Education Desk
6:28 am
Fri March 6, 2015

House Speaker Creates School Funding Task Force

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

 Illinois' longtime House speaker is forming a bipartisan task force to examine a way to fix the state's  school funding formula.  

Michael J. Madigan's office announced Thursday the panel would include lawmakers from various regions of the state. It's scheduled to meet for the first time next Wednesday in Springfield.  

The last major school funding formula overhaul took place in 1997. While there's wide agreement the current formula doesn't effectively distribute state dollars to students across the state, how it should be changed remains under debate.  

Read more
Lincoln
8:54 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Lincoln Carriage Headed To DC

A South Bend museum is lending a carriage once belonging to President Abraham Lincoln to a museum in Washington, D.C.  

The Lincoln carriage is being moved Thursday from the Studebaker National Museum to the National Museum of American History. The South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/1Gn7fJ2 ) reports it will be on display at the Smithsonian museum this spring in an exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the president's assassination.  

The carriage carried Lincoln and his wife to Ford's Theatre, where he was shot on April 14, 1865.  

Read more
Arts and Culture
7:10 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Books Chosen For Statewide Reading Program

One of the books for Illinois Reads
Credit wttw

Illinois' statewide reading program has announced its 2015 book selections.

The Illinois Reading Council on Wednesday named books for everyone from adults to newborn babies. The program is intended to promote reading for people of all ages.

The selections include several by authors with ties to Illinois.

Among the selections for adults is ``Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football'' by Rich Cohen and ``Identical'' by Chicago author Scott Turow.

Read more
Education Desk
5:38 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Cornel West Cancels U of I Speech Over Salaita

Cornel West scrubs U of I speech over Salaita rejection
Credit npr.org

A prominent civil rights activist and academic has canceled a speech at the University of Illinois because of the school's decision to rescind a job offer to a Native American studies professor.  

Cornel West said Wednesday that he will not speak at the Urbana-Champaign campus because of the dispute between the university and Steven Salaita. West was scheduled to deliver a lecture in April.  

He called the university's decision to rescind the job offer ``a moral scandal.''  
 A university spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

Read more
Regional
11:40 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Illinois Hires Firm To Evaluate Shuttered Eagle Creek Resort

The Eagle Creek resort in better days.
Credit Illinois Issues

Documents show Illinois has a nearly $130,000 contract with a Chicago engineering firm to evaluate the closed, taxpayer-owned Eagle Creek Resort on Lake Shelbyville.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises (http://bit.ly/1F9slHf ) newspapers reports Globetrotters Engineering Corp. will take a look at what it could cost to make repairs and reopen the resort. That includes evaluating the condition of floors and the potential cost of upgrading electrical systems.  

The company's contract with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources lasts through September.  

Read more
Politics
7:13 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Congressman Schock Pays For Another Flight That Had Been Billed To Taxpayers

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock has reimbursed the U.S. government for more than $1,200 to travel to a Chicago Bears football game last November.  

A spokesman said late Monday that Schock wrote a check to cover the costs of the trip. The congressman previously charged the private air travel to his House office account, which is funded by taxpayers.  

Newly released congressional expense reports show Schock charged more than $14,000 in private air travel last fall. Those costs add to a list of several flights he took on planes owned by donors.  

Read more
Congress
5:48 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Lawmaker Billed For Private Planes, Concerts

Aaron Schock

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock spent taxpayer and campaign funds on private planes to fly around the country on aircraft owned by some of his donors.  

An Associated Press review of his expense records found the flights. There also were other travel and entertainment charges, including for a massage company and music concerts.  

Schock's use of congressional and political funds to pay for trips on supporters' aircraft raises new questions amid an ethics inquiry already underway. The expenses include a trip for $11,400 and apparent trips before last November's elections.  

Read more
Statehouse
8:24 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Plan Would Make More Fireworks Legal In Illinois

Credit flickr/MarkHarkin

An Illinois lawmaker wants to make it legal to sell fireworks such as Roman candles and rockets in the state.  The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1vTNJLd ) Sen. Chapin Rose introduced legislation Friday to allow the sale of so-called ``consumer'' fireworks.  

The Mahomet Republican says taxing fireworks sales could generate at least $10 million each year.  

A Consumer Products Safety Commission report found Illinois is one of 10 states that don't allow the sale of consumer fireworks. Illinois does allow sparklers and other novelties.  

Read more
Pensions
1:03 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Supreme Court Schedules Pension Arguments For March 11

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the state's landmark pension-overhaul case on March 11.

Arguments will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the high court chamber in downtown Springfield.  

The Illinois General Assembly and former Gov. Pat Quinn adopted a plan in late 2013 designed to cut into the $111 billion deficit in four state pension programs built by years of underfunding.  

Read more

Pages