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 (http://bit.ly/11u5lPh ) 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

Air Force sex assault trial involving two airmen goes to jury

The trial of an Air Force instructor accused of sexually abusing an airman – and more than a dozen others – went to the jury Friday in what is being called the worst sex scandal in Air Force history. According to the Houston Chronicle, Tech. Sgt. Bobby Bass faces life in prison on charges of cruelty, wrongful sexual contact and assault in the case of the airman, and of abusing 16 other recruits in basic training. Both the prosecution and defense wrapped their cases Friday, according to the paper, with the case now in the hands of a military jury. Continue Reading

Residents of town in Texas fertilizer plant fire go home, as police find no evidence of crime

Displaced families left stranded since a Texas fertilizer plant explosion began making the sad journey back to their battered homes Saturday, while officials investigating the blast ruled out criminality as an impetus for the tragic disaster. Authorities gave the much-awaited OK, allowing eager and anxious West, Texas, residents, previously packed in a hotel, to begin returning to their homes, although only under a curfew and strict warnings to not wander beyond their own yards. Emergency workers had previously told residents — waiting for updates about their neighborhood — that leaking gas tanks were causing small fires near the blast site, keeping authorities from lifting blockades. Officials emphasized that the fires were contained and the town of West was not in danger. They later repeated that message as evacuees in a mile-long line of cars inched along a downtown road and toward the blast radius, although the chances that most would get to their houses Saturday night dimmed as a 7 p.m. curfew approached. Continue Reading

Slain Mass. officer honored in hometown

A vigil has been held in Massachusetts for an MIT police officer authorities say was shot and killed by the alleged Boston Marathon bombers. Hundreds turned out Saturday night in Wilmington to honor 26-year-old Sean Collier, who grew up in the town about 15 miles north of Boston. Authorities say Collier was shot in his cruiser Thursday night on the MIT campus in Cambridge. He lived in Somerville and was preparing to become a police officer in that city. The Boston transit agency on Sunday released a photo of Collier with Richard Donohue, the 33-year-old transit police officer who remains hospitalized after authorities said was seriously wounded in a gun battle with the bombing suspects. Continue Reading

Gunfire erupts at Colo. pot event, 2 wounded

Authorities are hunting for suspects after shooting broke out during a massive marijuana celebration in Denver, leaving two people with gunshot wounds. The gunfire scattered thousands attending Saturday’s 4/20 counterculture holiday, the first since Colorado legalized marijuana. A man and a woman each suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds, officials said. Local media reports said a third person was grazed. Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said investigators are looking for one or two suspects, asking festival attendees for possible photo or video of the shootings. Continue Reading