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 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Several Missouri school officials are challenging the summary and cost estimate of a proposed constitutional amendment that could appear before voters in 2014.

   The initiative petition would prohibit new contracts that are longer than three years for staff members who are certified to teach in Missouri. Schools also would establish an evaluation system used for employment decisions such as retention, promotion and dismissal. Supporters must gather sufficient signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.

   The lawsuit contends the summary developed by the secretary of state's office is insufficient and unfair. Among the complaints is that it does not mention school employees could be hired as "at will employees."

   Plaintiffs are the Ferguson-Florissant school board president, the business manager for Hannibal schools and a teacher from Columbia and from Smithville.

   

 
Monday, 06 May 2013 07:22
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CHICAGO (AP) - Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is proposing a county concealed-carry ordinance if lawmakers in Springfield can't come up with a statewide law.

A federal court has ruled Illinois' ban on the public possession of firearms is unconstitutional and gave the state until June 9 to come up with a concealed-carry law.

But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Dart worries that if lawmakers don't come up with anything by then, it will be legal for anyone with a firearm owners' identification card to carry a gun anywhere, so he wants a countywide ordinance ready to go just in case.

The ordinance would give the sheriff the authority to approve and reject licenses to carry concealed firearms in the county and applicants would have to pay $300 fee for a license.

 
Monday, 06 May 2013 07:18
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Although the resignation of Father Lawrence Biondi as president of Saint Louis University caught many off-guard, word traveled fast around campus.

KTRS' Vicki Pinmentel found most students learned of the news online.  "I was on Facebook and I read a status and then I eventually got an e-mail about it...The person I was sitting next to told me he just got an email that Father Biondi was resigning and everyone was pretty excited about that...I was actually at home last night so I just heard about it from you that he resigned so I'm kind of in shock, so that's my initial reaction."

Father Biondi has served as the University's president for 25 years. Recent months have been filled with contentious relations between him and many faculty and students.

The University is expected to begin the search for a successor in the Fall.

Monday, 06 May 2013 07:07
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 ROME (AP) - Giulio Andreotti, Italy's former seven-time premier and a symbol of post-war Italy, died Monday at his home in Rome, Italian officials said. He was 94.

   In announcing the death, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno called Andreotti "the most representative politician" Italy had known in its recent history.

   At his prime, Andreotti was one of Italy's most powerful men: He helped draft the country's constitution after World War II, sat in parliament for 60 years and served as premier seven times. Until his death, he remained a senator-for-life.

   But the Christian Democrat who was friends with popes and cardinals was also a controversial figure who survived corruption scandals and allegations of aiding the Mafia.

   He was accused of exchanging a "kiss of honor" with the mob's longtime No. 1 boss and indicted in what was called "the trial of the century" in Palermo. He was eventually cleared.

   Andreotti was as known for his political acumen as for his subtle humor and witty allusions. With sharp eyes, thin lips and a stooped figure, he was immediately recognizable to generations of Italians. Friends and foes alike admired his intellectual agility and grasp of the issues.

   "Power wears out ... those who don't have it," he once famously said.

   Andreotti's rise in the Italian political scene mirrored the rise of Italy, which was then emerging from two decades of Fascist dictatorship under Benito Mussolini. He joined the conservative Christian Democrats, was part of the Constituent Assembly that wrote the constitution and was elected to parliament in 1948.

   He remained ever since.

   He held a series of Cabinet positions after the war, until he became premier for the first time in 1972. Twenty years later, he finished his last stint as premier.

   Although staunchly pro-American and a firm supporter of Italy's NATO membership, Andreotti was the first Christian Democrat to accept Communist support, even if indirect, in one of his governments. The Cabinet that was formed after big Communist gains in the 1976 general election needed the Communists and other leftists to abstain - rather than cast "no" votes - during parliamentary votes.

   By the early 1990s, a vast corruption drive led by prosecutors - the "Clean Hands" probe - swept through parliament and hobbled most existing political parties. Andreotti's Christian Democrats were among them, but the scandal did not touch him personally and he managed to stay on as premier until an election in 1992.

   Soon, however, an even more damaging accusation would befall Andreotti. In 1993, a Mafia informer told prosecutors that Andreotti had been involved in the 1979 slaying of journalist Mino Pecorelli, a muckraking journalist killed in a mob-style execution in Rome by four shots from a pistol with a silencer.

   Pecorelli's articles had often targeted Andreotti, along with a range of public figures. Andreotti was sometimes referred to in print as "The Godfather."

   The prosecution argued that the Mafia killed Pecorelli at the behest of Andreotti, who allegedly feared the reporter had dug up compromising information. Andreotti has always denied the charges, saying he was targeted by mobsters getting even for his crackdowns on organized crime.

   The lengthy case - dubbed by the Italian press "the trial of the century" - resulted in an acquittal in 1999; a shock conviction and sentence to 24 years in prison by an appeals court in November 2002; and, in the third and final judgment a year later, another acquittal.

   "Some might have hoped I wouldn't get here. But here I am, thanks to God," Andreotti, then 84, said at the time of the final ruling.

   In a separate case during the same years, Andreotti stood trial in Palermo on charges that he colluded with the Mafia. But he was cleared in that case too.

   Palermo prosecutors relied heavily on accounts by Mafia turncoats, including a mobster who testified that Andreotti had once exchanged a "kiss of honor" with Salvatore Riina, the "boss of all bosses" and a longtime fugitive who was captured in 1993. They alleged Andreotti granted favors for the mob in exchange for their delivering Sicilian votes for his party.

 

   Andreotti always denied the charges, again maintaining he was a victim of mobsters intent on taking revenge for his fight against the Mafia.

 

   Andreotti was born to schoolteachers in Rome on Jan. 14, 1919. He earned a law degree at Rome University and became a journalist after graduation.

   During World War II he worked as a librarian in the Vatican, and it was there that he met several politicians, including Alcide De Gasperi, who went on to become Italy's foremost postwar statesman.

 

   At age 35, Andreotti became Italy's youngest interior minister ever. It was the beginning of a career during which he navigated the Byzantine world of Italian politics like no other, accumulating power, honors and enemies along the way.

   Such was his reach that he was sometimes called "Divo Giulio" - a play on his name Giulio and the latin "Divus Iulius" (or Divine Julius), which was used for Julius Caesar. His critics called him Beelzebub for what they considered his diabolical skills.

   The one political prize he never achieved was to become president of the republic, a largely ceremonial but highly regarded office. He came closest in 1992, but his efforts failed amid the "Clean Hands" corruption scandals.

   A practicing Roman Catholic, Andreotti maintained solid ties to the Vatican throughout his political career. Emblematic of this stance was his Rome address, close to the centers of political power but also just across the Tiber from St. Peter's Square.

   He wrote numerous books, some of them best-sellers, wrote articles for Italian publications and edited the monthly Catholic magazine 30 Giorni. He was courted on TV shows for his deep knowledge of Italian and world affairs as well as for his humor. He even made a guest appearance as himself in the movie, "Il Tassinaro" ("The Taxi Driver") with fellow Roman and late comedian Alberto Sordi.

   A probing portrait of him in the film "Il Divo" was honored with the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

   Andreotti was married to Livia Danese. They had four children.

   AP writer Colleen Barry reported from Milan

   

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