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Iowa News

September 20, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s unemployment rate for August dropped to 6%, continuing a decline from an April high hit amid an economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus shutdown. Iowa Workforce Development reported Friday that the August rate was down from 6.8% in July and 11% in April. There were 96,500 people listed as unemployed in August, a decline from 110,300 in July. Iowa’s unemployment ranked 12th nationally. The U.S. unemployment rate for August was 8.4%

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The federal government says it will give farmers an additional $14 billion to compensate them for the difficulties they’ve experienced selling their crops, milk and meat because of the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released details of its plan Friday, saying it will provide “financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.” President Donald Trump first mentioned the aid in a speech Thursday night in Wisconsin, a state that is considered vital for his chances to win a second term. The additional payments also illustrate the importance of farmers as a voting block to Trump’s reelection. 

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A high school teacher in Iowa has been placed on leave for assigning students to “pretend you are a black slave.” The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that the assignment asked students to write four sentences about what they would do if they were a slave who was freed. The assignment was for an Iowa City school district online learning program for students assigned to different schools. The district says the teacher was placed on administrative leave and the assignment was removed. The district called the assignment “inappropriate.” The teacher’s name hasn’t been released.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Investigators in eastern Iowa say no charges will be filed in the June drowning death of a 21-year-old woman whose friends and family have pushed for more information about the case. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said University of Iowa graduate Makeda Serenity Scott drowned while boating with a co-worker on Lake MacBride. In a statement, the office said that Scott was not wearing a life jacket when she lost her balance and fell off the kayak into the water. The co-worker tried to throw Scott a life jacket and made attempts to save her before she disappeared underwater.

Wisconsin News

September 20, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s top leader has resigned after failing to find a way to address a backlog of tens of thousands of unemployment benefit claims. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ office said that Caleb Frostman stepped down at Evers’ request. The governor has been taking intense criticism for months over the department’s inability to process the backlog of claims that began building after the coronavirus pandemic hurt the economy. According to department data, 713,508 weekly claims from nearly 100,000 people were still in process as of Saturday.


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge has ruled that the state Department of Public Instruction violated state law when it withheld voucher school students’ standardized test scores for a day last fall. School Choice Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sued in November in Jefferson County alleging that DPI released public school students’ results to the media on Sept. 11 before releasing both public school and voucher school student scores publicly on Sept. 12. Judge Bennett Brantmeier ruled Friday state law requires all the data must be released simultaneously. DPI officials didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources is asking thousands of deer hunters to record what they see in the woods this fall as part of the department’s largest-ever hunter survey to better understand why they’re passing up shots. The DNR plans to contact more than 130,000 hunters by email and ask them to keep an online diary for three days to record their experiences, including how many hours they spent in the woods, how many deer they saw, how many they had a shot at and how many they killed. The project began with the start of bow season Sept. 12.


BARABOO, Wis. (AP) — A 21-year-old woman has been charged in Sauk County with felony child neglect in the overdose death of her 1-year-old daughter in Spring Green. According to a criminal complaint, the child died in February of 2019 after ingesting a large amount of an anti-depressant medication prescribed to her mother, Mariah Gay. The woman told investigators the toddler was able to crawl out of her crib and must have done so while she was sleeping. Gay said her daughter apparently pulled her bag containing pills from the top of a dresser onto the floor. The complaint says a detective found three white pills on a pile of children’s toys and clothing.

Illinois News

September 20, 2020

CHICAGO (AP) — Parents and players have protested outside a state building in Chicago, pleading with Gov. J.B. Pritzker to lift his fall ban on some popular high school sports. Players in jerseys and varsity jackets chanted, “Let us play!” Saturday outside the Thompson Center. In response to the coronavirus, Pritzker won’t allow games in football, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, wrestling, and competitive cheer and dance. Jaylen Brown, a football player at Wheaton Warrenville South High School, says other states in the Midwest are finding ways to play games. Pritzker appears unlikely to budge. A rally was also held in Springfield.

CHICAGO (AP) — A strike by hundreds of nurses has ended at University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. Doris Carroll, president of the Illinois Nurses Association, says progress was made on wages, staffing and personal protection equipment. No formal deal has been reached but talks will resume Monday. The strike began Sept. 12. Hospital officials said their offer would keep the roughly 800 nurses “in the top 10% for pay compared to their peers in Chicago, Illinois and throughout the U.S.”

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois university has decided to increase faculty numbers in their Africana Studies department, a move that officials say will help students prepare for cross-cultural society after graduation. The Southern Illinoisan reports that Southern Illinois University officials plan to double the program’s core faculty members from three to six. Chancellor Austin Lane says the viability of the program is as important now as it’s ever been. Before 2010, Africana Studies was only offered as a minor. There were plans to return the program to its minor-only status, but that didn’t happen.

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago’s police department is surveying residents on its policies, including the agency’s response to hate crimes and interactions with children and people with disabilities. The public surveys will be open for online responses until Oct. 15. Topics also include prohibition of sexual misconduct, language access and interactions with religious communities. The surveys are part of court-ordered reforms after the U.S. Justice Department found a history of racial bias and excessive use of force by Chicago police.

CHICAGO (AP) — More than 20 endangered Blanding’s turtle hatchlings have a new temporary home at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The 24 hatchlings are part of a partnership between the aquarium and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. The forest preserve district’s head-start program aims to safely raise and release young turtles to boost native populations. Researchers in 1996 found that the Blanding’s turtle population in the region was made up of mostly adults and few juveniles.

NORTHBROOK, Ill. (AP) — Handbags valued at more than $43,000 were stolen from a Neiman Marcus store in a suburban Chicago shopping center. Police say that at least 10 people wearing hooded sweatshirts and masks walked into the Northbrook store around closing time Wednesday evening, knocked over glass display cases, grabbed 13 handbags and ran out. The Chicago Tribune reports that Celine handbags were taken. Another 11 handbags valued at more than $31,000 were damaged. A store loss prevention officer was punched. The thieves drove away in two dark-colored SUVs. Northbrook is north of Chicago.