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Iowa News

October 30, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Coronavirus spread continues at a high level in Iowa with more than 2,400 new cases identified and more than 600 people hospitalized, a new high. Iowa Department of Public Health data shows 25 counties had a 14-day positivity rate of more than 15%, an indication that virus activity is at an extremely high level of spread across a quarter of the state’s counties. Daily reported new cases and deaths reached new highs this week. Johns Hopkins University reports that over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Iowa has increased by 33%. Eleven more deaths were reported Thursday, increasing the death toll to 1,691.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A judge has kept in place guidance from Iowa’s secretary of state that county elections commissioners can only set up absentee ballot drop boxes at or outside their offices. Judge William Kelly rejected a request from a Latino civil rights organization and a group aligned with Democrats to block Secretary of State Paul Pate’s guidance and allow for drop boxes in locations such as grocery stores. The ruling isn’t expected to have an impact because it comes so close to Election Day. Most absentee ballots have already been returned and auditors had dropped plans to add drop box locations even if Pate’s guidance was suspended.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — When Joe Biden was last in Iowa, his campaign was on the verge of collapse and he was soundly trounced in the caucuses. He returns Friday as the Democratic nominee, believing he’s just days away from becoming president-elect. Iowa is among the clutch of GOP-leaning states that Biden is trying to bring back into the Democratic column. He’ll also swing through Wisconsin on Friday while his running mate, Kamala Harris, courts voters in Texas. Trump, meanwhile, is playing defense in Michigan and Wisconsin. The president and Biden will both be in Minnesota, a longtime Democratic state that Trump is trying to flip.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy has announced it will close its coal-fired power plant in the northeast Iowa city of Lansing over the next two years. The Des Moines Register reports that the plan is part of the company’s broader goal to eliminate all coal from it’s portfolio by 2040 in a shift to solar, wind and other renewable energy. Alliant says it has operated the 275-megawatt coal-fired plant in Lansing for 72 years and employs 26 people there. The utility says retiring the plant allows the company to avoid significant investments that would otherwise be required to comply with changing environmental regulations.

 


Illinois News

October 30, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A region that includes counties in central and west-central Illinois is the latest to face restrictions on social interaction to slow the spread of COVID-19. Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday imposed “resurgence mitigations” on the area incliuding Springfield, Lincoln, and Quincy. It is the ninth of 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions to fall under mitigation because of troubling increases in the illness caused by the coronavirus. Republican lawmakers and some Democrats are asking Pritzker to consider alternatives and assistance to affected businesses. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported another 6,363 infections on Thursday with 56 additional deaths.

CHICAGO (AP) — The former operator of a northern Illinois private school has pleaded guilty to looting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a nutrition program for the poor to finance a luxurious lifestyle. Pamela Strain, founder of Beacon Hill Academy, which operated in Harvey and as Lighthouse Christian Academy in Lansing, pleaded guilty Thursday to fraud in U.S. District Court. The charges alleged that from 2009 to 2016, the schools received more than $4 million in federal funds to provide breakfast, lunch, fresh fruit and vegetables and childcare to the disadvantaged. During that period, the 63-year-old Strain allegedly received $2 million in income. She reported $72,425, in income in her 2013 tax return, allegedly omitting about $466,000 in additional income.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court is recruiting more volunteer lawyers to speed up criminal appeals. The appeal process at times is so long the defendant has completed his prison term before their appeal is decided. The high court in February launched a six-month pilot program in Cook County to take up the backlog. The Chicago Sun-Times reports 75 attorneys volunteered and they’ve adopted 45 cases and filed 18 briefs. Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke says the program has reduced the backlog of criminal appeals cases in northern Illinois. Now, the program is being extended to the entire state beginning in December.

SEATTLE (AP) — Fair housing organizations are accusing Redfin of systematic racial discrimination, saying in a lawsuit the online real estate broker offers fewer services to homebuyers and sellers in minority communities. The National Fair Housing Alliance described that as a type of digital redlining that has depressed home values and exacerbated historic injustice in the housing market. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday, the groups said a two-year investigation showed Redfin was much less likely to offer realtor services, professional photos, virtual tours, online promotion or commission rebates for homes listed in overwhelmingly minority neighborhoods. Redfin’s CEO said the company has not violated fair housing law but the lawsuit raises important questions.


Wisconsin News

October 30, 2020

DETROIT (AP) — A convergence of three unprecedented, simultaneous national crises — the pandemic, joblessness and police brutality — has led many to believe this presidential election is a referendum on race relations in America. Black voters will be decisive in the outcome. Democrat Joe Biden is relying on strong turnout among Black voters in cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee to tip critical swing states in his direction. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is focusing on appeals to his core base of white voters. Some of the nation’s leading civil rights leaders and activists say this moment has been years in the making.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — When Joe Biden was last in Iowa, his campaign was on the verge of collapse and he was soundly trounced in the caucuses. He returns Friday as the Democratic nominee, believing he’s just days away from becoming president-elect. Iowa is among the clutch of GOP-leaning states that Biden is trying to bring back into the Democratic column. He’ll also swing through Wisconsin on Friday while his running mate, Kamala Harris, courts voters in Texas. Trump, meanwhile, is playing defense in Michigan and Wisconsin. The president and Biden will both be in Minnesota, a longtime Democratic state that Trump is trying to flip.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Trump administration’s decision to remove gray wolves across most of the U.S. from the endangered species list will force Wisconsin wildlife officials to again offer a wolf hunting season. The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Thursday that wolves would come off the list, a move designed to appeal to rural voters who have long complained the predators are destroying livestock. Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in 2012 requiring the Department of Natural Resources to hold a wolf hunt. The agency held three seasons before a federal judge placed Great Lakes wolves back on the endangered species list in 2014. But the Wisconsin law remains valid, which means the DNR would have to reinstate the season if protections are lifted.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The head of the Wisconsin Republican Party says hackers stole $2.3 million from the party’s account that was being used to help reelect President Donald Trump in the key battleground state. Party Chairman Andrew Hitt told The Associated Press on Thursday that the party noticed the suspicious activity on Oct. 22 and contacted the FBI on Friday. Hitt says the FBI is investigating. An FBI spokesman declined to confirm or deny an investigation, citing policy. The news comes as Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden campaign this week in Wisconsin, a state Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.