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   St. Louis city officials want to do more to preserve some vacant buildings for future development, and tear down those that are beyond repair.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a bill will be filed Friday with the Board of Aldermen that would set up a preservation fund of about $500,000 a year to fix roofs and walls on long-term vacant buildings.  An equal amount would go to the city's demolition fund.  

   The paper reports that the cash would come from a new fee on electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits, but building owners would face a lien for the costs as well.  

   If the aldermen agree, the measure  would go before voters, possibly as early as next spring.

   A separate bill also to be filed Friday would toughen penalties for owners who let decay their so-called "high merit" historic buildings, like the now-demolished Cupples 7 building.

 
Thursday, 17 October 2013 01:46
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   BEIJING (AP) — The International Monetary Fund appealed Thursday to Washington for more stable management of the nation's finances as Asian stock markets rose after U.S. leaders agreed to avoid a default and end a 16-day government shutdown.

   With only hours to spare until the $16.7 trillion debt limit was reached, Congress passed and sent a waiting President Barack Obama legislation late Wednesday night to allow more borrowing and reopen government agencies.

   "World heaves sigh of relief as U.S. barely averts debt default," said the Times of India newspaper in a headline.

   IMF managing director Christine Lagarde welcomed the deal but said the shaky American economy needs more stable long-term finances. The deal only permits the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 and fund the government through Jan. 15.

   "It will be essential to reduce uncertainty surrounding the conduct of fiscal policy by raising the debt limit in a more durable manner," Lagarde said in a statement.

   The Tokyo stock market, the region's heavyweight, gained as much as 1.1 percent. Markets in China, Hong Kong and South Korea also rebounded from losses.

   China and Japan, which each own more than $1 trillion of Treasury securities, appealed earlier to Washington for a quick settlement. There was no indication whether either government had altered its debt holdings.

   China's official Xinhua News Agency had accused Washington of jeopardizing other countries' dollar-denominated assets. It called for "building a de-Americanized world," though analysts say global financial markets have few alternatives to the dollar and U.S. government debt for trading and holding currency reserves.

   Asian companies and investors had expressed confidence the United States would avoid a default. But had sold Treasurys to avoid possible losses if Washington delayed repayment. Others put off buying stocks that might be exposed to a U.S. downturn.

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   The St. Louis Police mounted patrol horses are back in Forest Park full time.  

   The horses had moved out of their stables at the park after lead paint contamination became an issue in 2009.  Since then, the horses were kept at a private farm, makeshift stables at other parks and recreation buildings according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  

   But a million-dollars in donations to Forest Park Forever made repairs at the old stables possible.  The stable is now home to the unit's four horses and to two park ranger horses. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:47
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   CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the Colorado theater shooting case are battling over what evidence can be admitted during James Holmes' murder trial — all in an attempt to build up or tear down the case that he was insane.

   On Thursday, they are scheduled to argue over statements Holmes made to police after he was arrested after the July 2012 shootings and taken to a police station.

   On Wednesday, they sparred over evidence seized from Holmes' car and computers. That included signs that one computer was allegedly used for an Internet search on the words "rational insanity," and photos on his cellphone of himself holding firearms.

   "The issue is, was he sane or insane at the time," said Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor now in private practice.

   Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder. His attorneys have acknowledged he was the shooter in the massacre, which killed 12 people and injured 70 at a suburban Denver theater, but they say he was in the midst of a psychotic episode at the time.

   Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and to have Holmes executed, Colorado law requires that they first convince the jury that Holmes was legally sane — that he knew the shootings were wrong.

   The defense has been fighting to exclude any evidence that prosecutors might use to make that point, such as researching definitions of insanity or planning the attack.

   On Wednesday, Holmes' lawyers argued the evidence from his car should be thrown out because police didn't get a warrant before searching it. They said evidence from the computers should be tossed because a search warrant was overly broad.

   Prosecutors said police had no time to seek a warrant to search the car because they feared it might contain explosives or hazardous material that threatened officers and the public. They introduced a photo showing the location of Holmes' car outside the Aurora theater and called law-enforcement officers to testify to the potential threat.

   Holmes' trial is scheduled to start in February.

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