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The sequester budget cuts will soon be felt in the St. Louis area as more than 4,500 civilian workers at Scott Air Force Base will soon begin furloughs. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the employees will receive 30 day notices by mail this week.

The furloughs mean affected employees will work only four days each week for 22 weeks, and they'll lose the pay for those 22 days off.

Only civilian employees in jobs essential for base safety and security, like firefighters, will be spared.

The paper reports that budget analyst estimate the furloughs will cost the region at least $28 million in reduced spending. About 5,600 civilians work at Scott Air Force Base.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 02:41
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One of the biggest hotels in downtown St. Louis is all but shutting down during the busy summer season. The Millennium hotel will close about 600 of their 870 guest rooms for remodeling.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the project had been scheduled to begin this fall, but was pushed up to spring instead. Hotel officials aren't saying why they changed the dates of the planned redo.

The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission told the paper they'll work with the hotel to relocate some meetings that had been scheduled for the Millennium.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 02:34
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Two more districts have joined the growing list of metro-east school districts that plan to lay off teachers and other staff. Belleville District 118 and Highland Community Unit District 5 both announced staff layoffs Tuesday due to the state's budget shortfall.

District 118 will lay off six teachers and 20 staff members. The state of Illinois owes the district nearly two-million dollars.

In Highland, several teachers are being let go, but the specifics haven't been released.

Earlier this week, officials with Belleville District 201 and the Collinsville School District announced layoffs.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 02:24
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Police and South Korean officials were investigating the simultaneous shutdown Wednesday of computer networks at several major broadcasters and banks. While the cause wasn't immediately clear, speculation centered on a possible North Korean cyberattack.

The shutdown came days after North Korea blamed South Korea and the United States for cyberattacks that temporarily shut down websites in Pyongyang.

Officials at the two South Korean public broadcasters KBS and MBC said that all computers at their companies shut down at 2 p.m. (0500 GMT). The officials said the shutdown was not immediately causing any damage to their daily TV broadcasts.

The officials declined to give their names saying they were not authorized to speak media.

YTN cable news channel reported the company's internal computer network was completely paralyzed. Local TV showed workers staring at blank computer screens, and at one coffee shop employees asked for cash, saying their credit card machine wasn't working.

The state-run Korea Information Security Agency confirmed that computers at at least five South Korean companies were down. The agency was investigating what caused the outage.

Shinhan Bank, a lender of South Korea's fourth-largest banking group, said the bank's system, including online banking and automated teller machines, has stopped working since 2:20 p.m. Thursday. The company is unable to conduct any banking activities at bank windows to customers including retail banking and corporate banking.

The company does not know what caused the paralysis.

Immediate suspicion fell on North Korea.

Tensions between the neighboring countries are high following North Korea's recent nuclear test and U.N. sanctions that followed. Accusations of cyberattacks on the Korean Peninsula are not new. Seoul believes Pyongyang was behind at least two cyberattacks on local companies in 2011 and 2012.

Internet access in Pyongyang was intermittent at times last week, and Loxley Pacific Co., the broadband Internet provider for North Korea, said it was investigating an online attack that took down Pyongyang servers. A spokesman for the Bangkok-based company said Friday that it was not clear where the attack originated. Experts indicated it could take months to determine what happened and one analyst suggested hackers in China were a more likely culprit.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency blamed the shutdown on the United States and South Korea, accusing the allies of expanding an aggressive stance against Pyongyang into cyberspace with "intensive and persistent virus attacks."

South Korea denied the allegation and the U.S. military declined to comment.
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