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Morning headlines: Monday, March 5, 2012

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (L) greets U.S. President Barack Obama during a memorial service for the dead and missing in Joplin,Missouri on May 29, 2011.
UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (L) greets U.S. President Barack Obama during a memorial service for the dead and missing in Joplin,Missouri on May 29, 2011.

Obama to speak at Joplin commencement

President Barack Obama will speak at the high school graduation ceremony in Joplin. A White House official says Obama will deliver remarks at the commencement, scheduled for May 21.

The president is going back to Joplin after visiting in the days immediately following last year's tornado. More than 160 people were killed by the tornado, the worst to hit the United States in decades. Among the dead were seven students and one staff member at the high school.

With much of the high school destroyed, this year's graduating seniors have been attending classes at a nearby shopping mall.

The official requested anonymity because the event has not been formally announced.

Ill. criminal code still allows child sex offenders to be in parks and near schools

The increasing number of crimes that require people to register as child sex offenders has led to confusion among law enforcement, sex offenders and the public in Illinois.

While legislators were adding crimes to the sex offender registration law, they neglected to update the part of the state criminal code that says child sex offenders cannot be in parks or near schools.

Tracie Newton is with the Sex Offender Registration Unit of the Illinois State Police. She says if she gets a tip that a sex offender is talking to children in a park, she would be powerless to do anything about it.

"Currently, I have to tell this general public person, 'I'm sorry ma'am, or sir, that this person is not violating the law by being in the park'," said Newton.  "And even though it may show in the Internet that the victim was 11 or whatever, he's still, that person, he or she, is not a child sex offender under that definition."

An Illinois Senate committee has approved a measure intended to clarify state law.

Man suspected in East St. Louis police shooting arrested

An East St. Louis police officer is recovering after being shot in the face while trying to arrest a fugitive.

Authorities say Officer Michael Baxton Jr. was shot in the jaw Sunday but is expected to survive. The 26-year-old officer has been with the department for about four years and is the son of former East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Baxton Sr.

East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore says his department received a call that a suspect wanted by police was in the area. Floore says that suspect opened fire when Baxton tried to make a traffic stop.

Police say the fugitive who shot Baxton was taken into custody about eight hours later at an apartment in East St. Louis.

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