DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst has cancelled a meeting with the Des Moines Register’s editorial board, saying her time was better spent campaigning in Iowa. Editors at the newspaper say Ernst notified them Wednesday night that she wouldn’t attend the Thursday meeting. Publisher Rick Green says he’s disappointed. Ernst spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel issued a statement saying the Register’s recent editorials make the newspaper’s position “perfectly clear.” The paper has run several editorial pieces criticizing Ernst’s policy positions. Continue Reading
CHICAGO (AP) — An anti-crime group wants to eradicate what it says are illegal video gambling machines at bars and other venues across Illinois. The Chicago Crime Commission is formally launching its campaign against “sweepstakes” machines today. It claims organized crime controls many of the devices, which offer gift coupons or wagering credits. The effort includes mailing a new informational book to every Illinois sheriff and state’s attorney. The group’s executive vice president, Art Bilek, says Thursday “marks the beginning of a drive to knock these machines out” of Illinois. Continue Reading
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state regulator says fewer than 2 percent of Iowans will be hit by state-approved health insurance rate increases. The Iowa Insurance Division said Wednesday that it had approved 2015 increases averaging 8.7 percent to 19 percent for Iowans who bought individual policies from Coventry Healthcare, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and CoOportunity Health. The department says the increases were justified, in part by costs associated with the federal Affordable Care Act. Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart told The Des Moines Register that Iowa’s overall health insurance climate is stable, with most premium increases being relatively small. Continue Reading
CANTON, Mo. (AP) — Searchers are hoping to recover the body of a tugboat worker who fell into the Mississippi River near Canton, Missouri.
Authorities say the man fell overboard around 11 p.m. Wednesday from the tugboat Charlie G, prompting a search by several agencies from Missouri and Illinois and the U.S. Coast Guard. The 22-year-old man’s name has not been released and it wasn’t immediately clear how he fell into the river. The Coast Guard says the search is now considered a recovery, rather than rescue, operation. Continue Reading
QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — A January trial date has been set for a former Adams County prosecutor charged in the 2006 death of his first wife. Curtis Lovelace has pleaded not guilty in the death of Cory Lovelace. An inquest failed to decide what caused the 38-year-old woman’ death. The case remained open until the 45-year-old Lovelace was indicted in August on first-degree murder charges. Continue Reading
The Iowa Insurance Commissioner has approved double-digit rate increases for the insurance policies held by about a quarter of a million Iowans.
Individual health insurance polices from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield will increase an average of 14-and-a-half percent on January 1st. The rates for the Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa will go up an average of 11-point-nine percent.
State Insurance Commissioner Nick Gearhart says he found “no evidence” Wellmark’s rate hikes were “discriminatory or excessive.” Gearheart says due to the Affordable Care Act, Wellmark faces higher costs partly because insurers can’t deny coverage to applicants with pre-existing conditions, plus new rules restrict how much a client’s age, potential health risks or gender can factor into rates. Continue Reading
The latest crop conditions report by the USDA, shows only five-percent of Iowa’s corn has been harvested. That’s about three weeks behind the normal schedule. Cool weather and abundant rain in some areas put Iowa’s corn maturity about six days behind the five-year average. Many growers are like Winnebago County’s Wayne Johnson, who reports corn kernels are retaining 25-percent moisture — about 10-percent more than can be stored without spoiling. Johnson says when he does begin harvesting, maybe in a week to 10-days, the corn must be dried using L-P gas. Continue Reading
The nation’s top agriculture official is raising alarms about the looming shortage of rail cars to carry grain from Midwestern fields to market. U-S Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says railroad officials should have anticipated the coming bumper harvest and been ready with sufficient cars for delivery. The former governor of Iowa, the nation’s top corn and soybean producer, says two of the biggest railroads…BNSF and Canadian Pacific…claim they’re investing in more staff and equipment, but he says, the moves aren’t coming quickly enough as farmers are already beginning to harvest crops. Vilsack says railroads should be penalized for poor service and they shouldn’t be allowed to increase their freight rates when there’s a backlog and bumper crops. He says another possible solution includes the use of arbitration. Continue Reading
Egypt furniture factory fire kills at least 25 people
At least 25 people have died in a fire at a furniture factory north of the Egyptian capital Cairo, officials say. A further 22 people suffered injuries from burns and smoke inhalation from the blaze in the city of Obour, media reports said.