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   Despite months of speculation and tweets this week indicating a big announcement, former Missouri State Senator Jane Cunningham says she's not going to run for St. Louis County Executive.  

   The West County Republican says the party has another candidate in mind, but declined to name names.  Cunningham says voters should expect an announcement on Monday.  

   There had been some criticism of a potential run by Cunningham, since she's only one year into a six-year term as director of the Monarch Fire Protection District and had promised constituents that she wouldn't leave the post early.  

   The GOP will formally nominate a candidate for County Executive in the August primary.

Thursday, 20 March 2014 03:52
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   Bridgeton city officials want to transfer control of the of the West Lake Landfill and the radioactive waste buried there to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Bridgeton City Council Wednesday night passed a resolution asking the Corps to take charge.  
   Proponents say some of the materials buried at West Lake came from other sites controlled by the Corps, so it makes sense for them to take over of the Bridgeton site too.
   Bridgeton homeowner Dawn Chapman agrees. She spoke with Fox 2 News about the vote. "We want the experts to come in and figure out what needs to happen to this," she said.  "We want objective, scientific results and then let's make a decision." 
   Concern continues to grow over the risks posed to the local community by a slow-smoldering fire at the adjacent Bridgeton Landfill.  EPA officials have said the fire is inching closer to West Lake.
 
Thursday, 20 March 2014 03:14
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BEIJING (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama plans to avoid politics and focus on education and people-to-people contacts on her first visit to China.
 
Mrs. Obama's schedule includes a speech to Chinese and American students at Peking University and visits to the cities of Xi'an in the west and Chengdu in the southwest.
 
She was due to arrive Thursday, traveling with her mother and two daughters on the seven-day, three-city visit.
 
On Friday, Mrs. Obama is due to spend the day with Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
 
"I think this is a very good opportunity to improve the China-U.S. relations, as the first lady can represent the soft side of diplomacy," said Wang Dong, a political scientist at Peking University's School of International Studies.
 
"Michelle Obama herself has been accomplished in areas such as women's rights, children issues and education, and I think members of the Chinese public are anticipating her visit with a positive attitude," Wang said.
 
The first lady intends to avoid contentious issues such as human rights, trade and cybersecurity, according to White House officials preparing the trip.
 
They said the first lady will use her personal stories to express American values. On Tuesday, she is due to visit a high school in Chengdu.
 
"Her focus on people-to-people relations, her focus on education and youth empowerment is one that we believe will resonate in China," Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, told reporters ahead of the visit. "We also believe it's a message that is really fundamentally in the interest of the United States."
 
The first lady and her family also will visit the imperial palace and Great Wall in Beijing. While in Xi'an, she plans to visit ancient city walls and the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum. In Chendgu, the first lady is scheduled to visit a panda conservation center.
 
The trip provides an opportunity for President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to cultivate a personal relationship through their wives following their meeting in Sunnylands in California last year, Wang said.
 
"Such a personal relationship with mutual trust is crucial, as the China-U.S. relationship has entered a more challenging phrase," Wang said.
 
Her host is Peng Liyuan, Xi's wife, who accompanied her husband on the Sunnylands visit but did not meet Mrs. Obama, who stayed in Washington. Her absence left some Chinese grumbling and the visit allows the first lady to make up for it.
 
"I think this provides a natural reason to stay engaged" before Xi and Obama can meet again, Wang said.
 
The trip also gives Peng unusual prominence in a Chinese official culture that usually keeps leaders' spouses in the background.
 
Peng, a popular folk singer, was better known than Xi before he became Communist Party leader and president.
 
"She has a good presence on television," said Willy Lam, a political analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "This is a formidable soft power china can use for the world to see China is not a monolithic society."
 
Chinese media have compared the dress styles of the two women with side-by-side photos.
 
The newspaper China Daily devoted a full page Thursday to their fashion choices.
 
"They know that what they do will be put under a microscope, including the clothes they don, and they parlay that kind of influence into exposure for causes with larger meanings," the newspaper said.
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