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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Laser Light Pen Kitty Cat Bowling Fun WEB VIDEO

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A laser pen helps this kitty cat bowl a strike.
The cat can't take his eye off the laser and tries to capture it with his paws.
The laser is then pointed at a tower of cups and the kitty slid right into them and bowled down the tower.

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Ameren Missouri Planning to Install Scrubbers on 2 Coal-Fired Plants by late 2015

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Cleaner air ahead for Ameren Missouri?

BY JEFFREY TOMICH20  
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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An interesting bit of news from Ameren Corp.'s earnings conference call this morning: In discussing its five-year capital budget, the company announced that it's planning to install scrubbers at two of its coal-fired generating units in Missouri by late-2015.
Scrubbers refer to pollution-control equipment that strips sulfur dioxide from coal plant emissions. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is one of the major air pollutants released when coal is burned, and is linked to an array of respiratory diseases. Just last week, the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project noted that SO2 emissions in the U.S. are down significantly over the past decade. But they're up 6 percent in Missouri -- one of just four states where that's the case. And Missouri is just one of two major coal-burning states where SO2 pollution has gotten worse.
New regulations being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency will require deep cuts in SO2 emissions in 28 states, including Missouri and Illinois -- the reason why Ameren is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new pollution controls at its coal plants.
Last year, Ameren Missouri completed a $600 million scrubber at its Sioux power plant in St. Charles County.
This morning, the utility said the scrubbers are planned for two units at its Rush Island or Labadie plants, but didn't specify beyond that.
A good guess would be the 2,400-megawatt Labadie plant on the Missouri River -- the state's largest coal-fueled power plant.
As the Post-Dispatch noted in a story last year, Ameren is involved in a dispute with Union Pacific over rail service to Labadie. In a Nov. 22 complaint to the Surface Transportation Board, the utility said it was planning to install scrubbers at the plant in the "near future."

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Senator McCaskill Announces Secret Complaint System for VA Health Care Centers

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McCaskill launches complaint system for veterans' health care

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
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ST. LOUIS — A new program seeks to improve the care and customer service at Veterans Affairs health care facilities in Missouri.
Sen. Claire McCaskill announced details Tuesday of the Veteran Healthcare Experience Program. The Democrat says the program addresses frustrations of veterans and seeks to better assess the quality of care at centers in Missouri.
The program allows veterans to be so-called "secret shoppers" at VA health care centers, allowing them to provide confidential feedback through a survey.
In June and again earlier this year, sterilization mishaps raised concerns at the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis. McCaskill toured the St. Louis center in September and announced that her office would seek a program to give veterans a chance to help identify areas in need of improvement.

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Missouri House Committee Considers Nuclear Plant Permit Bill

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Missouri House panel to consider nuclear plant bill

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
 BY The Associated Press
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JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri House committee is preparing to consider legislation letting utilities charge electric customers for some of the costs of developing a second nuclear power plant in the state.
The measure would allow power companies to recoup the cost of applying for an early site permit from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
A group of utilities has announced it is considering seeking such a permit for a nuclear power plant in Missouri. The permit would not authorize construction, and the group has said it has not decided whether to build a plant.
The House Utilities Committee was scheduled to consider the legislation Tuesday.
A 1976 voter-approved law bars utilities from charging customers for the costs of a new power plant before it starts producing electricity.


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High Risk Credit Card Holders Take Hit Under Reform CARD Act

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Risky customers take hit with credit card reform

By CANDICE CHOI • Associated Press
February 22, 2011
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It pays to be rich if you need a credit card.
A year after sweeping credit card regulations upended the industry, banks are showering perks and rewards on big spenders with sterling credit scores. And they're socking customers with spottier histories with higher interest rates, lower credit limits and new annual fees. In some cases the riskiest customers are being dropped altogether.
"When you look at the regulations, it's a net positive for consumers," says Peter Garuccio, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association. "But there have been some trade-offs."
The widening differences between how customers are treated is largely the result of new constraints on card issuers. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, or the CARD Act, was signed into law with great fanfare at a time when borrowers across the country were struggling to make payments. It swept away several practices that for years had grated on cardholders.
The regulations are already transforming the cards on the market. To make up for the drop in revenue, banks are imposing new annual fees and hiking interest rates — but mostly for those with the lowest credit scores. The best customers are more prized than ever.
The CARD Act means banks can no longer freely raise rates or impose fees to manage their default risk, says Dennis Moroney, a credit card analyst with TowerGroup. So when they issue cards, "they have to have their ducks in a row from a risk point of view."
There's no doubt the riskiest customers have become toxic in this environment. In 2009 alone, banks wrote off a record $83.27 billion in credit card debt.
It's no wonder that card issuers have slashed available credit overall since 2007 by nearly a third, or $1.5 trillion, according to TowerGroup.
With bigger issuers such as Capital One the choices for customers with tarnished credit are pretty much limited to secured credit cards. These cards are intended to help borrowers rebuild credit, but require deposits and offer small credit limits. There are often activation fees as well.

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Somali Pirates Kill 4 Americans on Hijacked Yacht

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Scott Underwood Adam and Jean Savage Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., left, owners of the yacht S/V Quest; and a 2005 photo of passengers Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, both of Seattle. The four Americans were taken hostage when the Quest was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Oman. All four were reported killed Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011.  (svquest.com; AP Photo/Joe Grande)
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February 22, 2011

4 Americans on hijacked yacht dead off Somalia

U.S. Navy warship shadowing seized vessel takes action after gunshots are heard; 4 hostages apparently killed by captors, some pirates dead

CBSNews

The four Americans aboard a yacht hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia are dead.
PICTURES: 4 Americans on hijacked yacht dead off Somalia
Hijacked by Somali pirates last Friday off Oman, the Quest was being piloted toward the Somali coast - and was being shadowed by a U.S. Navy warship.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that gunshots aboard the yacht were heard, and the warship took action, dispatching forces to board the Quest.
The U.S. forces found the four Americans has been shot by their captors and attempted to deliver lifesaving medical care - but all four ultimately died of their wounds, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
"During the boarding of the Quest, the reaction force was engaged by pirates on board the vessel. Two pirates died during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained along with two pirates already in US Forces custody," CENTCOM said. The forces also found the remains of two pirates already dead aboard the Quest.
The yacht passengers were Scott Adam and his wife, Jean, of Marina del Rey, Calif.; and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, both of Seattle. CENTCOM said negotiations had been under way to try to win the couples' release.
Adam, in his mid-60s, had been an associate producer in Hollywood when he turned in a spiritual direction and enrolled in the seminary a decade ago, said Robert K. Johnston, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena and a friend of Adam's.
"He decided he could take his pension, and he wanted to serve God and humankind," he said.
Johnston and Adam worked together to start a film and theology institute. Adam also taught a class on church and media at the school.
Since 2004, the Adams lived on their yacht in Marina Del Rey for about half the year and the rest of the year they sailed around the world, often distributing Bibles in remote parts of the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia, Johnston said.
Scott and Jane Adam documented their maritime missionary work on their website, S/V Quest Adventure Log.
Johnston said that despite an adventurous spirit, the Adams were meticulous planners who knew the dangers they faced. The couple had sailed with a large flotilla to stay safe from pirates near Thailand earlier in the trip.


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