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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Use of the death penalty declined nationally in 2013, but the punishment has seen a resurgence in Missouri.
 
The Death Penalty Information Center on Thursday released a report showing that 39 people were executed in the U.S. in 2013, just the second time in 19 years that fewer than 40 were put to death.
 
Missouri has executed two men in the past month - Joseph Paul Franklin on Nov. 29 and Allen Nicklasson on Dec. 11. The executions were the first in Missouri since 2011, and the most in a single year since five in 2005.
 
Meanwhile, the number of new U.S. death sentences so far this year is 80, up three from 2012 but down from 315 in 1996. Three death sentences were imposed in Missouri in 2013.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new audit questions whether hundreds of Missouri welfare recipients are living out of state or using benefits for alcohol, tobacco and gambling.
 
The report released Tuesday by State Auditor Tom Schweich (shwych) looks at about $96 million of benefits paid through electronic cards in 2012 for a program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
 
The audit found 366 cases in which recipients used a total of $461,000 of benefits exclusively out of state for at least three months. Although nothing prohibits out of state use, the report says that may indicate the welfare recipients no longer live in Missouri.
 
The audit also found about 1,600 cases in which $261,000 of benefits were used at locations appearing to be associated with alcohol, tobacco, gambling or adult entertainment.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's unemployment rate declined in November while payrolls expanded by 15,000 jobs.
 
The Missouri Department of Economic Development reported Tuesday the jobless rate fell to 6.1 percent in November from 6.5 percent in October.
 
The leading gainer was educational and health services, which added 5,200 jobs last month. The construction sector grew by 2,300 and professional and business services increased by 2,000 jobs. The information, leisure and hospitality sectors each declined by 200 jobs.
 
Missouri's civilian labor force was about 3 million, which is down 244 from October. The labor force includes people with jobs and those who are on unemployment but looking for work.
Published in Local News
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Kansas and Missouri residents will be out during the next three weeks counting the birds in their states.
 
It's part of an annual national effort that began more than 100 years ago, called the Christmas Bird Count.
 
The count began Dec. 14 and will continue through Jan. 5. Bird enthusiasts plan gatherings or individuals simply count the number of birds they see in their backyards.
 
The Joplin Globe reports the bird count began in 1900, with only a few dozen observers in 25 locations. Last year, more than 71,000 people participated in 2,369 locations.
 
Audubon and other organizations use data collected in the count to determine the health of bird populations. If a certain species is declining, conservation measures can be implemented to help that species rebound.
 
Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a small southeast Missouri town after police allegedly threatened to arrest a homeless couple for holding a sign asking for help.
 
The ACLU filed suit Monday on behalf of the homeless couple, Edward Gillespie and Brandalyn Orchard. The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau names the city of Miner and two unidentified police officers.
 
The lawsuit claims that in late September, Gillespie and Orchard were holding a sign that read, "Traveling. Anything helps. God bless." A Miner officer told them to leave.
 
The ACLU says the officer later showed copies of city ordinances related to vagrancy, begging and loitering. A second officer arrived and the couple was told to leave town or face arrest.
 
A Miner police spokesman declined comment.
Published in Local News
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - After months of legal wrangling and false starts in a battle to resume domestic horse slaughter, plants in New Mexico and Missouri are working to begin processing equine for human consumption.
 
   The efforts come on the heels of an order late Friday by a federal appeals court that lifted an emergency stay on the companies' plans.
 
   Blair Dunn, an Albuquerque who represents Valley Meat Co. of Roswell and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., says the plants Monday "are pushing full steam ahead to be ready to go as soon as possible."
 
   Rains Natural Meats, he says, even has horses on site. But it's unclear if the plants will open before Christmas or wait until after the holidays.
 
   The Humane Society vows "the fight for America's horses is not over."
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers plan to try again to limit how much money people can receive in medical malpractice lawsuits.
 
Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones says the liability limits are a priority for the 2014 session. And Rep. Eric Burlison, of Springfield, already is promoting a bill.
 
Republican lawmakers want to reinstate a $350,000 limit on noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering that was struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court in July 2012.
 
The court said the limit violated a common-law right to seek damages for medical malpractice that predated the adoption of a state constitution in 1820.
 
The proposed legislation would abolish that common-law right and instead make medical liability lawsuits subject to state law.
 
A similar bill stalled earlier this year in the Senate.
Published in Local News

CAMDENTON, Mo. (AP) — Wintry weather has contributed to four deadly crashes on Missouri roads in two days.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says one person died Friday morning in Camden County when a vehicle crashed into a minivan after sliding on ice. Later Friday morning in Phelps County, a second person died when a car lost control on an icy road and overturned.

A third person died around noon Friday in Franklin County when a vehicle lost control on an ice-covered bridge and veered into oncoming traffic. The fourth victim died Saturday morning in Henry County when a pickup truck began sliding and hit a tree.

The patrol identified the victims as 42-year-old Karla Brown of Camdenton, 16-year-old Charity Adams of Licking, 23-year-old Whitney Gabathuler of Herman and 80-year-old William Dulaban of Deepwater.

Published in Local News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A group of eight Missouri lawmakers are calling upon Missouri's governor and attorney general to investigate concerns raised about Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro.

The lawmakers made the request Wednesday after The Kansas City Star reported that newly disclosed emails raised questions about the selection of CEE-Trust as a consultant. The Indianapolis-based firm's bid for developing an improvement plan for the Kansas City district and other struggling schools was nearly three times higher than the closest competitor.

The emails also highlighted some of Nicastro's behind-the-scenes work to create a special district that would operate some of the state's lowest-performing schools.

The lawmakers say the emails raise concerns about Nicastro's "fitness to lead."

Nicastro says the focus should be on ensuring that children "have the quality schools they deserve."

Published in Local News

A new report places both Illinois and Missouri among the least health states in the nation.

The reports was released by the United Health Foundation and puts Illinois as the 30th healthiest state and Missouri in the 39th spot. The Show me State did move up one spot. The report says the state saw a decrease in smoking, binge drinking, and physical inactivity.

Smoking and high cardiovascular and cancer death rates remain problems for Missouri, and high levels of air pollution and binge drinking are trouble for Illinois.

The full report can be viewed here: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/

Published in Local News

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