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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Early voting begins for the March 18 primary begins across Illinois on Monday.
   At the top of the ballot on the Republican side is the race for U.S. Senate, where state Sen. Jim Oberweis and businessman Doug Truax are facing off.
   State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, meanwhile, are vying to be the GOP nominee for governor.
   On the Democratic side, Gov. Pat Quinn is seeking re-election against little-known challenger Tio Hardiman.
   There also are scores of contested races for U.S. Congress and for the Legislature.
   Voters are required by state law to show a government-issued ID before they can receive a ballot. The last day to vote early is March 18.
 
Monday, 03 March 2014 03:27
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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State agricultural officials and some lawmakers say private money could help make major repairs at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
   State Sen. Andy Manar has filed legislation that would allow the Department of Agriculture to form a state fairground foundation to solicit private money to upgrade and repair fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin.
   State agriculture Director Bob Flider tells the State Journal-Register in Springfield that he has a list of projects estimated to cost $30 million, but not enough money for them all.
   Big projects like roof replacements and road repaving are managed through the state's Capital Development Board, but Flider says fairground repairs compete with other statewide infrastructure needs.
   The idea comes six years after a power failure shut down the Springfield fairgrounds for nearly three months.
 
Monday, 03 March 2014 02:54
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   WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. and its allies are weighing sanctions on Moscow and whether to bolster defenses in Europe in response to Russia's military advances on Ukraine.
   Secretary of State John Kerry is going this week to Ukraine's capital. Kerry says world leaders "are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia."
   Missile defense systems and troop levels in Europe have again become urgent questions in Washington and beyond. It's a renewed reality that may force President Barack Obama's administration to give up its intended foreign policy shift to Asia.
   There appears to be little if any taste in the West for a direct military response to Russia's provocation. Economic sanctions, visa bans, freezing of Russian assets, and trade and investment penalties are under consideration.
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   PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Oscar Pistorius has entered a courtroom in South Africa for the start of his murder trial, walking past the mother of the woman he shot and killed a year ago.
   The double-amputee Olympic athlete arrived in the courtroom at the high court in Pretoria wearing a dark gray suit and black tie. He sat and drank from a bottle of water.
   Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day last year.
   Pistorius says he shot Steenkamp by accident, thinking she was an intruder inside his bathroom.
   Steenkamp's mother, June, earlier entered the court dressed in black.
   
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