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.

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Higher Education
4:57 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Film Has Clues About Alma Mater's Real Color

Credit wikimedia

An 8-mm color film shot in the 1940's is offering some clues about the original color of a bronze statue that is a beloved landmark at the University of Illinois.  

The 84-year-old Alma Mater statue of a robed woman flanked by figures celebrating ``Learning'' and ``Labor'' is being restored. A heavy buildup of blue-green patina has disguised its original color for decades.  

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Election 2014
4:42 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Brady, Hardiman Win Top Ballot Spots For Primary

Sen. Bill Brady will be the first Republican listed on next spring's primary ballot for governor.
Brady won a four-way lottery Wednesday to claim the coveted ballot position.
 
The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://tinyurl.com/ko4qusg ) that Democratic
incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn will be listed second on the Democratic side behind Tio
 Hardiman.
 
Brady, of Bloomington, will be followed on the March 18 ballot by Treasurer Dan
Rutherford of Chenoa, Hinsdale Sen. Kirk Dillard and venture
capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka.
 

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Statehouse
2:43 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

S & P Improves Financial Outlook For Illinois

Credit wikimedia

A major credit-rating house has taken a more positive
outlook on Illinois debt than it has in years after last week's pension-reform
vote.
 
Standard & Poor's affirmed its A- rating on state debt backed by general tax
revenue Tuesday but revised its outlook from ``negative'' to ``developing.''
 
The ratings agency says ``developing'' means the rating could be raised or
lowered in the next two years. Analyst Robin Prunty says the change is positive
but risk remains because workers unions will likely sue over the pension law

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Lincoln
8:53 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Lincoln Letters Discovered In San Marino

A country can't be too small or too far away, apparently, to get in on the craze for Lincoln memorabilia.  
Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum says in a statement that the tiny European nation of San Marino has helped turn up letters to Lincoln.
 
An 1861 letter from San Marino's joint heads of state bestows honorary citizenship on Lincoln. It also expresses hope for peace in the U.S. In a
response, the 16th president writes the Civil War involves the question of  whether a country can save itself from internal division.
 

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Business
8:45 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Ameren Told To Lower Rates

Utility regulators say Ameren Illinois needs to lower
its electricity delivery rate in 2014.
 
The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports (http://bit.ly/1bsYiJy ) the Illinois Commerce Commission says the utility needs to cut its delivery rate by $45
million.
The decision was announced Monday during an annual review and is set to take effect starting Jan. 1.
 
Ameren officials say they're still reviewing the ruling.    They had planned to lower the delivery rate by $37 million. 

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Politics
3:21 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Former Diplomat And U.S. Senate Candidate Rich Williamson Dead At 64

Rich Williamson
Credit wikepedia

The Illinois Republican Party has confirmed Rich Williamson has died.  He passed away Sunday.

The Chicago resident was a long-time leader in the Illinois GOP. He lost a nationally watched campaign against Carol Moseley Braun in 1992. She went on to become the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate.  

Williamson was chairman of the state Republican Party from 1999-2001 and has served as Republican National Committeeman for Illinois since 2010. He served in diplomatic roles under three presidents and authored numerous books and articles.  

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Education
2:06 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Teacher's Strike In Mount Olive

Teachers at the school district in Mount Olive have gone on strike.  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1cwtFY4) teachers went on strike Monday morning in Mount Olive School District No. 5 in Macoupin County. The town is 50 miles south of Springfield. The teachers' union and school district couldn't agree on a new three-year contract.  

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Music News
12:23 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Jay Z Tops Grammy Nominations

Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but left-of-center rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.

Macklemore and Lewis' gay marriage anthem "Same Love" was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.

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Regional
12:13 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

SIU Closes Carbondale Campus Due To Snow

Credit WSIU FM

Classes at Southern Illinois University are canceled because of a storm that's left a slick layer of ice under several inches of snow, with more wintry weather on the way.

WSIU Radio reports that some services at the 18,000-student Carbondale university were to remain open Friday, including dining services for students, the Morris Library and the student recreation center.  
University administrators called off Friday's classes because of questionable driving conditions.  

