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Morning headlines - Thursday, June 7, 2012

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(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

SLU researchers study meningitis vaccine

Saint Louis University scientists are conducting a clinical trial of a vaccine for the last remaining strain of meningitis without a vaccine.

The university is recruiting children ages 10 to 12 to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Adolescents are the primary carriers of the bacteria that causes the disease. 

Meningococcal meningitis is a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection. Flu-like symptoms can progress rapidly, and death can occur within hours.

Worldwide, 500,000 cases are reported each year, with at least 50,000 deaths. 

Pension dispute still impacting Ill. credit rating

Amanda Vinicky contributed reporting.

The standoff over pensions in Illinois continues to impact the state’s credit rating.

Standard & Poor’s said yesterday in a bulletin that it considers the failure to reform the retirement benefit system "negative from a credit standpoint." A lower credit score bumps up interest rates, which could cost taxpayers a half billion dollars.

Gov. Pat Quinn wants lawmakers to pass a measure before July. But any reform would require a three-fifths vote to pass.

Quinn and legislative leaders will meet again the week of June 18. The governor says by that point, they’ll have more information on the key dividing issue – whether, and how much, to make schools pick up the cost of retirement benefits for their employees.

House panel recommends discipline for Chicago Democrat

A special committee of the Illinois House has recommended that a Chicago Democrat be disciplined for allegedly accepted a $7,000 bribe.

A separate panel will decide the punishment for Rep. Derrick Smith. His lawyer criticized yesterday’s decision, saying the committee did not view all the evidence compiled by federal prosecutors. If Smith is ousted, he would be the first state House member expelled since 1905.        

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