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WASHINGTON (AP) — A major U.S. power company has pleaded guilty to killing eagles and other birds at two Wyoming wind farms as part of the first enforcement of environmental laws protecting birds against wind energy facilities.

Under the settlement Friday, North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp. and its renewable energy arm agreed to pay $1 million. Much of the money will go toward conservation efforts.

The company pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two wind farms outside Casper, Wyo., from 2009 to 2013.

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors.

Before the case, no wind energy company had been prosecuted for the death of an eagle or other protected bird — even though such deaths are usually a federal violation.

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CHICAGO (AP) — Governor Pat Quinn's administration has announced Illinois will allow the one-year extension of existing health insurance plans proposed by President Barack Obama.

Friday's announcement sets Illinois apart from some other states led by Democrats. Those states rejected the president's proposal, saying it could leave many consumers with substandard coverage.

Obama announced last week he wants insurers to have the option to renew plans that would otherwise be canceled because they fall short of requirements in the nation's health law.

The proposal was meant to help the president regain credibility after his frequent promise that Americans who liked their plans could keep them.

At least 4 million Americans received cancellations notices — including about 185,000 in Illinois.

It's unclear how Illinois insurers will react. They aren't required to renew the policies.

Saturday, 23 November 2013 07:56
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Governor Jay Nixon has selected the chief medical officer for the Missouri Department of Mental Health to lead the state's Medicaid health care program.

Joe Parks will take over as director of the MO HealthNet Division of the Department of Social Services starting Dec. 16. He replaces Ian McCaslin, who left that position in May after serving as director since August 2007.

Nixon announced the new Medicaid director Friday.

The MO HealthNet Division oversees a Medicaid program that provides health coverage to about 850,000 lower-income children, custodial parents, disabled residents and seniors.

Nixon has sought to expand the program. Republican legislative leaders have said they want to improve Missouri's current Medicaid program before considering Democratic proposals to expand eligibility.

Saturday, 23 November 2013 07:47
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At a plea hearing Friday, 19-year-old Keith Esters admitted to shooting and killing Megan Boken.

As part of his guilty plea, Esters was sentenced to life in prison, plus 20 years. Megan's family was on hand to read statements before sentencing. Police says Esters did not act alone.

His cousin, Johnathan Perkins faces second degree murder charges. Officers say they tracked down Esters and Perkins by tracing a cell phone that was stolen from someone else six days before Megan was murdered. 

Friday, 22 November 2013 16:59
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