Pakistani Taliban’s #2 Killed in Drone Attack

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) _ Pakistani intelligence officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed the No. 2 commander of the Pakistani Taliban.   The militant group denies he is dead.  

Three Pakistani officials say Waliur Rehman  was among four people killed in a drone strike Wednesday morning in the North Waziristan tribal region near the border with Afghanistan. Two of the officials say their informants in the field have seen the body. The third official says there are intercepted communications between militants saying Rehman was killed. Continue Reading

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Key IL House Panel Okays Gambling Expansion

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ A plan to expand gambling in Illinois has advanced out
of a key House committee.  
The proposal calls for five new casinos including one in Chicago and scores of
slot machines. But bill sponsor Rep. Robert Rita, a Blue Island Democrat, says
details are still being worked out.  
 The House Executive committee on Wednesday OK’d stripping the bill of its
language so Rita can change it. Continue Reading

Niabi Prepares to Say Farewell to Elephants

 COAL VALLEY, Ill. (AP) _ Western Illinois’ Niabi Zoo may be saying goodbye to
its aging elephants.  
An expert report says it’d cost millions to upgrade the Coal Valley facility’s
enclosure for the pair of pachyderms, who are 37 and 40. Officials say they’re
the only elephants at an Illinois zoo.  
 The (Moline) Dispatch says the report, commissioned by
Rock Island County officials, recommends sending the pair to a warmer climate
and adding rhinos. Continue Reading

Cargo train derails outside Baltimore

A CSX freight train crashed into a trash truck and derailed Tuesday in a Baltimore suburb and the explosion that followed rattled homes at least a half-mile away, sending a plume of smoke into the air that could be seen for miles, officials and witnesses said. In the third serious derailment this month, the dozen or so cars, at least one carrying hazardous materials, went off the tracks at about 2 p.m. in Rosedale, a Baltimore eastern suburb. A hazardous materials team responded, but Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said at a news conference that no toxic inhalants were being released. Officials did not order an evacuation. By nightfall, the hazmat team had left, meaning there was no more danger posed from the chemicals in the rail car, said Baltimore County police Capt. Bruce Schultz

The truck driver, 50-year-old John J. Alban Jr., was in serious condition Tuesday night, a hospital spokeswoman said. Continue Reading

Marine's mother knows of nothing that could have triggered shooting spree

The mother of a Marine killed after a shooting spree that left one dead in Texas said Tuesday that she doesn’t know what prompted the attacks, including the stabbing of his wife in North Carolina. Lance Cpl. Esteban J. Smith, a 23-year-old Marine, died Sunday in a gunfight with Texas authorities after a shooting rampage that left one person dead and several hospitalized. Authorities believe Smith fatally stabbed his wife, Rubi Estefania Smith of Bakersfield, Calif., in a Jacksonville, N.C., motel room near Camp Lejeune before the shooting rampage. Esteban Smith’s mother, Rosalva Jimenez, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday that she last spoke to her son on Thursday. She said her daughter-in-law had recently traveled from their California hometown to North Carolina to surprise him. Continue Reading

Arizona woman jailed in Mexico for smuggling pot

An Arizona woman is jailed in Mexico on accusations that she tried to smuggle nearly 12 pounds of marijuana into the United States. A court hearing was held Tuesday in Nogales, Sonora, for 42-year-old Yanira Maldonado, a mother of seven from the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear. Maldonado and her husband said they were returning from the funeral of her aunt last Wednesday when the passenger bus they were on was stopped at a military checkpoint about 90 miles from the U.S-Mexico border. Maldonado was arrested after soldiers inspected the bus and reported finding the marijuana underneath her seat, according to a spokeswoman for the army in the northern state of Sonora. Maldonado was taken to a state prison in Nogales after being turned over to federal prosecutors, said the army spokeswoman Denisse Coronado. Continue Reading

Utah woman gives birth to quintuplets

A Utah woman gave birth to a healthy set of quintuplets over the weekend with help from a team of eight doctors, one anesthesiologist and dozens of nurses ensuring the mother and the tiny babies survived. Guillermina and Fernando Garcia’s five babies — three girls and two boys — weigh between 2 and 3 pounds each and are expected to stay at the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City for another six weeks. Doctors predict they will grow up completely healthy. Guillermina Garcia, 34, carried the babies until 31 1/2 weeks — seven weeks shorter than most single-birth pregnancies but about three weeks longer than most quintuplet mothers. The extra time in the womb helped the babies’ lungs develop more than other quintuplets, said Dr. Elizabeth O’Brien, of the newborn intensive care unit. Continue Reading

Prosecutors: Ex-KPMG partner to plead guilty

Prosecutors say a former KPMG partner has agreed to plead guilty to securities fraud in Los Angeles for providing confidential information to a friend who paid him with cash bribes, a Rolex watch and other luxury items. Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that 50-year-old Scott London agreed to plead guilty to one felony count that carries a maximum 20-year prison term. He is scheduled to appear in court Friday. Authorities say London gave privileged information to friend Bryan Shaw over several years. Shaw then used the information to trade in advance of announcements for such KPMG clients as Herbalife Ltd and Skechers USA Inc. He is estimated to have reaped more than $1 million in profits. Shaw has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced in September. Continue Reading

Atlanta hospitals find creating insurance company is Rx for what ails

With health care costs rising and ObamaCare placing increased emphasis on patient outcomes, two Atlanta area hospital systems are taking a novel approach. Wellstar Health System and Piedmont Healthcare are forming their own insurance company — competing with United Healthcare, Aetna and other insurers that traditionally serve as middlemen between patient and provider. In addition to increasing competition, proponents say going into the insurance business gives hospitals an incentive to reduce costs. Because insurers receive claims for doctor visits and medical care outside the hospital, they have a comprehensive view of each patient’s medical history. If hospitals had access to that information, they could treat patients more efficiently and effectively, according to Wellstar CEO Reynold Jennings. Continue Reading