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Morning headlines: Thursday, April 26, 2012

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Woman wins $6 million judgment against "Girls Gone Wild"

A St. Louis judge in has awarded nearly $5.77 million to a woman who sued the makers of the "Girls Gone Wild" videos for using an image of her bare breasts without her consent.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the verdict from Judge John Garvey came down in March, after no one showed up for the defense.

Tamara Favazza was 20 years old in 2004 when she went to a club on Laclede’s Landing where a crew from Girls Gone Wild was shooting. A promoter for the videos lifted Favazza’s tank top while Favazza was dancing, and the image was included in a Girls Gone Wild video.

The production company won a jury trial in 2010, arguing that signs at the bar explained how the footage could be used. But a judge overturned that verdict, saying the video showed it was clear Favazza was an unwilling participant.

McCaskill calls opposition to VAWA "puzzling"

Congress is spending part of the week debating the reauthorization of the Violence Against Woman Act - and one Missouri senator wants to know why it's become so controversial.

The Act has been reauthorized twice since 1994. It helps fund shelter and legal services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. But this renewal is running into the buzz saw of election year politics.

"It's very hard to figure out," said Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill. "I'm hoping they come to their senses and we can get this bill reauthorized as quickly as possible, because there really are lives at stake."

A new version of the bill sponsored by Senate Democrats would expand VAWA's protections to gays and lesbians, make temporary visas more available to illegal immigrants who have been beaten, and provide more assistance to native American women.

Dates set for Blues/Kings series

We now know the dates, although not the times, for the first four games of the NHL Western Conference semifinals matchup between the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings.

Game 1 is Saturday, April 28 and game 2 is Monday, April 30, both at the Scottrade Center. The teams then have two days off before game 3 on May 3 in Los Angeles and another two days off before game 4, also at the Staples Center, on May 6.

Games 5-7 will be scheduled if needed. Two of three would be played in St. Louis.

Ill. judge strikes down internet sales tax law

A judge in Cook County has ruled against an Illinois state law that requires internet companies to collect sales taxes on all transactions with Illinois customers.

The law approved in 2011 was an attempt to level the playing ground between bricks-and-mortar and online stores. People are supposed to pay sales tax on Internet purchases, either at the time of purchase or later on their income tax forms - but rarely do. Stores that had a physical presence e in Illinois were required to collect sales tax on online purchases - the law expanded the definition to include online sites that had affiliates in Illinois.

Yesterday's ruling by Judge Robert Lopez Cepero called that definition of presence too broad. He also ruled that the law cannot be enforced because of a federal moratorium on Internet taxes that's in place until 2014.

The state’s Department of Revenue says it is reviewing appeal options. And the Illinois Retail Merchants Association released a statement calling on Congress to act nationally on the issue.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.