ISU Engineers Work to Design Concrete Turbine Towers

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Engineers at Iowa State University are working on a way to make wind turbine towers taller by building them from concrete instead of the steel currently used.  

Increasing tower height to about 328 feet from the current 260 feet would mean steadier less turbulent wind conditions and longer turbine blades. ISU Professor Sri Sritharan says those changes could increase energy production by 15 percent. He says the work he’s done with engineering graduate student Grant Schmitz and other engineers at Iowa State shows towers made of precast concrete panels and columns withstand necessary stresses. He says the concrete towers would last longer than steel towers and would be easier to transport. Continue Reading

Police search rural Oregon farm for missing mom Susan Cox Powell

Authorities are searching for missing mom Susan Cox Powell at a rural farm near Salem, Oregon, FOX 13 News reports. Police, with numerous cadaver dogs in tow, toured the rural property Tuesday, looking to see if they could pick up the scent of human remains. According to FOX 13 News, Susan Cox Powell’s father, Chuck Cox, had said that when he was tipped off about the heavily wooded area earlier this year, he notified West Valley Police. Cox told FOX 13 News the farm “could be a place where they could have dumped Susan’s body.” While police were careful not to disclose many details, West Valley Police Chief Mike Powell told FOX 13 News investigators were looking for any clues that might lead them to find Cox Powell’s body. Continue Reading

NY judge to bin Laden kin: Lawyer might be trouble

A judge warned Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Wednesday that a lawyer he hired to represent him on charges he conspired to kill Americans could end up in prison himself. U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan told Sulaiman Abu Ghaith that he could cause himself problems by choosing attorney Stanley Cohen to defend him against charges that he conspired against Americans in his role as al-Qaida’s chief spokesman. Cohen was indicted last year in Syracuse, N.Y., on federal charges that he failed to file individual and corporate tax returns between 2005 and 2010 and committed other tax-related violations. A federal prosecutor in Manhattan told Kaplan that additional charges may be filed against Cohen. Kaplan asked Abu Ghaith a series of questions designed to make sure the 47-year-old defendant understood the hazards of rejecting three public defenders to have Cohen and another attorney represent him. Continue Reading

Texas executes man for fatal shooting of officer

A 37-year-old Houston man convicted of killing a police officer 14 years ago has been put to death. Jeffrey Demond Williams’ execution Wednesday evening came just over an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal from his attorneys. Lawyers contended Williams had been failed by previous attorneys at his trial and in early stages of his appeals. He’s the sixth Texas inmate executed this year. Williams was convicted of fatally shooting 39-year-old Houston officer Troy Blando while Blando was handcuffing him. Continue Reading

Ash plumes rise from remote Alaska volcano

Steam and ash clouds are occasionally rising to 20,000 feet from an active Alaska volcano. The Alaska Volcano Observatory says in a release that an ash plume was reported rising from Pavlof Volcano on Tuesday evening at about 15,000 feet. It extended to the northeast about 100 miles before it dissipated. The observatory says a pilot reported an ash plume about 20,000 feet on Wednesday, extending east-northeast from the volcano, located about 625 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Aleutian Islands. The nearest community is Cold Bay, and residents reported seeing a glow from the summit Tuesday night. Continue Reading

No charges for teen after explosion at Fla. school

A Florida teenager who was accused of igniting a chemical explosion on school grounds — and who became the subject of a social media campaign on her behalf — will not face criminal charges. Kiera Wilmot was arrested April 22 and faced two possible felony charges after school administrators reported she combined toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil in a bottle, and the resulting gas blew the cap off the plastic bottle. The Polk County state attorney said Wednesday that the case has been dismissed, but the 16-year-old must complete a diversion program. Details about the program aren’t public record because Kiera is a juvenile. The teen’s arrest launched an international outcry on social media by people who thought the arrest was unfair. Continue Reading


Iowa DNA Sampling

A new bill is being discussed this afternoon in Des Moines. Governor Terry Branstad is set to sign a bill that would require people convicted of certain aggravated misdemeanors to submit DNA samples. These misdemeanors include crimes like assault and theft. The DNA samples will then be sent to the federal DNA database. As of now the only people required to submit samples are convicted felons and sexual offenders. Continue Reading

IL Concealed Carry Debate Turns to Big Cities

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois Senate proposal to allow the carrying of concealed weapons would let large cities add to the list of places considered off limits to guns.  

Sen. Kwame Raoul told The Associated Press Tuesday he doesn’t expect many cities to declare separate gun-free locales because there already are many statewide restrictions in the bill. Lobbyist Todd Vandermyde says the National Rifle Association will oppose “any local control” on concealed carry. The local option would be limited to “home-rule units” — generally cities over 25,000 in population. Continue Reading

Quinn Signs “Employment First” Bill for Disabled Illinoisans

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn says new legislation will help disabled Illinois residents find better jobs.  

The Employment First Act is headed to Quinn’s desk for signature after clearing the state Senate Tuesday in a 54-0 vote. It requires state agencies helping the disabled find work to consider as a first option those positions that offer competitive pay. It also prioritizes jobs in integrated settings that include non-disabled workers. Quinn proposed the measure in his State of the State address in February. Continue Reading