Caterpillar 1Q profit shrank; cuts 2013 outlook

A slowdown in the mining business is digging a hole in Caterpillar’s profits. First-quarter profit shrank 45 percent. Caterpillar lowered its expectations for full year sales and profits because its mining business is slowing. Sales of Caterpillar-branded mining machines will drop by half this year, the company said on Monday. Caterpillar said mining customers placed big orders for gear last year, just as mining profits fell, so now those customers are cutting back. Continue Reading

Family members identify 4 first responders killed in Texas plant explosion

Officials as well as family members have identified four more first responders who died in last week’s deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion. At least 14 people died in Wednesday’s explosion at the plant in the Texas town of West. West Mayor Tommy Muska has said that 10 of the 14 who died were first responders. On Sunday, professional organizations and family and friends identified four more of the first responders who died: brothers Doug and Robert Snokhous who were both firefighters with the West Volunteer Fire Department; Jerry Chapman, a firefighter with the Abbott Volunteer Fire Department; and Kevin Sanders worked with West EMS as well as another area volunteer fire department. The blast at the West Fertilizer Co. Continue Reading

Big Muddy Remains Closed to Barge Traffic after One Sinks

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi River remains closed as authorities work to determine whether a sunken barge was a navigation hazard.  

The Coast Guard closed the river Sunday after the old U.S. Highway 80 railroad bridge was struck by barges that broke free from a string under tow. About 30 barges broke free and at least one sank. The Coast Guard says three others had been nudged against the river bank and the remaining barges have been rounded up. Continue Reading

Aurora, IL Teen Arrested by FBI for Terrorist Ties

CHICAGO (AP) — The FBI has arrested an 18-year-old suburban Chicago man who U.S. authorities say was planning join an al-Qaida-affiliated group operating in Syria. The FBI says Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Aurora was arrested Friday night as he tried to board a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Turkey. Tounisi, a U.S. citizen, is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. According to the criminal complaint, Tounisi carried out research online about Jabhat al-Nusrah, or Nursa Front. Nusra Front is the most effective rebel faction fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. Continue Reading

Iowa Lawmakers Discuss Reducing Home-Schooling Regs.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — While most of the education debate in the state Capitol this year has been on how to improve teachers and enhance schools in Iowa, some lawmakers are focused on a very different educational goal — seeking to reduce regulations for homeschooling families.  

Language added to an education bill passed in the Republican-controlled state House in February would remove oversight for some households that homeschool their children. The issue could complicate negotiations as Republicans try to reach a compromise with the Democratic-controlled Senate on an education overhaul plan. Some Republicans have made clear that they will not support the overall education policy plan without these provisions. Democrats are noncommittal on the homeschooling proposals. Continue Reading

Mississippi River at Vicksburg closed after bridge hit, barges break free

The Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg after barges hit a railroad bridge there Sunday and about 30 barges broke free from the towboat “Captain Buck Lay.” Nine towboats — six bound upriver and three heading downriver — with a total of 134 barges were waiting to get through Sunday evening, Petty Officer Ryan Tippets said. Every barge was accounted for, but the river remained closed with no word on when it might reopen. Tippets says three barges carried grain and the rest held coal. “I haven’t heard any word on how much of that has gotten into the water. Continue Reading

Boston faithful come together for prayer, worship

Four glowing white pillar candles illuminated photographs of the people killed in bombing-connected violence in the Boston area last week as the city sought comfort in religious services on the first Sunday after the blasts plunged the community into days of chaos. The photographs showing the faces of 8-year-old Martin Richard, 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell and 26-year-old Sean Collier, a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were propped up on the altar at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, where Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley spoke about the city’s pain and looked ahead to its spiritual recovery. “Everyone has been profoundly affected by this wanton violence and destruction inflicted upon our community by two young men unknown to all of us,” said O’Malley, speaking to a crowd of mourners that included Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, who sat in the front row of the cavernous cathedral with other elected officials. “It’s very difficult to understand what was going on in their heads. What demons were operating, what ideologies or politics, or the perversions of their religion.” Continue Reading

Miss. River closed at Vicksburg after bridge hit

The Coast Guard says the Mississippi River is closed at Vicksburg because barges hit a railroad bridge there and about 30 barges broke free from their tow. Petty Officer Ryan Tippets says 15 barges have been recovered. He says two sank and crews are working to round up the rest. He couldn’t say when the bridge might reopen. Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace tells The Vicksburg Post ( ) the barges were carrying coal and grain. Continue Reading

Transit officer still critical after shootout

Doctors say the Boston transit police officer wounded in a shootout with the marathon bombing suspects had lost nearly all his blood and his heart had stopped from a single gunshot wound that severed three major blood vessels in his right thigh. Surgeons at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge say 33-year-old Richard Donohue is in stable but critical condition. He is sedated and on a breathing machine but opened his eyes, moved his hands and feet and squeezed his wife’s hand Sunday. Emergency workers started CPR on the scene to restart his heart. Doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery and that nerves and muscles in his leg are intact. Continue Reading