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Illinois at 12 a.m.

Jason Keyser is staffing the desk. He can be reached at 312-781-0500. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at or 877-836-9477.



CHICAGO — Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner held little back in their first meeting of the 2014 campaign, with Rauner telling an influential teachers union that Quinn has broken his promises on issues from school funding to taxes, and the governor calling his opponent "the biggest threat to public education" in Illinois. The swipes came during a sometimes-rowdy meeting of the Illinois Education Association in Chicago — a crowd of more than 1,000 that clearly favored Quinn but was not unanimous in its support. Both candidates went into the event with some baggage. The union is suing Quinn and other lawmakers over legislation approved last year to cut public-employee pensions. And the group was among several unions that helped fund TV ads during the GOP primary attacking Rauner. The Winnetka venture capitalist became a target by repeatedly railing against "government union bosses." By Sara Burnett. SENT: 690 words, photos ILMG101-110.



SPRINGFIELD — Voters in Illinois will have to decide whether they want the state constitution amended in at least two different ways. The Illinois Legislature this week voted to put questions on voter and crime victim rights on the Nov. 4 ballot. One measure is aimed at preventing people from being denied the right to register to vote or cast a ballot based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, gender, sexual orientation or income. The other provides for more enforceable victims' rights in trials and court proceedings. UPCOMING: 250 words.


SPRINGFIELD — Voters in Illinois will be asked whether to amend the state constitution in at least two different ways. The Illinois Legislature this week overwhelmingly voted to put questions on voter and crime victim rights on the Nov. 4 ballot. The voter rights amendment, sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago, would prevent people from being denied the right to register to vote or cast a ballot based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, sex, sexual orientation or income. Nine states have made it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013 — most by strengthening identification requirements. SENT: 240 words.



CHICAGO — Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago who is being treated for cancer, said the Roman Catholic Church has agreed to begin formally searching for his successor as head of the nation's third-largest diocese. George spoke about his most recent bout with cancer while meeting with reporters to share his thoughts on the canonizations later this month of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. George had been scheduled to travel to Rome for the April 27 canonizations, but canceled his plans on the advice of his doctors. A recent infection forced him to be hospitalized for a week, delaying the start of his second round of chemotherapy, and doctors were worried that he could be vulnerable to another infection during the trip, George said. By Jason Keyser. SENT: 520 words, photos CX102-103, CX106.


CHAMPAIGN — A judge in central Illinois ordered an uncooperative patient with infectious tuberculosis to remain in his home and allowed public health officials to track his movements with an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet to prevent the spread of disease.

The ruling came during an unusual hearing Friday at the health department in Champaign. The 24-year-old patient didn't show up, so it wasn't necessary for attorneys, the judge and others to wear face-mask respirators that waited at the ready. SENT: 305 words, photo ILCHN101.


DIXON, Mo. — The body of an Army sergeant killed in last week's mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, arrived Friday in a small southern Missouri town after a solemn procession from St. Louis. Highway Patrol officers and nearly 100 Patriot Guard motorcycle riders escorted the hearse bearing the body of 37-year-old Sgt. Timothy Owens of Effingham, Ill. from Lambert Airport onto Interstate 44 and then along winding Ozarks roads to a funeral home in the town of Dixon. Patriot Guard members shielded the hearse with American flags beneath the funeral home's carport as Owens' casket was removed. About 20 townspeople stood silently nearby, then applauded softly as the casket was taken indoors. SENT: 300 words, photos MOSTP201-202, MOJR107, MOJR109.



DECATUR — Ted the baby pig didn't care for being held by a stranger. "I don't know, he just freaked out," said Lauryn Layette, an eighth-grader at Thomas Jefferson Middle School who tried, unsuccessfully, to pig-sit during the school's assembly Tuesday. Classmate Quincey Watts pretended to recoil from the smell of pig that he said was still on her clothing. Prinicpal Nate Sheppard was scheduled to give Ted a smooch to reward the students who made it to class on time every day during Illinois Standards Achievement Tests the past two weeks. Someone on staff suggested a "kiss the pig" event, and Sheppard agreed. By Valerie Wells. (Decatur) Herald & Review. UPCOMING: 370 words, photo ILDEC301.


QUINCY — Louie Demers wore his Sunday best on Wednesday morning (March 26). Wearing a dark blue suit combination and with pins of an American flag and another with "WWII" on his lapel, Demers happily held court inside the Adams County Courthouse. The 90-year-old veteran of both World War II and the Korean War recounted tales of his days in the Navy, many of which were spent in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was more than happy to take part in the "Veterans History Project." Veterans gathered at both the courthouse and the Illinois Veterans Home to tell their tales from their days of service. By Don O'Brien. The Quincy Herald-Whig. UPCOMING: 590 words, photo ILQHW301.


