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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Church officials say plans for a major Catholic gathering in Philadelphia next year are proceeding with the assumption Pope Francis will attend, though that hasn't been officially confirmed.

The eighth World Meeting of Families will take place in September 2015. It's expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Philadelphia Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that "our planning all along has assumed the presence of the Holy Father."

Pope Benedict XVI announced in 2012 that Philadelphia would host the triennial event. At the time, he said he looked forward to meeting the region's Catholics. He attended the seventh convocation of families in Milan.

Benedict has since retired. Pope Francis' schedule remains unclear.

Traditionally, papal trips abroad are confirmed a few months before the journey.

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CREVE COEUR, Mo. (AP) — The former treasurer for a suburban St. Louis parent-teacher organization faces charges accusing her of stealing more than $50,000 from the organization.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports 36-year-old Tenille R. Batsell of Olivette was charged Thursday in St. Louis County with felony stealing.

Police say Batsell was treasurer of the Spoede School Association at Spoede Elementary School in Creve Coeur. She's accused of pocketing about $53,000 that belonged to the group, which relies on donations to organize events for students. Members of the organization called police after discovering accounting discrepancies on its books.

The parent-teacher association said on its website that its members were aware of the charges but couldn't comment.

Online court records don't list a lawyer for Batsell.

Saturday, 25 January 2014 13:00
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court has scheduled a February 26th execution for a man who pleaded guilty in the 1989 abduction, rape and stabbing death of a 15-year-old Kansas City girl.

Michael Taylor and Roderick Nunley were charged with kidnapping Ann Harrison as she waited for a school bus near her home. She was raped, stabbed and left bleeding to death in the trunk of a car.

The high court set Taylor's execution date on Friday.

Taylor's lawyer said the scheduling was premature in light of ongoing lawsuits against Missouri's execution procedures. The state switched to a one-drug lethal injection method since drug companies stopped selling the traditional three-drug mixture for use in executions.

Nunley was scheduled to be executed in 2010, but was granted a stay.

Saturday, 25 January 2014 12:58
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Monday marks an historic change for St. Louis City.
 
For the first time in over five decades, the police department will implement new police districts. Chief Sam Dotson announced that the city will consolidate the nine current districts to six. Dotson says the move is necessary because the city has changed since the 60's. 50 years ago the city's population was around 750,000 and there were over 2,200 police officers. Today the population sits closer to 318,000 and there are 1,250 officers. The resdistricting will allow Dotson to put more officers on the streets.
 
Dotson says the goal of redistricting is three-fold, "We have to reduce crime, this redistricting is a crime-reducing strategy. We have to help people feel safer. This will help people feel safer because we are putting more officers in neighborhoods that are challenged."
 
"And three, better communication," Dotson said, "we're talking about this. We've tweeted about it, I've blogged about, we've gone to neighborhood meetings--we're trying to be as open and transparent as we can
 
The changes go in to effect Monday morning at 4. Residents are invited to leave feedback at slmpd.org.
Friday, 24 January 2014 16:47
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