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Education
6:54 am
Fri December 6, 2013

UIC Faculty Vote To Strike

Credit University of Illinois, Chicago

Unionized faculty members at the University of Illinois at Chicago have authorized a strike, even as contract negotiations continue.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that despite the vote, no strike is imminent.  

UIC United Faculty represents about 800 educators who've been negotiating with school administrators for 15 months.

Union spokesman John Shuler says the group is hoping to avoid a strike. He says the two sides are continuing to work with a federal mediator to approve a new four-year contract. Meetings are scheduled to take place through early January.  

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Corrections
4:54 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

State Prison Locked Down Because of Illness

The state's Department of Corrections has locked down the Big Muddy River Correctional Center in Ina after dozens of inmates started to show flu-like symptoms.  

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that the department says the Level 1 lockdown means that no visitors are allowed at the facility and no inmates will be transferred.  

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Statehouse
5:56 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Blagojevich To Have Another Day In Court

Rod Blagojevich's lawyers laid out a final set of arguments in writing before they step before appellate judges next week to argue that the imprisoned ex-governor deserves a new trial.
 
The 33-page filing with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals repeats arguments made before, including that trial Judge James Zagel displayed bias against
Blagojevich. The brief was posted late Monday.
 
The defense and prosecution will get 30 minutes each to deliver oral arguments before a three-judge panel Dec. 13.
 

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Statehouse
12:32 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

'Suspicious' Powder Mailed To State Office

Credit wikimedia

Officials say Gov. Pat Quinn's constituent office in Springfield was evacuated after an envelope with a "suspicious substance" was found.  Testing, however, revealed the substance was baby powder.

The Governor's Office of Constituent Affairs is located near the state Capitol where lawmakers and others were gathered ahead of an expected pension vote.  

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson says the envelope was received Tuesday, the office was evacuated and necessary precautions were taken.  

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Statehouse
10:34 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Madigan: Pension Plans Are "Too Rich"

Illinois' House Speaker told a bipartisan legislative committee that the state's pension systems are ``just too rich'' to be afforded in the future.  
Madigan is a Chicago Democrat and the state's longest-serving House Speaker. He says Tuesday that a $160 billion reform proposal was designed to keep long-term low-income workers in mind.

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Statehouse
9:43 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Unions Make Last Pitch To Derail Pension Measure

Union members rallied at the statehouse in January 2013.
Credit npr.org

Illinois unions are working to squelch a plan aimed at
solving the state's $100 billion pension problem hours before an expected vote.
 
Members of the ``We Are One Coalition'' representing major state unions told a
bipartisan legislative panel Tuesday morning that the $160 billion savings plan
is unfair to retirees.
 
Dan Montgomery of the Illinois Federation of Teachers says there is ``no
victory in a public policy that will not work.'' He says adjustments to cost of

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Statehouse
4:42 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Pension Plan Advances To House And Senate

A bipartisan committee of lawmakers has approved a plan to deal with Illinois' $100 billion pension problem. The measure now moves to the House and Senate for consideration.  

The Associated Press confirmed with six members of the 10-member panel that they had signed the measure Monday after arriving in Springfield for a special session.  
Leaders announced the plan last week. It comes nearly five months after a special committee was formed to tackle the problem.  

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Statehouse
1:14 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Senator Kirk Opposes State Pension Plan

Sen. Mark Kirk

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says a pension-reform deal under consideration in Springfield ``falls short of finding the savings needed to solve Illinois' fiscal crisis.''  

The Republican senator issued his statement Monday morning. The deal that legislative leaders announced last week could go to a vote in the Illinois General Assembly as early as Tuesday. Kirk says state lawmakers shouldn't pass a bill that he says lawmakers and voters haven't had time to read.  

Kirk says the proposal ``relies heavily on accounting gimmicks'' and doesn't prevent a permanent income tax hike.  

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Sports
1:11 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Illini Football Coach To Return Next Season

Tim Beckman

Illinois has confirmed that football coach Tim Beckman will be back for a third season in 2014.
 
