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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch is asking the FBI to help in the investigation of suspicious financial dealings at the county health department.  Chief Fitch has asked the FBI to conduct a forensic investigation into the financial records involving former health department administrator Ed Mueth.  

   County police are trying to determine if Mueth had co-conspirators when he allegedly used a bogus computer company to steal millions of dollars from the county before committing suicide.  

   Chief Fitch says his department has received hundreds of pages of subpoenaed records and wants to question dozens of people over Mueth's financial dealings.

Evolution debate again engulfs Texas Board of Ed

Friday, 22 November 2013 00:54 Published in National News

   AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Board of Education used a late-night meeting to preliminarily approve new science textbooks for classrooms across the state Thursday, but it blocked signing off on a major new biology text until alleged "errors" in lessons over the theory of evolution are checked by outside experts.

   The vote just before midnight did not reject the biology book by Pearson, one of the country's largest publishers. But it delayed approval until three board members appoint a trio of outside experts to check concerns.

   Textbook and classroom curriculum battles have long raged in Texas pitting creationists — those who see God's hand in the creation of the universe — against academics who worry about religious and political ideology trumping scientific fact. At issue this time are proposed high school biology books that could be used across the state at least through 2022.

   State law approved two years ago means school districts can now choose their own books and don't have to adhere to a list recommended by the Board of Education — but most have continued to use approved books.

   The issue is important nationally since Texas is so large that many books prepared for publication in the state also are marketed elsewhere around the country.

   Publishers from around the country submitted proposed textbooks this summer, but committees of Texas volunteer reviewers — some nominated by socially conservative current and former Board of Education members — raised objections. One argued that creationism based on biblical texts should be taught in science classes, while others objected that climate change wasn't as settled a scientific matter as some of the proposed books said.

   Pearson and many other major publishers weren't willing to make suggested major edits and changes, however.

   That promoted some of the board's socially conservative members to call for delaying approval of the book because of concerns including how long it took Earth to cool and objection to lessons about natural selection because "selection operates as a selective but not a creative force."

   Members outside the socially conservative bloc claimed their colleagues waited until the dead of night to try and impose ideological edits.

   "To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable," said Thomas Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant.

   He added: "I believe this process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes."

   Ameren's sale of five Illinois coal-fired power plants to Dynegy, Inc. will likely close next month.  That after the Illinois Pollution Control board on Thursday granted Dynegy permission to defer the installation of multi-million dollar pollution controls for five years.  

   Ameren had agreed to the improvements years ago, but said approval of the environmental variance was a condition of the sale.  

   In a 3-1 vote, state regulators decided that forcing Dynegy to install the soot scrubbers immediately would "impose an arbitrary and unreasonable hardship."  

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