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JACKSON, Mo. (AP) — A southeast Missouri man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he killed two people in Cape Girardeau last month.

The Southeast Missourian reports that 22-year-old Kenneth Bell of Cape Girardeau entered the plea at a hearing Monday.

Bell is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Shannon James and Misty Cole. Both were shot to death Feb. 7 inside their apartment.

The next court appearance for Bell is April 18.

Witnesses told police that a confrontation began when James bumped into Bell on a sidewalk. Moments later, James and Cole were shot several times.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 13:32
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Health care workers could refuse to participate in procedures or research that violates their religious, moral or ethical principles under a measure passed by the Missouri House.

The House sent the measure to the Senate Tuesday with a 116-41 vote.

Workers seeking to invoke the so-called conscience protection would have to provide reasonable notice.

The measure would also bar discrimination against all medical personnel for opting out of certain procedures or research. It would apply to abortions, sterilizations, embryonic stem-cell research, assisted reproduction and contraception. Hospitals, clinics and medical or nursing schools also could refuse to perform procedures that violate the institution's conscience.

Some Democrats who voted against the bill said it could negatively impact patient safety.

House members approved similar legislation last year.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 12:10
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed legislation to end an income tax break for low-income seniors and disabled residents who rent their homes, despite pleas from the poor not to do so.

Several disabled renters testified Tuesday that the tax break of up to $750 annually allows them to pay medical bills, utilities and clothing. They pleaded with the Senate Appropriations Committee to keep the tax break.

But the committee voted to advance a bill that would do away with the tax credit and redirect the $57 million of savings to programs that serve seniors and the disabled. The plan is backed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

A commission Nixon appointed recommended ending the tax break for renters while continuing it for homeowners. The credit is intended offset property taxes.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 11:26
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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Cardinals have begun filing into the Sistine Chapel for the conclave to elect the next pope amid deep divisions and uncertainty over who will lead the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic church and tend to its many problems. Led by prelates holding a crucifix and candles, the 115 scarlet-robed cardinals chanted the Litany of Saints, the hypnotic Gregorian chant imploring the intercession of the saints to help them choose the next pope. They then took their places in the chapel frescoed by Michelangelo with scenes of "Creation" and "The Last Judgment." Benedict XVI's surprise resignation has thrown the church into turmoil and exposed deep divisions among cardinals grappling with whether they need a manager to clean up the Vatican's dysfunctional bureaucracy or a pastor who can inspire Catholics at a time of waning faith.
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