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Jefferson City, MO – Tobacco companies are joining forces to try to defeat a tobacco tax increase on the November ballot in Missouri.

They have formed a group called Missourians Against Unfair Taxes, whose members include R.J. Reynolds, Phillip Morris, Lorillard, and Brown and Williamson.

The referendum will ask whether voters want to raise the cigarette tax from $0.17 to $0.72 cents a pack. The new money would go to health care treatment and anti-smoking efforts.

Collinsville, IL – There will be school in Collinsville today, even though teachers there have authorized a strike.

The teachers' union voted yesterday to give at least five days' notice before walking out, with negotiations continuing until then.

At issue is a salary increase. Teachers want a 5% raise the first year, followed by increases of 6% and 7% the next two years. The district has offered a 4% raise in each of the three years.

Jefferson City, MO – State auditor Claire McCaskill says some drunk drivers with multiple offenses are not being forced into the level of substance abuse treatment they need. An audit of the Missouri Department of Mental Health found that five percent of drivers with at least two DWI offenses were still being assigned to entry-level treatment programs. McCaskill says the study also found that offenders living at least 30 miles from advanced treatment providers were not required to attend those programs.

St. Louis, MO – In an effort to avoid a repeat of problems that occurred on Election Day in November, 2000, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay will allow city employees to work the polls next month at full pay. To recruit more election judges he's asking other employers to do the same.

St. Louis, MO –

While Marshall Faulk doesn't exactly have to fear for his job, there is a new football team in town trying to make it's mark.

The National Women's Football League is starting a team in St. Louis to debut next April. As KWMU's Tom Weber reports, the intrigue of women's football may get people to games, but it doesn't guarantee they'll keep coming back.

St. Louis, MO – In an effort to avoid a repeat of problems that occurred on Election Day in November, 2000, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay will allow city employees to work the polls next month at full pay. To recruit more election judges he's asking other employers to do the same.

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri is handing out more than $6 million dollars in federal money to prepare for terrorist acts.

The Emergency Management Agency will work with 21 communities receiving grants for equipment purchases, relating to areas such as personal protection, technical rescue, communications, physical security, and detection and decontamination.

St. Louis, MO – Starting today, Missouri renewal tags should go in the center of the license plate, instead of the lower right.

The state hopes the new location will be a quick and cheap way to ward off theft. Officials say 35,000 Missourians had tags stolen in the past year when thieves simply cut off the right corner or end of the plates; the St. Louis area was particularly hard hit.

Officials say the hope is stickers in the center will be harder to get.

St. Louis, MO – A group of St. Louis clergy is teaming with the area's United Way in launching a program meant to bring hope in the wake of tragedy.

Yesterday, the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition and the United Way of Greater St. Louis announced their initiative called Project Clergy CARES.

The idea for the effort came after the rape and slaying two years ago of a teenage St. Louis girl. Days after the crime, the clergy coalition's Reverend Earl Nance Junior called for a community response to end violence.

Chicago, IL – Illinois Congressman Rod Blagojevich says he plans to support President Bush's request for congressional approval of war plans against Iraq.

He says he thinks Saddam Hussein is evil and poses a clear threat to the United States. The Democratic congressman is running for Illinois governor.

Blagojevich was reacting to comments made on Sunday by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. The Democratic senator said he will oppose the president's request. The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution this week.

St. Louis, MO – The stadium bill cuts the five percent amusement tax on ticket sales once a 200-million dollar private investment is made towards a new ballpark. Opponents of the bill urged the committee to delay their vote until after November 5. But 13th ward alderman Fred Wessels says low interest rates prompted the committee to move now.

St. Louis, MO – An environmental group that's concerned about the pesticides used to prevent the spread of the West Nile virus will hold a meeting in St. Louis Tuesday night.


The Gateway Green Education Foundation says the chemicals being sprayed on city streets to kill mosquitoes could cause more health problems than the virus. Suzanne Renard says the forum at Carpenter Library will feature several area college professors and public health advocates. She says they'll discuss alternatives to spraying.

St. Louis, MO – The man accused in the abduction and murder of a six-year-old girl in Valley Park is pleading not guilty to the crime.

Twenty-four-year-old "Johnnie" Johnson was indicted last month for first degree murder in the death of Casey Williamson, of
Valley Park, about 30 miles south of St. Louis. The former resident of the St. Louis suburb Kirkwood also faces charges of attempted forcible rape and armed criminal action.

Collinsville, IL – Teachers in Collinsville will decide tonight whether to go on strike. The Belleville News-Democrat reports teacher pay is the main sticking point of the contract talks.

Elsewhere, administrators and teachers in Lebanon, Illinois, have another round of talks scheduled for today. Teachers there are working without a contract.

Kansas City, MO – A judge has denied an advocacy group's request for a temporary restraining order, that would have kept changes to Missouri's Medicaid program from taking effect tomorrow.

That ruling today, in Jackson County Circuit Court. Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services is suing the state Department of Social Services and the state Division of Medical Services over the changes.

Hartford, IL – Premcor Incorporated will start closing its refinery in Hartford, Illinois, a move that will cost more than 300 workers their jobs.

Premcor said in February there was no economical way to reconfigure the refinery to meet new federal regulations. The closing comes despite a recent offer from private investors to buy the company.

Workers have been told their last day on the job will be October 10th.

Chicago, IL – Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said yesterday he plans to vote against President Bush's request for war approval plans against Iraq.

Durbin called the war resolution poorly timed and poorly reasoned. The Senate is expected to vote on the matter this week.

Durbin also said he does not consider Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an imminent threat to the U-S, and says an invasion without clear backing from allies risks terror backlash against the U.S.
(AP/KWMU)

St. Louis, MO –

A century ago, the Wright brothers took an historic trip in the world's first true aircraft. By World War I, the airplane had become a weapon of war. This weekend, pilots from around the country will land at Creve Coeur Airport in replicas of those early fighter planes. A group of local enthusiasts is hosting the event to teach today's generation about aviation's early wartime history. KWMU's Kevin Lavery reports.

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