Roy Blunt
5:00 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Blunt talks gas prices, military spending

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
(via Flickr/Senator Roy Blunt)

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is one of the Republicans blaming President Obama for gas prices that have reached close to $4 per gallon, saying his rejection of the Keystone pipeline hurt the economy.

Obama is defending his energy policies in Oklahoma today, pointing to plans to fast-track an oil pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas that emerged after he delayed the larger Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year.

Even so, Blunt says the president continues to obstruct progress.

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Social Media
4:40 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Ill. bill on employer Facebook password requests hits snag

(via Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz)

Legislation that would prohibit employers from seeking job applicants' social network passwords is on hold in the Illinois House.

Democratic Rep. La Shawn Ford's measure would allow job-seekers to file lawsuits if asked for access to sites like Facebook. Bosses could still ask for usernames that would allow them to view public information on the sites.

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Conservation - Endangered Species
3:46 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Endangered beetle to return to Missouri

A female American burying beetle.
(Dan Kirk/Saint Louis Zoo)

An endangered beetle could be making its way back to Missouri, with some help from the Saint Louis Zoo and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

If all goes well, the zoo plans to reintroduce the American burying beetle to Wah’ kon-tah Prairie in southwestern Missouri in early June.

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Mo. State budget
3:13 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Mo. House passes budget, cuts blind aid

An inside look at the Missouri Capitol.
(via Flickr/david_shane)

The Missouri House has passed all 13 bills that make up the state’s $24 billion budget for FY 2013.

The process took longer than expected, because of the large number of Democrats who took issue with cutting funding to blind pensions and for not spending enough on K-12 schools.  Sara Lampe (D, Springfield) urged fellow lawmakers to look for other ways to balance the budget besides cutting services.

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University of Illinois
2:00 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

University of Illinois president Michael Hogan resigns

University of Illinois president Michael Hogan has tendered his resignation.
(University of Illinois website)

This story will be updated. Information from Amanda Vinicky at Illinois Public Radio was used in this report.

For the second time in three years, the University of Illinois is looking for a new president.

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Illinois Unemployment Rate
12:39 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Illinois unemployment rate drops to 9.1 percent

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the state's unemployment rate dropped in February for the sixth-straight month. 

The department says the February jobless rate fell to 9.1 percent from 9.4 percent in January. That's still much higher than the national 8.3 percent rate.

Department Director Jay Rowell calls the drop a sign that the state continues its steady recovery from recession.

Illinois added 6,500 jobs in February. That's almost double the 3,800 jobs added in January.

Tuberculosis
12:23 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Illinois records record low in TB cases

Tuberculosis bacteria, shown here under a high-powered microscope, become active, and begin to multiply, if the immune system can't stop them from growing. The bacteria attack the body and destroy tissue.
(CDC/Dr. Ray Butler)

The Illinois Department of Public Health says the state experienced a record low number of new tuberculosis cases last year, but the news isn't all good.

Health officials say Illinois still ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to the number of TB cases. And Health Department Acting Director Arthur Kohrman says many of the new cases are the drug-resistant type, which are harder to overcome.

Officials say 359 cases of active TB were reported in Illinois in 2011. That's a decrease from 372 cases reported in 2010.

Robotics
11:27 am
Thu March 22, 2012

"Final Four of Smarts" robotics competition takes over Chaifetz Arena

Teams of teens will be competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition regional at Chaifetz Arena this weekend.
(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Forty-three teams of teens from Missouri and four surrounding states be competing in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition regional this weekend at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.

(You can see a full feature on last year's FIRST competition here, too).

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American Flag Desecration
10:17 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Judge: Mo. flag desecration law unconstitutional

(via Flickr/Beverly & Pack)

A federal judge has ruled that Missouri's flag desecration law is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson issued a permanent injunction Tuesday in the case of Frank Snider, a Cape Girardeau man arrested in 2009 for using a knife to cut up an American flag and then throwing it into the street.

Jackson's ruling prohibits the state, its political subdivisions and its officials from "enforcing or threatening to enforce" the law.

Morning round-up
9:24 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Morning headlines: March 22, 2012

Gregg Williams, newly named defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. Formerly with the New Orleans Saints, Williams has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL due to his involvement in a "bounty system" with that team.
(New Orleans Saints Press Kit)

Gregg Williams apologizes

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is apologizing to the NFL, to St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams organization and football fans in general for running a bounty pool while he was in New Orleans.

Williams was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday by the NFL, and the Rams say he'll be eligible for reinstatement after the season.

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