Medical marijuana bill passes committee

SPRINGFIELD – Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer and other chronic diseases would be able to treat their symptoms with marijuana under legislation the Senate public health committee approved on Tuesday.

Under SB 650, doctors would recommend medical marijuana patients to the Illinois Department of Human Services, which would issue special cards protecting them from arrest, prosecution, criminal or civil penalty and disciplinary action by a professional licensing board.

Rumored tax plan has business groups gritting their teeth

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to propose a controversial new tax on business transactions today to help pay for his new spending plan.

Business groups have been mobilizing against the plan for several weeks, saying a gross receipts tax will hurt not only companies that operate here, but also the consumers who buy their products and services.

Projections forecast center losses

MONTICELLO – The city released projections that show the proposed aquatic center would lose $21,000 a year, but the amount is close to the city's losses on its existing pool.

Revenue and expense projections for the proposed Burke Park Aquatic Center estimate a net operating loss of $21,336.

RiverGlass to take part in Defense tech project

CHAMPAIGN – RiverGlass Inc. has agreed to take part in a Defense Department project to help improve the nation's response capability to terrorism attacks, natural disasters and pandemic outbreaks, the company announced in a news release.

The company, which has offices in West Chicago and in the University of Illinois Research Park in Champaign, is teaming with Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego to support a Defense Department contract for that project.

Culver receives another contract extension

CHAMPAIGN – Schools Superintendent Arthur Culver now has a contract that extends to June 30, 2012.

The Champaign school board voted Monday night to extend Culver's contract one year. School districts can have up to a five-year contract for superintendents.

Director to use Rantoul power costs as a selling point

RANTOUL – Rantoul's economic development director says the village's low electricity rates will give the community an advantage in keeping businesses, encouraging others to expand and attracting new businesses.

Economic Development Director Robert Bruce told the Economic Development Advisory Commission on Monday he intends to use Rantoul's power rates as a selling point.

Greenhouse plans move forward

MAHOMET – The new greenhouse for Mahomet-Seymour High School is a go – in concept at least.

School board members on Monday unanimously approved a Mahomet-Seymour Schools Foundation plan to raise money to build the greenhouse, but reserved the right to revisit that decision if bids come in substantially out of line with the $211,000 estimate.

Schools dealing with early switch

TUSCOLA – Joe Burgess got up early Monday morning to scan the skies to see how light it will be when his students come to school next Monday.

Monday will be the first school day after the weekend clocks spring forward an hour – about a month ahead of the customary schedule, thanks to federal legislation.

Players each face two charges of felony theft

URBANA – Charges of felony theft were filed against two University of Illinois football players arrested after a hit-and-run accident Friday night near campus.

Arraigned Monday on two charges each of felony theft were Derrick McPhearson, 20, and Joseph "Jody" Ellis, 20, both of whom listed addresses in the 100 block of Sterling Court, Savoy. The charges accuse them of stealing two computers valued at more than $300 each on Friday.

Author says iPod shuffled more than just music

Steven Levy, the chief technology correspondent for Newsweek magazine and a longtime Apple watcher, received an iPod by courier from the company the day the digital music player was announced in 2001.

But it took the author of the new book "The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Culture, Commerce and Coolness" a while to discover what he thinks is the device's defining feature. He'd never had 1,000 songs in his pocket before. How do you decide what to listen to, manage your music, find a song?