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WASHINGTON (AP) — Six months ago, President Barack Obama stood on the steps of the United States Capitol and offered a soaring liberal vision for his second term.

But the intervening months have showcased the political limits of Obama's ambitions. The result has been an uneven and sometimes disjointed start to what could arguably be the most important year of his second term.

Legislative victories have been scarce.

The president's gun control measures were vanquished on Capitol Hill, prospects for a grand deficit reduction deal are slim, and an immigration overhaul faces an uncertain future. Domestic troubles and foreign policy crises have also thrown the White House off course and into a defensive crouch.

The president's top advisers insist they came into the year clear-eyed about the potential pitfalls, particularly on Capitol Hill.

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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A southwestern Illinois man pleaded guilty during his trial on charges that he drunkenly caused a 2010 two-vehicle wreck that killed the other driver.

Thirty-six-year-old James Griesbaum of Aviston pleaded guilty to two felony DUI-related counts.

A spokeswoman for the Madison County State's Attorney's Office tells the Belleville News-Democrat that Griesbaum will be sentenced to simultaneous prison terms of three years and six months in prison on each count.

Authorities contend that Griesbaum was drunk in February 2010 in Madison County when his pickup truck collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Barbara Green of Trenton. She died.

Griesbaum's trial began Tuesday with jury selection and was to have gone to the jury for deliberation as early as Friday.

Griesbaum's sentencing date was not immediately set.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 07:15
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PERRYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A quarantine of wood products from Perry County is likely, after the discovery of an insect that kills ash trees.

Perry County economic development director Scott Sattler says Missouri Department of Agriculture field agents recently found the emerald ash borer in a park in Perryville.

The larvae of the half-inch-long, emerald green beetle kill the trees by feeding on the bark of the trees.

Sattler told the Southeast Missourian that Perry County is not yet under quarantine. That's because the survey of the beetle's extent is ongoing. County officials expect a quarantine to be imposed in the next 30 days.

Sattler says the quarantine would affect all types of firewood.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 07:15
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster declaration after severe storms struck Missouri from May 29th to June 10th.

The storms included one that spawned a tornado in the St. Louis area and others that caused widespread flooding.

The declaration allows the federal government to provide government entities and some nonprofits help paying for emergency work and facility replacement and repairs in 27 counties. They span from Barton County on the border with Kansas to St. Louis County. Funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Obama will travel Wednesday to Galesburg, Illinois and Warrensburg, Missouri to make his case for spending on infrastructure and for universal pre-school programs. Obama is also expected to highlight the economic benefits of overhauling immigration laws.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 07:14
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