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In brief: Obama votes, visits election volunteers

From Wire Reports

CHICAGO – President Barack Obama cast his ballot Monday in Chicago as Illinois began early voting for the Nov. 4 election.

The president, who headlined a rally Sunday night at Chicago State University, left his South Side home shortly after 11 a.m. and voted at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Center.

“Exercising our franchise, that’s where all of us are the same,” he said as he prepared to vote.

Later, volunteers making phone calls for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn got a pep talk from the president – and a less-than-healthy snack.

Making a surprise appearance at one of Quinn’s campaign field offices, Obama brought three cartons of doughnuts, the oil from the pastries seeping through the white boxes.

Obama seemed in his element as he worked the room and chatted with volunteers – some of whom had worked on his own 2008 campaign.

WTO rejects meat label requirements

WASHINGTON – Learning where the meat in your grocery store came from might get harder.

In a ruling Monday, the World Trade Organization rejected U.S. rules requiring labels on packaged steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat identifying where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. The WTO said the requirements put Canadian and Mexican livestock at an unfair disadvantage.

In 2012, the WTO had ruled against the “country of origin labeling” requirements, which Congress originally wrote in 2002. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rewrote the rules to win WTO approval. But Monday’s ruling held that the revised guidelines still violated trade rules.

The WTO’s decision was a victory for ranchers who do business with Mexico and for meatpackers, who said the labels imposed a paperwork burden.

The ruling was a defeat for some U.S. farmers, especially those who compete with Canadian ranchers. It also was denounced by consumer groups, who complain that industries use global trade rules to get around laws they don’t like.

The WTO didn’t rule out labeling completely Monday. And two meat industry trade groups, the American Meat Institute and the North American Meat Association, called for another effort to amend the statute.

Speaker indicted for felony corruption

OPELIKA, Ala. – Mike Hubbard, the speaker of Alabama’s House of Representatives, was arrested and indicted Monday on 23 felony corruption charges, according to the state attorney general’s office.

Hubbard was indicted by a grand jury in Lee County on charges that he used his office for personal gain, solicited things of value from lobbyists, and accepted payments to represent firms before other state agencies. He surrendered Monday at the Lee County Jail.

Most of the allegations involve two of Hubbard’s businesses, Auburn Network and Craftmaster Printers. According to the indictment, Hubbard solicited four investments of $150,000 in his printing business from various businessmen and individuals, and also used a state computer, email and time for personal benefit.

Hubbard, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, is up for re-election this year. The 52-year-old Republican led the GOP’s takeover of the Legislature in 2010, ending 136 years of Democratic control.

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