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CHICAGO (AP) - More than 2 million low-income Illinois residents who receive food stamps will soon see their benefits cut.

Beginning Friday, a temporary increase in food stamp dollars from the 2009 economic stimulus will expire.

The change will affect more than 47 million Americans. It comes as Congress is negotiating additional cuts to the program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The Illinois Hunger Coalition says about 349,000 seniors and 886,000 children statewide will be affected.

Executive Director Diane Doherty says the benefits have provided "an important stepping stone" for struggling families.

Benefits vary based on income and other factors. The Agriculture Department says the cuts will mean a family of four will receive $36 less per month.

Nationally, the program has more than doubled in cost since 2008.

 

Thursday, 31 October 2013 15:06
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Officials at the Missouri Cattlemen's Association say the state's former agriculture director made threats toward them after he was displeased with a magazine article.

Jon Hagler was replaced earlier this month as head of the Agriculture Department with little explanation from Gov. Jay Nixon. The move came one day after another high-ranking employee, Beth Ewers, resigned while distributing a letter saying Hagler created a work environment of "hostility, disrespect, intimidation and fear."

Now the cattlemen's group says Hagler also acted with hostility toward its CEO, Mike Deering.

Cattlemen's president Chuck Massengill and other group leaders say that Hagler threatened to beat up Deering earlier this year after Deering wrote an article critical of Hagler.

Hagler did not return messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

 

Thursday, 31 October 2013 13:17
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The mother of Willow Long was arrested this month on drug possession charges.

Police records show that Ciara DeRyke was arrested on October 14, police stopped her for speeding and found marijuana in her car. The arrest came a little over a month after investigators say her daughter, Willow, was killed by Justin DeRyke. Justin has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder.

Jury selection is supposed to start in December, but the trial is not expected to get underway until 2014.

Thursday, 31 October 2013 13:15
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Score one for the traveling public as the Federal Aviation Administration today announced the expanded use of personal electronic devices on airplanes.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill calls it "great news for the traveling public and a win for common sense.”  McCaskill is the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection.

The Senator says she applauds the FAA for taking the necessary steps to change "these outdated regulations" and expects the airlines to turn around quick plans for implementation.  

The FAA also announced a plan in which airlines would submit strategies for the expanded use of PEDs.  

The FAA expects those plans to be quickly approved and believes they could be largely completed by the end of the year.

There will continue to be some restrictions. For instance, talking on cell phones during flight will still be prohibited. Since joining the Senate in 2007, McCaskill has served on the Senate Committee on Commerce, which has jurisdiction over aviation and communications policy, and this year was named Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance.

Thursday, 31 October 2013 10:24
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