—FIREFIGHTER-CHILD PORNOGRAPHY: A firefighter is facing several child pornography charges after Cook County state's attorney investigators discovered images on his computer

—METRA HIRING: Metra, the Chicago commuter rail agency, is adopting a reform measure aimed at ending concerns that political clout and influence trumps qualifications when it comes to hiring.

—DNA-MURDER CHARGES: Cook County authorities, using DNA evidence obtained from a bandanna, have charged a Chicago man with a murder committed nearly four years ago.

—PIPE BOMB SENTENCE: A Bloomington man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after being convicted of putting a pipe bomb in a mailbox.

—CHICAGO JOBS-DREAMERS: Chicago's mayor is inviting young immigrants in the United States illegally to apply for internships, volunteer positions and summer jobs.

—SOLDIER'S FUNERAL: A funeral is planned in Rolla, (RAH'-lah) Mo. for a soldier killed in shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, earlier this month.

—LT GOV.-SEX ASSAULT AWARENESS: Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is travelling to Peoria to raise awareness on sexual assault and domestic violence.

—SIMON-LOCAL FOODS: Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is encouraging farmers markets to accept debit-style food-stamp cards with wireless technology provided by the state.

—ILLINOIS INMATES-SANDBAGS: With flood season approaching, Illinois prison inmates are helping restock the supply of sandbags for makeshift levees.

—STATE FARM: State Farm Insurance Co. CEO Ed Rust Jr. says the company's plans to expand in Arizona, Texas and Georgia will not affect the company's headquarters in Bloomington.

—PIPELINE LEAK: Attorney General Lisa Madigan says a Kankakee County judge has ordered two pipeline operators to help her office investigate a 1,500-gallon petroleum gas spill last month.

—FIREFIGHTER-SEXUAL ASSAULT: A northern Illinois firefighter was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual assault of a minor.

—ZIMBABWE SANCTIONS-CHICAGO CHARGES: A 72-year-old Chicago man has pleaded guilty to illegally lobbying U.S. lawmakers to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe's president and other members of his regime for a promise of $3.4 million.

—ILLINOIS JUDGE-INVESTIGATION: A disgraced southwestern Illinois judge has agreed to be disbarred after he was sentenced to federal prison on heroin and gun convictions.



CHAMPAIGN — Illinois coach Tim Beckman is in no hurry to name a starting quarterback, insisting that the competition to succeed Nathan Scheelhaase is wide open. But when the Illini wrap up spring football with the Orange and Blue game Saturday, a lot of eyes will be on No. 12, the quarterback many assume will emerge as the starter. At 6-foot-5, Wes Lunt looks the part. He has the arm and pedigree — one not seen at Illinois in a while — to match. And Beckman said he has something else — leadership and what might loosely define as work ethic. Lunt sat out under NCAA rules last season after transferring from Oklahoma State, a season in which Scheelhaase finished up his career as an Illini favorite. By David Mercer. SENT: 680 words, photo CX101.


WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 51st goal to help lead the Washington Capitals to a low-intensity 4-0 rout of the coasting Chicago Blackhawks in a game between teams whose postseason fates had already been decided. Jay Beagle had his first career two-goal game, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored as the Capitals won their fourth straight, a hollow winning streak because they won't be in the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Jaroslav Halak made 34 saves in his first shutout since the trade deadline deal that brought him to Washington from the St. Louis Blues. It was also his first game since a dustup earlier this week over whether he was skittish about facing his former team. By Joseph White. SENT: 675 words, photos VZN101-104.


CHICAGO — D.J. Augustin scored 24 points, Taj Gibson added 17, and the Chicago Bulls rallied from 18 down to beat the Detroit Pistons 106-98 for their seventh straight win. Carlos Boozer finished with 18 points. Mike Dunleavy Jr. scored all of his 14 in the second half, and the Bulls kept their longest win streak of the season going. They moved a game ahead of Atlantic Division leader Toronto for third in the Eastern Conference, with the Raptors losing to the New York Knicks. The Bulls also clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with Brooklyn falling to Atlanta. By Andrew Seligman. SENT: 675 words, photos CXA102-103, CXA106, CXA108.


ST. LOUIS — After Jeff Samardzija held the St. Louis Cardinals to one run and the Cubs took a 3-1 lead, Chicago's bullpen gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings. By R.B. Fallstrom. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos.


CHICAGO —Conor Gillaspie had a career-high four RBIs, leading Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox to a 9-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Sale pitched five innings in his first win against Cleveland since May 1, 2012. The left-hander allowed three runs and six hits while throwing 105 pitches. The White Sox have captured the first two games of their first series of the year against the Indians, who had a 17-2 record against Chicago last season. They play again on Saturday and Sunday. Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was tagged for five runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings. By Patrick Rose. SENT: 650 words, photos CXS107, CXS109-112, CXS114-116.


If you have stories of regional or statewide interest, please email them to If you have photos of regional or statewide interest, please send them to the AP state photo center in New York, 888-273-6867. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at or 877-836-9477.

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