Correspondent, Chicago
James's Feed
Jul 27, 2012

Teachers meet as fiscal, policy pressures mount

DETROIT (Reuters) – As representatives of America’s second-largest teachers union gather in Detroit for the start of a four-day convention, the stark prospects facing their 1.5 million members are right here in front of them.

In June, an official appointed by the state of Michigan imposed sweeping wage and benefit cuts on Detroit educators represented by the American Federation of Teachers as the debt-heavy, tax-deficient city struggles to maintain basic services.

Jul 20, 2012

Police say they believe missing Iowa cousins were abducted

By James B. Kelleher

(Reuters) – Authorities in Iowa searching for two young cousins who disappeared last week said on Friday they were now treating the case as an abduction after an FBI dive team determined the girls’ remains were not in a lake near where they were last seen.

Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook, 10, disappeared around noon last Friday shortly after they left their grandmother’s house near Evansdale in northeast Iowa.

Jul 20, 2012

Illinois panel votes to expel indicted lawmaker from legislature

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A lawmaker from Chicago who has been indicted for bribery but has refused to resign his seat should be expelled from the Illinois Legislature, a special investigative panel recommended on Thursday.

State House Representative Derrick Smith was arrested in March and charged with accepting a $7,000 bribe in exchange for endorsing a daycare center’s state grant application.

Jul 17, 2012

U.S.-Canada bridge reopens after bomb threat

By James B. Kelleher

(Reuters) – The Ambassador Bridge, a busy international border crossing linking Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit, was closed for five hours on Monday following a bomb threat.

But investigators using bomb-sniffing dogs found nothing suspicious and the span reopened to traffic early Tuesday morning, authorities on both sides of the border said.

Jul 3, 2012

Judge allows two counties to defend Illinois anti-gay marriage law

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A judge ruled on Tuesday that two Illinois counties could defend a state law banning same-sex marriage in a court battle that supporters of gay marriage hope will lead to an Illinois court overturning the law and legalizing gay nuptials.

In 1996 Illinois, like many other states, passed a law that said marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Jul 2, 2012

Three plead not guilty to NATO Summit terrorism charges

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Three men accused of plotting to fire-bomb high-profile targets during the NATO summit in Chicago this spring pleaded not guilty on Monday to terrorism charges.

Brent Betterly, 24, Jared Chase, 27, and Brian Church, 20, are accused in an 11-count indictment of a variety of terrorism-related offenses, including conspiracy to commit terrorism, conspiracy to commit arson and possession of explosives.

Jun 23, 2012

U.S. public workers say organized labor at a turning point

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – As America’s biggest state and local government employees’ union gathered here this week, it faced obstacles like never before. After a big defeat in Wisconsin, and under pressure to accept cuts in jobs, pay, pensions and benefits, it needed to give convincing answers.

Lee Saunders, who became the union’s first African American president on Friday, said the fight was “just getting started.” He said the mission for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was to save nothing less than organized labor itself.

Jun 18, 2012

New U.S. union chief to face war over benefits

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – When the largest U.S. union for public sector employees elect its first new president in a generation next week it will be a watershed moment. The new chief will be running an organization whose members are fighting almost unprecedented cuts in jobs, benefits, bargaining rights – and increasingly angry taxpayers who question the size of their pension and healthcare benefits.

With many U.S. states, cities and counties struggling to balance their budgets and facing big pension and health care funding deficits, employee costs are the obvious target. Underlining its problems, the labor movement was defeated in a recall election in the state of Wisconsin earlier this month when voters sided with Republican Governor Scott Walker, who had taken bold moves to limit union collective bargaining powers.

Jun 12, 2012

New charges against “NATO 3″ won’t be unveiled until July

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A grand jury in Chicago has returned a new indictment against three men arrested on terrorism charges ahead of last month’s NATO summit in the city, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

But the public, the suspects and their defense attorneys won’t get to see the indictment until it is unsealed next month, prosecutors said, so it’s unclear whether any new charges have been added or any previous charges dropped.

Jun 6, 2012

Wisconsin a big setback to unions in benefits battles

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker’s recall election victory and votes to curb pensions in two California cities are set to embolden political leaders across the United States to take on labor unions.

Walker on Tuesday survived a recall election forced by labor leaders and liberal critics opposed to his bold moves to limit the powers of public sector unions in a Midwestern state that could be a battleground in the November 6 presidential election.