- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014
Survey: slow growth in rural parts of 10 states

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A new survey suggests slower economic growth ahead in rural areas of 10 states in the Plains and the West.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said Thursday falling grain prices and weak global growth are weighing down the economy in rural areas.

The overall economic index for the region fell to 43.4 in October from September’s already negative 48.2. The index has been steadily falling since June 2013 when it hit 60.5.

The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score below 50 suggests decline in the months ahead.

Bankers from rural areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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Minnesota absentee voting sharply outpacing 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota election officials have accepted significantly more absentee ballots this year than at this point in 2010’s midterm election.

The Secretary of State’s office announced on Thursday a more-than 60 percent jump in absentee ballots accepted so far over 2010. More than 38,000 have been approved this year compared with 23,237 in 2010.

So far, voters have requested more than 110,000 absentee ballots total. That includes more than 23,000 ballots requested online this year, the first election in which regular voters can ask for absentee ballots on the Internet.

Candidates and parties have emphasized early voting this year due to the state’s new, no-excuse-needed absentee voting law.

The last day to cast an absentee ballot is Nov. 3.

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McFadden, Franken seize on high-pressure issues

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - With their election just weeks out, Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden have seized on the issues of women’s health and Ebola to motivate voters.

Franken continued to press women’s health and access to contraception at a meeting with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and other women’s health advocates in St. Paul. Meanwhile, McFadden called a news conference Thursday to sound the alarm about the country’s ability to handle an Ebola outbreak and outline a handful of proposals to halt the spread of the virus.

U.S. health officials have spent the week trying to quell panic about a possible outbreak of Ebola, a virus characterized by vomiting and diarrhea that has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa.

Two American nurses have been diagnosed with Ebola after treating a Liberian man who died of the disease in Dallas. One was cleared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a flight despite a high temperature.

McFadden said that misstep highlights his view that “we are not remotely prepared to deal with an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.”

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Uncle accused of killing nephew enters plea

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (AP) - A former Fergus Falls man accused of killing his nephew over a drug debt has decided to enter a guilty plea, bring his trial to an abrupt halt.

Michael Alan Burris pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree unintentional murder. The 66-year-old Burris testified he and his nephew, Scott Burris, had an argument the day he was killed in May of 2012. Burris says that Scott picked up his uncle’s gun and pointed it at him. Burris says when Scott put the gun down, he picked it up and fatally shot his nephew.

Burris’ trial was scheduled to begin a third day Thursday before he agreed to a plea deal. KBRF radio (https://bit.ly/1ffR6Eshttps://bit.ly/1ffR6Es ) reports prosecutors have agreed to recommend 12½ years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19.

Burris’ son, Michael Kyle Burris, earlier pleaded guilty to helping dispose of the victim’s body.

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