Athletic Director Mike Thomas said Monday through a spokesman that Beckman will return. Thomas and Beckman plan to talk later this week about the football staff and other aspects of the program.
 
Speculation about Beckman's job security followed him through much of the 4-8 season that ended with Saturday's 37-34 loss to Northwestern.
 
Some fans called for Beckman's ouster after his first season at Illinois. The Illini went 2-10.
 

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Around the Nation
11:52 pm
Sat November 30, 2013

'Fast & Furious' Star Dies In Car Crash

Actor Paul Walker in March.
Joel Ryan AP

Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast & Furious" movie series, died Saturday in a car crash that killed one other person north of Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 40.

Walker died Saturday afternoon, Ame Van Iden told the Associated Press.

A statement on the actor's Facebook page said he was a passenger in a friend's car, and that Walker was in the area to attend a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.

"We ... are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news," the statement said.

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Statehouse
3:40 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

First Same Sex Marriage Has Occurred In Illinois

Credit Cook County Clerk's Office

Two Chicago women have become the first couple to take their vows under the new same-sex marriage law in Illinois.  
Patricia Ewert and Vernita Gray married in a private ceremony Wednesday, just days after a judge agreed to expedite their wedding because of Gray's terminal illness.  

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Statehouse
1:03 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Pension Deal Reached; Vote Likely Next Week

Credit Wikimedia Commons

House Speaker Michael Madigan says the vote on a pension deal will be ``very difficult'' when lawmakers gather for a special session next week.  
Madigan spoke to reporters Wednesday after legislative leaders said they agreed on a proposal that will help solve Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.  

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Regional
11:21 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Mississippi River Reopens To Barge Traffic After Townboat Sank

Credit WVIK

A portion of the Mississippi River between eastern Iowa and northern Illinois has reopened to barge traffic, as officials continue to investigate the sinking of a towboat still leaking diesel fuel and oil.
 
Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Colin Fogarty says officials determined Tuesday night that other boats can safely navigate the waterway. A queue has cleared, and boats are traveling through at a slower pace.
 

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Same Sex
6:53 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Judge Orders Expedited Marriage License for Same Sex Couple

Credit Cook County Clerk's Office

The U.S. District Court in Chicago has ordered Cook County's clerk to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, one of whom is terminally ill.  

County Clerk David Orr said he will comply with the court's order, handed down Monday by Judge Thomas Durkin.  

A lawsuit was filed Friday by Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois seeking immediate action for Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert. Gray has bone and brain cancer. Illinois' gay marriage law goes into effect June 1.  

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Sports
3:02 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

U Of I Football Staffer Faces Gun Charges

Matt Sinclair played for the Illini from 2001-2004.
Credit fightingillini.com

Authorities say University of Illinois football staff member and former player Matt Sinclair has been charged after allegedly pointing an unloaded handgun at a vehicle carrying other staff members.
 
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz says Sinclair was arraigned Monday on two felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon. He was arrested Saturday after Illinois' game at Purdue.
 
Rietz says someone called police to report a driver pointing a gun out of a truck on Interstate 74 in eastern Illinois. Police say Sinclair said he pointed the gun as a joke.
 

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IDNR
3:10 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Conservation Officer Shoots Driver At Traffic Stop

Credit flickr/inventorchris

UPDATE: Authorities say a 30-year-old Ohio man was shot and killed after he allegedly pinned an Illinois State Police trooper with his vehicle during a traffic stop.  

He was identified as Shane David Cataline of Toledo, Ohio. Illinois State Police said an autopsy was conducted Saturday. The results were not immediately available.  

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Pensions
12:03 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Unions Plan "Emergency" Lobby Days Over Pensions

Credit commons.wikimedia

Illinois unions are planning an intensive lobbying push in opposition to a developing plan to deal with the state's $100 billion pension crisis.  

The ``We are One Coalition'' represents the state's major employee unions. The group sent an email to members about ``emergency call-in days'' next week and Dec. 2-3.  

Members are being asked to call and visit lawmakers' offices and urge them to vote against pension bills that don't have union support. Legislative leaders are meeting Thursday to firm up a plan that could save close to $150 million over 30 years.  

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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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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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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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